First, keep reading until you reach the challenge at the end of this article! Second, my thanks to everyone who made the special effort to attend Monday evening’s 2012 Church Conference. District Superintendent Bill Haggard was impressed with the number of people who attended – well over one hundred. Several people skipped or cancelled other meetings in order to be present. I am grateful to everyone who made that sacrifice in order to attend, to speak, and to vote.
After our normal Church Conference business was completed – pastors’ salaries, Nominations report, Membership report – Bob Gillette, Trustees Chair, reported on the choices for the needed replacement of the tower. Karen Lott, Leadership Council Chair, presented two options to the Church Conference – either the full rebuild (costing at least $2 million) or the new design intermediate option (costing at least $1 million) – and brought the Leadership Council recommendation for the new design.
This was not an easy choice. It may well have been the most difficult decision we have faced in the past twenty years because it pitted the worthy value of historical preservation against the desire to be good stewards of our financial resources. I was pleased with the respectful nature of the discussion and the passion of those who spoke. Clearly, there are sound cases to be made for both choices. In the end, a written ballot was taken and the "new design" option was selected by a vote of better than 3 to 1. My deep gratitude to the Trustees for their diligence, attention to the intricacies of this project, and the intense work they have done on our behalf.
Superintendent Bill Haggard left with a "Do All the Good You Can" stewardship travel mug, a Lot Party "Alive in the City" T-shirt, and a little wooden replica of First Church. I think, however, that his most memorable souvenir was a piece of rock that had fallen off our tower.
I encourage you to pick up a copy of the 2012 Annual Report Book. Click here to download the 2012 Annual Report. I’m humbled by the ministry accomplished by our staff, lay leadership, and volunteers. Last week I received an email from a member. It read, "Wow!! It was kind of a slow day at work so I read through most of the Annual Report... and I have to say, pretty impressive!! Everyone who contributed should be commended for their good work – we are blessed to have a lot of very talented people that give so much of themselves for First Church... Please tell everyone involved what an awesome job they are doing. We are truly blessed." That really says it all!
With the Church Conference behind us, I have a ministry challenge for you. I encourage you to make a generous Christmas contribution to Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON), which does legal immigration work on our behalf. Consider this to be a Christmas gift for Jesus Christ who was himself a refugee as an infant. Mike Slaughter, pastor of the large and fast-growing Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church, wrote the book Christmas Is Not Your Birthday. In it he challenged his congregation to give as much to a church mission project as they spent on themselves at Christmas. One man put a $15,000 check down on Slaughter’s desk to match what he’d spent on a family cruise because his conscience and his daughter were bothering him so.
I dare you to do this. I double-dog dare you. Do what you can. After all, whom are we honoring at Christmas? We say we are celebrating the birth of Christ: all right, let’s really give a gift for Christ this year. Cut through the Christmas commercialism and hype. Make your check out to the church and include a clear notation that your contribution is for JFON. You may give electronically through our website. If you use our Alternative Christmas Gifts form, we’ll even create and send Christmas cards describing JFON to your friends and family.
We’re going to take care of the bricks-and-mortar in a responsible way. Now, let’s do a little ministry. Give as much for JFON (or another ministry, if you wish) as you spend on yourself and your family this Christmas! Do it for Christ’s sake.
• December 5, 6:00 pm — Young Adult Christmas Party
• December 5, 7:00 pm — Taizé Sung Prayers
• December 6, 5:30 pm — Moms´ Group Christmas Craft Night
• December 9 — Coffee Can Offering
• December 9, 6:30 pm — Annual Christmas Concert: "Service of Lessons and Carols"
• December 12, 6:00 pm — Young Adult Dinner and Casual Worship
• December 15, 6:00 pm — Jazz Lessons and Carols: MacNaughton Blvd
• December 16, 12:15pm — All-Church Lunch and Caroling
• December 17, 12:00 pm — 60+ Luncheon
• December 19, 8:00 am — Caring Connection
• December 24, 8:00 am — Casey´s Breakfast
• December 24, 5:00 pm — Young Families Christmas Eve Service
• December 24, 7:00 and 9:00 pm — Traditional Candlelight Communion Christmas Eve Service
• December 25-26 — Church Building and Offices Closed
• December 30, 10:00 am — One Sunday Worship Service
• December 31 - January 1 — Church Building and Offices Closed
• January 9, 7:00 pm — Taizé Sung Prayer Service
CHILDREN´S PROGRAMMING Please contact Annette Erbes, Director of Children's Ministry, at 451.2879 (Monday-Wednesday) or email@example.com with questions.
FAITH TRAVELERS EXPERIENCE CHRISTMAS AROUND THE WORLD! Faith Traveler students (Grades 1-6) are celebrating the season of Advent by learning how other countries welcome and prepare for the coming of the Christ Child with our rotation unit Christmas Around the World. Children are dismissed to Faith Travelers at 9:30 am following the Moments with Children during the first worship service. During the month of December the regular Faith Travelers class time is extended from 9:30 – 10:50 am so that all students may learn and prepare several Christmas carols to share in both worship services on Sunday, December 23. Coffee is provided for parents on the third floor on Sundays, December 9 and 16 from 10:30 - 10:50 am courtesy of the Children’s Council. We are excited to experience the presence of Immanuel, "God with Us," with Faith Travelers during this Advent season.
BABY SHOWER FOR JESUS—DECEMBER 23 To celebrate the birth of baby Jesus, Faith Travelers are invited to bring a new shower gift for Baby Jesus to place at the manger when they come forward to sing in worship on Sunday, December 23. Baby items will be donated to Westminster Food Pantry and shared with young families in need. Suggested baby shower gift items include: formula, disposable diapers, hats, socks, baby food, wipes, bottles, and baby outfits. Thank you for your generous gifts!
JOURNEY ALONG THE ROAD TO BETHLEHEM in Junior Church(grades 1-2) on Sundays, December 9, 16, and 23 at 11:00 am following Moments with the Children. During the Advent season, first and second graders have an opportunity to journey to Bethlehem! The 11:00 am Junior Church class will:
• Traveling to Mary’s house
• Visiting Joseph’s carpentry shop
• Meeting Elizabeth in her home
• Participating in shepherd’s training
Children will engage in hands-on activities as they experience the Christmas story first hand. First and second graders are invited to journey to Bethlehem following the Moments with Children during the 11:00 am worship service.
SUNDAY MORNING CHILDREN AND YOUTH CLASS SCHEDULE 9:15 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
• 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 (1st floor of First Place bldg.)
• Senior High — 9-12th grade — The Vine North (1st floor of 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 withthe Children, they are dismissed to class. Children of all ages are welcome to remain in worship if their families so desire.)
**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.**
PRAYER QUILTING CANCELLATION Prayer quilters will not meet on Thursday, December 6. Our next meeting will be on Thursday, January 3 in Wesley Hall from 9:00 until 12:00.
ALTERNATIVE CHRISTMAS GIVING Give a meaningful gift that truly is in the spirit of Christ by giving an “Alternative Christmas Gift.” For each person you designate, we will send a beautiful Christmas card acknowledging your gift and describing the cause you’ve chosen. What better way to honor Christ and to give to those you love? You may give online at: www.grandrapidsfumc.org/alternative_christmas_giving or download a form here.
SECOND SUNDAY LUNCH BUNCH will meet Sunday, December 9 after the 11:00 am service for lunch at New Beginnings Restaurant (1455 Michigan St NE). Because we reserve space there, please let us know you are planning to join us by calling Sherry Gates at 942.8527 by Saturday, December 8.
CHRISTMAS EVE INVITE CARDS are available in the north lobby and narthex. Invite a friend to one of these services!
YOUNG ADULTS CHRISTMAS SPARKS Are you a young adult (age 18-30) who is looking to connect with other young adults? Then join us Wednesday, December 12 at 6:00 pm for our Christmas Sparks Service in The Vine! We’ll begin with dinner and have a time of casual worship together. Friends invited!
HOLIDAY HOURS The church building and First Place office building will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday, December 25 and 26 for Christmas and Monday, December 31 and Tuesday, January 1 for the New Year.
FAMILY PROMISE FUMC will be hosting Family Promise the week of January 6 - 13. During this time members of our congregation provide homeless families with basic human needs - shelter, safety, and sustenance. 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. Please give a few hours of your time. You may volunteer by using the Sunday bulletin insert or on-line at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/sign-up-sheet.
SCRAPBOOKING/PAPER CRAFT MARATHON Our next scrapbooking/crafting event will be Friday, December 28 and Saturday, December 29. We’d love to have you join us! Please contact Patsy McGillivray at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
CHRISTMAS COOKIE BAKERS NEEDED The halls of MLK are abuzz with Christmas excitement and our preK-8th graders are eagerly awaiting their holiday parties. We are in need of cookie bakers of all ages to meet in the kitchen of FUMC on Thursday, December 20. Baking and cookie decorating will start at noon and finish up about 2:00 pm. Feel free to bring along some holiday sprinkles for decorating. What a fun way to support our partnership with MLK and to get together with church friends too! Please use the Sunday sign-up or call the Tutoring Center (819-1745) to let us know we can count on you!
CHRISTMAS CAROLING Share the songs of the season with our homebound, hospitalized, those recovering from surgery or an illness, and our senior members on Sunday, December 16. Join us at noon for lunch before dividing into groups to carol!
JOB POSTING First Church is now accepting applications for the position of First Place Custodian. Responsibilities include daily cleaning of the First Place building, set-up of classrooms and meeting spaces as needed, and preparing the buildings for closing at the end of the shift. This is a full-time paid position and scheduled work time is 2:00 - 10:00 pm on Monday thru Friday. For more information and an application visit www.grandrapidsfumc.org/employment or email email@example.com.
CASEY’S CHRISTMAS EVE BREAKFAST First Church will be serving a hot and hearty holiday breakfast for our Heartside neighbors in Wesley Hall on Monday morning, December 24, 8 – 10:30 am. This annual event invites community members into our church for food and holiday fellowship. We need two kinds of helpers to make this event a success. (1) Table Host: Be a friendly host to our guests; share a cup of coffee, sit and chat, create a welcoming environment. (2) Food Server/Worker: Serve food, bus tables, and help clean up. Sign-ups for volunteer helpers will be held on Sunday, December 16. Members of the Social Concerns Commission will be in Wesley Hall after each worship service to schedule volunteers.
CASEY’S SOCKS FOR CHRISTMAS Each Casey’s breakfast guest receives a Christmas sock filled with practical items and goodies. Four hundred socks appropriate for adults are needed! Purchase a pair of medium-weight, warm, winter, washable socks. Stuff one sock in the toe of the other so that each recipient receives a pair of socks! Fill the sock with full-size personal care items like shampoo, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, & lip balm. Add a few extras like bandages, pen & paper, hard candy, nonperishable snacks, even a t-shirt. You might want to add a few safety pins on the outside and tie on a hat and warm gloves with a festive ribbon. Please avoid items that have alcohol, anything sharp, and crushable foods. Drop off your socks at the north lobby church office or bring them to worship on December 16. With your help, each of our Christmas Eve breakfast guests will leave with a warm heart and warm feet.
WEATHER CANCELLATION POLICY Sunday 11:00 am worship will never be cancelled. For 9:15 am worship and Sunday School: the decision will be made by the Senior Pastor no later than 7:00 am. Notice will be on channels 8 and 13, the church website, and the church answering machine message will indicate the change. On Sunday evenings a decision will be made no later than 3:00 pm by the Directors of Youth and Music. Monday through Friday daytime: if GRPS is closed, all activities will be cancelled. Monday through Saturday evening activities after 6:00 pm (including Jazz Vespers and Taizé): a decision will be made by the Senior Pastor no later than 3:00 pm.
First Church is providing opportunities for you and your family to share the blessings of Christmas! You are invited to choose one or more of the following suggestions...
• Casey’s Christmas Eve Breakfast — First Church will be serving a hot and hearty holiday breakfast for our Heartside neighbors in Wesley Hall on Monday, December 24, 8 – 10:30 am. This annual event invites community members into our church for food and holiday fellowship. We need two kinds of helpers. (1) Table Host: Be a friendly host to our guests; share a cup of coffee, sit and chat, create a welcoming environment. (2) Food Server/Worker: Serve food, bus tables, and help clean up. Sign-ups for volunteer helpers will be held in Wesley Hall on Sunday,
• Casey’s Socks for Christmas — Each Casey’s breakfast guest receives a Christmas sock filled with practical items and goodies. 400 socks appropriate for an adult are needed! Purchase a pair of medium-weight, warm, winter, washable socks. Stuff one sock in the toe of the other so that each recipient receives a pair of socks! Fill the sock with full-size personal care items like shampoo, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, and lip balm. Add a few extras like bandages, pen and paper, hard candy, nonperishable snacks, even a t-shirt. You might want to add a few safety pins on the outside and tie on a hat and warm gloves with a festive ribbon. (Please avoid items that have alcohol, anything sharp, and crushable foods.) Drop off your socks at the north lobby church office or bring them to worship on December 16.
• The Giving Tree — You are invited to take one of the ornaments off the Giving Tree located in the north lobby. Each ornament contains a suggested item requested by Martin Luther King Academy staff for the classrooms and children. Please limit your gifts to the suggested items on the tree. Unwrapped gifts may be left under the Christmas tree for delivery to MLK.
• Alternative Christmas Gifts — Are you tired of endless shopping for gifts that aren’t really needed or simply clutter up the home? Many of us have everything we need! Here’s a way you can simplify your life. Give a meaningful gift that truly is in the spirit of Christ by giving an “Alternative Christmas Gift.” For each person you designate, we will send a beautiful Christmas card acknowledging your gift and describing the cause you’ve chosen. Over the past several years, thousands of dollars have gone to Christ-like causes as alternative Christmas gifts. What better way to honor Christ and to give to those you love?
• The Christmas Offering — Again this year, our Christmas offering will be used to help people all over the world. Even as we have been blessed, we want to be a blessing to others. Soon you will be receiving a special letter from the pastors. It will include an offering envelope for your Christmas gift. Whether your gift is small or large, let the love of Christ flow through you this Christmas to people in desperate need. Our goal this year is $15,000.
• Family Promise — Consider giving the gift of your time this holiday season. Several homeless families will be our overnight guests during the week of January 5. Volunteers will be needed to act as evening hosts, overnight hosts, and dinner preparers. Sign up using Sunday’s worship bulletin.
• Have Extra Christmas Cards? — Pick up some address labels from the north lobby desk and use those cards to spread some cheer to our senior and homebound members. Your cards will help brighten their day while reminding them their church family is thinking of them this Christmastime.
• Christmas Caroling — Share the songs of the season with our homebound, hospitalized, those recovering from surgery or an illness, and our senior members on Sunday, December 16. See the sign-up sheet in Sunday’s worship bulletin.
• Coffee Can Offering — It’s a small thing, but your loose change can make wonderful things happen for those who are in need and hungry. Bring your coins to worship on Sunday, December 9th and “...make a joyful noise to the Lord.”
Please contact Laure Mieskowski at 451-2879 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like more information about any of the above opportunities.
WEEKLY PULSE: Click the link to download a PDF version of the Weekly Pulse.
9:15 & 11:00 am
Sunday, December 9 "Joseph: An Honorable
and Faithful Man"
Rev. Letisha Bowman
Coffee Can Offering
Annual Christmas Concert:
"Lessons and Carols" at 6:30 pm 9:15 am
First Singers 11:00 am
THE JOURNEY Join us this Advent Season on The Journey: Walking the Road to Bethlehem by Rev. Adam Hamilton. Journey with Hamilton on the page and on video as he travels from Nazareth to Bethlehem in this unique new look at the birth of Jesus Christ. Using historical information, archaeological data, video excursions in the Holy Land, and a personal look at some of the stories surrounding the birth, the most amazing moment in history becomes more real and heartfelt as readers walk along that same road. Books are available in the north lobby drop-off room, cost is $11.00.
• Marlys Davis — 9:30-10:30 am - Sundays, through December 23 at First Place
• Rev. Tish Bowman — 5:00-6:30 pm - Sundays, through December 23 at First Place
• Skip Moseley— 10:00-11:30 am - Tuesdays, through December 18 at Clark Retirement Community
PASTORAL CARE TEAM AT PORTER HILLS Please join Pastors Gary and Tish and our Parish Nurse Marj for a gathering in the Fireside Room at Porter Hills on Thursday, December 13 at 2:00 pm.
INFERTILITY SUPPORT GROUP All who have experienced infertility issues, including miscarriage and secondary infertility, are invited to attend our next meeting on Tuesday, December 11 at 7:00 pm. This will be our annual Christmas dinner and gift exchange at The Cottage (18 LaGrave Ave SE). Please RSVP by using the bulletin sign-up sheet or by calling Marj Timmerman at 901.9224.
90+ DECEMBER BIRTHDAYS • Ruby Spicer will be 92 on December 5th. If we have missed listing your 90+ birthday, please call the church office at 451.2879 with your name and birthdate and we’ll list it!
CARING CONNECTION The next meeting is on Wednesday, December 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.
NOW SHOWING in the First Church gallery through December is an exhibit of oil paintings from local artist, Emily Merrill. Drawing inspiration from rural America, its simplistic beauty and solitude, Emily seeks to show natural spaces that exist without human altercation. Emily was one of 2012 Art Prize artists at First Church.
TAIZÉ SERVICE Wednesday, December 5 at 7:00 pm. Taizé is a meditative service of choruses, accompanied by instruments and vocal solos. Communion, prayers for healing, and the lighting of candles are also offered. It´s a wonderful way to connect with God in the midst of a busy week.
"SERVICE OF LESSONS AND CAROLS" Join us on Sunday, December 9 at 6:30 pm in this Christmas tradition based on the scriptures and songs of Advent. The voices of children, youth, and adults combine with handbells and liturgical dancers to make this a reflective and meaningful event. Of course, there is the opportunity for the audience to join in this festive time through the singing of carols, led by the mighty sounds of the pipe organ. Plan to join us for Christmas 2012.
JAZZ LESSONS AND CAROLS, featuring MacNaughton Blvd, on Saturday, December 15 at 6:00 pm, weaves scripture, a pastoral message and prayer into a celebration of faith, hope, and the love of God.
CELEBRATION OF THE ARTS Plans are in progress for the 40th Annual Celebration of the Arts juried spiritual art show which will take place from February 2 -13, 2013. If you are interested in the arts and would like to volunteer to be part of the Celebration Planning Team, please indicate your interest on the sign-up sheet or contact Deb May at 451-2879 x 133 or email@example.com.
FIRST CHURCH FAMILY CONCERNS Concerns & Prayers for:
• Donna Anton
• Lynne Beals
• Wilda Fleser
• Rick Kase
• Coral (Corky) Kastner
• Janet Muir
• Althea (Allie) Sorensen
• Ruth Strohmer (surgery 12/3)
• Chris Bolhouse
• Scott Grifhorst
• Stephan Mathos
• Jesse Mounts
• Trevor Norton
• Shawn Seher
• Peter Taylor, Jr
The love and prayers of the congregation are extended to Betty and Wayne Mounts and family on the death of Betty’s father, Paul Kaschel, on December 1. His funeral was held on December 3.
The love and prayers of the congregation also are extended to Corinne Terkeurst, Dave and Peg Terkeurst and family on the death of Jack Terkeurst on December 2. Visitation for Jack will be held on Wednesday, December 5, from 4pm to 7pm at Heritage Life Story VanStrien Creston Chapel on Plainfield Ave NE. Jack’s memorial service will be held on Thursday, December 6, at 11:30am in our sanctuary.