Conversations around LGBTQ inclusion

The United Methodist Church is in a season of great upheaval. The start of the Global Methodist Church and the disaffiliation of hundreds of United Methodism congregations has left our denomination in a state of uncertainty. It was decided in an informal meeting on Pentecost Sunday 2022 that Two Rivers Church would undergo a series of meetings and conversations with the intent of making a clear statement as a local congregation.

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Star Words to start the new year

On the first Sunday (and first day) of the year, we will celebrate Epiphany Sunday, which commemorates the visitation of Christ by the Magi from the East. The Magi, guided by a star, brought gifts to the newborn King, and thwarted King Herod’s plan for violence.

The Star Words will be given out to those in worship on Epiphany Sunday. Star Words is a contemporary tradition of passing out intention words on Epiphany—a tradition growing in popularity amongst many Protestant churches. Inspired by the Magi following the star to Jesus, selecting a star word to meditate on throughout the new year can deepen your self-reflection and prayer practices.

The use of star words is a prayer practice connected to Epiphany and the new year that has been growing in popularity in Protestant churches for nearly a decade now. The idea is that a list of intention words, or guiding words, are written or printed on paper stars. These paper stars are then arranged, most commonly face down, on the Communion Table or in a large basket. Individuals are often encouraged to place their star word somewhere they
will see it regularly throughout the year to allow consistent reflection on how God has moved through, around, or in connection to that word.

Christmas At Two Rivers

Wed. Dec. 21 6:30 p.m. Blue Christmas Service. This service is on the longest night of the year, and makes room for grief in the midst of Christmas preparations.

Sat. Dec. 24 4:00 p.m. Christmas Eve Service

Sun. Dec. 25 9:30 a.m. Christmas service. We will meet in the back of the sanctuary, seated around the round tables in a more intimate, interactive and “Family Style” Communion.

Sun. Jan. 1 9:30 a.m. Epiphany Sunday. We will give out “Star Words” that will provide a theme for guidance and reflection for the coming year.

Blue Christmas Service, Dec 21, 6:30 p.m.

Sometimes the holidays hurt. In many ways, it is the “most wonderful time of the year.” For some however, it can be the time of year when the pain of loss is the sharpest. Two Rivers United Methodist Church will have a Blue Christmas service on December 21 at 6:30 p.m. This service is open to everyone in the community who may have struggle with Christmas.

The date is significant as well. “We gather on the longest night of the year to acknowledge that the dawn will come. We speak the truth that the night can feel very long, but God often meets us in the dark. It is in the dark where healing often takes place,” said Pastor Robb McCoy.

Two Rivers United Methodist Church has been offering a Blue Christmas service since 2014, since McCoy started there. He has been offering a service like this at his churches for over ten years.

“The Blue Christmas service is an important part of the holiday season,” said McCoy, “because it is a chance for people to acknowledge an important truth. While Christmas is a joyful time, the reality of life is that it also brings pain.”

For those grieving, Christmas can be a difficult time, especially for those experiencing the holidays without a loved one or the first time.

“It’s not just about grief,” McCoy said. “For some, the holidays bring an additional array of anxieties. Financial stress and family discord can be heightened at this time, too. The Blue Christmas service is designed for people to have space to breathe a little deeper in the midst of a season that is often so shallow.”

The service is open to all people, and is designed around quiet reflection. There will be a short message of lamentation, some contemplative prayer, a ritual for healing, and Communion. All people are welcome to the Communion Table regardless of faith, age, belief, or sexual orientation.

Young Lions Roar volunteer meeting Monday, October 10 at 5:00 p.m.

A launch party for the Young Lions Roar program is set for Monday, October 24 from 3:30-6:00 p.m. The launch party will include food, refreshments, performances by several local artists and a chance for students and volunteers to meet and greet one another.

The program will then proceed on Mondays and Tuesdays from 3:30-6:00. It will include monthly showcases and performance opportunities. The students involved will be in grades 7-12. They will learn about emotional intelligence, process grief and trauma, and healthy channeling of emotional distress. Volunteers who are interested in learning more about the program should come to Two Rivers on Monday, Oct 10 at 5:00 p.m. Volunteer schedules can be built around your availability. Volunteers can be “behind the scenes” or “hands on” with the students. 

Students interested in the program can register now at YoungLionsRoar.com

Amani Café

Amani Cafe is a new ministry concept that is similar to the NEST Cafe model, but with members of Two Rivers Church and African food. The long-term dream is to open a non-profit restaurant in Rock Island that would employ and provide support to African immigrants in our community. 

     On September 11, the Amani Cafe team will host a fundraiser lunch after worship at 11:00 a.m. All are invited to Epworth Hall to sample a meal of East African food. Donations can be made as a love offering to help get this Amani Cafe started. 

     The seed money raised on September 11 will help fund a future pop-up restaurant.. The team hopes to host a pop-up restaurant every month to raise money and gauge the interest of an African restaurant in Rock Island. Much like what NEST Cafe did, Amani Cafe will serve a take-out meal from the church parking lot and accept donations. A portion of the money raised will go toward local services for African immigrants. Most of the money raised will go toward building the non-profit restaurant. Someday you may see Amani Cafe open as a brick and mortar restaurant in downtown Rock Island!

     It will all start on September 11. All are invited to Epworth Hall on this day to share in a wonderful meal, meet the Amani Café team, and learn more about the Amani Café dream.