When I met Dr. Karl Stegall he was Senior Minister of First UMC in Montgomery, Alabama. Dr. Stegall tells of going back home to speak at the annual meeting of the Sumter County Historical Society. The meeting was held as part of a worship service at the Bethel Presbyterian Church, just a few miles from where he was born. He writes "It was a grand occasion, and I had the opportunity to renew old friendships and make new friends. However, there were several things very striking about that particular service of worship that caught my attention. There were no offering envelopes, no offering plates, no pledge cards, no building indebtedness, no operating expenses, and no offering. The reason is very simple. The church is dead! It is now closed, and today if you travel along Highway 17 in West Alabama, you will see a historical marker giving directions to that church."
Asking for the significant financial commitments required for a building campaign is never easy. But it´s necessary in order to maintain excellent facilities. Consider the alternative! The church that never needs to ask for money, and doesn´t care for its building, is likely a church that is dead.
One would imagine that removing an architectural feature such as our tower would find the greatest resistance among the families with the longest history with First Church. We have experienced just the opposite. Betsy Mathiesen, whose family has been in the church for generations, enthusiastically volunteered to help with this significant project. And Betsy asked that we publish this letter:
Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, Jericho and the walls came tumbling down. Many centuries later, First Church is faced with a similar problem, however, the church has not been surrounded by a mighty army. Our foe, today, is Mother Nature and the lack of a heating system in the tower and as a result, the tower is crumbling down!
By a large majority, members present at the Church Conference voted for the alternate plan to repair the Tower. Therefore, the current Tower must come down and be rebuilt following the roof line of the church´s present roof. The Campaign Committee is asking the congregation to support the Board of Trustees, the Lay Leadership and the Conference Meeting and make a large initial gift and commit to a three year pledge to underwrite this more than one million dollar project.
Think of the campaign as the three R´s – remodeling, by reconstructing and restoring our church to a beautiful condition. It will be a sacrifice, for many, but well worth our dollars and with pride, we will be able to say that we accepted the challenge, fought and won the battle.
With much thought and prayer, I, too, have accepted the challenge and have made a pledge to this very necessary and worthwhile project. I know as loyal members of First Church, that you too, will want to support the Tower Project.
– Betsy Mathiesen, Campaign Committee
Three-year pledges will be absolutely essential. The success of the campaign, however, will depend on initial gifts made on Sunday, May 12, or completed in the month following. Such gifts will enable us to keep our borrowing to a minimum. The way to make such gifts is not limited to cash. The possibilities include insurance policies, IRAs, stocks, bonds, stamps, houses, cars, etc. Dan Miller, Campaign Chair, and Rev. Wayne Barrett, who has helped so many people in his work with the United Methodist Foundation of Michigan, can help you find ways to give which would be beneficial to you. Consult your financial advisor as well!
• April 3, 7:00 pm — Taizé Sung Prayers
• April 9, 7:00 pm — Infertility Support Group
• April 10, 12:00 pm — Sweetheart Luncheon
• April 11, 5:30 pm — Moms Group: Pancakes and Pj´s
• April 15, 12:00 pm — 60+ Luncheon
• April 17, 8:00 am — Caring Connection
• April 20, 6:00 pm — Jazz Vespers: The Randy Marsh Trio
• April 20, 9:00 am - 3:00 pm — 2nd Best Sale
• April 21, 10:15 am — Tower Campaign Informational Coffee
• April 21, 3:00 pm — Words of Albert Schweitzer/Music of Bach
• May 1, 7:00 pm — Taizé Sung Prayers
• May 7, 7:00 pm — Infertility Support Group
• May 15, 8:00 am — Caring Connection
• May 18, 6:00 pm — Jazz Vespers: Tyler VanderMaas Sax Quartet
• May 20, 12:00 pm — 60+ Luncheon
• May 26, 8:30 and 10:00 am — Summer Worship Begins
• May 27 — Church and Offices Closed for Holiday
• June 4, 7:00 pm — Infertility Support Group
• June 10, 3:00 - 7:00 pm — Blood Drive
• June 14 -16 — Father/Child Camp
• June 16 — Farewell Sunday for Gary Haller
• June 17, 12:00 pm — 60+ Luncheon
• June 19, 8:00 am — Caring Connection
• July 2, 7:00 pm — Infertility Support Group
• July 4 — Church and Offices Closed for Holiday
• July 21, 11:15 am — Summer Picnic and Welcome
• Infant Nursery — 0-23 months Room 107
• Toddler Nursery — age 2-young 3 Room 205
• Children & Worship — older 3s (potty trained) – K Room 204/201
• Faith Travelers — 1-6th grade 3rd floor Church Bldg (Faith Travelers begin in worship with their parents. Following Moments with the Children, they are dismissed to class. Children of all ages are welcome to remain in worship if their families so desire.) 9:30 AM
• Junior High — 7-8th grade The Vine South (First Place Bldg)
• Senior High — 9-12th grade The Vine North (First Place Bldg) 10:25 AM
• Faith Travelers´ Choir — 1-6th grade 3rd floor Church Bldg 11:00 AM
• Infant Nursery — 0-23 months Room 107
• Toddler Nursery — age 2-young 3 Room 205
• Children & Worship — older 3s (potty trained) – K Room 204/201
• Junior Church — 1-2nd grade Room 202 (Children in Junior Church begin in worship with their parents. Following Moments with the Children, they are dismissed to class. Children of all ages are welcome to remain in worship if their families so desire.)
2013 HUNGER WALK How would you answer these questions? Have you ever been bitten by a mosquito? Do you wear eyeglasses? Did you have plans for lunch today? Are you a mother? Seems like we answered "yes" to at least one of these. That leads us to that time of the year for the annual Hunger Walk sponsored by the Access Food Pantry Network. This is the 35th year of the Hunger Walk on Saturday May 4th, 2013. The Walk is a 5K stroll through the SE section of Grand Rapids and we encourage families, groups of friends of all ages to walk, as well as individuals. Thousands of walkers from area churches and organizations will walk. Did you know that this Walk supports not only in distributing food in this county, but also purchases mosquito nets, potable water, beehives, safe birthing kits, and school lunches worldwide as well as giving food to the needy in Kent County?
Did we say Beehives? Yes, beeswax is rich in Vitamin A and one of the ways the Hunger Walk assists on other continents is to provide a chewable food (beeswax) for children who suffer visual problems. In mosquito infested areas, more than 61,000 people have been protected with mosquito nets as a result of the Walk. Also over 1,620,000 lunches for school age children have been provided in refugee camps on the Burmese-Thai border from these monies. Another way the money has been used is through medical care in the form of "Safe Birthing Kits" for young mothers.
That describes the use of funds given to four Church World Services agencies. Here in Kent County where the largest percentage of money stays, there are 19 participating agencies that receive funds as a result of the Hunger Walk and serve more than 10,000 food services to individuals each month.
Here is how you can help. Sign up as a walker, an online solicitor, or give a donation to a walker. Registration will be in Wesley Hall on all Sundays after Easter (except April 14 in the parlor) either before or after all services. ´Non walking´ volunteers are also needed to assist on the day of the Walk. See the sign-up table for more information or visit www.accessofwestmichigan.org to create your own online team for Grand Rapids First UMC.
Use the website to solicit donations online from your home or get the guideline sheet at the sign-up table. You need not walk in order to do this. Personal donations, however, are still an important part of the Hunger Walk. A free tee shirt is given for those who solicit online, as well as to all walkers on the day of the walk.
The ACCESS Hunger Walk is an integral tool in our congregational outreach. In the past 16 years we have averaged $3,560 in donations per year. For the past 5 years our average collection was $6,941. Our goal is to reach that $10,000 plateau. No congregation has done that yet. We would love to be first. Help us reach that goal. The Hunger Walk is a mission of the Social Concerns Commission of First UMC.
ANNUAL SWEETHEART LUNCHEON will be held on Wednesday, April 10 at 12:00 pm in Wesley Hall. All women of the church age 65 and over are welcome to attend this event sponsored by the Legacy Ministry. This year´s entertainment is provided by Dale and Gail Ziegler and their "Keyboard Kapers." For reservations, use the Sunday sign-up sheet or contact Sharon Sorensen at 451.2879 or email@example.com.
THREE UPCOMING ROAD TRIPS Join us on Wednesday, June 19 for a Detroit Tigers game at Comerica Park in Detroit! Our tickets are lower baseline box seats so we can watch the Tigers beat the Baltimore Orioles from a great vantage point! Join us on Thursday, July 11 for a Road Trip to Chicago! We´ll take a 90-minute narrated boat tour and learn about the architecture and history of Chicago from this new vantage point. After lunch, we´ll see the fabulous world premiere of "The Jungle Book," a musical at the Goodman Theatre. 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 and 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.
COMPRENEW RECYCLING Thank you to everyone who dropped off their electronics. We collected 5,780 pounds of recyclables and received $115.60 for First Church.
BLOOD DRIVE FOLLOW-UP A big thank you to everyone who made the March 25 blood drive the best one we have held since November of 2009! Congratulations to Melanie Hook, Richard Johnson and Peg Terkeurst who earned their 3 gallon pins and to Suzy Wood who earned her 5 gallon pin! Thanks to our brave first-time donors, Lori Curley, Karen Knight and Doug Wright, as well as all the blood donors, cookie bakers and beverage providers. Your gifts of life will help so many people! Mark your calendars now for our next blood drive which will be held Monday, June 10.
WORDS OF ALBERT SCHWEITZER AND THE MUSIC OF BACH - A Multimedia Musical Dramatization by Thurston MooreJoin us on Sunday, April 21 at 3:00 pm. The remarkable Albert Schweitzer was a rare and gifted individual with immense creativity. Premiered in 1995, this dramatization has helped to keep the legacy of Schweitzer alive and to preserve the glorious music of Bach. The poignant text, fine choice of repertoire, and beautiful slides will create a beautiful effect along with the fine Möller-Buck organ at First Church. This production brings cultural and spiritual enrichment to all who see it.
THE FUMC BOOK CLUB will meet at 6:00 pm on Wednesday April 10 at Pearl Street Grill (310 Pearl Street, inside the Holiday Inn Downtown.) We will be discussing Doc by Mary Doria Russell. "With few job prospects, Doc Holliday is gambling professionally with his partner, Mária Katarina Harony.... The couple hits the saloons of Dodge City, and that is where the unlikely friendship of Doc Holliday and a fearless lawman named Wyatt Earp begins— before the gunfight at the O.K. Corral links their names forever in American frontier mythology..." (barnesandnoble.com) Join us for dinner and discussion. RSVP to Marlys Davis at 735.3339 or firstname.lastname@example.org by noon on Tuesday, April 9.
NORTH END COMMUNITY MINISTRY ANNUAL DINNER AND AUCTION is Saturday, April 27 at Sunshine Community Church on East Beltline. Silent Auction and Appetizers begin at 5 pm, Dinner at 6 pm. Contact Laura or Linda at NECM, 616-454-1097 or email@example.com for more information.
FUMC GALLERY Showing in our First Church Art Gallery from March 20 – April 30 is an exhibit by local watercolor artist, Barb Thorne. A frequent participant in the FUMC Celebration of the Arts, Barb has most recently exhibited at Schuler Bookstore.
FATHER/CHILD CAMP Attention dads (grandpas and uncles, too)! A great Michigan summer is nearly upon us, and what better way to kick it off than spending Father´s Day weekend (June 14-16) at Lake Michigan United Methodist Camp in Pentwater! Picture you and your kids sitting around a campfire, running up and down the beach, hiking the many trails, watching beautiful sunsets, even taking a refreshing dip in Lake Michigan! All while spending time with God and some of your church family! Platform tents, as well as spots for your own tents and campers, are available. Site rental is $28 per night. Food is $20 for Dad and $15 per child with a max amount of $50 per family. Please contact Jason Smith at 262.7151 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure to ask about the buy one, get one night free offer for first timers!
MOMS GROUP: PANCAKES & PJS NIGHT Join us on Thursday, April 11 at 5:30 pm. Put the little ones in their pjs and meet us at church for a dinner time breakfast! We´ll provide the pancakes and stories. Dads invited, too. Please sign up to bring a topping. Please rsvp to Marj at email@example.com.
NEW MAGNETIC NAME TAGS We are committed to being a welcoming congregation. Name tags are a great way to welcome guests, create community, AND to help our new pastor and his wife, Bob and Pigeon Hundley, get to know us. The church staff has been wearing new magnetic name tags. This type of name tag will be available to all active church members and attendees (including confirmed children) beginning in May. Name tags will also be printed for younger children upon request. Names will be printed as they are listed in the current church directory unless a nickname or abbreviated name is requested. If you cannot wear a magnetic name tag due to health concerns (such as a pacemaker) we will provide an alternative name tag. If able, we request a $5 per name tag donation ($20 max per family), however a donation is not required to receive a new name tag. Please use the Sunday bulletin sign-up sheet, church website, or contact Patsy McGillivray at firstname.lastname@example.org, to give us any of the following information: alternative spelling of name, name tags for children, non-magnetic name tag.
TOWER COFFEE Join us Sunday, April 21 after 9:15 am worship in the parlor for the Tower Campaign Informational Coffee.
LET´S GET PERSONAL! During the month of April the Social Concerns Committee will be collecting personal care items to help stock the shelves of Westminster Food Pantry. Many of the things we take for granted are unavailable to low-income families because they are not covered by food stamps. Here´s a way we can help ease the problem. Why not pledge that each time you go to your favorite market, you will pick up one or more of the following items to donate to the pantry: bar bath soap, body wash. Donations may be dropped off in the collection bin in the north lobby office. Your ongoing support of the Westminster Food Pantry is an essential part of helping area families in need.
GOT STUFF? It´s time to de-clutter to support First Church missions. The annual 2nd Best Sale is Saturday, April 20. Ask your friends and neighbors for excess stuff that other people can really use. Clothes on hangers would be appreciated, and other items in good repair. See the sign-up sheet for ways you can help! Drop-offs in the north lobby of the church begin on Sunday, April 14 from 12:00 to 2:30 pm and again from 5:00 - 7:30 pm. Contact Jane Lovett at email@example.com or 458.4504 with questions or if you need help in picking up your larger donations.
ADULT SUNDAY CLASS: PRAYER & DEVOTIONAL LIFE OF UNITED METHODISTS by Steve Harper - This series challenges United Methodists to engage in life-transforming practices. The theme is explained and underscores major emphases within the United Methodist denomination. This adult study will last four weeks. Begins Sunday, April 7 - 28 at 9:30 am in room 3108. Led by Dorothy Blakey.
ADULT SUNDAY CLASS: UNITED METHODIST SOCIAL PRINCIPLES - Begins Sundays, April 21 at 9:30 am in room 3109 for 7 weeks excluding Memorial Day weekend. Led by Dick Youells and Darren McKnight
ADULT SUNDAY CLASS: NOOMA A two- week drop-in series featuring Rob Bell´s Nooma videos. The class will be video- and discussion-based. Classes are Sunday, May 5 and 12 at 9:30 am in the parlor. Led by Jeff Rowe.
YOUNG ADULTS: DINNER & SPARKS SERVICE What is Sparks? A casual worship service for college students and young professionals (ages 18-30) that sparks faith, conversation, and friendship. Dinner will begin at 6:00 pm and worship will begin at 7:00 pm on Wednesday, April 10. Friends and new folks invited!
LET´S JOIN HANDS AND HELP THE THE MLK FITNESS TRACK ~ MAKING A DIFFERENCE ONE STEP AT A TIME ~ Have you ever considered who made a difference in your life to help you become who you are today? A wonderful way to remember and recognize special people in your life is to make a contribution in honor of that significant individual to the MLK Fitness Track. Simply complete a donation card listing that person to be honored and we will include that information in our book which will commemorate this project. You can in turn make a difference in the life of a child at MLK!
PARENTS AND YOUTH Spring sign-ups for serving in children´s church school are ready on Doodle! Go to www.grandrapidsfumc.org/volunteers to sign up to serve in the Infant or Toddler Nurseries and Children & Worship classrooms! Thank you for supporting our church school.
FIRST AID STATION
STRESS Do you feel more stress than you think you can handle? Is it affecting your quality of life? Call your CAP (Church Assistance Program) Hotline at 455-6210. By saying you are a member of First Church, you will be able to receive two confidential one-hour visits with a social worker at no charge. Don´t wait, call CAP today!
INFERTILITY SUPPORT GROUP You are not alone! All who have experienced any form of infertility, including the inability to get pregnant, a miscarriage, fertility procedures, and secondary infertility are welcome. Our next meeting is Tuesday April 9 at 7:00 pm in The Vine. Contact Marj Timmerman at 901-9224 with any questions.