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Got Friends?  Not all of your friends are in our church.  Some are not in any church.  Yes, yes, I know, some people would not be caught dead . . . .   But think about a couple of un-churched friends or a family you could invite to attend our services in April –someone you could invite who might be church shopping.  April is Bring a Friend month and we are making it easy for you.  You’ll need a 28¢ stamp for the ready-to-mail card enclosed in this newsletter.  Send it (perhaps with a hand-written sentence on the card) in mid-March because people think about church in the spring and around Easter.  The media will be featuring stories on Jesus and what Muslims think about Christians etc.  We’ll be ready for our guests.

Music Director Ila Stoltzfus has served our church for the last 25 years.  During that time span our church has grown and evolved.  Our music program under Ila’s leadership has been a key feature of that growth.  As you’ve noticed, music styles are not restricted here.  Spirit moves in many languages.  And musicians seem to attract musicians.  Our church will continue to build on diversity and music offerings. 

Our church is proud to present Ila a two-month sabbatical beginning in April, her time for a meditative sojourn away from the busy church life here, a time for her to experience and reflect on how church music programs operate elsewhere on the continent.  Marie Flowers and Cathy McManus will share music leadership responsibilities while Ila is away. Enjoy the leave, Ila.  You deserve it. 

This month in history.  In March, 170 years ago, the Unitarian minister, The Rev. James Freeman Clarke, started a new church in Boston.  Up until that time, the custom of pew purchase or rental gave the owner-renter right to control a church.  Clarke introduced a new idea which we take for granted today.  He proposed that that no pew would be sold, rented, or taxed but instead the church would be supported by voluntary pledges and contributions from its total membership.  That’s exactly how we operate today.

Got a question?  Leave one for Question Box Sunday, but get it to me at least by March 23.  Let’s make this morning interesting. 

Remember the congregational meeting on Sunday, March 20, 10:40 AM between the worship services  –in the sanctuary.The Planning Committee and Board of Trustees will ask you to approve a process for securing an assistant minister.  The strategic plan calls for hiring a minister this fall.  Please come to the meeting to hear about the details.

 Capture rhymes with rapture.   I am looking for a Capture Team of individuals who can assist with capturing images and audios for film and PowerPoint type displays for use in Sunday morning worship.  Modeled after the Worship Guild and Sound Tech teams who assist on Sunday morning, the Capture Team (working title) will mostly work behind the scenes before Sunday morning.  The strategic plan includes a remodeling of the sanctuary with a raised chancel, lighting, and AV updates.  But we need a people team now. Talk to me if you have tech aptitude or skills.

Louisiana, the most incarcerating nation on the planet.  That’s a headline we have not seen exactly but it expresses a truth.  No state imprisons more persons per capita than ours.  No nation incarcerates more than the USA.  Read the headline and weep.  The prison costs in our state are blowing up the budget and it is getting the Governor’s attention.  Part of the problem is the strict mandatory sentencing requirements for non-violent offenses.  A moral bankruptcy is linked with a financial one.  If we focus on the horrendous costs of keeping someone imprisoned for exorbitant, mandatory terms for non-violent crimes, then we have an opportunity for prison reform in our state.