Lent is here and hopefully we will soon see warmer temperatures. It has been a very long winter! This last Sunday we kicked off the new church season with a new emphasis - the Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations. In the weeks leading up to Easter and in the weeks following, we will focus on what it means to be a congregation that is bearing fruit for God´s kingdom. We will look at the areas of Radical Hospitality, Passionate Worship, Intentional Faith Development, Risk-Taking Mission and Service and Extravagant Generosity. This is an exciting time to be a part of First Church as we prepare ourselves for ministry that will carry us into a third century of ministry in this place.
I hope you have picked up and started reading the book by Bishop Robert Schnase (even if you can´t join one of the classes). More books have been ordered and should be available by Sunday in the north lobby. It´s also not too late to join one of the classes – sign up online or call the church.
Pastor Bob got things started by talking about Radical Hospitality last Sunday. He shared with us examples of good hospitality and not so good hospitality. (Can you imagine being greeted at the door of a church you are attending for the very first time with, ‘What are you doing here?´!!!) We have all experienced instances of both kinds of hospitality, both in church settings and in secular settings.
Mrs. Margie Bristol is my earliest memory of Radical Hospitality. My family attended Grace United Methodist Church just down the street from our home in Lansing. Each and every week as we walked through the front doors of the church I was greeted by Mrs. Bristol with a huge smile and a personal greeting. She would always ask me how I was doing and tell me how very glad she was to see me at church. I´m sure she greeted others that way, but she always made me feel as if I were the most important person she had encountered that day. What really amazed me was that it didn´t even seem to matter to her that I was just a kid (you know how some adults treat children as if they are just the extras that come with the adults) – I was important to her! Her genuine greeting and warmth filled me with a sense of welcome and belonging that still warms my heart all these years later.
Margie Bristol taught me what it means to be radically hospitable. Who taught you? Do you have a story of radical hospitality to share? We would love to hear it. Please visit our Facebook page to share and then watch each week as we offer opportunities to discuss the weekly topic. You can enter the discussion at: www.facebook.com/grandrapidsfumc.
Radical Hospitality is more than just opening our doors and allowing people to come in. It´s stepping outside those doors and inviting people in. It´s welcoming them with a genuine desire to make them feel comfortable so that they can then be open to a word from God. It´s going that extra mile to help them navigate our building and engaging them in authentic conversation. The apostle Paul reminds us to, "Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God." (Romans 15:7) What a great reminder! I´ll see you in church on Sunday!
P.S. Don´t forget Jazz Vespers this Saturday at 6:00pm featuring the music of the Jim Cooper Quartet!
P.P.S. Apologies! - We neglected to mention that there is child care available for Dr. Bob´s Sunday night Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations class. It´s not too late to join. Call the church to let us know that you will attend and how many children you will be bringing.
• March 14, 7:00 am — Men´s Lenten Breakfast
• March 15, 9:00 am — Feeding America Distribution at Cesar Chavez
• March 15, 6:00 pm — Jazz Vespers: The Jim Cooper Quartet
• March 17, 12:00 pm — 60+ Luncheon
• March 19, 9:00 am — Caring Connection
• March 21, 7:00 am — Men´s Lenten Breakfast
• March 24, 3:00 - 7:00 pm — Blood Drive
• March 23, 4:30 - 7:30 pm — Jr & Sr High Youth at Sky Zone
• March 28-29 — Women´s Retreat
• March 30, 12:30 pm — Imagine No Malaria Movie: "Mary Martha"
• April 2, 6:00 pm — Taizé Sung Prayer Service
• April 3, 9:00 am — Prayer Quilts
• April 4, 7:00 am — Men´s Lenten Breakfast
• April 11, 7:00 am — Men´s Lenten Breakfast
• April 13, 9:15 am ONLY — Palm Sunday Processional
• April 13,10:15 am and 12:00 pm — Palm Sunday Brunch
• April 16, 9:00 am — Caring Connection
• April 17, 6:15 pm — Maundy Thursday Communion Service
• April 18, 7:00 am — Men´s Lenten Breakfast
• April 18, 7:00 pm — Good Friday Service
• April 19, 9:00 am — Feeding America Distribution at Cesar Chavez
• April 20, 9:15 and 11:00 am — Easter Sunday
• April 21, 12:00 pm — 60+ Luncheon
• April 27 — 2nd Best Sale Drop-Off Begins
• May 1, 9:00 am — Prayer Quilts
• May 3 — 2nd Best Sale
• May 17, 9:00 am — Feeding America Distribution at Cesar Chavez
• May 19, 12:00 pm — 60+ Luncheon
• May 21, 9:00 am — Caring Connection
• June 1 — Teacher Appreciation Sunday
SUNDAYS 9:15 AM
• Infant Nursery — 0-23 months Room 107
• Toddler Nursery — 2 yr. olds - young 3´s Room 106
• Children & Worship (toilet trained) — Older 3´s – Pre K Room 204/201
9:15 AM: Faith Travelers, Junior High, and Senior High begin in worship with their families and are then dismissed to their classes. (Children of all ages are welcome to remain in worship if their families so desire.)
• Faith Travelers — K-6th grade Church 3rd Floor
• Junior High — 7-8th grade The Vine South
• Senior High — 9-12th grade The Vine North
• Infant Nursery — 0-23 months Room 107
• Toddler Nursery — 2-3 years Room 106
• One Room Schoolhouse — 4 years-Grade 2 Room 202 (One Room Schoolhouse children begin in worship with their parents. Following the Children´s Moments, they are dismissed to class.)
**Worship bags and Children´s Pages are available in the narthex with activities that allow for children to participate in worship at their own level.**
Please contact Annette Erbes at 451.2879 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
THE MARTIN LUTHER KING LEADERSHIP ACADEMY FITNESS PATH project has passed through all the proper committees and approvals within Grand Rapids Public Schools. We hope the snow clears soon, allowing construction during the month of April ! Thank you to all supporters who contributed to this cause over the past year. We so appreciate being able to provide this means for our families to work on fitness.
Half of the current playground will be fenced off during the construction process, which will limit the play space for the children. We hope to have students focus on basketball, Four Square and jump roping. It would be nice to provide the teachers with equipment to help the kids focus on these activities. Any donations of basketballs, playground balls and jump ropes, for single or double dutch would be greatly appreciated. They may be left in the collection room MLK bins off the north lobby.
CALLING ALL K-6 FAITH TRAVELERS This month the students have been learning a song about the Great Commandment. A 15-minute group rehearsal for all K-6 students will happen this Sunday, March 16 at 10:30 am following the regular Faith Traveler classes in Room 303 with teacher Pete Muszkiewicz. Students will then sing in worship the following Sunday, March 23 at the beginning of the 9:15 am worship service.
WOMEN´S RETREATInviting Mary into our Martha Lives - Seeking Attentiveness Even in Chaos March 28, 4:00 pm – March 29, 4:00 pm at Geneva Retreat Center (Holland, MI). Cost $75.00 per person. Martha is worried and distracted by many things. Jesus reminds her there is need of only one thing and that Mary has chosen this better part. Is it possible for Martha to know what Mary knows? Join us as we discover the gift of attentiveness while seeking to live faithful lives. Reserve your spot by sending a check to Sharon Sorensen by March 19.
FAITH TRAVELERS MISSION OFFERING The K-4 Faith Travelers church school classes have selected Family Promise of Grand Rapids as their mission offering focus for February through May! The goal is to raise $100 for new toys for our Family Promise guests. Monetary offerings can be brought to any Faith Travelers class; all donations are optional. Any questions? Please contact Annette Erbes, Director of Children´s Ministry, at 616.451.2879. Did you know that…1,800 children have been supported by Family Promise and that 90% of families have found a new home?!
THE CELEBRATION COMMITTEE is pleased to announce the Congregation´s Choice award for 2014. The watercolor, "In Touch with the Elders of Chartres" by Alan Adsmond, will hang in Wesley Hall for all to enjoy. KIDS´ CLUB:
FIVE WORTH FIGHTING FOR! Children in grades 3-6 are invited to explore the Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations in their own way this Spring! Kids´ Club will discover that these practices are Five Worth Fighting For! Kids will learn about the five practices through activities and games such as prayer stations, a game of trust, crossing a river of bubbling lava, a scavenger hunt, and game of Sardines! Join Ken and Emily Mol in Wesley Hall, bring $2 for dinner, on the following Sundays from 5:00 – 7:00 pm for Five Worth Fighting For:
• March 16 Mission Impossible?
• March 23 Extreme Generosity
• April 6 Radical Hospitality
ROAD TRIPS The Road Trips for 2014 are now set! Save the following dates: May 7th - Jackson, Michigan - historical tour, lunch and Armory Arts Village. June 18th - Detroit Tigers vs KC Royals! July 24th - Marshall, Michigan - historical tour, lunch at Schuler´s and a musical at Tibbits. Sept 18-20 - Pennsylvania - includes a dinner cruise in Pittsburgh, Flight 93 National Memorial, Quecreek Mine, Duncan House, Duquesne Incline, and Heinz Memorial Chapel. Details and reservation forms are available in the north lobby and online at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/road-trips!
SAVE THE DATE! Sunday, June 1 is Teacher Appreciation Sunday.
CHRISTMAS GIFT OF GIVING THANK YOU! Once again the First United Methodist Church congregation, tutors, Thornapple Elementary, and other friends responded generously to the needs at Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Academy for our Gift of Giving project. Our basic family list contained 70 families, 220 children infant through 18 years. A book of letters and photos of our appreciative parents may be found in the north lobby.
With the help of over 50 volunteers we were able to set up and run the gift distribution and wrapping sessions plus drive some folks home who had no transportation. I am so thankful for the amazing support on all levels this huge project receives. No single person could ever manage such an undertaking without others carrying a portion of the burden. The church giving tree supplied MLK teachers with numerous supplies, games, balls, jump ropes, books, clothing, hygiene needs, etc.
Many years ago FUMC was very wise to embark upon a local mission project such as MLK Academy. The depth of support to the education of the students and families is far reaching. It has enabled all of us to come together in a meaningful way. Volunteers that came in personal contact with the families were touched by their gratitude, excitement and tears. The Gift of Giving is truly a wonderful experience for all involved. Thank you!
Church and School Coordinator
IPADS FOR MLK – A CHALLENGE FROM THE LEGACY MINISTRY A request came to Legacy Ministry for the purchase of 15 iPads, one for each tutoring station at the Martin Luther King Leadership Academy - FUMC Tutoring Center. The request includes the purchase of educational apps, and equipment that will appropriately provide security against theft. According to Jer Hon-Hawkins, iPads would "expose our students to current technology so they will be competitive learners in the future." The estimated cost for this project is $9,500. Legacy does not have the full amount available for this request, therefore, they would like to challenge the congregation. Legacy Ministry will match up to $5,000 for funds received by March 26. If you are willing to help with this project, please specify iPads for MLK on your giving envelope. Thank you for all you do to help with the vital ministries of our church!
60+ LUNCHEON will be Monday, March 17 at noon. The program will be on JFON. Please call Elaine Youngs at 735.5506 or Luci Baer at 457.7797 to make a reservation.
FAMILY PROMISE WEEK FAST APPROACHING When we hear the term "homeless," most of us don´t think of children and families, and yet they are the fastest growing segment of this population. FUMC will be hosting Family Promise the week of April 6 - 13. During this time, our church becomes a temporary "home" in which families are treated as guests of our church family. By volunteering you can help alleviate the hurt and alienation of homelessness, and both volunteers and guests can grow and learn from each other. You may sign up through the Sunday bulletin insert, online at www.grandrapids.com/sign-up-sheet.
MISSION UPDATE: CUBA The following medications may be donated for the upcoming Cuba Mission Trip. Please drop them off in the north lobby office. Brand names or generic versions are accepted. Adult: Tylenol, Advil, Alleve, vitamins, Immodium, heartburn meds. Children: Tylenol (liquid & chewable), Motrin (liquid & chewable), vitamins, Immodium.
PATTI JO HANSEN ARTIST RECEPTION There will be an artist reception for photographer, Patti Jo Hansen, on Thursday, March 20, from 6:00 - 8:00 pm. The congregation is invited to this event which will be held in the church parlor.
A BIG "THANK YOU" to all our Celebration 2014 volunteers! From Celebration committee members, to hosts, art pick-up monitors and cookie bakers, each of you contributed your time and talents to make our 41th annual art show a wonderful success.
SOCIAL CONCERNS DONATIONS For the month of March the pantry is in need of soap, body wash, shampoo, and peanut butter and jelly. Please drop off your items in the north lobby donation room.
VOLUNTEERING @ KIDS FOOD BASKET Young Adults (age 18-30), you´re invited to help us fight hunger in GR. Please meet at The Vine on Wednesday, March 19 at 5:30 pm for a quick bite and to carpool over to Kids´ Food Basket.
SCRAPBOOKING will be held Saturday, March 15 from 10:00 am - 6:00 pm. If you would like to join us, contact Patsy Mc- Gillivray at email@example.com.
JAZZ VESPERS, featuring the Jim Cooper Quartet, on Saturday, March 15 at 6:00 pm weaves scripture, a pastoral message and prayer into a celebration of faith, hope, and the love of God. Please join us!
We´ve all heard the story about the rich young man who approached Jesus asking how he could be assured of eternal life. Jesus counseled the man to give everything he had to the poor and then follow Him. Of course, we know that the man sadly sulked away - unable to give up everything for Jesus. Giving is tough stuff! Fear, uncertainty, materialism, and a shortage of true faith in God´s promise hold us back.
What Jesus was trying to tell the rich man was that when we place our faith in earthly treasures, we are deprived of the opportunity to experience the true joy that comes from placing our complete faith in God. When we contemplate our giving, it is very difficult to follow Jesus definition of true generosity. We just can´t let go of our "riches."
There are many faith-filled people in our First Church family - many of modest means - who know the joy that comes with surrendering all to God. Their faith has brought them to a place where they no longer feel the need to hold back on their giving and hands-on service. This faith is what powers the wonderful ministries of First Church.
Stewardship is not a financial topic. As Jesus pointed out to the rich young ruler, giving is a question of faith. I firmly believe that if we work on our faith each and every day, then our fall stewardship campaign becomes a celebration of generous ministry - and not an exercise to provide for a budget. But we have to work at our faith year round…study, discussion, worship, service, prayer. If we can get our hearts in the right place, then there is no end to what we could do.
Let us not simply sulk away like the rich young ruler. Let us give generously, knowing that God will provide all that we need. We need not worry about the future such that it causes us to hold back from doing God´s work. Let us answer Jesus´ challenge to give with all that we have so that we all become faith-filled disciples through the ministries of First Church.
TRANSPORTATION NEED We have two people who would like a ride from Porter Hills (3600 East Fulton St) to the 11:00 am worship service on Sunday mornings and then back home. If you are able to help with this transportation need, please contact Marj Timmerman at 901-9224 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
MEALS NEEDED Meals are needed for Lynne Beals who is undergoing chemo. If you are able to help, please sign up at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/meals or contact Marj at 901.9224 or email@example.com.
BLOOD DRIVE Our next Blood Drive is Monday, March 24 from 3:00 - 7:00 pm in Wesley Hall. Michigan Blood is running a special promotion for March. Sign in to donate and you could win one of 4 prizes: 4 tickets to a Griffins game, 4 tickets to Celebration Cinema, 4 passes for the Children´s Museum or 4 passes to Meijer Gardens PLUS you may be saving someone´s life! Sign up for a time or to provide cookies by using the Sunday sign-up sheet or contact Marj at 451.2879 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ADULT SUNDAY CLASS: CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVES ON THE JUSTICE SYSTEM A class featuring speakers and videos. Classes are Sundays through March 23 at 9:30 am in room 3107, led by Ruth Chisnall. This class will attempt to give new understanding to the issues faced by the State of Michigan in making the justice system more equitable. Lynda Zeller will be our guest speaker on March 16. Lynda worked in medical care of inmates in prison for the State of Michigan and is now working in the mental health field to address the issues of prison being used as housing and treatment for citizens with mental health issues. We will have a Circle of Support guest on March 23. Please join us to find ways you may be able to help the justice system become more equitable.
MEN´S LENTEN BREAKFASTS 2014Why First Church Is My Church" Join us Friday mornings at 7:00 am in Wesley Hall. Breakfast each week will be prepared by our resident culinary artist, Jeff Gooder. We will sing together with Norm Bradley leading us and Pastor Bob will share a scripture and spend some time in prayer each week. Sign up using the Sunday bulletin insert or online at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/sign-up-sheet. The speakers are: • March 21 Dr. Iain Charnley – Iain is a physician who is involved in many ministries throughout the congregation, serving as Missions Chair, engaged in Young Adult Ministry, and sings in the choir. • March 28 Richard Johnson – Richard is a retired photography businessman who specialized in portraits. He developed a passion for outreach ministry and is on staff of First Church, leading our Work Program ministry. • April 4 Dr. Dale Williams – Dale is a retired physician who has developed an incredible foundation, Koinonia, which provides bright, safe, versatile solar-powered lanterns and panels to the developing world. • April 11 Ed Edwardson – spent his career in law enforcement administration and teaches at Grand Valley. Ed has been significantly involved in raising funds and developing the vision for the Ubuntu Center at Africa University. He will celebrate with us the role First Church played in this important ministry. • April 18 Dan Miller – will share with us on Good Friday morning. Dan is the Chair of the Leadership Council and was a leader in the ‘tower project.´ Dan is a financial planner and serves in management in his firm.
LENTEN STUDYFive Practices of Fruitful Congregations by Bishop Robert Schnase. You are invited to embark on a journey this Lent. The church has entered a new era. People are seeking spirituality, but not necessarily organized religion. How will the church respond? What will speak to the people of today? Robert Schnase tells us that people are searching for a church shaped and sustained by Radical Hospitality, Passionate Worship, Intentional Faith Development, Risk-Taking Mission and Service, and Extravagant Generosity. Let´s get talking about how we might use these practices to make disciples for Jesus today and into the future. Sign up online at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/sign-up-sheet
• Wednesday AM – March 5-April 9, 10:00-11:30 at Clark, with Dick Youells
• Sunday AM – March 9-April 13, 9:30-10:30 am at Church, with Amy Hinman
• Sunday PM – March 9-April 13, 5:00-6:30 pm at Church, with Pastor Bob
• Monday PM – March 10-April 14, 7:00-8:30 pm John & Marianne Warnock´s
• Tuesday PM – March 11-April 15, 7:00-8:20 pm at Allyson Cave´s Home
• Wednesday PM – March 12-April 9 (or 16), 6:30-8:00 pm at Church, with Laure Mieskowski
FIRST AID STATION
CHURCH ASSISTANCE PROGRAM Call the CAP Hotline at 455.6210. They will answer the phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and will set you up to meet with a trained counselor. The first two one-hour sessions will be at no charge to you by telling them you are a member or friend of First Church! So don´t wait any longer – call today!