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Dear Friends in Christ,

I write this realizing that two weeks from today it will be Christmas! While nothing will be the way it usually is, there is much to look forward to.

On Monday, 21 December, we will have a worship service in recognition of the solstice and the day with the least amount of light. Called “The Longest Night” we will spend time listening to scripture and music and joining together in prayer. There is an Advent tradition of inviting people to come together for what will be the longest night, allowing ourselves time and space to pray and lament, mourning the losses and griefs of the year. This year has been one that has held many losses and much disappointment. You are invited to create a sacred space for yourself at home, with candles and low lights. In the sanctuary, those of us participating in the service will be surrounded by candle light and stillness. Please join in at 7PM and give yourself the gift of moments spent in meditation amongst the busy-ness of Christmas.

On Thursday, 24 December, Christmas Eve, I believe we are in for a joyous, virtual celebration of the birth of Christ. Our youth, children, and their families, have been busy filming their scenes at home. Those scenes will then be put together and we will have the pleasure of seeing a virtual Christmas Pageant – “The Good News Goes Viral.”  I hope many of you can join worship that night so that we can all be reminded that even in the midst of a pandemic we can still share in the holiness of the birth of Jesus.

In the midst of the Christmas preparation, Session met this week to make decisions about our budget and some future events. The budget will be presented to the congregation at our annual meeting which we’ve scheduled for Sunday, 31 January 2021. Our annual income has decreased about 14%, according to our treasurer, which is not too bad considering that we have not been able to meet in person since March. We will be presenting you with a deficit budget and we will welcome your input at the annual meeting. While session approves the budget and is ultimately the body that makes the hard decisions, we want everyone in the congregation to be aware of our financial situation.

A big concern that has only gotten worse in the past few months is the discovery of black mold in our lower level. Presbytery is now aware of the issue and the trustees are concerned that we find ways to ameliorate this problem. Our first order of business will be to have a mold specialist come in to evaluate the problem and give us an estimate for the remediation of the mold. This could be a costly endeavor. Expect communications about this issue as we set about taking care of the mold. If you know of someone who is a mold specialist, please let us know!

Jeremiah, writing to the exiles in Babylon, shares God’s plan and words in his letter to them. “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope” (Jer. 29:11). Keep those words in your hearts and have faith that we will find ways to stay strong.

Session has also voted to accept the two services that Presbytery has prepared for 27 December and 3 January. We will include the information on how to access these services which will be held at our usual worship time. There is music, scripture, prayer, and children’s time! By agreeing to use these two virtual worship services, those who have faithfully been involved every week in creating our Zoom services, will be allowed two weeks of rest. While these services may not feel as intimate as our own do, Kathy Cooper has agreed to host the coffee hour after the service. You will need to join the link for the worship and then join the Zoom link for the coffee hour. Again, if there are any questions, please contact me: revdeb02@gmail.com or Milton at: mjliu1029@gmail.com. We will be happy to guide you through the steps for joining in worship and coffee hour. This contact information will appear in the Publicist as we get closer to the dates.

The third Sunday of Advent is traditionally known as “Gaudete” Sunday, or “Joy” Sunday. We prepare for the birth of the Christ Child through introspection at first but now we begin to prepare ourselves with joy. In the midst of the longer nights of more darkness, of a pandemic that is raging out of control, of a nation that is behaving in ways that threaten our democracy, we can be joyful. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4) writes Paul. 

Let us be joyful and rejoice that love is on the way. We can have hope that the kingdom of heaven is near and we will be a part of that new kingdom.

Peace and grace,
Deb
Sunday School for Grades 1-5

Just a reminder that the Sunday school class for grades 1-5 will continue to meet via Zoom Sundays before worship, from 9:30-10:00 am. We are delighted to have Eden Fisher teaching this week and next!
Worship with Communion 12/13 @ 10am via Zoom

Welcome to online worship with PPC this second Sunday of Advent. Youth grades 6-12 will meet for Sunday school at the start of the children's sermon—a Zoom link will be shared at that time in the chat and via email (contact Matt at morattico@gmail.com if you do not get the email and want to be added).
Click here to open/download the worship bulletin and hymns:

Receiving of offerings continues to be important to sustain our church community. While it is missing from our order of worship, we hope you will continue if and as you are able to support the mission and ministry of the church—online, through your bank's bill payment system, or with a check mailed to the church (500 Hope Street, Providence, RI 02906). Regular and special offerings are all gratefully received. Thank you!

We invite you to stay online after worship for our virtual coffee hour.


Transcripts and audio recordings of recent sermons can be found on our website here. Audio recordings of older sermons are available here.
Children's Bulletin:
The Light of the World


Click here to open/download.
Nurture Meeting after Worship

There will be a short Nurture committee meeting tomorrow after coffee hour (20 minutes, starting ~11:30/11:45) to discuss some final details about hiring a children’s Sunday school teacher.
 
To join the Zoom meeting:
PPC Book/Discussion Group 12/19

We have decided to meet again on Saturday 12/19, from 10:30-noon. In light of our discussion last time on widespread fears in our society, we will spend time next week sharing and reflecting together about our own fears. Before our meeting, take some time to reflect on perhaps 1-2 fears that are very real for you at this time—perhaps these are fears that you’ve wrestled with for years, or new fears related to the chaos and drastic changes we are currently experiencing in our society/world. 

Reading for next week:
Waiting for God by Henri Nouwen (from Watch For the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas, Plough Publishing House, 2001)

 
To join the Zoom meeting:
Contact Murray at murray.blackadar@gmail.com if you have questions or suggestions, or would like to be added to the group email list.
Youth Group Christmas Party 12/20

Save the date for our virtual Christmas party on Sunday, 12/20 @ 4:30 via Zoom (link was emailed to the group). Jo is putting together supply bags for some of the activities, so it would be helpful if those who plan to participate could RSVP to Jo by Wednesday.

Youth group activities take place on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month. Contact Jo Fisher at 617-893-0865 or jo.evonne.fisher@gmail.com with any questions or suggestions.
Bible Study: Tuesdays 5:30-7pm

This Advent we are doing a 4-week study on Handel's Messiah. If you would like to join, send Pastor Deb an email at revdeb02@gmail.com so she can send you the zoom link.
from Handel's autograph manuscript of the Messiah oratorio
Christmas Joy

Please consider a gift to this annual, special offering of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in support of the past, present and future leaders of our church:

50% of your gifts make it possible for students to learn and grow in faith at Presbyterian-related schools and colleges equipping communities of color.

50% of your gifts provide assistance for current and retired church workers and their families with critical financial needs.

Three ways to give:
  • Send a check to PPC (indicate that it’s for “Christmas Joy”)
  • Text JOY to 56512 to learn more/donate
  • Learn more/donate online at https://pcusa.org/christmasjoy
Alternative Giving

Looking for alternative gifts this Christmas—or anytime? Visit https://presbyteriangifts.org, or consider a donation to one of these local organizations: Or another cause dear to your heart.
Create an Ornament for the PPC Tree

While we’re not able to gather as a community this year to decorate the PPC sanctuary for Christmas, we’d like to welcome you (especially kids and youth) to create your own ornament for the PPC Christmas tree! If you’d like to make an ornament, please put your name on it and you can get it to the church either by mail or hand deliver (put it in the church mailbox). If you’re not able to deliver your ornament, Sheryl Mason has graciously offered to drive to your home to pick it up (call/text her at 401-206-7839 or email her at sgmason65@gmail.com).
"Prepare the way for the Lord" —Isaiah 40:3
 
Please enjoy this year's Advent devotional from the Presbyterian Outlook. We pray that its daily reflections and prayers may help you to prepare your heart for Jesus in this season and always.
Special Solstice Service – Monday 12/21 @ 7pm

A service of song, scripture, and prayer on the night/day when there are more hours of darkness than light. “It’s a time to come together for prayers and laments, to mourn the losses and griefs of the year, to let the tears flow for the hurting places in our own lives, as well as for our country and our world.” Although we must worship separately, hopefully we can create a safe and sacred space to share anguish, to plead with God to remember us, to pray for justice and restoration, and to hope against hope, through our doubts and tears and fears, that “God will set things right all over the earth” (1 Samuel 2:10, The Message).
Christmas Eve Service 12/24 @ 5pm

A joyous celebration of our Savior's birth, including a virtual pageant by our children and youth, and singing “Silent Night” by candlelight. Be sure to have candles for everyone in your family!
Reminder: We Want to Hear from You

We are still collecting stories and feedback from as many people in our congregation as possible to gain a better understanding of what draws us to this church community. What about your life in this church has been meaningful to you? If there are areas of concern for you, include those also. We are trying to envision a future for this congregation that is satisfying and helps us grow spiritually. Your contribution will help Session as they consider our next steps. Send your feedback to Pastor Deb at revdeb02@gmail.com.

Also, please help us update our church directory by emailing your contact info (name, street address, email, phone/text numbers) to Monica VanderBaan at monicavanderbaan@gmail.com or to Pastor Deb at revdeb02@gmail.com. It just takes a minute and it is so helpful for keeping us connected!
Continuing Opportunities & Needs

Please contact the leaders listed below if you are interested in getting involved in any of these ongoing opportunities for fellowship and service:
  • Grief Group: Pastor Deb 585-703-0987 or revdeb02@gmail.com
  • Small-Group Zoom Gatherings: Murray Blackadar murray.blackadar@gmail.com
  • Wednesday Morning Prayer Gatherings (~8:00-8:30am via zoom)Suzanne Affigne 401-523-4907; Jill Moles 401-241-9812; Dan Blackford 401-273-2435
  • Mission and Outreach: Bipen Rai 510-499-7339 or bipenai@gmail.com
  • Nurture Committee: Kathy Cooper kathycooper@aya.yale.edu
  • Help with Building & Grounds projects: Sheryl Mason 401-206-7839 or sgmason65@gmail.com
  • Gardening: Suzanne Affigne 401-523-4907 or smclouthaffigne@gmail.com
  • Volunteer to be a Worship Leader: call Jill Moles 401-241-9812 or click the button to sign up here:
Resources

If you or someone you know needs help, contact your assigned deacon if possible, or otherwise contact deacon Matt Harrison at morattico@gmail.com or 401-340-9444 and he will coordinate care.

If you have a prayer request or would like to be included in the prayer chain, call/text Suzanne Affigne at (401) 523-4907 or email her at smclouthaffigne@gmail.com.

Milton has put together some helpful tips for using Zoom – read them here and here.

Our presbytery's website (psne.org) and our denomination’s website (pcusa.org) are great resources for information about our faith, connecting with the larger faith community, and opportunities for action.

You may continue to reach the church by phone message (401-861-1136) or email (provpresri@verizon.net), both checked daily. Pastor Deb Packard may be reached at revdeb02@gmail.com.

 
Submitted by Marianne Harrison, Tech & Communications Committee

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For our full calendar please visit our website.
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