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Church Life in PDF format – January 2018

The Congregational Church – Rochester, MN

  The church books officially close on Sunday, December 31, 2018.  If you would like your pledges and gifts recorded for the year 2017, please bring them to church or mail them to the office by that date.


Sunday, January 7 at 10:00 am –
160th Anniversary Kick-off
Sunday School resumes

Sunday, January 14 at 10:00 am –
Peace Service
Chancel Choir

Sunday, January 21 at 10:00 am –
Children’s Choir and Youth Bell Choir

Sunday, January 28 at 10:00 am –
Adult Bell Choir
Congregational Meeting


~Rev. Garth Schumacher

There are two primary meanings to the word epiphany.  The first has to do with a sudden revelation or insight.  The second meaning is our Christian commemoration of the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Wise Men (Magi and/or Kings).  You can almost repeat the story from memory can’t you?

“In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”  (Matt. 2:1-2)

The wise men following the star were recognizing both meanings of the word epiphany.  It was for them a revelation and an awareness of divine manifestation.  Then, they acted on their epiphany.  The wise men knew of the prophecies, saw the star and followed it.  Many of us have an epiphany and are lax about following our new revelation.  Our excuses range from “it’s too hard to follow through” to “I’ll see if I feel that way in a few days.”

Our church today doesn’t have the luxury to sit back and passively wonder if our epiphanies are valid or not.  That is why we actively experiment, to give ourselves the time to test our theories and epiphanies.  As you’ve no doubt noticed we’re experimenting with new chancel lights and the replacement of 7 pews with chairs in the front of the sanctuary.

Garth’s Epiphany Using Scientific Method in Church!  Ok, I know what the scientific method is.  But, I’d never thought of using it explicitly within a church setting.  I’d ignored the fact that many IBM’ers and Mayo personnel who’ve been steeped in it surround me.  I was quickly reminded that if I was going to use the word “experiment” then I had better set up a semi-formal structure of one.

Fortunately, our church is filled with wise members who’ll help me out when I’m flummoxed.  Brenda Staats came through with an experimental model I could emulate.  One that has been used by Mayo folks forever.  EPIPHANY!  Without further ado, here’s our….


Outcome 1:  We will have Flexible Seating for Special Services

  1. Remove first 4 rows of pews (store in safe place) and replace with chairs
  2. Move into different configurations for different services
  3. Use for Blue Christmas, Candlelight Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve Baptismal Sunday, Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, small funerals, small weddings, adult education classes, meetings.
  4. other ideas:


  1. Count how many people use these seats at regular and special services–report to Worship MT.
  2. How many services were different configurations needed?  Report to Worship MT.
  3. Worship MT will survey the congregation in Feb-March and after Pentecost
  4. Worship MT will report to the congregation in Feb-March and at the conclusion of this experiment statistics gathered and comments generated

Outcome 2:  We will have more room in the chair rows than in the pew rows.

  1. Space rows of chairs 6″ farther apart than the rows of pews
  2. Leave space for Children’s Time and for walking around Bell Tables, Baptismal Font, and other items used for services
  3. other ideas:


  1. Document how many people choose to sit in these chairs for various services. Report to Worship MT
  2. Report Feb-March and June

Outcome 3:  We will have flexibility for seating of differently abled: i.e. those in wheelchairs, knee surgeries, children moving to children’s time can easily move through the front chairs.

  1. Remove chairs needed for wheelchairs, etc. (ushers can do this if not done prior to the service)
  2. other ideas:


  1. Document how many differently abled use these chairs and report to Worship MT
  2. Worship MT will report in Feb-Mar and June

Outcome 4:  We will have flexibility for new creative expressions during worship.

  1. Arrange space as needed for new ideas


  1. Were there any new forms of worship this flexibility allowed? What and how many and well received?



We will begin our 160th Anniversary year with a dedication service on January 7, 2018.  Our theme, “Transformed, Transforming: A just world for all” will be used to provide continuity and inspiration for a year of remembrance and celebration.  A celebratory banner will be hung on the east façade of the church from January – November 2018.

HISTORY HIGHLIGHT: On January 3, 1858 the church was organized with twelve members under the name of “The Congregational Church of Rochester.”  The congregation met in the basement and later in a room on the second floor of what was then the Olmsted County Courthouse.  They were allowed to rent the space for $100 per year. Let’s celebrate the vision and courage of the original twelve members: Rufus Smith, Mrs. Lucretia Smith, Dr. Lewis H. Kelly, Dexter Livermore, Thomas Tait, Thomas Ireland, Mrs. Caroline Ireland, Mrs. Elizabeth Sherman, Mrs. Adeline S. Clark, Mrs. Caroline E. Crocker, Miss Mary Olds, Mrs. Evelyne Crosby.  Rev. Elias Clark, sent to Rochester under of the auspices of American Home Missionary Society, served the church from 1858 – 1860.  Upon his departure in 1860 the church had 40 members.  Rochester ‘s population at the time of his departure was about 1,500.

Be sure to stop by the display case in the office entry hallway to view bits of our history.  It is hoped the display will change periodically throughout the year.


SERVICE OF PEACE – Sunday, January 14 at 10:00 AM


ANNUAL MEETING:  Sunday, January 28

The Congregational Church Annual Meeting is scheduled for Sunday, January 28, 2018 at 11:15 am in the sanctuary.  During this meeting we will we will vote on 2017 reports, the new slate of officers, ministry teams and committees, and the proposed budget for 2018.  There will be other ad hoc updates as well.  Annual reports will be available on Sunday, January 21 for your review.

Ministry Team Chairs:  Reports are due to the office by Tuesday, January 2, 2018.



If Sunday worship is cancelled due to inclement weather, we will do our best to keep you informed by one or more of the following ways:  cancellation notifications broadcast on television channels 6 and 11 (along with their corresponding websites), a post on the church website, and/or a message on the church voicemail greeting.



The Worship Ministry Team would like to know if there is anyone who would like to learn how communion is set up and be part of the team that prepares communion on the first Sunday of each month.  Instructions are printed and hanging in the Sacristy for you to follow.  A member of the Worship Team will mentor you and help with the set up.  If you are interested, please contact Mark Young (281-2897) or the church office (289-4581).



Our church’s experiment utilizing a visitation pastor has been a success!  The Cabinet approved the visitation pastor position in our December meeting.  Rev. Dick Eick has been serving as our visitation pastor for the past few months to see if the position would be helpful in the future.  The Cabinet considered that fact that it will allow the lead pastor time to more fully focus on issues within the church building, administrative concerns, worship planning, and future planning.  And, as many folks have affirmed, our church needs to grow in membership.  The lead pastor will be focusing more attention on gaining new members and supporting the enhancement of church vitality while we move into 2018.

The next step in our process is having our Personnel Committee create a position description and open the position up for inquiries.



Many Christian circles with a progressive bent would like to toss out the Apostle Paul, claiming him as the source of so much that is wrong with the church.  What baggage to you carry about the Paul?  Is he the one who silenced women and denounced homosexuality?  Is he the preacher who linked us all to the sin of Adam and developed the theology of our personal salvation through the blood of Jesus?  Do you remember him defending slavery and making anti-Semitic pronouncements?  Do you agree with those who find Jesus appealing but Paul appalling?

John Dominic Crossan confesses that he had no time for Paul for much of his career as a Biblical scholar and teacher.  It was only when Crossan travelled to Turkey with Marcus Borg for a lengthy study of the historical context of the early Christian Church that he came to regard Paul as extraordinary and appealing.  Crossan argues that we must take Paul out of our familiar Reformation context and see him challenging Roman imperialism of his day in the name of Jesus with a bold courage that led to his imprisonment and death.

Beginning January 10 at Noon and meeting the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays throughout the coming year, interested adults will be meeting with Sue Evans for this dynamic new study.  A natural outgrowth of our previous study, “The Challenge of Jesus,” this new study on Paul will look at the matrix within which Paul lived and worked.  We will see the importance of his particular time and place, and see the tradition of Judaism infused with a new vision as Paul develops his theology of the church.

All are welcome!  Please let the office know if you are interested in attending this study and a link to class materials will be emailed to you.  If you must miss a session, there is a transcript available so you can keep up while away.  Sue Evans will be coming back to Rochester from her new home in Northfield to facilitate this study for us.  She can be reached at



The Congregational Church is delighted to announce Regina Mustafa will be our guest speaker for a third year in a row!  Invite your friends and family to join us on Wednesday, January 31 in the Parlor at 7:00-8:30 pm.  Regina is widely known as an advocate for interfaith dialogue and building respectful connections in the Rochester area.  She will discuss her work at the Community Interfaith Dialogue on Islam (CIDI), building bridges with the Muslim community, and open the floor for a Q & A at the end.  She is an excellent, smart and compassionate speaker and a great blessing to our Rochester community.  This is free and open to the public, but please reserve your seat by e-mailing Felicia Faldet at



Men’s Fellowship – Begin your morning reflecting on your faith.  Our Men’s Group welcomes you to join in this gathering of friends at 7 AM on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month.

Book Group - All are welcome to join our new daytime Book Group gathering on Thursday, January 18 at 10:00 am in the Parlor.  The selection is A Christmas Blizzard by Garrison Keillor and is available through the Rochester Public Library book bag program (located in the church office).



Our next volunteer day is Saturday, January 20 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 November 18 who bagged over 7,100 pounds of apples as well as other projects:  Nancy Redman, Gabi Hameister, Shannon Hameister, Rex and Ilomae Patton, Cathy Swessel, Cindy Swessel-Hofer, Jane Yunginger, LuAnn and John Nicholson, Cheryl and Bob Roediger, David Walters, and Annie Kramer.

Thanks to our December 16 volunteers:  Nancy Redman, Cindy Swessel-Hofer, Janet Bartz, Bob Roediger, Rex and Ilomae Patton, and Annie Kramer.

Reminder – you can bring your food donations to church at any time and place them in the Channel 1 shopping cart.


~ Mark Klarich

It is now the middle of December and I am preparing for the transition to a new leadership team led by Tammy Williams.  By the end of January, I will have completed a 16-month term as your moderator.  Although the position carries a lot of responsibility, I quickly learned that there are a lot of very capable leaders in church to help the moderator (and the congregation) achieve the mission of our church.  I hope that I have conveyed enough gratitude to all those who have helped along the way.  It’s not necessary for all leaders in our church to have a prominent title.  The leadership pool (with and without prominent titles) is quite large in our church!

Some of the significant accomplishments by our congregation this year are as follows:

  • Our new Interim Minister Garth Schumacher
  • Obtaining a Religious Visa for Dr. Julie Kim
  • Several successful community outreach events (e.g. Music Events and Hurricane Relief Buckets)
  • Establishing a new tenant for the Church (Rochester Arts and Science Academy)
  • Securing a property management company for our facility (and reducing related workload on our volunteers)
  • Confirming/Approving a Vitality and Renewal Effort for 2018 with the Minnesota Conference

When I accepted the position of Moderator 16 months ago, I routinely received expressions of anxiety and fatigue by congregants.  As I meet with many of you today, there is clearly more optimism and enthusiasm about our future.  As we approach our new year, a diverse set of experiences will embrace our “congregational family.”  Regardless of the circumstances, we need to continue to think and act boldly toward our mission and treat each other with kindness and humility.  If we do both well, a path toward great spirituality and friendship awaits us all.



On November 29th, Paul Espeset, Pastor Garth Schumacher, Nicolas Doyle (RASA) and Mark Klarich met with Darrel Hildebrant from the Rochester Police Department Crime Prevention Unit.  Darrel completed a thorough evaluation of the building exterior, lighting, and landscaping as well as a review of the building interior.  He made numerous suggestions to improve security.

We also discussed the remote potential for an active shooter situation.  There are several options to reduce the risks associated with an active shooter scenario.  Potential solutions include: 1) improving vigilance by Sunday ushers, 2) technology for alerting police of a crisis, 3) locking doors that are not attended during service, 5) ensuring escape routes are well understood and configured for quick exit, and 6) a central meeting location outside the church.  Paul Espeset took copious notes of the entire encounter.  There will be more follow up to confirm solutions we want to implement in the New Year and we will be sure to communicate those solutions to the congregation prior to implementing.



The 2018 Flower Calendar will be posted on the Narthex bulletin board in January.  If you wish to give an arrangement in memory of, in honor of, or in celebration of a loved one, please sign the line on your chosen date.

If your Sunday has already been chosen, you may sign above or next to the other name, who may be an annual giver and marked with an “A.” Our church has two brass vases and two bouquets will bring happiness to two homebound or hospitalized members after the service.

Cindy Sawyer will call you the week prior to your chosen Sunday to obtain information for the church bulletin and discuss flowers.  The usual arrangement is $35.00 plus tax and our florist will bill you.  If you have any questions, call Cindy at 289-7617.



2018 Offering Envelopes are now available to pick up in the Narthex.  If you have requested a booklet, please take yours home to save us the cost of mailing.  If you would like to be added to or removed from using envelopes, please call the church office.



Prayers of comfort and God’s presence with Cindy Sawyer upon the death of her younger brother, Terry Ellerman, on December 2.



Thanksgiving Offering – Thank you to all contributed so generously to the Thanksgiving offering and supporting Church World Service in making positive changes in the world.  Through your generosity we were able to provide $2,076 for their responses to hunger, poverty, displacement and disaster relief all around the globe.

Channel One Concert – Thanks to those who came to enjoy the bells and brass play to benefit Channel One with 143 pounds of food and $1,273 cash donations.

The Advent season was beautiful and was made possible by many people who volunteered, decorated, donated talents and resources, and helped to make everything special including all of the choirs celebrating Christ’s birth.

Thank you to all who provided the poinsettias this Christmas season and to all who purchased pecans.  A few pounds of pecans still remain and will make excellent gifts to family and friends at $9.75/16 oz. bags.

Thank you to all who so generously gave the gift of their time in helping with ringing bells for Salvation Army and volunteering for Christmas Anonymous: the daughter and grandson of Phyllis Berreth, the Barber’s, the Majorowicz’s, the Hoppe’s, Nancy Redman, Sue Krueger, LuAnn and John Nicholson, Cindy Swessel-Hofer, Kathy Swessel, Jane Yunginger, Nancy Zaworski, and Ethan Bauman.

More thanks!  To ALL of you for your overwhelming donations for the Women’s Shelter and to Wanda Barber and her Mayo Clinic department for their fundraising ($360) for gifts to the Women’s Shelter.  The abundance is overflowing and you have provided many blessings this Christmas season!


Monthly Calendar – January 2018
Sunday Volunteers – January 2018



MONTHLY OFFERING REPORT- Steve Gusa, Financial Secretary

2016 Actual 2017 Actual 2017 Budget
NOVEMBER Pledge $27,233 $24,937 $23,032
Non Pledge $1,737 $11,680 $2,798
Total $28,970 $36,617 $25,830
Year-to-Date Total $290,722 $268,969 $284,130

FINANCIAL SUMMARY-September 30, 2016

2016 Actual 2016 Budget
TOTAL INCOME $346,834 $423,373
Stewardship/Benev. $29,493 $23,500
Worship $3,839 $7,250
Christian Education $3,050 $2,450
Youth $287 $700
Nurture $395 $1,500
Adult Education $75 $250
Justice & Peace $353 $1,000
Staff Costs $201,447 $281,391
Administrative $25,857 $30,453
Office $12,554 $17,887
Physical Expenses $42,655 $63,443
Total Expenditures $320,004 $429,824
NET INCOME $26,831  ($6,451)