Reaching Heights March 2024

Heights Christian Church Icon of Two Followers Lifting a CrossReaching Heights March 2024

Links to this month’s news:

WORSHIP AND STUDY

  • Worship Themes for March 2024  Wandering Heart: Figuring Out Faith with Peter

FROM THE STAFF

  • Kate’s Cogitations
  • Listening and Partnering Together
  • Welcome New Members

FROM THE BOARD

  • Education
  • Worship Planning Team
  • Mission Ministry 
  • Fellowship
  • Community Engagement Opportunities

OTHER NEWS

  • Wednesday’s Together
  • Book Group and Meditative Arts Group
  • Gift Cards
  • Social Media
  • Birthdays

See the Serving Schedule

Worship Themes for March 2024  Wandering Heart: Figuring Out Faith with Peter

 

March 3           Third Sunday in Lent
Praise God’s Unchanging Love  Matthew 16:13-20 

“Praise the mount of God’s unchanging love. . . ” This lyric represents Peter’s mountaintop faith moment. It speaks to spiritual euphoria and feeling the closeness of God. In this story, Peter proclaims who Jesus is. He speaks with conviction. Peter claims his faith. If you had to speak your faith in one sentence or phrase, what would you say? When we have the courage to say, “This, I believe…” then that conviction has a ripple effect on others. When life gets rocky, we lean on mountain top moments and our deepest convictions to see us through.

On this Sunday we also welcome new members to HCC! Plan to stay for our Hospitality time after worship to celebrate!

March 10        Fourth Sunday in Lent
TIME CHANGE SUNDAY! SPRING FORWARD!
“I’m fixed upon it”  Matthew 16:21-23 

When your world unravels and your beliefs are tested, you may cling to what you know. As Jesus foretells his death and resurrection, Peter protests. Peter is fixed upon the way he thinks things should go; he resists the pain of what will come. But Jesus is fixed upon his calling and calls Peter out. For everyone, there comes a time when your faith is tested and you will have to face difficult and inconvenient truths. We may want to take the easier path, the path with less pain. We may want to cling to easy or simplistic answers. Instead, what does it look like to welcome complexity? Can you stay fixed upon your convictions while also expanding your perspective?

March 17         Fifth Sunday in Lent
“Teach me”  Matthew 18:15-22 

Peter is often all or nothing, either resisting Jesus or drawing closer to him in earnest. In this scripture, we see a version of Peter who is hungry to learn. His posture is humble and open—he wants to absorb Jesus’ teachings like a wet sponge. He asks a question and might expect a straightforward answer: “How many times should I forgive?” Instead, Jesus’ math is not predictable—it’s infinite. Forgiveness is abundant; grace is not earned. In your own faith, do you find comfort in theological formulas? Do you wish for straightforward answers? Can you let go of black-and-white thinking and instead embrace the infinite colors of grace?

March 24         Palm Sunday
“Loudest Praise” John 12:12-16

As Holy week begins, Peter is no longer front and center, and so we imagine he is with the rest of the disciples when Jesus enters Jerusalem on a colt. The disciples are confused as they witness crowds shouting hosannas. When they look back on this experience, they will remember the songs. The singing is surely etched in their memories. As we imagine ourselves in the crowd on this day, may we remember that they are supposed to be praising Caesar, but instead they are shouting for the one entering the city on a donkey. Their singing is subversive, courageous, and contagious. Their praise shows the ripple effect of public displays of praise.

March 28     Maundy Thursday service 7:30 pm.
(Dinner with Plymouth Church 6:15 pm)
“Streams of mercy” John 13:1-20
Contemplative service with Communion

During the Last Supper, Jesus kneels to wash his disciples’ feet. When he comes to Peter, we see a similar pattern unfold yet again: reluctance then exuberance. Peter initially resists, but then he wholeheartedly submits. We see this duality in Peter often, but do we also see these patterns in ourselves? Peter is named “Cephas,” which means “the rock.” In this story, we imagine that God’s grace reshapes him in the way that water softens the rough edges of stone. When we, like Peter, are reluctant and resistant to receiving love, can we remember that streams of mercy are never ceasing? Will we be reshaped by grace?

March 29         10 am  – Noon   Stations of Peter available in Chapel
“Prone to Leave the God I Love”  Selected passages from John 13, 18 and 19
(For use in your own time — arrive and leave when you wish between 10-12).

This self-guided experience invites you to walk “the way of sorrows” to the cross, but through the eyes and experiences of one of Jesus’ closest disciples. As a nod to the Stations of the Cross, this service highlights Peter’s role in the crucifixion narrative. In this way, we follow Jesus to his death with Peter as our companion. By focusing on Peter, we imagine how we might have acted and behaved had we been there as one of Jesus’ followers and friends.

Sunday, March 31       Easter Day
“And I Hope”  Luke 24:1-12

We might expect that, after denying Christ, Peter would cower in shame—or perhaps even run away in an attempt to leave his past behind him. Instead, when he hears the news from the women, he doesn’t dismiss them like the other disciples. He gets up and runs to the tomb. When he peers into the empty tomb and sees the linen cloth, he is filled with awe. Even after the biggest failures, even after the worst case scenario has happened, can we run toward hope? Like Peter, will we keep going? Will we keep looking for God in our midst?

Sunday, April 7     Second Sunday of Easter
“Here’s My Heart” John 21:1-19

Though Peter’s story does not end with the conclusion of the Gospels, we finish our series with Peter’s encounter with the risen Christ. In this final week, we come full circle with Peter. He has dropped his nets, walked on water, professed his faith, been rebuked, received footwashing, denied Jesus, and run to the tomb. And now, Jesus once again meets him at the shoreline where Peter is casting his nets. Jesus offers abundant nourishment and also a new command: “Feed my sheep.” Then he turns to Peter and asks three times, “Do you love me?” It’s as if Jesus says, “Here’s my heart,” which washes over Peter’s three denials like a healing balm. No matter how far we wander, may we entrust our hearts to God. No matter if our faith is strong or weak, what we can give is our love.

From the staff

 

Kate’s Cogitations

I have always had mixed feelings about the month of March. In high school, March brought more than one sad break-up of a romance. It is also the month my mother died in 2016. I have often felt tossed about by the changing weather: promises of spring one day, sleet and gray the next. But then over the years it became the month to produce annual spring musicals in community theater, and I would find myself so busy doing something I loved, that I wouldn’t have time to be sad or mad. This year I am approaching March with a good feeling. Perhaps that is because this year Easter falls within the month (just barely). Mostly, I think that my life is so full of goodness and things to anticipate and celebrate. So whether this month comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, or features other meteorological phenomena, I am grateful for a loving family, wonderful friends and colleagues, good work to do, and many other everyday blessings. How about you?

in peace,
~Kate

Listening and Partnering Together

We are so grateful to all of you who returned a self-interview form or took the time to interview someone else.  We’ll share with the congregation some of the themes we hear and some suggestions for how HCC might be involved in mission to the community as a result. This Spring we will try some “mini-experiments” to learn even more about our community and ourselves. And we’ll keep our eyes and ears, our minds and hearts, open to the movement and guidance of the Holy Spirit!   If you have questions or suggestions, please see Dr. Kate or Jane Troha. Thank you! 

Goal #1:           Increase HCC’s community engagement, get to know our                              neighbors,  and build connections
Invitation: for each member of HCC to attend at least one community meeting or event each month, primarily to listen, to learn, and to increase our visibility

Goal #2:           Learn from our neighbors and identify opportunities for                               partnership
Invitation: for you to meet with someone in the community for a 30-45 minute one on one conversation. (Contact info and interview questions provided.)

Goal #3:           Hear from HCC members about their perspectives on HCC,
                             our past, present and future.
Invitation:  for you to meet with congregants to hear their views on HCC – to ask them about their experience with and involvement in HCC, and what they hope for HCC’s future.

Goal #4:        Experiment with some “action items” and events

Invitation:  for ministry team members and others to propose small events for HCC to host (or help with) that allow us to interact with and learn from the community

Goal #5:        Discern next steps based on all we learn through listening, partnering and experimenting.

Invitation: Hold congregational meeting(s) where we share what we have learned, as we hold space for creative imagining together.

Welcoming New Members Sunday, March 3

During worship on March 3 we will welcome newcomers who have decided to join our congregation officially. We held 2 Newcomer Gatherings in February and enjoyed getting to know each other better and discussing HCC and the denomination. Elders Scott and Bobbi Phelps and Larry Watson joined us, as well as Carolyn Troha with her husband Jefferson, and Kimberly Taylor with her cousin Donna Mattox. Please plan to attend worship on March 3 and stay for the Hospitality time afterward so you can greet our  and new members and celebrate with them!

 

 

 

 

Education Ministry

HCC Easter Eggstravaganza!

Get ready for our second eggstravaganza! We will be collecting items for and putting together Easter baskets for people in our community. We will sell the baskets for $10. The proceeds will go to help children and youth in the Shaker community. We can use your help in many ways.

  1. Donate items to be added to the baskets: plastic Easter eggs (hopefully recycled from previous years), construction paper, paper basket grass, baskets and candy (pre-packaged please). There will be a donation basket in the Narthex March 3-March 24.
  2. Help people order Easter Baskets. Order forms will be available in the Narthex. Orders are due Friday March 22.
  3. Help put together baskets on Thursday March 28.
  4. Help deliver baskets on Friday March 29 or Saturday March 30.

For more information please reach out to Carolyn Troha (cetroha@gmail.com or 216-798-4234).

In January and February the Midweek Bible Study Group studied some of the Psalms using Walter Brueggemann’s book, A Glad Obedience, led by Jane Troha. They did a close study of Psalms 104, 105, 106, and 107 and several hymns to gain readiness to obey God’s laws, to become ready for God’s rescue of us, and to offer thanksgiving to God.

The Sunday Adult Study read the weird and wild gospel of Mark with help from New Testament scholar Amy-Jill Levine (The Gospel of Mark: a Beginner’s Guide to the Good News). We wrestled with the text and won many blessings, though we’re still perplexed about some of these stories!

During Lent, the Midweek group is reading Hard and Holy Work by Tyler Mayfield and Mary Alice Birdwhistell. This powerful book explores stories from the book of Exodus to help us see anew and contemplate how God is calling us to respond to what is not right in the world. The study is being led by Jane Troha, Kate Gillooly, and Carolyn Troha.

The Sunday group will consider atonement, or what does Jesus’ death and resurrection mean to us and to the world on February 25 and March 3 and at the history, practices, and meanings of Christian baptism on March 10 and 17. Our study is one of multiple lenses and many questions, the most important of which is, how shall we then live? Cindy Maxey will facilitate the discussions. The group will take a break over Palm Sunday and Easter.

The Midweek group meets on Tuesdays at 2 pm on Zoom. The Sunday group meets at 9:30 am in the chapel and on Zoom. Everyone is welcome at any time to either or both groups. No preparation is required.

On Sunday, March 3, during Hospitality Hour, the Education Ministry will again offer music and intergenerational activities. We had a lot of fun last month, so why not have some more? And some good food too!

Worship Planning Team 

The Holy season is upon us!  This is a reminder that Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Easter are coming up at the end of the month of March.  On Palm Sunday we will have palms available and an arrangement in front of the Communion Table.  We will be having a service on Maundy Thursday.  Details for this service will be announced.  On Easter, there will be Tulips and Daffodils adorning the Chancel.  Look for order forms in the bulletin during the month of March.

Missions Ministry

Have we been on a Rolla coaster ride or what? Yes, but so has much of the country. Who is your favorite weather person? Was he or she always on the mark with their forecasts? We live in NEOH and know how true the phrase, “Just wait three days” seems to be true for our weather to be in the season by calendar dates. The predictions so far is that we are about to get our Spring soon.

Wall of Love – our first delivery to Lomond School was made on December 13,2023. A nearly overflowing tub was delivered with these items: hats, gloves, mittens, scarfs, and socks. Recent below zero temperatures followed by Shaker Heights accumulating as much as 12 inches of snow, our donations were there in time to help. The tub will continue to be in the narthex and donation can be made through March 10,2024. Generosity didn’t kill the cat but rather provided for children in need during Ohio’s colder months. Thank you, Heights Christian Church.  As usual this congregation has provided needed winter items to the children at Lomond School. Items will be accepted through March 10th.

Neighbor Night convenes year-round on the last Tuesday of the month. All are welcome. This month the date is March 26th from 6-8pm. The place is Stephani Tubbs-Jones building. Consider attending. Often a person from Food Network rescue delivers produce which is available to those who want it. Come by and stay awhile.

Martha’s Valentine cards in Meals on Wheels lunches on February 14th was very much appreciated. The coordinator welcomed the return of helpers as Andrena delivered the cards sharing her past participation. This might be an opportunity for HCC to revisit and partner for some. They are still located in the Unitarian Church on 21600 Shaker Boulevard. Call or go online for Volunteer application. Missions will have copies on the table in the Narthex.

Campbell Court has had ongoing staff changes. As of February19th, the building manager officially began. Missions/Outreach will work with Val our liaison to Campbell Court to stay informed. Campbell Court seniors are near and dear to Heights Christian. The manager shared with Andrena that the residents were asking for activities.  The owners are now seeking to fill the position of Community Service Coordinator. Watch for an update in the weekly update.

Egg cartons: Connee Choi started this collection many years ago on her own related to her weekly Saturday visits to Farmers Market. It has grown. There will be a  large sign in the Narthex with the number collected soon. We have surpassed the 10,000 carton mark! Thanks to Connee for her generous heart.

Primary voting in Ohio is March 19. Missions still have a few reusable LWV 411 yard signs. We will work to get more information in the weekly news update. Exploration for a time to have small information group setting on the way.

February 13 – State of the City Forum
February 19 – View “A Citizen’s Guide to Preserving Democracy”
February 20 – GCC Candidates Forum
February 21 – Early Voting begins
February 22 – Schools Facilities Forum
February 24 – Shaker Chapter meeting via Zoom
February 28 – Voucher Explosion webinar
March 16 – Two Great Women in History
March 19 – Primary Election Day

Adult Faith and Life at Plymouth UCC: Heights Missions Team support community partnerships and will continue to meet to find ways to join our partner however we can as they reach out and stand up for those who are marginalized locally and throughout the world.

Seeking a Just Peace in Israel/Palestine:
Books recommended for being readable, short, and available! The following books have been suggested by Mark Weber and Cleveland Peace Action and Jewish Voice for Peace. Ten Myths About Israel.  By Ilhan Pappe.  (121 pp.), Israel: Democracy or Apartheid State? By Josh Ruebner. (104 pp.), Noura Erakat’s “Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine.”

If you are interested in joining Plymouth volunteers at the Food Bank, contact Paul Qua; pqua@classicautocampus.com.

Donations to the Little Free Pantry are available for non-perishable food at any time.  It is located just off the parking lot here at Heights Christian and Plymouth Church. Stats from Cleveland Food Bank: Do you know that 1 out of 5 children live in poverty. 1 in 7 people are food insecure while there is about 40% of food in U.S. is wasted. Our Little Free Pantry is used regularly and is in need of more contributions. Please remember: No glass containers.

Missions Ministry Outreach committee will accept grant applications from March through May. The committee will decide by the Annual Meeting date which is usually in June. Go to: heightschristianchurch.org for application. If there is a need, we as always, will do our best to meet it.

Continue praying but also doing for others. Some of us learned that as recent events in our lives has led to more thinking/dreaming of what’s next. Micah 6:8. Missions is a community issue beyond the brick and mortar of the building.

For March Missions will explore some of our past events. Stay tune via weekly news updates.

Remember to visit the clip board in Narthex to sign up for community engagement events.

Please share with mission’s ministry other events that you know and feel this might be one way to share the good news.

Continuing subjects to be explored with community partners: These were generated from interviews with Shaker residents prior to HCC move and/or from everyday interactions with citizens: Spring Festival; topics for seniors; are their needs being met; “Listen to Me, I Have Story” Everybody has a story, a cup of coffee.


From our Fellowship Team Leaders:

Hospitality Hour

Hope you all have been enjoying our Hospitality Hours on the first Sunday of each month.

It does take a team to put this together and we need some volunteers to assist by providing snacks for these gatherings.   It seems to work well if we have two (2) people provide snacks, one a sweet and the other a savory snack.  We also like to include the bread from the communion table with some butter and perhaps some jam.

Please contact Linda Durham or Nikki Crosby if you can provide a snack in an upcoming month.  Thank you for your generosity.

Community Engagement Opportunities

Mar 1        Shaker Library 2-3 pm Public Art Dedication: Artist’s Talk about The Reader’s Garden 

Mar 2       Ohio Poor People’s Campaign: Rally and March in Columbus  Assemble at 10 am (Trinity Episcopal Church),  then March to Statehouse            

We are marching for living, wages, healthcare for all, unencumbered voting rights, stopping voter, suppression, equal rights for all people, worker/laborer rights, environmental justice, access to safe and affordable housing, fully funded public education, and abolishing poverty.

Mar 9     Drag Queen Story Hour at Near West Theater  11am – arrive early to provide cheerful, loving presence for families attending

Mar 16  Mayor Chat at Van Aken District  11 am-12 pm.     Stop by the Van Aken District Market Hall for an informal chat with Mayor Weiss. There’s no set agenda for this drop-in event; just stop by to talk about a City project, a neighborhood issue, or anything else you’d like to discuss.

Mar 26      6 pm Shaker Neighbor Night at Stephanie Tubbs Jones Community Bldg.

Every Wednesday  at 10-11 am       Coffee & Community Shaker Library

You’re invited to enjoy a cup of coffee (or herbal tea) while expanding your community. Focus varies each week – there may be a speaker, a craft project, a conversation prompt, puzzles and games…or a combination of the above. Just drop by the Teen Room (while the teens are in school)

     Mar 6       Meghan Hays, Local History Librarian, will highlight some of our Shaker authors

     Mar 13     Craft – St Patrick’s Day bookmark

     Mar 20     Puzzles, Games & Coloring

     Mar 27     Discover how to make an art journal

 

 

 

Wednesday’s Together

Plymouth Church, UCC and Heights Christian Church are both blessed to call our building at 2860 Coventry Road home. This coming year, both congregations are looking forward to growing friendships between our members, as well as discerning what ministry opportunities and events we can embark on together! One way we will seek to expand our relationship is through sharing “Wednesdays Together.” On the first three Wednesdays of each month, we will share8 in fellowship and formation with one another. We look forward to seeing many folks from HCC and Plymouth at each gathering!

On First Wednesdays, join us for Book Group. Come and be in conversation around a different chosen book each month. You’re welcome even if you haven’t read the book to enjoy the discussion together.

On Second Wednesdays, join us for Meditative Arts Group. We will provide projects or you can bring your own.  Everyone is invited to color, doodle, draw, paint, knit, sew – whatev8er fits your interest and provides soothing quiet for you. We will gather with fellowship, then listen to calm, soothing music while we break out our pens, crayons, colored pencils, and knitting needles.

On Third Wednesdays, join us for Lunch Club. We gather for a homemade meal and fellowship, and then listen to a speaker from the community or one of our churches. We will occasionally take a field trip out to a destination in Northeast Ohio, so be on the lookout for where we will meet each month. There will be a suggested donation amount  for lunch each month.   RSVP to Pastor Dillon at dshipman@plymouthchurchucc.org, which is necessary for food preparation.

This Month’s Lunch Club
Wednesday, March 20 at 12:30 pm in Fellowship Hall

Join us for lunch and fellowship, as well as a time of getting to know about Humble Design. Leaders from Humble Design will share their work with us of being an organization that seeks to change lives and communities by custom designing and fully furnishing home interiors for individuals, families, and veterans emerging from homelessness.

The suggested donation for lunch is $10. RSVP to Pastor Dillon at dshipman@plymouthchurchucc.org, which is necessary for food preparation.
Reservations are due Sunday, March 17.

Book Group

The Book Group will meet – Wednesday, March 6 at 1:00 pm in Room 102 at Plymouth Church. If you would like to have lunch before the meeting, bring your own and come at 12:30. We will be discussing the book The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict.

Meditative Arts Group

Meditative Arts Group will meet at 1:00 pm March 13 in the Atrium.  We will provide projects or you can bring your own.  Everyone is invited to color, doodle, draw – whatever fits your interest and provides soothing quiet for you. We will gather with fellowship, then listen to calm, soothing music while we break out our pens, crayons, colored pencils, etc.

Gift Cards

Remember gift cards are available on Sunday mornings and in the office every weekday during normal office hours.

Support Heights Christian Church while you shop.  Get your shopping done early.  And make your life less stressful.  Gift cards are easy and appreciated.  (Cash or check only, please)

Social Media outreach

HCC is on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and You-Tube and Linked-In!  Several recordings of special worship services have been uploaded to our channel on You-Tube. If you see something you like, share it on your page! This will increase our reach and may draw in our next visitor!

 

 

              March
1 – Victor Mullen     3 – Avery Dunn     5 – Neil Chase     9 – Jani McWilliams
12 – Vel Scott     15 – Michele Moreland     16 – Danielle McDonald
18 – Nikki Crosby     20 – Daniel Chase     24 – Kese Webb     30 – Jane Troha

                                                     April
9 – Shirley Blackwell     23 – Bobbi Phelps     28 – Bill Dunn

We are glad to share the birthdays we have on record each month and encourage members to reach out with greetings. We apologize if someone’s name has been omitted – please call Kese in the church office to share your birthday if we don’t have it in our list. We want to celebrate you!