We Need your Talents…

December 8th, 2020

Dear CCoT Members,

The Nominating Committee has been working behind the scenes trying to fill spots on our Boards that help the church run!  We’re looking for some new folks to fill in those spots that are open for 2021.  We know everyone’s got commitments to family, other organizations, sports, kids, etc. but we also know that serving in church leadership is a great way to get to know people. And we have fun together on every second Wednesday of the month!

We’re seeking new members for all CCoT Boards.

There are five Boards of the church: Board of Deacons, Board of Trustees, Board of Mission & Outreach, Board of Children & Youth, and Board of Community & Communications.

Boards consist of a minimum of 7 and maximum of 12 church members, who are elected at the Annual Meeting for 3-year terms.  Boards meet via Zoom on the second Wednesday of every month except in July and August. For more information about each Board, go to the church website at www.topsfieldchurch.org and select ‘Get Involved.’       

The Boards assure that the important work of our church gets done.   All 5 Boards currently have openings, and we’re hoping that you volunteer to join one.  The commitment is flexible with regard to your schedule.  There are plenty of opportunities on each board to help out when you can.  Many hands make light work! 

If you are interested in serving on a Board, please contact any of the following folks for more information:

Sheryl Knutsen, Chair, Nominating Committee: shknutsen@comcast.net

Gerald Seaman, member, Nominating Committee: jerry58@icloud.com

Barbara Barnes, member, Nominating Committee: mombarnes@mac.com

Larry Atkins, Chair, Board of Deacons:  deacons@topsfieldchurch.org

Guido Voss, Chair, Board of Trustees:  trustees@topsfieldchurch.org

Pam Warren, and Kathy Hartmann, Co-Chairs, Board of Mission and Outreach:  missionandoutreach@topsfieldchurch.org

Sigita Hartung Chair, Board of Children and Youth:  childrenandyouth@topsfieldchurch.org

Alison Hardy, Chair, Board of Community and Communications: communityandcommunications@topsfieldchurch.org

Board of Mission & Outreach Christmas Offering

December 8th, 2020

Romans: 15:13:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. 

December 10, 2020

Dear Church Family,

During the Christmas season, we offer members and friends the opportunity to make a special contribution to designated organizations assisting those in need. The Board of Mission and Outreach has selected two organizations this year for our Christmas offering: Lazarus House in Lawrence and the U. S. Foundation for the Children of Haiti in Port-au-Prince.  

A summary of their work follows.

Lazarus House is a gospel-based ministry and welcomes all in the name of God. They provide a continuum of care for Lawrence homeless families and individuals encompassing: food, shelter, clothing, advocacy, education, work preparation, a listening ear, a welcoming heart and the restoration of dignity and self-respect to people who are poor and in dire need. For many in desperate need, the Lazarus House Emergency Shelter is both the last line of defense and the first ray of hope. Less than 1% of Lazarus House income is from government sources, so Lazarus House relies on the generosity of donors. Responding to COVID-19 Lazarus House has adjusted its systems and retrofitted some of its space so as to continue serving this most vulnerable population.

You can learn more about this ministry at their web site: https://lazarushouse.org and view a special video here

U. S. Foundation for Children of Haiti is one of our oldest partners, and continues its mission to make change through education and health in the poorest country in the western hemisphere. USFCH reports a challenging year, but continues to build their education and healthcare programs, in addition to recent special COVID and nutrition relief programs. Their three schools, Rainbow of Love, Hope Home, and New Academy of Excellence are back in session in a safe environment. With spotty city electricity as well as a major fuel shortage in Haiti USFCH recently invested in solar power for their facilities. Their current appeal explains their decision, “Rather than closing the hospital, limiting service, or terminating kidney dialysis treatments, it was decided to build a solar system….we have faith that God will help us find donors.” Our Christmas donation will help them pay for the new solar system.

 You can learn more about this ministry at their web site: http://www.usfch.org and a special video here.

Your offering can be made by mailing a check to the church office or donating electronically via the “Online Giving” button on the church web site. You may designate your contribution towards one of the organizations; otherwise your donation will be divided equally between the two organizations.

Wishing you every blessing of the Season,

The Board of Mission and Outreach

James Barnes 

John Burgess                        

Jackie Cassidy            

Joe Gibbons               

 Kathy Hartmann            

Charise Nulsen

Pamela Warren

Christmas Concert (Sort!?)

December 2nd, 2020

Come join the bell and chancel choirs for a half hour of a handbell concert and a carol sing on December 13 at 1 pm at the side door ramp entrance of the Meeting House. Our handbell choir has been meeting, socially distanced, for the past month preparing some super fun Christmas music to share with all of us. Favorite hits such as, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, Away in the Manger, Rudolf and Jingle Bells just to name a few.  The ringers will ring their bells from the steps of the Meeting House and the bells will ring beautifully even in the cold!  After the mini bell “concert” our chancel choir will help lead everyone in a Carol sing along with our organ.  I will blast it at “full stops” (organ speak for really, really loud) and we will sing the two verses of several carols, ending with Silent Night.    So, come and enjoy this holiday concert and get in the spirit of the season.  This is sure to be a fun event and put a smile on our faces in a year when we need smiles and enjoyment more than ever.  

If you don’t have the carols memorized print out the sing-along sheet below and bring it with you!

Due to coronavirus restrictions we are limited to the size of outdoor gatherings.  This special concert is open to our congregational members only and, you know the drill, masks and distancing will be required.

O COME ALL YE FAITHFUL

come, all ye faithful
Joyful and triumphant
O come ye, o come ye to Bethlehem
Come and behold Him
Born the King of Angels!

O come, let us adore Him
O come, let us adore Him
O come, let us adore Him
Christ the Lord

sing, choirs of angels
Sing in exultation
Oh, come, oh come ye to Bethlehem
Come and behold Him
Born the King of Angels

O come, let us adore Him
O come, let us adore Him
O come, let us adore Him
Christ the Lord

O LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM

Oh little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth, the everlasting light
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all above
While mortals sleep the angels keep their watch of wondering love
Oh morning stars together, proclaim thy holy birth.
And praises sing to God the king, and peace to men on earth.

ANGELS WE HAVE HEARD ON HIGH

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plains,
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains.
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
Which inspire your heavenly song?
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

HARK THE HERALD ANGELS SING

Hark the herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
Christ is born in Bethlehem
Hark! The herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King!

Hail the Heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! the herald angels sing:
“Glory to the newborn King!”

SILENT NIGHT

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
‘Round yon virgin Mother and Child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight!
Glories stream from heaven afar;
Heavenly hosts sing Al-le-lu-ia!
Christ the Savior is born!
Christ the Savior is born!

Christ the Savior is born!

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, oh, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord at Thy birth

The Social Dilemma-

November 9th, 2020

Documentary on Netflix :https://Netflix.com/thesocialdilemma 

See trailer:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uaaC57tcci0   

We tweet, we like, and we share— but what are the consequences of our growing dependence on social media? As digital platforms increasingly become a lifeline to stay connected, Silicon Valley insiders reveal how social media is reprogramming civilization by exposing what’s hiding on the other side of your screen. ABOUT THE SOCIAL DILEMMA The world has long recognized the positive applications of social media, from its role in empowering protesters to speak out against oppression during the Arab Spring uprisings almost a decade ago, to serving an instrumental role in fighting for equity and justice today. And in 2020, during an astonishing global pandemic, social media has become our lifeline to stay in touch with loved ones, as well as proving to be an asset for mobilizing civil rights protests. However, the system that connects us also invisibly controls us. The collective lack of understanding about how these platforms actually operate has led to hidden and often harmful consequences to society—consequences that are becoming more and more evident over time, and consequences that, the subjects in The Social Dilemma suggest, are an existential threat to humanity. The Social Dilemma is a powerful exploration of the disproportionate impact that a relatively small number of engineers in Silicon Valley have over the way we think, act, and live our lives. The film deftly tackles an underlying cause of our viral conspiracy theories, teenage mental health issues, rampant misinformation and political polarization, and makes these issues visceral, understandable, and urgent. Through a unique combination of documentary investigation and entertaining narrative drama, award-winning filmmakers Jeff Orlowski (Chasing Ice, Chasing Coral) and Larissa Rhodes (Chasing Coral) have once again exposed the invisible in a manner that is both enlightening and harrowing as they disrupt the disrupters by unveiling the hidden machinations behind everyone’s favorite social media and search platforms. The film features compelling interviews with high-profile tech whistleblowers and innovation leaders including Tristan Harris of the Center for Humane Technology; the co-inventor of the Facebook “Like” button, Justin Rosenstein; Tim Kendall, former President of Pinterest and former Director of Monetization at Facebook; Cathy O’Neil, author of Weapons of Math Destruction; Rashida Richardson, Director of Policy at the AI Now Institute, and many others. Demonstrating how social media affects consumers on a personal level, these fascinating insider insights are seamlessly woven into a captivating narrative, including Vincent Kartheiser (Mad Men), that illuminates the very real consequences these seemingly innocent technologies can have on our everyday lives.

The Labyrinth

November 4th, 2020

We Explore Prayer as We Walk the Labyrinth

As we begin our adult relationships with God through prayer, walking the labyrinth can introduce us to another type of prayer – prayer in motion, instead of prayer in absolute stillness.

We walk the labyrinth in silence, respecting one another’s private time in prayer.

Each person reacts to the labyrinth differently, but the experience is valuable for everyone in that it does broaden our experience of prayer, giving us all a new perspective on what prayer might be.

There are three movements to the labyrinth, and you are free to make of them whatever you like:

Moving Inward

Centering

Moving Outward

Please use these suggestions if you find them appropriate. You might want to select one from each movement and try it, or create your own rhythm to each of the movements. Using all the suggestions at once is overwhelming.

Moving Inward

(A time to cast off, discard, divest, unwrap, forget)

  1. Discard our many roles (mother, father, wife, husband, sister, brother, student, accountant, teacher, pastor) and simply say “I am.”
  2. Leave the noise, demands, voices around us, and enter a soothing silence.
  3. Unload our guilt, resentment, self-hatred, failures, depression, shame, and forgive ourselves.
  4. Set aside all the things we think we want and need, hoping to find what God wants.
  5. Leave the familiar world of day-to-day living for a different experience.
  6. Choose to ignore all our ideas about God and theology, and return to the beginning  of our faith.
  7. Reject the anxious desire to get the most out of the labyrinth, simply becoming open and expectant.

Centering

(A time to be open, expectant, empty, naked, and receptive, as though we were receiving a gift)

  1. Take the risk of recognizing an emptiness within ourselves that only love can fill.
  2. Enjoy the silence, stillness, waiting, and the simplicity of nothing happening.
  3. Take time to listen to an inner voice or to nothing or to mystery.
  4. Contemplate the blessing of the hidden nature of God who cannot be fully known, cannot be manipulated, cannot be made into an idol, cannot be pinned down, contained or tamed.
  5. Consider the possibility of the new, the miraculous, the transfiguring entering our lives.
  6. Remember that the Holy Spirit, like the wind, blows where she will.

Moving Outward

(A time to gain direction, satisfaction, comfort, and new energy)

  1. Decide to continue a journey deeper into the love of Christ.
  2. Refuse to take up again the guilt and hatred of the past.
  3. Seek a simpler and more focused life.
  4. Rest in the knowledge of God’s unconditional love.
  5. Move away from anxiety toward peace and faith.
  6. Seek the direction of the Holy Spirit.

For more information see http://www.lessons4living.com/walking.htm

or http://www.labyrinthsociety.org/

Thanksgiving Letter 2020

October 30th, 2020

 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ “Matthew 25:35-40 (NIV)

Dear Friends,

Thanksgiving is the holiday to express our gratitude for our blessings and share generously with those in need. CCOT will be collecting food again this year for our mission partner, “Citizens Inn/Haven from Hunger”.

Because of COVID-19 there will be no truck in front of the church. Instead, between November 1 and 22 you can bring shopping bags with food and place them at the entrance to the office at Emerson Center. Members of BOMO will make sure they are stored inside. We have arranged with Citizens Inn for a safe pickup before worship on Sunday November 22nd.

Please fill your shopping bags with nutritious items for those experiencing food insecurity. Suggested items are rice and rice mixes, pastas boxes, stuffing, canned green beans, cranberry sauce, canned carrots, spices/seasonings, salt and pepper, flour, baking mixes, cornbread mix, vegetable oil, salad dressing, pudding mix, honey, peanut butter, canned stews, coffee, tea, canned yams, gravy packets, graham crackers, disinfectant wipes, dish soap, kitchen trash bags, laundry detergent, toilet paper, shampoo, bars of soap, razors, feminine products, diapers, socks. For more information: citizensinn.org. The Executive Director of Citizens Inn, Corey Jackson, will update our congregation via Zoom on their efforts during a future worship service.

We have also designated Citizens Inn/Haven from Hunger as the recipient of our Thanksgiving offering; thus if you are unable to drop off food items, please contribute by mailing a check to the church office with the notation, “Thanksgiving Offering.”

 Citizens Inn/Haven from Hunger’s food pantry provides over 3,800 individuals with fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, dairy, and canned goods. Last year, they distributed over 1.7 million lbs. of food, and have been very active in alternative ways to provide food and services in response to COVID-19. Additional information about Citizens Inn and Haven from Hunger can be found at this link: https://www.citizensinn.org/

Please join the Board of Mission and Outreach in filling the pantry to overflowing for the upcoming holiday season.

The Board of Mission and Outreach

Pam Warren, Co-chair James Barnes John Burgess         

Jackie Cassiday Kathy Hartmann, Co-chair Joe Gibbons           

Charise Nulsen       

Stewardship Message – Together in Joy

October 30th, 2020

 As we progress into fall and winter and Covid19 measures will stay with us, it will become even more important for us to find ways to stay connected and to find support within our church community.

Thanks to ZOOM and the efforts of our staff and technical team, we were quickly able to pull together a new way to have Sunday services. Since then we learned how to insert videos in our services, record our choir performances and to include an interactive children’s time.  This new way of being together actually opened the door for more members to attend who would otherwise be away or shut in at home. Our Sunday worship attendance has increased this year, especially over the summer months.

While we long to be together in person and enjoy the rich experience of a service with the organ and full choir in the meeting house, our outreach through a streamed service will stay with us long after we return to in person services.

We learned that we need to invest in a new video technology to make the streaming service compelling and manageable in a digital world. This investment will also enhance our in-person service with the ability to show videos and hymns on screens in the meeting house.

Your continued support in 2021 will help us to grow our outreach and to stay connected with each other in new and exciting ways.

The Stewardship Committee

Emerson Field News

October 30th, 2020

In our church’s ongoing endeavor for deeper spiritual meaning for each of us, a labyrinth is being installed on the Emerson Field. This is not an elaborate facility, but rather a simple introduction for our use. Those of you who have experience with a labyrinth need no introduction. For those who have not, information concerning it’s use and purpose will continue to be discussed here.

The Labyrinth

We are all on the path… exactly where we need to be. The labyrinth is a model of that path. A labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path. The labyrinth represents a journey to our own center and back again out into the world. The labyrinth has long been used as meditation and prayer tools.

Duane Melling, member

Board of Deacons

Coming Soon: A New Video System!  Contributions needed!

October 20th, 2020

In every crisis there is danger, but there is also opportunity.  COVID challenged us, but we created an amazing on-line ministry as a result of that challenge. Our Zoom ministry enabled many new people to access our services while at the same time allowing our regular attendees to stay bound together as a community.

It’s now time to move to the next exciting phase of our digital ministry!  Our existing video equipment in the Meetinghouse cannot meet the aggregate demands of Zoom, cable TV, and in-person worship.  The Board of Deacons has been asked to support this request in collaboration with our staff and technical team, to purchase a new system.  We are thrilled to report that of the approximately $12,000 needed, a few members have already pledged $6,000!!! As a result of their generosity, we only need to raise another $6,000. We are asking the congregation to pitch in and contribute whatever amount you can – no sum is too small (or too large) – to make the new video system a present reality.  We are hoping to purchase the system in the next three weeks, so your contribution is urgently needed now.  You can send a check to the office (9 East Common Street, Topsfield, MA 01983) with “video system” in the memo, or you can contribute online through Give Plus or Vanco.  For the online options, look for the “video system” choice to designate your contribution.

Thank you in advance for your generosity, and we look forward to seeing you all either in person or in the ether.

Larry Atkins, Chair, Board of Deacons

Kristin Palace, Moderator

Prayer Ministry Listing

June 26th, 2019

Prayer List Contact: Kim Itz at prayerlisting@topsfieldchurch.org or
978-887-6567.

Healing Scripture:  “And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick…”  Matthew 14:14

Healing Prayer: Dear Lord, I ask you to turn this weakness into strength, suffering into compassion, sorrow into joy, and pain into comfort for others. May your servant trust in your goodness and hope in your faithfulness, even in the middle of this suffering. Let him be filled with patience and joy in your presence as he waits for your healing touch.

Please pray for:

Jillian Roche – Friend of CCOT
Maria Cecilia Guerra – Sister of José Guerra
Karen Burnett – Member of CCOT
Vicki Forte – Friend of Carolyn Detato
Barry Watson – Son of Frank Watson and friend of CCOT
Kåre – Friend from Norway of Irina Günzel-Guerra
Ricardo Roldan – Brother in law of friend of Irina Günzel-Guerra
Greg Wager – Brother of a friend of Judith Gosbee
Gig Smith – Friend of CCOT
Ken Flewelling – Member of CCOT
Bill and Irma Scarff – Friends of CCOT
Ken Prouty- Member of CCOT
Yonel Fortune – BCY Sponsored boy in Haiti through USFCH
Lore and Erich Söllner – Parents of Conny Griesshammer
Diane Gent – Cousin of Anne Bridge
Linda Bissell – Member of CCOT
Cheryl Hopkins – Member of CCOT
Elizabeth Walsh – Mother of Pam Warren
Lynda Fairbanks – Atkins – Member of CCOT
Stoney Stonestreet – Member of CCOT
Jan Smallman – Daughter of Russ Blauser
The Nenart Family – Members of CCOT

In Loving Memory
Our prayers of Christian love and sympathy are extended to Jan Smallman and all the family and friends of her father, Russ Blauser who passed Saturday, June 15th, 2019. A Memorial Service is scheduled for Monday, July 8th- 11 a.m. at the Meeting house.