Amber Congregational Church

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose.

The ShoreLight – January 2020

Amber Congregational Church Newsletter

Loving relationships that are committed to God, accountable to each other, involved in Christ’s transforming work in our world.  


Prayer, the Survey and Small Steps

Historically it has been my practice to start the new year off with a series of sermons on the topic of prayer. Prayer is the conversation part of our relationship with God, and as with all relationships, communication is vital in order to maintain any level of positive connection. This past year I have benefitted from the practice of praying the Psalms each morning as both a devotional Bible reading and also as a tool in learning how to pray. Instead of a sermon series to start the year I am simply suggesting then that you join me in this practice. The booklet “Praying the Psalms Daily: A Schedule for Devotion and Learning” is available on the literature tables at church.

The church survey that we took in 2019 provided by Natural Church Development and in conjunction with our denomination’s encouragement, was all about helping churches to assess their strengths and weaknesses in order to promote obedient Christian growth. It simply reports on what we as church attenders see happening and not happening here. It should come as no surprise that by and large we all like our church and feel that we do some things rather well. That does not mean there isn’t room for improvement, in fact, there are some characteristics of a healthy church that are lagging here by our own evaluation. But let’s start with the positives.

The survey showed that we are a rather well organized church with structures in place to face the future and move forward. We are largely a Sunday morning church which means simply that we see the importance and the priority of weekly community worship. We rated our Sunday Worship rather well especially with regard to the music. There is a clear attempt to be relevant and creative and to encourage participation by many. This is also true of our approach to leadership. We attempt to have a team focus and not an authoritarian one.

What also showed up in the survey, however, was the apparent tendency to allow our Christian faith to be merely a Sunday morning reality. A majority of the responders rated the church low with regard to an everyday-faith, a God-consciousness that drives a passionate spirituality. In other words, we need to do more internal work as individuals if we are going to expect that others who walk into our church will find it and us a good reflection of Jesus.

How are we to move forward? That is after all why we took the survey and requested the help of our Conference. The first step is to understand and to own the assessment. This is what we said about ourselves. Do you find it to be accurate?

Then without diminishing the areas where we are doing well can we purposely plan to address together an area or two where we are not doing so well, the things that do not come naturally to us. We do have a small committee that will seek to keep us on track and moving ahead from understanding to planning to doing and then to evaluating our progress. The Survey Committee is made up of Rick Chaffee, Michelle Coonradt, Gail Frary, Chuck Harris and Cathy Smith. They would be most appreciative of any thoughts you might have to share.

Perhaps one of the best things we can do moving forward is to help each other follow through with what we say we want to do. I have never been one for New Year’s resolutions but maybe we could aid one another in some of the weak points of our Christian practice by encouraging a more active involvement.

Taking just one example, the Adult Sunday School Class has started to end each class time with a suggestion on how to share our faith with someone else. Time is also given to each one to report back on how the week went, what we were able to do and with what result. This is just a simple attempt to assist one another in following through with our faith commitments. It is a little low-key accountability to aid us in becoming the Christians and the church that we have professed we want to be. As we have been taught in the past, Christian experience always starts with an upward look of prayer, an inward look of accountability, and an outward look of outreach or ministry. May God help us as we walk into 2020.

See you in Worship.



The Church as a Safe Place

Points of Emphasis for Discussion

It cannot be denied that the culture of our day increasingly finds itself divided on practically every issue. This is evident politically, socially, and morally. In our current culture, every sentence someone utters could threaten someone else’s existing belief. In the public arena a clear definition of what is true is no longer accepted, preventing us from holding civil conversations. Even within the Christian denominations there are opposing sides debating many of these same issues from differing biblical and theological perspectives. It is a confusing time for many both within and without the church. We at the Amber Congregational Church desire to provide a safe place for all people, regardless of their identity or belief, to question, to discuss, to wrestle with the complexities of divisive issues. We seek to do so in an environment that respects everyone.

Although we are not necessarily planning to hold any public forums on any specific topics, we do want to encourage open and free conversations between individuals and small groups. We hope all discussions can be approached with respect and without fear or prejudice, putting aside personal preferences in order to clearly hear and learn from others with a different perspective. We believe we can engage in this kind of dialogue because we live in the reality of Christ’s love. We feel secure in his love and can therefore freely offer that love to others without fear (1 John 4:15-21). We desire to be a safe place for all people because of our understanding that the role of the church is to not legally dictate truth but to focus people’s trust on God’s Word. It is this love of the truth that has brothers and sisters walking with each other to assist and clarify our beliefs. We can then aid each other in faithfully living them out to the glory of God as each individual “works out his/her own salvation” under the authority of Christ. (Philippians 2:12-13, Galatians 6:1-8, 1 John 4:18)

The following six points are what we believe should be the foundation of all discussions pertaining to how people see themselves and how they should determine their moral, social and political views.

1. Created in the Image of God – The first thing to be stated with regard to human identity is that all people are made in the image of God. The Creator designed and made us and as a result we are all people of sacred, eternal value. We are this to God and consequently we should recognize both our own value and that of all others. The fact that all of us are sinners by condition and by choice does not change this basic truth about us although it does color our ability to accurately understand both ourselves and our world. (Genesis 1:26-28)

2. Loved and Redeemed by Christ – We are Christ’s and should be raised to know that who we are primarily and relationally is found in our identity as those loved and redeemed by Jesus. His love and grace is demonstrated in His death and resurrection for every one of us. This assures each person that they can find the ultimate joy, peace and wholeness that God intended for each one to experience. We cannot earn this redemption but it must be accepted by each person individually. Relationship with God through Christ is where true human identity resides. (2 Corinthians 5:15-21, 1 John 4:9-10)

3. Sinners and Servants of God – Each person stands before God as a sinner and a servant. We are not the masters of our souls, our selves, or our place in the world. We belong to another, to God, and we are not gods ourselves. Our attempt to put ourselves first is evidence of our own sinfulness. Before we are able to correctly and adequately identity ourselves in the world we must understand and acknowledge our place as subordinate to our Lord; we are servants before the Master. (Matthew 10:24-25, Matthew 25:14-30, Luke 17:1-10)

4. Obedient Subjects of God’s Order – As people who belong to God by creation and bought by Christ in redemption, we are not in the place of authority. The standards and morals by which we are to live are not those of our own making. Our best hope for the sustained joy of life is found in obedience to the moral standards set by our wise and loving Creator. God has revealed His moral and ethical expectations for humankind in Scripture. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

5. Morality and Ethics Determined by Behavior – Morality and ethics are not defined by identity but by behavior. This is true in the areas of work, speech, appetite, and social interactions, just as it is in all areas of human sexuality. All of us are born with self-centered sinful perspectives and all express these in their behaviors. Moral ethics does not seek to change the heart, something only God can do through Christ, but rather morality seeks to declare what is right and wrong behavior in the social community. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Ephesians 4:17-32)

6. Support and Accountability in the Community – The church is God’s designed support and accountability community to enable each individual to live faithfully and for God’s glory. Here is where each person is to find and experience his/her full place in life and relationships, with God, with others and with oneself. The church should not seek to be the world’s policeman but neither must we accept the flip-flopping moral standards of our sinful culture and society. At all times we must remember that the church’s first responsibility is to demonstrate to everyone the affirming love God has for all people. (John 3:16-21, 1 Corinthians 5:9-13)

Amber Congregational Church Church Officers (2019)

Board of Elders (3 year terms)

term expiring 2020 - Carl Barber, Mark Henderson, Sally Wilson

term expiring 2021 - James Frary

term expiring 2022 - Cathy Smith, Sherry Persad, Deb O’Brien

Board of Trustees (3 year terms)

term expiring 2020 - David Heath, Jack Seymour, Matt Henderson,

Chuck Harris

term expiring 2021 - Mike Curtis, Teal Trendowski

term expiring 2022 - Cheryl Curtis, Jeff Southard, Terry Wheeler

Ministry Directors (3 year terms)

Outreach Director (2020) - Cathy Smith

Worship Director (2021) - Nancy Barber

Christian Education Director (2022) - Sue Ellen Harris

Nominating Committee (2 year terms)

term expiring 2020 - Deb O’Brien, Teal Trendowski, Cindy Casler

term expiring 2021 - David Angelo, Mark Henderson (Chairperson)

Other Officers (1 year terms expiring 2020)

Clerk - Cheryl Curtis

Treasurer - Gail Frary

Financial Secretary - Faith Stopyro

Assistant to the Treasurer and Finacial Secretary - Jenn Schultz

Ministerial Relations Chairman - Mike Curtis

Samaritan Fund Committee (2 year terms)

term expiring 2020 - Sally Wilson, Cheryl Curtis

(appointed from the Elders and Trustees)

term expiring 2021 - Faith Stopyro (elected by congregation),

Jim Frary, Matt Henderson

(appointed from the Elders and Trustees)

permanent members - Rick Chaffee, Cathy Smith

(Minister and Outreach Director)

Other 1 Year Appointed Positions (1 year terms expiring in 2020)

Overseer of Greeters - Deb O’Brien (appointed by the Worship Director)

Overseer of Acolytes and Nursery – Nancy Barber

(appointed by the Worship Director)

Librarian – Cheryl Curtis (appointed by the Education Director)

Historian – Sally Wilson (appointed by the Clerk)

Appointed Positions by the Trustees (indefinite term)

Janitor - Rich McVicar

Music Director - Lois Chaffee