United Church of Christ
Godfrey, Illinois
"Come learn of me."
"All your children will be disciples of the Lord_
I will make peace abound for your children."
Isaiah 54:13
The Children's Moment
The Sunday Object Lesson

Thursday, October 12
New Creation Rehearsal

Saturday, October 14 11:00am
5S Monthly Get Together

Sunday, October 15 8:30am
Morning Sunday School Class
Worship Service
Congregational Meeting
Journey Sunday School Class
Sunday School
Coffee Hour

Middle School Youth
High School Youth

12:00pm Men’s Bible Study
7:00pm New Creation Rehearsal
Sunday, October22
8:30am Morning Sunday School Class
10:00am Worship Service
11:00am Journey Sunday School Class
Sunday School
Coffee Hour
4:00pm Middle School Youth
6:00pm High School Youth

Welcome to Evangelical United Church of Christ
1212 W. Homer Adams Parkway
Godfrey, IL 62035
Evangelical School for the Young Years
Ages 3 and 4

Evangelical Elementary School
K - 8
Church Staff
“Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”” – Mark 10:45
  • The Minister
    Jerry MeCaskey has been the minister since November of 2000. Pastor Jerry has been doing congregational ministry since 1989, in Tennessee and Illinois, after earning a Masters of Divinity degree at Vanderbilt University.
  • Administrative Assistant
    Libby Brame is always ready to answer your questions. You can call anytime Monday - Thursday 8:00 - 4:00 and Fridays 8:00 a.m 'til noon.
    tel: 618-466- 6077
    Libby's motto: "No problem"
  • Director of Youth Ministries and Christian Education
    Tim Sandifer has been leading our youth and directing our Sunday School programs since 2004. Our youth groups meet weekly and go on mission trips in the summers. He has also taught some religion classes in our school, Evangelical Schools - K-8 and Preschool ages 3-5yrs.
  • Director of Choirs
    Susan Parton-Stanard has been directing our Vocal and Handbell choirs since 2006. Her skill and enthusiasm is very contagious and our choirs are inspiring.
  • Organist
    Lori MeCaskey is the wife of Pastor MeCaskey and has been with the church since November of 2000.  Currently, she is the organist and sings in the choir.
From the Pastor's Desk

October 12, 2023

Feeling Confident

I feel confident when I consider life at Evangelical.

This congregation enjoys a can-do spirit. People come up with new ideas for how to do ministry, and support each other in those new ideas. Few people complain about how others fulfill their vision for ministry.

People express approval and appreciation for the ministry of others at our church. This leads to a positive environment that encourages new ways of thinking about how to do ministry. I have come up with very few ideas when it comes to new ministries. Who came up with new ideas for ministry? You did.

I am impressed with how congregational leaders at Evangelical have navigated, innumerable problems facing our congregation. They have my respect and admiration.

Again, I will remind you that compassion and encouragement remain vital to successful Christian ministry. So it is that I am confident that the future at Evangelical will be bright.

Pastor Jerry

From the Pastor's Desk

October 5, 2023

Strong Stuff!

I’ve been pondering the many strengths of our congregation. I would like to share a few with you.

The leadership at Evangelical makes rational decisions that are based upon thoughtful considerations. It has been my experience that our leaders always seek the common good of the Body of Christ, of which Evangelical is a member.

Our congregation values relationships. There is a flexibility in putting relationships first. That flexibility allows us to respect, admire, and love each other—even when we disagree. Our community does not depend upon rigid adherence to tests of faith, but rather the love of Christ.

You work hard to serve each other. It is impossible to be fair to everyone by way of listing how congregants serve each other at Evangelical. It is also impossible to list the many ways in which church members extend the ministry of Jesus Christ into the world. I would simply miss sharing too many. Such acts of service at Evangelical are innumerable.

You take responsibility for the health and well-being of Evangelical. This is no small matter, and it is one of the marks of a healthy congregation.

Though my list is incomplete, I will finish with: you are good to your pastor, and to the families of people who work at Evangelical. This is why you have a history of lengthy pastorates, and staff who serve at Evangelical for decades.

You are made of strong stuff!

Pastor Jerry

From the Pastor's Desk

September 28, 2023


Two men in pilot uniforms walked up the aisle of a plane. Both wore dark glasses. One had a guide dog and the other tapped his way along the aisle with a cane.

Nervous laughter spread through the cabin. The men entered the cockpit, closed the door, and started the engines.

The passengers were restless, searching for a sign this was a practical joke.

The plane sped down the runway, and the people sitting in the window seats realized they were headed straight for the water at the edge of the airport.

Just as it began to look as though the plane would plow straight into the water, screams filled the cabin.

The plane lifted smoothly into the air. Passengers relaxed, laughed a little sheepishly, and retreated into their magazines and books.

Meanwhile, in the cockpit, one of the pilots turned to the other and said, "You know, Bob, one of these days they're gonna scream too late and we're all gonna die."

Funny. It’s rare I find a joke with which I’m entirely unfamiliar. I like it, though, and I hope it brings to your mind what it brings to mine during this season of change: our church leaders are not blind. They are talented, capable servants who know what they are doing, even when we feel a bit nervous about where they’re leading us.

Pastor Jerry

From the Pastor's Desk

September 21, 2023

Dreaming Revived

I remember awakening and suddenly remembering that I’d dreamed. Just a fragment, but I remembered!

I’d been using a CPAP machine for many months, after being diagnosed with moderate-to-severe sleep apnea.

During the diagnostic process, which I goofed on our first run-through by wearing the wires entirely wrong, the diagnostician asked me about my dreams. I suddenly realized I couldn’t recall having dreamed for many years. I was shocked, as I have always considered dreaming to be a big deal!

How had I lost my way unawares, for so long?

She explained that not dreaming was bad for my brain, my heart, my life. I was mortified over having lost my dream life, as I value dreaming psychologically and spiritually. What a wake up call!

I’m dreaming again. Some dreams are pretty hilarious, while others are more serious. I used to have nightmares, but those dark horses seem to have found other pillows upon which to pasture.

Dreaming is not only important for personal insight, it is also good for your health.

Keep dreaming!

Pastor Jerry

From the Pastor's Desk

September 21, 2023

Dreaming Revived

I remember awakening and suddenly remembering that I’d dreamed. Just a fragment, but I remembered!

I’d been using a CPAP machine for many months, after being diagnosed with moderate-to-severe sleep apnea.

During the diagnostic process, which I goofed on our first run-through by wearing the wires entirely wrong, the diagnostician asked me about my dreams. I suddenly realized I couldn’t recall having dreamed for many years. I was shocked, as I have always considered dreaming to be a big deal!

How had I lost my way unawares, for so long?

She explained that not dreaming was bad for my brain, my heart, my life. I was mortified over having lost my dream life, as I value dreaming psychologically and spiritually. What a wake up call!

I’m dreaming again. Some dreams are pretty hilarious, while others are more serious. I used to have nightmares, but those dark horses seem to have found other pillows upon which to pasture.

Dreaming is not only important for personal insight, it is also good for your health.

Keep dreaming!

Pastor Jerry

From the Pastor's Desk

September 7, 2023


Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci sailed west, intending to discover an unknown sea passage to India and Asia—and untold riches!

Instead, they discovered islands and the Americas. Yes, people were already living in those lands, but they were newly discovered in the minds of Europeans. History is complicated.

Vespucci was so intent upon discovering a new passage to India and Asia that he charted over 2,400 miles of South American coastline. He never did discover the elusive—and illusory—sea passage to Indian riches.

He did engage in exploration that led to encountering previously unknown people, continents, and new ways of life.

We find ourselves in the position of exploration. None of us is entirely certain as to what the future will bring. We find ourselves entering unfamiliar waters.

I believe new discoveries await us. The coastline may look new, but it will be navigable. Who knows what discoveries await us?

I am confident that the future will be both new and wonderful. Exploration is our common destiny, and I am curious as to what our respective discoveries will be.

After all, we are explorers!

Pastor Jerry

From the Pastor's Desk

September 7, 2023


Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci sailed west, intending to discover an unknown sea passage to India and Asia—and untold riches!

Instead, they discovered islands and the Americas. Yes, people were already living in those lands, but they were newly discovered in the minds of Europeans. History is complicated.

Vespucci was so intent upon discovering a new passage to India and Asia that he charted over 2,400 miles of South American coastline. He never did discover the elusive—and illusory—sea passage to Indian riches.

He did engage in exploration that led to encountering previously unknown people, continents, and new ways of life.

We find ourselves in the position of exploration. None of us is entirely certain as to what the future will bring. We find ourselves entering unfamiliar waters.

I believe new discoveries await us. The coastline may look new, but it will be navigable. Who knows what discoveries await us?

I am confident that the future will be both new and wonderful. Exploration is our common destiny, and I am curious as to what our respective discoveries will be.

After all, we are explorers!

Pastor Jerry

August 31, 2023

End of Summer

I was in Nashville, Tennessee last July. It was the Fourth, and the family and I were downtown, waiting to watch a display of fireworks.
Before the fireworks there was a free concert, featuring Brad Paisley. I am not familiar with most country music, but I have heard of Brad Paisley.

The lyrics of one song caught my attention. The songs were blasting out of several speakers, so it was easy to notice a catchy phrase, and the following held my attention:

I saw a man in the park, 80 years on his face.
He was watching my kids and his grandkids play.
Said you’ll wake up tomorrow, and that car will be packed, they’ll roll off to college, and never look back.

You only get so many summers, you only get so many summers, you only get so many summers.

The tune was catchy, and the words true. We only get so many summers. Therefore, let us make the most of them, with the love of our Lord in our hearts, and upon our lips.

Pastor Jerry

Pastor Jerry

August 24, 2023


All of us are theologians.

I think a theologian is a person who thinks about God and comes to conclusions about the identity and activity of God. So—you’re in!

At Vanderbilt Divinity School, they had a saying: Minister as theologian. The idea was to encourage future clergy to remain engaged in thinking about God and God’s identity and activity in the world and through the Church after graduation.

I think it is important to continue to grow in our understanding of God and God’s activity.

To live within Time and Space is to be subject to Change, whether you like it or not. I think of Life as an experience of the inevitability of change. Change offers us the opportunity to grow in our understanding of God, Church, and being Christian. Change can be good.

It is good to keep thinking about God, Church, and our place in God’s world and God’s Church. Change is inevitable, but if we remain willing to continue to think about God and Church as we go through changes, we can partner with God as God does something new and wonderful in our lives.

The above has come to be a theological belief of mine.

Pastor Jerry

Pastor Jerry

August 17, 2023

“Why can’t you just do that here?”

The youth mission campers and I are currently preparing our Sunday morning worship. It is impossible to convey everything about our summer trip in that service, but we always enjoy trying. Inevitably, there are those among you who walk away with some version of the above question: “Why can’t you just stay home and help people locally?”

It makes sense to ask that question. If we were staying home, we would have far fewer funds to raise. The congregation would be able to see the benefits of our efforts in person. And our own community would be improved.

There is an article available from Group Mission Trips (the organization in charge of our annual trips) that addresses this issue very well. While local service work is a great thing to do during the rest of the year, it’s no substitute for what these young people experience when they hit the road for 10 days. I’ll actually be publishing the entire article in this Sunday’s bulletin. But here’s the short version:

Mission trips aren’t just about what you’re doing. They’re about the whole complex process of pushing teens out of their comfort zone for the sake of building relationships and creating space for them to experience God. On a trip, you are getting away from a familiar environment where no one can escape. Let’s face it, when you try to do a project locally you have to exist among the daily distractions of work, sports, activities, family obligations, and more. Maybe you get the work done but you miss the real impact of going on a mission trip. When you go away from home you cut the connection. Being three hundred miles away eliminates all the excuses. You get work done but you get so much more including a stronger bond among your young people and the adults who go with them.

Do service work locally and your young people might see it as just helping out. Go to a community unlike yours, spend 24/7 with members of your group and get busy doing things you don’t normally do (like swing a hammer) and WHAM! You’ve been challenged and stretched in a way that just doesn’t happen at home. You’ve seen your friends in their extremes when pretend doesn’t hold up, and masks fall off. Now you’re getting down to what’s real.

Moving away from what you know, and spending time in a place that you might never otherwise experience, is inspirational. It touches your spirit. A mission trip isn’t a vacation. On a mission trip, you go where tourists are never allowed…into the lives of real people. You drive the side streets and back roads. You spend time in the homes and touch the hearts of people you might not otherwise ever meet. When those connections happen you can feel the Holy Spirit at work in your life and see him at work in the lives of others.

The power of a mission trip isn’t found in any one element. It’s not the work or the travel or the time or the distance. A mission trip becomes much more than the sum of its parts when all the parts are put together.

We look forward to sharing about our experiences with you this Sunday morning!


Pastor Jerry

August 10, 2023

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” Semisonic

After months of enjoying summer vacations (and photos of other people’s summer vacations on social media), we are approaching the start of a new school year! I’m currently putting things away from our fantastic Vacation Bible School (August 4-6), finishing up a sermon for our school’s Open House Sunday worship service (August 13), and getting our teenagers ready to share at Mission Trip Sunday (August 20). It is a busy but exciting close to a full season of experiences. It is hard to say goodbye to the summer, but we look ahead with eagerness as to what the next chapter will bring.

Our school welcomes several new teachers this year as well as a new principal, Amanda Macias! Staff members, parents, and students are excited to receive them all into our Evangelical family. They, and we, look ahead with eagerness as to what the next chapter will bring.

As a church, we find ourselves in the final three months of Pastor Jerry’s ministry at Evangelical. The transition process is underway and I’m sure he can see the well-earned reward of retirement on the horizon (where Maria Baalman is there waving at him!). We are a better church because of Jerry’s leadership and service. We are a better school because of Maria’s.

Change can be tough. But change can also stir us out of any potential complacency. When we work alongside new leaders, we are naturally evaluating our procedures and practices to determine any necessary adjustments. Let us look ahead with eagerness as to what each of these new chapters will bring.

Tim Sandifer, Director of Youth and Christian Education

Pastor Jerry
August 3, 2023

Something New!

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19)

Theologians have drawn upon the above verse from Isaiah to insist that God is always at work within creation.

“God Is Still Speaking” is a UCC slogan. It is meant to remind people that God is always doing something new through God’s Church, ministries, and the lives of the faithful.

God continues to call women and men to various forms of ministry. Ms. Amanda Marcias is our new principal, prepared to lead the ministry of Evangelical Schools into a new year of Christian service in our community. I’m excited about what our common future holds.

The Lord is doing something new at Evangelical, too. It’s easy to feel pressure and anxiety during times of change. Never forget that God is always doing something new in churches, ministries, and through the lives of the faithful—and that includes us!

Pastor Jerry

Pastor Jerry

July 27, 2023

Drilling a New Well

It was this time of year, and I was about nine years old. My family lived outside of Springfield, Illinois. Ours was a rural life, and we depended upon well water.

Our problem, that hot, hot July, had to do with our well, having run dry. We drank water that was not only off when it came to color, but had sand settling at the bottom of our drinking glasses.

Various measures were taken to clear out the existing well. People who were good at the job were employed, but in the end it did not work,

The only solution was to dig a new well. Once this was accomplished, our drinking water was clean, and you could take a shower without ending up with sand in your hair.

There are times, spiritually speaking, when the well runs dry. We can do our best to revisit measures that once upon a time worked well. Often, such attempts fail.

There are times when the best thing to do is to dig a new well. Seek spiritual sustenance from a news source. Give yourself into a way of going about living your spiritual life unafraid of seeking life-giving waters from a new source.

Yes, this is a bit risky and even unnerving. Still, it is one way to know spiritual refreshment.


Pastor Jerry

Pastor Jerry

July 20, 2023

Signal Strength

Radios interest me. I own several. I’m not taken with the intricacies of how different technologies support the functionality of radios. I’m interested in how well an individual radio picks up a station, and then produces a pleasing, resonant sound of a particular broadcast.

I prefer analog, perhaps due to my age. Twisting the dial, listening through the squeals and static, overlapping voices and music for a clear signal from a station broadcasting a baseball game or topic of interest takes patience. Digital tuning may be precise, but it reduces my participation in the process of sifting through squeals and static for something unforeseen and rewarding.

The more personal search has its frustrations—and pleasures.

God’s presence in the world interests me. How God accomplishes being present while remaining beyond our attempts to pin God down is beyond me. Anyway, I’m interested in searching out and experiencing God’s presence, which is possible.

This is not a search I’m willing to hand off to someone else. The search for God’s presence means sifting through a lot of static, plus strident voices competing for my time and money. Still, the search is worthwhile. It is always a pleasure, discerning God’s presence in the world, through the lives of others in a new way, likely unforeseen.

Pastor Jerry

Pastor Jerry

July 6, 2023


Lori and I and family members stood, sweated, felt as if were dissolving in the summer heat and humidity of a Nashville night.

The evening fireworks display had been delayed by nature’s own display of electrical activity. So it was that the concert preceding the fireworks began about an hour late.

I spent that hour standing, sweating, and contemplating my personal misery and incipient dehydration. In other words, I was sweaty and miserable.

I kept waiting for the concert to end. The music was wonderful. I just wanted to go inside and enjoy some air conditioning.

The fireworks were incredible, but I was too uncomfortable to enjoy them. I was relieved when we finally hiked back to our car and cooled off.

I’m thinking physical comfort precedes the ability to enjoy most experiences. This is true in our homes, while in worship, and on outings.

I appreciate everyone at Evangelical who makes worship and Sunday school and coffee hour more enjoyable. Comfort precedes, to one degree or another, our ability to focus on worship and fellowship.

How very much I enjoy worship and fellowship, and am thankful for those who work to ensure our shared experiences are a blessing.

Pastor Jerry

Pastor Jerry

June 29, 2023


Domingo Germain pitched the twenty-fourth perfect game in the history of Major League Baseball last night. I watched the last third of the game with my daughter Kathryn, and her husband Josh.

Germain gets credit for allowing no batter on the other team to get a hit or walk. His teammates get credit for playing defense without making an error.

Perfect games are incredibly rare.

I started thinking about how rare perfection is when it comes to national life.

Washington and Lincoln come to my mind, not because they were perfect, but because they accomplished something incredibly rare in human history.

Washington declined power, securing the existence of the United States of America. He had help, but Washington, who in his personal imperfection owned slaves, is celebrated for his decision to decline personal power for the birth of our Republic. Such accomplishments are incredibly rare in human history.

Lincoln, who loathed slavery, wielded power during an hour of national dissension in such a way as to hold the Union together. At no other point in the history of our country has the will of one man, opposed to that of innumerable people favoring slavery and so-called states rights (which they dissolved when they formed the Confederacy) been essential to our national survival. Lincoln’s decision and personal will to see his decision enacted is incredibly rare in human history.

As we celebrate the freedoms we enjoy, remembering those who made decisions so rare in human history that when they followed through on those decisions they approached what we call perfection, let’s also remember those leaders had help.

Really, we are in this great experiment of democracy together.

Pastor Jerry

Pastor Jerry

June 22, 2023


This week, my Messenger article is a pleasure! Below are responses from church members who wrote about their love for their fathers. I read all of them, and it was a pleasure. I pray that you enjoy reading this selection of responses.

What is your favorite thing about your dad?

His sense of humor. My father loved cartoons, saying funny things about life’s ironies. This was born of his refusal to quit on anything.

He was a “bottomless pit of knowledge. You could go to him with a problem, and he would have a solution.

I loved the outings over the years: picnics, the beach, or an amusement park. He played ball with us at the picnics; waded in the water with us at the beach and gathered shells in a little red bucket; and loved riding the rides as much as we did at amusement parks.

Dad always gave 100% of his time to me. My mother, stepmother, and me were very important to him.

If there was something that needed to be fixed he always seemed to be able to jerry-rig it to make it work.

The way he lived his life and his amazing ingenuity!

He could do anything.

He always had a smile and enjoyed people. He never said a negative word about anyone.

My father has been in heaven since 1981. He was a wonderful father and dearly loved his family.

His strength and resilience. He grew up during the Great Depression and faced many hardships, but in subsequent years he took every opportunity to educate and improve himself, get through hard times without complaint, and worked hard to support his family to ensure their well-being. His family was his top priority, and still is.

What is the sweetest/funniest thing about your dad?

He made an effort to be able to see the humor in most situations.

His devotion to the family, especially my mother.

Every time Mother’s birthday came along, or their anniversary, dad bought mother a box of Russell Stover candy as one of her gifts.
Dad always liked to be well dressed. He was always dressed wearing a tie even at home.

He loved my piano playing and watched my lessons so he could learn to play a couple of songs.
The way he took care of his mother (grandma). Amazing sense of humor.

My father’s love and pride that he had for my mother.

He was always there for me.

If he didn’t want me or my sister to know what he was saying or talking about to my mother, he spoke in German.

His love of music and enjoyment of singing. He loves listening to all types of music. Sometimes he breaks out in a song in his rich bass voice, and I know that he is happy in that moment.

Why do you love your dad?

He loved me first. He always wanted me to get an education – to go beyond him in this regard. He was a man gifted with insight into life’s ironies.

He was caring and strong. I could depend on him.

He was a family man, and always put his family first. There was nothing he couldn’t do, and I thought he would live forever. Those last moments in the hospital before he passed away, all that needed to be said was “I LOVE YOU.”

My dad always acted like a gentleman. I have always lived my life according to his principles.

There was no doubt that my dad loved me.

Impossible not to live this man!

I love my father because he was always there for me.

He was kind, thoughtful, patient, cheerful and loving.

Because he was my dad.

He has been a steady source of support and encouragement all my life.

What have you enjoyed doing with your dad?

Fishing! Watching Westerns. Going to movies at the drive-in.

I enjoyed taking nature walks and going to yard sales with my father.

We enjoyed spending 2 weeks as a family on Grandpa and Grandma’s farm in Nebraska. Many years later, dad showed us where all the relatives’ farms were, along with where he went to college, and even where he bought his new Chevrolet upon graduation and headed here to work.

I enjoyed doing carpenter work with dad. He was always willing to help me with my projects.

He took me fishing.

Just working side by side with him on our old tractors.

I enjoyed talking with my father and asking his opinion.

Everything, he was fun to be with.

Going for rides in different areas, going on picnics, or just being together.

Listening to music and attending musical concerts and events. Listening to him play his player piano and singing. Attending church with him.

How has your dad shaped your spiritual life?

He taught me to respect other people’s humanity. He didn’t speak of God, but of treating people with respect.

He led a moral life, respected others, served his church and those around him, making a good spiritual role model.

Mother and Dad took us to church and Sunday School every Sunday. Dad was an Usher, a Deacon, an Elder, and a Sunday School teacher. He also studied ahead of time in the Bible to be ready for the Saturday morning Bible Study each week.

Dad always went to church with me unless he was working. When he retired , he seldom missed going to church with me.

Showed me how great life can be when you are reborn in Christ!!!

My father shaped my spiritual life by watching him show his faith in bother his speaking and his actions.

He led by example, always at the front door of church greeting people, was Sunday School superintendent for many years. At his funeral, Pastor said “we have just lost the worlds best cheerer upper.” That was my dad!!!

He and mother saw that we went to Sunday School and church when we were children.

My dad attended several small country churches. His faith was formed and nourished there. I think some of my most meaningful worship experiences were when, as both a child and adult. I attended church in his small country town. I am fortunate to have the hymnals from those churches. Some of his favorite “old time” hymns are now my favorites, also.

Pastor Jerry

June 15, 2023


I want to remember Father’s Day in the same way we remembered our mothers in May. I would like for you to join me in doing this, and bring your responses to church this Sunday. I’m going to collect them in a basket during worship, and we will offer them up in prayer.

This opportunity to be thoughtful about our fathers, with us or in heaven, is one I wish to share. You can write out your responses on a piece of paper and bring that to church if you’re getting this in your email.

What is your favorite thing about your dad?

What is the sweetest/funniest thing about your dad?

Why do you love your dad?

What have you enjoyed doing with your dad?

How has your dad shaped your spiritual life?

See you Sunday!

Pastor Jerry

Pastor Jerry

June 8, 2023


Mrs. Maria Baalman will be recognized during worship this Sunday. Maria taught at Evangelical Elementary School (EES) for ten years, and then led the ministry of EES nine years as principal.

Now, Mrs. Baalman is entering into a well-deserved retirement. There are many successes to celebrate. Saying goodbye will be our opportunity to express our appreciation for her service.

We will honor Maria during worship, and a reception will follow in Heggemeier Hall. School teachers and school families are being invited to join us, so I’m thinking this is going to be a great day!

I look forward to celebrating with you this Sunday!

Pastor Jerry

Pastor Jerry

June 1, 2023


Libby Brame has been serving at Evangelical for twenty years! Libby’s first day was April 14, 2003. Can it be summer of 2023 already? Yes!

We were talking about her first week the other day. It included a funeral service, Holy Week, multiple bulletins, and much more! So Libby knew right away how busy things can be in the office.

One of Libby’s finest traits is her willingness to help however she can. Throughout the years, her standard response to my request for help has always been: “No problem!”

As the first person people visiting the church meet, Libby’s welcoming personality makes us look good. She is also upbeat and helpful over the phone.

Personally, I find Libby to be humble and trustworthy. I am blessed to have become good friends with Libby over the years.

We will recognize Libby during worship this Sunday. We will continue our celebration of her years of service in the Community Room after worship. I hope you will be there.

If you want to write a note or bring a card this Sunday, we will gather them and give them to Libby. It is going to be a great day.

See you Sunday!

Pastor Jerry

Pastor Jerry

May 25, 2023


I read about an author who said that our experience of the Holy Spirit is like wearing eyeglasses. The only time we really look at them is when we’re looking for them. Glasses are not to be seen, they are to be seen through.

They are functioning best when we do not notice them. We examine them to remove the specks and smears that draw attention to the glasses themselves. But when they’re sitting comfortably on our nose, we aren’t even aware of them!

Their best work is done when, through them, we can see the film we are watching, or the book we are reading. We don’t see our glasses when we wear them, but when we wear them, we see!

We may not always notice the Holy Spirit, but the Spirit is present, helping us see how we are to live fully Christian lives.

Happy Pentecost!

Pastor Jerry

Pastor Jerry

May 18, 2023


This week, my Messenger article is a pleasure! Below are responses from church members who wrote about their love for their mothers. I read all of them, and it was a life-affirming experience. I pray that you enjoy reading this selection of responses.

What is your favorite thing about your mom?

Her sense of right and wrong. My stepmother is a devout Baptist. Though her judgments have softened over time, her commitment to doing what is right remains.

She always encourages me to seek some type of employment where I would have the advantage of 2 vacation periods each year. She felt that every family needed time to explore new places.

She was always there as my mother and my children’s grandmother.

She is always smiling, laughing, and genuinely caring for others.

She was never critical. Always supportive. Encouraged us to do what we wanted – make mistakes and figure out how to repair them.

She always volunteered for all our school and church activities, and everyone loved her.

Always there for me and not judgmental.

What is the sweetest/funniest thing about your mom?

She was the 1 millionth fan through the gates at the old Bush Stadium and recognized that day by the Cardinals. A few years later, she was one of five mothers chosen randomly at the gate to be honored by the Cardinals at the Mother’s Day game. She was a lifelong, diehard Cardinals fan!

She collected some amusing items like plastic trolls and California Raisin Bran figurines.

She always spends time cuddling with me.

Mother made wonderful homemade cakes, not from a box. She baked one every year for the Grade School carnival, and I always won it in the cakewalk.

She was honest, faithful, wonderful work ethic even when ill.

Why do you love your mom?

She was my role model and inspiration and biggest supporter.

What have you enjoyed doing with your mom?

Sharing many Sunday meals with her after my husband died.

Cooking, Canning, Quilting, everything!

My mom always brought us to church from baby on. She taught us to pray and how to be a good kind human being. I had the best mom.

How has your mom shaped your spiritual life?

She taught me about God, His children, how to “Be still and let Him take over.”

By sharing family and stories and love every Sunday and teaching us to pray.

She shaped my spiritual life by my watching her work in the Kindergarten Department at church with our aunt who was superintendent. When I was joining the church at 8 years old and frightened, she joined at the same time.

My mother started me in Sunday School at the age of 2. She made sure that I attended Sunday School 50 Sundays each year. I did this for 13 years.

I still feel my mother with me even in her absence. Thank you Lord for my mother.

Mother was an active member at 12th Street Presbyterian Church since her teens. Her faith to the church and Women’s Fellowship shaped my thoughts and church involvement for my life. I am so thankful to God for giving me my mother.

She saw to it I went to Sunday School and Church.

She brought me to the Church and the Church to me.

Brought me up in church and sent me to an Episcopal High School. She walked the walk.

She taught me to pray.


Pastor Jerry

Pastor Jerry

May 11, 2023


I am considering Mother’s Day from a slightly different perspective this year. I am going to write an answer to the questions below. I would like for you to join me in doing this, and bring your response to church this Sunday. I’m going to collect them in a basket during worship, and we will offer them up in prayer.

This opportunity to be thoughtful about our mothers, with us or in heaven, is one I wish to share together. You can write out your responses on a piece of paper and bring that to church if you’re getting this in your email.

What is your favorite thing about your mom?

What is the sweetest/funniest thing about your mom?

Why do you love your mom?

What have you enjoyed doing with your mom?

How has your mom shaped your spiritual life?

See you Sunday!
Pastor Jerry

Pastor Jerry

May 4, 2023

Spirals, Arrows, Markets

There is an old Greek word, telos. The word can have various meanings, although those meanings typically have to do with purpose and goal, and how life is lived with purpose and goal in mind.

Christians believe our lives have meaning because our lives have both purpose and goal. Our purpose and goal is to live Christ-like lives.

Some Christians think Christian living is shaped like a spiral. Though the seasons revolve, through years and decades of living we evolve upward in fulfilling our purpose and goal of living Christ-like lives.

Some Christians think Christian living is shaped like a line that flies forward through time, like an arrow that has been loosed from a bow. Time never runs backward, but only forward.

Focus on our purpose and goal of being Christ-like requires steady application of effort as we attempt to travel a direct line toward our purpose and goal, never taking our eyes off of that end goal of being Christ-like.

Some Christians think Christian living is shaped like the ups and downs of the stock market. Growth in becoming Christ-like is not guaranteed, though it is desired. Growth toward the goal of being Christ-like can fluctuate upward and downward, just like the market.

This way of Christian thinking acknowledges that life presents us with unforeseen obstacles in achieving our purpose and goal of being Christ-like. There are seasons of growth and decline in our purpose and goal of being Christ-like.

No doubt there are other ways of thinking when it comes to Christian purpose and goal, the shape of our journey of becoming Christ-like. These few I offer are given as a way to get you thinking.

Pastor Jerry

Pastor Jerry

April 20, 2023

Back for Easter

“The music is so solemn,” said the woman, a parishioner who had come to her new church from a very different church background. “I like peppy music.”

“Well, it is Lent,” said the associate pastor of the church. “It’s a time for remembering Jesus’ suffering, and the weight and reality of sin, and our fellowship with him in suffering.”

“Maybe I’ll just go someplace else until Lent is over,” she concluded. “I’ll be back for Easter.”

This little story, which is true, brings a knowing smile to my face. Personally, I think I understand wanting to skip the sad fact of our sinfulness and suffering, too. Easter is more enjoyable.

Backing up a bit, I do prefer the honesty of Lent to a life of denial. Human sin and suffering are realities; our sin and suffering are realities. Easter transforms these realities in order to free us from sin and meaningless suffering.

What about after Easter? The big crowd disperses, and those of us willing to experience Lent are the people willing to experience the season of Easter, also known as Eastertide.

Perhaps we are more aware of our need for Easter to have a place in our everyday lives than people who are only here on Christmas Eve and Easter Sunday. I’m thinking about our need to have a relationship with Christ every day, especially when we are sharply aware of our sinfulness, or experience suffering.

It is good to share this journey with you. We walk together and with Christ. I am glad that we are journeying together through this blessed season of Eastertide.

Happy Easter!
Pastor Jerry

Pastor Jerry

April 13, 2023

Thank You!

Thank you! My thanks go out to everyone who gave of themselves to make Holy Week and Easter so deeply meaningful.

Staff have been making preparations for celebrating Holy Week and Easter for some time. Their good work helped make our celebration possible.

Tim went from preparing fish for Fish Fry to preparing Easter Eggs for the Easter morning hunt, and much more.

Libby, at home following a medical procedure, prepared many of the worship bulletins in advance. She also helped me make the Lenten season devotional recordings.

Susan led the choir and musicians through many practices over a period of weeks, creating a tenebrae service of worship that made Good Friday a deeply moving experience.

Lori practiced many, many hours, and also sang with the choir.

Degion Pranger came in more often than usual to help us have a clean church in which to worship.

Preparations for worship, including Holy Communion, were made in advance of worship services.

Countless church members from Women’s Fellowship prepared Heggemeir Hall, and food and drink, for the Easter Brunch celebration. Many church members worked placing lilies and our Cross on the chancel to beautify our worship experience.

Quite a few people showed up Saturday morning to clean up the church campus. Their hard work made the exterior of the church, and church grounds, look good.

There’s more! More people did little things and big things to help us celebrate Resurrection. I’ve left out non-staff names on purpose. All of this work was accomplished as a congregation, as the people of Evangelical United Church of Christ.

We had a wonderful attendance! Both services were better attended than anticipated. Your presence enlivened our celebration of the resurrection of Christ.

In a time when much of society is bemoaning low participation in organizations and lack of community feeling, our Easter experience highlights the blessing of congregational life at Evangelical.

Thank you! Thank you to every one of you who made Easter special.

Happy Easter!
Pastor Jerry

Pastor Jerry

April 6, 2023

Easter Is Unexpected

Did the disciples expect Resurrection?

I don’t think so. If they had expected Jesus to rise from death and the tomb, they would have been in the graveyard with Mary.

Did Mary expect Jesus to rise from death and the tomb?

I don’t think so, though she may have had her hopes, or she would have been better prepared for her encounter with the risen Lord.

Do most people have confidence in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead?

I don’t think so, or the world in which we live would be very different.

Do we have confidence in the resurrection of Jesus from death and the tomb?

Yes, and it changes how we think, how we live our lives. We strive to live with love and kindness toward others. We choose grace over judgment. We choose life over death, in our words and in our actions.

I look forward to celebrating Easter with you. How blest we are to raise our voices in praise and thanksgiving to Christ having revealed God’s love for us and others.

No matter how unexpected, Easter is the blessing of life when it is unexpected—now and eternally.

Happy Easter!

Pastor Jerry

Pastor Jerry

March 30, 2023

Holy Saturday Devotional

Centering Prayer

O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Each reading is offered with the idea that you will read, then give thought to the meaning the reading has for you. Then, you move on to the next reading and engage in the same practice of reading and contemplation.

Old Testament Job 14:1-14
“A mortal, born of woman, few of days and full of trouble, 2comes up like a flower and withers, flees like a shadow and does not last. 3Do you fix your eyes on such a one? Do you bring me into judgment with you? 4Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? No one can. 5Since their days are determined, and the number of their months is known to you, and you have appointed the bounds that they cannot pass, 6look away from them, and desist, that they may enjoy, like laborers, their days. 7“For there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease. 8Though its root grows old in the earth, and its stump dies in the ground, 9yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth branches like a young plant. 10But mortals die, and are laid low; humans expire, and where are they? 11As waters fail from a lake, and a river wastes away and dries up, 12so mortals lie down and do not rise again; until the heavens are no more, they will not awake or be roused out of their sleep. 13Oh that you would hide me in Sheol, that you would conceal me until your wrath is past, that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me! 14If mortals die, will they live again? All the days of my service I would wait until my release should come.

Epistle 1 Peter 4:1-8
Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same intention (for whoever has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin), 2so as to live for the rest of your earthly life no longer by human desires but by the will of God. 3You have already spent enough time in doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry. 4They are surprised that you no longer join them in the same excesses of dissipation, and so they blaspheme. 5But they will have to give an accounting to him who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. 6For this is the reason the gospel was proclaimed even to the dead, so that, though they had been judged in the flesh as everyone is judged, they might live in the spirit as God does. 7The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. 8Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.
Gospel Matthew 27:57-66
57When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. 58He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth 60and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. 61Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. 62The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63and said, “Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception would be worse than the first.” 65Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.” 66So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.

Remember to pray for others before reading the closing prayer.

Closing Prayer
Holy God, I entrust myself to you. I entrust those for whom I pray to you. I entrust all of creation to you. Gather all of us into your loving embrace. Amen.

Dear Friends, the following is the retirement letter I gave to Julie Hinesman. We agree that you should be able to read it, too.

I cannot thank you enough for everything!

Pastor Jerry

Pastor Jerry

March 23, 2023

Making Ready

Easter is close! We’ve a little bit of journey yet before us as we prepare to celebrate the Resurrection. I’m writing to remind you of some of our stops along the way to celebrating Easter.

Next Sunday is Palm Sunday, also known as Passion Sunday. During the service we will recall Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. We will also recall how he was betrayed and crucified.

We will have worship on Maundy (Commandment) Thursday and Good Friday. I will lead the Maundy Thursday service. The Music Ministry, led by Susan, will lead the Good Friday Tenebrae service. Both services begin at 7 p.m.

Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday, traditionally is a day of prayer. There will be a signup sheet in the narthex that will offer you the opportunity to commit to setting aside fifteen minutes for prayer and reflection on Holy Saturday. You will be able to do your praying from home. I will provide readings and prayers to sustain you in your time of contemplation. That resource will be published next week.

Easter Sunday will be celebrated with worship at 8 and 10 a.m. Between the two services, we will be enjoying Easter Breakfast at Evangelical. The entire morning will be a joyous experience!

How very much I look forward to making ready to celebrate the Resurrection with you!

Pastor Jerry

Pastor Jerry

March 16, 2023


“We all want to be special to someone… We all want to be valued and valuable.” —Charles Vogl

“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” —Psalm 133:1

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” —1 John 4:11

I’ve loved being part of a congregation since I was a boy. Sunday school teachers and youth leaders made me feel special. I also made some great friends at church, and that made me feel good. Hearing about God’s love for me made me feel valued.

It took awhile, but experiencing being loved by God and other people at church eventually led me to want to be more loving toward my family, as well as other people. I like to think I became a bit less selfish, though the tendency remains with me.

Working in church-related settings and churches taught me a worthwhile lesson about doing ministry: it is not about me. Ministry is to be Christ-centered service to other people. It has to do with caring for individuals and congregations in the name of Christ. Obviously, this is more easily said than done.

We do well when we embody the love of Christ in our relationships. All of us begin with needing to be loved by God and other people. Over time, many of us mature into being Christians who are mostly concerned about others and their well being. Evangelical is blessed to be a congregation that takes seriously that we are here for the purpose of loving one another.

Pastor Jerry

Pastor Jerry

March 9, 2023


Symbols tell us who we are, and how we are to live.

The above United Church of Christ symbol is mounted upon the brick facade of our church.

The crown declares Christ’s divine sovereignty over all the earth. The cross recalls Jesus’ crucifixion, through which our salvation was accomplished. The circle represents the world over which Christ reigns.

Your understanding of how Christ is king likely differs from that of fellow church members. Your feelings and thoughts about Jesus’ death on the cross are slightly different from those of other Christians. The world means different things to different people.

Our UCC symbol recalls us to our common identity: we are Christians, followers of Jesus Christ. Whatever our individual differences may be, the symbol affirms our shared identity. We are Christ’s followers.

Pastor Jerry

Pastor Jerry

March 2, 2023

Open arms. Open doors.
I’m writing this the day after seeing the new movie “Jesus Revolution” with our middle and high school youth. It is the true story of Costa Mesa, California pastor Chuck Smith during the late 1960s and early 1970s. If you know your church history, you may remember this as a key location in the Jesus Movement that brought hippies and other young people into Christianity, sweeping the nation and beyond.
(As far as ‘spoilers’ are concerned, everything I’m sharing below is also in the trailer.)
As Pastor Chuck and his wife sit watching TV reports about hippies, she says, “I think these kids need help.” His response: “What they need is a bath.” Any of you that lived through this time period may remember hearing (or having) similar feelings about these countercultural young people.
Cut to Sunday morning: It is very clear that the Smiths’ church is struggling to survive and that he, as a pastor, is discouraged. Everyone looks like they are just going through the motions, with little joy or hope in sight.
After a series of conversations with Christian hippie Lonnie Frisbee, Pastor Chuck has a change of heart. He begins to welcome any and everyone into his church with open arms, particularly Lonnie and his friends. Unfortunately, not everyone in his congregation is happy about this. There are several tense scenes in the film where board members complain about these new guests: “They don’t belong here!” “Half of them aren’t even wearing shoes!” “They’re staining the new shag carpet!”
The transition was difficult but essential for the survival of Calvary Chapel. But once it began, this willingness to embrace the outcast grew their local church exponentially and kick-started a movement that spread like wildfire. Suddenly people everywhere were finding meaning, purpose, hope, and acceptance in the arms of Jesus Christ.
As Christians it is difficult to be completely open to everyone, especially those we don’t relate to or understand. But accepting that challenge is essential to the survival of God’s Church. May they know we are Christians by our love, our grace, and our hospitality.

Tim Sandifer, Director of Youth and Christian Education

Pastor Jerry

February 23, 2023

A Few Things

I want to make sure you remember to attend Fish Fry. What a great way to financially support the youth as they raise funds for going on mission trip. The feasting begins this Friday—just two days away! Hours open are 4-7pm, and cost is $13 all you can eat, $10 fish sandwich and 1 side, $5 hot dog and 1 side. All meals include a drink and dessert.

Holy Communion will be served this Sunday, the first Sunday in Lent. We often enjoy the sacrament the first week of a liturgical season of the church year, instead of the first week of the month.

Susan will lead worship the first Sunday in March, and communion will not be offered, as we celebrated the previous week. Lori and I will be out of town.

Don’t forget to check out our website. Quite a bit of work has been done on it, and I think you’ll like what you see. Our website is EvangelicalGodfrey.com

Pastor Jerry

Pastor Jerry

February 16, 2023

The following story illustrates the power of stories to give meaning to our shared experiences.

“My friend Emily works for a famous movie studio I’ll call Neptune Studios. She recently told me about a time when one of the company’s middle managers (not an executive) learned that her daughter had been diagnosed with a neurological disease that meant over her life she would gradually lose function and eventually not be able to care for herself. While there’s no cure, there’s ongoing research to find a cure, or at least therapies that can help. Filmmakers at the studio wanted to help. Many artists at the studio make world-famous characters and stories, and they came together and created an art auction of personal work, putting several hundred pieces up for charity auction at Neptune. After hearing about the auction, company management agreed to cater it. The event raised significant funds to reach a cure or treatment for the sick child. This story tells Emily that the Neptune community cares about more than making movies and pocketing profits. She works at a place where people care for one another and will create the extraordinary to help. It makes her more comfortable and committed every day.”

I am thinking “Neptune Studios” is a caring and compassionate place to live and work alongside other people. Churches, also, often pull together to help a member who lacks the resources, financial and otherwise, to help him or herself.

Many of us want to belong to a church that loves the Lord in obvious ways, where we lovingly look after each other in obvious ways. I feel blessed and close to the saints at Evangelical when I recall stories of how church members have loved one another well.

How about you? What stories of Christian love shared in words and deeds at Evangelical continue to bless you, connect you to other Christians in our church? I encourage you to remember them; then share them.

Pastor Jerry

Pastor Jerry

February 9, 2023

Sacred Space

Church folk usually know sacred space when they see it: humble sanctuaries; clearings in heavily wooded areas where a rough hewn cross stands, rows of logs arranged in relation to that cross; cathedrals wherein the chancel is dwarfed by the length of the nave, capable of holding a thousand worshippers.

The “on the other hand” in relation to the above paragraph is obvious: God is everywhere, and there is a sense in which all spaces and places are sacred. In theory and in practice, a person can offer God worship wherever she is at the moment.

People, of course, are not God, incapable of being everywhere as God is everywhere. So it is that people define specific places and spaces as sacred: Battlefields; Arlington Cemetery; a garden in which there is a columbarium holding the ashes of loved ones; Evangelical United Church of Christ!

At Evangelical, chapel and sanctuary are set aside for our most sacred activities. Those spaces are reserved for our most deeply meaningful shared experiences of God’s presence as a community of faith. We are drawn to such sacred spaces seeking an encounter with God; the experience is intensified, deepened as it is shared with others who join us.

The power of sacred space to draw us into God’s presence, no longer alone but as members of the Body of Christ is real. There is no substitute for being physically present in sacred space. All you have to do is speak with homebound Christians who feel cut off from experiencing God’s presence in sanctuary or chapel with other Christians to begin to understand how important it is to be physically present in sacred space with other people of faith.

You are always invited to partake of the many blessings of worshiping God with other Christians at Evangelical, a place where sacred space exists for the purpose of drawing you, body and spirit, into the presence of God, as one more member of the many members of the Body of Christ.

Pastor Jerry

Pastor Jerry

February 2, 2023

Walking in the Wilderness

People of faith are struggling these days as they watch unbelievable events unfold around the world. We are living in a time of wilderness and exile.

Yet the wilderness is a familiar place for those who follow Jesus. We spend 40 days in the wilderness during Lent--days in which God calls us to self-examination, repentance, and making room for the Holy One in our lives. Our task during Lent is to clear away the clutter from our hearts so we can be fully present to God and our neighbors.

Walking in the Wilderness includes daily reflections for Ash Wednesday through Easter. A spiritual practice is introduced each Sunday of Lent: Being Present, Lament, Lectio Divina, Trust, Compassion, and Hospitality. 

—Beth A. Richardson

"We come hungry to this season of Lent," Richardson writes, "hungry for words of life, for rituals of preparation, for disciplines to help us on our way." Walking in the Wilderness provides a spiritual feast for readers during what is often the most challenging season of the Christian year. (Amazon Review)

Walking in the Wilderness is the devotional book I plan to use this Lenten season. It will cost $16 if you order it through the church. It sells for $7.99 as a Kindle book. Just sign the sheet in the narthex if you want us to order a copy for you.

I intend to send out a daily call to everyone during Lent. My calls will be devotional, and I will draw from this devotional book as I create those messages. In this way, we can journey through Lent together.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 22, so we are drawing close to beginning to prepare ourselves for celebrating Easter through acts of prayer and penitence.

Pastor Jerry

Pastor Jerry

January 26, 2023


The word “crisis” means, in medical terms, the crossroads a patient reaches, the point at which she will either take the road to recovery or to death. The word “emergency” comes from “emergence” or “emerge,” as if you were ejected from the familiar and urgently need to reorient. … Our focus shifts, and what matters shifts. … We ourselves change as our priorities shift, as intensified awareness of mortality makes us wake up to our own lives and the preciousness of life. (Rebecca Solnit, “The impossible has already happened: what coronavirus can teach us about hope,” The Guardian, April 7, 2020.

Maybe our chief learning from experiences of disaster is discovering that other version of who we are. It’s as C.S. Lewis famously said: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pain. It is [God’s] megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” (C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, London: Centenary Press, 1940).

I’ve lifted the above paragraphs from a web-thingy that I received yesterday. The above quotes really caught my attention.

We are emerging out of pandemic ways of living. We are emerging out of old ways of thinking about how we go about securing the long-term well being of our congregation. There’s much to do be done to secure our long-term health.

We’re living through what some term “The Great Emergence” of the Church. The idea here is that ours is a time of upheaval, perhaps greater than the Reformation, which radically altered how Christians went about being Christian; and how churches went about being churches.

Our congregation is not exempt from historical forces at work upon and within our church. We will do many things very much the same as in the past; other necessary changes will be deeply felt, especially when they are painful. As for me, I find the entire experience of maintaining tradition, and also adapting to new circumstances, very stressful. I’ve seen that stress in church staff and church leaders, too. These are not easy times to be Christians serving God’s call to be part of congregational life.

Still, it is an exciting time to be a Christian in a world offering more opportunity than one can take advantage of in a lifetime. The old call to discipleship and service remains. The ways in which we go about following Christ, being the Church through serving each other and the world continues to emerge.

We are up to the challenge of being faithful in our time and place. I’m certain, sure of it. I have tremendous confidence in the Lord, and also have confidence in you.

Pastor Jerry

Pastor Jerry

January 19, 2023

Ritual II

Why bother with rituals? I’m thinking rituals like worship forge bonds between church members that can last a lifetime.

They can be simple as gathering, praying, singing, pondering a message, and moving out of that ritual into daily life.

Another valuable part of the pleasure of participating in rituals such as worship include growth in wisdom and then the opportunity to put it to good use in daily life.

It is difficult, nearly impossible, to grow close to other people without being part of something greater than yourself, such as Church; and wisdom is handed down, added to, and handed down, usually within being part of a community, often during rituals, like worship, youth fellowship, and more.

I think of being part of life at Evangelical to be a privilege, and hope you do, too. Our ways grant loving bonds and perhaps wisdom. How wonderful!

Pastor Jerry

Pastor Jerry

January 12, 2023

Ritual I

Rituals are planned things we say and do that make events special or important.

As a boy, I knew that on birthdays my grandparents, parents, siblings and I would gather about an hour after supper, light candles on a cake my mother had baked, sing “Happy Birthday,” then serve the cake with vanilla ice cream. A few wrapped presents, at least one of which was something fun, would be opened by the birthday boy or girl. Expressions of appreciation would be offered by the person being celebrated to complete the ritual.

The above pattern has remained consistent for most birthday celebrations in my family. When we make changes to birthday celebrations, I notice and feel the change.

Of course, while my family holds onto some parts of the rituals of past birthday celebrations, there are also ways we celebrate present-day birthdays that have changed. Some changes are welcome, and others less so. My personal difficulty with changes in such rituals has to do with loved ones I miss, not the time and place of the birthday celebrations. Emphasis upon celebrating birthdays exactly as we did fifty years ago would render them stale, brittle and breakable, less meaningful.

My emphasis these days is on what I understand to be the meaning of our family birthday ritual: thanksgiving for the birth of the family member being celebrated, gathering when we may with as many family members present as possible, and expressions of family bonds with those present and unable to be present.

Adapting, yet retaining the central meaning of birthday celebration rituals allows our celebrations to remain meaningful to more—and new—family members as the years go by. I don’t always feel comfortable with those changes, but to refuse to adapt would deprive me and family members of meaningful birthday celebrations in the present.

Churches are families of a sort. We enjoy our traditions, too. We also adapt them in order to retain meaning, if not the entirety of old, familiar patterns. In this way, rituals serve us, and not the other way around.

I value our rituals, and I also value doing what I must to maintain their vitality. Imagine, if you will, if our congregation had refused to leave behind worship services celebrated in German for worship in English. I’d wager Evangelical would have ceased to be long ago. Where would we be if leaders had refused to leave behind 8th-Henry for Godfrey? Gone.

We do continue to honor the German heritage of our church on Christmas Eve, singing one verse of Silent Night in German. The story of our move from Alton to Godfrey is often recalled, and periodically celebrated. Things change, and yet our identity remains even as we mature through the passage of time.

Pastor Jerry

Pastor Jerry

January 5, 2023

The Gift

Dr. Karen Westerfield Tucker tells of a children's Christmas pageant at her church. At first, the pageant went the way of all such childhood theatricals. The magi appeared in long robes, carrying large, expensive-looking boxes wrapped in gold and silver foil. There were shepherds in bathrobes. They all gathered around the manger. Yet the highlight occurred when Mary unwrapped the babe in the swaddling clothes and revealed, not a cuddly baby doll, but rather a cross. In silence, Mary held the cross high over the manger for all to gaze upon.

No one ever asks me what Christmas is all about. I’m thinking they’re thinking they already know my answer. I’m thinking my answer likely is your answer, too.

Ask non-Christians, and they will tell you Christmas is about giving gifts, family gatherings, parties, lights on trees, special foods, and more. Rarely will a non-Christian say that Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ. 

I’m not putting down non-Christians. Their lack of understanding is likely the fault of Christians, past and present.

What is Christmas all about? Celebrating the birth of Christ, who loved us enough to have been willing to die on the Cross for our sake. Simple. Powerful.

Pastor Jerry

Pastor Jerry

December 29, 2022


My first Christmas season working retail at a toy store brought me many surprises. 

I remember speaking with a coworker, just before the toy store where we worked opened that day, December 26. I recall saying that I was looking forward to a quiet day, after surviving wave after wave of desperate Christmas shoppers.

He looked at me, and told me we were about to have our busiest day of the year. This surprised me, and I said as much.

“Returns. People will be bringing in all the stuff they got for Christmas that they don’t want.”

The doors opened and people poured into the store. Hours went by as we restocked shelves quickly as we could; and yet, mountains of returned toys outgrew our efforts to reduce them.

I realized a lot of people did not want the Christmas gifts they had been given; and, people also gave unwanted gifts.

At present, I find myself pondering the Christmas gift of Christ, and how too many people, all the way back to Herod, prefer to reject, or return the gift—in whole or in part.

The season of Christmas exists to draw us close to Christ. Our “return” has to do with renewing our relationship with Jesus. 

Many people “return” Christ to a place they have set aside that gets Christ out of their way, “returning” Jesus in favor of something less fulfilling, but which they believe is preferable to the gift of life in Christ.

Going forward into the new year, may you continually receive the gift of Christ that you have been given. May Christ be both precious and of greatest value to you, your having returned to a more intimate relationship with Christ this Christmas season.

Pastor Jerry

December 22, 2022

End of Advent

Anyone else tired? 

It occurs to me that the journey to Bethlehem was tiring. Mary and Joseph were likely weary of what people in Nazareth were saying about them.

Traveling without knowing where you will rest is taxing. Joseph and Mary were likely worn out when they settled for shelter in a place set aside for animals.

Being tired is part of the journey.

The beginning of Advent feels distant. The physical demands of meeting personal expectations can grind us down, leave us spent.

By the time we arrive at worship on Christmas Eve, our hunger for spiritual experience has been sharpened, or dulled, by weeks of seeking but not always finding, perfect gifts, perfect feelings, perfect relationships. 

Christmas Eve arrives. Many of us arrive feeling spent. Still, we gather, sing carols, receive Communion, sing Silent Night as the lit candles we hold shine away darkness.

We end the evening feeling gratitude for Jesus’ birth. We may be tired, but we are filled with gladness. Every step of our Advent journey feels worth the effort.

Being tired gives way to joy.

Merry Christmas 
Pastor Jerry

December 15, 2022

Shadow and Light

The German Lutheran Church gathered in solemn conclave shortly after World War II. One of the first subjects on the agenda was the question: had the church contributed in any way to the rise of the Nazi movement in Germany? After a day of debate, the assembly concluded the church was blameless. 

But the church was forced to reassess this conclusion when Martin Niemöller, a Lutheran minister who had been imprisoned for opposing Hitler and was a hero of the church and of the German people, had a profound numinous experience. The night the assembly reached its conclusion, Niemöller was awakened and saw before him a light, which was unmistakably the light of the holy, the divine one. Niemöller was tremendously moved, and then he heard behind him the unmistakable voice of Adolf Hitler saying: “Martin, Martin, why didn’t you ever tell me?” As Niemöller became fully awake, he reflected on the many times he had been eyeball to eyeball with Hitler, and never once had he tried to lay the claim of Christ on him. 

Martin Niemoller told his dream to the assembled church, and two days later the synod passed a resolution stating that the church was as responsible for the rise of the Nazi party as any other part of German society. Niemöller had pushed the group truly to face its shadow side.

I spend Advent looking for The Light. Ironically, scripture, especially by way of John the Baptist, insists that I consider the darkness within myself. To face my shadow makes me uneasy, as it precedes a reckoning.

Still, a reckoning that leads to repentance is a good thing. Yes, a very good thing, for repentance precedes spiritual growth.

I encourage you to keep working on awareness of your shadow, the part of who you are that you prefer to keep to yourself. Awareness of the darkness within you allows for enlightenment and the possibility of renewal. 

Continue to seek The Light that dispels darkness and shadow. Do so with a depth of feeling and awareness of your need to live in The Light. Living this way, you will find your way to Bethlehem this Advent.

Pastor Jerry

December 8, 2022

Advent Journey

Light your candles quietly, such candles as you possess, wherever you are.

Alfred Delp

John the Baptist leapt for joy within his mother’s womb when Mary told Elizabeth she was pregnant.

Joseph started making plans for an unexpected, unwanted divorce when Mary told him she was pregnant. Later, he changed his mind.

Jesus’ birth occasioned joy from shepherds who heard angelic song from heaven.

Jesus’ birth set in motion a long, dangerous journey by three Wise Men. A dream saved their lives.

Jesus’ birth prompted paranoia within the mind of a murderous politician. Many innocents would die by way of his decree. The world has always been a dangerous place.

Jesus would eventually be brought to the Temple, where old Simeon and Anna turned celebratory.

Wherever you are in your relationship with Jesus this Advent, know that the light you bear, regardless of your circumstance, is enough, for the Light that is coming to dispel Darkness is always more than enough.

Pastor Jerry

Pastor Jerry
You’re Invited! Dec. 1, 2022

Ever feel alone in the world? You may have had this feeling while surrounded by people. Most thinking people experience this loneliness; some feel this way much of the time. It can be unpleasant.

Belonging resolves the problem of feeling alone in the world. Some people feel less alone by way of belonging to a church, their family ties, career choices, love for sports; other ways of recreation, and so on. Identity as a member of one of these can potentially ease feelings of loneliness.

Many people live with the feeling of not being a true member of their family or group. I felt that way in graduate school, at Duke and Vanderbilt. Everyone in the room was smarter than me!

It was only when Dr. Gregg, a professor of church history, during a meeting wherein my schoolwork was being reviewed (“B” on my first test), complimented my work as evidence of my capabilities—he told me I belonged at Duke Divinity School—that I began to feel as if I belonged. That moment in time remains one of the most affirming moments of my life.

People experience feelings of inadequacy and being alone in places like work, school, and church. Yes, church. There are times when some folks ponder whether they belong in more than name. This can be a lonely feeling.

I want you to know you belong. You are invited to worship, Christmas Family Day, and more. We respect individual privacy and such at Evangelical, but you are invited—and you belong!

You belong at Evangelical. I am glad, grateful that you are here.

Pastor Jerry

Pastor Jerry

November 23, 2022


Communities are defined by the values they embody. Our congregation is a community of faith striving to embody the ministry of Jesus. As a community of Christians at Evangelical, our deeds give the ministry of Jesus flesh and blood. We Incarnate Jesus’ ministry when we love both God and other people.

Loving God and other people are two principles fused together by Jesus. Why? I think Jesus wants us to know that love for God and others may proceed from our minds and hearts, but until we love God prayerfully and (when possible) through worship, love other people through feeding and clothing them in the name of Christ—then calling ourselves Christian is an empty declaration. Praying, worshiping, serving others who are in need in the name of Christ are behaviors that Incarnate the ministry of Jesus. When we behave in Christ-like ways, not only are we Christian, but we are also easily recognized as Christian by other people.

Our church, Evangelical United Church of Christ, is a community of faith where the ministry of Jesus is embodied through living behaviors that strengthen our relationship with God, each other, and people living beyond the bounds of our congregation.

I understand Evangelical to be a community of Christians growing in our capacity for thinking and feeling, living and expressing Jesus’ love for God and people. Truly, our blessings abound.

Happy Advent!

Pastor Jerry

November 17, 2022


Thinking other people do not understand you can leave you feeling lonely. Knowing a person you love will never understand you brings misery. Knowing that a person you like, or love, understands you is a bit of heaven on earth.

At Evangelical, feeling understood, connected to each other, is centered in our shared commitment to following Jesus. The way we worship, the hymns and songs we sing, and the kind of language we employ in worship connects us to each other. Our shared fellowship and ministry create experiences that make us one people. It is a fair share of heaven on earth.

When two or more of us discuss something about life at Evangelical, we take being understood for granted; we’re closer to God, and each other. This is a little bit of heaven on earth.

All of us are not identical in the spiritual/material beliefs we hold. We live, work, vote, recreate, as unique individuals. We retain our individuality, and also are part of one community of faith at Evangelical.

All of this is made possible through the love of Christ, who understands us and loves us, and lifts us out of loneliness into Christian fellowship. He invites us to love him and each other, that God’s kingdom of loving relationships may bring heaven on earth into your life and ours.

Pastor Jerry

Pastor Jerry

November 10, 2022


Why get out of bed for church? Why take time to be part of church functions? Why give of yourself and your money to Evangelical?

I have answers!

Getting yourself to church keeps you connected to other people serious about their Christian faith. One of the things that hurts homebound church members most is missing out on being connected to other people serious about growing in their faith. We become more than acquaintances by way of worship and fellowship; we become friends, brothers, and sisters in Christ.

Church is an emotional experience. I get that I tend away from bringing tears to your eye during the sermon. (Of course, a looong sermon can hurt!) A little levity, a tug at the heart is fine, as long as the meaning of the message is not obscured. Music, that which is played and sung, is an entirely other matter! Wonderful music makes us think, feel, choose new directions, all at the same time!

Growing in our abilities as Christians is an important part of creating a Christian community. Growing in biblical knowledge and devotion is part of being a Christian. Service also is part of being a good Christian: serving others within our church, and serving people in our community and beyond leads to saintliness.

Supporting our church financially is supporting the ministry of Jesus Christ. Without your intentional participation and financial support, two thousand years of Christian commitment and faithfulness to the Gospel risks being broken. So, a lot of our efforts today help ensure that those who follow us will have a church to belong to.

Amazing, how important your part is in our life together, how essential you are to the vitality of God’s Church!

Pastor Jerry

Pastor Jerry
(618) 466-6077
1212 West Homer Adams Parkway
Godfrey, Illinois  62035
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