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First United Presbyterian Church
Tuesday December 3, 2019


Advent means “coming.”  Its been described as a season of “expectant waiting and preparation” for the coming celebration of Christ’s birth and for the coming of Christ himself to us again.  As such, it’s a season filled with anticipation and hope as we look forward and get ready for Christmas.

This seems like an apt metaphor for FUPC at this exact moment in time.  Your session has done the good work of interviewing and getting to know interim pastor candidates, praying, and finally selecting an interim pastor for this time and place in your history.  Zach Lysdahl too, has heard the call to come and join you in ministry. He has been introduced to you via video in worship.  And now you wait – a long six weeks until he arrives.  And he waits too!  And waiting is something none of us likes to do!

As a child for me, counting the days down until Christmas was a big deal.  All of the stores had signs in their windows declaring “15 Shopping Day Left Until Christmas,” “14 Days Left…” and on it went.  And it was torture for a little boy wondering what exciting gifts lay in store for me!  I could hardly wait for the big day to come.

Does it feel like that now with Zach?

Well, this waiting time can be very useful for us.  In relation to Christmas, this Advent season is filled with so many things to do, so many preparations to make for the season that you might sometimes wish the “Shopping Days” signs counted up rather than down.  Our schedules seem filled to overflowing with shopping, baking, cleaning, wrapping, arranging, partying, and all the other “ings” that fill our schedules at this time of year that “expectant waiting” for Christ seems like the last thing we do in Advent.  Yet the church calls us to use this time to prepare for the coming of the Christ into our lives – to make room at the inn of our hearts for his life to be born in us anew.

Well, the coming of a new pastor brings its own level of anticipation and hope. 

Sometimes we can get caught up in having too many expectations for the new pastor that lead to disappointment when that pastor finally arrives.  So as your Bridge Pastor, may I say to you – though I like him very much, Zach is not perfect! (Hint: As pastors, none of us are perfect – and we will disappoint you).

Sometimes we see a new pastor like I saw Christmas as a kid – about the gifts which were all for me.  As your Bridge Pastor, may I say to you that God has not called Zach here to satisfy the desires of any one of you, or even all of you!  God has called Zach here to help lead you to what God has in store for this congregation in 2020 and beyond.  And sometimes what God has in store does not fit our own personal desires.

Sometimes we see the coming of a new pastor as the solution to all of our church’s problems.  As your Bridge Pastor, may I say to you that though Zach is gifted, he is not that gifted.  (Hint: None of us is so gifted so as to make problems magically go away.  That only comes through hard work and difficult decisions done together.)

So how might each of us use this Advent time of anticipation and hope?  I would suggest that the best way for each of us to get ready for the coming of Christ, and the coming of your new interim pastor, is found in three disciplines of the season.

First, use this Advent season to rejoice.  Look carefully at all of what you already have as a congregation, the gifts God has placed in each of you for doing good in the church and in the world.  Identify and celebrate those gifts in each other.  You are a gifted church already involved in Christ’s mission in this place.  Rejoice in what God is already doing among you.  Rejoice every day.  You might say, “Rejoice always…”

Second, use this Advent season as a season of prayer.  Pray for Zach.  Pray for this congregation.  Pray that God will make clear to all of you the direction of your ministry together.  Pray for open hearts.  Pray for open minds.  Pray for the Spirit’s presence among you.  Pray every day.  You might say, “Pray without ceasing…”

Third, be filled with thanks.  Find something about your church to be thankful for every day.  Even your trials and difficulties are things in life for which to give thanks, as they make us stronger.  Give thanks.  You might say, “Give thanks in all circumstances...”

You are already a congregation of hope and energy, filled with energetic leaders and excited for what lies ahead. You have called a wonderfully thoughtful and gifted Interim Pastor.  Now its time for a season of Advent waiting.

This is what Paul said to the Thessalonians: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  (1Thessalonians 5:16-18).  And this is my ardent hope for each of you and for all of you this special season.

Joy to You,

Bridge Pastor Bob



The Session has been busy the last two months, by first finding a Bridge Pastor, Rev. Bob Jensen and later working with the Presbytery to find an Interim Pastor.  This has been a change from the old method of creating a PNC, doing a Mission Study, interviewing candidates and then selecting an Interim from the candidates.  Last time we did this I think it took about two years.

The Presbytery chose three candidates that they thought would be a fit with our church.  The Session interviewed the candidates and then discussed the pros and cons of each one.  We then met as a Session and re-interviewed the person we thought was the best fit for our church (we took him out to dinner) and asked if he was interested in our church and he said yes.  He in turn gave us a test to see what our priorities are for a pastor. Happy to say, we passed!

Rev. Zachary Lysdahl met again with the Session and a representative from the Transition Team, Pastor Marc Wendleton, to make a formal contract, and discuss salary and benefits, Pastor Zach accepted our offer and will be starting with our church on January 6,2020.

The Session talked about many other items and repairs that needed to be made to the church.  Each committee sent in a report that discussed the committee’s plans and what they had accomplished during the previous months.

Your Session is always working to ensure that you, the congregation, have your requests and ideas heard.  Please let the appropriate committee chair know your thoughts so that we can discuss them in our meeting.

2020 will be an exciting year. Pastor Zach mentioned several projects that the Session will be working on in the new year and we are looking forward to the changes that these might bring.

Blessings from Session for a joyful Christmas and New Year! 

Jodee Kleb, Clerk of Session


Communion to the Furthest pew will next be Sunday, December 1 following the worship service.  If you or someone you know would be blessed by receiving the sacrament at home, please call Pastor Bob (262-894-6581) as soon as possible.


Poinsettias are $9.00 each. See the sign up sheet in the Narthex  

Jan Trosper will be leading the Advent Study group "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly". The group will meet on Sunday evenings from 4-5 pm in the meeting room. There will be children's activities as well.


Jan Trosper will be leading the Advent study group. The material is called "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly". There will be children's activities as well as the adult study. The group will start Sunday, December 1st, at 4PM and will be held in the meeting room. It should be fun for all ages, please come and celebrate the Christmas season together.
The RED CROSS will host a blood drive in Westminster Hall on December 31st from 10AM - 2 PM.

For the blood drive, please call Warren Carter at 618-344-0730.  You can also go to or email to set up an appointment time.   There will be a signup sheet in the narthex with the available appointment times.



Pledge cards for 2020 were recently mailed out.  Please return your estimates of giving for 2020 to the church by the end of the year so we can plan our budget accordingly.

 Per Capita for 2019 is$31.00 per member. If you have not paid for 2019, please pay by December 22, 2019.

Per Capita for 2020 will be $32.00 per member. Please do not pay this until after January 1, 2020.

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Weekly Worship Opportunities
Sunday Service:
Coffee 8:45 - 9:45
Sunday School 9:00-10:00
Worship Service & Children's Church 10:00

The Church Office will be closed Wednesday and Thursday, November 27 & 28 in honor of Thanksgiving.  The office will also be closed on Friday, November 28 as is our norm.


The Church Office will be closed December 24-27 on Christmas week.  We will also be closed on December 31 and January 1.


1 – Matt & Vivian Bader

3 – John & Lesley Drenkhahn

5 – Joe & Susan Smith


1 – Lauren Grover

5 – Dottie Rudis 

11 – Brian Brown

14 – Cindy Jones

15 – Katie Brown

22 – Chuck Tennant

24 – Elizabeth Burr

26 – Ryan Kneedler

27 – Stacy Kneedler; Jeffrey Bender, Jr

28 – John Burr

29 – Laurie Carter

30 – Mallory Bader


The Children’s Christmas program will be Sunday, December 15 during worship.  The program is titled “Follow the Star” and it is a fun and joyous reminder of why the ”wise men” sought after the Christ and why we still do today.  Join with us December 15 as our children lead us in worship!

Our annual Church Christmas Dinner will follow worship.  The dinner is hosted by Session’s Fellowship Committee.  


Dear FUPC Friends,
Thank you for the gift bag of snacks. It was very thoughtful of you and a nice surprise during a stressful semester. I'm getting close to the end of school but I am glad to know that you're thinking of me while I finish up.
-Avery Cleland


A huge thank you to all that supported Operation Christmas Child this year – if you filled a shoebox, donated money or prayed for this mission, it is appreciated.  Our Church filled and delivered 73 boxes last Sunday that will travel to far corners of the world.  We know these boxes bring the message of Christ’s love to children and that they grow to pay it forward by sharing their testimony of how a simple box brought them to know Jesus. 

It is my honor to work with this mission and I thank all of you for your continued support to bring joy to children everywhere.  
-Sherri Finke


The Collinsville Food Pantry Toy Drive will be December 18-21 this year.  Wednesday (18th - starting at 5:30 pm) and Thursday (19th – starting at 6:30 pm) will be devoted to sorting gifts and setting up Westminster Hall.   We will be distributing toys for children (ages newborn – 16) along with Christmas Dinner on Friday, starting at 6:00 pm and Saturday from 9:00 am – noon.

There are lots of ways for you to help.

We will need lots of help sorting and setting up on both Wednesday and Thursday.  You can also help families as a “personal shopper” on Friday or Saturday.  We will also be caring for the children who come with their parents and also providing drinks and snacks.

This is a big community effort and much help is needed.  We hope you can join us to help make Christmas a little bit brighter for our neighbors.


Our choir will be presenting “Everlasting Light: The Promise of Christmas” in worship on Sunday, December 22.  The musical offering reminds us that “Light” is synonymous with the Christmas Season and that the “Light of the World,” Jesus Christ brings healing and hope to all who seek him.

Come join us for this special worship service.

We have the opportunity to be a part of the SOS Soup Kitchen twice this month.
On Tuesday, December 3,we will be hosting our December tradition of festive loaded nachos. We are asking for food, volunteers, and monetary donations. We normall start around 3PM and are finished around 6:30 PM. Even if you can come for an hour, all help is appreciated. 

We will ring in Christmas this year with our annual Candlelight Worship Service on Tuesday, December 24 at 7:00 pm.  This will be a traditional service of “Lessons and Carols”, as we hear the wondrous story of Jesus’ birth and sing some of our favorite carols of the season.

Something new this year – the Worship Committee of Session will be hosting and time of fellowship, refreshments and good cheer, from 6:30 – 7:00 in the Narthex.


In the lead up to Christmas, many of us spend time in search of the perfect gift — the gift that communicates to friends and family how much we know and love them. We search our memories for indications of what gift might cause the faces of our loved ones to light up. We scour the stores and shops, hoping to come across the thing that will communicate a depth of love that our words cannot.

As important as gifts to loved ones are, we have an opportunity to give gifts that help many people we do not know through the Christmas Joy Offering. These gifts in particular draw us back to the manger and God’s perfect gift to us — Jesus Christ. Jesus came to live among us, bringing light into darkness, and reconciliation to God and to one another. A perfect gift from a gracious God.

During this Christmas and Advent Season, we celebrate leadership; past, present and future through support of the Christmas Joy Offering. We do so because church leaders greatly impact our lives of faith, walking with us down the path to be more like Jesus. We want those church leaders and their families who find themselves grappling with a critical financial need to have the resources they need which are provided through the Assistance Program of the Board of Pensions. We also support the offering to help our future leaders in the church and world, like those educated at our Presbyterian-related schools and colleges equipping communities of color. Supporting these students helps the whole church develop leaders who reflect the wideness of God’s intended diversity.

For those supported through the Christmas Joy Offering, this help is truly a gift from above. May our gifts, and the leaders who receive them, point us always to the truth of the one whose birth we celebrate, Jesus Christ — the truly perfect gift. Please give generously.

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First United Presbyterian Church

201 E. Church Street
Collinsville, Illinois
618-344-1109 Email: