Siblings in Christ,
After having so much down-time during the Covid-19 pandemic, many aspects of our life together as the Custer Community Church are returning to normal.
First, I want to let you all know that I’m going to be restarting the Bible study that I lead. The Pastor’s Bible Study will happen on the 1st and 3rdTuesday of each month at 5:30 pm. Because you won’t be getting this newsletter until the 1stTuesday in June, we’ll skip that one and officially begin having the Bible study on June 15th. After that, it will be the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month.
If you’ve never been to one of my Bible studies before, I want to let you know a bit about it. I write my own curriculum, and we usually cover a single topic or a single part of a particular book of the Bible in one setting. I prepare studies based on what you want to study, so you can let me know if there’s a particular topic that’s interesting you or a particular passage that doesn’t make sense to you, and I’ll prepare a study on it! While we usually do these Bible studies as one-shot studies, we have spent months going through a single book of the Bible before, such as when a church member asked that we do a study of Revelations.
Second, we’re going to start having Dinner Church services again. Based on the survey results, it looks like Sunday evening is the best time for a majority of you who are interested. So, we’ll do a Dinner Church service on the 1stSunday of every month at 5:30 pm.
Again, for those who’ve never attending, I want to tell you a bit about Dinner Church. Dinner Church is modeled on the worship of the ancient Christian church. In the first hundred years or so after Christ’s death and resurrection, the early churches met in the homes of church members for worship and prayer, and they would share a meal. That’s because, in the early church, the Eucharistic meal – the Holy Communion meal – was not a small, symbolic piece of bread and tiny cup of wine, but rather was a full meal that the church would sit down and eat together.
Dinner Church follows that example. At 5:30 pm, we’ll begin our worship service with the traditional breaking of the bread, and then we’ll sit down to eat together, with the food on the table serving as our Holy Communion supper. Then, as we eat, we’ll have a discussion. The discussion might be about some theological concept or perhaps a passage of scripture. Rather than a service in which the pastor speaks and everyone else listens, this will be a time for us all to speak and to listen to one another.
Finally, I want to let you know that there will be another round of the UCC’s “White Privilege: Let’s Talk” curriculum that will be offered and probably start some time later in the month. I don’t have a definite day/time set yet because there are a number of people who aren’t members of the church who want to participate (and thus they didn’t fill out the survey!). This curriculum is designed to give white folks an opportunity to study issues of systemic racism in this country so that we can be better allies and help our neighbors of color to realize a more just and equitable society. If you’re interested in participating, let me know so that I can include your day/time preferences when setting the schedule.
We’re also looking to get the choir going again, so let Sandy know if and when you’re available. Plus, we have the Walt Thomas Memorial Golf Tournament fundraiser coming up on July 18th and the Rally Breakfast fundraiser in August.
Friends, I’m so excited to see this renewed activity in our church, and I pray that all of our busy-ness will ultimately serve to spread the love of Christ in our community.
Rev. Dustin Bartlett
Last week, I was made aware of an email scam that’s being carried out in my name.
The way the scam works is that an email will be sent, which claims to be from me or from another pastor you know. The email will look like it came from me, but if you look carefully at the email address, you’ll see that it’s off by one letter.
The email will say something to the effect of, “I need your help with an urgent matter that I need you to handle discreetly. Email me as soon as you can.” If you reply to the email and indicate you can help, the scammer (who is posing as a pastor) will then say that they are trying to help someone who’s having a financial emergency but don’t have money immediately available, so they’ll ask you to go and purchase some kind of gift card and then email the card numbers to them and promise to pay you back.
Of course, it’s a scam, so the “pastor” simply uses the gift card to buy things for himself, and doesn’t pay you back.
This is actually a fairly common scam, and many of my colleagues have been impersonated over the last couple of years. Pastor Peary Wilson, of Pringle, was impersonated just a few months ago. I guess it’s my turn.
So, first of all, I will never email you and ask you to send money or gift cards directly to me. The ministerial alliance has money to help people in financial emergencies and has systems for distributing that money. In the event that I do ask you to donate money in order to help others, I would always have you make your donations to the church or to the ministerial alliance, never to me directly.
Second, if you have any reason to suspect that a message that appears to be from me isn’t real, verify it first. One easy way to catch these email scams is to send a new email as a follow, rather than hitting “reply.” That’s because these impersonators use an email address that is very similar to the real one, but which is off by a single letter or number somewhere. If you hit “reply,” then your email will go to the scammer’s fake, almost-identical email address. But if you start a new email using the address you already have, it will go to the person being impersonated instead of the scammer, and they can quickly confirm that they didn’t send the fake email.
Finally, be very skeptical of anyone asking you to send money or gift cards online. Even if it looks legitimate and from someone you know, don’t trust it. Verify it. Call the person in question and speak to them directly. This email scam in which pastors are impersonated is one of many, many scams out there. So be as innocent as doves, but be as wise as serpents!
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