East County Shared Ministry celebrates Christmas with opportunities to give

East County Shared Ministry (ECSM) celebrates the Christmas season with opportunities to give and to enjoy the holiday spirit with a variety of possibilities.

This year ECSM has three Christmas projects: Adopt-A-Family, Christmas Angels, and Turner School Kids. The congregations are providing Christmas dinner and gifts to those in need and who might not otherwise have a Christmas celebration.

ECSM also has a year-round food donation program, and contributions are divided equally between the PICES (Pittsburg Emergency Food Pantry) in Pittsburg and the Antioch Ministerial Food Closet in Antioch.

In addition, ECSM in partnership with the Don Brown Shelter in Antioch and Steeltown Coffee and Tea in Pittsburg is sponsoring a used towel drive. The towels are part of the Shelter’s drop-in services for homeless folks who are offered support in small and large ways, from taking a shower (where the towels come in), to using the phone, to having access to emergency shelter information, to counseling for substance abuse. Towels may be dropped off at Steeltown Coffee and Tea, 695 Railroad Avenue, Pittsburg. Drop towels off on December 9 and receive a free drink as a thank you.

East County Shared Ministry is also offering many opportunities to enjoy the true meaning of Christmas including mid-week Advent Services, special musical celebrations, candlelight services and a Christmas Day orphan’s dinner:s

December 5, 12 and 19 (Wednesdays) mark the days for Mid-Week Advent Services at 2 p.m., an opportunity for quiet, meditative reflections on the season of anticipation.

On Sunday, December 9, 10 a.m., the East Bay Festival Chorus, under the direction of local maestro Clayton J. Foor, will be singing several works including an original composition by Foor as well as several traditional carols. This is also the first day of Hanukkah, and the children’s message will include a story and music about dreidels.

Sunday, December 16, 10 a.m., the children of ECSM will be presenting “A Super Christmas,” a story by Victoria Unti about how Jesus might have threatened the jobs of superheroes. Children of all ages are participating in the unique perspective on Christ’s birth.

On Friday, December 21, the winter solstice, a Longest Night service will be held jointly with Clayton Valley Presbyterian Church at their facility: 1578 Kirker Pass Road, Clayton. Decorations, music, lights, jolly laughter, candy, cookies, bells, carols all declare this to be the most wonderful time of the year. But for some, it is not. While the holiday spirit may bring out the best in some, it can also produce unpleasant conditions such as depression, grief, sadness and loss. The service is for those who experience difficulty through the holiday season.

On Sunday, December 23, the ECSM Chancel Choir will perform a cantata entitled “The Silent Night,” conducted and accompanied by Karen Hastings-Flegel.

On Monday, December 24, Christmas Eve, two candlelight services will be held: one at 5 p.m., led by Rev. Christy Parks-Ramage and Elaine Palmer, and another at 10 p.m., led by Rev. Will McGarvey and Karen Hastings-Flegel.

On Christmas Day, at 1 p.m., those who are far from family are invited to celebrate with the ECSM church family. Members Richard James & Jerry Castleberry are hosting a traditional holiday meal with all the trimmings although attendees are encouraged to bring a dish to share. Reservations are required for this event. Please contact the church office to sign up at 925-439-9361 or cpcpittsburg@sbcglobal.net.

On Sunday, December 30, 10 a.m., the New Way Team, led by Michael Miller, will lead the worship service in a morning version of a “watch night” service, providing an opportunity to review the year that has passed and then prepare for the year ahead

East County Shared Ministry extends a very warm Merry Christmas to the East Contra Costa County community. No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, all are welcome here. “I love the support we offer each other within our community and how that support flows through outreach to the greater community where we share our love with a wider range of people,” commented Rev. Christy Parks-Ramage.

About East County Shared Ministry

East County Shared Ministry is based in the historic Stoneman Chapel located at 200 E. Leland Road (between Railroad and Harbor), Pittsburg, CA. ECSM comprises Community Presbyterian Church of Pittsburg (PCUSA) and First Congregational Church of Antioch (UCC) who have embarked on a continued exploration of shared ministry that will enrich, enhance and strengthen their collective progressive ministry to the congregations, the community and the world at large. ECSM recognizes, celebrates and gives thanks for the many diverse gifts of God among us. All are invited to participate in their community and worship life including, but not limited to, believers, seekers, agnostics, women and men, those of all sexual orientations and gender identities and expressions, those of all races and cultures, those of all classes and abilities, those who hope for a better world and those who have lost hope.

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