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God’s Work, Our Hands: Be Fully Alive In Christ
Whether you have a little time or a lot, volunteering at fpcw is fun, easy and rewarding. Join one of our standing committees or give your time to a mission partner or seasonal event. Not sure when you’re available, but want to help? We have plenty of “as needed” opportunities as well. Click here to view the description and list of volunteer opportunities and click here to access the SignUpGenius link.

Fellowship Hour
Our request for Fellowship Hour hosts is an ongoing need each month. Fellowship Hour is an important tradition at fpcw, and one that we cherish. Please jump on board to be a host. It’s easy to do and so appreciated. Please click the SignUpGenius link and pick a Sunday that works for you.

Adult Faith Formation
Join us Sunday mornings for this study “The Way of Love: Practices for a Jesus-Centered Life,” put together by Rev. Michael Curry, presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. We will study seven ancient pathways – Turn, Learn, Pray, Worship, Bless, Go and Rest – that followers of Jesus have observed for centuries. Using videos, readings and conversation, we will gather to learn and support one another in living into these practices. The class meets at 8:45 am in the Upper Room.

The ARC of Racial Justice
Between the Adult Ed book reading this summer and the youth trip to Memphis, the theme of racial justice has been a topic of conversation here at church. This is an important time for us as a congregation to talk about this issue. One of the suggestions from the book group conversation was to add a resource page to our website. There you’ll find resources to learn more about our Christian role within racial justice, past, and present. You will find suggestions for readings, videos, and podcasts that may help us learn more about these issues. Most importantly, we are challenged to take action to love our neighbors and stand up for all our brothers and sisters in Christ and be a healing presence in a broken world. Click here to access the resource page.

Small Groups Restart this fall! 
Now is a great time to join a small group! All are open to anyone, no long term commitments needed. Try them out and see how you can be more fully alive this fall!
Slowing Time: For women, begins Wednesday, Sept 18, 7 pm in the lounge, meets twice a month,
The Lunch Group: For women, begins Wednesday, Sept 11, in the lounge, and meets monthly,
Men’s Hour: Meets every Thursday evening at 7 pm, in the lounge,
Men’s Council: Meets Saturday mornings for breakfast and a program at 7:30 am, in the WMFC,
The Presbyterian Women’s Spoke: Meets on the first Thursday of each month at Westminster Place in Evanston,
Moms and Psalms: Gathers twice a month, the first meeting will be September 4, 9:30 am in the lounge,
Book and Dinner Group: For anyone, meets on the 3rd Wednesday of the month, 6:15 pm, at Carol Korak’s home,
Senior Supper Club: A gathering of seniors for dinner and fellowship at the Ridgeview Grill, 3rd Tuesday at 5:30 pm,
Bible Study: For anyone, meet in the Upper Room any Thursday morning at 10 am.

Mission-Sponsored Movie Series 
The mission group will be sponsoring a series of movies/documentaries this fall and winter that focuses on social issues that our mission partners seek to address.

Join us Sunday, September 22, 5 pm for the film “Emanuel” which is the 80-minute story of victims and survivors of the 2015 Charleston church shooting. The evening will include a screening of the film, followed by discussion and a pizza dinner.  Please note: this film does have some explicit scenes of violence that can be disturbing for younger audiences. We recommend youth be age 13+ to view the film, it will of course vary from person to person.

The following month, the focus will shift to homelessness and poverty with the showing of a compelling documentary about the homeless chorus in San Diego. The film depicts a critical and timely social issue: people living without support and shelter. Using a unique community choir as a way to tell the stories of people suffering from homelessness, the film effectively puts a human face on a crucial societal program and makes it strikingly clear just how easily someone can end up living on the streets. The screening will take place immediately after worship on Sunday, October 27, followed by lunch and a discussion of the film.

Additional film events will be scheduled after the first of the year.

Immigrant and Refugee Crisis at the U.S. Border – You Can Help
Whatever our political persuasions, our Christian faith calls us to love our neighbors, to care for the needy and to welcome the stranger. We know your hearts have been heavy with the ongoing crisis at the southern border of the U.S., where families have been separated, children have been detained in squalid conditions and despair seems ubiquitous. According to Google Maps, it’s over 1,500 miles from Wilmette to El Paso, Texas. But these are children of God, our sisters and brothers in need of our action and engagement and prayer. We remember what the late Elie Wiesel used to say to audiences around the world when he spoke about surviving the Holocaust, “The eleventh commandment is ‘Thou shall not stand idly by.’”

A few of us have been brainstorming and organizing and praying about how we can best respond at fpcw. We want to give you some ways you can personally and immediately respond, and then some ways we’d like to respond as a community.

Give – We recommend three organizations. First, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) is already working with organizations to help families at the border. They provide shelter when families at the border are released, help with transportation, items for the bus, medical attention. You can give here. Second, many of the children, some of them still unaccompanied, end up in Chicago. There is an organization supported by our friends in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America called AMMPARO (Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation and Opportunities.)  This organization provides a one-on-one response to the children. You can give here. Finally, Immigrant Families Together is a movement that started in June 2018 to support families at the border. They pay bonds for parents in detention and work to reunite them with their children. Additionally, they support over 100 reunited families as they recover from their detention trauma and adjust to life in the U.S. while their asylum cases are adjudicated. You can give here.

Learn – the roots of the crisis at our border are complicated and go back decades, not just a few news cycles. There are many resources out there, but one we encourage you to watch is the film, “Genesis of the Exodus,” that was produced by our denomination, the PC(U.S.A.), a couple of years ago and that traces the root causes of the massive exodus from the three countries that make up the Central American Northern Triangle (Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador).

Advocate – As with many other issues that arise, we encourage you to contact the office of your Representative or Senators to express your opinion on this issue. Organizations that monitor current legislation will be able to keep you abreast of any bills moving through the Congress. Call the U.S. Capital switchboard number (202)224-3121, ask for the individual’s office you’d like to speak with and here is a potential script to use.

“Hi my name is ____. I live in _____, IL zip code _____. [I’m _(a parent/grandparent, etc.)_, so the treatment of all children and their families, no matter their nationality, is a priority for me like it is with my own _(children/grandchildren)_, and our country needs to do better.]  I’m calling to urge Rep X/Senator X to end family separations at the border and to ensure that the US Customs and Border Protection and the Office of Refugee Resettlement adhere to humane standards of protection for kids, like time limits for detention and basic hygiene, like making sure kids have toothbrushes, soap, showers, and mattresses. These child protections, as well as alternatives to detention like foster care and placement with family members should be written into law. 

Can I count on Rep X/Senator X to put pressure on CBP and ORR to ensure protection for kids, that families be kept together, and to work for long-term solutions by writing child protections into law?” [The bracketed piece is actually really important–telling them why you care personally is just as important as telling them what you want them to do.]

Pray – our first and last job as followers of Jesus is to pray. There is power in prayer, in listening to God, in interceding for those who are suffering. And yet we must remember “thoughts and prayers” are not something we just blithely tweet after a crisis. Authentic prayer always changes us and impels us to action. As 1 John says, we are called to love not just “in word or speech, but in truth and action.” We encourage you to pray for the migrant families, for the political leaders and government agents on both sides of the border, for non-profit and religious leaders. We invite you to find ways to talk to your children about this crisis and include their voices in your prayers.

Join Our Task Force – Finally, Pastor Erin and Mission Committee co-chair Mary Watt would like to form a fpcw task force to look into ways in which we as a congregation (and perhaps as part of a coalition of Wilmette congregations) might get more directly involved in this crisis as it is playing out in Chicagoland. This approach was how we began our involvement with the refugee crisis in 2015. Please reach out to Erin (revraska@fpcw.org) or Mary (mhw1117@gmail.com) if you are interested in learning more.

Shop on Amazon, Support fpcw
fpcw is now a registered charity through the Amazon Smile program! So, next time you’re shopping on Amazon, select “First Presbyterian Church of Wilmette” as your charity of choice and we will receive 0.5% of the total order as a gift. Here’s how it works. Visit our unique link and it will automatically select our church (https://smile.amazon.com/ch/36-2284275), or visit smile.amazon.com and search for fpcw. Either way, thank you for your support of the life and mission of our church. We are grateful.

Family Matters
Volunteers are needed to tutor students in grades K-12. Tutor/mentors receive an orientation and on-going training and support and meet with students once a week during the academic year. Please contact Greg Korak if you have questions or wish to become a volunteer.

Stock the Shelves 
Provides the what food stamps won’t and stretched incomes can’t cover by giving Chicago area refugees and their families the household and hygiene supplies they need to lead thriving lives. Despite their best efforts, many refugees strain each month to stretch their earnings to purchase the indispensable household and hygiene supplies food stamps don’t cover. Striving to close that gap, every fourth Wednesday of the month, Stock the Shelves drives a truck filled with the 15 items refugees need (and the only items we accept!) to the Indo-American Center in Rogers Park, where volunteers set up a mini-store stocked with new, unopened items. Refugees arrive early, check in, then shop the tables, choosing the items they need for the month. We do our best to supply them with as much as we can. The more donations and dollars we have for purchasing, the better able we are to meet their needs. It’s that simple and vitally important in closing the gap between what their incomes and food stamps won’t cover.

Stock the Shelves is an interfaith collaboration between fpcw, First Congregational Church of Wilmette, Sukkat Shalom, Congregation Hakafa and Temple Beth El.

Can you imagine if you had to choose between diapers for your baby or food for your family? This is the reality for thousands of refugee families in the Chicago area who were forced to leave their homes due to political and religious oppression, warfare and violence, Refugees arrive with minimal possessions of their own, but bring a passionate commitment to build new, thriving lives.

How Can You Help?

  • Donate Items From Our List: Drop off a single item OR collect hundreds of items by hosting a drive with your classmates, teammates, co-workers or friends! For drive support materials and boxes email Rev. Erin Raska, revraska@fpcw.org.
  • Purchase items on the Stock the Shelves Registry at Target: tgt.gifts/stocktheshelves.
  • Donate Money: Each month the cost is approximately $3,000 to serve the 125 families, but every dollar makes a difference! Please make checks payable to FPCW with Stock the Shelves in the memo line and mail to FPCW, 600 9th St, Wilmette, IL 60091, or hold a fundraiser at your school, office or club. All gifts are tax deductible.
  • Volunteer: Join us to sort items, load the truck and help distribute to the families. To volunteer please click here to access the SignUpGenius link.

Items Needed to Stock the Shelves:
Toilet paper, feminine pads (No tampons), diapers size 1-5, laundry detergent, basic cleaner (e.g. 409), body soap, hand soap, dish soap, deodorant, shampoo, body/hand lotion, Toothpaste and toothbrushes, razors and shaving cream. Please click this link STS Brochure to access the Stock the Shelves brochure.

In addition to donations, we need volunteers to help sort the donations and help load the truck and be a host on distribution days, at the Indo-American Center. Please consider helping with this important mission. Check out the Stock the Shelves website for ways to donate and volunteer.

GA 2018