Advent: A Season of Transformation

Our mission project this Advent is collecting stocking goodies for the clients of Turn Community Services. Turn cares for adults who are developmentally disabled and who often do not have family with whom to share the holidays. We also will be providing Christmas dinner for our Turn friends. See Andy Nielsen or Pastor Gage for details. And read more about our Advent and Christmas events:

First Sunday of Advent: Hope
In worship on Sunday, Nov. 30, we will focus on Christ’s power to transform despair into Hope. Tom Szalay will talk about the transformation he found in a long-term photo project, and we will hear the story of how Hope has been an important element in the transformation of Damon and Seren Gale-Jackson’s family.

The Christmas Grove
SHARE Food Pantry will celebrate the lighting of the annual Christmas Grove at 5:30 PM on Monday, Dec. 1, at First Presbyterian Church, 880 28th St. Proceeds from donations go to support the food pantry. See Carolyn Somer with questions.

World AIDS Day Movie Sing-Along
The Northern Utah Coalition, GIV Communities, Good Company Theater and our church present a showing of and sing-along with the movie Rent followed by a time of prayer and candlelight commemoration of lives lost to the disease. It starts at 6:00 PM on Monday, Dec. 1, at the old Gold’s Gym, 550 25th St.

The Second Sunday of Advent: Peace
We welcome the Bountiful Bells combo to worship on Sunday, Dec. 7, as we focus on the transformation of violence into peace.

Dinner at OUTreach Resource Centers
Our church is serving dinner to the clients of OUTreach at 5:00 PM on Wednesday, Dec. 10. Watch for a sheet in the Sign-Up Book. The location is in flux as OUTreach is in the midst of a move.

Community Caroling
We’ll gather at the church at 5:30 PM on Friday, Dec. 12, for a light soup supper. Then we’ll head out to spread Christmas cheer at Harrison Regent, Crestwood Care Center and Wasatch Care Center. See Marion Horna with questions.

The Third Sunday of Advent: Joy
John Uscilka will describe the transformation of simple flour, water and yeast into the bread that we will share as part of Holy Communion in our worship on Sunday, Dec. 14.

Service of Healing and Assurance
This season is hard for some people as they struggle with depression, grief, anger or sadness. Our Service of Healing and Assurance offers a bit of balm for frayed nerves and stressed spirits. Join us at 1:00 PM on Saturday, Dec. 20.

The Fourth Sunday of Advent: Love
Our children will present their pageant in worship on Sunday, Dec. 21.

Christmas Eve
The annual Candlelight Service at 5:00 PM will be enhanced this year with artistic works by our own members. Do you have a craft, artwork, photograph, song, poem or other piece that fits the theme of “Transformation”? Consider sharing it with the congregation on this special night.

Bullying: What Area Schools Are Doing

At our February 16 session in the Bullying Education Series, we learned what a few regional elementary schools are doing to address bullying. Here is the description of one Safe School policy:

Safe School policy is a no tolerance document. When it comes to safe school violation, we deal with it immediately. The safety of our students is our #1 concern.

We focus on educating the student about proper behavior and give them a chance to implement change in their behavior before punitive consequences are put into place.

We take a proactive approach.

• Counselors teach character education and anti-bullying lessons in each class twice a month.

Grades K-2 – the curriculum used is the “Second Step Program, a Violence Prevention Program”
Emphasis is on empathy training, impulse control, problem solving, and anger management.

Grades 3-5 – we use the “Steps to Respect Program, A Bullying Prevention Program”
Emphasis is on respect, friendship, problem solving, self esteem, recognizing bullying, assertiveness, refusal skills, appropriate reporting (vs. tattling), responsibility

Grade 6 – “Second Step – Stepping Up” Program
Emphasis is on empathy, communication, bully recognition and prevention, emotion management, and problem solving.

This curriculum is data based and put out by the national Committee for Children.

• We teach additional lessons on relational aggression, personal space, and good character

• As needed, we offer small group help with learning social skills to help empower students who may need some extra instruction or training.

We have an active parental base here in the Valley so when problems arise, we engage parental support to help solve conflicts.

At times, we have had a box called “The Buddy Box” that we have put in the school library that allows students the option of reporting bullying anonymously, if they wish to. This serves to empower students to be able to get help and solve problems.

Cyberbullying Information

We talked about “cyberbullying” at the Bullying Education Series session on Feb. 9. Here are some links where you can find helpful information about discerning whether your child is being bullied through texts, emails or social networks; what to do about it; how to prevent it from happening; and how to report it.

* The Cyberbullying Research Center

* The federal government’s anti-bullying website’s Cyberbullying page

* Education.com’s booklet on Cyberbullying in pdf form.

Warning Signs of Bullying

Here is some information we shared at the first session of our Bullying Education Series.

Students who are being bullied often exhibit some warning signs. These students may:

* Have torn, damaged or missing pieces of clothing, books, or other belongings.

* Have unexplained cuts, bruises and other scratches from fighting.

* Have few, if any, friends with whom he or she spends time.

* Seem afraid of going to school, walking to and from school, riding the school bus, or taking part in organized activities (such as clubs or sports) with peers.

* Take a long, “illogical” route when walking to or from school.

* Lose interest in doing school work, or suddenly begin to do poorly in school.

* Appear sad, moody, teary or depressed when he or she comes home.

* Complain frequently of headaches, stomachaches, or other physical problems.

* Have frequent bad dreams or trouble sleeping.

* Experience a loss of appetite.

* Appear anxious and suffer from low self-esteem.

It’s also important to recognize the characteristics of students who bully, which may help prevent bullying and allow for early intervention. These students may:

* Have a positive attitude toward violence and the use of violent means.

* Have a strong need to dominate and subdue other students and get their own way.

* Be impulsive, aggressive or easily angered.

* Lack empathy toward students who are bullied.

* Have defiance and aggression toward adults, including teachers and parents.

* Be involved in other anti-social or rule-breaking activities such as vandalism, delinquency, and substance abuse.

* Have greater physical strength than that of others in general and the students they bully in particular (especially in boys).

* Be more likely to report owning a gun for risky reasons, such as to gain respect or to frighten others.

Photos of Mary Southerland’s visit

Head over to our Facebook page to see some photos of our visit with Mary Southerland and Henry! Mary is a former contractor with the U.S. military in Iraq who returned with PTSD. She will be making a kayak trip down the Ohio River beginning next week to raise awareness about PTSD. Henry, her service dog, will accompany her! (Note: You don’t have to have a Facebook account to see the photos!)