Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father´s house to the land that I will show you. Genesis 12:1
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus!
I have been thinking about Abraham lately. God called him from his home and asked him to go to a place that would be revealed as the journey progressed. It must have been frightening leaving behind his place of comfort and belonging. It must have been hard to trust that things would be all right. It must have sounded insane to his family and friends. And yet Abraham went and as he journeyed, faithfully trusting in God, God was faithful to Abraham.
The old Chinese saying states that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Of course then you´ve got to take the next step and the next and the next. Some journeys have a destination, an ending place, while others (perhaps the best journeys) never end. I have been on a journey toward ordination for the past ten years and a journey toward God for my entire life.
My journey began (at least this phase of the journey) with that first step. I signed up for a class called "Introduction to Theology and Worship." I wanted to go slowly, just one class to start. I remember facing the challenge of returning to college fourteen years after graduating the first time – it was terrifying! Would I be able to do this? There would be so much reading and writing! What was I thinking? I also remember leaving after the first class and thinking, "This is so great!" I have always been in love with learning and sitting in the classroom listening to a well-prepared lecture that was just a little piece of heaven on earth for me. And so it began.
My plan was to take my time, after all our son was just starting elementary school. Have you ever noticed, though, how God has a way of changing "our" plans? I only had four seminary classes under my belt when I received a call from then District Superintendent, Rev. Susan Hagans. She told me that there was a church that needed a part-time pastor and asked me to consider the possibility that God wanted my journey to progress to the next phase. With fear and trepidation we answered the call. Saugatuck UMC welcomed us with open arms and walked with us the rest of the way through seminary, supporting us, encouraging us, and teaching us how to be a clergy family.
On this journey I have logged countless hours of study, read thousands of pages of biblical interpretation, theology, pastoral care, preaching, mission, church history, polity, doctrine, ethics, Hebrew (someday I need to tackle Greek!), and church management, and written paper after paper. I traveled sixteen blocks (to Western Theological Seminary) for four years and then commuted to Chicago (to Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary) every week (praise God for Amtrak) for three years to finish my Master of Divinity degree, wearing out one suitcase, two computers, and my tired feet! It cost us dinners together as a family, a junior high football season and thousands of dollars in tuition, travel, housing, and books.
Friends, I tell you all this because I am entering the homestretch. You may remember that I was ordained as a Provisional Elder at the West Michigan Annual Conference, 2011, just before I came to Grand Rapids. This spring I will begin writing my final ordination papers in preparation for a meeting with, and hopefully approval of, the Board of Ordained Ministry this fall. If all goes well I anticipate being fully ordained at the 2014 Annual Conference. (You are all invited!)
As I move through this final phase of this segment of my journey to serve God, I covet your prayers. It has been a long, sometimes challenging, often wonderful journey. There have been many blessings along the way – First Church has certainly been one of them! It isn´t always easy to follow the call of God. I hope, whether we are called to leave home, like Abraham, or be faithful in place, like so many countless others, that we will continue to trust in the God who is always faithful and blesses us so that we might be a blessing to others. Thank you for your support as I enter this segment of the journey. I´ll see you on Sunday!
• April 28, 10:00 - 11:00 am — Fellowship Breakfast
• May 1, 7:00 pm — Taizé Sung Prayers
• May 2, 9:00 am — Prayer Quilters
• May 4 — Hunger Walk
• May 7, 7:00 pm — Infertility Support Group
• May 9, 5:30 pm — Moms´ Group: Pot Painting and Pizza
• May 15, 8:00 am — Caring Connection
• May 18, 6:00 pm — Jazz Vespers: Tyler VanderMaas Sax Quartet
• May 19 — Education Appreciation Sunday
• 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 15, 2:00 pm — International Trumpet Guild: Festival of Trumpets
• June 16 — Farewell Sunday for Gary Haller
• June 17, 12:00 pm — 60+ Luncheon
• June 19 — Road Trip: Detroit Tigers
• 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
• August 5 - 8 — Arts Alive Camp: the Global Village
• 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.)
MOTHER´S DAY HONOR ROLL This year, Mother´s Day will be celebrated on Sunday, May 12. Please join the United Methodist Women as we honor mothers by supporting the annual Mother´s Day Honor Roll. 100% of donated monies will be given locally, 50% to United Methodist Community House and 50% to Martin Luther King Leadership Academy Fitness Track Build.
United Methodist Community House, based in southeast Grand Rapids, exists to increase the ability of children, youth, adults, and families to succeed in a diverse community. The new fitness track at MLK School will help create a safe environment for children and their families to develop healthy lifestyles.
If you would like to pay tribute to a mother, living or deceased, send donation form and check to the church office by May 6, 2013 or email information to email@example.com. You may also make a donation without requesting a tribute. Please make checks payable to FUMC (note Mother´s Day Honor Roll on memo line).
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!
HUNGER WALK Join us for the Hunger Walk on Saturday, May 4! Register to participate on Sunday in the parlor. Walk, donate, or volunteer to help on the day of the event. Monies raised help 19 local agencies and 5 international agencies that work to end hunger. For more information visit: www.accessofwestmichigan.org.
PRAYER QUILTS We will be meeting on Thursday, May 2 from 9:00 am to noon in Wesley Hall. All are welcome. It´s a great opportunity to be a part of this worthy mission, meet new people, and to learn about quilting. No experience is needed. There is a job for everyone. For more information contact Ginnie Edwardson at 261.2602 or email@example.com.
TWO 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! ONLY 9 SPOTS LEFT!
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. 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.
FELLOWSHIP BREAKFAST Join the Fellowship Committee in Wesley Hall on Sunday, April 28 from 10:00 - 11:00 am for breakfast. Don´t miss this opportunity to be in fellowship with your First Church family.
IMMIGRATION UPDATE FROM JFON Comprehensive Immigration Reform is in the news and the ongoing debate is getting a lot of coverage. We want to remind you that as things progress, trust JFON to keep you up-to-date on the issue. We regularly post information on our website www.jfonwestmichigan.org and publicize community events and announcements on our Facebook page Justice for Our Neighbors West Michigan. There are no stupid questions; in fact, the unasked question often protects damaging myths.
Finally, JFON staff and volunteers are available to speak at public forums, small groups or at your workplace. Contact Laura Rampersad at L.Rampersad@jfonwestmichigan.org with your questions or to schedule a speaking engagement.
PORTER HILLS FRIENDS Please join Pastors Gary and Tish and our Parish Nurse Marj for a gathering in the Library at Porter Hills on Thursday, May 2 at 2:00 pm. Let´s catch up over some punch and cookies!
MOMS´ GROUP: POT PAINTING & PIZZA NIGHT Thursday, May 9 at 5:30 pm. Bring a packet of seeds to exchange.Please RSVP to Marj at 451.2879 or firstname.lastname@example.org by May 5 so we purchase enough pots to paint.
KEEPING PACE AT MLK What´s the rush? Our goal is to have $30,000 raised to cover the expense of a paved walking track, 5-7 fitness stations and the leveling of the grassy area…by the beginning of May. We need to have the money in hand when we go before the Grand Rapids Finance Committee and School Board the second week of May in order to get final approval. Keeping to this schedule will allow time for the project to be constructed during the summer and be ready the first of next school year. Please help us hit the ground running on this project. Don´t wait…..make a donation today so we can keep the pace!
INFERTILITY SUPPORT GROUP All who have experienced infertility issues, including miscarriage and secondary infertility, are invited to attend our next meeting on Tuesday, May 14 at 7:00 pm in The Vine. Please RSVP by using the bulletin sign-up sheet or by calling Marj Timmerman at 901.9224.
SAVE THE DATE FOR ARTS ALIVE CAMP: THE GLOBAL VILLAGE Camp dates have been scheduled for August 5-8. There will be a special field trip to Howell Nature Center Global Village, on Thursday, August 8. More details and online registration at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/arts-alive-camp!
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 email@example.com, to give us any of the following information: alternative spelling of name, name tags for children, non-magnetic name tag.
ADDRESS CHANGE: Vera Spencer
3121 Lake Michigan Dr NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504-5839
Concerns & Prayers for:
• Robert Anton (Butterworth)
• Lynne Beals (surgery 4/25)
• Belinda Henderson (outpatient surgery 4/25)
• London Williams (DeVos Children´s Hospital)
• 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 Marion, Rick, Betty, Daniel, Joseph and Lydia DeVinney and Kathy and David Crawford on the death of Dick DeVinney on April 20th. Service information is pending.
The love and prayers of the congregation are also extended to Destry Powers and family on the death of Destry´s mother, Alice Powers, on April 20th. Alice´s service will be held on Thursday, April 25th at 1pm at Greenville Community Church, with visitation 1 hour prior.
The memorial service for Corky Kastner will be held this Friday at 11am in our sanctuary with visitation Thursday from 6pm to 8pm in the church parlor.
The love and prayers of the congregation are extended to Kelli and Brandon Greer and family on the death of their daughter, Abby, on April 23rd. Arrangements are pending.
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.
YOUNG ADULTS: CARD-MAKING VOLUNTEER NIGHT Are you 18-30 and looking to connect with other young adults? Then you´re invited to join us in the Vine on Wednesday, May 8 at 6:00 pm for card-making night. We´ll be making cards for Hospice patients. Even if you´re not crafty, we´ll help you out! Friends invited!
ADULT SUNDAY CLASS: UNITED METHODIST SOCIAL PRINCIPLES - Began April 21 at 9:30 am for 7 weeks excluding Memorial Day weekend. Led by Dick Youells and Darren McKnight in room 3109. The Social Principles provide our (Church´s) most recent official summary of stated convictions that seek to apply the Christian vision of righteousness to social, economic, and political issues.
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 Jess Rozga-DeBoni.
ADULT, YOUTH, AND CHILDREN´S MINISTRY VOLUNTEERS: We are "Blooming with Appreciation" for you and would like to recognize and thank you for all that you do for our education ministry. Please save the date of Sunday, May 19 for Education Appreciation Sunday. Details coming shortly!
FIRST AID STATION
DISTRESSED? Distress is the breakdown of one´s mental, emotional, or physical well-being. Your Church Assistance Program (CAP) can help when you are distressed! Begin by calling your CAP hotline at 455-6210. Tell them you are a member or friend of First Church and you will receive 2 one hour meetings with a counselor at no charge. Don´t wait, call today!