Website version is text only.
Click on link below to view the entire newsletter with color and graphics:
Church Life in PDF format – May 2018

The Congregational Church – Rochester, MN


Sunday, May 6  at 10:00 am-
Confirmation and Communion
Chancel Choir

Sunday, May 13 at 10:00 am –
Mother’s Day
Adult Bell Choir

Pentecost Sunday, May 20 at 10:00 am –
Christian Education Sunday with Recognition of Graduates & Teachers
Children’s Choir and Youth Bell Choir
Special Offering: Strengthen the Church

Sunday, May 27 at 10:00 am –
Rev. Dr. Richard Eick
Special Music
Children’s Craft Table begins


EACH SUNDAY: (see select dates)

9:15 am – Children’s Choir – May 6, 20
10:15 am – Sunday School – May 6, 13
11:15 am – Youth Bell Choir – May 6



Garth Schumacher will be on vacation:  May 21 – June 4
For pastoral emergencies, contact:  Rev. Dick Eick at 651-212-8433


- Rev. Garth Schumacher

On Sunday, May 20th we celebrate Pentecost.  Acts 2 describes the transformed and transforming Christian community on the sixth Sunday after Easter.  Let’s focus on the last few verses of Chapter 2:

…Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. (Acts 2: 43-47)

This was a small Christian community that was feeling the Holy Spirit and living it out in their world. Today’s world is very different of course.  We don’t belong to a church that speaks in tongues.  Instead of unity, we live in a world that is tearing our culture into pieces.  Rampant, radical individualism is destroying the glue that holds us together as a nation and threatens to isolate us into lonely shells, devoid of meaning.

There’s a mountain of evidence suggesting that the quality of our relationships has been in steady decline for decades. In the 1980s, 20 percent of Americans said they were often lonely. Now it’s 40 percent. Suicide rates are now at a 30-year high. Depression rates have increased tenfold since 1960, which is not only a result of greater reporting. Most children born to mothers under 30 are born outside of marriage. There’s been a steady 30-year decline in Americans’ satisfaction with the peer-to-peer relationships at work. (Brooks, NY Times, April 16, 2018)

Is it any wonder many of us are depressed?

Don’t get me wrong.  I believe we need to live our lives as a strong differentiated Self with clear boundaries.  In order to be a healthy community, we need to have strong individuals.  Yet, many people believe that it is “either-or” instead of “both-and.”  Individualism and Communitarianism are meant to be mutually supportive and reinforcing.  The problem is when they are out of balance.  A community grown too powerful can crush the individual.  And, as we are seeing today in America, individualism grown too powerful cuts off relationships and creates rampant loneliness.

Acts 2 reminds us that the First Century Christians knew that their saving grace was to be found in community.  They were an oppressed people besieged by the Romans and their fellow Jews who did not follow Christ.  Still they were sharing what they had and praising God.

THIS WAS A THRIVING CHURCH!  They were growing in numbers BECAUSE of their response to the Holy Spirit. Their attraction to others was a sign of that spirit.  Those of us attending our Congregational Church have begun feeling a small sense of that Spirit already, haven’t we?  Two couples approached me on Easter morning after our service to let me know they were considering joining our church… perhaps it’s a sign?!… Amen.



On Sunday, May 6 we will confirm and joyfully welcome Summer Barber and Anna Stacy into membership.  On Confirmation Sunday, you will hear their statements of faith that will inspire you – because each statement is personal, honest and unique.  Here’s an excerpt:

Summer Barber:  It is very important to me to have an open and affirming church, because I believe God accepts everyone, and so many more things from what the Bible says. I strongly accept different races, LGBTQ, and so many more differences. I wouldn’t be able to attend a church that didn’t. I’m happy that our church welcomes all who walk in the door, because that’s the way God wants us to be. I’m also glad that I can have my own opinion and still be accepted.

Anna Stacy:  The mission of the church is to learn about the Word of God and to welcome everyone. Worship is important to me, so that I can learn as much as I can about my faith, and I can work to figure out my core values in my faith. The purpose of life for a Christian is to make the best effort to help others, because God loves us all. God excludes no one, so we do our best to follow the Word of God. Being a Christian has made a difference in my life, because I have learned to welcome all people, and I try to help others and be kind to them. By following the Word of God, I am helping to make the world a better place and recognize each person’s value.



On Sunday, May 20, we will recognize our teachers, honor our graduates, and celebrate our children that make our Sunday School program a success!

If your child would like to play a musical piece during the service, please contact Felicia Faldet by May 16 at with the music title and instrument being played.

Attention ALL Graduates!  We want to recognize your efforts toward your education and wish you continued success.  Please plan to attend graduate recognition during the worship service on Sunday, May 20 to celebrate your accomplishments.  If you are graduating from high school, vo-tech, college or graduate school, please contact the church office by noon on Wednesday, May 16 so we can list all graduates in the worship bulletin.  High school graduates, please share your school and plans after graduation.  If you are a college graduate, please share the college you attended and the degree you received.


- Stewardship and Benevolence Team

The gifts He gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.  – Ephesians 4: 11 – 12

Help our denomination in planting the seeds needed to grow and sustain our mission by making a gift to the “Strengthen the Church” offering on Sunday, May 20.  To make a gift please use the enclosed special offering envelope, find one in the pew racks, or write “Strengthen the Church” on your check memo line.

The “Strengthen the Church” offering supports the expansion of ministry and growth of UCC local congregations. Your support of this offering will help the UCC fulfill on its commitment to creating a just world for all, by investing in new ministries and practices that meet the emerging needs of local communities.

In 2017, your support made possible:

  • 12 awards totaling almost $350,000 through the New and Renewing Spiritual Communities grant program!
  • The Adese Fellowship program launched its first class of 14 future church leaders!  This 12-month program maximizes the capacity of fellows to launch business that will help end system poverty. Participants engage in theological reflection and business development as they create enterprises that help their communities follow the way of Jesus and live into God’s economy.

The addition of 24 new faith communities to the UCC!  The New and Renewing Spiritual Communities grant strengthens UCC Congregations by providing funds to assist in community revitalization or support new churches. Grants are awarded each year to fund ministries that impact their communities towards a Just World for All.


- Rev. Garth Schumacher

At our March Cabinet meeting, we approved the monies and permanent installation of the theatrical lights that have been on the light trees on either side of the congregation.  They will be up higher and basically “out of sight and out of mind.”  However, the lights will continue to add to the vibrancy of our various worship experiences.  I believe you are going to enjoy them for years to come!



The 56th Annual Meeting of the Minnesota Conference will be June 8-10, 2018 at College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph.  Many are surprised to learn that you do NOT need to be a voting delegate to attend or that you can attend for all or part of the weekend.  All clergy and lay members and friends of the Conference are invited to attend and participate.  The meeting begins Friday afternoon and concludes after Sunday morning worship.  If you’ve not attended in the past, you will find a warm and welcoming environment, outstanding community worship, thought provoking Bible study, a variety of vendors and organizational displays and over 20 workshops and hearings.

This year’s theme is “In This Moment: Acting in Faith.”  Attendees will be invited by our keynote speaker, our panel of local churches from around the Conference, our Bible Study leaders and our worship leaders to consider what this moment—in the life of our churches, our families, our communities and our country—asks of us.

REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN!  To register for Annual Meeting and pre-event, go to  To save $30 off of your registration fee (one-day registration excluded) please register BEFORE May 6.

If you have questions about what to expect, why be involved, or meeting logistics contact Janet Bartz or Rev. Garth Schumacher.



Our mentoring program, Partner Kids, qualified again for an IBM Community Grant.  Elton Hills School received $2,000 that will be used for more Ipads.

There are 10 Partner Kids mentors this year, 7 of which include our church members:  Greg Caucutt, Janet Bartz, Pat Espeset, Marv Sawyer, Renee Jacobson, Sharon Scudamore, Kurt Schroeder.  Thanks for all you do!



Believe it or not we will have a summer!  And with it come flowers to grow, weeds to pull, and the opportunity to visit with friends new and old while making our church grounds lovely.  We need your help!  Plan on joining us Monday nights at 6:00 pm (beginning May 7).  Come once; come often!



Our next volunteer day is Saturday, May 19 from 12 to 2 PM.  All are welcome, ages 10 and above.  Sign up in the Narthex or contact Annie Kramer at

Thanks to our volunteers on April 21:  LuAnn and John Nicholson, Nancy Redman, Steve Gusa, Rex and Ilomae Patton, Cathy Swessel, Nona and Dennis Thackeray, Blake Thackeray, and Annie Kramer.



“THE CHALLENGE OF PAUL”  (led by Sue Evans) – Discussion featuring author John Dominic Crossan meets on Wednesday, May 9 and 23 at Noon in the sanctuary and continues the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of each month.  Everyone is welcome and no preparation is necessary, though strongly suggested that we each take a few minutes to familiarize ourselves with some of the writings of Paul in Romans, Galatians, 1st Thessalonians, and 1st Corinthians.  Don’t let your first reading of Paul scare you away from the discussion—we are all amateurs here and will work toward an understanding together.  If you are coming on your lunch hour from work, please feel free to bring a sack lunch to eat during the class.  If you are new to the class, please e-mail Sue Evans at and she will forward the links to resources for this curriculum.

BOOK GROUP – next meeting is Thursday, May 17 at 10 AM at church.  The selection is Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail by Cheryl Strayed and is available through the Rochester Public Library book bag program (located in the church office).  All are welcome!

MEN’S FELLOWSHIP - Begin your morning reflecting on your faith.  Join in this gathering of friends at 7 AM on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month.



According to the National Cancer Institute, “approximately 38.5% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer of any site at some point during their lifetime.”  Whether you have had a family member, friend, or you have dealt with cancer yourself; cancer has a way of touching all of us.  The Congregational Church, along with the American Cancer Society, will be walking to show their support in Relay For Life of Olmsted County.  Relay For Life unites communities across the globe to celebrate people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and take action to finish the fight once and for all.

Look out cancer!  The Congo Crew will kick you to the curb on June 15 from 5 PM – 12 AM at Rochester Community and Technical College!  The captain for the team this year is Colleen Hofer – let her know if you have any questions or concerns.  All are welcome to join the team.  Please sign-up in the Narthex or online no later than Sunday, May 20 for an event t-shirt.  If you would like to participate in church team “Congo Crew”, then please join the relay online at



The Congregational Church in Rochester, we honor those dedicated Christians who have come before us providing a rich history of Christian service, example, meaningful traditions and a spacious, beautiful church building.  Take a moment to look at the newest historical display in the case at the office entry to our building.   Our current church building is highlighted: its construction 1963-64, the senior ministers who have served here and some of the many and varied activities the congregation has enjoyed. Take a look and appreciate our history.  We invite you to suggest one of your favorite memories of our church, in any decade, that has not been represented by putting it in the Display Case suggestion box.  Include an explanation, approximate date and picture (if possible with your name so it can be returned) to be included in a future display.  Any and all help/suggestions for displays during this year are welcomed!  Remembering these are fun and we want to highlight as many of these examples of what it means to be The Church as possible.  Thank you!

- Sherry Lawrence, Barbara Eakins, Janet Bartz  and Brenda Staats (the display case crew)


- Catharine Bliss, Vitality Team Member

Your hard-working Vitality Team is meeting bi-monthly.  In April we met with the Cabinet to work through a Hospitality Survey.  Our discussion brought forth some great ideas on how our congregation experiences the church before, during, and after worship.  We will soon be sharing this same hospitality survey with our church ministry teams.  Meanwhile, we continue to put more survey questions in the narthex after worship.  By May, all of these survey questions will be put out in total so that you may answer the ones you missed.  All of our survey questions have been provided by Vibrant Faith and provide a great opportunity for us to receive input on our current congregational life.  Thank you again for your continued support and prayers with this initiative!



Do you enjoy the flowers that grace the sanctuary on Sunday morning?  Would you like to give flowers in celebration, honor, or memory of a loved one or friend?

If so…contact Cindy Sawyer (289-7617) or Sarah in the church office.  They will help you to select the Sunday you prefer.  The cost will be $35 (+ tax) and they will be ordered and delivered to the church for you.  After the service, the flowers will be taken to a member or friend of the church who was unable to attend.



Thanks to new software, the church office now has the capability to send your contribution statements electronically AND if needed, send notifications to the congregation on the weekend from the secretary’s home.

First Quarter Giving Statements were sent in early April and most of you received a paperless copy via email.  A paper copy was mailed if we did not have your email address or your giving had special circumstances (i.e: pre-paid pledge or no giving toward pledge).  If you gave an offering during January 1-March 31 and did not receive a statement (electronic or paper), please contact the church office.

This software was also used to inform the congregation of the Easter sunrise service moving indoors, and recent cancellation of the April 15 service due to weather.

Emails are from The Congregational Church via and on behalf of ACS Technologies.  Be assured that these are safe!  When in doubt, feel free to contact Sarah in the church office.



Special Easter Offering - This year the Special Easter Offering collected $3,025.  Our church was able to assist the following local charities as they work to help those in need in our own community; Elder Network, Families First Crisis Nursery, and Next Chapter.  The Stewardship and Benevolence Ministry Team thanks you for your contributions.

Easter Lilies & Banners – Thank you to everyone who provided lilies for our glorious Easter service on April 1st. Thank you members who took the time to deliver the lilies to our home bound members and friends. They always seem happy to know they’re being thought of by our church family.  Thank you, Diana Hanke, for your beautiful Easter banners; and, thank you Barry and the entire Hanke family for putting up Diana’s creations.

Sherry and Tom Lawrence – Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone in the congregational family for the cards, meals, visits, and all the help we’ve had from you.


June 11-14 ~ 6-8 pm
The Congregational Church

Get ready for an adventure to an uncharted island where kids (ages 4 – 11) are rescued by Jesus!  “Shipwrecked” is an experience where kids are anchored in the truth that Jesus carries them through life’s storms.  Full of water-themed games and interactive science sessions, this VBS is guaranteed to be a blast!   Contact us at Registration is now open!



Family Camps – July 15-20 & August 5-10
Youth Mission Week – July 22-27
Youth Camp – July 29-August 3
Young Adult – August 3-4

Do you want an experience where your whole family can grow together in their faith and create fun memories at the same time?  Pilgrim Point Camp Family Camp might just be right for you!  Information and registration for the UCC’s Pilgrim Point Camp in Alexandria, MN can be found online at  Scholarship funds are available from The Congregational Church UCC for any camp your child may be attending.  Please contact the church office for scholarship information.

This summer Pilgrim Point is offering TWO family camps:  July 15-20 & August 5-10.  We encourage all families to go and bond with each other.  A “family” could be grandparents and children, moms and/or dads and kids, households, or individuals.  Come enjoy the richness of intergenerational play and celebration, exploration of radical hospitality, classic camp activities, great conversations, intergenerational crafts, swimming, kickball, beach time, solitude, and evening lakeside vespers.

Registration deadline is June 25.  Forms are available in the FFFE office and online at  Free for children under 3 years old, $200 for 4-12 year olds, and $270 for anyone older. The family maximum is $1,000.


OUTDOOR CONCERT:  COPPER BOX on Wednesday, June 27 at 6 PM

An outdoor concert paired with a highly recommended band and multiple food trucks in our parking lot.  Come enjoy this fun and lively atmosphere!


Monthly Calendar – May 2018
Sunday Volunteers – May 2018


MONTHLY OFFERING REPORT- Steve Gusa, Financial Secretary

2017 Actual 2018 Actual 2018 Budget
MARCH Pledge $19,192 $20,393 $22,755
Non Pledge $969 $1,619 $3,333
Total $20,161 $22,012 $26,088
Year-to-Date Total $77,717 $118,758 $78,264