Over the last few days, I have reflected on our ‘Annual Church Conference´ that was held last week. In the United Methodist tradition, ‘Church Conference´ is the annual business meeting of the congregation … combined with reflection and rehearsal of what has transpired in the life of the congregation over the last year … as well as … a time to celebrate where we are and where we are going in the foreseeable future. My perspective on ‘Church Conference´ has changed rather dramatically since serving as ‘Superintendent.´ It was a little difficult for me to be still … because I have gotten used to presiding. I wanted to leap up and point out the significance of our mutual ministry. So … I will write about some of the things I believe our congregation needs to know.
First – the staff did an outstanding job of reflecting and writing their reports and celebrating ministry. The booklet that was prepared is as good as or better than any ‘Church Conference´ report that I have ever seen; which leads me to an affirmation of our staff. The professional staff is a team of gifted and competent people who are extraordinarily committed to working with our congregation to be engaged in significant ministry. Please convey your appreciation for their work.
Second – the booklet rehearses the myriad of ministries that are ours and the measurable results of how we (as a congregation) are investing our ‘time, talents and treasures.´ When you read the reports, you will be amazed at all the ways we are in ministry … with one another … our community … and our world.
Third – the report of Missions and Outreach affirms that we are a church in mission. When we combine the investments we make through our church budget PLUS the special offerings and second mile giving, nearly $500,000 is given annually for missions. AND that does NOT include our ‘Ministry Shares´ partnership with the United Methodist Church.
Fourth – the stewardship of the congregation is also highlighted in the report from the Board of Trustees as they have led us in caring for our property. What an incredible undertaking to rebuild the tower! To create the plan, raise the funding and then, implement the plan is extraordinary. Its completion is in sight … and what a great job we ALL have done. When you read the report, you will also see important information from our Treasurer … about both the budget AND our Legacy Funds report. The Finance Team, Legacy Committee and the Board of Trustees are doing important ministry in our behalf.
Fifth – we also received a snapshot of our membership and attendance figures. The good news is that we have had 18 baptisms this year (including 4 adults) … 12 professions of faith … and 6 transfers. But note … the baptisms and professions of faith. Those are the figures that model new life among us!
The above interpretation is a brief pastoral highlight that affirms that we are a significant congregation doing significant ministry. But we must build on our significance. We have more ministries to develop. We have more dreams on the horizon that need our united support. First Church is a great place to invest ourselves to build the Kingdom of God upon the earth. We have lots to celebrate … but our story is unfinished. We need YOU … to invest your time, talents and treasures. God is calling us to a greater future.
So … if you were NOT with us at Conference, pick up the materials and read, celebrate, pray, and then, get involved in making a difference through our mutual ministries.
Thank you for your faithfulness and I look forward to seeing you on the third Sunday of Advent.
P.S. I continue to pray for a strong financial month in December. We need your support to end the year strong and to start 2014 with our entire ministry obligations paid in full. If God has blessed you … consider blessing your church!
• December 15, 12:15 pm — All-Church Caroling to Homebound
• December 16, 12:00 pm — 60+ Luncheon
• December 21, 10:00 am — Christmas Eve dance rehearsal
• December 21, 6:00 pm — Jazz Vespers: MacNaughton Blvd
• December 22, 10:00 am — One Worship Service Only
• December 22, 11:00 am — All-Church Potluck
• December 24, 8:00 am — Casey´s Breakfast
• December 24, 5:00 pm — Family-Friendly Christmas Eve Service
• December 24, 7:00 and 9:00 pm — Traditional Candlelight and Communion Christmas Eve Service
• December 25 — Christmas Day Church and Offices closed
• December 26 — Church and Offices closed • December 29, 10:00 am — One Worship Service Only
• December 31 — Church and Offices closed
• January 1 — Church and Offices closed
• January 2, 9:00 am — Fixin´ ‘n´ Fellowship
• January 2, 9:00 am — Prayer Quilters
• January 3/4, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm — Scrapbooking
• January 5 — Wesley Covenant Sunday
• January 5-12 — Family Promise
• January 8, 6:00 pm — Taizé Sung Prayers
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.
WEATHER CANCELLATION POLICY
• Monday-Friday daytime – if GRPS is closed, all activities will be cancelled
• Monday-Saturday activities after 6:00 pm (including Taizé and Jazz Vespers) – decision will be made no later than 3:00 pm
• Services and Sunday school – decision made no later than 7:00 am
• Sunday evenings – A decision will be made no later than 3:00 pm. In all instances when weather is threatening, church members should:
1. Call church first
2. Check Channel 8 or 13
3. Check with staff person in charge of your activity
4. Check website
Most important: if you feel unsafe driving, stay home!
AFTER-CHURCH COFFEE will be in the parlor during Advent. Mulled cider will be offered in the north lobby and the narthex.
ADVENT DEVOTIONALS Advent began on Sunday, December 1. Plan to pick up an Advent Devotional book when you come to church this Sunday. You can also download it at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/advent.
CELEBRATION OF THE ARTS Do you enjoy viewing and supporting the fine arts? Consider using your love of art in support of First Church´s own art exhibit, the 41st annual Celebration of the Arts, by becoming a participant in the Celebration Committee. We need people with various talents, from reception planning to construction of the gallery. Sign up today for Celebration 2014 by using the Sunday sign-up sheet, or by contacting Eric Strand (email@example.com), Deb May (firstname.lastname@example.org), or calling the church at 451-2879.
CLARK CAROL SING Clark friends, please join Pastors Bob and Tish, Marj Timmerman, and Eric Strand for a carol sing on Wednesday, December 11 at 1:30 pm in the chapel at Clark. We´ll also enjoy refreshments and fellowship in the Victorian Parlor after we sing.
YOUNG ADULT CHRISTMAS PARTY For all those who are 18-30, you´re invited to a Christmas party at Iain´s house on Wednesday, December 11 at 6:00 pm. Email Sami Marasigan at email@example.com for the address/directions, and to sign up for a dish to share. Friends are always invited!
ONE WORSHIP SERVICE on Sunday, December 22 and December 29 at 10:00 am.
MATHIAS ALTEN PRINTS AVAILABLE! The Mathias Alten limited edition prints are on sale again. They would make a great Christmas gift showing the tower in its original form! (The Alten print of our church was on display in our gallery last month.) The cost of the print is $35, and can be purchased at the front desk in the north lobby, or call Peg at 451-2879. There are only 9 prints left, so get yours today!
ALL-CHURCH POTLUCK Following the 10:00 am service on Sunday, December 22, there will be a potluck to which everyone is invited. If you´re able to come, if your last name begins with A-L, please bring a dessert; if your last name begins with M-Z, please bring a salad. Beverages and meat will be provided.
CHRISTMAS EVE DANCERS Hello, Young Women (sixth grade through college age)! It´s time to meet and prepare for this year´s Christmas Eve Candlelight dance! The one rehearsal is Saturday, December 21 from 10:00 am to noon in the sanctuary. Please mark your calendar, bring your friends, andcome help make this tradition continue! You and your family choose in which service(s) on Wednesday, December 24 you participate, the 7:00 pm, 9:00 pm, or both. Sign up using the Sunday bulletin insert or contact Britt O´Malley at 560-1472 or firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know your plan. Thank you for giving of your time and talent for worship on Christmas Eve!
JAZZ VESPERS, featuring MacNaughton Blvd, on Saturday, December 21 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!
60+ LUNCHEON Join us for the next 60+ Luncheon on Monday, December 16 at noon. The musical entertainment will be "Ivory and Brass," featuring FUMC´s Chuck Buffham and Eric Strand. If you plan to attend, please call in your reservation by Friday, December 13 to Luci Baer at 457-7797 or Elaine Youngs at 735-5506.
SCRAPBOOKING The next scrapbooking marathon will be held Friday, January 3 and Saturday, January 4 from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. If you´re a papercrafter, you´ll want to take advantage of this block of time to let your creative juices flow! If you plan to attend or if you have questions, please email Patsy McGillivray at email@example.com.
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 the pastors who is 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, Pastor Bob Hundley, or Pastor Tish Bowman at 451-2879.
WOMEN´S RETREAT Save the dates! Friday, January 24 and Saturday, January 25.
YOUR MISSION DOLLARS AT WORK: Light to the Philippines – Dr. Dale Williams reports that the Koinonia Foundation was contacted by The United Nations Refugee Agency requesting solar lanterns for people in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan. Koinonia decided to donate 10,000 K-Lights with solar panels and cellphone charges. The United Nations agreed to underwrite $45,000 in shipping costs. The folks at Koinonia went to work stacking cartons of lights on skids, labeling, wrapping in plastic, and preparing the lights for shipment to Manila. The shipment was picked up at 9:30 AM on Thursday, December 5, and was soon airborne. Each lantern will provide solar powered light and charging power for a cell phone to 10,000 families. The Koinonia Foundation is one of the ministries that you support through your giving to our three major mission offerings taken each year at Easter, Worldwide Communion Sunday, and Christmas. The dollars you give provide light and communication to people in desperate need. What a wonderful way to share the light of Christ to the world this Christmas season!
DID YOU KNOW the Paper Gator makes money for the church? Bring in your old phone books, newsprint, catalogs, magazines, and office/school paper. On the contrary, if you bring your cardboard items, the church has to pay to have these taken away. So please bring your paper, but recycle your cardboard at home.
Concerns & Prayers for:
• Lee Andrews
• Lynne Beals
• Shirley Etcher
• Roy Hart (Meijer Heart Center)
• Brenda Heerdt
• Christopher Lambrix
• Robert Newell
• Alan Norton
• Pam Rowe
• Ken Peirce (outpatient surgery 12/10)
• Shannon Smith
• Laura Wright (Metro Health)
• 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 Margaret Thomas and her family on the death of Margaret´s son, Ferl Thomas, on December 5 in California; and to Gabriel Aquah and Ivy Quaye and family on the death of Gabriel´s mother last week.
Congratulations to Jessica and Eric Malinowski on the birth of a son, Samuel Isaac Malinowski, on December 7. Proud siblings are Naomi and Owen!
Sincere thanks go to my FUMC church fam- ily for your support during my recent back fusion surgery and ongoing recuperation. Your prayers and God´s healing response are a combination that can´t be beat!
FAITH TRAVELERS´ ADVENT-URES — MOO NEWS: K- Grade 4 students have raised $70 for Heifer Project International! We have now met our goal of a share toward a heifer cow share to assist a family in need in the world! An anonymous donor has also matched our goal, so over $120 will be donated to Heifer Project International to purchase two shares toward a heifer cow. Thank you for passing on the gift of love to our neighbors around the world.
• Baby Shower for Jesus! Grades 5-6 Faith Travelers in Mission class are invited to a baby shower! Have you ever been to a baby shower? Please bring a baby gift for Jesus´ birth. We will celebrate with games and goodies!
• Sunday, December 15: Lessons & Preparation for December 22 Worship Faith Travelers will share in rotation model lessons while also preparing to share in worship on December 22. To allow time to learn and rehearse the song "The Lion and the Lamb," K-4 Faith Travelers will be extended from 9:30 to 10:45 am. Grades 5-6 Faith Travelers in Mission will learn a hand chime accompaniment to share in worship as well. They will rehearse during their regular classs time.
CHRISTMAS COOKIE BAKERS NEEDED FUMC traditionally provides decorated cookies for each MLK class. We are in need of cookie bakers of all ages to meet in the kitchen of FUMC on Thursday, December 19. Baking and cookie decorating will start at 12:30 pm and finish up about 2:00 pm. Feel free to bring along some holiday sprinkles for decorating. This is a fun way to support our partnership with MLK and to get together with church friends, too! Please use the Sunday sign-up sheet or call the Tutoring Center (819-1745) to let us know we can count on you!
SHARE BLESSINGS 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....
• All-Church Christmas Caroling – Help us spread some holiday cheer to our homebound, seniors, and those hospitalized and recovering from surgery! Meet in Wesley Hall after the 11:00 am service on Sunday, December 15 for a light lunch before dividing up into caroling groups. If you know Silent Night, Joy to the World, and We Wish You a Merry Christmas, we need you! Please use the Sunday sign-up sheet or contact Marj Timmerman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 901-9224. Help make someone´s Christmas merry by joining us!
• 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, nonperishable snacks, warm hat, gloves, or even a t-shirt. (Please avoid items that have alcohol, anything sharp, and crushable foods.) Drop off socks at the north lobby church office or bring them to worship on December 15. With your help, each of our Christmas Eve breakfast guests will leave with a warm heart and warm feet.
• 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 their 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 — Did you miss the Different Kind of Christmas Fair? You may still honor a friend or loved one by giving an alternative Christmas gift. For each gift you will receive a Christmas card that acknowledges your gift. You can send the card to the person of your choice. You may give online at: www.grandrapidsfumc.org/
• The Christmas Offering — You will receive a special letter from our pastors inviting you to care for our brothers and sisters around the world through our annual Christmas offering. No matter 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 $15,500.
• Family Promise – Consider giving the gift of your time this holiday season. Our next Family Promise week will begin January 5. Through Family Promise, First Church provides hospitality to homeless families and helps keep them together in a time of crisis. Volunteer opportunities include evening hosts, overnight hosts, dinner preparers, Saturday breakfast preparers, Saturday hosts, set-up, tear-down, and laundry. You may sign up via the Sunday bulletin, by calling the church office, or by visiting our website at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/family-promise-volunteers. For more information on Family Promise, contact Laure Mieskowski at 451-2879 or email@example.com.
• 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 EVE WORSHIP SUPPORT TEAM HELP If you are in town for Christmas Eve Service, we NEED your help at all services; 5:00, 7:00 and 9:00 pm. There are 15 positions that need to be filled for each service! We need ushers, greeters, parking lot attendants, cider station hosts. If you can fill any of these slots, please e-mail Patsym@grandrapidsfumc.org.
CHRISTMAS EVE FELLOWSHIP HELP The Fellowship Committee is looking for help in serving refreshments between worship services on Christmas Eve. The shifts are 6:00 to 7:00 and 8:00 to 9:00 pm. Please use Sunday´s bulletin sign-up sheet, the church website, or call the church office (451-2879) to indicate your availability to help. Thank you!
NEW YEAR ADULT SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES
• A Gift of Love is a study based on the classic collection of sixteen sermons preached and compiled by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Collectively they present King´s fusion of Christian teachings and social consciousness, and promote his prescient vision of love as a social and political force for change. Being held at 9:30 am in room 3107 from Sunday, January 5 through February 16, the leader is Deanna Mitchell. Books will be available in the classroom. You can indicate your interest by using the sign-up sheet in Sunday´s bulletin.
• Have a New Kid By Friday Want a kid without the attitude? Without the behavior that makes you want to slink away in the grocery store and pretend you´re not the parent? Anyone can do it. All it takes is you deciding to stand up and take charge. Want a great kid? Want to be a great parent? Then take the 5-day challenge. Someday your kid will thank you for it. Led by Paula and Richard Gibson and Ivy Quaye and Gabriel Aquah on Sundays at 9:30 am in room 3109 January 5 through February 16. Use the Sunday bulletin sign-up sheet if you plan to attend.
FIRST AID STATION
CAN´T SLEEP? "I feel restless and anxious. I can´t sleep. I don´t know what to do." Call the Church Assistance Program (CAP) at 455-6210 any time, day or night. You will be able to have two free one-hour sessions with a counselor if you mention that you´re a member or friend of First United Methodist Church.