December Newsletter

Turner Christian Church Connection Newsletter
For the past couple of months I have been using this article to explain the identity and mission of our church--why we are called "Turner Christian Church," instead of Baptist or Episcopalian or Presbyterian Church. I told you that we call ourselves a Christian church because our goal is to be a congregation that is open to all Christians--to every person who has been saved by Jesus Christ, regardless of whether we agree on all points of doctrine.

This can be very difficult because so many churches defined themselves by their doctrine. "We are a church that believes [thus and so]. We hold to that doctrine. If you believe [thus and so,] you belong here." If we don't all believe exactly the same thing, then what holds us together?

First and foremost, we are held together by common belief. It's just that our uniting belief is very specific: we believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and he is our Lord and Savior. We hold to that doctrine, and if you believe that, then you belong here.

Second of all, our congregation is held together more by what we do together than the lists of doctrine we believe. We are defined by the worship, communion, baptism and service that we do every week as part of our shared life In this sense you could answer the question, "Who is Turner Christian Church?" in several ways:
     · TCC is a body of believers who join together every Sunday in one place (as much as we can)
        to worship in the presence of God.
     · TCC is a body of believers who gather together to share the Lord's Supper at his table.
     · TCC is a body of believers who have followed God's command to be immersed in the name
        of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
     · TCC is a body of people who come together in common purpose to serve others by our
        collective actions and the use of our funds to support ministries and missions.

This type of identity is important because it helps us remember our place in the worldwide  church. We are not  distinct  from  other  congregations  because  we have the Gospel right and they have it wrong. We are distinct for other congregations simply because we are a distinct gathering. What is the real difference between us and Turner Church of God or Turning Point Community Church? Simply put, we are a different gathering of people. Like different branches of the same family, we gather in a different home, eat around a different table, and engage in different family projects together. We are not the "right" family, we are just one particular gathering of that family.

That being said, different branches of a family often do things differently, simply because their parents come to different conclusions about how best to raise a family. As a parent of young kids, I am facing moments when I have to explain to my 4-year-old why his friends get away with doing things that he's not allowed to do. I have to teach him that those kids aren't necessarily being naughty; most likely, their family has different rules than ours. But both families are doing their best (hopefully) to raise their children well. In the same way, our unique identity as a Christian Church is important because we believe it to be the most faithful way to follow Jesus.

The interesting thing is that most churches are also bound by their actions more than their beliefs--they just don't realize it. Sociologists will tell you that the actions of a congregation are much more influential in gaining converts than their doctrine―this is how strange belief systems can gain loyal followings. Often we are tempted to think that the church's number-one priority is to teach the pure Gospel, while being a loving, accepting congregation falls down the list (sometimes to the bottom). In reality, the way we treat each other on a Sunday morning (the way we great a visitor who has sat in our usual seat, for instance) is just as important as how we teach the Gospel because our behavior is one of the ways we teach the Gospel. As a church, then we seek to build our identity and our congregational life around the actions and practices that keep us focused on Jesus Christ―worship, communion, baptism, and service.

I think about prayer a lot. And if I’m honest I think a lot more about prayer than I actually pray. Prayer takes work. Even those brothers and sisters in the faith who devote themselves most diligently to prayer, consider it work.

Why is that? Why does it take effort to enter into a time of conversation with our King, and our Savior? Why is it so hard to go to the one who provides us peace, hope, joy? Even though I know that I often leave my times of prayer with greater contentment, I will find myself preferring anything else over entering into conversation with God.
I think I’ve finally figured out the reason why.

With an acquaintance, I might say that I’m doing well and they may accept that as fact. With a good friend, they might ask a follow-up question, but be content with whatever I offer them as a response. With a best friend, their questions will be astute and discerning, creating real opportunities for vulnerability. But ultimately, they will know what I offer. They cannot truly know what I choose to conceal.

But with God, all is revealed. There is nothing about me that He does not know. My pride, my lust, my greed―all is on display. My discouragements, my heartbreaks, my anger-they are laid bare. Nothing is hidden. And so are my strengths also brought out before him. The good things He is building in me, the ways He is helping me grow. He shows me places I am different than I was before. He points me to positive adjustments in my relationships. I am my fullest and truest self before my King, with all that I am.

What a freeing and beautiful thing. Yet, how much easier it is to just avoid all of that! Some-
times I like my self-delusions. Sometimes I don’t want to face my sins. Sometimes I’m grumpy that God is growing me in ways that put me out of my comfort zone.

The invitation to real communion with God can be intimidating. To live a life fully in reality can be scary.

Ultimately private prayer is a personal thing. Each of us must decide for ourselves to build that relationship with our Heavenly Father and enter into the peace He offers. But we can be lampposts for each other, offering encouragement and wisdom along the way.

Here are a few things that help me:

Set aside regular time/times each day. Have prayer prompts or topics ready to pray over (our Prayers of the Church can be a great starting point!).

Set a goal that is reasonable for you. Is 1 minute of prayer where you need to start? Fantastic, that’s one more minute that you were doing before! Build up to something longer in a way that’s sustainable.

Is it hard to know how to pray? That’s okay! I use Every Moment Holy Vol. 1 when I am feeling stuck. The book Praying like Monks, Living like Fools by Tyler Stanton also gives some good recommendations for getting started. (These two books are available in our Church Library!)

Wherever you are at in your journey of prayer, I encourage you to keep going! There is always more with God. His well of peace, joy and hope is infinite. May your prayer times be rich this season as you deepen your relationship with the Father who loves you.

Thank you Church family for your donations to our outside space! Through those donations we are starting to put together more interactive areas for the children to explore and play outside. Though the weather is continuing to get colder we are continuing to head outside daily, just bundling up a little more!

For the month of November we focused on teaching our preschoolers about gratitude and saying thank you to the people who help us in our community. It was a meaningful month filled with activities that hopefully helped our little ones feel connected to the community around them.

The children created a colorful poster and held it up outside to thank the garbage truck driver for their service. We also had a special visit from Turner Police Officer Nix, who came to the classroom and talked to the children about his job and answered all their questions. This week we wrapped up the month with a field trip to the local fire department, where the children learned about fire safety and we had a chance to express our appreciation to the firefighters and all they do for our community.

As we approach the Christmas season, we have been excitingly preparing for our Christmas program. Through the songs, activities, decorating and storytelling, we will be sharing with them the special gift of Jesus coming to earth. Advent will be a significant part of our curriculum for the month of December. We will explore the story of Jesus' birth and the joy it brings to the world. We look forward to a month filled with joy, learning, and celebration.        

What an AWESOME God we serve!! We once again watched and listened in awe as God worked in mighty ways through Operation Christmas Child. As much as we all dream the awe-inspiring dream of joining in the work at a Processing Center or at an actual Distribution of Shoeboxes, we continually see His hand in the process that we are able to be a part of. We are inspired and encouraged as He blesses each giver of every gift along the journey of a Shoebox.

I'm generally not a numbers person for the sake of numbers alone, but in this case, each number represents a child, their immediate family, and possibly their community. So in this case, I can't help but be excited to think of the 1200 children who will hear the Gospel through our Community Packing Party in August and the 305 children who will hear the Good News of Salvation through our smaller TCC packing party this past month. I can't help but be excited for the almost 11,000 Shoeboxes that were prayerfully packed and delivered to our drop off locations in Marion and Polk Counties during National Collection Week. We have confidence that our Awesome God will multiply these Gospel Opportunities as only He can, and that the ministry and missions minded people of The Greater Salem Area will feel the blessings of having a hand in the process.

Thank you for supporting our Shoebox efforts here at TCC and please rest assured that our Awesome God is now taking those efforts and changing lives. Let us continue in prayer for the givers and for the impact of the gifts.

-Ann Stoker-


It costs $10.00 to collect, process and ship each shoebox overseas. Multiply that by the hundreds of shoeboxes we prepare and that comes to quite a large amount, but well worth it! If you would like to help with this expense, please mark your contribution on an offering envelope under “Operation Christmas Child” (available on the back of chairs in the sanctuary or in the church office).

Pauline Barnes passed away and went home to the Lord on November 13, 2023. The family has scheduled a visitation at Weddle Funeral Service in Stayton, Oregon on December 16th from 9:00—11:00 am.

Earlene Johnson passed away and went home to the Lord on November 15, 2023. A Memorial Service will be held at Southside Church of Christ in Lebanon, Oregon on December 2nd, at 1:30 pm.

The congregation will be asked to approve new congregational leadership and the church budget for 2024.  Letters have been sent out to members with information about the candidates and the proposed budget. If you have not received this information, please contact the church office.

Oregon Spirit Chorus (Sweet Adelines)
Spirit of the Holidays Concert
Saturday December 2, 2023 • 2:30 pm
At Dayspring Fellowship in Keizer
The Seniors invite the congregation to join them!
  Church Bus will leave from church at 1:00 pm
$15.00―Seniors, Students and Military
$25.00―General Admission
(Tickets can be bought at the door!)
(Bonus! Rachel White is a member of the Chorus!)

All seniors are invited to tour the city of Turner on the church bus to enjoy the Christmas lights
and enjoy a time of fellowship with hot chocolate at the church afterwards.

Contact Virginia Musgrave for more information
about these and other events for seniors!

This December we will be gathering for a special "Advent Thing" during the Sunday School hour. All ages are invited to join in as we get to know each other better as a family and have discussions about who we are as a church and where we are headed. We'd love to see you there!

December 31, 2023
Everyone is invited to come and enjoy lunch together! Please bring a dish to share!
Last Name: A-H Main Dish, 
I-P Sides and Salads, Q-Z Desserts

All Church Advent Thing!
Sundays: December 3rd, 10th & 17th at 9:00 am

This December we will be gathering for a special "Advent Thing" during the Sunday School hour. All ages are invited to join in as we get to know each other better as a family and have discussions about who we are as a church and where we are headed. We'd love to see you there!
Prepare Him Room―Women’s Advent Event
Saturday, December 9th at 6:30 pm

Turner Christian Church is hosting a special Virtual Advent Event with Kristi McLelland encouraging us to intentionally make space to seek Jesus amid the holiday rush.
Please invite all of the women you know and love to this event. Experience the Christmas Story like never before. Discover that the Christmas story is better than we’ve ever known as Kristi McLelland, a gifted teacher, explains its historical and cultural context that we as westerners often miss. Join us as we celebrate the birth of our Savior and embrace the true meaning of Christmas. Prepare Him room this season—your heart will never be the same.
In offering this Advent Event, we hope to be an avenue of love, blessing and fellowship in our community. If you have any questions, please contact: Vicky Remy 503-991-0067 or Kris Jakubowski 503-798-8416. Please Bring Snacks to Share!
Blue Christmas Service
Sunday, December 17th at 3:00 pm

The Christmas Season can be difficult for those who are hurting from loss, isolation, life changes, and many other sources of pain. This service is for them―a Christmas service where we can face our grief and pain, and find hope in the message of Christmas through prayer, music and reflection.
Kid’s Carol Service
Sunday, December 17th at 6:00 pm

TCC Kids ages 2-18 will be leading the congregation in a Carol Service! Come prepared to sing Christmas songs and hear the story of Jesus’ birth from Luke. Refreshments to follow.
Seniors Turner Christmas Lights Bus Tour
Thursday, December 21st at 6:30 pm

All seniors are invited to tour the city of Turner on the church bus to enjoy the Christmas lights along with a time of fellowship with hot chocolate at the church afterwards.
Christmas Eve Candlelight Services
Sunday, December 24th at 10:30 am & 4:00 pm (Identical Services)

Ever wondered exactly how the wise men followed The Christmas Star or how they knew it would lead them to a king? This documentary is available in the TCC library and has some great insight to the astronomy and faith of the Star of Bethlehem!

We are so excited to partner with our local Family Building Blocks to get families Christmas gifts! To participate just grab a tag from the Christmas tree in the church lobby! Please take careful note of the information on the gift tags and return all gifts to the church, unwrapped, by December 17th.

Three things to do with a gift tag:
1) Pray! Pray for the family receiving the gift. May they know the peace and joy of Christ this holiday season and every day.

2) Read carefully. If a family has requested something in a “gender neutral” color, that just means they’re trying to stay away from the “pinks and dolls for girls, blues and tractors for boys.” Multicolored gifts, things with dinosaurs or horses or other animals, things that are red, orange, green etc., - all wonderful!

3) Leave the gift unwrapped. The parents will get the special joy of participating in this by wrapping the present themselves.

Did you know Family Building Blocks started out in a church basement in Salem? Learn more at:

You can share Christmas greetings with the congregation by putting your Christmas Card up on the bulletin board outside the Fellowship Hall for others to see and read, to bless and to be blessed!


Tim A Crowder - December 3rd, 2023 at 7:06am

I like this format. It's attractive, easy to read, and, as usual, full of interesting and useful information.

Judy Jessup - December 5th, 2023 at 12:12pm

I'm a hard copy person; however, I can appreciate the advantages of sending out the newsletter electronically. I'm just glad you haven't forgotten about us here in Colorado!