´Holy Week´ has always been one of the most important times of the year for me. The annual spiritual journey for me is like experiencing a four movement symphony; from Palm/Passion Sunday … to Maundy Thursday … Good Friday … and finally, the celebration of Easter Sunday morning. When I enter fully into the drama of ´Holy Week,´ then the resurrection celebration is more personal and meaningful. As I practice the disciplines of reading the scriptures, praying, and pondering my way through the journey to the cross, Easter becomes more vivid and joyous.
I am concerned that with the busyness of life today and all the things that compete for our time and attention, the Christian community is losing touch with perhaps the most fundamental message of the Gospel.
Maundy Thursday is perhaps one of my favorite services. Communion is always deeply moving for me … but particularly on Maundy Thursday. It is a rehearsal of the Last Supper, when Jesus met with his friends … forever transforming the breaking of bread and drinking the cup. This week, we are joining together in Wesley Hall with a supper at 6:15 pm – followed by a service of communion.
Our Good Friday Service begins at 7 pm. The thematic focus is "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross." We will rehearse the crucifixion with readings, music, congregational singing, and great art work that will blend together to give us a poignant message of suffering as a part of living. "Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all!"
Easter Morning will be two identical services at 9:15 and 11 am. The resurrection celebration will include great music with choir, brass … with the congregation singing the Hallelujah Chorus by George Frederick Handel. It will be a morning to remember.
I invite you … no … I encourage you, to make a priority of joining us for all the services. You might be surprised with how Easter worship will come alive for you because you have participated in the journey from the upper room, to the cross, and then, the resurrection.
Finally, I would like to let you know of an opportunity to hear Bishop Melvin Talbert at Kalamazoo First United Methodist Church on Saturday, April 26. Bishop Talbert is a retired Bishop of the United Methodist Church who has recently been charged with misconduct for performing a union ceremony for a same-sex couple in Atlanta. I have found Bishop Talbert to be thoughtful, articulate, and deeply spiritual as he seeks to be engaged in justice ministries of the church. As an African-American clergy person, he was deeply involved in civil rights issues all across the country. If you have interest in learning about an issue that is creating division within the church, this is a wonderful opportunity. You may get more information from the Kalamazoo First UMC´s web site at www.umc-kzo.org
I hope to see you this week … and a blessed Easter season to you all!
MAUNDY THURSDAY COMMUNION SERVICE All are welcome to this "Family Meal" on Thursday, April 17. Join us at 6:15 pm for a soup and bread meal followed by worship and communion at 7:00 pm in Wesley Hall. We would like to know how many people to prepare for, so please use the Sunday sign-up sheet if you plan to attend the service. Child care provided, beginning at 6:30 pm.
COMMUNITY GOOD FRIDAY SERVICE You´re invited to the Community Good Friday Service on Friday, April 18 from 12:00 - 2:00 pm at Central Reformed Church (10 College Ave NE). Bob will preach on the Fourth Word.
FIRST CHURCH GOOD FRIDAY SERVICE Join us Friday, April 18 at 7:00 pm for "Music and Readings on the Passion of Christ." Child care provided.
IDENTICAL EASTER SUNDAY SERVICES will be held in the celebration of Easter on Sunday, April 20 at 9:15 and 11:00 am. Join us for a continental breakfast in Wesley Hall from 10:00 - 11:00 am. Children are encouraged to worship with their families. 9:30 Faith Travelers, Youth, and Adult Classes will NOT be held. Children´s Nurseries and Classes Available on Easter are as follows: 9:15 am
• Childcare for Infants and Toddlers
• Children & Worship Class for Older 3´s-PreK
• No Faith Travelers this morning; elementary aged students are invited to worship with their families 11:00 am
• Childcare for Infants and Toddlers
• One Room Schoolhouse for 4 Yrs – Grade 2 (Children will be dismissed from worship)
• 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, 9:00 - 6:00 pm — Church Building and First Place Closed
• April 18, 7:00 pm — Good Friday Service
• April 19, 9:00 am — Feeding America Distribution at Cesar Chavez Elementary School
• April 20, 9:15 and 11:00 am — Easter Sunday • April 21 — Church Building and First Place Closed • April 21 — CANCELLED: 60+ Luncheon
• 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 — Jackson Road Trip
EASTER SUNDAY, APRIL 20
In order for families to worship together on Easter Sunday, 9:30 am Faith Travelers, Youth, and Adult Classes will not be held on Easter. Children´s Nurseries and Classes Available on Easter are as follows: 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
• 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.
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 $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!
DON´T FORGET YOUR SWEATER Outdoor temperatures are fluctuating like mad! How are we supposed to dress? The outdoor temperature has a direct effect on how the church building feels inside. When the temperature is going back and forth, church can be very warm or very cool. During this time of temperature uncertainty, please wear layers. In this huge building, it´s difficult to get the temperature favorable for all, so please come to church prepared!
MOMS OF BABIES, TODDLERS, & PRESCHOOLERS You´re invited to join us for our Moms´ Group: Mingling Moms´ Night on Tuesday, April 22 from 5:30 - 7:00 pm. Have you ever wanted to check out the great products or services that others in our group are selling without that awkward pressure to buy? Well, we´re going to try that out over dinner. If you sell Pampered Chef, Avon, ThirtyOne, etc., bring your brochures or samples. The deal is, no one is expected to buy anything, but if you want to, that´s ok, too. We´ll order pizza for dinner ($5/family) and have someone come in to help play with the kids while we chat. Friends invited! RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
ROAD TRIP TO JACKSON Join us on May 7 for a day trip to Jackson! We will visit the historic Michigan Theatre where we will learn about the history of Jackson State Prison through live storytelling, film clips, archival photos and more. We will then enjoy lunch at Steve´s Ranch before heading to the old prison which is now Armory Arts Village. After experiencing the historic facility, we will have time to browse and enjoy the arts and crafts in the Grand Gallery. Get your reservation form online at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/road-trips, in the north lobby, or contact Marj Timmerman at 901-9224. History, art, and good food will make for a very enjoyable day!
DIRECTOR OF CHILDREN´S MINISTRY POSITION First Church is accepting applications for the position of Director of Children´s Ministry. Responsibilities include oversight of all Sunday morning children´s education classes; recruitment, training, and supervision of volunteer teachers; planning and oversight of additional children´s activities. This is a part-time paid position. A bachelor´s degree is required. Experience working with children in a church setting is desirable. A complete job description and application are available online at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/employment. Application deadline is April 23. For additional information, contact Emil Jensen at 451.2879 or email@example.com.
WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR? explores how art can become a bridge "to our neighbor," and a creative catalyst for social change and spiritual renewal. The conference and art exhibit features 2 days (April 25 & 26) of seminars and workshops and an 11-artist/300-piece exhibit held in the 8 hosting churches. Visit www.eyekons.com for more information and to register.
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.
SOFTBALL Join the FUMC Co-Ed Softball team! Practices are Sundays at 3:00 pm at the north Richmond Park fields, and the first game is Wednesday, May 7. You must be 13 to be eligible to play. Sign up using the Sunday bulletin.
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.
GOOD FRIDAY HOURS The church building and First Place will be closed Friday, April 18 for Good Friday. The church building will open at 6:00 pm for the annual Good Friday Service at 7:00 pm.
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.
FAITH TRAVELERS MISSION OFFERING The K-4 church school classes (Faith Travelers) 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. Thank you! Did you know that…1,800 children have been supported by Family Promise and that 90% of families have found a new home?!
BIBLICAL OBEDIENCE: RECONCILING MINISTRIES AND MARRIAGE EQUALITY First United Methodist Church of Kalamazoo invites you to join them Saturday, April 26 from 9:00 am - 3:00 pm and Sunday, April 27 from 8:30 am - 12:00 pm for a weekend with Bishop Melvin G. Talbert as he shares his prophetic witness for full inclusion of LGBT persons in all aspects of the church. FUMC of Kalamazoo is pleased to offer this opportunity for better understanding and serious conversation about this significant issue. Registration is necessary for the Saturday session ONLY. Cost: $10 (includes lunch and materials). Registration deadline: April 23. Register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling the church at 269.381.6340.
HUNGER WALK is SUNDAY, May 4 starting at Park Church at 1:30 pm. You can still pick up a walker envelope in Wesley Hall or the narthex. If you are unable to walk, you may collect funds and get a "proxy" walker. Or you may seek a walker who would gladly accept your pledge or donation. Every one of these donations counts: just $30 feeds a family of four for one week. Fight hunger! Walkers: please bring all monies collected to the Hunger Walk check in on walk day, May 4 at 1:30 PM. Internet solicitors will have monies recorded in your account for FUMC. All walkers are invited to a luncheon in Wesley Hall at 12:15 pm the day of the walk.
DETROIT TIGERS Enjoy a Tiger game with your First Church friends on Wednesday, June 18! We´ll travel together on a comfortable bus, enjoy donuts and coffee along the way to Detroit, and then spend the afternoon cheering the Tigers on. A great family outing - and no driving or parking stresses for you! Get your reservation form online at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/road-trips, in the north lobby, or contact Marj Timmerman at 901-9224.
Concerns & Prayers for:
• Lynne Beals
• Roy Hart
• Julie Obrecht
• Mike Obrecht (St Mary´s)
• Chris Bolhouse
• Scott Grifhorst
• Xavier Kenmoe
• Stephan Mathos
• Jesse Mounts
• Trevor Norton
• Shawn Seher
• Peter Taylor, Jr
The love and prayers of the congregation are extended to Linda Bassett and her family on the death of Linda´s mother, Willa Wood, on April 9th. Her service was held on Monday, April 14th in Branch, Michigan.
Congratulations to Heather and Josh Stauffer on the birth of a daughter, Juniper Quinn, on April 12th. Proud big sister is Violet!
Thank you to everyone for all your kind expressions of sympathy in the loss of my husband´s brother. Also, my surgery went well and I am doing well. It is with all my heart that I thank you for all the cards, prayers,and offers of help. God is good, Thank you.
I have been writing these little columns for a long time, and feel like I do an okay job of trying to portray church giving as a spiritual matter rather than a bland discussion about dollars. At least, many of you have been very kind in your feedback which leads me to this conclusion. But every once in a while something happens that puts me in my place - lest I get too full of myself! One such event happened Sunday…the awesome sermon delivered by Pastor Bob Hundley on the subject of Extravagant Generosity. Having heard this sermon, I was inclined to simply invoke the current pop culture phrase - "WHAT HE SAID…" - instead of writing what follows.
If you were not in church, you need to seek out this sermon and read it or see it on the web. After hearing Bob preach, I spent a good while thinking about the many ways our congregation practices such generosity - making giving a priority in their lives.
Did you know that we have several people in our congregation inspired to make special gifts to the Work Program above and beyond their normal giving?
There is also a retired couple at First Church who, while wintering in Florida, takes the time after each Christmas to go to stores to purchase bargain wrapping paper and other Christmas supplies - which are then loaded into the belly of their motor home and driven back to Grand Rapids in the spring to be donated to the MLK Leadership Academy Gift of Giving project. This effort saves the project hundreds of dollars that can be re-directed to gifts for the children.
These are just two examples of many where God has moved the people of First Church to make giving time and treasure as disciples of Jesus Christ a priority. I´ve found them to be the happiest, most cheerful people you could ever meet. I believe such generosity is as helpful for the giver as for the recipient.
I sincerely hope you are searching for that place in your relationship with God where such generosity in ministry becomes a joyous and grateful response to all the bounty God has provided to you! I hope you are urgently searching, with God´s leading, your ministry niche. Noticing a lot of happy faces at First Church? Our church is alive with people who have found joy in being God´s generous servant…are you there yet?
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.
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 is Monday, May 19th from 3pm to 7pm in Wesley Hall! Blood donors and cookie bakers needed. Please contact Marj Timmerman at email@example.com or 901-9224 to reserve a time to donate blood or to let us know you can provide 2 dozen cookies. Help save a life!
STEPHEN MINISTRY Why is Stephen Ministry called Stephen Ministry? What does a Stephen Minister do? How can I become a Stephen Minister? Find the answers to these and other questions on Sunday, June 8 when you can meet with our Stephen Ministry Team in the parlor at 11am for refreshments and a short video. We will be holding a Stephen Minister training class this fall. Are you ready?
FIRST AID STATION
ANXIETY Are you struggling with feelings of anxiety? Has anxiety been preventing you from enjoying activities with your friends or family? Let your Church Assistance Program (CAP) helps you find ways to overcome it! Call 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!