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Caption from a Family Circus cartoon, big sister speaking to little brother:"The two places we know we're always welcome are church and Grandma's house."  That's right. December is a homecoming month, with familiar faces and new arrivals.  Our church is growing, thanks to the welcoming spirit that our congregation engenders.  Grandma, Meemaw, and Nana would all be proud.  Come light a candle with us in this season. Be sure to arrive in time for the Prelude on Christmas Eve.

 The Jesus Fatwah, a 5-session seminar on Islam, will be offered in the new year. (no date set yet)  The materials are ready.  Muslim guests will be part of the interchange. What is the Jesus Fatwah?  "Love thy Muslim neighbor as thyself."

 Ouches: Evidence abounds for the coarsening of culture. Prejudice couched in thinly veiled and often blatant racist remarks in American public life is offensive and alarming.  Some would dismiss it as mere political posturing, but I would argue the rhetoric, especially when it goes unchallenged, adds to the coarsening of our culture. But what about inadvertent offenses, the micro-aggressions that we hear that may not have been intended to do harm?  What are we to do, for example, in a family holiday setting, or at church, when we, ourselves, are the source of or the recipient of micro-aggressions?  If we are the originators of remarks, the first step is to listen for understanding, mindful of what students on several American campuses have said this fall, "Don't fake-listen."  If we are the recipients of inadvertent offenses, naturally we need to speak up.  Matthew 18:15 is a good, first step because it ensures an often missed step for one-on-one conversation:  "If your brother offends you, go to your brother.  If your brother listens, you have gained your brother."  Our congregation is invested in understanding, forgiveness, reconciliation, and transformation. P. M. Forni in his book, The Civility Solution: What to Do When People Are Rude, offers additional guidance: 

1—Don't personalize rude behavior;

2—Rude behavior comes from several sources i.e. illness,

      sleep-deprivation;

3—respond with calmness;

4—avoid "an eye-for-an-eye" approach;

5—avoid demeaning the other person;

6—try to address what underlies the problem;

7—set limits tactfully;

8—if irrationality continues, know when to quit or get

      assistance from someone to accompany you;

9—don't assume rudeness is a permanent part of someone's

      personality;

10—let empathy be your guide. (pp. 159-160, adapt.)

 Our Stewardship drivefor building the '16 budget is not complete.  On publication date of this newsletter, we have not made our budget. Several pledges are out. See page 6 and return your pledge, or fill out the form posted online.

 Bylaws Update: Members, copies of the Bylaw edits and recommendations will be emailed to members in early December, and will also be available during discussion sessions after each worship service on December 6 and 13.  Make sure the office has your correct email address to ensure you get your copy.  The Board plans to have the congregation vote on these bylaw changes on January 31, at the Congregational Meeting, during which we will also be approving a budget.