Wasn´t Easter Sunday a blessing? The setting, the word, the music, the people – all of it together a glorious celebration of God´s love and mercy. I think Bob and our choir did an outstanding job and if you weren´t able to be present with us, be sure to go to our website to hear his sermon and experience the music.
Bob´s sermon title was ‘An End is a Beginning´ and he used Natalie Sleeth´s ‘Hymn of Promise´ to illustrate God´s resurrection promise of new beginnings in every ending. During Lent many Christians engage in a practice of self-reflection and penitence. Lent has now ended and it is time for new beginnings. Might I suggest that we spend Eastertide celebrating the living Lord by engaging in acts of service and discipleship? There are several opportunities you might consider.
• I´m excited about the Grand Rapids District Habitat Build. As you know this organization believes that everyone should have a decent, safe and affordable place to live. They build and repair houses using volunteer labor and donations and help families purchase these houses through no-profit mortgage loans and volunteer hours. This year the churches of the Grand Rapids District are joining together to work on a house at 934 Caulfield Ave SW. Our church has committed to five build days, June 14, June 19, July 16, August 2, and May 13 (young adults group only). This is not only a great way to give of your time and talents but also to connect with other United Methodists! If this is something you feel called to participate in, please contact Laure Mieskowski or Sami Marasigan or sign up online at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/sign-up-sheet.
• Join the Access of West Michigan Hunger Walk on Sunday, May 4, 2014. This 5K hunger walk raises awareness and funds in response to local and world-wide needs. The funds are distributed for pantry assistance, emergency meals, urban gardening, farmers market initiatives for low income people, assistance for seniors, and international development. This is a great way to get involved in ministry – especially for families. Be sure to catch the sign-up April 27 in Wesley Hall.
• Did you know that each month our Social Concerns Committee promotes the Westminster Food Pantry by giving us a donation challenge? This month the challenge is tuna and toilet paper! For most of us this is a pretty simple way to make a difference in someone´s life. Next time you are out shopping, add these items to your grocery cart and then drop them off in the north lobby collection room.
• Are you interested in knowing more about our church? Our next Membership Exploration Class will be held on April 27 and May 4 from 5-6:30 pm. We will meet for a simple meal and to discuss the uniqueness of the United Methodist denomination and how we live out our faith here in this church. If you are interested in joining this class, please contact Patsy McGillivray or use the sign-up sheet on our website.
• You might also consider taking up or recommitting to a practice of personal devotion. We grow closer to God when we are in the word and spending time in prayer every day. The following are resources that I have found to be very helpful and very meaningful:
• A Guide to Prayer for All Who Walk with God published by Upper Room. This resource offers a simple pattern of daily prayer built around weekly themes and is organized by the Christian church year with scripture, readings drawn from the history of Christian spirituality and prayer.
• A Life Shaping Prayer: 52 Meditations in the Wesleyan Spirit by Paul Wesley Chilcote.
• A Way of Life in the World: Spiritual Practices for United Methodists by Kenneth H. Carter, Jr.
• The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence.
In this season of Eastertide let´s celebrate the resurrection promise by embracing service and discipleship with renewed passion and commitment. It really will transform the world!
• April 22, 5:30 pm — Moms´ Group: Mingling Moms´ Night
• April 27 — 2nd Best Sale Drop-Off Begins
• April 27, 5:00 - 6:30 pm — Membership Exploration
• April 28, 7:00 pm — Leadership Council Meeting
• May 1, 9:00 am — Prayer Quilts
• May 3, 9:00 am - 3:00 pm — 2nd Best Sale - Saturday
• May 4, 1:00 pm — Access Hunger Walk
• May 4, 5:00 - 6:30 pm — Membership Exploration
• May 6, 10:00 am — Moms´ Group: John Ball Zoo Field Trip
• May 7 — CANCELLED: Jackson Road Trip
• May 7, 6:00 pm — Taizé Sung Prayer Service
• May 13, 5:30 pm — Moms´ Group: Mom and Me Yoga
• May 17, 9:00 am — Feeding America Distribution at Cesar Chavez Elementary School
• May 17, 5:00 pm - 10:30 am — 5-6 Faith Travelers End-of-Year Overnight Celebration
• May 19, 12:00 pm — 60+ Luncheon
• May 19, 3:00 - 7:00 pm — Blood Drive
• May 21, 9:00 am — Caring Connection
• June 1 — Teacher Appreciation Sunday
• June 13-15 — Father/Child Camp
• June 14 — Habitat Build Day
• June 16, 12:00 pm — 60+ Luncheon
• June 18, 9:00 am — Caring Connection
• June 19 — Habitat Build Day
• July 16, 9:00 am — Caring Connection
• June 16 — Habitat Build Day
• August 2 — Habitat Build Day
• August 4-7 — Arts Alive Camp
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.
MOTHER´S DAY HONOR ROLLThis year, Mother´s Day will be celebrated on Sunday, May 11. 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 to United Methodist Community House, JFON of West Michigan, and Imagine No Malaria. 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. JFON of West Michigan is a ministry of hospitality that welcomes immigrants by offering legal services and engaging in advocacy for immigrant´s rights. Through Imagine No Malaria the United Methodist Church seeks to eradicate malaria in Sub-Saharan Africa. Malaria is a preventable, treatable disease that kills more than 650,00 people a year, most under the age of 5. If you would like to pay tribute to a mother, living or deceased, download the 2014 Mother's Honor Roll Form.
FATHER/CHILD CAMP Spend Father´s Day weekend (June 13-15) at Lake Michigan UM 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 $30 per night. Five meals are provided for $20 per adult and $15 per child with a maximum amount of $50 per family. Please contact Jason Smith at 262.7151 or email@example.com. Make sure to ask about the "buy one, get one night free" offer for first timers!
SAMPLE-SIZED TOILETRIES During June, the children at MLK attend Camp O´Malley. Many arrive at camp without needed hygiene items such as soap, shampoo, lotion, toothbrushes and toothpaste. Hotel-sized toiletries are perfect, so if you are traveling this spring, please bring us any of those items you won´t be using for yourself. Please drop off your donation in the MLK collection bins in the north lobby office.
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. We need your help to make this sale a success. Please sign up to help in the Sunday bulletin or on our church web site at www.grandrapidsfumc.org. If you need helpers to carry your treasures downstairs, drop off items on Sunday, April 27th from 12:30 to 2:00 pm and again from 5:30 - 7:00 pm. You may also place items on or under the tables provided, just outside the lobby door. Please multiply your faith by contributing your gently used items, time and energy to help make this annual fund raising event a success. Tax deductible forms are available at the church lobby desk.
RIBBON CUTTING EVENT TO COMMEMORATE THE NEW MLK FITNESS PATH! Help us celebrate the new MLK Fitness Path on Thursday, May 8 at 2:00 pm at MLK, Jr. Leadership Academy playground (645 Logan). The event will take place on the playground where we will honor student participants in the 5/3 Riverbank Run for Youth, and those in whose honor donations were made. Healthy refreshments will be served. In the event of rain, the celebration will take place in the MLK gym.
SUMMER CAMP! The summer camp booklets are out, and the camping office is receiving registrations daily. Have you considered sending a child to camp this summer? Now is the time to sign up. The winter seemed to drag on this year, but when summer comes we will be ready to have some fun and share the love and Gospel of Christ. I hope you will be able to send a child to one of our summer camps this year. "Ahh," you may say… "I do not have children at home any more." That doesn´t have to stop you. Maybe you know of a child who might like to go… a grandchild, or child from the neighborhood. Camp is a way to give a child a gift they will never forget… an experience that may change their life! If you would like more information please feel free to contact us at umcamping.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 1-888-217-1905.
YOUNG ADULTS (AGES 18-30): DINNER @ MARIE CATRIB´S You´re invited to join us for dinner on Wednesday, May 7 at a local treasure - Marie Catrib´s. We´ll meet at The Vine at 5:45 pm to carpool (or just meet us there at 6:00 pm). Bring dinner $. Friends invited!
MEMBERSHIP EXPLORATION classes will be held on Sunday, April 27 and May 4 from 5:00 - 6:30 pm. If you would like to know more about First Church, please join us! Sign up by using the Sunday bulletin or online.
JOHN BALL ZOO FIELD TRIP Are you a mom of a baby, toddler, or preschooler looking to connect with other moms? If so, please join us for our field trip to the zoo on Tuesday, May 6 at 10:00 am! We´re going to the zoo before the prices go up for the summer! Meet us inside the gate by the John Ball statue to stroll through the zoo together. We´ll plan on lunch around noon. (Either pack a lunch or purchase one from the concession stand.) Admission: Adults - $5, Kids - $4, Ages 2 & Under – Free.
DETROIT TIGER FANS Please note I was able to change our tickets for Sections 112 and 113, the same area we were in last year! So be sure to join us for the game on May 18 and cheer the Tigers on to another win! Get your reservation form online at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/road-trips, in the north lobby, or contact Marj Timmerman at 901-9224.
PERSONAL ENERGY TRANSPORTATION (PET) Thank you for your past support. We have moved and invite you to join us for an open house on Wednesday, April, 30 from 11:00 am - 7:00 pm at 3365 John F. Donnelly Dr in Holland, MI. For more details about our ministry, visit our website at www.petmiholland.org.
NICARAGUA FEEDING PROGRAM The Coffee Can Offering on May 11 will benefit the Nicaragua Feeding Program. Our medical mission partner, Dr. Mir, feeds children who are in need from her own home. Children are fed on Tuesdays and Thursdays; milk is provided on Sundays. $10 feeds one child for a month. 40 children are currently being fed with available funds. Additional funds will allow Dr. Mir to expand to include other children. The need is great!
HUNGER WALK First Church families are invited to participate in the May 4 Access Hunger Walk! The walk occurs on Sunday this year and begins at Park Church at 1:30 pm. Sign up in the parlor to walk with your family! All walkers are invited to a luncheon at 12:15 pm in Wesley Hall the day of the walk.
It´s hard to believe that we already are one-quarter into 2014. At First Church, thanks to your faith-filled generosity, our ministries are alive and well - impacting many with the love of Jesus Christ. Here is where we stand after March…
Our current deficit is slightly higher than expected, but has improved nicely from the end of February. Our revenues are slightly below plan, and our expenses are also slightly below plan. What is noteworthy is that our giving is at 96% of plan - which is a continuing testament to the faithfulness of our church family when it comes to giving.
As we have discussed, if nothing changes, we will end up the year at a deficit of about $120,000. Although we might be able to get by this year with the use of our slight reserves, and some extra contribution through our Legacy Funds, this kind of deficit is not sustainable into the coming years.
We have always been a congregation that RISES UP to keep our ministry vibrant and impactful. Have you reviewed your giving commitment for 2014? Has your personal economic situation improved? Is God leading you to adjust your giving in order to help us reduce this deficit? Has the recent discussion about Fruitful Congregations caused you to consider your personal discipleship in a way that leads to greater commitment of time and resources? God is pleased with us at First Church for all the work we do, but God also continues to challenge us to become even more passionate in our witness, our service, and our giving. Thanks for your unwavering support!
RISK-TAKING MISSION First Church is joining other UM Churches in the "Grand Rapids District Habitat Build." This is a wonderful opportunity to join with Habitat Kent County in a project that will forever change the life of a hard-working, low-income family in need of affordable housing. We invite you to pray for the project and the family who will live in this home at 934 Caulfield Ave SW. Consider being part of a First Church building team on one or more of the following days: Saturday, June 14, Thursday, June 19, Wednesday, July 16, and Saturday, August 2. We will be framing on each of these days. Volunteers must be age 16 or older. You may volunteer by contacting Laure Mieskowski at email@example.com or Sami Marasigan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BLOOD DRIVE Our next blood drive will be held on Monday, May 19 from 3:00 - 7:00 pm in Wesley Hall. Attempt to donate and you could win four 4th row infield tickets to the Detroit Tigers vs Minnesota Twins game at Comerica Park on June 14! Sign up for a time slot by using the Sunday sign-up sheet or by emailing Marj Timmerman at email@example.com. Be somebody extraordinary - save a life!
RADICAL HOSPITALITY Two common comments we´ve heard recently are: (1) your returning and joining First Church was a result of our bread outreach. (2) appreciation from our newer members for their First Friend when they joined. Bread Ministry – The Bread Ministry is one of our most successful hospitality programs. We heard this throughout the 5 Practices classes and Bob´s Meet and Greets. All that´s required is a quick stop each Sunday in the north lobby following worship to see if there were any visitors in your neighborhood. Grab your neighborhood bread bag and deliver it. Just drop it off. You do not stay for a long discussion in the doorway; you hand them the bread and say thank you for visiting. First Friends – A number of years ago we had First Friends who walked with new members to help them connect and meet people during the first couple of months of membership. Some of these First Friends and members formed long term friendships. We would like to restart this ministry and need your help. This requires you sit with the new member a couple of Sundays, introduce them to others, and talk to them about the many opportunities offered at First Church. You could even go out for lunch after church, invite them to your home, or anything to be hospitable in a way that works best for you. If you were impacted by either of these programs or are looking for a Radical Hospitality activity, please sign up using the Sunday sign-up sheet.
TOILET PAPER AND TUNA During the month of April, Social Concerns will be collecting toilet paper and canned tuna for Westminster Food Pantry. Our goal is to collect 110 packages of toilet paper and 110 cans of tuna. Please drop off your donation in the collection bins in the north lobby office.
STEPHEN MINISTRY So what is Stephen Ministry really all about? Do you have what it takes to join the Stephen Ministry Team? Are you looking for a Christ-like way to care for another during a difficult time in their life? Find the answers to these and other questions on Sunday, June 8 when you can meet with the Stephen Ministry Team in the parlor at 11:00 am for refreshments and a short video. We will be holding a Stephen Minister training class this fall. Are you ready?
FIRST AID STATION
IS YOUR CHILD OUT OF CONTROL? Have you tried time-outs and rewards but he/she continues to act out? Call your Church Assistance Program (CAP) at 455-6210. By telling them you are a member of First Church, you will have 2 one-hour confidential appointments with a social worker at no charge to you. Don´t struggle any longer - call CAP today!
Thursday, April 17
Maundy Thursday Service ........83 Friday, April 18
Good Friday Service ........120 Sunday, April 20
Worship 9:15 am ........352
Worship 11:00 am ........455
Church School ........84