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Remember to turn your clocks back Saturday night and enjoy that extra hour of sleep!

Nine of the Rairdon clan gathered Saturday for Hoosier Hysteria. A sign of what makes Indiana basketball so special is that 14,000 fans gathered in spite of IU’s very poor season last year. It was grandson Coen’s first Hoosier Hysteria and marked the 12th one in a row for our family. For those who follow the Hoosiers, I think you will enjoy this team much more than last year. Shooting will be a strength with 5-6 players very capable of hitting the three. Of course, the big question mark is the inside. Hanner Perea, IU’s only true center, did look more comfortable in the scrimmage, but we will see if he can stay out of foul trouble in critical games. I am predicting that IU finishes in the top half of the Big Ten, makes the NCAA tournament and of course, finishes ahead of Purdue, lol.

Sunday evening I took Janae to the ER when she spiked a fever. She has continued to experience pain in her kidneys following her kidney infection. They do know that she has five kidney stones but they are not passing so they cannot explain her pain. As it turned out, part of her pain and the cause of the fever was that she had pneumonia. She was given an antibiotic for it and stayed home from school Monday and Tuesday. She was also given referrals for a neurologist, urologist and nephrologist to try and figure out the cause of her kidney pain. Friday will be her first appointment and we hope to find some answers. Right now we would accept a good theory.

Monday night, the Administrative Council did approve a proposal by Gene Maley to start a campaign to replace our folding chairs in Fellowship Hall. We will need at least 200 and the chairs will be $25 each. The funding proposal still has to be formed, but will likely include individual donations as well as seeking grants from Summer Fare and the Memorial Fund Committee.

Tuesday, our staff completed our 2015 Calendar and then brainstormed on what can be done to turn around an attendance decline at the Wednesday night Gathering. Our format is not attracting busy young families. We came up with the beginnings of an interesting proposal which will need to be refined, but we think has potential. First, we would reach out into the community by taking The Gathering to Braeburn Apartments this summer. We would have the meal catered and paid for by the support of Old Bethel members who normally buy their meal and funds leftover from a Metro Ministries grant. This would be an opportunity to build some relationships and hopefully bring some of these people over to Old Bethel when The Gathering moves back to the church in the fall.

Our format would change to emphasize community with the meal at 5:30 and people assigned to new tables each week so we truly get to know new people and break down our cliques. An icebreaker each week would help us to better know each other. There would be a little singing/worship followed by a staff or lay led devotion which would apply a Biblical principal to our life, intergenerational discussion questions would be guided by trained table leaders and each table would take time to pray for each person. Then, at 6:30 instead of trying to have classes for everyone, we will offer optional short-term classes which would teach basic life skills and specialized topics of interest. This would make it easier for people to attend without feeling they have to make long-term commitments and would feature gifts of people in the community as well as in the congregation. The following summer we would return The Gathering to Braeburn or perhaps even expand to a second location. This proposal will go next to the Connection Team, as we continue the discussion of making The Gathering a more externally focused opportunity.

Our Stewardship Campaign is getting closer to our goal of $585,000 in pledges. At last count, yesterday, we had 179 pledges (215 last year) totaling nearly $503,000. The exciting news is we have 21 new pledges totaling $23,726 and 64 who increased their pledges, which total another $23,542. We have 57 who pledged last year that have not turned in a pledge this year, so if most of those come in, we have a good shot at reaching our goal. After this week, the Extravagant Generosity Team will begin follow up calls so please turn in that pledge as soon as possible.

This Sunday we will think about how we were disciplined/punished growing up, review how God disciplined Israel and Judah and consider how God brings discipline into our spiritual lives. In preparation, read Isaiah 40:1-11.

See you Sunday,

Rev. Jerry

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Boy Scout Troop 137 Pancake Breakfast at Longhorn Steakhouse this Saturday, 8-10 am.

This Saturday will be another gathering of the Rairdon clan as we renew our tradition of Hoosier Hysteria. As an IU fan, this evening is a must! Admission requires only a canned food item and we celebrate the start of the college basketball season. The program includes a three point shooting contest, dunk contest and a short scrimmage. This year Sage Steele, an ESPN reporter and alumni of IU, will emcee. It looks like all my kids will be there except for Devin, who has a new job which requires him to work that night. Even Saisha is planning on making it in spite of her recent surgery.

Saisha seems to be recovering well. Yesterday she said that she still has a fair amount of pain but was going to try a half-day at her school internship today. Janae still is having issues with kidney stones, but is functioning as she waits to find out what the next step will be for her. Janae was a big help this week while on fall break as she went with my niece to buy new clothes for my mom. If you ever need a professional shopper I can highly recommend Janae.

I got to see some of Kelsey’s work on display yesterday when her EVSC (Evansville-Vanderburg County School Corporation) School Turn Around group had a hearing with the State Board Committee on Turn Around Schools which was streamed online. They are doing very innovative work and getting significant results. The State Board was impressed enough that they even said they plan on bringing some of their findings back to IPS, where their results have been very uneven.

Tuesday, our staff completed the first phase of planning our 2015 calendar. A few highlights include a Leadership Training for our Committee and Team leaders on January 17, which will focus on how to bring a spiritual dimension to committee work; we will work to make Souper Bowl Sunday on February 1 an opportunity to recognize Food Pantry servants; and we are reserving March 22 as a time to recognize all those who have completed the Disciple Fast Track study.

Tuesday afternoon Felipe Rios, Ann Mead and I had a serious consultation with Sergio Reyes and Ann Handschu regarding the coaching relationship required for the grant we are seeking with the Indiana Conference. I think we have a better understanding of what is expected of Pastor Felipe and I believe he feels better about the coaching relationship. Felipe has some significant financial challenges as the result of moving his family to Indianapolis to be near their adult daughter, so if anyone has any leads on part-time work which could supplement his position here at Old Bethel, we would greatly appreciate you passing that along. Last Sunday, Felipe had 20 adults and 12 children attend worship, so he is making headway. This Sunday, Felipe’s wife Angela is offering some Venezuelan food for you to enjoy during the Fellowship Hour. It is a good will gesture, but donations will be accepted.

Letters went out this week to all those who have not turned in their pledge cards yet. We are up to $421,000 pledged towards our goal of $585,000. I again want to thank Linda Gasaway, Dianne Wellman, Deborah Phipps, Rosewalk Living Center, and Janet Tucker for preparing the food, the Sloos and Richwines for donations and Nancy Schoaf, Dick Boram, the Richwine office, Lynda Preston, and Deborah Hartman for all the behind the scenes work that went into making our unique Stewardship Campaign work this year.

This Sunday, we are in week eight of our Old Testament Series. We will get a taste of the work of a prophet and figure out how we can better listen to the prophetic voices God places in our lives today. In preparation, read the book of Amos, it is only nine chapters and you may be surprised how relevant it is to our day.

See you Sunday,

Rev. Jerry

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Book 6, Volume 16 October 17, 2014

This has been a rather intense week for me. Sunday we kicked off Stewardship Week with our first dinner Sunday night. We had 45 in attendance. It was a good meal cooked by Linda Gasaway. We enjoyed her wonderful chicken and noodles. Dick Richwine and I shared a 30-minute presentation in which we went over some of our major 2014 accomplishments, 2015 dreams and some facts about our financial situation.

Monday night we held our second Stewardship Dinner and again enjoyed a wonderful meal put on by our Thursday night small group and cooked by Dianne Wellman. It was our smallest dinner for the week. Immediately after the dinner I headed to Evansville to pick up my daughter Kelsey. Together, we drove on to Nashville, Tennessee so we would be able to get up early enough to be there for my daughter Saisha’s surgery the next morning at Vanderbilt University Hospital. We got to our hotel after 2:00 am.

Saisha began noticing a pain in her side when she ran. Her gynecologist discovered a dermoid cyst the size of a baseball on her ovary. Surgery was scheduled and the plan was for it to be a full incision so they could attempt to save the ovary. As it turns out, there were some tense moments in the OR because when they got in there they discovered it was not a cyst but a tumor. One nurse told me afterwards that there was a cheer among the whole staff when the news came back from pathology that the tumor was benign. They checked her other ovary and everything looks fine so hopefully she will not have complications when she desires to start a family.

Kelsey and I drove back that evening and I got to enjoy dinner with Kelsey’s husband Matt and grandson Coen. (I thanked Saisha for her sacrifice that allowed me to get some unexpected Coen time). I spent the night and got back to Indy Wednesday morning for Bill McDonnell’s funeral and then our Stewardship Luncheon which was served by our church staff with the food donated by Rosewalk Retirement Center. I want to thank Matthew Phipps for covering the presentation for the Tuesday Stewardship dinner which was cooked by his wife, Deborah. I hear she is quite the cook.

Thursday was eventful as well. We shared our last Stewardship Dinner with a nice crowd of 30 and had the best spaghetti and meatballs I’ve ever had. The meal was cooked by Janet Tucker and provided by the Tuckers and Ken & Barbara Huber. I also want to thank the Richwines and the Sloos for sponsoring dinners so we were able to put on all five meals at no cost to the church. I’ve received several comments that the information shared was very meaningful since it’s the kind of info hard to share quickly in Sunday morning worship. We were hoping for much stronger participation, but the opportunity to talk more in depth seems valuable. We will look to do something next year, perhaps in a different format. So we have a long way to go to gather our 2015 pledges and will provide an opportunity for you to bring your pledge forward at the end of worship this Sunday.

But what topped the week off for me was the joy I experienced when I drove to the west side of Indy after our Stewardship Dinner Thursday night to Bethel UMC for the Metro Ministries Celebration of Service Dinner. This has become a fundraiser in which they honor people who perform extraordinary service in their church and community. Our church had nominated Ric Gasaway but he was not aware of it. We had known for a few weeks but were able to keep it a surprise. Well, Ric was floored to discover that Metro Ministries named him Missioner of the Year. I think all who know what Ric has meant to Old Bethel and the many lives he has touched, this is an award that is well deserved. Be sure to congratulate him Sunday.

This Sunday we are in week seven of our Old Testament Series. We will examine Israel’s need for security and think about where we find our security. In preparation, read 1 Samuel 8:4-22.

See you Sunday,

Rev. Jerry

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