In our Staff Meeting on Monday, Eric Strand (our Director of Music and the Arts) was talking about the ‘excellent concert´ that we have the opportunity to enjoy on Wednesday at 7:30 pm in the sanctuary. The choir is called; "The Midwest Teen Ensemble of Village Harmony." It is a group that auditions, meets, rehearses and tours… focusing on international music performed in a style that is consistent with the community where the music originates. What a great concept. SO – if you can attend, I´m sure you will not be disappointed. It will be a worthwhile evening of the enjoyment of good music. Come and join us, please. (That´s tomorrow evening – August 13).
P.S. We are still looking for a few homes to house young women from the group. If you could help, contact Eric at the church office or by email – immediately!
A couple of weeks ago, we held an informational meeting with Liz Balck after worship about the ‘Border Crisis´ that we are facing, particularly as it relates to displaced children. Liz is the attorney for Justice for Our Neighbors of West Michigan that is housed in our facilities. Liz was helpful in explaining the crisis and what we, (as Christian citizens) can do to assist.
I don´t know whether you realize it or not, but the United Methodist Church has a ‘news service´ that is available to anyone who wishes to subscribe. You can find this (and many other resources) at www.umc.org/news-and-media. I subscribe to a daily publication called; the UMNS Daily Digest… (The United Methodist News Service). The articles are written from the perspective of how the church is engaged and responsive to the various critical issues nationally and internationally. I thought I would share with you one segment of a recent article that came from the ‘Council of Bishops´ in response to the Border Crisis. (The excerpt below is taken from the UMC.org web site under Daily Digest, August 11)
Threats of kidnapping and death by criminal gangs, combined with poverty, have led to thousands of unaccompanied minors fleeing to the United States from Central America.
The United Methodist Church is responding in ways few organizations can. Through its network of churches and conferences, it is providing care to children far from home. Through expertly run programs, it is offering relief and legal counsel. And through general agencies, it is providing advocacy and resources.
What does the church say?
"As Christians and United Methodists, we are called to love the stranger in our midst and to treat that stranger as we would our own family," The United Methodist Church states in "Call for Comprehensive Immigration Reform," contained in the 2012 Book of Resolutions.
This care for immigrants is rooted in the Bible. "In the New Testament, Jesus´ life begins as a refugee to Africa when he and his family flee to Egypt to escape Herod´s infanticide," the church states in "Welcoming the Migrant to the U.S."
Immigration is addressed in several other statements adopted by General Conference, the only entity that speaks for the entire church.
The Council of Bishops´ executive committee is asking all United Methodists to "pray, reflect and engage in acts of compassion."
Every person of faith can: • Pray: Pray for the children and their families, their countries and those responding to their needs. • Learn: Understand the underlying issues and the personal stories of the children. Information on the United Methodist response can be found on UMC.org/immigration. • Support the humanitarian response: The United Methodist Committee on Relief, Justice For Our Neighbors, United Methodist Women, Church World Service and other organizations are responding. Individual congregations can seek to work with border churches and ministries. • Advocate: Urge lawmakers not to repeal provisions of human trafficking laws that protect minors or to expedite the deporting of children. The General Board of Church and Society provides information on advocacy, and a General Board of Discipleship resource also offers action steps.
A United Methodist-operated Mexican Border Ministry Network, with more than 16 service locations, is helping immigrants who have been processed and released, without resources, to appear at a later date, says Greg Forrester, a staff executive with the United Methodist Committee on Relief. Donations to UMCOR for Advance #901670, "Immigration Crisis," will support the agency´s work with responding faith groups in the area.
The United Methodist Church IS present and active in many crisis areas around the world. YOU are there – as a United Methodist Christian.
• August 13, 7:30 pm — The Midwest Teen Ensemble of Village Harmony Concert
• August 15 - 17 — All-Church Camp
• August 16, 8:30 am — Feeding America
• August 17, 6:00 pm — Sunday Night Worship
• August 19, 5:30 pm — Frederik Meijer Gardens Evening Family Potluck
• August 20, 9:00 am — Caring Connection
• August 21, 12:00 pm — "The Christ-Centered Women" Bible Study
• August 23 — Stephen Leader Retreat
• August 24, 6:00 pm — Sunday Night Worship
• September 3 — Taizé Sung Prayer Service
• September 3, 6:00 pm — Orientation: Disciple 2
• September 7, 10:00 am — Homecoming Sunday
• September 7, 9:15 am — Faith Traveler´s begins
• September 7, 5:00 - 7:00 pm Junior High Youth Group
• September 7, 5:00 - 7:00 pm — Senior High Youth Group
• September 13, 7:00 pm — Leadership Council Meeting
• September 15, 12:00 pm — 60+ Luncheon
• September 17, 6:00 pm — Disciple 2
• September 28 — Third Grade Bible Sunday
• October 1 — Taizé Sung Prayer Service
• October 4 — ArtPrize: LotParty
• October 5 — ArtPrize: LotParty
• October 25 — Women of First: Shelly Beach Event
THE MIDWEST TEEN ENSEMBLE OF VILLAGE HARMONY performs music from South Africa, Georgia, the Mediterranean, America, and early music from Italy and France. Join us for this concert on Wednesday, August 13 at 7:30 pm. Free will offering. The ensemble is led by Mollie Stone, Emily Miller, and Gideon Crevoshay.
NEWSLETTER CHANGES To be better stewards of the church´s resources, beginning September 2, the Weekly Pulse newsletter will be available only online. The newsletter will be emailed on Tuesdays (listing upcoming events) and Thursdays (featuring prayer concerns, sermon title, Sunday events). If you are unable to access email, you may pick up a copy on Sundays (preferred method), or sign up for a mailed copy by contacting the church office at 616.451.2879. If you already receive the Weekly Pulse online, your subscription will continue as usual. If you haven´t subscribed for the online Weekly Pulse, please use the Sunday sign-up sheet or visit www.grandrapidsfumc.org/subscribe. The monthly First Pulse newsletter still will be printed and mailed the last Tuesday of each month.
EVENING WORSHIP Join us this Sunday evening as we explore a new style of worship! This will be a casual time of worship on our side lawn by the Barclay doors. (If it´s raining, we´ll move to the parlor.) We will begin at 6:00 pm with gathering time and community-building. Please bring a picnic dinner for yourself (and if possible, bring a little extra to share with a new friend) to eat during the gathering time and your own lawn chair or picnic blanket. We will transition from dinner and conversation into singing, a message, message reflection, and shared prayer time. Child care will be available for babies and toddlers. Our goals for this new service are to build community and create a place to invite new friends to First Church all while worshipping God and growing in faith. See you August 17 and 24!
MOMS GROUP: FREDERIK MEIJER GARDENS EVENING FAMILY POTLUCK Your family is invited to meet us on Tuesday, August 19 at 5:30 pm at the covered picnic area outside of the Gardens for an evening potluck. Please bring a dish to share. After dinner, you´re invited to join us in the children´s garden (open till 9 pm). You may want to pack a swimsuit and towel. Garden Admission: Adults - $12, Kids (5-13) - $6, Kids (3-4) - $4, Ages 2 & Under – Free.
MEALS NEEDED Let´s surround Janet Gillespie in love, prayers, and meals as she recovers from surgery. Also, watch for a meal sign-up for Melinda Hoff later this week. Sign up online at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/meals.
YOUNG ADULT: S.H.O.E.S. VOLUNTEER PROJECT We´re volunteering with In The Image´s S.H.O.E.S. program again on Wednesday, August 20 this summer! We´ll be fitting kids with a NEW pair of back-to-school shoes for elementary students in select Grand Rapids, Godfrey-Lee, Kentwood, and Wyoming Schools. Either meet us at The Vine at 5:00 pm to carpool or at In the Image (1823 S. Division Avenue) at 5:30 pm. Open to ages 18-30. Please sign up on Facebook or email SamiM@grandrapidsfumc.org to hold your spot.
PASTORAL CARECall (616) 490-1708 if there is a pastoral care emergency or concern. This is the new pastoral care phone number which will be carried and answered by one of our pastors or another staff member who is ready to help.
FIRST UMC SUMMER CO-ED SOFTBALL Yes, First UMC has a softball team! It competed in the "Softball on the Hill" League played at Orchard Hill Reformed Church on Wednesday evenings. There were 10 teams from various congregations. Emphasis is on fellowship with the teams doing their own umpiring. This year´s team was composed of Sharai DeLong, Scott Lacy, Robin Mangold, Ken Mol, Kate Muszkiewicz, Dean Peffer, Brett Smalley, Dennis Smalley, Elise Smalley, Linnae Smalley, Jim Strohmer, Jason Swanson and Steve Walker. The team ended with a 4 win and 6 loss record. It was great fun for the players.
DID YOU KNOW… MLK Academy is able to order daily healthy snacks for all the 450+ students from the Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank? We have an account there which accepts monetary donations. Our agency identification for donations is: M.L.K. Jr. L. Academy/First UMC. A teacher at the school goes online each week to place our order, drives to Feeding America in Comstock Park to pick up and deliver the order for us. Then the food items are distributed to all the teachers to pass out to the children. For the 2014 calendar year our report shows we purchased 5,074 pounds of food, which was valued at $11,010.58 wholesale. However, because the food bank receives donations and discounted food items, we only had to pay $1,240.11 from our account last year! We are so blessed by the generosity of the community to allow us to serve the children in this way! Jer Hon-Hawkins, Church and School Coordinator
MEIJER COMMUNITY REWARDS Our number is 513357. Sign up to have a percentage of all your Meijer credit card and debit purchases benefit the FUMC Tutoring Center programs. When you swipe your card, we automatically benefit. To enroll call 1-800-962-7011 or go to www.meijer.com/newmcr.
DINNER FOR EIGHT Are you an adult looking to connect with others at First Church? Then sign up for Dinner for Eight. Three times a year, each participant enjoys a potluck style dinner with seven others. It´s fun, you meet new people, and enjoy a meal together! Hosting is an important and fun part of Dinner for Eight, so please sign up to host a dinner in your home. Sign up in the Sunday bulletin or contact Janet Wood (447.1667) or Suzy Wood (891.9069 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
FEEDING AMERICA Join us Saturday, August 16 for the monthly food distribution at Cesar Chavez Elementary (1205 Grandville St. SW 49503). The truck arrives at 8:30 am for set-up, and the distribution begins at 9:00 am. First UMC is responsible for this month, so we need volunteers to help unload the truck and to assist clients in selecting food. Please use the sign-up sheet if you can help.
DISCIPLE 2: INTO THE WORD INTO THE WORLD – Beginning September 17 from 6:00-8:30 pm and led by Pastor Tish. The study builds on biblical knowledge gained in Disciple 1 by delving deeper into the books of Genesis, Exodus, Luke and Acts. The emphasis of this 32-week study is both to understand the text and to allow the text to challenge and inspire the student to respond in practical ways. If you are interested, please sign up for our informational orientation on Wednesday, September 3 at 6:00 pm. Study books ($35.00) and Bibles ($30.00) will be available for purchase that evening or at the north lobby desk.
PARENT OF A TEEN? Struggling with this alien presence? Your Church Assistance Program (CAP) can help with parenting ideas and support! Call CAP at 455-6210 to make an appointment today. By telling them you are a member of Grand Rapids First United Methodist Church, you will receive two one-hour appointments at no cost to you. Don´t wait, call CAP today!
UNITED METHODIST CHURCH RESPONDING TO EBOLA THREAT As the Ebola virus spreads in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, The United Methodist Church continues to be present and respond. The United Methodist Committee on Relief has distributed $87,000 in grants so far and lifesaving supplies and protective equipment are on their way to Sierra Leone and Liberia. Financial gifts can be made to UMCOR´s relief fund through the church (write UMCOR Ebola on the memo line) or by going directly to www.umcor.org.
SUNDAYS 10:00 AM
• Infant Nursery — 0-23 months Room 107
• Toddler Nursery — 2-3 yr. olds 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.)
Children in Grades 3 and up are welcome in worship this summer! In order for middle and older elementary children to be engaged in worship, they will find… • worship bulletins created just for them each week with the theme/scripture of the day (located at each entrance into the sanctuary) • worship bags filled with books, activity sheets, worship bulletins, & colored pencils (available in the back of the sanctuary on a wooden cart). Bags hanging up are ready for use; then simply return your used bag in the basket on the cart to be filled for the next week.
We would also welcome children as worship participants this summer. Would you like to play your instrument or share a song or reading? Please talk to Pastor Tish as we would welcome your participation.
Here is top-level snapshot of our financial statement through July. As you can see, this year is progressing just about exactly as budgeted.
Our revenues are within $22,000 of where we planned after July. The primary reason for this slight "negative" is that our giving is only 97% of plan. Actually this is a phenomenal level of giving percentage considering that giving often falls behind a bit in the summer. Again, this is a tribute to our faithful church family that understands that ministry continues here at First Church each and every day of the year. Thank you!! We expect to get back up to about 100% when fall programming season kicks off.
Expenses are also being managed extremely well. We have spent $16,000 less than budget…again a tribute to our fine staff that works hard every day to be good stewards with our generous donations.
Although we do expect a deficit in our budget for the year, we are working to minimize that. We are also beginning to plan for 2015 with the goal of having a balanced budget. This of course can happen either by reducing expenses (ministry) or increasing revenue. Realistically, the budget will result from a combination of both.
First Church is a wonderful Christian presence in Grand Rapids. Our collective gifts enable impactful ministry to happen. God is smiling upon our work. Let us continue to work towards a greater faith, where our giving becomes a natural, joyful, and generous response from having God at the center of our lives.