Final words are always so difficult, and often banal, so I´ll keep mine brief. They are "Thanks, I Love You, and Good-bye."
First, "Thanks!" for your love poured out upon our family in so many ways. You are a church which has always cared for your pastors. Laurie and I will never forget the tradition of Monday night meals you provided enabling us to attend Monday meetings. Our children were so loved and supported here. You were willing to try this new thing called "Co-Pastors" and helped us grow into that role. You enabled us to have renewal leaves which refreshed our hearts and ministry. You helped us through the deaths of parents. So many of you encouraged us, spoke kindly to us, gave good counsel, gave needed hugs, saw us through heartbreaks, forgave us, lifted up our flagging spirits, were extravagantly gracious to us, and in so many ways embodied the love of Christ for us. To all of this I can only respond "Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
Second, I love you. To look into your faces on a Sunday morning, in a reception line or by chance meeting, is as Jacob said, "Like looking into the face of God." To look at you is to see a significant piece of my life. I feel like Paul writing to the church at Philippi, saying "Therefore, my brothers and sisters whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved!" You, also, are "my joy and crown... my beloved." Yes, stand firm in the Lord! For what is more important than the love of any pastor is to know, above all else, that God loves you.
The third word I speak is "Goodbye." Every face, every family brings a new and separate rush of emotion. We have experienced crisis, joy, victory, failure, growth, birth and death, marriage, baptisms, confirmations, prayer, healing, confession, forgiveness, learning – the list of what we have shared together goes on and on. The most profound experiences of life have been ours. How does one say "Goodbye" to those? Not easily; not well.
Come next Monday I´ll no longer be your pastor. I´ll no longer be able to perform weddings or funerals or baptisms here. That is as it should be as you´ll be under the leadership of a new pastor, Dr. Bob Hundley, and the continued pastoral care of Rev. Tish Bowman. As you did for Laurie and me and other pastors here, give Bob and Tish your love and full support. They are both very gifted and have the skills needed "for such a time as this." Do everything in your power to welcome Bob and Pigeon. They will be a great blessing for you!
Perhaps our saving grace just now is to remember that "Goodbye" is a consolidation of the older English greeting "God be with ye." That is the focus which will make a ‘good bye´ possible: God.
For me personally, these twenty years have been precious and amazing times. As a church we have known both grief and glory. Because of the complexity and uniqueness of our church, I have no way of evaluating whether I have succeeded or failed as a pastor. I´m sure it is both. But I am secure in myself that I have been faithful to my calling and faithful to the gospel I have heard. But, of course, I am not the only person God has called here. You are called here, too. Continue on in the course that is set before you!
I know this: God is here, and now is the time when God has called you to do something that matters. You are not alone. You are not even in control, but each of you have a part to do, and God will be revealed through what happens in your service in Jesus´ name. God wants to do something important here on the corner of Fulton and (one-way) Barclay and has gathered an amazing group of people here to get it done. Soon this little bump in the road we´ve called the Tower Project will be behind you, and the future will be bright with new challenges and possibilities. In the name of God, strive for them! Do great things! Life would not be worth living without great challenges and the new possibilities they bring.
And remember: you will always be my joy and my crown.
In Christ´s Love – Gary
P. S. – Remember: ONE SERVICE THIS SUNDAY AT 10 AM!
P. P. S. – We all owe Pat Hiler, Pastor-Parish Relations Chair, a debt of gratitude. She has overseen this transition, my farewell, and is handling all the details of welcoming Bob and Pigeon. Please show her your appreciation!
• June 14 -16 — Father/Child Camp
• June 15, 8:30 am — Feeding America Distribution
• June 15, 2:30 pm — International Trumpet Guild: Festival of Trumpets
• June 16, 10:00 am — Farewell Sunday for Gary Haller
• June 16, 11:00 am — Farewell Reception for Gary Haller
• June 17 — Church Building and Office Summer Hours Start
• June 17, 12:00 pm — 60+ Luncheon
• June 19 — Road Trip: Detroit Tigers
• June 19, 8:00 am — Caring Connection
• June 20, 9:00 am — Fixin’ ‘n’ Fellowship
• June 23, 11:00 am - 12:30 pm — Child Care Staff Brunch
• June 24-28 — Office Reorganization Week
• July 4 — Church and Offices Closed for Holiday
• July 11, 7:00 pm — Infertility Support Group
• July 13, 12:00 pm — Methodist Connection Picnic @ Johnson Park
• July 17, 8:00 am — Caring Connection
• July 20, 8:30 am — Feeding America Distribution
• July 21, 11:15 am — Summer Picnic/Rev. Bob Hundley Welcome
• August 5 - 8 — Arts Alive Camp: the Global Village
• August 5 - 8 — Junior High: Week of Giving
• August 16-18 — All-Church Camp at Lake Michigan UM Camp
• August 17, 8:30 am — Feeding America Distribution
• Infant Nursery — 0-23 months Room 107
• Toddler Nursery — age 2-young 3 Room 106
• One Room Schoolhouse — age 4-Grade 2 Room 202 (Dismissed from worship following Moments with the Children.)
Please contact Annette Erbes at 451.2879 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
JULY 4 First Church will be closed Thursday, July 4 in observance of Independence Day. First Place will be closed Thursday, July 4 and Friday, July 5 in observance of Independence Day.
YOUNG ADULTS: COOKOUT You´re invited to join us for a summer cookout on Wednesday, June 26! Bring a side dish or dessert to share and meet us at The Vine at 6:00 pm to carpool over to the zoo. If you´re running late, please call/text Sami to see which picnic area we are at (there are about 20 different spots, we´re not paying to reserve a space, just taking what´s open). Friends invited! Open to anyone ages 18-30.
CONSTRUCTION NEWS Barclay Avenue will be closed Monday - Friday during construction. Use John Street to gain access to the church and parking lots.
HOSPITALIZATIONS Are you or a family member hospitalized or having surgery? Due to strict hospital privacy rules, we won´t know unless you tell us! Each day of the week, pastoral care is covered by our parish nurse or one of our pastors who are happy to visit and pray with you before your surgery or during your hospital stay. If you don´t want your name mentioned in the Weekly Pulse or in Sunday services, please let us know. However, we would still like to visit and support you, even if it´s an outpatient procedure. Please contact Parish Nurse Marj Timmerman or Pastor Tish at 451.2879.
EQUALITY FOR ALL During a recent meal at the West Michigan Annual Conference, it was announced that 70 clergy members of the conference had signed on to a document indicating they are willing to officiate at a same sex marriage or civil union. It was also requested that laity sign the "Equality For All in Christian Marriage and Civil Unions" document in support of these clergy. Copies of the laity support document are available at the north lobby desk or you can sign online at email@example.com (West Michigan Micah 6:8 is the local chapter of the Methodist Federation for Social Action.)
SHOWING IN OUR FIRST CHURCH ART GALLERY through June is an exhibit by local artist, William Alexander. After a corporate stint in print and multi-media design, Bill launched his fine art career with entries into local and regional exhibitions and competitions. His work has now found success both publically and in private collections. Bill was an exhibitor in the FUMC 2012 ArtPrize gallery.
OUR NEXT SERMON SERIES is "Imagine the People of God." Beginning June 23 we will build a collage in worship and invite you to bring a small picture of your family (not to be returned, photo copy is acceptable). On June 30 we will enact our commitment to be the ‘people of God´ by bringing an offering of creative supplies for MLK. Items you might bring include: crayons, paint, paper, scissors, composition books, books of kids´ poetry (think Shel Silverstein), etc. Start your shopping early.
UMCOR: OKLAHOMA TORNADO RELIEF Giving to UMCOR through The Advance ensures that 100% of each donation goes directly to the need specified. Give online at www.umcor.org to advance #901670 Disaster Response United States.
ONE 10:00 AM WORSHIP SERVICE: SUNDAY, June 16 This Sunday there will be one worship service at 10:00 am. There will be no 8:30 am service. We will be saying farewell and celebrating the ministry of Rev. Gary Haller with a reception following the service.
NASHVILLE ROAD TRIP Join us in Nashville, Tennessee in October! This trip includes a guided bus tour of Nashville, a lunch cruise with entertainment on the General Jackson Showboat, a back stage tour of the Grand Ole Opry, as well as a 7:00 pm performance at the Grand Ole Opry! We should see lots of beautiful fall colors, too. The dates are October 10-12. A $100 deposit is needed to confirm your reservation. All itinerary and reservation forms are in the literature rack in the north lobby or online at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/road-trips.
SUMMER OFFICE HOURS BEGIN, JUNE 17 Don´t forget to mark your calendar! Church Building Hours
Monday: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Tuesday: 9:00 am - 9:00 pm
Wednesday: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Thursday: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Friday: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm First Place Hours
Monday: 8:00 am - 4:00 pm
Tuesday: 8:00 am - 4:00 pm
Wednesday: 8:00 am - 4:00 pm
Thursday: 8:00 am - 4:00 pm
Friday: 8:00 am - 12:00 pm
OFFICE REORGANIZATION WEEK will take place June 24 - 28. During that time the First Place office will be closed to the public; there will be a receptionist at the north lobby desk from 9:00 am - 4:00 pm Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday and 9:00 am - 9:00 pm on Tuesday.
ARTS ALIVE CAMP: THE GLOBAL VILLAGE August 5 – 8 from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm Invite the children in your neighborhood to register now for Arts Alive Camp. They will learn how children around the world are affected by the gift of a Heifer Project animal and experience other cultures through stories, art, dance, song, drumming, and play. Our week will culminate on Thursday with a field trip to Heifer Global Village at Howell Nature Center in Howell, Michigan. Camp is for children entering 1st – 6th grade in the fall of 2013. Early Bird Rate: $45 if registered by July 8; $55 after July 8. Fee provides lunch and snacks each day, t-shirt, reusable water bottle, entrance fee and transportation to Howell Nature Center. Additional costs are underwritten by First United Methodist Church. For more information or scholarship information contact Camp Registrar, Laure Mieskowski at 616.451.2879 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Send registration forms to the church office or register at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/arts-alive-camp. Space is limited. Register Today!
METHODIST CONNECTION SUMMER PICNIC Everyone is invited to attend The Methodist Connection Summer Picnic which will take place at Johnson Park on Saturday, July 13 at noon. If you haven´t experienced the Methodist Connection, put a toe in the water and come to the picnic! Meat provided, bring a dish to pass.
THE ARDATH WILTSE MUSIC SCHOLARSHIP is available for those who wish to enhance their music training by attending a summer music camp or plan to focus on a college major or minor in music. Please contact Sharon Sorensen at email@example.com or 451-2879, ext. 124 to obtain an application. Applications will be accepted through June 15.
SUMMER NEWSLETTER SCHEDULE: During the summer months the Weekly Pulse will be mailed out on an alternating schedule. Please remember to submit your Weekly Pulse articles by the prior Thursday: Weekly Pulse schedule
• June 25, submission deadline June 20
• July 9, submission deadline July 3
• July 23, submission deadline July 18
• August 6, submission deadline August 1
• August 20, submission deadline August 15
• September 3, submission deadline August 29
YOUNG ADULTS: EVENING AT MILLENIUM PARK BEACH Young Adults (ages 18-30), let"s go to the beach on Wednesday, June 12!!! Pack a sack supper and join us for a relaxing evening splashing in the water at Millennium Park. Cost is $4. Meet at The Vine at 5:30 pm to carpool or at the beach at 6:00 pm. Beach address: 1415 Maynard Ave SW Walker, MI 49534. Note: If it rains, we"ll have a game night in The Vine.
FESTIVAL OF TRUMPETS Saturday, June 15 at 2:30 pm. Tickets available at the door. A final event in the International Trumpet Guild National Convention.
ANNUAL LAKE MICHIGAN CAMP CLASSIC The Lake Michigan Camp Classic will take place on Saturday, June 15 at Cedar Chase Golf Club (7551 17 Mile Road NE, Cedar Springs). Registration begins at 7:30 am with shotgun start at 8:30 am. This is a 4-person scramble, $75 per player (includes golf, range balls, and dinner). For more information or to register, please contact Brian Michael at 616.893.2150 or Brian.Michael@kentwoodps.org. All proceeds will go to Lake Michigan UM Youth Camps.
60+ LUNCHEON is Monday, June 17 at noon. There will be an Iraq War Veteran Rehab video presentation. Please call Elaine Youngs at 735.5506 or Luci Baer at 457.7797 if you would like to make a reservation.
CARING CONNECTION The next meeting is on Wednesday, June 19 at 8:00 am at New Beginnings Restaurant (1455 Michigan St NE). We welcome anyone who would like to participate in caring for our homebound with phone calls, note-writing, and visits.
JUNIOR HIGH: WEEK OF GIVING Are you entering 7th, 8th or 9th grade? Are you willing to give one week this summer? Join the Jr. High youth this summer for a Week of Giving August 5 - 8! YOUR RESERVATION AND $25 IS DUE BY JUNE 16TH. During Arts Alive Camp, the Jr. High youth will team up to do mission work around the city. We will be working with Westminster Food Pantry, Kids" Food Basket, and Arts Alive Camp. We will also tag along on a day trip to Heifer International in Howell, to learn more about their program. The cost for this Week of Giving is $75. For more information or to sign up visit www.grandrapidsfumc.org/JH-Week-of-giving. Scholarship assistance is available. Contact Emily Uebbing at 855-6247 or firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
UNITED METHODIST WOMEN ANNUAL MEMORIAL SERVICE will be held on Wednesday at 2:00 pm on June 19 at Clark Retirement Community. A Prayer and Self-Denial Program, and a video, "Hidden in Plain Sight," will be presented. All women of the church are invited.
WORLD REFUGEE DAY Each year on June 20, countless people celebrate World Refugee Day. Will you join us in this ministry of welcome by: praying for refugees and displaced people, co-sponsoring a refugee family, donating to CWS refugee assistance, volunteering with newly arrived refugee families, and advocate for immigration reform? To find out more about welcoming refugees in your community, contact Joya Colon-Berezin at email@example.com or, for more information, visit cwsglobal.org/refugeeaction.
Concerns & Prayers for:
• Donna Anton
• Norman Bradley
• Rev. Charles Fry
• Octavious Smedley (outpatient surgery 6/14)
• Chris Bolhouse
• Scott Grifhorst
• Stephan Mathos
• Jesse Mounts
• Trevor Norton
• Shawn Seher
• Peter Taylor, Jr
Congratulations to Tyler VanWingen and Michele Venegas who were united in marriage on June 8th in our sanctuary.
My sincere thanks to the First United Methodist Church staff and membership for your expressions of concern and care during my recent hospital stay. Your thoughts and prayers have, in no small way, contributed to my recovery. God bless you all.
With my love, Don Far
Thank you so much for the lovely reception on the occasion of my retirement from the FUMC staff. Your kind words and good wishes for the future were deeply appreciated. It has been a pleasure to serve on the music and arts ministry team, working with so many gifted people. Steve and I look forward to many more years of participation at FUMC as we minister together with you in the name of Christ.
FEEDING AMERICA Join us Saturday, June 15 for the monthly food distribution at Cesar Chavez Elementary (1205 Grandville St. SW 49503). The truck arrives at 8:30 am for set-up, and the distribution begins at 9:00 am. First UMC is responsible for this month, so we need volunteers to help unload the truck and to assist clients in selecting food. Please use the sign-up sheet if you can help.
SR. HIGH AND ADULT HELPERS NEEDED FOR ARTS ALIVE: THE GLOBAL VILLAGE Many hands are needed to make Arts Alive Camp an enriching experience for our elementary students this summer. Assist the art teacher or help with instrument making! Engage children in the week"s activities as a group shepherd! If you are a student completing ninth grade or above or an adult and can offer to assist all week or even for half a day the week of August 5-8, we would welcome your help. See the sign-up sheet for opportunities to serve or www.grand rapidsfumc.org/sign-up-sheet. Contact Annette Erbes at 451-2879 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
HELP TP THE PANTRY Each week the Westminster Food Pantry serves numerous households with many different needs, including toilet paper, which cannot be purchased with food stamps. For the month of June, The Social Concerns Committee would like to invite you to help us TP the pantry. When you go to the store this week to purchase toilet paper, we ask that you pick up an extra package. Donations may be dropped off in the north lobby donation area. Thank you for helping us help our neighbors in need.
MIDWEST MISSION DISTRIBUTION CENTER IN CHATHAM, ILLINOIS First Church and Genesis UMC will participate in a joint trip to the Midwest Mission Distribution Center on August 23 – 25, 2013. We will learn more about MMDC and volunteer in the UMCOR distribution center. Cost is $50 per person. Scholarship money is available. We will stay in a dorm and prepare our own meals. Dorm space is limited. RV hookup is available if you prefer that option. This trip is open to adults and families (children must be age 11 or older). For more information, or to register for this trip, contact Laure Mieskowski, 451-2879 or email@example.com. You may also indicate your interest by signing up via the Sunday bulletin insert.
WOMEN OF FIRST: NAMESAKE is a six-week Bible study that explores the transformational power of God through the stories of biblical characters who met God and whose lives and names were changed forever. Join us in Wesley Hall on Tuesdays from 7:00 - 8:30 pm. Books are available for pick-up in the north lobby for $10.00 each. Come to the first session with chapter one complete.
• June 11: Abraham & Sarah – Led by Pastor Tish Bowman
• June 25: Jacob – Led by Jess Deboni
• July 9: Naomi – Led by Laure Mieskowski
• July 23: Daniel – Led by Pigeon Hundley
• August 6: Peter – Led by Megan Taylor
• August 20: Unnamed – Led by Pat Hiler
STEPHEN MINISTRY The best thing about Stephen Ministry is the group of Stephen Ministers. I hear and feel so much caring and love from this group. They are compassionate and Christ-centered doing the work that they love to do. I am proud and grateful to be part of this group. Also, my faith has grown since I have become a Stephen Minister. Through the extensive training, self evaluation and prayer, I find myself more centered and thoughtful and taking the time to listen. I feel I will continue to grow as I work through this ministry. — Fae Ewalt
Have you been thinking of being a part of this caring ministry? We are planning another training class for this fall. Contact Marj Timmerman for further information at 901.9224 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We are blessed to be a blessing to others!
FIRST AID STATION
FOCUS! Sometimes life can be too much and you can lose focus on what is important. Let your Church Assistance Program (CAP) help make things clearer! Call your CAP hotline at 455-6210. Tell them you are a member or friend of First Church and you will receive 2 one-hour meetings with a counselor at no charge. Don"t wait, call today!