Tracy Talks XIII


Last Thursday evening, I went to a forum hosted by the Middletown Ministerial Alliance at
Central Connections. Police Chief Muterspaw, Police Sergeant Nelson and Fire Chief Lolli
shared with those gathered current statistics regarding the heroin epidemic in Middletown, then
answered questions posed by the audience.
One of the questions asked was by a woman who does some gardening at one of the
downtown churches. She is often approached for financial assistance while she is maintaining
the church grounds. She asked what she should do when she is approached for assistance
because she wants to make sure she isn’t giving people money to buy drugs.
The police sergeant suggested that churches not give cash to those requesting assistance. It
is fair to assume that someone who asks for and takes cash will most likely not use it for what
they asked. Unfortunately, not everyone who comes to the church for assistance has the need
they tell us. That is not to say that some people don’t have legitimate need. But, not all of
those seeking assistance from churches are honest about their need.
If someone approaches you for assistance while at church, I request that you do not give them
cash and direct them to me. I’m at the church on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and
Sundays. If I’m not at the church, you can call my cell phone.
Through the Outreach Committee, I have resources available to provide assistance. I first
screen all requests to make sure there are no holes in their story, so I can refuse those who
are trying to take advantage of the grace and compassion of a generous church. For instance,
one man came to the church twice on Thursday with 2 different stories and 2 different
By fielding all requests, I can protect you from being taken advantage of. Some dishonest
people know that church people are very kind and generous and will unfortunately lie to you to
get what they want. It is important that in a town where drugs are a major problem we not give
cash away to someone who could go buy drugs with it. However, I’m sure that any mercy you
show someone in need is not lost on them.

Thank you for your grace and love for our neighbors,

Sermon Series: Called by God

“God Will Do a New Thing” 1 Samuel 3:1-12          October 15th

“God Will Look at Our Hearts” 1 Samuel 16:1-13    October 22nd

“Called to Build Community”  1 Kings 5:1-5 8:1-13 October 29th

“Live with Passion” 1 Kings 19:1-18                          November 5th

Tracy Talk XII

On Sunday, I shared a story about me being ungrateful about a gift from my parents when I
was 8 years old. Like my 8-year-old self, I don’t always receive God’s blessings with gratitude
and thanksgiving when I want God to answer my prayers in a different way. We can all be that
way with God’s answers to our prayers.
Martin in his invitation to the offering gave some ideas for reframing our thinking so that we can
better appreciate God’ blessings. Heather in her children’s moment taught the children (and
reminded the adults) that we need to be patient with God because He will provide for us in His
time. Even the music Rachel Eve chose went along with our theme of reflecting on God’s
Isn’t it cool when God’s Spirit works in our preparation to create a theme in worship!? When
we all look at the Scripture for the coming Sunday as we reflect and prepare for what we’ll say,
it’s amazing how the Spirit works all things together for a unified message. This week it was
The one thing I am most grateful for this year is the honor of being your pastor. It is a gift to
share the journey of faith with you. We’ve cried together, laughed together, prayed together
and thought deep thoughts together. Thank you for inviting me into your life and allowing me
to point to where Christ is in our lives and how God is working in our lives. You are a kind,
compassionate, generous, loving group who I am glad to serve Christ in a mutual ministry.
Thank you for your gifts and words of appreciate.

Sermon Series: Burdened by God

Join us For Pastor Tracy’s Sermon Series:

Burdened by God

FCC in the News!



Pastor and Her Friends Take Pies in the Face: First Christian Church Surpasses Food Drive Goal

Middletown, Ohio— September 13, 2017 — Pastor Tracy Siegman wanted to put the congregation to the test. She set the goal of 200 lbs of food for an August food drive. If the congregation reached the goal, they could throw 2 pies in her face. The congregation accepted the challenge and wanted an even bigger goal. Two members volunteered to take a pie in the face if the church reached bigger goals. Martin Schaefer offered to join in if the congregation reached 300 lbs and Larry Steele offered to do so if they reached 400 lbs. When the collection was weighed at the Salvation Army food pantry, the total was 717.5 pounds of food.

“I knew they were capable of doing great things, so I challenged them. I wanted them to understand that they can exceed their own expectations. This was an important lesson for the church to learn as we are praying for God to show us how we can make an impact in our community through serving our neighbors,” said Pastor Tracy Siegman. She does this in memory of Harold Harmison, a mentor and lay pastor from Illinois, who set the example of challenging congregations.

In celebration of their achievement, the church enjoyed a pie fellowship following the service on Sunday, September 17, 2017 during which Pastor Tracy, Martin, and Larry received 2 pies each in the face.



Tracy Talk XI

I had the opportunity to walk in the Middletown Homecoming parade on Friday evening with
the Girls on the Run team from Amanda Elementary School. I was surprised by the invitation
and decided to go for it. Who doesn’t love a parade!
When you watch professionally produced parades like the Rose Bowl parade or the Macy’s
Thanksgiving Day parade, there are no long gaps between groups and it is well paced. At a
community parade, there is less coordination and large gaps can grow. The Girls on the Run
team had a spot in the parade Friday night that was near the beginning of the parade.
The groups in front of us moved quickly and they pulled away from us very early in the parade.
The group behind us lagged well behind us early too. The girls tried to catch up to the group in
front of us but couldn’t keep up. Then, they wanted to fall back toward the groups behind
them, but got worried that they couldn’t see the group ahead. Isn’t that indicative of many
aspects of community life?
Families try to keep up financially but there are large gaps between middle class families and
those living in poverty. There are limited opportunities to move ahead. It’s too easy to fall
behind and lose sight of the opportunities ahead. In our schools too, some students move
quickly ahead and outpace their classmates. Many students fall behind in our schools who
need attention and you’re left with a few who may not get the help they need because
resources are given to those lagging and those at the head of the class.
My hope is that when we plan our community service in response to God’s vision which we are
currently discerning we will help bridge the gaps, help people move ahead and help families
succeed. One of the people who responded to our community leader interviews said we need
to look beyond quick fixes or providing handouts. We need to help people get out of poverty.
As Habitat for Humanity’s puts it, we need to provide a hand up, not a hand out.

Tracy Talks X


The Board and Elders continue their work in our vision discernment process. Over the
previous 2 months, they were interviewing community leaders asking questions about: who are
our neighbors; what do they need; what is being done for them; what else can be done. I have
received reports of the work they did and I will synthesize their reports into a manageable
summary of the 22 interviews. I’ll have that for them to review at the October Board meeting
and will make it available to you after their review.
Now, the Board and Elders are doing some reading. They’re reading chapters or whole books
about the mission of the Church. The authors are industry leaders on missional transformation
of churches. What does that mean? Missional transformation is the current buzzword for
churches who are being transformed from irrelevant, dying or stuck churches into vital,
relevant, healthy churches by shifting their focus from themselves to others. Churches today
are getting new life when they stop focusing inward and start focusing outward.
The reading the Board and Elders are doing will give them insight about why churches make
the shift and how they make the shift in thinking. The books include insights about how we can
plan for mission and ways we can be transformed. This transformation requires us to think
differently about what is outreach and how do we do outreach. I could tell them and you all of
whys and hows, but I want the Board and Elders and you to know that these ideas are
supported by church leaders who know the dedication of shifting the church’s mindset and
have seen the fruit of the hard work of transformation.

The Board and Elders will not need to do a book report or receive a grade. Everyone gets
100%! They’ll each share with me 3 bullet points, a quote or a paragraph summary of what
they read or thought inspired by the reading. I’ll synthesize that into a summary of all the
reading for them to review and I’ll make that available to you as well.
If you would like to also read something, please let me know. I have a chapter of a book that
would be a very good summary with nice stories to convey the teaching or I have a couple
books that you can choose an interesting chapter from. The reading will take you less than an
hour, unless you choose to read a whole book.

All this work being done by the Board and Elders will lead us to a bunch of stuff to pray about.
Through this work, God is beginning to reveal to the Board and Elders spaces where we can
serve and people we can build relationships with. My plan is to have a spiritual retreat during
worship on Sunday, November 12th for us to pray and plan. My hope is this retreat will be
when God reveals more of His vision of who we can become and what we can do through
missional transformation by our worshipful work as a congregation.
I can’t plan when God does stuff or tell God when things need to happen. We are seeking
God’s revelation in this process of prayer and work. We can’t rush God’s vision – it needs to
be from God, not us. This process of discernment has evolved as we moved along.
November 12th is my hope for a spiritual retreat during worship. However, the Board and
Elders will need to review the work they’ve done before I’m ready to say it is time for a retreat
and what that retreat will be like. I’ll give you more details about what that retreat might be
once the Board and Elders meet in October as I’m praying for God to reveal to me the next
step in this process of seeking His vision.

Tracy Talks IX

Thank you for your responses about my query regarding Bible study. Based on your
responses, Wednesday afternoons seem the best time for study for the most people.
Beginning Wednesday September 20th, I’ll have Bible study from 2 – 3 pm in the memorial

We’re going to try a study called The Wired Word. It is a weekly Bible study based on current
events. Each week, I’ll receive an e-mail from the publisher with a lesson based on something
that is going on in our world and is making the headlines. Unlike a book club or other Bible
studies, this will be an easy study for you to come when you can and not feel like you’re
missing a big piece of a study if you miss a week or 2.
I’ll receive a leader’s guide and a participant guide each week. I’ll make the participant guide
available to participants before the study. You can have it delivered via e-mail or you can pick
up a copy on Sunday morning for the study on Wednesday. You’ll need to read the lesson
about the current event before class. Then, on Wednesday afternoon, we’ll gather to read
Scripture and discuss the current event in light of Scripture. This will be a discussion based
class. If you’ve read your participant guide before study, we’ll have lots of time to talk.
If you’re interested in attending, please pick up your first lesson materials on Sunday,
September 17th in the narthex or let me know if you’d like to receive it via e-mail. If you can’t
make it to the study and you’d like to review the material at home in your private devotion time,
please feel free to take a copy. Please let me know if you are thinking about attending so I can
know how many to expect.

Tracy Talks VIII

I share with you this recent update and prayer from Week of Compassion about Hurricane
Harvey and their response thanks to our Week of Compassion offering.
Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas Friday night as a category 4 hurricane, causing
flooding and structural damage in towns along the coast. The mayor of Rockport, where the
eye of the hurricane crossed, has reported “widespread devastation.” Hundreds of thousands
are without power, and may last for days. President Trump has issued a federal disaster
declaration for the state, and Texas Governor Abbott has named 50 counties in a state
disaster declaration.

Winds have weakened since landfall and the hurricane has been downgraded to a tropical
storm. The primary concern right now is flooding within the week as heavy rainfall of three feet
or more is expected. Water levels in bayous, reservoirs, and waterways are already rising. At
least 2 tornadoes have also been reported south and west of Houston, damaging multiple
business and approximately 50 homes. Several other tornado warnings continue. The Dallas
Convention Center will be welcoming 5,000 Gulf Coast residents this Tuesday.
Week of Compassion will continue to monitor the storm and reach out to Disciples
communities and partners. If you visit the Week of Compassion Facebook page, you can get
regular updates about the work they are doing with area partners. One post includes a video
from Rev. Elizabeth Grasham and the scene outside her home. The situation is severe and
still developing.
If you are interested in helping, the best immediate response from afar is three-fold: pray, stay,
and donate.
Pray. Keep the people who are in the path of the storms, the rescuers and first
responders who will be working on the ground in your prayers as the storm continue into the
next few days.
Stay put. Out of concern and a desire to be useful, you may want to go and help. Now
is not the time! The situation is dangerous and is ongoing. Volunteers at this time put

themselves at risk and create additional challenges for rescue and emergency crews.
Volunteer opportunities will come later for clean-up and long-term recovery.
Donate. You can donate at and designate US
Storms where 100% of your gifts will go to help communities rebuild after storms such as
Hurricane Harvey. No administrative fees will be withheld from your donation.

God of Noah’s rain and the psalmist’s morning dew; Jesus, our water-walker and storm-stiller;
Spirit of mighty wind and word who moves the tides of creation’s seas and the hearts of those
drenched in baptismal waters: Protect those in Hurricane Harvey’s path. Provide comfort to
those who suffer loss. Grant safety and courage to those who respond to survivors. Sustain
all our hearts with compassion for our neighbors and with hope of days filled with sunshine and
gentle breezes. Amen.

Tracy Talks VII

The beauty of God’s blessings. Praise in song. Family. Whenever or wherever 2 or more are
gathered in His name. Honor God. God’s great earth. Family support. Communion. Love.
Helpful. Family. Notice a trend?
A beautiful flower. A bird flying over the lake at Camp Christian. A Panda mission trip. A
mountain. A Habitat build. A pile of food collected for the food pantry. A Panda mission trip.
A pile of Christmas gifts collected for kids. A big old stone church. Grandma snapping beans
on the porch. Notice a trend?
These words and pictures were affixed to the poster board I placed in the Narthex for you to
put up words or pictures of what comes to your mind when you think of church. The word
family was prominent in the words written and placed on the board and included in one image.
Pictures of mission trips were prominent among the images. Only two words – communion
and praise in song – were things we typically do in the sanctuary on Sunday mornings, but
they are not limited to acts of worship reserved only for Sunday mornings. Only one picture
was of a church building.
That tells me that you believe that we are most “the church” when we are a family and engage
in mission. I believe that is indicative of who God is calling us to become. So, I wonder: When
are we most like a family? When is our next mission trip?
The Board and Elders are interviewing community leaders about what’s going on in our
community and what still needs to be done. This is a big task, so we’re going to spend some
more time doing those interviews. If you’d like to help the Board and Elders with this task,
please let me know and I’ll get you a person to contact and a list of questions to guide your
conversation. The results of these interviews will give us the information we need to plan
ministry we can do in the community with our neighbors.
I believe this process is leading us toward becoming the church God envisions that is like a
family and engaged in mission. We discerned that vision through prayer. Not that we’re not
already a family who does mission work. This process will allow God to guide us to ways we

can strengthen the fellowship of our family and do mission in new ways. I don’t want us to
rush this time of discernment. We don’t want to push ahead without hearing all God has to
say. Please hold the Board, Elders and congregation in your prayers as we continue to
discern God’s vision and mission for our church.

First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)