On our journey to East Lansing last Saturday (to the Spartan football game, of course) I was intrigued by all of the farmers who were harvesting the fields. In my previous congregation, there were still a fair number of big-time farmers who were part of the church family. Consequently, I was more aware of both planting and harvesting seasons than at any other time in my life. I am more of an urban kind of guy, so it was a huge learning curve to be pastor of six to ten farming families. One farmer knew how inexperienced I was, so he invited me to spend a day on the combine with him. I think I lasted about two and a half hours of back and forth … back and forth through the corn field. The combine itself was fascinating. The cab was ‘very’ comfortable. It was air conditioned … with a great stereo … and technology that showed the bushels of corn that were being gathered – including giving him the market value of what he was expected to make on the harvest.
For the nine years that we lived in Mason, the church and the community changed its perception of itself from being an agricultural community … to being a suburban community. By the end of our tenure there, almost everyone in the church (and particularly the new members) all worked in Lansing, East Lansing, or Okemos. Pigeon worked in Okemos and the drive from our home to her office was through basically 8 miles of farm land. Consequently, we experienced the change of seasons much differently during those nine years than any other time in our lives. Both of us had always lived in the city. But I would not trade the experience for anything. Jesus taught within an agrarian society. Many of the stories that he told were based on examples and images of agricultural community. When he talked about the harvest, it had spiritual implications.
My wife and I love to visit the two farmers’ markets that are part of the urban culture of the city of Grand Rapids. Based on things I hear around the church, a lot of folks in our congregation visit either the downtown or the Fulton Street market. When walking through the markets, I constantly think about the harvest that those merchants are representing. We are sustained by the gift of food from the harvest. In Matthew 9:37-38, Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of harvest to send out workers into the harvest.”
What an important image for the church to consider seriously. In an agricultural image, the soil is prepared, the planting is done and watering and weeding has occurred. We have been patiently waiting for growth to happen in its season … but now, it is harvest time. We too need workers to be actively engaged in ministry. That engagement lives itself out in a multitude of ways! We give our time … our talents … and our treasures.
Wouldn’t it be something if we tithed our time! We have 168 hours in a week. If we tithed on that, then 16 hours a week ought to be given as an investment to help (or minister) others. That seems like the bar is set too high – so let’s back it down. The average work week is 40 hours. SO, what if we tithed on our work week? Could we handle four hours per week investing in the work of God? Volunteering in the myriad of ministries that we offer through our congregation alone would help us produce a harvest. Investing time as a choir member, Christian Education teacher or staff, being part of the work program, being a youth leader, volunteering at MLK, leading a Bible study or participating in a Bible study, working as a volunteer in the office … would make a huge difference.
Think about it! Pray about it. “The harvest is ripe” … we simply need partners to do the work of harvesting.
Grace and Peace to you.
PS … Next week, I will address the ‘harvest of talents!’
• Children & Worship (toilet trained) — Older 3´s – Pre K
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
• Toddler Nursery — 2-3 years
• One Room Schoolhouse — 4 years-Grade 2
(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.
FLU SHOT CLINIC Mark your calendar! Spectrum Health Visiting Nurses will provide flu shots from 10:00 am - 1:00 pm on Sunday, October 13 in the parlor. Medicare and many insurances billed directly for you. No reservations needed!
60+ LUNCHEON will meet Monday, October 21 at noon. The speaker will be Arlene Scripsema on WWII memories. Make your reservation right away! Call Luci Baer at 457.7797 or Elaine Youngs at 735.5506.
THE METHODIST CONNECTION is a cooperative ministry of First Community AME, First United Methodist Church, Hilliard Chapel AME, and St. Luke AME Zion. Members of these churches meet together for yearly events as a way to further racial reconciliation and to widen the circle of friends and those for whom we care and pray. You are invited to save the date of Sunday, November 10 at 5:00 pm for the annual Methodist Connection worship service and pie dessert social. This year’s event will be held at First United Methodist Church.
METRO MINISTRY All are invited to the GR Metro Ministry Annual Meeting scheduled for Monday, November 4 at 6:00 pm at the Hope Center, 1933 Buchanan Ave SW. This is less a business meeting and more a time of sharing friendship, food, and the joys and challenges of urban/near-urban ministry. Hear from and talk with representatives from three UM congregations: Aldersgate, St. Paul’s, and FUMC, about their ministry with persons living in poverty, and how those ministries are transforming lives outside and inside the congregation. Hear brief updates on Metro Ministry’s continuing work, upcoming initiatives, and recent developments of creative use and reuse of aging urban buildings. Start it all off with a welcome from LaNueva Esperanza UMC, who will provide a buffet sampling of foods from diverse Hispanic traditions represented in the congregation. To help plan for food, please RSVP by Monday, October 28 to Julie Liske at email@example.com.
SUBSCRIBE! Missed church? Never go sermon-less again. Our pastors´ sermons are now available on YouTube. Simply search for GRFUMC and click the subscribe button. Printed copies are also available in the north lobby rack.
CHILDREN’S WORSHIP BAGS Parents and kids: after using a Children’s Worship Bag, please place it in the basket below the rack so it can be refilled for next week. If you hang it up again, there will be elements missing for the subsequent Sundays.
CROOM RECITAL Tenor James Croom will be returning to FUMC for a concert on Sunday, October 20 at 4:00 pm. He will be bringing other singers and a local Sudanese choir, as well. The concert is free, but any proceeds will benefit local Sudanese refugees. Operatic music, music of Broadway, vocal jazz, and light popular standards will be featured, along with the Sudanese choir, that includes a drumming accompaniment. Now a priest in the Episcopal Church, Jim serves as rector of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Wyoming, Michigan.
MOMS AT FIRST Meet and greet your Stephen Ministers after both worship services on Sunday, October 13 in Wesley Hall. Learn about Stephen Ministry, what the ministry is, whom we care for, and how you might become one! Look for the people in the blue shirts.
GIVE TO JFON THROUGH THE UNITED WAY JFON has been registered as a Donor Choice Agency of Heart of West Michigan, since 2008 and can accept donations through this program. This is particularly timely as United Way pledges are being collected in the fall. Donors can elect to choose Justice for Our Neighbors to receive their funds. Please consider JFON when you pledge, and spread the word with family and friends!
FAITH TRAVELERS’ MISSION OFFERING FOR HEIFER PROJECT INTERNATIONAL: Our Faith Travelers program will be taking a voluntary offering each Sunday morning during their 9:30 am church school classes. Our goal is to purchase a share of a heifer cow ($50) from Heifer Project International. Children are encouraged to do chores or read at home to raise their offering money. (If each Faith Travelers child were to bring in just $1, we would meet our goal!) Our purpose is to teach children that by working together, they can make a difference in the life of another child. Thank you for supporting families around the world that they might have regular meals, a stable income, and likewise pass on this gift to their neighbors. Please contact Annette Erbes at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
MARTIN LUTHER KING ~ FUMC GIFT OF GIVING CHRISTMAS PROGRAM Each year our church embraces the families of MLK at Christmas in a wonderful way.
MLK Parents sign up at fall registration and immediately begin doing volunteer work at the school or outside agencies to “earn” the gifts provided for their children.
They provide us with a wish list of presents for each of their children, which may be aged birth to 12. The lists tell us the gender, age and sizes, as well as clothing needs and desired toys or games. Teens aged 13-18 will have a choice of 2 stores and donors simply purchase a gift card, as they are difficult to buy for.
We solicit donors who pledge to spend AT LEAST $40 for each child they request. The wish lists are passed out on Nov. 3 at church or mailed November 4.
Donors shop from November 3 - December 4.
Unwrapped gifts are brought to our collection area on the third floor of First Place December 4 or December 8.
MLK Parents will come to accept and wrap the gifts December 11 and 12.
What are this year’s needs? They are great! 95% of MLK families live below the national poverty level. We anticipate needing to gift approximately 200 children this year. Please indicate your interest in
sponsoring today by filling out the Sunday
A DIFFERENT KIND OF CHRISTMAS FAIR Many major box stores are already “decking the halls” and setting up their seasonal Christmas displays. You may think it is a bit early but we invite you to think differently about gift shopping this year. Consider giving alternative mission gifts to your loved ones. Save the date and some of your gift budget for A Different Kind of Christmas Fair scheduled for Sunday, November 17, 2013 in Wesley Hall.
JAZZ VESPERS, featuring the Fred Knapp Trio, on Saturday, October 19 at 6:00 pm weaves scripture, a pastoral message and prayer into a celebration of faith, hope, and the love of God. Please join us!
EASY FUNDRAISER TO BENEFIT OUR TUTORING CENTER AT MLK Shop D &W Fresh Market Stores and Family Fare Stores October 20-26. The CASH for CLASS fundraisers for the MLK Academy at D&W and Family Fare now have a very easy format. To support our Tutoring Center you must first be registered for the Spartan/D&W/ Family Fare YES card, then during specific promotional periods, when your YES card is swiped MLK automatically benefits. Now is the time to get registered! The catch is, everyone must register anew for this school year! This is how it’s done….
Already a YES cardholder? Go to www. myyesrewards.com, log into your account by entering your email address and password under “Returning Members,” go to “My Profile” page and link our school CODE 89389
Already a YES cardholder, but don’t have an online account set up? Go to www. myyesrewards.com click “First-Time to Site” and follow the steps to complete account registration. Then complete part 1 as written above. CODE 89389
Not a YES member yet? Go to www. myyesrewards.com and click “Join Us”, fill out the registration form and link our school code to your card 89389! You can pick up your YES card at your store’s Customer Service desk. CODE 89389
If all else fails, go to the Customer Service desk in any store and they can help you get a card and link your card to the FUMC – MLK Cash for Class number 89389.
MLK HALLOWEEN COOKIE BAKERS Party time is closing in at MLK! We are in need of cookie bakers of all ages to meet in the kitchen of FUMC on Wednesday, October 30. Baking, cookie decorating, and boxing will start at 12:30 pm and finish at 2:00 pm. Feel free to bring along some autumn sprinkles for decorating. Please use the Sunday bulletin sign-up sheet or call the Tutoring Center at 819.1745 to let us know we can count on you!
LEGACY WILLING FRIENDS Willing Friends of First Church are those individuals and families who have indicated that they have included the church in their will or estate plan. They are both “friends” of Christ and “willing” to support Christ’s ministry and mission now and into the future. If you are a Willing Friend or would like more information on becoming one, you are welcome to join us for a luncheon at Mangiamo! on Sunday, November 3 at 12:30. Wayne Barrett will be the speaker. Reservations for this event are required through Sharon Sorensen at 451-2879, x 124 or email@example.com.
SCRAPBOOKING Our next scrapbooking event will be Saturday, October 26 from 10:00 am - 6:00 pm. It’s a great way to get some projects done and be in fellowship at the same time. We’d love to have you join us! If you are a scrapbooker, please email Patsy McGillivray at firstname.lastname@example.org to be included on the scrapbook emailings.
ONE-ROOM SCHOOLHOUSE is a traditional church school class offered at 11:00 am for children ages 4 through grade 2. The children attend the beginning of 11:00 am worship with their families, and are dismissed to Room 202 following Moments with the Children. The children experience and learn Bible stories through adaptable lesson plans which incorporate drama, puzzles, games, storytelling, music, and activities for readers and non-readers alike. This class is led by Linnae Smalley and Katie Wezeman, and all children ages 4 through grade 2 are welcome!
Concerns & Prayers for:
• Dave Berles (surgery 10-17)
• Don Far
• Charles Fry
• Jim Hoff
• Steve May (surgery 10-15)
• Barb Moser (outpatient surgery 10-17)
• Robert Newell
• Alan Norton
• Ken Peirce (10-18)
• Carol Ryan (St. Mary’s)
• Penny Schuiling (outpatient surgery 10-18)
• Dave Terkeurst (outpatient surgery 10-18)
• Cat Wescott (Mayo Clinic)
• Chris Bolhouse
• Scott Grifhorst
• Stephan Mathos
• Jesse Mounts
• Shawn Seher
• Peter Taylor, Jr
Congratulations to Renee and Blake Brott on the birth of a son, Connor Kenneth Brott, on October 8. Proud big sister is Addison.
The love and prayers of the congregation are extended to the family and friends of Donna Anton (Antonopulos), who died on October 10. A memorial service is tentatively planned for Saturday, October 19 at 2:00 pm at First Church, with visitation from noon to 1:30 pm prior to the service.
ADULT EDUCATION CLASSES
• A Disciple´s Path You are invited to take this six-week class based on the Wesleyan understanding of our growth in God´s love and grace. Learn the practices of spiritual disciplines outlined in our membership vows to uphold the church with our presence, prayers, gifts, service, and witness. Meet Sunday evenings (5:00 - 6:30 pm) in room 3109. It will meet from October 27 - December 1. Books are $10 and can be picked up at the north lobby reception desk.
ADULT EDUCATION CLASSES • Navigating the Medicare Maze If you are new to Medicare (at or near age 65), please join us November 3 for details, answers to your questions, and other useful information. For those who are over 65 and need to enroll for 2014, join us November 10. Classes will be led by Bob Callery, the Regional Coordinator with the Area Agency on Aging in West Michigan. Meets Sunday 9:30 - 10:30 am in room 3107.
FUMC AND THE SOCIAL CONCERNS COMMITTEE will be collecting toilet paper for Westminster Food Pantry every Sunday during the month of October. Our goal is to collect over 800 rolls of toilet paper over the next several weeks. Please drop off your donation in the collection bins in the north lobby office.
ADULT EDUCATION CLASSES
• Coming Soon: Immigration and the Bible Led by Laura Rampersad. The Bible was written by, for, and about migrants, immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. It gives directions for responding to sisters and brothers from around the world who come to a land seeking safety, sanctuary and sustenance. Join this class to learn what the Bible teaches us about immigration. Meet Sunday mornings (9:30 - 10:30 am) in room 3109. It will meet from October 27 - November 17. Books are $7.
• Coming Soon: If Christians Were Really Christian Led by Dr. Bob Hundley. In the world today churches and church members are often diverted from their central mission of loving others and interpreting life through the vision of Jesus Christ. If Christians Were Really Christian shows that with the message we have been given and the spirit of God to lead us we should have led everyone to the kingdom of God. Meet Sunday evenings November 3 - 24 in room 3107. Child care provided. Books are available for $10 in the north lobby (there are only twenty copies, pick up yours today) or purchase your ebook online.
FIRST AID STATION
DRIFTING “My child seems angry all the time and can’t get along with her siblings.” For information about how to work with teen issues, call your Church Assistance Program (CAP). Dial 616.455.6210 and make a CAP appointment today. As a member or friend of First Church, you will receive 2 one-hour sessions with a counselor at no charge to you.
CUBA MISSION Our partnership with our sister church in Herradura, Cuba has been strong for sixteen years! Wendy Taylor will lead a mission trip to Herradura Methodist Church over spring break 2014. Our focus is to bring resources to the church and to continue to create bonds of fellowship with our Cuban brothers and sisters. Tentative dates are April 4 - 12. Dates may vary a day or two depending on airfare rates. Five adults and five high school youth are eligible for this trip. Younger children may attend if accompanied by a parent. Our team needs to be confirmed by late October. All interested persons are encouraged to contact Wendy Taylor at email@example.com or sign up via the Sunday bulletin or online at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/sign-up-sheet.