This Sunday September 2, Jean-René Balekita will play a concert within our service. This is a great opportunity to hear wonderful, worshipful, Congolese-style music. Invite friends and acquaintances to enjoy!
Congratulations to two members of the New Covenant Fellowship family!
Mark Foley, teacher at Urbana High School, has been named the 2018 Illinois History Teacher of the Year. Mark and his wife Sharon have three children. At NCF, Mark leads worship and guides our youth.
Kevin Hamilton has recently accepted a three year appointment as dean of the College of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Illinois, where he’s been a faculty member since 2002. Kevin and his wife Susan have twin boys. At NCF, Kevin often shares the Sunday morning teaching.
Thank you, Mark and Kevin, for sharing your gifts with us, and for your important service in the community.
Our intergenerational retreat is Aug. 10-11 at East Bay Camp on Lake Bloomington. Plan to arrive Friday evening for the campfire, music, and card/board games, then spend the night in the basic lodge accommodations. Or just come for the day Saturday, for a choice of thought-provoking sessions, a delicious brunch, and a variety of fun activities for all ages (including swimming, paddle boating, and a “bags” tournament). Retreating together is an important way to connect and grow stronger as a faith community, whether you’re new to NCF or have been here for decades. Join us!
Faithful Film Festival
Join us this summer on second and fourth Tuesdays at 7pm for movie showings here at NCF! All are welcome to come and enjoy a free movie, free snacks, and a free-ranging, faithbased discussion of the issues raised in the evening’s movie. (Movie Lineup right)
Jim Croegaert Concert
Join us May 27 for a special worship service featuring singer-songwriter Jim Croegaert, well known for his Easter song “Was It a Morning Like This,” in concert. There will be a time of coffee, snacks, and fellowship at 10:00 am, followed by the concert in the sanctuary at 10:30. Nursery will be available. Learn more here.
Pentecost Sunday Potluck
Join us for Pentecost Sunday May 20 at 10:30 and stay for lunch at noon! Renowned local cook Laurence Mate will provide delicious main dishes; we potluck-supply the sides and desserts. Our discussion will feature a conversation with some of the congregants who attended our LGBTQ+ Sticky Scripture Series. This is a great opportunity to hear their reflections on these Bible studies and how this year’s experience informs our journey forward together.
BloodRed Beats: Standing up against violence on Good Friday
BloodRed Beats is a streetfest designed to bring together people who want to take a stand against violence, while encouraging one another and offering glimmers of hope. The event also provides an opportunity to experience Good Friday in a new way—in the streets, outside the walls of a church.
The event will include:
– Live music by local acts from 4:00-6:30 pm, featuring Congolese music by Jean-René Balekita at 5:45 pm
– A mobile blood drive (Sign up to give blood by going to www.bloodcenterimpact.org — click “schedule now” & use our Group Sponsor Code 71019)
– Interactive art and social justice stations
– Popcorn and shaved ice by the Cool Bliss Popped Bliss foodtruck
– A Good Friday reflection and gospel music from 6:30 – 7:00
All events will take place on White Street near the intersection of Randolph in Champaign. In the event of rain, the event will be moved inside the New Covenant Fellowship Building.
The event is sponsored by NCF in collaboration with Restoration Urban Ministries.
Congregational lunch and conversation Feb. 25
Stay for lunch and conversation after a (shortened) worship service February 25! NCF will provide the main dish; please bring sides and desserts to share.
After we eat, our congregational conversation will involve reflecting and sharing around these questions: What are ways you see God working in our congregation? What would it look like for God to do more of that? Let us boldly pray for strength and wisdom for God to do more in and through our fellowship. Please pray and plan to participate!
Demand for CU Men’s Shelter increases
At the February 2 One Winter Night event, a community-wide event to raise awareness and funding around issues of homelessness, Pastor Renée gave a brief talk about New Covenant’s current role and the increasing need for shelter. An excerpt of her talk is shared below, and a recent news piece about the shelter, with a link to give financial support, can be found here on the WCIA site.
“New Covenant is blessed that our building has been able to minister to so many in this community- hosting Daily Bread Soup Kitchen for 7 years- and now the CU Men’s Shelter. As a church, we are overjoyed that our building in downtown Champaign is being utilized every day of the week for God’s kingdom.
“But this winter has made it clear that men’s need for shelter in our town exceeds the capacity of NCF’s fellowship hall; since Christmas, the Shelter has consistently used overflow space at Salvation Army, doubling the cost of staffing the Shelter.”
It’s almost auction time!
It’s time to think about what services, events, and items you are able to donate to our annual Auction of Services, which will be held on Sunday, January 28. Please let Paige and Caroline know what you will contribute by January 21. The Auction has something for everyone: there are many ways to give and many ways to receive. Please plan to participate by donating goods and services now and by staying a little longer after the worship service on January 28 to bid on goods and services that will lead to food, fellowship, art and activities all year long!
Help host our “5th Sunday” brothers and sisters
We will be hosting a simple dinner Sunday, Jan. 7th, from 5:30-7:30 pm for our “5th Sunday” churches! Let’s have a great turnout to help welcome our sisters and brothers from Bethel AME, Salem Baptist and First Mennonite.
The evening will begin with the meal and fellowship, and then will include time for prayer and discussion about what it means to be the body together in a racially-divided nation. Childcare will be provided during the discussion.
Journey through Advent with us
December 3 marks the beginning of Advent, a season that we love to travel through together at New Covenant Fellowship, and to share with others. All are warmly welcomed to join us for our 10:30 am worship services each of the Sundays of Advent.
Our Advent theme this year, “Restore us, O God,” is expressed so well in this section of Psalm 85:10-13:
Love and faithfulness will meet;
Justice and peace will embrace
Fidelity will sprout from the earth
And justice will lean down from heaven.
YHWH will give us what is good;
And our land will yield its harvest.
Justice will march before you, YHWH,
And peace will prepare the way for your steps.
Men’s Shelter update
In the first seven days that the C-U Men’s Shelter was open in our Fellowship Hall, it provided 145 beds for 41 different men, with an average of 21 per night! What a blessing! The shelter will be open every night through March 31 (9 pm – 8 am).
Thanksgiving Offering recipients
This year we’re excited for our Thanksgiving Offering to go toward helping refugees settling in our community (East Central IL Refugee & Mutual Assistance Center- ECIRMAC); first-generation college students in Mississippi (College Success Fund for Spring Initiative kids); and veterans doing disaster relief work (Team Rubicon). Look for Thanksgiving Offering boxes on the communion tables each Sunday in November.
Family Fund update
At a recent Leadership Team meeting, the Family Fund encouragingly shared that 40 different requests for housing, transportation, utilities, and other needs of NCF’s family and friends have been met in the past year. Specific generous gifts to the Family Fund have enabled them to provide a much-needed safety net, helping individuals and families stabilize and experience God’s mercy and justice that Mary joyfully proclaimed. We gratefully encourage NCF participants to continue to alert the Family Fund to needs of our family and friends, so that the work of God’s kingdom can continue to lift up the lowly and fill the hungry with good things.
The Men’s Shelter in the news
A news segment—“Nonprofit restructure emergency homeless shelter”—ran Nov. 6 on WCIA channel 3.
“Having one address and knowing where people can be sent, I think it will be easier and keep people safer and warmer,” Champaign mayor Deb Feinen said when interviewed for the segment, referencing the decision to host the winter shelter at NCF seven days a week.
At NCF, we are so grateful that we have the space to share, and that we have such a committed group of partnering churches and organizations supporting this effort. Please keep the shelter and the men who will be staying here in your prayers.
Meals (plural!) & fellowship October 29
There are two opportunities to eat and fellowship with Christian brothers and sisters on October 29. Start the day connecting with people from other churches over breakfast and Bible study at the 5th Sunday Crosstown Sunday School. Breakfast will be 8:45-9:10, and Sunday school is 9:15-10:15am (for all ages), all at Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club.
At noon, after our morning worship service at NCF, we will gather in fellowship hall for a Congregational Meal and Conversation. The main dish will be provided, but please bring a salad, side dish, or dessert.
“Sticky Scripture” Series, part II
Join us at the NCF building October 14 from 10 am – 1 pm for part II of our “Sticky Scriptures” series! Two topical presentations on scripture (including passages from the Old and New Testaments) will be covered by Renée and Kevin:
10-11:30am Created Male and Female
11:30-1pm Sodom & Gomorrah
Men’s Emergency Shelter updates
We’re excited to announce that the C-U Men’s Emergency Shelter, which is hosted in the NCF building, is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit! The team of directors include Sheryl Palmer (lead pastor FUMC), Rob Dalhaus III (CU at Home), Beverley Baker (United Way), and Walt Kelly (NCF). Other updates of interest:
- Cunningham township is providing funding to increase when the shelter is available (currently Dec-March) to open Nov. 20 through April 14, covering more early and late winter weather. (The NCF community can vote on this matter now through October 29. Contact Walt with questions.)
- The Shelter Board is writing a grant to install two ventless dryers and two washing machines on the room adjacent to the kitchen, which is also used for Shelter-related storage.
- CU at Home will provide case management to facilitate guests’ successful Shelter use.
“Sticky Scripture” Series planned for this fall
The first session in our Saturday Sticky Scripture Series examining passages that cause Christians to get “stuck” regarding LGBTQ+ inclusion starts Sept. 30, 10:00 am-1:00 pm at NCF. Everyone is welcome. Sessions will be recorded and notes will be available for those who are interested but not able to make a session. Also, mark your calendars for the second and third sessions, on October 14 and November 18, 10 am – 1 pm.
Congregational Conversation and meal Sept. 24
All are welcome to join us for our first Congregational Conversation of the academic year, immediately after the worship service on September 24. If you’re able, please bring a side dish, salad or dessert to supplement the delicious main dish fare being prepared by Laurence.
Bible study with Pastor Ron on Thursdays at noon
Looking to study the Bible in community? Every Thursday from noon until 1 pm at the NCF building, emeritus pastor Ron Simkins hosts a study of 1 Thessalonians. All are welcome! Come when you can!
Three gatherings planned for “summer small group” sessions
Plans are being made for summer small groups! This summer’s sessions will be organized in a slightly different format than previous summers. Three people have each planned a session that falls under the umbrella of a general theme—discernment, and hearing God in our lives—but each session is also independent of the others. This allows for everyone to be a part of just one, two, or all three, as their schedules allow.
Mark your calendars! (The locations for each are TBA.)
- Saturday, June 24, 9AM-noon. Gale W. will lead writing exercises and discussion on recognizing and interpreting (or misinterpreting) “signs,” and the Holy Spirit. (No formal writing experience is necessary!)
- Thursday, July 20, 7PM-8:30PM. Kevin H. will lead a Bible study and time for individual reflections around the theme recognizing and responding to (or failing to respond to) “God’s presence with us.”
- Wednesday, August 9, 7PM-8:30PM. Paige W. will lead a storytelling and reflective listening session on recognizing and acting on (or failing to act on) “callings.”
Habitat Interfaith Build wraps up with June 11 dedication of the two homes
It’s time to dedicate the Habitat houses NCF has been supporting through labor and finances through the Habitat Interfaith Build! The whole process, which began last September with a groundbreaking ceremony, has been a blessing. Several teams of NCF-ers (including some of our youth!) worked on builds last fall and this spring.
The dedication will be June 11 at 3pm, beginning at LaKendra’s house (1203 Beslin in Urbana) then moving to Nicole’s house a block away (1212 Hill St). Come tour the homes, meet the two families, and enjoy light refreshments.
Lunch after the worship service on May 21
Our next Congregational Conversation and lunch will be after the worship service Sunday, May 21. Please bring a side dish, salad, or dessert to share if you’re able—the main dish will be provided!
Late-summer NCF retreat planned
Do you enjoy: campfires, good food, canoeing, spending time together in prayer, water trampolines, playing cards, walks in the woods, and growing closer to each other and to God?
If so, mark your calendars for our end-of-summer intergenerational retreat, August 25-26 on Lake Bloomington. More details to come!
5th Sunday cross-town breakfast & Sunday School
We meet at the Don Moyer Boys & Girls Club, 201 E. Park St. in Champaign. Breakfast begins at 8:45 and Sunday School classes for all ages begin at 9:15 (ending in time to make it to NCF in time for our worship service at 10:30).
Something new: Pastries, coffee and fellowship starting at 10 am
Everyone is welcome at New Covenant Fellowship—and now, all are encouraged to show up early on Sunday mornings for pastries, coffee and fellowship! God is doing new things in us as we build community, invite new friends, and spend more time together in God’s presence. Join us!
NCF Talent Show April 8
Come out Saturday evening (April 8) at 7pm for the NCF talent show! Vic has put together quite a lineup, ranging from various musical combos and solos to dance, magic, poetry, skits, and our very own “house band” to entertain between acts. Bring friends and family and come out for a great time of fellowship and fun together.
Sunday morning blood drive and breakfast on Palm Sunday
Interested in giving blood to help those in need? This Sunday morning opportunity (April 9 starting at 9:30 at NCF) makes it extra convenient—and perhaps frames the act in a more meaningful way, as we prayerfully consider what it means to give of ourselves during Lent. (Schedule an appointment to give blood.) Whether or not you are planning to give blood, we will also be sharing a potluck breakfast starting at 9:30 that morning. Please plan to join us (and bring some bagels, muffins, or fruit to share, if you’re able!).
Emergency Shelter Update
The Winter Men’s Emergency Shelter moved to NCF on Friday, March 17. Please be praying for this ministry. More information will follow as volunteer opportunities become available these last weeks of March. As the weather warms, the shelter will close for the season and then re-open in December at NCF.
Habitat Interfaith Build—spring dates
There are upcoming opportunities to help with the Habitat Interfaith Build of two local houses. Several NCFers participated last fall, joining more than 15 congregations. Multiple build dates have been scheduled for weekends in March and April:
– March 24 & 25
– March 31 & April 1
– April 8 & 9
– April 14
– April 21
– April 29 (Youth Day, when kids under 16 can participate)
To sign up for a date, follow the links by house:
– 1212 W. Hill (registration event code: J7McTb)
– 1203 Beslin (registration event code: xkvwSj)
Contact Lee Ann or Jubal with questions.
Our annual auction of services is coming March 5 & 12!
Make sure you’re at the worship service March 5 if you want to get in on the Donate-and-Dine portion of our annual auction. Everyone who makes a donation of any amount will get to enjoy a wonderful themed meal with others from the congregation. The Silent Auction will take place after the worship service March 12 and will include a range of items and services to bid on, from artwork and yard work to gift certificates to local businesses. To sustain you while you bid on March 12, Laurence Mate and the NCF youths will serve baked potatoes and toppings, and ice cream sundaes.
The auction raises money for the NCF youth group and for Missions, Mercy & Justice-related travel, and it also helps connect us to each other.
Ash Wednesday Service, March 1st at 6:30pm
We hope you can join us for a simple, reflective Ash Wednesday service at NCF this evening. Ashes—made from the palm branches we celebrated with at last year’s Palm Sunday service—will be imposed for those who wish to receive them.
Congregational Book Study Group is Formed
A new study and discussion group has been formed as NCF seeks to understand how to more fully welcome LGTBQ people into the life of our fellowship. We’re reading and discussing the book Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same-Sex Relationships. Upcoming meetings will be from 7-9 pm on Thursdays March 2 (chapters 6 & 7) and March 16 (chapters 8 & 9) in the NCF office. Everyone is welcome, even if you haven’t made it to previous meetings, and books are available through Renée.
Annual MLK Community-Wide Service of Celebration January 15
The Martin Luther King Community Choir performs at the 32nd Annual Dr. MLK Jr. Service of Celebration, beginning at 5pm Sunday, January 15, in the Foellinger Great Hall at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Join with other members of the NCF and broader community in celebrating and being inspired by the life and work of Dr. King. Scholarships will also be awarded at the event, which features keynote speaker Rev. Dr. Allan Boesak.
Congregational lunch and conversation January 8
Make plans to stay after the worship service Sunday, January 8, for lunch and fellowship! The main dish (pulled pork and macaroni and cheese) will be provided—bring a salad, side, or dessert to round out the meal, if you’re able. A brief congregational conversation will begin right after the meal. Visitors and guests are welcome to join us just for lunch, or to stay for the conversation, as well. We’re looking forward to spending time together after a busy holiday season.
Join us on Christmas Eve
All are warmly invited to join us at our Christmas Eve service, this Saturday at 5:00 pm, upstairs in the NCF sanctuary. A simple service of readings and songs will lead us from the Advent season of waiting into Christmas, the celebration of Emmanuel, God with us. (There will be no service at NCF on Christmas morning.)
Living Out Advent
As Renée wrote in a recent blog post, “Advent is the time to stay woke. To not be lulled into complacency by everyday life.” There are a variety of upcoming opportunities to “stay woke”—involved and aware—this season:
- View the documentary film “Racial Taboo” at 6pm on Thursday December 8, at Jericho Missionary Baptist Church in Champaign.
- Continue to pray about the possibility of NCF serving as a host for a Men’s Emergency Overnight Shelter for three winter months, if it is permitted by the city of Champaign.
- Plan to join the MLK Community Chorus, whose first rehearsal is 2-4 pm on Saturday, December 17 at Salem Baptist Church.
Join Us For a Thanksgiving Meal November 20, After the Worship Service
Why celebrate Thanksgiving just once? We’ll be sharing a Thanksgiving meal after the worship service this Sunday, November 20! Jason will make the turkey—please bring a side dish, salad, or dessert to fill out the menu. (And if you can’t bring something, please join us anyway!)
We’ll also discuss our hopes for how we might use our building after Daily Bread moves into their new home, so please be praying and reflecting on that this week.
The Recipients of our Thanksgiving Offering 2016
Each November, NCF collects a special offering in gratitude for all the Lord does for us.
- Bridges of Peace International, serving refugees in Lebanon, where at least one in five (and as many as one in three) persons is a refugee. This is the umbrella organization for both Beit el-Hanane (Home of Tenderness) and Spring of Life children’s center in Beirut, to which we have a connection through Evelyne Accad, a retired UI professor and longtime friend of NCF.
- Academic Peer Education Project (APEP) at San Quentin State Prison, a college preparatory program for prisoners that is taught partly by prisoners (peer educators) and partly by volunteer teachers from the outside. (Ellen Dahlke, who was a part of the NCF community during her years in Champaign, is involved in this project.
- CU At Home, a local organization that engages and mobilizes our community to house and support the most vulnerable homeless on their journey of healing and restoration.
Please pray for these organizations and give what you can this month to support their important work.
Sign Up For an October 27 or 28 Habitat Build Team
NCF has been asked to provide four teams (of five people each) for Thursday, October 27 and Friday, October 28. Each team will do a 3.5 hour shift (8-11:30 am or 11:30-3 pm).
These builds are a part of the Habitat Interfaith Builds project, which was kicked off on September 11, 2016, and brings together 22 local faith groups, including NCF. Please pray about taking this opportunity to show our commitment to affordable housing and standing with other faiths. There will be a sign up sheet at the welcome desk.
Worship and Lunch at Lake of the Woods (10/16)
Our annual service at Lake of the Woods will take place on Sunday, October 16th! After the worship service (which starts at our usual time, 10:30 am), we will have lunch together (the main dish will be provided—please bring sides and desserts), followed by a congregational conversation.
More information, along with maps and carpooling options, will be available at the NCF Welcome Center soon. Also note that there will NOT be a service at the NCF building that Sunday!
All are welcome at mercy/justice team meetings
The Missions, Mercy, and Justice team (MMJ) will be meeting before the worship service this Sunday, October 9th at 9:15am in the main office at NCF. All are encouraged to have a voice in our fellowship’s mercy and justice efforts by joining the team on a regular basis or just by attending meetings when you’re able. We meet the second Sunday of each month.
Habitat Interfaith Builds Project Kick-off
Don’t forget to mark your calendars for this Sunday’s kickoff gathering of the Habitat Interfaith Builds project, which brings together 22 local faith groups, including NCF.
When: Sunday, September 11th
Location: 1212 Hill Street Urbana
Annual End-of-Summer Picnic
Our annual end-of-summer picnic/potluck will be after the worship service this Sunday (8/28) at Crystal Lake Park in the main pavilion.
As usual, we’ll provide some grilled items (hamburgers, hot dogs, veggie burgers, etc. as well as buns and condiments), but please bring a salad, side, or dessert to share. This is our chance to catch up with one another after a summer full of travel, and it’s also a great opportunity to invite friends and family!
Youth Group Trip Video
If you missed the slideshow/video the youth shared last Sunday about their time in Chicago (or if you want to see it again or share it with others) here you go!
Thanks to all the people who made this trip possible through your prayers, auction of services donations and purchases, and by helping shape these great kids! (And extra thanks to the four amazing adult leaders who nurtured great conversations and thought while in Chicago, and kept the kids safe!)