Honor someone you love with a poinsettia

poinsettiaYou are invited to participate in beautifying our sanctuary for the Christmas Eve service by purchasing a traditional Poinsettia, cost is $12.00 per plant. Following the Christmas Eve service, the plant(s) may be taken home or left to be given to our members and friends who are ill or unable to leave their home. A list of donors and those remembered and honored will be included in the Christmas Eve bulletin. Please contact the Church Office for a form, and payment.

RPC’s 2015 Stewardship Drive – ‘Roots and Leaves’

It’s December again, which along with the end of the year means the time to complete the fulfillment of 2014 pledges and the time to make a financial commitment to RPC for 2015. The theme of this year’s Stewardship campaign is Roots and Leaves, chosen to honor the “roots” in our congregation whose time, talent and treasure provide the anchor upon which RPC is based, and the “leaves” to be sprouted during the upcoming season of growth marked by a new permanent pastor.

The Roots among us have provided the financial support that has kept RPC going but we have a significant shortfall in pledges for 2014. This shortfall has a major impact on the financial viability of the church. If you have not already done so, please bring your pledge amounts up to date so that we can start the new season on a positive note.

BLACK FRIDAY, CYBER MONDAY…GIVING TUESDAY

The Stewardship Committee has made giving easy this year by setting up credit card payments that go directly to RPC’s Presbyterian Foundation account. One easy way to fulfill your 2014 pledge, or make an additional contribution to RPC, is to donate on Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday is December 2 and the Presbyterian Church (USA) and all its missions and ministries are encouraging donations. Go to PresbyterianMissionExchange.org/givingtuesday and give!

Your 2015 pledge is critical to the continued viability of RPC which is starting a New Beginning with a new pastor but cannot continue to operate with deficit budgets. Chuck Hannemann forwarded his eloquent musings on Stewardship this week.

It has been said that Christian stewardship involves the giving of our time, talents, and treasure to the church. It has been said that Christian stewardship grows out of faith in Christ Jesus, a consistent faithfulness to His never ending love.

We have come to expect consistency in our daily lives. We expect things to operate with a high level of consistency. We expect that most of the people as well as “things” we encounter on a daily basis will be faithful to us.

But, what if: three times a week, the water coming out of your faucets was unfit to drink; your mortgage company threatens foreclosure when you miss four out of seven payments; the Metrorail runs on time except on Mondays and Thursdays; your car starts six of the seven days of the week; sporadically, your bi weekly paycheck is only 80% of the amount you were informed it would be, or the electricity coming into your home fails twice a week?

Would you react to these situations by simply saying to yourself, “Not bad! The water is potable 57% of the time. I made over 50% of my mortgage payments. The Metrorail being on time five out of seven days is fairly reliable. Who can argue with a car that starts 86% of the time? I’m still receiving my promised salary most of the time, and it’s fun to use oil lamps.” I rather doubt it!

Yes, we indeed value consistency and faithfulness in our lives. But when it comes to stewardship, we are often inclined to draw upon a quite different meaning for these terms. Think about it! Our stewardship requires the same levels of consistency and faithfulness as does the many aspects of our daily lives, and, it is a central aspect of our commitment to our faith in God.

With this in mind, before we fill out our pledge cards, let’s all do a check on our levels of consistency and faithfulness to stewardship.

Please prayerfully consider your 2015 pledge and complete and submit a pledge card. For the sake of consistency, please go a step further and set up your 2015 pledge as a recurring payment on a credit card or through an online bill pay service. We look forward to a tree full of leaves in 2015!

Unto Us A Child Is Born

Pastor Monica StyronDear Sisters and Brothers in Christ

This Advent we are full of anticipation…entering into the birthing of something new in the life of the congregation. Even though it is the end of the year the congregation is taking another step toward renewal. Beginnings and endings seem to go together like the shedding of skin new skin develops.

In our vulnerability of newness it is up to us to nurture and support the new life coming to us. The more we lean on the everlasting arms of God, the more we let the Spirit of God work in and through us; and, the more love comes to reside in our hearts, minds and actions. Isn’t that what Christmas is about after all?

As a congregation each may anticipates in hope, prayerfulness and discernment the presence of a candidate to be your pastor; to join you in the next steps on your journey as a community of faith. You will decide if the gifts she brings are the ones necessary for developing the opportunities and dealing with the challenges ahead. By drawing closer to God and loving the divine more deeply, praying together more intentionally, you will catch a vision for renewal and transformation.

May Your Preparation and Christmas be filled with Joy and bring you closer to those whom you love. May your love touch the lives of the stranger and bring healing. May your lives draw closer to God as you catch the vision to be fulfilled.

Remembering The Babe in Manger that Changed the World,
Grace and Peace be unto you and your families

— Pastor Monica

What is the Christmas Joy Offering?

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 9.54.52 AMThe Christmas Joy Offering provides financial assistance to indi-viduals and families that have dedicated their lives to the church, and supports education and leadership development for students attending Presbyterian – related schools and colleges.

Advent and Christmas are times to celebrate the arrival of “the true light”. The PCUSA provides the opportunity for congrega-tions to join this celebration by supporting those in need of help and hope.

Riviera’s Goal for the 2015 Christmas Joy Offering is $600.

Demonstrate your thankfulness this season

Each holiday season, Riviera Presbyterian Church anticipates and relies on a seasonal increase in contributions. It is through the donations of every individual and family in the congregation that we are able to carry on our work now and throughout the year.

If you need a convenient way to make recurring contributions or plan to make an additional gift before the end of the year, we encourage you to check out our electronic giving options. As the pace of life speeds up around the holidays, you may find electronic giving a most welcome way to make contributions.

To set up a recurring giving schedule, visit us online at www.rivierachurch.org and locate the Online Giving button.

Thank you for your generosity and support!

A Night For Bethlehem

Saturday, Nov. 22 at 7:00 p.m.
Come and meet Ata Manasra, Ambassador of Hope. Ata comes from a small village on the border of Bethlehem struggling for survival caused by expansion of illegal settlements in the West Bank.  Event will be held in the Fellowship Hall (entrance on San Ignacio Ave)  at Riviera Presbyterian Church. Free Parking available in City of Coral Gables Parking Lot #19, on the west side of the church and child care center.

Presented by Riviera Presbyterian Church & Friends of Sabeel—South Florida.

Bethlehem Flyer
Bethlehem Flyer

What is the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship all about?

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Since the reunion in 1983, which created the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), there has been a lack of clarity about both the advocacy and missional role of the caucuses and their relationship to the denomination at all levels.”

Thank you to all those who donated to the Peacemaking Offering We reached our goal of $400.00

PRESBYTERIAN PEACE FELLOWSHIP BOARD RETREAT

Pastor Monica recently attended the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship (PPF) Board Retreat as she is one of 52 people serving from across the country. Over a five-day period engaged in study, restructured itself, added new members to serve on one or more of its existing program/action groups, and put out statements to both the GA, the UN and Congress regarding a variety of wars taking place or about to. It also reviewed the activates and decision of the 2014 GA and began preparations for desired actions at the 2016 GA. Monica is on the Palestine/Israel Committee and Racism Committee.

What is the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship all about?

We are a wide network of peacemakers who engage issues of both national and international import. Our call is to be movers and shakers within the PC(USA) and beyond, encouraging one another to take seriously God’s call to God’s people to participate in God’s nonviolent work of love, peace, and justice in the world.

The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship started in the 1940s as a group that provided support to Conscientious Objectors to World War II, a war in which objection was quite unpopular. Since our birth we have continued to be a prophetic voice in our church, urging the abolition of war and encouraging our sisters and brothers to enact peace in the midst of our broken world. We have helped lead the PC(USA) to take bold stances in the face of violence.

Actions and programs are organized in the following major categories:

COLUMBIA ACCOMPANIMENT PROGRAM

Nonviolent accompaniers serve in Colombia in pairs for a month at a time, living in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Colombia.

Can you give a month to accompany our Colombian sisters and brothers in the midst of violence?

Leaders in the Presbyterian Church of Colombia are taking great risks in their human rights work and their support of the communities of Colombians who have been displaced by the violence of the forty-year war in their country. They have asked us to act as international accompaniers in order to provide a measure of safety—international eyes—for their work.

The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship is working with PC(USA) World Mission and the Presbyterian Church of Colombia to train and deploy short-term mission workers to Colombia. To date we have trained over 150 volunteers, over 100 of which have served.

SCHOOL OF THE AMERICAS (SOA)

The U.S. Army’s Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), often known by its former name, the School of the Americas (SOA), is located in Ft. Benning, Georgia. WHINSEC is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers. Many graduates have been responsible for severe human rights violations in their home countries.

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) issued a call for the closing of the SOA in 1994. PPF took the lead in putting the overture before the General Assembly that year, and we have continued to take action to close SOA/WHINSEC and change the oppressive foreign policy of the United States that WHINSEC has come to represent. Several members of PPF have served prison sentences as a result of “crossing the line” in nonviolent acts of civil disobedience at the annual event at Ft. Benning.

Friday, November 21, 2014 – Sunday, November 23, 2014

Join the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship at the annual vigil in Columbus, Georgia to close the School of Americas (SOA). As SOA Watch’s 25th anniversary Vigil approaches, we remain committed to converging at the gates of Fort Benning once again to remember the martyrs, and to denounce the continued SOA violence against our brothers and sisters in Latin America.

GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION

And we can help. PPF’s Congregational Toolkit for Gun Violence Prevention is a wealth of resources for conversation, study, and organizing.

The 219th General Assembly (2010) unanimously approved this ground-breaking report, Gun Violence, Gospel Values: Mobilizing in Response to God’s Call.

PEACE DISCERNMENT

Broadcasts of World Council of churches Ecumenical Peace Conference; Ecumenical Advocacy Days; Taking action on nuclear disarmament, Central American Migration Crisis, and recommendations to the 218th GA of the PC(USA on Peacemaking and International Issues, concerning the Philippines, Colombia, Conscientious Objectors, and Israel/Palestine:

PALESTINE/ISRAEL

The 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted in June 2014 to divest itself of its stock in three companies whose business supports or profits from the State of Israel’s Occupation of Palestine. (Young Adult Advisory Delegates voted 65% in favor of the motion, Theological Advisory Delegate over 90%, and Ecumenical and Mission Advisory Delegates 100% in favor of the motion. The Commissioners’ vote was much closer, affirming the proposal to divest 51% to 49%.)

As part of its larger Endowment Campaign, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship has launched an Occupation-Free Fund for donors who do not want to invest in companies that enable or benefit from the Occupation of Palestinian Territories by the State of Israel. On May 28, 2014, the Fellowship’s new Occupation-Free Fund reached $150,000.

It also spent a day and a half reviewing the study guide on Zionism Unsettled prepared by a number of Presbyterian theologians and published through the Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN). It will make its recommendation at the next GA.

PEACE COMMUNITIES PROGRAM 2014

As the PPF works to strengthen our witness to Jesus Christ in the PC(USA), we begin a new and exciting partnership with seven intentional peace communities. Because there are many ways across the church to live in Christian community outside of traditional congregational life, we desire to connect with and support intentional peace communities involved in inspiring peace work across the country.

RACISM

The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship stands with those participating in non-violent acts for justice. Such as: Faithful Response to Ferguson when PPF members traveled to Ferguson for training and participation in non-violent actions. Members are continuing to participate and report on the activities taking place.

Pastor’s Letter – November 2014

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ

Pastor Monica StyronThanksgiving is a societal celebration. Many funny and yet poignant movies have been made about ‘family dysfunctions’ experienced over this holiday. How long it takes to prepare the meal and how fast it is eaten. In many families the day is primarily about football games. All leading us away from the first Thanksgiving. Perhaps, that is the purpose of the distraction to avoid what is missing in our Thanksgiving celebrations and in the relationships within the family. We haven’t gotten to the heart of the story and have separated ourselves from the history.

Having spent my childhood summers on an Indian Reservation in the northern lakes of Wisconsin I had the blessing to know many first (native) peoples. This was a time when the reservation was extremely poor. There were no indoor toilets or water and tar-paper was used, by those who had it, to cover windows and roofs. The native (first) people took me into their tents and lives as a child. I was exposed to their love and the many challenges they faced as a people. Today they are still confined and living under oppression by our government and ignored by our society.

Like the earliest Thanksgiving it has come to symbolize a new beginning when first (native) peoples and new immigrants shared in mutual respect, sharing of skills and resources, peacemaking, and wisdom. However, that initial relationship changed as more people began to see themselves as “settlers” to take land and resources from those already living here. This change brought many injustices, death and exile of the indigenous first (native) peoples.

In celebrating Thanksgiving I believe it is important to include “confession” about the sin of our ancestors and the ongoing oppression of the native (first) peoples that still exists to this day. Especially today, as the Native (first) peoples have lost a sense of belonging, being valued, and role within the PCUSA.*

Here at Riviera we can teach our children the more truthful history of the original relationships with the new immigrants and how the native (first) peoples helped them to survive, deal with their fears, and flourish. And we can teach them about what followed when people became greedy, established prejudice and hatred. We can talk about the broken treaties and the impoverished “reservations.” Then we can talk about restoring relationships, possible restitution, and ways the church can assist the society in restoring honor and respect to the beaten down native (first) people.

During this season of Thanksgiving I am particularly thankful to be with you serving as your Interim pastor. It is my prayer that with whatever time we will be together we will continue to come closer to God, become more inclusive and faithful in our practices and actions, and fulfill our calling as Christ’s disciples.

May each of you and your families have a warm and blessed Thanksgiving.

— Pastor Monica

See excerpt below…

THE FOLLOWING IS AN EXCERPT FROM… Covenant of Understanding Regarding the Role and Relationship of Racial Ethnic Caucuses within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

“…As our church and society became more racially diverse, the development of racial ethnic caucuses increased in the church during the early 1970s to include Asian, Hispanic, Native American, and more recently Middle-Eastern Presbyterians. These caucuses had an advocacy and programmatic role, strengthened by a working relationship with the General Assembly, through its Racial Ethnic Office, as well as other judicatories (now mid councils). In many instances, the Synod was a primary link for the caucuses in relating to and working with their constituencies at the congregational level.

“With the continuing changes taking place within the life of the denomination, the racial ethnic caucuses are experiencing a serious sense of having lost both their relationship and a clear role within the church. While the caucuses are related to the General Assembly through the Presbyterian Mission Agency and its Office on Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries/ Presbyterian Women, there is no clear understanding of what that relationship means and the expectations of that relationship.”