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Kicking Off
It’s crunch time, folks! We have been gearing up for our Kickoff Sunday for several weeks now, and it is finally upon us. The success of the Kickoff depends on you; it is so important that you invite your friends, family, and neighbors. But just what will you and your guests find when you get here?
First of all, Adult Studies resume this Sunday with an introduction to my novel, A Rope for Judas, which we will be discussing over the next few weeks. Even if you have not participated in Adult Studies before, be assured that it is by no means a closed group; just come to the church library at 9:00 am, and we’ll do our best to squeeze you in.
Second, your guests who have children will find a couple of volunteers  ready to greet their tiny tots in the nursery downstairs. Then, after my “Moment with Children” early in the worship service, school-age kids are invited to go to Sunday School, where they will learn all about the armor of God as outlined in Ephesians 6. Children and parents will reunite at the end of worship and head  downstairs for our Kickoff Weekend indoor tailgate party. Be sure to bring your favorite “football food” to contribute to the party. After they load up their plates, confirmation-age youth and their parents will join me at a table to introduce ourselves to one another, get an overview of the confirmation program, “Confirm Not Conform,” and settle on our meeting dates and times for the year. We’ll also schedule Confirmation Sunday at that time (probably sometime in May or June 2024). Kickoff Sunday will conclude with ice cream from Mr.Softee at 1:00. 
Beyond Kickoff Sunday, we have a number of opportunities for service, learning, and fellowship in the coming months. We are currently in the process of assembling small groups. I am recruiting facilitators for these groups, and I encourage everyone in the congregation to take part in at least one, but not more than two, of these special groups designed to help you grow in discipleship. As of this writing, we have facilitators for the following groups:
Bible Reading group — Garrisson Webb
Prayer Practices group — Me
Relationship Evangelism Project (REP) support group — Jeff Kistler
Anti-hunger group (starting in November) — Marti Smith
Theology & Ethics on Tap group — Me
Information about each of these groups is available upon request and will soon be posted on the church web site.
We also have a couple of opportunities for participation coming up next week. Tuesday evening in the library we will hold our Grief Support  Group, which is open to anyone who is experiencing any kind of grief, either recent or longstanding. Then, on Wednesday, we will gather in the sanctuary for an intimate prayer service based on the pattern of the community of lay brothers in Taizé (tuh-ZAY), France. This type of prayer
incorporates Scripture reading, repetitive singing of simple songs, spoken intercessory prayers, and significant chunks of silent meditation. The services usually run 30–45 minutes in length. Both the support group and the Taizé prayer will begin at 7:00 pm.

Finally, I want to mention one additional mission opportunity that is  coming up next month. On Sunday, October 8, following worship, anyone who wishes may join me at Gring’s Mill for the Reading-Berks CROP Walk. This is an initiative of Church World Service, and the proceeds go to fight hunger here in Berks County and around the world. 25% of the money raised will go to Helping Harvest. The walk starts around 1:15, and there are options for 1K, 6K, or 10K walks along Tulpehocken Creek. I have set our church’s fundraising goal at a modest $250, so even if you don’t plan to walk, you can make a donation at our team page . If you do wish to walk, please contact me ( or 614.633.9319).
See you and your guests this Sunday!
Grace and peace,