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Group ready to deliver

 

Central Christian Church of Dallas (Disciples of Christ) has been playing “Santa” for a local elementary school for the past five years. 

Placing a tree decorated with “angels” in strategic areas of the building, church members and friends were encouraged to take an “angel” and fill the requests of children from an area, low-income, DISD school— Maple Lawn Elementary.  

Maple Lawn is located on Inwood Road, just south of Cedar Springs in Dallas.  The school is 86 percent Hispanic. The percentage of students on free and reduced lunch assistance (97.6%) at the school is significantly higher than the state average of 63.8%. This figure indicates that the area has a higher level of poverty than the state average, making the school a choice recipient of Central’s community outreach. 

This year, the number of children benefiting from the program and receiving Christmas gifts reached new heights with the youthful enthusiasm of Amethyst Kelly, Central’s 2017 intern, who headed up the program. One hundred and twenty financially-at-risk children will wake up Christmas morning believing in Santa, (double last year’s number) through the help of Central and the Grace of God. 

Many people chose to give money rather than purchases so Amethyst along with a few members went shopping to fill the requests. 

Long-time member, Jayne Hawley, was one of those helpers— shopping until she dropped. 

 “I’ve followed a 20 year old around town to Target and other retail stores for two days making sure all requests were complete, and I’m tired,” Jayne said last Saturday. 

After shopping and unloading all the purchases, the women began the task of sorting and packaging, filling the individual Christmas lists. 

It was all worth the effort Wednesday morning when members, along with Central’s pastor, Rev. Dr. Ken Crawford, loaded Wendell and Suzie Patterson’s van and delivered the toys to Maple Lawn. 

Parents will pick up the tagged bags, storing them in Santa’s workshop until Christmas Eve.  

Merry Christmas to all and all are welcome at Central Christian Church!

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Salmon and Dill Egg Strata

Would you like an easy but elegant Egg Strata for your Christmas buffet? Or, perhaps just a dressed-up version of your breakfast casserole—you know, the one you pop into the oven on Christmas morning while the family opens presents left under the tree by jolly old St. Nick. 

I served this salmon and dill egg strata at a recent Christmas brunch and several guests asked for the recipe. 

By tweaking basic recipes for egg casseroles, I had created my gourmet version of the often used, ready-for-the-oven breakfast dish. Although not totally original (the flavors were based on an egg dish served at the old Dallas Le Peep restaurants) it is original enough to call my own. 

Shelia’s Salmon and Dill Strata 

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 cups Ciabatta or French baguette (cubed}

12 oz. cream cheese (cubed)

4 oz. goat cheese (crumbled)

10 green onions (snipped) or 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion*

8 oz. smoked salmon

1 generous tablespoon dill weed

¼ to ½ tsp. cracked black pepper

12 eggs

3 cups half and half

¼ to ½ tsp. salt 

*Reduce amounts accordingly and use both green and red for Christmas colors. 

Spray 13 x 9 inch baking dish with non-stick spray.  Melt butter and add olive oil. Add cubed bread and toss to coat.  Top with cream cheese, goat cheese, green or red onions, smoked salmon, dill weed and cracked pepper in that order.  In separate mixing bowl beat eggs, half and half and salt until well blended.  Pour mixture over casserole.  Cover with foil sprayed with cooking spray so it does not stick to top of casserole; refrigerate overnight.  

Before baking, remove the casserole from the refrigerator and allow ingredients to come to room temperature, about ½ hr. on the counter-top.  Preheat oven to 350.  Bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and return to oven for about 15 to 20 more minutes until puffy and golden brown and set in the center.  

Garnish with springs of fresh dill and dollops of sour cream.  Serves 12.

Merry Christmas and easy entertaining!

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Brunch Buffet

Women of Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ) from all of North Texas gathered at Central Christian Church in Dallas Saturday morning to enjoy a year-end Christmas brunch.  

Fifty representatives from Lewisville, Garland, Rockwall, Oak Cliff and other surrounding areas came together to enjoy brunch, games, stories and camaraderie during the Advent celebration.

Tables were decorated in red and green with Island Pines and Tom Smith Christmas Crackers. 

Central’s pastor, Rev. Dr. Ken Crawford greeted the group and delivered the blessing.  Area Minister and President of the North Texas Area of the Christian Church, Dr. Larry Ross, also joined the women for brunch. Colleen Oates, accompanied by Central’s Music Director, David Aston, led a Christmas Carol sing-a-long.

Brunch included a waffle bar with assorted toppings of maple syrup, fresh fruit, nuts, and whipped cream; a variety of egg strata; made-to-order cappuccino by our own barista, Gus Dracopoulos and his wife Valda; hot wassail and home-made almond biscotti.

The festivities ended with Colleen and David’s beautiful performance of “May the Lord Bless and Keep You,” based on Numbers 6:24-26 and a signature song at Central.

The ministries of Disciples Women are part of the movement for wholeness in a fragmented world by providing opportunities for spiritual growth, enrichment, education, and creative ministries to enable women to develop a sense of personal responsibility for the whole mission of the church. The organization is a network of women committed to the justice-seeking, compassion-focused mission of Jesus Christ with no membership requirements or conditions.

The Disciples Women’s organization of Central meets monthly to hear a guest speaker and enjoy lunch with one another.  You do not have to be a member of the church to attend the meetings.  All are welcome and encouraged to visit anytime.  For more information contact Shelia Huffman, President at shelia0806@sbcglobal.net.

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UNT Jazz Trio

Churches around Dallas and the world will offer special services throughout the Advent season.

Many churches hold a service of preparation for Christ's coming, which includes hanging greenery traditionally associated with everlasting life. Greens such as cedar for royalty, fir and pine boughs for everlasting life, holly symbolizing Jesus' death and ivy representing the resurrection are used. 

The service is referred to as “The Hanging of the Greens.” It is one of the most festive worship services during Advent at Central Christian Church, as well as many other churches and denominations.  Participation of the congregation is an important part of this service.

Sunday morning, Poinsettias filled the altar and windows of Central’s sanctuary. The University of North Texas Jazz Trio comprised of Henry Dickoff, Steven Heffner and Ryan Folger joined Central Music Director, David Aston, Assistant Music Director, Tim Caffee and the Chancel Choir in presenting a beautiful music ministry. Lois Leftwich performed the solo, “Come, Thou Long-expected Jesus.” 

The peace candle was lit by members of the Fellowship Sunday School Class.  

After the morning worship service, the congregation gathered in Fellowship Hall for “A Taste of Christmas,” enjoying traditional Christmas sweets and goodies.  

Beautiful and inspiring Christmas services will continue throughout the Advent season. 

On December 17, the third Sunday of Advent, the Chancel Choir will perform the annual Christmas Cantata during morning worship.  At 4 p.m., the combined choirs of Central and St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church will join together and perform an Advent Carol Service. 

On Christmas Eve, at 6 p.m., Central will host a traditional candlelight service. 

Morning worship is at 11 a.m. and Church in the DogPark (an outdoor service with the four-legged member of your family) will be held at 9 a.m. on December 17.  

All are welcome at any or all of the Advent services. 

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The second Sunday of Advent is when we celebrate The Hanging of the Greens at Central Christian Church in Dallas. 

It is one of the most festive days during Advent and many say that it is a favorite childhood memory. Come and bring the kids! Like decorating your tree at home, it is a time of preparation for Christmas and preparing ourselves for a new year living in the presence of God through our relationship with his son. 

The sanctuary is decorated with greenery and Poinsettias. Evergreens have long been symbolic of life and growth, and the Christmas Tree symbolizes everlasting life. 

The beautiful Poinsettia that grows wild in Mexico has become a distinctive symbol of Christmastime in America. However, Mexicans regard it as the “Flower of the Holy Night.”  They have a legend of a little girl who wept on her way to church one Christmas Eve because she had no gift to bring to the Christ Child.  As she knelt on the ground by the church to pray, she saw a gorgeous plant springing up before her and gladly took its red blossoms into the church as her Christmas gift and laid it on the altar.  

And, of course, candles are the reminders of Jesus Christ as the light of the world.  

Henry Dickoff, Steven Heffner and Ryan Folger of the University of North Texas Jazz Trio will join Central Music Director, David Aston, Assistant Music Director, Tim Caffee and the Chancel Choir in performing a beautiful music ministry. 

Following the worship service everyone will gather in Fellowship Hall to enjoy “A Taste of Christmas.” 

This is the day that the congregation brings their favorite Christmas party fare to share.  Cheese balls, sausage balls, fudge, divinity and more will fill the buffet.  You may even find a Figgy Pudding.  

Join Central at 11 a.m. Sunday morning. 

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Anne Pogson, Becky Riggins and Laura Ninesling

The Disciples Women’s December meeting and Christmas party completed the 2017 ministries with a triumphant bang.  

Disciples Women’s Ministry is the women’s organization of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and beyond their charitable contributions to the community and the world, they strive to provide spiritual growth, education and creative ministries to enable women to enrich their lives. 

As Sarah Bessey put it in article about the organization, “We are NOT a safe club for little ladies to play church. We are smart. We are brave. We want to change the world. We strive to be a community of women, gathered together to live more whole-heartedly, to sharpen, challenge, love and inspire one another to then scatter back out to our worlds bearing the mandate to be women that love.” 

Creative ministries at Tuesday’s meeting included the introduction of Tammie Kollinger, President of “Take Charge. Period.” 

Did you know that food stamps do not pay for feminine hygiene products? Many members of our group did not know this and we were horrified since that leaves many low-income women without those necessities. As a mother and grandmother, imagine being a young girl and your family unable to provide those basic needs. 

“Take Charge. Period” collects the products and distributes them to food banks and charitable service organizations for allocation.  Central Christian Church is now a drop- off station for donations.  

Other creative ministries at Central include the use of the Arts to teach and inform.  One of Central’s talented church members is actress/singer Lois Leftwich. 

“After 15 years of directing the children’s Christmas pageant for my church in Fairfield, Connecticut, I delved into the Gospels of Luke and Matthew to come up with a chronological summary of the events surrounding the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ. From Mary’s humble acceptance of Gabriel’s news that she was to be the mother of our Lord through the arrival of the Magi, the story is loaded with miracles,” Lois said. 

As program speaker, Lois shared those miracles and the time-line at Tuesday’s meeting. This was a lovely way to start the Advent season as we wait for the birth of Jesus Christ. 

Following the program everyone enjoyed a festive Mexican luncheon. Colorful Christmas decorations adorned the tables in Fellowship Hall.  Tamales provided by Jimmy’s Food Store at Fitzhugh and Bryan were served along with queso, guacamole, divinity and pralines. The door prize was a jar of Christmas Jam made with love by Central member, Rosemary Davenport. 

Several members prepared a plate of cookies and Christmas treats and delivered them to elderly members who are now home-bound so they, too, could enjoy the tastes of Christmas. 

Remember, you don’t have to be a member of the church to grow and celebrate with the Disciple’s Women.  Our meetings are open.  For more information contact Shelia at shelia0806@sbcglobal.net.  All are welcome!   

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Visit Central's Dog Park

“I love my dog as much as I love you” Cat Stevens cautioned in his first single recording.  “You’re the Man of the Hour,” Norah Jones crooned having chosen her dog over the man in her life.  Paul McCartney’s Martha was immortalized by the Beatles in “Martha, My Dear,” and Dolly Parton remembered in song her childhood friend, "Cracker Jack," who met her every day after school. 

Man oh man! We really do love our dogs, don’t we? 

That love was apparent at Central Christian Church Saturday afternoon and evening as members and friends gathered in the church dog park to sing, laugh and make merry with their beloved pets for a holiday Christmas party and tree-lighting ceremony.  

Do the dogs care about a Christmas party?  We don’t know and we don’t care!  We are having fun, spending time with one another and those special members of our family on God’s Holy ground.   

Music, Santa Paws, hot and cold hors d'oeuvres, holiday beverages, custom t-shirts, doggie bags and professional pictures were all a part of the afternoon festivities that led to the lighting of the trees in the dog park and a prayer praising God for his wonderful gifts of love. 

Sunday Morning Worship is at 11 a.m. and Church in the Dog Park, first and third Sunday of the Month is at 9:30 a.m.  All are welcome!  Central wishes a Merry Christmas to you and your family.     

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Mary Chris Gibbons and Frances Mosier Baking Cookies

Join the women of Central Christian Church in the church parlor on Tuesday morning, December 5 at 10:30 a.m. for the monthly meeting of Disciples Women and annual Christmas Party.   

Hear singer/actress Lois Leftwich tell the real story of the Christmas miracle. 

“Everybody knows the basic Christmas story where Mary and Joseph ride into Bethlehem and find no room at the inn so Jesus is born in a stable. There is a lot more to it than that and it's all in the Bible, but you can't find it all in one place. I've pieced together a fascinating chronicle of the events surrounding the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ. And I've thrown in a couple of songs to help move the story along. Come hear how it really happened,” Lois said. 

Following the program, the lunch theme will be a Mexican Fiesta Christmas.  We will enjoy tamales, complements of Jimmy’s Food Store, (a Dallas landmark) queso, guacamole and pralines. 

After lunch, those who would like to participate in cookies for the home-bound will have the opportunity to assemble plates of goodies to be delivered to older members of the congregation who are no longer able to get out for church or other activities during the holidays.  The cookie delivery is a bright star in their life! 

Bring a batch of home-baked goodies, dipped pretzels, fudge or whatever your specialty for this annual Christmas tradition. 

I asked long-time member Margaret Wilson when the tradition began and she answered, “For as long as I can remember, the women of Central have been delivering a plate of Christmas goodies to the elder and infirm members of the church,” she said. 

The cookie delivery is another Central way to take part in the deeper meaning of the season.   And don’t forget to bring a canned good for North Dallas Shared Ministries.  

You don’t have to be a member of the church to enjoy the Disciples Women’s monthly gatherings. All are welcome!  The cost for lunch is $5.00.  Come and bring a friend.  RSVP to shelia0806@sbcglobal.net. 

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Cake topped with fresh flowers

Fresh flowers on a cake create an elegant presentation, and by selecting colors and seasonal flowers you can have a cake for any occasion. However, to ensure food safety, there are some simple steps that you need to take. 

I recently made a carrot cake and filled the layers with apricot.  If that sounds like a complicated or time-consuming recipe, it wasn’t.  I used a Duncan Hines cake mix from the grocery store and a can of Solo Apricot filling. The filling also comes in cherry, raspberry and poppy seed so there are all kinds of combinations that you can select to go with your menu. 

I frosted the cake with fluffy white frosting also known as “boiled frosting” or “seven minute frosting,” but you can use any frosting that you like. 

The cake was for a Thanksgiving buffet so I chose small mums in fall colors to top my cake.   

Keeping your cake safe from any pesticides or poison that might be in the flowers or stems requires a little effort.  First, try to research the flower for edibility and toxicity and try to purchase organically grown stems.  

For instance the mum family is touted as a relatively safe flower according to the internet, but to make sure because there are so many varieties, I prepared the flowers in a way to protect my cake before using them. 

  1. I washed the flowers and stems in cool water to remove any dirt that might be attached to them. 
  2. After drying on a paper towel, I selected a few flowers, cut the stems to about 2 to 2 ½ inches and tied them together by wrapping with florist wire.    
  3. I wrapped the attached stems with floral tape, completely covering the stem, including the bottom.
  4. I place the wired, wrapped stem in a Bubble Tea straw (because it is bigger than a regular straw) and snipped the straw to match the stem length. 

Voila! I had a holder for my bouquet. I continued until I had enough flowers to place on my cake. 

This technique works great for a small cake.  If you have a larger cake, you can purchase water tubes from a florist, place the flower in the tube and insert the tube in the cake. 

My daughter’s wedding cake was a three-tiered, Naked Cake from Central Market Bakery.  The bakery frosted the cake and added the strawberries and rosemary, but bakery standards would not allow them to put fresh flowers on the cake.  When the cake arrived at the hotel, I added the roses and stock in water tubes to complete the decorated cake. 

Either way, wrapped stems or water tube, your cake is not directly exposed to the flowers. You can remove them as you cut the cake. 

You will get lots of compliments and it is stress-free and so much fun.

 

   

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Kearstin Bailey Global Ministries Intern

Central Christian Church had the unique and genuine pleasure of hosting Kearstin Bailey, a Global Ministries Intern, (GMI) this past week. 

Global Ministries is a cooperation of the United Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ (Central Christian Church) formed to work towards world justice, reconciliation and peace by joining with global partners to accomplish these goals. 

Kearstin, upon graduating from HeidelbergUniversity in Tiffin, Ohio with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, applied for and was accepted as an intern with Global Ministries.  Her first assignment was Budapest, Hungary.

 During her two years in Hungary, Kearstin served in several capacities. One was the Kalunba Social Services Association. The service is a holistic, non-profit, supported by global church partners. 

Approximately 250 refugees come through the center each week for various needs such as housing, language classes and educational programs to get assistance in learning the skills necesary to improve their lives. 

“The people I worked with were mostly from Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia,” Kearstin said.

She also worked with the Roma Mission.  Kearstin compared the Romas in Hungary to the Native Americans in our country, finding their needs very similar to those of many of the tribal residents in America. 

“I worked at an after-school program where along with Hungarian volunteers, I taught English, lead craft time to encourage creative expression and provided a supportive environment for young people to help them grow and develop,” she said. 

“Some of what I have learned through this experience in Hungary is that diversity is important for growth – race, age, socioeconomic background, language, gender expression and theology. We need to not only seek diversity in our own communities, but then go one step further and have a dialogue about diversity,” Kearstin said. 

That is exactly what we did at Central Christian Church during Kearstin’s stay in Dallas. Several speaking engagements to hear about Kearstin’s experiences abroad and knowledge in the field of refugee resettlement were attended by members of Central and the community where there was conversation and dialogue. 

Kearstin was honored at a Salaam Supper Friday evening and joined by Lily Heine of Refugee Services of Texas.  Ms. Heine talked about what we can do here in Dallas to help the refugees. Volunteers have the opportunity to meet and greet a new family and walk with them through their journey.   

Central also hosted several small get-togethers with Kearstin such as The Disciples Women’s Taco lunch in the church Fellowship Hall, giving the women the opportunity to visit with Kearstin in a small group for one-on-one conversations. 

We were truly delighted with her graciousness and sweet, open spirit and we were inspired by her dedication to her missionary calling. 

Kearstin is originally from Ohio and this trip was her second to the LoneStarState.  Her first visit was spent in the border town of McAllen, a very different atmosphere from Big D. We tried to make her stay a “not all work and no play” visit.  While here, she had a car tour of Downtown, a walk around WhiteRockLake and she had the opportunity to enjoy some of our popular and anticipated foods like Asian Fusion and, of course, Tex Mex.  Sunday afternoon she attended an early Thanksgiving dinner of turkey and dressing at Central. 

Kearstin’s next assignment will be Greece. 

“I will take another GMI placement, this time with the GreekEvangelicalChurch,” she said.  

Kearstin is an example of young people working to make our world a better place for everyone.  We are fortunate to have dedicated young adults like Kearstin and programs such as Global Ministries.

 

 

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