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Pastor's Pen

Pastor's Pen March

We are journeying through the Spiritual Season of Lent.  It is a time of preparation for Holy Week and the last events of the life of Jesus. The ultimate triumphal ending which is really the beginning is Jesus’ raising from the dead, conquering, overcoming all. 
There are words used at this time of year that can sound foreign to us. One of those words with ancient meaning is “Paschal”.  The Paschal Mystery refers to the death,resurrection and ascension of our Lord into glory.  The Paschal Mystery is the central mystery ofthe Christian Faith, celebrated at the Easter Triduum – the THREE days: HolyThursday evening, Good Friday and Holy Saturday culminating in the Resurrectionon Easter Sunday.
One of the ancient traditions of the early church was that of the lighting of the New Fire to remember that Jesus is the Light of the world, illuminating the path that takes each of us to the home that Jesus has told us is already prepared for us.
The earliest writing about this tradition is recorded by historian Jerome who lived from 347-420 AD.  This means that the practice of rememberingJesus’ Resurrection with the Paschal (Easter) Candle, is a very old traditionfor Christians, beginning in the 3 Century.
This year Zion will be celebrating this ancient tradition on Easter Morning at the beginning of ourEaster Sunday Worship Service.
All who would like to witness the lighting of the New Fire will gather in the Narthex of the church where the fire will be lit and the Paschal Candle prepared through recallingthe Scriptures.  The Candle will then belit from the New Fire remembering the triumph of Jesus and his presence alwayswith us till the end of time.
The Candle will then be brought forward in a Procession and set in a special candle stand in a place of prominence where the Light of Christ will reign in this symbolic reminder until Ascension Day which is 40 days after Easter and 10 days before Pentecost.  The Paschal Candle will then be removed as we begin the time of Pentecost.  Throughout the year the Paschal Candle will be lit for special services of Light, like Baptisms and Funerals.
All that I have mentioned here reminds us that we are part of a rich and ancient tradition that continues to enrich and fill our hearts while deepening our relationship with Jesus Christ, who Lights up our lives and calls us each by name.
Come and be a witness to our Christian heritage as we light the NEW FIRE of CHRIST and remember whose you are.
Fullness of life…..
The Rev. Dr. CarolVaccariello
Zion UCC, Pastor

Pastor's Pen 2/6/2013

Blessings and Opportunities at Zion abound.....
This Sunday is the last Sunday before Lentbegins.  It is Transfiguration Sunday, apowerful remembrance of the transformative power of the Christ energy in all ofcreation -including you and me.
On this Sunday we declare our personal commitmentto the Open and Affirming statement that we as a people proclaim.
The Lenten Season is upon us and is filled withspiritual opportunity...
Ash Wednesday, February 13th,  provides a time of community and gatheringwhen we share our meager meal and a time of prayer.  We recall God’s blessing for us in the takingof Ashes - a reminder that this life is a temporary state of being; that we arecalled to live in a profound way as Jesus has shown us to live and given usexample of sacrificial loving.  This isthe beginning of our journey of living into the Open and Affirming Declarationthat we profess as the family of God.  Itis not to be taken lightly.  It is ourprofession of understanding and unconditional love for all of God’s creation.
Opportunity Knocks: Church Vitality Expert at Zion UCC
What a tremendous opportunity to live the LentenSeason, remembering all that Jesus has and does mean to us.
Taking action, speaking up, making a difference asfollowers United  and Uniting in theChurch of Christ,
where we know that God is STILL SPEAKING! ...andthat we should NEVER put a Period where God has put a COMA!!!
Take a breath... That's the coma... That's thewhisper of the Divine, It is up to us to make the sacred and sought afterPresence known.
Everyone, member and friend of the church, isinvited and encouraged to be a part of Zion's future story.
Pastor Jim Oates, Church Vitality expert, will behere to guide us in moving Zion UCC into the future.
Please come and enjoy a lite dinner at 6:00followed by our workshop with Pastor Jim.
We will be considering the Vision and Mission ofour church at this time in Steubenville. 
We will discuss church organization models to helpus be effective, productive and comfortable with our current activemembership. 
We will look at what it takes to be a Vital andInviting Church Presence.,, a place where the compassionate love of JesusChrist is all.
To accomplish all of this is a big order. We willbegin with dinner at 6:00 on Friday evening. Saturday morning  we will resumewith Coffee Hour at 9:30.  We will endwith prayer at 11:55.
Please call the Church Office to let us know if youintend to participate in ALL or PART of the workshop. You can attend Fridayonly, Saturday only or both!  You areencouraged to be there for the entire process, however, you are welcome forwhatever times work for you.
This is YOUR CHURCH.  Make a difference in her future.  God has called each of us to this verymoment.
Blessings All and Fullness of Life as we listen tothe still speaking God in our midst.
With love and gratitude for each and every one ofyou,
Pastor Carol

Pastor's Pen January 11, 2013

     During the past year Council has worked diligently in its futuring efforts. Some of us attended the Church Vitality Roadshow ledby Jim Oates who is the Ohio Conference Church development/CongregationalRenewal Coach at Ohio Conference UCC. The purpose of the event was to help us think about what we need to do to have a vital ministry here at Zion UCC. When we got to know Jim we found that he is a very personable and encouraging Pastor who has had years of experience and expertise working church vitality. We have extended an invitation to Reverend Oates to visit Zion later this month so that we might join in a mentoring relationship. We are looking forward to him getting to know us and the uniqueness of our situation so that together we might develop ways to not only keep Zion’s presence in Steubenville but to also create a ministry with impact in the community.
    You have a very important role to play in this endeavor. All of you are needed. You are essential. I am asking that each one of us take this very seriously and that you make a commitment to remember Zion UCC and her future in your daily prayer time. Ask the Holy Spirit to kindle wisdom and courage in each of the leaders of this church so that we can embrace with open minds and hearts the teaching and new ways of thinking that Jim will offer to us.
As we move together into the futurewith the guidance of the Holy Spirit.....
Pastor Carol

Pastor's Pen for December 2012

Have you ever thought about why you are a member of Zion UCC? There are lots of choices, from not attending any place of worship to attending any one of the huge selection all around you.
I have wondered - why in the world am I driving passed hundreds of churches to come and be a part of Zion UCC? The only response that lights up for me is that God has called and sent me to be a part of this church family - no other - in the way that I am part of this church family. So what about you?
I invite you to think about what has brought YOU to be an important part of this church family - or for those who have been here for a lifetime or more - what KEEPS you here through thick and thin?
It is at this ADVENT time of year when our church constitution requires that we invite those who are being sent by God to assume leadership or continue leadership to step forward and acknowledge God’s urgings in your own heart. This is not a call about worthiness or about whether or not you think you can "do the job." It is really about what God wants to do through you. So here is the real question - Will you pay attention and step forward to claim God’s call for you?
If you want an opportunity to discern, to think through the possibility that you are in fact being asked to share with YOUR CHURCH, Zion UCC, in the unique way that only you can do - come and let’s talk. I want to help you to live into all that God is calling you to be. Life is such a wonderful adventure saturated in the love of Christ. Come, let’s talk and explore the gifts God is growing in you. Zion UCC needs compassionate and caring people to continue leading our church. Church Council is the steering group that offers guidance and recommendations to the congregation about the vision and mission of our church. All of us are needed to make Zion the Heaven on Earth that our name suggests. Micah 4:2-4

Pastor's Pen

Dear Church Family,
   Whenever we enter the month of November we begin to think about entering a season of Harvest and Thankfulness.
    I am thankful to be a part of the Zion Church Family. You are a beautiful community and I have been blessed by getting to know each of you. I look forward to a year filled with thankful moments as we continue to deepen our relationship with each other and with Beloved.
    During the month of November I will be immersed in a time of quiet, prayer and spiritual writing.
    On November 11th I fly to Zurich and then take a train to Chur in the Swiss Alps. There I will be met by friends who have a Retreat Chalet in Avers, Switzerland. One of the Bishops there and I will be making a one week retreat together. It will be a time of monastic prayer and fasting, of study and learning. There will be times for worship and times for deep silence. After this week I will retrace my steps to Zurich and fly to Barcelona where I will embark on a transatlantic voyage to Miami. This will be two weeks with no interruptions and lots of opportunity for quiet and solitude. I have opted out of the food package so that I might continue my retreat format of fasting which helps me to pray and meditate deeply. Please pray that the seas are calm as we voyage to Miami. On December 1st I will fly into Pittsburgh and return to Wintersville that evening.
     I am looking forward to beginning our Advent Season together with a special visit and message from the Malone University Players.
    As you know, I suspended the Open and Affirming study. This was done so that we can find a better time to get the information to more of us. I will be revising our plans and bringing the essence of the information into our worship time so that we can learn and pray about all of the aspects of this important study. This is necessary since we as a church family will be discerning and preparing our statement of commitment to provide a safe place for all of God’s children at Zion.
     While I am away, be well, take care of each other and please pray for me.
Fullness of life.....
Pastor Carol