January 15, 2021

Dear First Friends,
Blessings abound! 
What happy blessings met me this week when I walked to the church to refill our Little Libraries with books! Not only had some people shared their own books by adding them to the Libraries but on the shelf sat a can of soup and a handknit cosy toque- all blessings given and waiting to be received! As you read this Friday letter, look for all the other blessings we are receiving and giving. We are blessed by God! Looking forward, how might we be blessings to others?
PS On another note, check out a message that talks about 'pressing Restart'!
Newest Fundraiser at First
You may have heard rumours or been part of the discussion about a Comfort Food Dinner.
Then there was the latest lockdown announcement.
As a result, plans are currently on hold.
We are delaying until we get some further clarification.
Stay safe and stay tuned.
Words from the Pastoral Care Minister
This Week's Kerfuffle: You might think I am referring to the Zoom Bomb that took place at the end of my sermon on Sunday, but I am not. I totally forgot to attend Monday's UCW meeting! I already have marked the February 9th meeting on my calendar so "it doesn't happen again."
Getting to Know You: I have asked the Board members to send me the names of five people with whom I should strive to connect over the next month. So, you may receive an "out-of-the-blue" call from 647-763-0101. It is not a spam call, just a chance to say for us to say hello. I may ask you to recommend people for me to call. Gradually over the next few months I hope to have had the opportunity to speak to everyone in the ever-widening wide circle of First United Folks.
Rose Ann Vita

Due to the Ontario Lockdown which became effective December 26, 2020.  The Church will be closed, except to assigned staff/personnel.
If you have church givings and/or 2021 Pledge Forms, please during this period, drop off your envelope in the church mailbox, located at the William Street entrance.
Phone messages, mail and emails will be checked daily.
We appreciate your understanding and patience during this period.
Sheena Curwood
Church Administrator

Press Restart - First United Book Club
In the interests of restarting the book club, which has languished during the COVID epidemic, I have taken the initiative to plan an initial meeting.  It will be conducted by Zoom February 20, 2021 beginning at 9 AM.  The purpose of this meeting will be twofold: to have a book discussion; and to establish a procedure going forward for selecting books and determining a discussion leader.
The book that I have selected for the February 2021 discussion is The Farm by Joanne Ramos.
Nestled in the Hudson Valley is a sumptuous retreat boasting every amenity: organic meals, private fitness trainers, daily massages—and all of it for free. In fact, you get paid big money—more than you've ever dreamed of—to spend a few seasons in this luxurious locale. The catch? For nine months, you belong to the Farm. You cannot leave the grounds; your every move is monitored. Your former life will seem a world away as you dedicate yourself to the all-consuming task of producing the perfect baby for your über-wealthy clients.

Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines and a struggling single mother, is thrilled to make it through the highly competitive Host selection process at the Farm. But now pregnant, fragile, consumed with worry for her own young daughter's well-being, Jane grows desperate to reconnect with her life outside. Yet she cannot leave the Farm or she will lose the life-changing fee she'll receive on delivery—or worse.

Heartbreaking, suspenseful, provocative, The Farm pushes our thinking on motherhood, money, and merit to the extremes, and raises crucial questions about the trade-offs women will make to fortify their futures and the futures of those they love. 

For more information and to sign up, please be in touch with Gordon Wray – 519-745-1922.
UCW Meeting
On Monday afternoon this week, some of First's United Church Women gathered together via Zoom. Our time was warmed by smiles and laughter as we caught up on each other's news and UCW business. As each of us shared blessings that we have noticed and received, our gratitude to others and to God flowed freely.
The certificate below honours all the gifts to Mission and Service given by UCW groups in our WOW region (Western Ontario Waterways Region) in 2019.

Safe Start Team                 
While the current lockdown is making everything difficult right now, rest assured that the Safe Start Team is still looking towards a time when we can all be together again!
The Board has passed the following UPDATED MANDATE
(Proposed changes from previous version underlined)
  • Set up infrastructure and procure safety supplies and equipment
  • Support staff in implementing COVID-19 protocols and procedures
  • Monitor and implement Federal, Provincial and Regional safety directives and COVID-19 protocols
  • Provide recommendations to the Board and Worship Committee
  • Frequently communicate with the congregation
  • Work with renters and users of church space on the establishment of COVID-19 Safety Plans
  • Prepare a Workplace Safety Plan and the First United Church COVID-19 Safety Plan and obtain Board approvals when time permits

Much of this work has already been accomplished and is in place, and we are continuing to do more.
If you have any comments or suggestions for us, we would be happy to hear from you! Email us at safestartfirst@gmail.com
Your Safe Start Team,
Ken Arnett, Jay Brooker, Sheena Curwood, Harry Disher, Joe Hipperson, Kathleen King Martin, John Lindsay, Cathie Stewart Savage, Ron Taylor.

Nominating Committee Request
he Nominating Committee is preparing a report for the Annual Meeting on February 21. If you would like to join a committee or the Church Board, please let us know. Starting out as a congregational representative on the Board is a good way to learn more about the Board and gain experience.
Committees welcome new members as well: Affirming, Archives, Property, Outreach, Worship, Pastoral Care, Faith Development, Ministry and Personnel, Fundraising, Trustees.
For information contact the Nominating Committee: Mary Joan Brooker mj@kw.igs.net or 519-888-7141.
Short-term possibilities will be coming up too as we continue to adapt: helping with our online ministry or the next version of the Turkey Trot or making phone calls for pastoral care or reading scripture or providing prayers for a Sunday service.
Mary Joan Brooker
Update on Boiler and Heating System at the Church

Many of you are probably wondering what is happening with the boiler and heating system at the church.
The new boiler is now onsite sitting, boxed in the cloakroom, according to Jay.
Temporary heat arrived in the form of an indirect fired diesel heating unit (350,000 BTUH-400,OOO BTUH) placed outside the main hall. It began pumping warm air in through a window opening modified to suit ducting on Friday, January 8. Additional fans are being used to move air throughout the building.
The old boiler was shut down on Monday morning, January 11 and boiler demolition and abatement have begun.
The installation will continue for the next two weeks from that date so completion of the work should occur around January 22.
If everything goes well, we will have a fully functioning heating system by the beginning of February!
Online Ministry Support - We are getting so close ...

We are getting so close to reaching our goal for the online ministry fund! We are currently at $20,415 of approximately $24 000 needed to reach our goal.
Getting these funds allows us to purchase the equipment needed to record our online services now, or livestream them when we are back to in-person worship. It will also allow us to live stream noon hour concerts starting in February, so even if you can't be there in person you can be a part of it online.

Let's try to make a final push in January to complete this goal and provide this enhancement to our worship and music programs.
Please send a cheque to the church office or an e-transfer to firstunitedchurch@rogers.com indicating it is for the Online Ministry Fund.    

The Choir Auxiliary is happy to announce that its 8 Noon Hour Concerts will be live streamed on Facebook at https://musicpf.org/mptf-live-streams/.
Unfortunately, because of  COVID-19 restrictions, there will be no in-person audiences allowed. Louisa d'Amato, from the Record will be including an article on our series in an upcoming edition.

Feb. 9 - Ian Sadler (pipe organ)
Feb. 16 -Springdale Trio - Wendy Wagler (flute), Ben Bolt Martin (cello) & Boyd McDonald (piano) Feb. 23 - Paul Mitchell Jazz Trio - Paul Mitchell (trumpet), Clark Johnson (double bass), Rob Fekete (piano)
March 2 - Wendy Wagler (flute) & Beth Ann de Sousa (piano)
March 9 - Peter Shackleton (clarinet) & Stephanie Mara (piano)
March 16 - Gallery Chamber Players (Quintet) - James Mason (oboe), 
Julie Baumgartel (violin), Margaret Gay (cello) & Anna Ronai (piano)
March 23 - Penderecki String Quartet - Jeremy Bell  & Jerzy Kaplanek (violins), Christine Vljak (viola) & Katie Schlaikjer (cello)
March 30 - Larry Larson (trumpet) & Lori Gemmell (harp)
Worship in Coming Weeks

Sunday, January 17, 2021   – 10:30 a.m.  Rev. Harry Disher  
Sunday, January 24, 2021   – 10:30 a.m.  Rev. Rose Ann Vita
“Who Is Our Church?”
“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.”  (I Corinthians 12:12)
And so it is with the church, who in Paul’s imagery is that “body of Christ”.  We will explore this image further in worship and conversation on Sunday, January 24th using a Zoom format.  It will be different as there will be time for break-out rooms for small group sharing and imagining within the context of the service.  Prepare to allow for about an hour and half of engagement time if you choose to be present for this offering.
As “the body of Christ”, how would we describe the church as a person?  That is the invitation for this forthcoming service of worship.  If you could imagine First United Church at present as a person, what would your profile be like.  There will be ten questions to help you create that profile such as:  “What does First United usually eat for breakfast?”;  “What occupation, hobbies, personal interests, lifestyle does First United enjoy?”  
Note:  The link will be provided in the Friday newsletter only, not on our church website.
The ways you can join:
You can go to firstunitedchurch.ca for the service, First United Facebook page, or First United Youtube Channel.
If you would be interested in leading a worship service or in participating in some way please let me know at gregjcase@gmail.com.
Let's get together after church this week on Zoom! 
This is a chance to have friendly "coffee time" with others in our church and check in with one another. The Zoom will start at 11:15 (or so). Thanks to Muriel for hosting us.
Join Zoom Meeting
+1 647 374 4685 Canada
+1 647 558 0588 Canada
Meeting ID: 894 2610 0259

For Pastoral Care needs please email the church (office@firstunitedchurch.ca).  For our Minister of Pastoral Care call Rose Ann Vita 647-763-0101 (cell) or rose.ann.vita2@gmail.com (email).

Stewardship/Finance Update

To get your offering to the office you can use PAR, e transfer to firstunitedchurch@rogers.com, website donation www.firstunitedchurch.ca or send a cheque. Cheques can be dropped off at the church mailbox which is located at the Entrance on the William Street side of the building.
Also you may send your cheque to
First United Church
16 William St. West
Waterloo ON
N2L 1J3
Reminder, credit card companies have a fee of around 3-5%.  If you wish First to get the full amount, then please add that percentage to your contribution.
Church Offering Envelopes for 2021
In preparation for the coming year.  Please contact the office 519-745-8487 Ext201 or office@firstunitedchurch.ca as soon as possible if you would like 2021 Offering Envelopes.
Thank you, Sheena
We made a list.  Please check it twice!
Preparation of the Annual Report
All groups and committees preparing information for the Annual Meeting on February 21, 2021, are reminded to please submit Financial reports to treasurer, Andy Yuan  lyxyuan@yahoo.com

Together We Stand, but Apart