volume 31, number 12             December 2014

From our Lead Pastor

Rurel AusleyChristmas is always one of our greatest times that Niceville UMC makes a significant difference in the lives of people from Niceville to the Congo!

One of the greatest Christmas traditions of our church is our giving to the United Methodist Children's Home. Our church is excited about partnering with the United Methodist Children's home through our Christmas Eve "White Christmas" offering. The UMCH is doing great things all over the Panhandle and South Alabama by empowering young mothers, training and mobilizing foster families, and (of course!) their group homes. Every year our church is by far the top giver of over 1500 United Methodist Churches in the state of Alabama and West Florida. You will receive a letter through the mail highlighting this wonderful ministry. Please remember that you can give your White Christmas offering anytime during December... all of the Christmas Eve offering goes to this ministry!

Every Advent season now we have been challenging the congregation to cut their Christmas spending in half and give the other half as a "birthday gift to Jesus" to our Congo Christmas! This sacrificial giving has enabled us to make a marked difference in the lives of the poorest of the poor around the world and most recently, in the Congo. Over the next few weeks of worship you will hear more about our plans to bless and equip the Congolese church with Bicycles, Bibles, and Buildings. We are ready to take up the challenge: to cut our personal Christmas spending in half and give the difference to the Kingdom. We believe our generosity can make a difference for eternity.

You can give anytime to the "Congo Christmas" online at nicevilleumc.org or you can give during worship services using the envelopes in the bulletin.

Our Christmas Star Trees are available in our lobbies. Each star will suggest a gift item and should be limited to $20-30. These stars represent Christmas presents for the 100+ children of the families to whom we provided the Thanksgiving meals and we will give these presents with the Christmas meal. The stars will go fast, so be quick! Note the December 17 deadline!

Don't miss any of the four messages on "Unwrapping Christmas" in Advent, beginning November 29-30. Many of us have heard the traditional Christmas story, but did you know Jesus is the culmination of the Christmas story that God has been giving us from the very beginning? Join us this Advent season as we Unwrap Christmas and take a deeper look into the Old Testament book of Isaiah, to examine the beautiful and mysterious gift of Christ.

Invite someone to join you at our 2014 Christmas Worship Concert... Sunday, December 14, 6:00 p.m., Sanctuary….This Concert, entitled "Sing the Glory" will be an exciting evening of great Christmas music. Contemporary worshipers and Traditional worshipers will join together for this very special and meaningful evening of music featuring Choir, Orchestra and Praise Band. This is a great opportunity to enjoy a night of music while at the same time more fully experiencing what God did those two thousand years ago. He sent His Son into our world.

This year we are adding a Contemporary Service at 7:30 p.m. for a total of EIGHT Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion services on the Niceville Campus: 2:30 p.m. Children's Service for young children (Sanctuary/No Candlelightor Communion); 3:00 p.m. Contemporary (Gym); 4:00 p.m. Traditional (Sanctuary); 4:30 p.m. Contemporary (Gym); 5:30 p.m. Traditional (Sanctuary); 6:00 p.m. Contemporary (Gym); 7:00 p.m. Traditional (Sanctuary); 7:30 p.m. Contemporary (Gym). Childcare is provided for pre-K and younger at all services except the Children's service, which will provide care for 12 months and younger. Plan now to be a part of these meaningful services.

See you Sunday,

Rev. Rurel Ausley
Lead Pastor

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Upcoming Messages

"Unwrapping Christmas"

Unwrapping ChristmasMany of us have heard the traditional Christmas story, but did you know Jesus is the culmination of the Christmas story that God has been giving us from the very beginning? Join us This Advent season as we Unwrap Christmas and take a deeper look into the Old Testament book of Isaiah, to examine the beautiful and mysterious gift of Christ.

November 29/30 - Part 1
December 6/7 - Part 2
December 13/14 - Part 3
December 20/21 - Part 4
December 24 - Part 5 - "Unwrapping the gift of Christ" (Christmas Eve)

Miss a Message? Watch online!

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Article: Celebrate Christ's Birthday

Rev. Tyler Fuller, Missions Pastor

I love birthday parties. I love going to friends' houses, playing in their bouncy castles, dipping my finger in the icing on their cake, and receiving presents for myself. There is no better way to celebrate the life of someone else, than by getting a gift for myself. Getting presents is like my special way of saying: “Hey. You're alive, and you're great….now give me something.”

Isn't that our attitude towards Christmas? I mean, seriously! Whose birthday is it anyway? That is why since 2008 our church has chosen to take up the challenge to cut our personal Christmas spending in half and give the difference to the kingdom. Our giving has gone around the globe, and impacted our own community. We have blessed orphans in Fort Walton, Crestview, Mozambique, and the Congo. We have provided clean water in partnership with local churches in Zambia. We have helped build a community center that now houses refugees from ISIS in northern Iraq. And we have developed a special relationship with churches and pastors in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (See our Congo article for more on that!). Since 2008 our special Advent offerings have generated more than $800,000 for God's Kingdom.

Try and make a mental picture of $800,000 worth of gift cards to the Gap, iPhones, and sweaters. Imagine a mountain of stockings stuffed with mints, and key chains, and bottle openers. Imagine a chain of neckties that could wrap around the equator. A million empty boxes of AA batteries that powered your kids' gadgets. Now imagine that pile evaporating into thin air and being replaced with the good news of the Gospel being demonstrated through staff that are working on preventing human trafficking, homes for Haitian families in the wake of the earthquake, or churches in the Congo full of worshipers. That is exactly what has happened as a result of people taking up our Advent challenge.

Let's celebrate Christ's birthday for what it is: an opportunity to serve the God who has invited us to be a part of his kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven. Let's remember the God who has given us the power and vision to change the world. Let's honor Jesus by giving sacrificially, as he did. Let's take up the challenge. Let's spend less. Let's give love! Let's be one church on two campuses (and counting!) doing what we can to change the world!

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Women's Ministry

Women of the Word

Children of the DayWomen of the Word (WOW) will start their winter study on January 8. Join Beth Moore for "Children of the Day: 1 & 2 Thessalonians." During this study, you'll learn how to let go of past mistakes and discover your circumstances are not coincidental - God's timing is impeccable!

WOW meets Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to noon in the Fellowship Hall. Join us for social time, videos, small group time, testimonies, and worship. We welcome all women and childcare is provided for infant through Pre-K.

Register online at nicevilleumc.org/women or call Marion Taylor at 678-4411 ext. 127 or mtaylor@nicevilleumc.org for more information and to register for childcare.

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Student Ministries

Upcoming Student Ministries Events

2015 Passion Conference

College and high school seniors can register now to attend the 2015 Passion Conference in Atlanta, GA, on January 2, 3 and 4. Registration is $275. Deadline is Wednesday, December 17. For more information, or to register online, visit the Student Ministries webpage at nicevilleumc.org/students

7 Bridges

Weekend mission opportunity in Atlanta, Georgia. Blessing the homeless with care packages and ministry. Cost is $35, plus money for four meals. Meet at the Community Life Center on December 5 at 2:30 p.m. Return on Sunday, December 7 at 8:30 p.m.

Sabbath

High school retreat held at Blue Lake in Andalusia, Alabama. January 16-18, 2015. Early Bird Registration is $75 until Sunday, November 30; Regular Registration is $125. Last day to register is Wednesday, January 7, 2015. No refunds after January 7. Please see Student Ministry webpage at nicevilleumc.org/students for registration details. Limited availability. Students meet in the Youth Theater for check in at 3:30 p.m. Parents pick up students from the Community Life Center at 4 p.m. on Sunday.

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Christmas Worship Concert

Sing the Glory

Invite someone to join you for the 2014 Christmas Worship Concert
Sunday, December 14, 6:00 p.m., Sanctuary.

This Concert, entitled "Sing the Glory" will be an exciting evening of great Christmas Music. Contemporary worshipers and Traditional worshipers will join together for this very special and meaningful evening of music featuring Choir, Orchestra and Praise Band. This is a great opportunity to enjoy a night of music while at the same time more fully experiencing what God did those two thousand years ago. He sent His Son into our world.

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Congo Christmas

Congo ChristmasOur church has a special relationship with the United Methodist Church in the Congo. Since 2008 we have given over $200,000 to causes in the Congo. We have built churches, scholar-shipped seminary students, provided bikes and Bibles for pastors, and renovated parsonages and churches. We have also worshiped in these churches and hugged the seminary students. We have taken test drives on the bicycles and shared meals with the pastors.

We believe God is doing something great, and we believe God has provided us an opportunity to be involved relationally and financially. That is why we have decided to dedicate our entire advent offering to the Congo this year.

Over the next few weeks of worship you will hear more about our plans to bless and equip the Congolese church with Bicycles, Bibles, and Buildings. We are ready to take up the challenge: to cut our personal Christmas spending in half and give the difference to the Kingdom. We believe our generosity can make a difference for eternity.

You can give anytime to the Congo Christmas online at nicevilleumc.org/missions or you can give during worship services using the envelopes in the bulletin.

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White Christmas

White Christmas Ad

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Star TreeStar Tree

You are invited to share Christ's love by choosing a STAR from the Christmas trees found in the gathering area of the Sanctuary and Community Life Center and purchasing the suggested gift item. These gifts should be limited to $20-$30 and may include books, toys, clothes, etc.

The Stars on the tree are representing kids identified by Sharing and Caring and Foster Children in our area. Please return the gifts to the church with the STAR securely attached no later than December 17.


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December Featured Events


4

2014 Women's Ministry Christmas Brunch

 

11

CAC Children's Christmas Party

14

Discover Class

14

Christmas Worship Concert

15

Wesley Academy Preschool 4 year old Christmas Program

19

Star Tree Final Collection

19-Jan. 2

Christmas Break, Okaloosa Co. Schools CLOSED

20

6:00 PM Exchange Saturday Evening Worship

24

Wednesday Night Dinner & Activities - Cancelled

24

Christmas Eve Services (see next article)

24-25

Christmas Holiday: Offices Closed

24-27

Community Life Center is Closed for Recreation Activities

30

Tuesday Night Dinner & Activities - Cancelled

31

Community Life Center is Closed for Recreation Activities

31

Wednesday Night Dinner & Activities - Cancelled


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Christmas Eve Services

Wednesday, December 24:

2:30 p.m. Children's Christmas Eve Service (no communion) Sanctuary
3:00 p.m. Contemporary Christmas Eve Service Gym
4:00 p.m. Traditional Christmas Eve Service Sanctuary
4:30 p.m. Contemporary Christmas Eve Service Gym
5:30 p.m. Traditional Christmas Eve Service Sanctuary
6:00 p.m. Contemporary Christmas Eve Service Gym
7:00 p.m. Traditional Christmas Eve Service Sanctuary
7:30 p.m. Contemporary Christmas Eve Service Gym

Childcare is provided for pre-K and younger at all services except the Children's
service, which will provide care for 12 months and younger.

Find the St. Mark Campus Christmas Eve schedule at: stmarkcrestview.com

Watch your mail for the postcard invitation and be sure to invite your neighbors, friends, families, coworkers...!

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Prayerful Concerns

Recently Hospitalized:

Terry Adams, Kristen Ausley, Jonathan Bascom, Sara Bess, Billie Jean Branson, Gene Brown, Mary Burrows, Marge Cowell, Don Duncan, Pam Griner, Steve Hall, Judy Jacobsen, Chaffin Johnson, Kirk Kirkpatrick, Joann Ley, Ginger Llewellyn, Holly Mattern, Greg McKinnon, Dot Manning, Vanessa Milton, Don Nolen, R.V. Schroeder, Karen Spence, Tilly Stengel, John Townsend, Judy Twobridge, Roman Walker, Barbara Williams and Ian Williamson.

Sympathies:

Tiffany Brechtel on the death of her father;
Pam Ellisor on the death of her husband;
Bruce Lynch on the death of his mother;
Don Pendergraft on the death of his mother.

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Announcements

Prayer Retreat

Register now for "Peace in the Pines" prayer retreat at Blessed Trinity Shrine Retreat near Eufaula, Alabama. Spend time worshiping God and seeking His direction. Cost is $175. Linens are provided as well as meals from Friday's supper to Sunday's noon dinner. Depart 8:00 a.m. Friday, January 30, and return by 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Feburary 1. Space is limited. Call Eva Huber for more information 678-3201 or email aehuber@cox.net.

Christmas Holiday Closures

The Children's building will be closed from December 22 through January 2. All Monday-Friday programming is cancelled. Nursery, birth through preschool age, will be provided for the December 20-21 and 27-28 worship services. Student Sunday School/programs and adult groups will not meet Sunday, December 21 - Friday, January 2. The church offices will be closed December 24 and 25 and January 1. Celebrate Recovery will meet on Fridays as usual.

Library News

Come see the new books, audio/visual and Christmas DVDs located at the ‘New Arrivals’ section of the Church Library (Room 702). Please remember to fill out the book card for each item and return within one month. Thank you!

Christmas in July Thank you

At this summer's mission conference you gave an offering to bless our missionary partners that serve all over the world. Because of your generosity, over $12,000 was distributed to over 45 missionary families scattered far and wide. Thank you for being a church that believes in missions and supports folks that are called and sent!

World Bazaar and Benefit Thank You

The World Bazaar & Benefit held on Saturday, October 25, was a huge success. We give thanks to all who volunteered and helped, for we cannot do this without you. All proceeds will go to missions supporting women and children in our area, regionally and globally.

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Discover Class

New to our Church?

Want to know more about who we are and what we're all about?

Then we invite you to join us in the Community Life Center, Room 905-907, on Sunday, December 14, at 9:15-10:45 a.m. for the next Discover Class. You will receive a brief overview of our mission, vision and values. Childcare is provided in the Children's Building.

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Welcome New Members!

We joyfully welcome the following members to our church family, who joined in October 2014.

Elijah Barrett
Eva Barrett
Marcus Barrett
Mandy Campbell
Ferrin Campbell

Gary Ruddell
Lisa Ruddell
Jolee Speegle
Patricia Speegle

Troy Speegle
Earl Tullock
Susan Tullock
Mandi Williams

 

Welcome to our Church Family at Niceville UMC!

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Group Life

Transformed - How God Changes Us

TransformedWanting to reach out to folks in your neighborhood? Work? School? Why not host a 7-week Transformed study small group beginning in January? Come and find out more about it and get all the information you need by attending ONE of these 1-hour long informational/training sessions – Sunday, December 7, in the Marler Chapel at either 9:30 a.m. or 11 a.m.; Tuesday, December 9 in the Marler Chapel at 6 p.m.; OR Wednesday, December 10, in room 800 at 6 p.m. Childcare is available during each session. Questions, contact Stephanie Case at scase@nicevilleumc.org or 678-4411 ext. 146.

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The Counseling Center

"Conversations that Change Lives"

Rev. J. Edward Chandler

Counseling CenterIn 2012, McGraw-Hill published a book that quickly became a best seller. More than two million copies have been sold. The book is titled "Crucial Conversations."

When I picked up this book and began to read the foreword, I quickly found three life-changing sentences.

First, the writer said, "Crucial conversations transform people and relationships."

Read the full article at: nicevilleumc.org/counseling/conversations.html


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Active Adults 50 Plus Ministry

Events:

Young at Heart: Our program for Tuesday, December 9, will be a wonderful musical performance by Opus One! Join us at 11:30 a.m. in the Fellowship Hall. Cost for lunch: $6. Please sign up or cancel for lunch by Friday noon, December 5. Call Barbara at 678-4411 ext. 123 or bwilder@nicevilleumc.org.

Trips:

Callaway Gardens/La Grange Trip: Travel with us to see the Callaway Gardens Fantasy in Lights! We'll also tour Bellevue (an antebellum home), the National Infantry Museum (includes the IMAX film "Jerusalem"), and the Walker-Peters-Langdon house. We will stay overnight at the Wingate in LaGrange, GA. Departing 7:00 a.m. on Thursday, December 11, returning 5:30 p.m. on Friday December 12. Cost: $201 includes admissions, travel (via motor coach), hotel, one breakfast and one lunch. Trip is full--waiting list only!

One Day Event: Fruitful and Flourishing! Don’t miss this Alabama-West Florida conference event on Saturday, January 10, 2015 at beautiful Blue Lake. The day will include music by the Wesley Boys, speaker Rev. Tim Trent, and lunch. Departing Niceville campus at 8:15 a.m. with a pick up at St Mark campus at 8:35 a.m. Returning 3:30 p.m. Cost: $20 includes transportation and lunch. Sign up with Barbara at bwilder@nicevilleumc.org or 678-4411 ext. 123 by Sunday, December 28.

Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center: Join us as we explore the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center in Mobile! On Thursday, January 22, we will be touring "Voices of Jerusalem," a special Photography and Artifact Exhibit, as well as viewing the film "Jerusalem" on IMAX. Departing Niceville campus at 7:00 a.m. and returning 4:00 p.m. Cost is $30 (includes transportation, admission, and lunch). Please contact Barbara at 678-4411 ext. 123 or bwilder@nicevilleumc.org for more information. Deadline to sign up is Tuesday, January 6!

Barbara WilderContact Barbara Wilder for trip details and sign ups:

678-4411, ext. 123 or bwilder@nicevilleumc.org

The Active Adults 50 Plus monthly brochure (PDF) is also online.

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Christmas Poinsettias

For a donation of $15, you may honor or memorialize a loved one with a poinsettia this Christmas season. The poinsettias will be displayed in the Sanctuary and the Community Life Center on December 20 and 21 and a special tribute will be published in the bulletin on those days. To participate, fill out an envelope which will be included in the December 6/7 bulletin or pick one up from the information racks, include the $15 and return by December 14. You may pick up your poinsettia after the Christmas Eve service December 24. If you would like to leave your plants, they will be delivered to the nursing homes, hospital patients and shut-ins. (Note: this is not tax deductible.)

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90 Days for 100 nations

The International Leadership Institute (ILI) developed the curriculum Christian to the Core, which we used as a church-wide curriculum back in 2012. This is the curriculum Pastor Rurel taught on his trips to the Congo, teaching pastors and leaders the 8 Core Values of Christ followers, so that they could teach others.

ILI is now seeking 10,000 people to join them in a prayer initiative as they move forward to reach 100 nations by the end of 2018.

90 Days for 100 Nations
From December 7, 2014
through February 28, 2015

This initiative will be the central focus of the ILI Global Summit in Houston TX, the last week of February 2015. ILI's top leaders from around the world will meet to pray, encourage one another and strategically plan how to have active, multiplying teams in over half the
world’s nations.

Spreading Christian core values to all peoples of the world aligns with Jesus' commandment in Matthew 28:16-20 to go out and spread the Good News to all the nations. We pray that you will join us.

For those of you who commit to pray, prayer bracelets will be given out at the end of all worship services on Saturday, December 6 and Sunday, December 7.

The Global Summit and prayer will be catalysts in the fulfillment of this vision. Your prayer is vital!

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Our Vision

Logo (do not copy)Our vision is: "Connecting People to Christ"

"To build a community where people can come as they are, meet Christ, grow in their faith, and find a place to serve."


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Stewardship Report

This report below is an image.

Stewardship

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Please Pray for Your Niceville Campus Staff

This listing below is an image.

Staff
For a complete listing of all staff with email links, visit the Staff Contact List online.

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Connections Newsletter, Vol. 31, No. 12, Niceville United Methodist Church

Publication Deadlines: Bulletin - 12:00 noon each Tuesday. Newsletter: 15th day of the prior month. Connections is a monthly publication of Niceville United Methodist Church, 214 Partin Dr. S., Niceville, Florida 32578. Printed copies are only mailed to those who specifically sign up for that delivery means. Newsletters also available in brochure racks at the church.

If you wish to unsubscribe to this newsletter, please "reply" and put the word "unsubscribe" in the Subject line, or call 850-678-4411 850-678-4411. Please also include a message indicating whether you are choosing to remove your email address from the database, or you are only unsubscribing from the e-newsletter. Email addresses are also used for FirstNet tools, class communications, etc.

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