Last week, I wrote about the ‘purpose´ of the ‘church.´ This week, I write about ‘the purpose of membership.´
One of the evolutions of our culture is that people are becoming less inclined to ‘officially´ join anything – including the church. That is a major shift in the demographics of the church. Researchers tell us that folks today have a resistance to commitment. I´m not sure that I buy that … but clearly, the research points toward that tendency. Lots of people will attend church with some regularity. Many attenders often give – monetarily. It has been my observation over the last few years that people often want to be the recipients of what the church has to offer without any expectations of a reciprocal investment. I have heard all the arguments; I don´t need to be a church member to be a Christian … I don´t need to be a church member to grow in my faith … I don´t need to be a member to get into heaven someday. And on the face of it, I tend to agree with those arguments.
However, church membership is not merely focused on what we receive as a benefit of membership. It is much more than that.
When we make a profession of our faith through baptism or confirmation, we are welcomed into the community of faith called the church. Our belief in God expressed through our confession of faith in Jesus Christ and receiving the assurance of our forgiveness means that we begin a relationship with God. Even though a relationship with God is possible alone … we do better in growing in our understanding of God and God´s grace when we are connected with people who can function as a catalyst for our spiritual growth. When we begin a journey toward faithful discipleship, it involves a covenant that is made with God AND sisters and brothers of the faith. In the United Methodist tradition, when we join the church, we make a covenant to join other sojourners by praying for one another … being present in worship and other discipleship activities … giving of our time, talents or treasures … serving others … and witnessing to our faith by the way we live our life. The covenant we make is one of mutual responsibility … the individual is benefited by spiritual growth, celebrating the sacraments, being engaged in nurture and outreach, and giving. AND the church is benefited from the gifts and graces that are invested from each member. As a community of faith, we have a greater possibility of having significant influence than we can alone.
It is important that membership vows are taken seriously enough that we engage in serving in areas of ministry that are important for the survival and growth of the church. Each member is part of the ministry team of the local church. Members get involved in the music and arts ministries … serving as ushers, sound technicians, etc. … church school teachers or helpers … serving on committees or boards … praying for those who are in need … volunteering … going on a mission trip … visiting the sick … practicing tithing (or moving toward that goal) … helping to serve as we reach out to our neighbors … cooking … welcoming or greeting … and on … and on. Members take seriously the task of the church which is to ‘go into all the world and make disciples of Jesus Christ, with the goal of transforming the world.´ Being a member of the church is both a privilege and a responsibility.
I believe that as we grow in our faith and practice, we do a better job of being the church when we are in relationship with others who have a similar passion for God and God´s work.
• February 9 — Coffee Can Offering
• February 11, 7:00 pm — Infertility Support Group
• February 12, 6:00 pm — Young Adults: Communion and Conversation
• February 13, 12:30 pm — Valentine Cookie Bakers
• February 14, 6:30 pm — Adoption Hoe Down
• February 15, 6:00 pm — Jazz Vespers: Tyler Vander Maas Sax Quartet
• February 19, 9:00 am — Caring Connection
• February 21 - March 5 — Celebration of the Arts
• February 21, 7:00 pm — Artists´ Reception
• February 22, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm — Art Gallery Opening Day
• February 23, 9:30 am — Celebration Gallery Walk
• February 23, 4:00 pm — Early Music Michigan Concert
• February 26, 12:00 pm — Celebration Gallery Walk
• March 2, 11:00 am — Celebration Sunday
• March 5, 6:00 pm — Ash Wednesday Service
• March 9 — Coffee Can Offering
• March 9, 12:15 pm — All-Church Birthday Dinner
• March 15, 6:00 pm — Jazz Vespers: The Jim Cooper Quartet
• March 28-29 — Women´s Retreat
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.
WOMEN´S RETREAT Inviting 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 Sorenson by March 19.
2ND BEST SALE is on Saturday, May 3! With Spring just around the corner, it´s not too early to start cleaning closets or the garage with the 2nd Best Sale in mind. Gently used clothing, books, and household goods are all in high demand by our faithful shoppers. Mark your calendar to donate, volunteer and shop our bargains. Sunday, April 27 is when you may start to drop off items. Please multiply your faith by contributing your gently used items, time and energy to help make this annual fund raising event a success. Also if you have extra hangers and/or plastic bags, drop them off in the 2nd Best bin in the church pick-up room.
CAFÉ JUSTO COOPERATIVE A farmer selling his coffee crop in a conventional open market will receive $0.80 per pound or about $1,200 for a 1,500 pound crop. A farmer selling his coffee crop in a Fair Trade market will receive $1.10 per pound plus a small percentage of the final profit of the Fair Trade Company or about $1,650 for a 1,500 pound crop. A farmer in the Café Justo cooperative will receive $1.33 per pound plus 100% of the profits from the final sale or about $10,500 for a 1,500 pound crop. (This allows the cooperative to hire people to roast, package and ship the product. It provides money for some health and retirement benefits for the farmers and their employees. It provides investment money to put back into the farm land to increase yield and buy more land.)
HAITI HOT LUNCH - February 9 The Coffee Can offering this month will benefit the Haiti Hot Lunch Program. This program provides hot meals three times per week to over 22,000 students. The program ensures access to nutritional meals, cooked on-site, to provide energy to learn throughout the day.
CHILI COOK-OFF RESULTS We raised $630 at the chili cook-off last weekend! The first place group (Cuba) will be getting $140 and the remaining seven groups will each get $70 for their group. On behalf of the Fellowship Committee, thank you so much for making this a successful event.
YOUNG ADULTS: COMMUNION & CONVERSATION Are you a young adult (age 18-30) who is looking for a time to reconnect with God while talking about faith with friends? Join us Wednesday, February 12 at 6:00 pm in The Vine for a free dinner followed by Communion & Conversation. We love new friends to join us. Don´t be shy, stop on by! If you need directions or have questions, email SamiM@grandrapidsfumc.org.
JFON 10-YEAR CELEBRATION Join Justice for Our Neighbors on Friday, February 7 at 6:30 pm in Wesley Hall for a celebration highlighting volunteer service and the positive impacts our ministry has had for immigrants in the community. The evening will include live music, a meal featuring ethnic fare from regions we serve, and presentations by UMC leadership – including Bishop Deborah Kiesey and District Superintendent Bill Haggard. The event includes dinner, live music and a silent auction. Tickets are $30. Register online at jfonwestmichigan.org/events/10th-anniversary-celebration/
GR METRO MINISTRY PRESENTS POVERTY: IT´S MORE THAN YOU THINK... Hidden rules among classes, the role of congregations in sustainable solutions, when helping hurts, building on ministries already in place, and commitment to action. Every congregation in every setting can support what´s working and offer some of what´s lacking in their own neighborhood. These three foundational weeks will equip us to be aware, prepare, and act to alleviate poverty in Grand Rapids. Join us Tuesdays, February 11, 18, 25 from 6:30 - 8:30 pm at Trinity United Methodist Church. Text strongly suggested but not required: Poverty: A Mission Study, ed. Jack A. Keller Jr. GBGM, 2012, chapters 2 and 3. ($5) http://www.umwmissionresources.org/products/poverty-english RSVP email@example.com no later than February 6
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. 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!
USHERS NEEDED! USHERS CRUCIAL! USHERS ESSENTIAL! Have you ever wanted to serve, but didn´t know where to begin? Being an usher gives you an opportunity to share your gifts of hospitality and service in a tangible way. Ushers work as a team and are guided by a team leader. Sign up using the Sunday bulletin for this low-committment opportunity for one Sunday a month for either the 9:15 or 11:00 am service. We are in great need of ushers for the third Sunday of the month, for the 9:15 am service.
CELEBRATION OF THE ARTS
FEBRUARY 21 - MARCH 5, 2014
41ST ANNUAL JURIED SPRITUAL ART COMPETION, Art Exhibit Hours: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm daily through March 4 and 10:00 am to 1:00 pm; March 5, Ash Wednesday. For more information visit www.theCelebrationoftheArts.com
Special Guest Exhibit: The Spectrum Health Expressive Arts Program Under the direction of professional staff, the residents and patients in this therapeutic program express themselves as individuals, gaining independence and the motivation to be artistically creative. Visit our main floor gallery to view this inspiring exhibit.
Special Events: • Artists´ Reception, Friday, February 21 from 7:00 - 9:00 pm in Wesley Hall. Presentation of awards, jazz, and special desserts! Open to the public. • Gallery Walk-Through Celebration of the Arts, Sunday, February 23 at 9:30 am and Wednesday, February 26 at 12:00 pm in Wesley Hall. Experience this year´s show through the special insight of Nancy Clouse, artist and faculty member from Grand Rapids Community College. • Early Music Michigan, Sunday, February 23 at 4:00 pm in the sanctuary. Early Music Michigan is devoted to the lively interpretation of music from earlier eras. • Celebration Sunday, Sunday, March 2 at 11:00 am in the sanctuary. A festive morning service on the last Sunday before Lent, featuring a Dixieland band, led by Bob Nixon. • Ash Wednesday Service, Wednesday, March 5, 6:00 pm in the sanctuary. The service features music of Taizé in a reflective and solemn setting.
Concerns & Prayers for:
• Lynne Beals
• Don Chisnall
• Dale Ewalt
• Ken McCaw
• Robert Newell
• Roy Nixon
• Myron Wernette
• Chris Bolhouse
• Scott Grifhorst
• Stephan Mathos
• Jesse Mounts
• Trevor Norton
• Shawn Seher
• Peter Taylor, Jr
The memorial service for Jer Hon-Hawkins´s father, Jim Hon, who passed away on January 27th will be held on Saturday, February 8th, at 11am at Central United Methodist Church in Waterford, Michigan, with visitation one hour prior to the service.
Thank you, First Church, for all your support during the past 2 weeks since our mother´s death. We´ve felt your presence in so many ways...cards, notes, prayers, telephone calls, and face to face expressions of sympathy. Each caring gesture has been so appreciated.
Lynne and Jim Brandsma
I am overwhelmed with appreciation for the many supportive cards, emails, and the caring presence of church members and friends during my mother, Eugenia Carter´s, physical decline and at her memorial service. The love and care shown by the First Church staff, Caring Connection, and members, has meant so much and will be forever remembered with heartfelt gratitude.
We are thankful for and blessed by your support of Chuck these past five years, as he journeyed home. We know he is at peace with his Lord.
Anne Zimmerman and Family
I am sure everyone would agree that $15.00 is not a lot of money. If you were in church a couple weeks ago and heard Richard Johnson witness about his involvement in the FUMC Work Program, you heard a very inspirational commentary!
As you know, the Work Program Ministry involves providing two hours work to those who show up early on Tuesday mornings and win one of the coveted assignments at a downtown agency. In return for completing the work, the participants receive $15.00.
Richard recounted a recent morning during the time of the "Polar Vortex" when over 60 people lined up outside the church in near-zero temperatures for a chance to earn $15.00. Now I suspect nearly all of us would scoff at the notion of standing outside at 6:30 in the morning in freezing temperatures for such a purpose. Most of us cannot even fathom the depths of poverty experienced by many in our community.
Our abundance makes it difficult to imagine going through such discomfort for $15.00. Yet this ministry is one of the most recognizable outreach activities at First Church due to the impact it has on those not so abundantly blessed.
When we pray about our church giving, do we joyously thank God for all that we have, and respond generously, or do we needlessly worry about our household finances? Do we remember that people in our very midst go through such effort for a mere $15.00? In fact, most of us have very little to worry about at all!
At First Church, meaningful and impactful ministry happens every day, and is only possible when joyful Christians give generously out of their abundant resources. I recall a few years ago the story of one of our Work Program participants insisting on giving $1.50 of his $15.00 to the church (a tithe)! What a faith statement! I hope stories like this compel us to truly express our gratitude to God with generous giving.
A DISCIPLE´S PATH This class has been cancelled. Look for sign-ups this spring.
VALENTINE´S DAY HOE DOWN to benefit the FUMC Adoption Ministry! Wondering what to do that is fun and new for Valentine´s Day? Come to the Hoe Down in The Vine on Friday, February 14 from 6:30 - 9:30 pm! Music will be provided by "Gooder n´ Grits." You can´t dance? Our band and caller will teach you. Light refreshments will be provided! Suggested donation of $14 per person. There will be a silent auction and all proceeds will go to the Adoption Fund. Come and bring your spouse, date, whole family, and friends, and help us bring Raymond home from Hong Kong.
VALENTINE 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 FUMC kitchen on Thursday, February 13. Baking and cookie-decorating will start at 12:30 pm and will finish up about 2:00 pm. Feel free to bring along some holiday sprinkles for decorating! Please use the Sunday sign-up sheet or call the Tutoring Center at MLK (819.1745) to let us know we can count on you!
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.
• Wednesday AM – March 5-April 9, 10:00-11:30 @ Clark, with Dick Youells
• Thursday PM – March 6-April 10, 5:30-7:00 @ Church, with TBD
• Thursday PM – March 6-April 10, 7:00-8:30pm, @ Kurt & Randy Kimball´s
• Sunday AM – March 9-April 13, 9:30-10:30 @ Church, with TBD
• Sunday PM – March 9-April 13, 5:00-6:30 @ Church, with Pastor Bob
• Sunday PM – March 9-April 13, 6:00-7:30pm, @ Dave & Peggy Thompson´s
• Monday PM – March 10-April 14, 7:00-8:30pm, @ John & Marianne Warnock´s
• Tuesday PM – March 11-April 15, 7:00-8:20, @Allyson Cave´s Home
• Wednesday PM – March 12-April 9 (or 16), 6:30-8:00 @ Church, with Laure Mieskowski
FIRST AID STATION
CHURCH ASSISTANCE PROGRAM Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. 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!