"In Lent . . . Grow Your Life"
By Rev. Dr. Chris Neufeld-Erdman, Senior Pastor
It's Lent, a holy springtime of spiritual renewal for Christians. A time when each of us takes a good look at our lives, examining the path we're walking. A time we ask questions like, "Where am I going? Am I headed in the right direction? Will it bring me life, health, happiness? What adjustments do I have to make?"
Lent's a time when we do what we must do to correct the course, we let go of accumulated junk so that we can better embrace the life God desires for us, we toss out the clutter that distracts us, and separates us from others, from God, and even from our true selves.
Part of the good news is that none of us are alone in this important spiritual work. We are, as the prophet Joel says, part of a people--a congregation that seeks together to find the path, walk in holiness and purity, experience love and hope, and create a just world (Joel 2.16).
Weekly worship will help you do this work. So will daily prayer, a regular small group shared with others, a commitment to learning more about your discipleship through reading or listening to lectures, talks, or pod casts. So will a walk in nature, shopping at the farmers market, a bike ride, a nap, a silent retreat. And so will participation in any of a number of the activities reported here in this newsletter.
I pray daily that you will experience a holy Lent--by that I mean that whatever commitment you make to some measure, no matter how great or small, to life-changing discipleship, will help bring a springtime of spiritual growth into your life.
God isn't an idea. Your church isn't merely a club or a Face Book page. Christianity isn't a retirement benefit you'll cash in some day in the future. God, church, and Christianity are living and active, encounters that require real effort in order for you to grow.
So, as you journey through Lent, and, beyond it, into Easter, I urge you to engage your faith. Do something to stimulate your growth. Maybe you're running into roadblocks spiritually. Maybe you don't know how to move forward. If so, give me a call, or let's get together for a visit. Or contact someone in the church whose life you admire, and sit down together and share your stories.
As the prophet Joel says, you're not alone in this journey of faith, and you're not expected to figure it out on your own. You've got a whole congregation around you. Engage it as a gift to your spirit.
Worship and Music
By Elisha Wilson, Minister of Music and Worship
Sunday morning, March 3
The 8:30 a.m. service includes presentations from the Lao Water Mission Team, led by Rev. Sharon Stanley; and the Chancel Choir singing a beautiful piece of music influenced by Erik Satie, 19th century French composer and his most noted work, "Gymnopedie No. 1." The text of "Make Us Instruments of Your Peace" is inspired by the Prayer of St. Francis. Be blessed at the 11 a.m. service with stories from the Lao Water Mission Team's recent trip to Laos.
Sunday morning, March 10
At the 8:30 a.m. service the choir sings "Lead Me Back", a beautiful piece based on this week's lectionary reading, the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15.11-23).
At the 11.a.m service enjoy heartfelt and intimate sounds of worship during this Lenten season.
Rev. Neal D. Presa, Moderator of the 220th General Assembly (2012) of the Presbyterian Church (USA) preaches at both services.
Sunday morning, March 17
Even though most of our men are attending the Men's Retreat, rest assured that worship still prevails this Sunday with Ryan McKenzie, Program director of Calvin Crest Christian Conferences, filling the pulpit.
At 8:30 a.m. enjoy an inspirational rendition of "Agnus Dei", sung by the UPC Highlights (High Voices Ensemble).
At 11 a.m. the heartfelt and intimate sounds of this Lenten Season and worship continues with Ryan McKenzie preaching.
Sunday morning, March 24 - Palm Sunday
On Palm Sunday at 8:30 a.m. enter into the Easter season with a joyful celebration, singing Hosanna, and waving palm branches. The service gradually becomes more introspective and reflective, truly preparing everyone for Holy Week.
At 11 a. m. the congregation enters the sanctuary together while singing Hosanna and waving palm branches. The service gradually becomes more introspective and reflective, truly preparing everyone for Holy Week.
Thursday evening, March 28 - Maundy Thursday Service at 7 p.m.
During this service, experience the fullness of Christ's selfless love. The Chancel Choir sings an acapella contemporary choral piece called "All Flesh is Grass". Worship, meditate on God's word, partake of the Eucharist, and be open to the life-changing, raw and poignant truth of Holy Week.
Sunday morning, March 31 - Easter Sunday,
Salvation is created in the Resurrection of Jesus. The triumph of life over death, love over fear and hope over despair is celebrated this day. The Chancel choir sings a series of dynamic pieces in both services that will truly pierce the heart as the story of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection is told.
One Great Hour of Sharing
Stories of disasters, hunger, poverty and, other tragedies filled our newspapers and television screens in 2012. With such stories, it is easy to become disheartened and experience compassion fatigue. In the midst of these times, the prophet Isaiah reminds us that we are called to be "the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to line in" (Isaiah 58.12). We are called to make God's community livable for all.
Through abundant and generous gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing, Presbyterians have for many years faithfully heeded God's call to serve people seeking to reclaim and restore their lives.
Your gift on Palm Sunday to this offering allows Presbyterian Disaster Assistance to restore communities around the world affected by disaster, including those now recovering from Hurricane Sandy. It helps Presbyterian Hunger Program work with Presbyterians and other partners to alleviate hunger and eliminate its causes in this country and internationally, and makes it possible for Self-Development of People to affirm the dignity of all by assisting in the empowerment of economically poor, oppressed, and disadvantaged people.
As a result of your gifts and the gifts of other congregations across the church, One Great Hour of Sharing will continue to be a reminder that through the simple act of sharing, we are blessed and experience God' abundance in surprising ways.
By Cindy Correia, Clerk of Session
The UPC Session met on Tuesday, February 12. Here's a brief summary of the meeting and the actions that were taken:
The following 2013 ministry team members were approved:
Adult Ministries: Kent Clarke, David Foster, Ceci Johnson, and James Swanson.
Children's Ministries: Becky Bartsch.
Congregational Care: Jeff Hakeman, Kathy Jones, Kristi Thwaites, and Scott Thwaites.
Ministry of Evangelism: Oscar Donahue and Linda Jean Voth.
Southeast Asian Ministries: Tony Bounthapanya, Alison Gaede, Chanthay Phothivongsay, Chanphone Rajsavong, and Charles Warnes.
Youth Ministries: Julie Buchanan and Denise Grisez.
The Session approved the serving of communion at the special worship service for retiring Associate Pastor Tedd Lyons on Sunday, February 24, at 3 p.m.
Per the recommendation of his parole officer, the Session approved the removal of worship attendance restrictions that were placed on a church member (who had been recently released from prison) at the April 10, 2012 Session meeting.
The following Youth Ministries fundraisers were approved, to help finance youth mission trips:
Sell Discount Cards (local retailers and dining) for $20 each.
Have a taco bar after services on Sunday, May 5, (Cinco de Mayo).
The elders continued Session Retreat discussions on developing a job description for the position to replace retiring Associate Pastor Tedd Lyons.
The NEED (New Era Evaluation and Development) Team has been reviewing the results of the recent congregational survey, and will make their recommendations to the Session at the March 12, meeting.
The Session also reviewed feedback from members of the congregation given to individual elders at the end of the Annual Meeting on January 27. Topics raised included the Columbarium construction and the soon to be vacant Associate Pastor position.
By Margie Nunez, Director of Children's & Youth Ministries
In Children's Sunday School during this Easter Season the children take a guided journey through Holy Week and Easter.
March 10: In the Palm Sunday lesson the children learn that Jesus needs them -ready or not. Hosanna!
March 17: The Maundy Thursday lesson teaches children that Jesus wants them by his side-even when they don't understand why.
March 24: The Good Friday lesson teaches children that Jesus died to show God's love for the entire world.
March 31: Get ready for an hour of fun from 9:45 - 10:45 on Easter Sunday when Children's Sunday school reveals that God sends messengers to share the Easter news, Jesus is alive! This Easter experience is studied and shared through story, games and, crafts. Then the lessons culminate outside on the lawn with an egg hunt. Nursery aged children have a separate egg hunt to enjoy.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
It's a Tea Party just for the girls. The Children's Ministry and Congregational Care Teams invite you to come enjoy a spot of tea and lunch at a Mother/Daughter Tea on Saturday, April 27 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. All females are invited: young and not so young; whether or not you have a mother or daughter. Bring a girlfriend, niece, grandmother, or someone you've wanted to get to know.
By Dustin Maddox, Youth Coordinator
Madness is definitely in store this March! In addition to Sunday school and Wednesday night Youth Group, is the Spring
Break service trip! March 24-27
our high school ministry is partnering with other churches from the Presbytery of the San Joaquin for the PSJ United Youth Service Trip. During Holy Week experience three days of serving alongside our neighbors and hearing stories of God's kingdom throughout Fresno. If you are interested in supporting our trip, or need information, call or email Dustin.
Southeast Asia Ministries - "The Peace Offering"
By Tout Tout Bounthapanya, Elder, Southeast Asia Ministries
Sabaidee Brothers and Sisters,
Every time we come together to worship God in Christ, with Christ, and through Christ, we are offering Christ as the peace offering. With this Christ, there is a part for God, a part for us, and a part for others.
The UPC Lao Fellowship continues to witness to the community in many important ways. Meetings and revivals bring Lao speaking Christians from seven congregations together to encourage each other and promote unity through worship, leadership training, study and, learning from each other how to serve the Lord locally and nationwide.
The Lao Men meet on Saturday, March 9. Contact John or Tony for more information.
The next meeting for our Lao women is Saturday, March 23 at University Presbyterian Church Fresno from 9 a.m.-12 noon. Non-Christian friends are invited to share the joy of knowing God and growing in a deeper understanding about God's love. Contact Lorna for more information.
Our UPC members also meet together weekly. On the first Sunday of each month we worship our Lord and join one communion table with our English speaking service at 11 a.m.
We practice song at FIRM three times a month. We sing and praise our Lord together with our English speaking brothers and sisters the first Sunday of the month.
Grace and Peace to all.
By Greg Faulk, Elder, Adult Ministy
Bible study in The Acts of Apostles covering Paul's third missionary journey with an extra emphasis on Ephesus continues for three weeks. Then an interesting study on the letters Paul wrote begins and carries the adult education study group through the Easter season.
During March Ceci Johnson leads the Lenten Sunday School in a study of Lewis Smedes' book, How Can It Be All Right When Everything Is All Wrong? The book responds to the cry, "My God, where were you when I needed you?" Smedes does not try to explain away pain nor deny that things get bad and that life is hard. Instead, he helps us move beyond a disheartening present by being open to God and the certainty that things are, somehow, fundamentally right.
GALS' Night Out
GAL'S Night Out will not meet in March due to the Maundy Thursday services at 7 p.m. Please mark you calendars now and plan to join us on Thursday, April 25 at 1 p.m. in the Great Room for a fun-filled evening on Rummikub. If you don't know how to play, we'll teach you! For more information, contact the office
Presbyterian Women are meeting on Tuesday, March 12, at 9:30 a.m. in the Great Room. Elisha Wilson, UPC's Minister of Worship and the Arts, is guest speaker at the March meeting. All women are invited to come and enjoy good fellowship, light refreshments, and learn more about how music and other arts enhance worship.
Following the Presbyterian Women's Statement of Purpose we are committed "....to build an inclusive, caring community of women that strengthens the Presbyterian Church (USA) and witness to the promise of God's Kingdom." For more information, contact the office at 439-8807.
All Men Are Welcome
"All Men" is a dinner gathering on the third Thursday of the month (March 21) for all men of UPC. They meet from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Great Room for dinner and a program.
This month we will hear Justice Stephen Vartabedian. Steve has for many years been active at First Armenian Presbyterian as an elder and Bible study leader. In 2010, he retired from the Court of Appeal, having served 29 years as a judge, and presently assists parties as a mediator/arbitrator.
The Men's Retreat Committee invites all the men of the church to sign up for the 2013 retreat. Our theme this year is "Fellowship of Saints?". Please return your Registration Form (many of you got one emailed to you, or you can get one at the registration table in the Narthex) as soon as possible. The dates are March 15-17, the cost is $165 for Cedar Lodge, $130 for Mt View, and there is scholarship help available.
S.T.A.R.S. (Seniors That Are Really Special)
S.T.A.R.S. welcome Pastor Tedd on March 13 at 1:30 p.m. in the Great Room. "Time with Tedd" was scheduled for the February meeting of S.T.A.R.S., but was postponed until March. Bring a friend and join in a fun time of fellowship and sharing with Tedd about his plans for retirement and the Easter season. Light refreshments will be served.
Harken All Ye Descendants of the Emerald Isle! And, all wishing you were! On Friday, March 8 at 6 p.m. be ye there at UPC and ye shall be dined, entertained, and treated to a great dessert. A nominal charge of $5 per person applies. RSVP by March 3 to the office at 439-8807. Wearing green is suggested.
Contemplative Prayer Group
UPC's Contemplative Prayer Group (formerly Centering Prayer Group) invites all who are interested to attend either or both of their weekly meetings. The group currently meets on Monday evenings from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Quiet Room, and a second weekly meeting has been added on Thursday evenings at the same time in the Lao Worship Room. For more information, contact the office at 439-8807.
This and That
Looking for help with Sunday morning coffee: The Membership Care Committee is looking for a few more individuals or couples to make coffee on Sunday mornings. If we have a few more volunteers we won't wear out our current volunteers quite so fast. For more information, contact the office at 439-8807.
Looking for a new Wedding Coordinator: Pass the word! UPC is looking for someone who would like to guide brides and grooms through the most important day of their lives. Anyone interested in the position or for more information, contact the office at 439-8807.
Looking for a Web Editor: We want to update the look, feel, and content of the UPC website. We are seeking a UPC member who would like to make it their ministry to keep the information about our church and the services, events, and groups happenings here current on the site. For more information, contact Kerry Neal at 439-8807.
Greeting Cards Benefiting the Women's Retreat: Handmade greeting cards, beautifully designed by Judy Scarbery, are available in the Narthex. Get your Easter cards, birthday cards for dear friends, and a variety of other cards here at UPC. Proceeds benefit the Women's Retreat on October 4-6 this fall.
Introducing the New University Press Editor: Please welcome Emma Glover as the new editor of our monthly newsletter. Emma is a long-time UPC member, retired teacher, and children's book author. Her most recent book, Benjamin Jay Was a Bully, is about following the Golden Rule to make friends with a bully. This book is recommended for children ages 2 - 7 years.
If you have something you want to add to the newsletter e-mail the office or call 439-8807. The newsletter deadline is the 15th of each month.
Sing-Along Hymn Festival
On Sunday, March 17, at 3 p.m. the San Joaquin Valley Chapter of the American Guild of Organists (AGO) is presenting A Sing-Along Hymn Festival at the Hanford First Presbyterian Church. Leading the sing-along is David Hensley, Director of Choral Activitiesat Porterville College; Choral Director for Porterville's First Congregational Church; and former Director of the Fresno Choral Artists. Participants include Pacific Brass (Fresno Pacific University), directed by Wayne Huber; and a combined Festival Choir. Several AGO organists will accompany on the historic Moller pipe organ. There is no admission charge, but an offering to provide scholarships for young organists will be taken. For further information, call 897-7076 or 222-8114.
Thank You Corner
We wish to thank the congregation of UPC for all the love and support you have given us following our mother Gretchen Corum's recent death. Thank you for all your cards, kind words, sharing of memories, and for your attendance at her memorial service. She loved, and was much loved by the members of UPC and for this, her daughters are grateful.
Edy Corum and Lisa Corum Fox
I would like to thank the members of the congregation for their comforting cards and prayers during Bill's illness and at his death.
1 Nancy Weiser
2 Jennifer McCord
3 Nancy Alley
4 Amanda Caraker
5 Ashley Tomas
6 Jaclyn Gaede
8 Carey Berend
9 Melissa Cederquist
11 Jim Correia
13 Vera Levy
14 Meredith Cortes
15 Xeo Inthisane
16 David Dack
17 John Dodds
Jean Ann Fulton
18 Sareta Deal
19 Amanda Clark
20 Diane Schafer
22 Dianne McKneely
23 Sarah Rasmusen
24 Dorian Sherman
25 Jane McCoy
26 Jim Gabel
28 Bethany Lowe
30 Pat Buckheister
31 Crystal Yelton
10 Bill & Florence Ulrich
11 Gary & Leslie Knutsen
18 Leonard & Sareta Deal
22 Houy & Danielle Trang
29 Jeffrey & Sengtheine Milam
Bill & Barbara Wilder
4 Contemplative Prayer 6:30
5 Computer Lab 3:30
6 Women's Bible Study 9:30
After School Tutoring 3:30
Contemplative Prayer 6:30
8 Clippers 6
11 Contemplative Prayer 6:30
12 Presbyterian Women 9:30
Computer Lab 3:30 p.m.
13 Women's Bible Study 9:30
After School Tutoring 3:30
14 UPCmenAM 8
Contemplative Prayer 6:30
Men's Candle Light Service 7
15-17 Men's Retreat
18 Contemplative Prayer 6:30
19 Computer Lab 3:30
Intercessory Prayer 7
20 Women's Bible Study 9:30
After School Tutoring 3:30
21 Contemplative Prayer 6:30
All Men's Dinner 6
23 Lao Women's Fellowship 9
24 Palm Sunday
24-27 Youth Service Trip
25 Contemplative Prayer 6:30
26 Ministries Meetings 7
27 Women's Bible Study 9:30
28 UPCmenAM 8
Maundy Thursday Service 7
University Presbyterian Church
1776 Roberts - Fresno, CA 93710 - (559) 439-8807