Transgender Series January 17 & 24

Adult Forum: What Does “Transgender” Mean?

Transgendered persons attempt suicide at ten times the national average and violence against transgendered persons occurs at much higher rates. Boys who want to wear dresses and girls who want to dress like boys experience teasing and bullying. This is an injustice. Let’s counter it with love and compassion, which can only come by educating ourselves and seeking to understand.

To that end, we welcome the following speakers to our Adult Forum (Sunday mornings from 11:00 am to noon):

January 17 – Christopher Okiishi, MD Board Certified Child, Adolescent and Adult Psychiatrist, will talk about gender and sexual identity and development in children.

January 24 – Howard Ruppel, Ph.D., American Board of Sexology Certified Sex Educator and Therapist, will talk about what transgender means as it relates to children.

Both speakers will address these FAQ: What is the difference between sex and gender? Between being transgender and being gay? Between cross-dressing and being transgender? Is being transgender a mental illness? What do we do about restrooms and locker rooms for children and youth who identify as transgender?

All are welcome to join us!

Adult Forum takes place in the Community Room, on the second floor of the education building (309 First Street West, Mount Vernon).

kindness photo

Photo by SweetOnVeg

 

Pastor’s Message – New Year’s Resolution

Resting In and Receiving God’s Grace

It amuses me every year, the 180 degree switch in advertising between the week before Christmas and the week after. Stores that offered cozy sweaters, slippers, jewelry and expensive gadgets now offer moisture-wicking t-shirts, free weights, exercise equipment, shelves and storage containers.

I get a cooking magazine. While the December cover features “Easy & Indulgent Comfort Food” and “Glorious Prime Rib” the January cover is all about “Eat Great & Lose Weight in 2016” and “Your Get-Healthy Guide.”

Few of us are immune to the drumbeat in our culture of “new year, new habits, new you.” I admit that I am not. I have spent some time during this in-between week sorting through closets and thinking how much better my life would be “if only” I could exercise more, eat fewer sweets (especially after Christmas—oof!), pray and meditate more, worry less, sleep more, etc. etc. etc.

While it is tempting to add some spiritual “to do’s” to everyone’s list—prayer books to use, books to read, practices to try—instead I want to offer all of us an alternative resolution: Instead of trying harder and doing more, how about if our goal is to rest and receive?

Consider Denise Levertov’s poem, The Avowal:

Photo by Andy Morffew

Photo by Andy Morffew

As swimmers dare
to lie face to the sky
and water bears them,
as hawks rest upon air
and air sustains them,
so would I learn to attain
freefall, and float
into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,
knowing no effort earns
that all-surrounding grace.

The fundamental desire of God is to love each of us, completely and utterly, exactly as we are. There is not a thing we do to deserve this gift, we only receive it—as the swimmers body receives the buoyancy of the water and the hawks wings are lifted by the air.

May our 2016 resolutions include receiving the supporting, sustaining, unwavering love of God, deep within our weary selves.

Pastor Lori

REMINDER: Come as You Can Cookout on Sunday, August 16

A great time to enjoy the company of good friends and good food:  August 16th from 5-7pm at the Wunder-Bonewald’s residence (230 Scobey Road NW).

  • Grilled entree, beverage and table service provided.
  • Please bring a dish to share if you can (if not, just bring yourself!)
  • Lawn chairs and games are welcome additions.

Everyone is welcome!

Come as you can for a time of food and fellowship!

Fellowship Time: Help Needed!

Who can resist those trays of homemade treats and snacks that await us after worship each Sunday?

But treats, coffee, and juice aren’t all fellowship time is about. It is about people having conversations and catching up on what is happening in one another’s lives. It is about bringing generations together as children sit not just with other children but with other adults, as well. It is about welcoming visitors as connections are made and new friendships are formed.

In short, fellowship time is about building and strengthening community, and it is one of the most important things we do! For years, fellowship time has just sort of “magically happened” but now we need help.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Sign up with another individual or family to provide treats and help serve and clean up one Sunday a few times per year.
  • Help stock the cupboards! We like to have cookies, crackers, cheese cubes, bags of apples, etc. on hand as back up.
  • Take home one of the containers marked “Fellowship,” fill it with treats, and return it to the freezer.

 

Thanks to everyone who has helped this summer! A few more Sundays are open in July and August.

Pastor’s Message – 2015 – July

Being the Body of Christ to Each Other

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
                                                                 Theresa of Avila

 

One of the things we’ve looked at during our time with Barbara Brown Taylor’s An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith is the Doctrine of Incarnation.

Theologically, the Incarnation (“in the flesh”) is when God in Jesus was born as a human child and lived a human life as Emanuel, God with us. But all of us have the ability to be God incarnate when we use our selves, our bodies, our lives for the good of others.

There has been a lot of “incarnation” happening around our church lately. Here are just a few examples of it:

  • On June 7, Al and Becky Ahrens, Don Burch, Carole Frazee, Hugh Lifson and Nate, Ava and Emery Willems helped serve the free evening meal at First Pres in Cedar Rapids.
  • After the terrible shootings at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, our congregation responded in two ways:
    • Connie Proffitt and the Knitting Group sent that church the remaining five prayer shawls with a note of our shared grief at what happened and our desire to offer a visible sign of Christ’s love and our caring.
    • On Sunday, June 21 we rang our church bell in solidarity with Charleston area churches (and beyond!). Impressively, we received a thank you note for our participation from the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (having indicated online that we would be doing so), telling us the “ringing of the bells brought a message of hope to so many.”
  • On Thursday, June 25 Becky Ahrens, Barb Bjork and Carol Daly spent a morning volunteering with Matthew 25 Ministry Hub on the west side of Cedar Rapids, harvesting vegetables at their urban farm. This garden provides good, fresh food to lower income residents of on a sliding scale.

This doesn’t even include the “unofficial” gestures of caring that take place every day— phone calls, visits, taking meals, helping out with a move or other need, conversations, hugs, praying for people and situations.

What a privilege to be the hands and feet of Christ to one another! We are blessed to be a blessing.

Pastor_Lori_-_Signature

Epistle – 2015 – September

Select the link below to view or download the First Presbyterian Church of Mount Vernon’s Newsletter.  It is an Adobe Acrobat PDF document.  Most computers have the Adobe Acrobat reader installed.  If you need to install the reader, click here.

Click here to download or view the September 2015 Epistle.

Epistle – 2015 – August

Select the link below to view or download the First Presbyterian Church of Mount Vernon’s Newsletter.  It is an Adobe Acrobat PDF document.  Most computers have the Adobe Acrobat reader installed.  If you need to install the reader, click here.

Click here to download or view the August 2015 Epistle.

Epistle – 2015 – July

Select the link below to view or download the First Presbyterian Church of Mount Vernon’s Newsletter.  It is an Adobe Acrobat PDF document.  Most computers have the Adobe Acrobat reader installed.  If you need to install the reader, click here.

Click here to download or view the July 2015 Epistle.

Come as You Can Cook Outs

 

A great time to enjoy the company of good friends and good food:  August 16th from 5-7pm at the Wunder-Bonewald’s residence (230 Scobey Road NW).

  • Grilled entree, beverage and table service provided.
  • Please bring a dish to share if you can (if not, just bring yourself!)
  • Lawn chairs and games are welcome additions.

Everyone is welcome!

Come as you can for a time of food and fellowship!