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St. Paul's United Methodist Church  •  7740 Lackman, Lenexa KS  66217  •  913-268-9551
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In this issue:


LOVE

  • Message from Pastor Lora
  • Worship
  • Interactive Prayer Station
  • Note from Staff Parish Relations

SEEK

  • Advent Studies
  • Advent Devotionals
  • Advent Calendar

SERVE

  • Holiday Event Success
  • 2021 Giving
  • Sharing Meals with our neighbors
  • Last chance to submit your Silent Night video!
  • Christmas Offering
  • Star Words & Serving our neighbors

KIDS & YOUTH

  • Youth Zoom Christmas Party - you're invited!
  • Kids' Connection programs


Message from Pastor Lora


This week I had the privilege of sitting in a Finance Team meeting and planning for the year ahead. It isn’t an easy task. There are about a million unknowns. I woke up on Wednesday to learn that our insurance had gone up unexpectedly. I was starting to feel a little bit nervous about funding. I HATE when I let myself get in a place where I’m anxious, because in my experience God’s abundance always shows up and makes a way forward.

I should have remembered that.

Because that same day we received multiple pledges that not only offered these incredible gifts, but many increased their giving from 2020 to 2021. In fact, as I count the estimates there are 52 families so far who have increased their giving.

If you are one of those givers, THANK YOU. If this is a hard year financially for you and that’s not you, THANK YOU for being a part of this church and trusting God and receiving the gifts others can offer when it isn’t your season.

I think it’s beautiful to see what God can do when we come together and give from our resources or allow ourselves to accept the gifts others can give. Look at God’s church trusting our way into 2021!

As I look over these estimates, I see the names of folks who have been part of this church forever, and I see names of folks who weren’t even part of St. Paul’s a year ago. It makes me wonder who might be among us next year who we have yet to meet!

As we finish 2020 strong financially thanks to your continued generosity, I am feeling equipped and grateful as we enter into 2021 as well.

Will it look different? Absolutely.

Are we going to do big things with what we are given? You better believe it.

I’ve been wrapping a lot of presents lately to get them ready to mail to family and friends. I find so much joy as I think about giving them something to smile about this year. Working on our budget for the year to come at church feels a bit like wrapping presents to me. I know, I know. That might be a weird pastor festivity, but it’s REAL!

Thanks for what you’re “putting under the tree” at St. Paul’s and for engaging and participating in the life of the church—the gift God gives us to be church together through it all.

Peace,

Pastor Lora

P.S. – WE ARE GETTING JOYFUL THIS SUNDAY! Don’t forget to get festive this weekend with your sweaters and reindeer ears and get ready for some serious joy. We know it’s not feeling joyful for everyone, so we are going to do our best to work on a double portion to share.
 


Advent Series: Comfort & Joy


Participate in the livestream on Facebook, Sundays at 10am (except Christmas Eve services, which will be on Christmas Eve :) at 5 & 7pm). If you miss out you can always watch later on Facebook or YouTube.

This Sunday, December 13
Put on your coziest Christmas sweater and get ready for some FUN! “Repeat the sounding joy” with your church this Sunday morning!
Facebook
YouTube
Online Worship Guide & Bulletin
Interactive prayer


Through December 12 @ St. Paul's


Through the evening of December 12th, you and your family are invited to come and add to St. Paul's Advent display! We'll be decorating the Christmas trees outside of the bridge. Weather permitting, decorations for the trees will be available to add so that we can pray together. Come to the bridge classroom doors, just off the lower parking lot, to add your prayers to the tree and collect a prayer for this Advent season. Instructions and sanitizing supplies for materials will be provided at the station.

St. Paul's is very fortunate to have such dedicated and talented people on staff, especially this year! As 2020 comes to an end, the Staff Parish Relations Committee wants to recognize that even during a global pandemic, the staff at St. Paul’s has enabled our community to continue to Love, Seek, and Serve in safe and meaningful ways. Pastor Lora’s recent email asking for estimates of giving for 2021 reminds us of some of the things St. Paul’s has accomplished this year, and it is truly breathtaking! 

Thanks to the staff’s innovative and bold leadership, we’ve had opportunities to turn a year of pain, loss, and anger, into growth, action, and hope. As the saying goes, St. Paul’s continues to be St. Paul’s, even in 2020, and this is largely due to the staff’s tireless efforts in re-envisioning how we worship, study, and serve. Things certainly look and feel different this year, but the one constant is that the St. Paul’s community continues to love others unconditionally, educate ourselves and challenge injustices, serve those hurting physically and emotionally, and seek God’s love and call.

With all of this in mind, we wanted to give you the opportunity to show your appreciation to the staff for their love and care this year.

First, we invite you to contribute monetary gifts to a love offering that will be distributed to the staff in January 2021. You may make your contribution online by selecting “Staff Gift,” or designating a payment by text or check to the "Staff Gift."

Second, as you are addressing your Christmas and New Year’s cards, we invite you to send a card or note to the church so that the staff can read your greetings and updates. Pictures are particularly appreciated, especially by the newer members of St. Paul’s staff.

On behalf of the Staff Parish Relations Committee, I wish you all a peaceful and blessed Advent season.

~ Kimberly Goff
 
Advent studies

We're excited to offer four Advent studies this year to help you prepare your heart and your life for the coming of Christ into the world. Each of the studies will meet via Zoom; contact the host to join.

We encourage you to make time in your Christmas preparations to pause and reflect and connect with others doing the same. We believe it will lead you to a more meaningful celebration of the season.

Find more info here and choose a study to become part of your tradition this year.

We invite you this Advent to make space in every day to read and reflect on what it means for God to be with us in real and living ways. The good news of Christmas is that Christ comes to bring us hope. Christ comes to bring us joy. How will you hear that message this year, in all that has happened in 2020? How will you believe in the nearness of Christ and feel his peace and his love?

Advent devotionals are a good resource for daily reading and reflection. We've compiled a list of materials that we find especially meaningful and helpful. The title of each devotional is a link that you can use to order a copy. The description highlights what you will find within its pages.

Take time to look through this list and select one that you find most appropriate for you. Share that time with your family and grow together in the hope of God-with-us.

Advent Calendar

 

November 27 - December 25


Each day you will find a different way to Love, Seek, or Serve to lead you in a meaningful Advent. Be sure to check Facebook each day or download a printable version from St. Paul's website to follow along with your church family.
 


Holiday Event Success


A big thanks to all who supported St Paul’s annual Holiday event with Ten Thousand Villages. You helped a local store and its fair-trade artisans and also earned funds for St. Paul’s Peace and Justice ministries. We made almost as much as we did in past years for those causes, which is amazing during COVID times. We appreciate you so much! ~ Pat Cooper
 

2021 Estimate of Giving


There's still time to make your estimate of giving for 2021 online here, or find a printable version here.
 


Sharing Meals with our Neighbors


A recently heard story tells about a community food line where the best pray-er of the community - someone who herself stood in that food line a few years earlier - offered a prayer while holding hands and gathered around the food. She prays: “Lord, we know you’ll be coming through this line today. So help us to treat you well.” The significance of a shared meal in Jesus’ day has been somewhat lost to our 21st century way of thinking. Many of the people with whom Jesus dealt never had a full stomach. Naturally, “heaven” for them was imagined as a banquet. One of the clearest ways Jesus showed his openness and acceptance of all types of people was in sharing meals with them. (From Living the Questions - A Kingdom without Walls
 
Janet Podoll, Judi Derks and Cathy Matlack want to thank the approximately 90 people in the St. Paul’s community who have shown hospitality by sharing meals with our neighbors at the Cross Lines Food Kitchen throughout 2020. We serve meals every 3rd Friday and due to the pandemic we’re now only serving “take-out” meals and have seen a significant increase in demand. Next week, December 18, is our serve date. If you’d like to be involved next week or next year, contact Judi, judiderks@gmail.com. 
 
Silent Night

Even if you've never participated in choral music before at St. Paul's, we're excited to involve you (and as many people as possible) in our video of “Silent Night!” Jackson Thomas, St. Paul's Director of Choral Music, will provide specific instructions, practice tracks, and a support system at every turn. Find out how it works and get ready to submit your video by December 14. Jackson will compile everyone’s videos together to create something really special for our Christmas Eve service. Read all about Jackson's plans and how you can be part of this very special Silent Night.
    
Find out more here and email Jackson with any questions or hesitations - he will put your mind at rest! We hope you'll join us!
 

Our Christmas offering this year will be split between two local organizations: MORE2 and Shawnee Community Services.

MORE2 (Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity) is made up of people of faith in Kansas City who are called to break down barriers that divide us by race and class. Rather than providing services or programs, More2 works to change policies through grassroots movements, in ways that promote racial and economic equity in Kansas and Missouri. We hope to join More2 as a partner congregation in 2021.

Shawnee Community Services is a long time partner in mission. They exist to offer a hand up to those in need throughout the Greater Kansas City and serve their customers with integrity and respect, giving them a hand up and the tools they need to be self-reliant and give back to our communities. This hand up includes:
  • Food, clothing, emergency financial assistance for shelter, utilities and health care; and, advocacy.
  • Empowering our clients through education and development of life skills and resource management.
  • Promoting practices that respect all people of the Earth and the Environment with special emphasis on all types of recycling.
  • Actively recognizing the central role that charity plays in society by initiating innovative ways to improve the quality of life locally, nationally & internationally.
  • Wisely utilizing the energy and generosity of volunteers, churches, businesses and other organizations in these efforts.
Star Words


Star Words and Serving our Neighbors


This tradition is back for its second year! The wise men followed the star that pointed them to Christ. You will receive a star with a word on it and that word will point you toward Christ in the year to come!

After online worship on January 3 you will be invited to come pick up your star word and also to bring non-perishable food items for The Hub Argentine food pantry and the Johnson County North Central Multi-Service Center.

The Hub is asking specifically for donations of 15 oz. cans of protein beans (black beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, cannellini beans, kidney beans, pork and beans, chili beans, refried beans).

The Multi-Service Center will accept similar sized non-perishable foods of all types.

Make plans to get your Star Word and drop off donations at the same time on Sunday, January 3, right after online worship!
 
Kids & Youth


Youth: Middle School/High School


Check out our activities for youth and join us any time! Programs are open to all youth grades 7-12. Contact Allison for Zoom links, and be sure to join our Facebook group for updates.

Youth Christmas Party
Join us for our annual Youth Christmas Party, this year being held on Zoom, Sunday, December 20 from 4-5:30pm. During our party, we will unwrap gifts and play JackBox games and feel free to wear something fun and festive! It is our tradition to have a white elephant gift exchange. Our Youth Council and Re-entry team have planned a way to make this still happen. We invite you to drop off a wrapped $5 white elephant gift at the Church in a box that will be left out to collect, this Sunday, Dec. 13, anytime between 8 am - 8 pm. Then on Dec. 20, come by the Church (between 8 am - 4 pm) to pick up a different gift that we will all unwrap together at the Zoom Christmas party. This gift can be something bought or something fun lying around your house. However, we will not accept homemade baked goods this year as a gift option. Contact Allison to receive the Zoom meeting information and hope to see you there!

Sunday School
Sundays, 11–12pm via Zoom
Topic: Faith & Justice 
 Open to all youth grade levels.  

Small Groups
Sundays, 3-4pm via Zoom 
Who Am I? A look into our identities as God each uniquely created us. Open to all youth grade levels.  

Sundays, 6-7pm via Zoom
Relationships and the Bible. Open to all youth grade levels.
 

Youth Groups and Activities
Youth Facebook Group
Contact Allison Marcus

Kids' Connection: PreK - Grade 6

 

Check out our multimedia opportunities for kids to connect with God and each other! There's a place for you here.

We begin worship this Sunday with Kid's Time! so be sure and gather round for that, 10am on Facebook Live.

Kids' Connection & KIDS456 weekly meetups
Join us! Contact Jamie for the Zoom links.
  • Kids' Connection: 11am Sundays
  • KIDS456: 6pm Sundays
Learn more & get this week's Parent Guide
Join Kids' Connection Facebook Group
Contact Jamie Turk
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