Over the many years I have served in pastoral ministry, I have grown to understand that the ‘weekly´ article has many functions. Its purposes are varied, depending on what needs to be communicated to the members and friends of the congregation. Sometimes, the article is ‘inspirational.´ Sometimes the focus is ‘encouragement.´ Once in a while, the content is ‘correctional´ – when some dynamic of the congregation is out of balance. There are times when the focus is ‘visionary´ – in an attempt to rally the people around congregational goals and objectives. Yet – most of the time, the article is informational. Pastors need a forum where important information can be disseminated for hopefully, the greater good of the community of faith. In my former congregation, I held a "Pastor´s Forum" four times a year that resembled a ‘state of the church´ ideology that was interactive and people could ask whatever questions they had and I could address issues that I thought were important. This week´s article is more of a ‘state of the church´ focus.
Several administrative groups know that Annette Erbes has submitted her resignation from the Director of Children´s Ministry position. Annette´s husband, Mark, is a United Methodist pastor and has been re-appointed to be pastor of the Holt United Methodist Church on the Lansing District. Mark and Annette have served at Lake Harbor United Methodist Church since 2007. Annette has commuted from Muskegon for two years to work admirably on our staff. (It is too far to commute from Holt!!) Annette has brought a passion for children´s ministry and gifts for administration, planning and recruitment. She is a ‘team player´ and we will miss her. She will be with us until June and committed to work with us through the transition to hopefully help to train a new person. Children´s ministry experts are difficult to find, but we will be opening the search sometime in April. We will miss Annette and her expertise and passion – but we understand United Methodist ministry. We wish the very best to the Erbes family as they make this transition to Holt over the next few months. We pray God´s blessing upon them as they end one chapter of their lives and prepare for another. Our congregation will have an opportunity to celebrate Annette´s time with us and to express our appreciation.
One of the by-products of our study of the ‘Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations´ is that we are in the process of re-organizing our ministry focus areas into Hospitality … Worship … Faith Development … Mission and Outreach … and Generosity (or the stewardship of time, talents and treasures). ALL of the ministry areas need improvement and casting a new vision for what we will be doing as a congregation over the next 3 to 5 years. Four of the five areas … are doing fairly well – because we have established ministries with organizational support. Worship, Faith Development, Mission and Outreach, and Generosity – are moving forward with new energy and passion. They are thinking creatively about possibilities … the fruit of which will be forthcoming by some new innovative programming for the fall.
But HOSPITALITY is our most important addition to our ministry paradigm. We need to systematically and organizationally birth a way to invite, welcome and engage guests, constituents and members into our congregation. We have several ingredients for Hospitality in place – LIKE: Patsy´s position in Invitational Ministry … and Greeters … Ushers … Fellowship Committee … Refreshments after worship … etc. But we do not have a designated team for the creative development of a comprehensive ministry of hospitality. We need that. So if you believe that hospitality is one of your gifts, please let us (any member of the staff) know. We will begin to work in that direction SOON.
Thanks for your faithfulness – and see you Sunday.
• March 19, 9:00 am — Caring Connection
• March 21, 7:00 am — Men´s Lenten Breakfast
• March 24, 3:00 - 7:00 pm — Blood Drive
• March 23, 4:30 - 7:30 pm — Jr & Sr High Youth at Sky Zone
• March 28-29 — Women´s Retreat
• March 30, 12:30 pm — Imagine No Malaria Movie: "Mary Martha"
• April 2, 6:00 pm — Taizé Sung Prayer Service
• April 3, 9:00 am — Prayer Quilts
• April 4, 7:00 am — Men´s Lenten Breakfast
• April 11, 7:00 am — Men´s Lenten Breakfast
• April 13, 9:15 am ONLY — Palm Sunday Processional
• April 13,10:15 am and 12:00 pm — Palm Sunday Brunch
• April 16, 9:00 am — Caring Connection
• April 17, 6:15 pm — Maundy Thursday Communion Service
• April 18, 7:00 am — Men´s Lenten Breakfast
• April 18, 7:00 pm — Good Friday Service
• April 19, 9:00 am — Feeding America Distribution at Cesar Chavez
• April 20, 9:15 and 11:00 am — Easter Sunday
• April 21, 12:00 pm — 60+ Luncheon
• April 27 — 2nd Best Sale Drop-Off Begins
• April 28, 7:00 pm — Leadership Council Meeting
• May 1, 9:00 am — Prayer Quilts
• May 3 — 2nd Best Sale
• May 17, 9:00 am — Feeding America Distribution at Cesar Chavez
• May 19, 12:00 pm — 60+ Luncheon
• May 21, 9:00 am — Caring Connection
• June 1 — Teacher Appreciation Sunday
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.
FAITH TRAVELERS MISSION OFFERING The K-4 Faith Travelers church school classes have selected Family Promise of Grand Rapids as their mission offering focus for February through May! The goal is to raise $100 for new toys for our Family Promise guests. Monetary offerings can be brought to any Faith Travelers class; all donations are optional. Any questions? Please contact Annette Erbes, Director of Children´s Ministry, at 616.451.2879. Did you know that…1,800 children have been supported by Family Promise and that 90% of families have found a new home?!
KIDS´ CLUB: FIVE WORTH FIGHTING FOR! Children in grades 3-6 are invited to explore the Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations in their own way this spring! Kids´ Club will discover that these practices are Five Worth Fighting For! Kids will learn about the five practices through activities and games such as prayer stations, a game of trust, crossing a river of bubbling lava, a scavenger hunt, and game of Sardines! Join Ken and Emily Mol in Wesley Hall, bring $2 for dinner, on the following Sundays from 5:00 – 7:00 pm for Five Worth Fighting For:
• March 23 Extreme Generosity
• April 6 Radical Hospitality
CALLING ALL K-6 FAITH TRAVELERS This month the students have been learning a song with teacher Pete Muszkiewicz about the Great Commandment. Students will sing in worship Sunday, March 23, at the beginning of the 9:15 am worship service. We hope all students can come join in the singing!
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 Sorensen by March 19.
THE CELEBRATION COMMITTEE is pleased to announce the Congregation´s Choice award for 2014. The watercolor, "In Touch with the Elders of Chartres" by Alan Adsmond, will hang in Wesley Hall for all to enjoy.
THE MARTIN LUTHER KING LEADERSHIP ACADEMY FITNESS PATH project has passed through all the proper committees and approvals within Grand Rapids Public Schools. We hope the snow clears soon, allowing construction during the month of April ! Thank you to all supporters who contributed to this cause over the past year. We so appreciate being able to provide this means for our families to work on fitness.
Half of the current playground will be fenced off during the construction process, which will limit the play space for the children. We hope to have students focus on basketball, Four Square, and jump roping. It would be nice to provide the teachers with equipment to help the kids focus on these activities. Any donations of basketballs, playground balls and jump ropes, for single or double dutch would be greatly appreciated. They may be left in the collection room MLK bins off the north lobby.
SOCIAL CONCERNS DONATIONS For the month of March the pantry is in need of soap, body wash, shampoo, and peanut butter and jelly. Please drop off your items in the north lobby donation room.
ROAD TRIPS The Road Trips for 2014 are now set! Save the following dates: May 7th - Jackson, Michigan - historical tour, lunch and Armory Arts Village. June 18th - Detroit Tigers vs KC Royals! July 24th - Marshall, Michigan - historical tour, lunch at Schuler´s and a musical at Tibbits. Sept 18-20 - Pennsylvania - includes a dinner cruise in Pittsburgh, Flight 93 National Memorial, Quecreek Mine, Duncan House, Duquesne Incline, and Heinz Memorial Chapel. Details and reservation forms are available in the north lobby and online at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/road-trips!
SAVE THE DATE! Sunday, June 1 is Teacher Appreciation Sunday.
FAMILY PROMISE WEEK FAST APPROACHING When we hear the term "homeless," most of us don´t think of children and families, and yet they are the fastest growing segment of this population. FUMC will be hosting Family Promise the week of April 6 - 13. During this time, 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. You may sign up through the Sunday bulletin insert, online at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/sign-up-sheet.
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 for funds received by March 26. 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!
IMAGINE NO MALARIA Mark your calendar now to attend a screening of the inspirational movie Mary and Martha starring Hilary Swank and Brenda Blethyn on Sunday, March 30 at First Church in Wesley Hall. This story focuses on two women who forge a deep friendship and embark on an epic journey of self-discovery to Africa, dedicating themselves to the cause of malaria prevention. The movie Frozen will be shown to children at the same time in room 304. A simple lunch will be served immediately following the 11 am worship service followed by the movie screenings at 1 pm. A free will offering will be taken to benefit Imagine No Malaria.
MISSION UPDATE: CUBA Cuba team t-shirts (designed by Barb Moser) will be for sale after each of the services through March 30. Cost will be $15 each. We are still in need of children and adult over the counter medicines to treat headaches, fevers, arthritis, diarrhea, upset stomach, acid reflux, etc. Also, the ladies of the church love to crochet, but crochet hooks are very hard to come by in Cuba, so donations of crochet hooks would be appreciated. Please drop items off in the north lobby office.
THE ANNUAL SWEETHEARTS LUNCHEON will be held at 12:00 pm on Wednesday, April 2 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 & Gail Ziegler and their keyboard capers. The lunch will include a mixed greens salad, chicken breast, wild rice, vegetable, fresh baked breads, and dessert. For reservations, please use the Sunday sign-up sheet or contact Sharon Sorensen at 451-2879 or email@example.com.
FATHER/CHILD CAMP Attention dads (grandpas and uncles, too)! Spend Father´s Day weekend (June 13-15) at Lake Michigan United Methodist Camp in Pentwater! Picture you and your kids sitting around a campfire, enjoying the beach, hiking the many trails - 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!
Concerns & Prayers for:
• Lynne Beals
• Lynn DeMoss (Butterworth)
• Steve Hayes (outpatient surgery 3/18)
• Ken McCaw
• Julie and Mike Obrecht (Cape Coral Hospital)
• Fran Sherman (surgery 3/20)
• Shannon Smith
• Jan Taylor
• Ubuntu Center at Africa University (five members of our congregation who are in Zimbabwe for the dedication of the center)
• 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 Roland and Fran Sherman and family on the death of Roland´s brother, Richard Sherman, on March 11th; and to Sally Grove and family on the death of her brother-in-law also on March 11th.
Have you stopped to think about what we´ve been through over the past twelve months at First Church? It has indeed been a tumultuous year!
First, we learned of the departure of our long time Senior Pastor - Gary Haller. Although this is a common occurrence in United Methodism, it is always a time of some upheaval and uncertainty. It is not unusual for some folks to adopt a "wait and see" approach to the new pastor - which can impact attendance, involvement, and giving.
Second, we embarked on a major capital campaign with the Tower Project that caused major disruption to our church building, the creation of temporary parking and traffic problems, and caused our church to appear to be a very uninviting place for several months. Not a very enticing place for prospective visitors!
Finally, we entered into a "winter for the ages"! Far too much snow and too many dangerous driving days affected church attendance over the past several months.
Fortunately, all of this is behind us. Spring is coming (really!!). The Tower Project is complete except for final spring clean-up. And we have joyfully embraced Pastor Bob Hundley as he brings abundant fresh energy and ideas to First Church. Indeed, we are reawakening!
We are lucky that we have remained a vibrant and active congregation - even in the midst of these events. However, our giving and attendance have dropped off a bit.
I hope we all can be inspired by the warm sunny days that are starting to occur to re-dedicate ourselves to the ministry of First Church. Let us rejoice at being a part of a wonderful church as we commit ourselves once again to our vows of service, presence and giving.
Take this time also to make sure your giving is current as we continue our vital ministries. There is much to be done…let´s get busy.
TRANSPORTATION NEED We have two people who would like a ride from Porter Hills (3600 East Fulton St) to the 11:00 am worship service on Sunday mornings and then back home. If you are able to help with this transportation need, please contact Marj Timmerman at 901-9224 or email@example.com.
MEALS NEEDED Meals are needed for Lynne Beals who is undergoing chemo and for the Siegel Family who has a new baby. If you are able to help, please sign up at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/meals or contact Marj at 901.9224 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
BLOOD DRIVE Our next Blood Drive is Monday, March 24 from 3:00 - 7:00 pm in Wesley Hall. Michigan Blood is running a special promotion for March. Sign in to donate and you could win one of 4 prizes: 4 tickets to a Griffins game, 4 tickets to Celebration Cinema, 4 passes for the Children´s Museum or 4 passes to Meijer Gardens PLUS you may be saving someone´s life! Sign up for a time or to provide cookies by using the Sunday sign-up sheet or contact Marj at 451.2879 or email@example.com.
ADULT SUNDAY CLASS: CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVES ON THE JUSTICE SYSTEM A class featuring speakers and videos. Classes are Sundays through March 23 at 9:30 am in room 3107, led by Ruth Chisnall. This class will attempt to give new understanding to the issues faced by the State of Michigan in making the justice system more equitable. We will have a Circle of Support guest on March 23. Please join us to find ways you may be able to help the justice system become more equitable.
MEN´S LENTEN BREAKFASTS 2014Why First Church Is My Church" Join us Friday mornings at 7:00 am in Wesley Hall. Breakfast each week will be prepared by our resident culinary artist, Jeff Gooder. We will sing together with Norm Bradley leading us and Pastor Bob will share a scripture and spend some time in prayer each week. Sign up using the Sunday bulletin insert or online at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/sign-up-sheet. The speakers are the following: • March 21 Dr. Iain Charnley – Iain is a physician who is involved in many ministries throughout the congregation, serving as Missions Chair, engaged in Young Adult Ministry, and sings in the choir. • March 28 Richard Johnson – Richard is a retired photography businessman who specialized in portraits. He developed a passion for outreach ministry and is on staff of First Church, leading our Work Program ministry. • April 4 Dr. Dale Williams – Dale is a retired physician who has developed an incredible foundation, Koinonia, which provides bright, safe, versatile solar-powered lanterns and panels to the developing world. • April 11 Ed Edwardson – spent his career in law enforcement administration and teaches at Grand Valley. Ed has been significantly involved in raising funds and developing the vision for the Ubuntu Center at Africa University. He will celebrate with us the role First Church played in this important ministry. • April 18 Dan Miller – will share with us on Good Friday morning. Dan is the Chair of the Leadership Council and was a leader in the ‘tower project.´ Dan is a financial planner and serves in management in his firm.
FIRST AID STATION
CHURCH ASSISTANCE PROGRAM 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!