The spirit of our day of Thanksgiving is that we give thanks in the worst times. How do we respond to times of challenge and crisis, when events don´t turn out as we´d wish? Do we become embittered? Or do we "give thanks nonetheless," and work for the best? However far back one traces the history of this observance, to Lincoln, the pilgrims, the Exodus from Egypt, Thanksgiving is always a celebration of grace not in settings of great abundance, but amidst the most difficult times. This year is no different.
I write this the week before Thanksgiving this year, so that it will reach you in advance of this remarkable day. Whatever your plans for Thanksgiving, I hope you will avail yourself of two great opportunities.First, this Sunday, November 18th, is our Ingathering Sunday. Join your First Church family, bring an offering of non-perishable food for the local food bank, and enjoy the joyful Children´s Processional in both of our worship celebrations.
Second, resolve to help those people who have lost so much due to Hurricane Sandy. News passes so quickly from our awareness, but the tragic effects of Sandy will last for years. United Methodist churches, pastors and parishioners, and our United Methodist Committee on Relief are on the scene and helping. The best form of help right now is to make a financial contribution. Gifts can be sent to the church (designated for "UMCOR" or "Sandy"). Or use the giving link at www.umcor.org.
The church is on the scene and helping. For several days after the storm, Pat Groop-Applegate, of Neptune, NJ, said she felt secluded in her home, which had lost power. But on the Sunday after Hurricane Sandy struck, she went to Hamilton UMC where she´s been a member for 52 years. "I didn´t have any connection with the world until I went to church," she said. "Then I realized I could do something to help." Now Pat is cooking in the church kitchen as storm survivors and responders drop by the church to eat, get warm, and recharge their cell phones.
The church´s pastor, the Rev. Shelley Potter-Abrahamsen, joked about just how many meals her church volunteers are offering: "We´re actually providing one meal a day," she said, "It´s just that the meal lasts all day long." Potter-Abrahamsen was surprised by the response to a simple sign she put out that read: "Come In and Get Warm." People came, and, even as a Nor´easter brought nasty wind and snow to the region, they were still coming.
Rev. Scott Bostwick´s family lost their parsonage in the storm surge, and his kids are now staying with grandparents, but that hasn´t stopped the pastor of St. Paul´s United Methodist Church from reaching out to his drenched community. The Office of Emergency Management contacted Bostwick about using the church – which he termed "the only dry spot on this end of town" – for relief efforts, and Scott quickly agreed. He says "We have no heat, no electricity, no gas. We got the water back two days ago." But St. Paul´s UMC is now the official Bay Head feeding station, providing food and care to some 200 people a day. In so many ways, United Methodists are helping others.
The Apostle Paul tells us, "Rejoice in the Lord always... and be thankful." This Thanksgiving, let us "rejoice in the Lord" in tangible ways: through worship, and through helping those in extreme need. It is truly the best way to show our thanks to God! I hope to see you in the Sundays to come as we rejoice in the goodness of God.
• November 13, 7:00 pm — Infertility Support Group
• November 14, 6:00 pm — Young Adult Sparks Service
• November 15, 5:30 pm — Moms´ Group: Taco and Turkey Project
• November 17, 8:30 am — Feeding America at Cesar El Chavez Elementary
• November 17, 6:00 pm — Jazz Vespers: Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra
• November 18 — Ingathering Sunday
• November 19, 12:00 pm — 60+ Luncheon
• November 19, 3:00 - 7:00 pm — Blood Drive
• November 21, 8:00 am — Caring Connection
• November 22 - 24 — Thanksgiving Holiday: Offices and Church Closed
• November 25, 12:15 pm — Hanging of the Greens
• November 25 — No Evening Activities
• November 29, 9:00 am — Fixin´ ‘n´ Fellowship
• November 30, 1:30 - 3:30 pm — United Methodist Women Dessert at Clark
• December 2, 5:00 pm — Blue Christmas Service
• December 3, 7:00 pm — Annual Church Conference
• December 5, 7:00 pm — Taizé Sung Prayers
CHILDREN´S PROGRAMMING Please contact Annette Erbes, Director of Children's Ministry, at 451.2879 (Monday-Wednesday) or email@example.com with questions.
FAITH TRAVELERS JOURNEY TO CUBA On Sunday, November 18 the Faith Travelers students will "Journey to Cuba" with guest teachers Wendy Taylor, Deanna Mitchell, and Gary Rich. Children in Grades 1-6 are invited to Faith Travelers at 9:30 am to listen as the guest leaders share photos, memories, and stories from their mission experiences in Cuba. Students will create postcards to share God´s love with a Cuban pen pal and more. Elementary-aged children are invited to join in and bring a friend!
CHILDREN´S INGATHERING PROCESSIONAL Our annual Ingathering will take place on Sunday, November 18. We invite children ages older 3s through grade 6 to come to the west hallway next to Wesley Hall at 9:05 am or 10:50 am with their offering of food items. Children will process during the first hymn of both worship services. Following the "Moments with the Children," the children will be excused to their church school classes at 9:15 am. At 11:00 am younger children through second grade will be excused to their classes with older children remaining in worship with their families.
SUNDAY MORNING CHILDREN AND YOUTH CLASS SCHEDULE 9:15 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
• 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 (1st floor of First Place bldg.)
• Senior High — 9-12th grade — The Vine North (1st floor of 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 withthe Children, they are dismissed to class. Children of all ages are welcome to remain in worship if their families so desire.)
**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.**
NOOMA SERIES: 9:30 am in the parlor — a four week, drop-in series featuring Rob Bell´s Nooma videos. The class will include video and discussion.
• Sunday, November 18: Luggage: Why is it sometimes so hard to forgive? — Maybe a friend turned his back on you. Maybe someone you loved betrayed you. We all have wounds and we end up carrying around these things that people have done to us for weeks, months, and sometimes even years. It isn´t always easy to forgive these people and after a while these hurts can get really heavy. So the only way to feel better seems to be somehow getting back at the people that hurt us, to get revenge. But does revenge ever truly satisfy? Maybe forgiving isn´t something you do for someone else to let them off the hook. Maybe forgiveness is about you. • Sunday, November 25: Bullhorn: Can we really love God without loving others? — God loves everyone, so a Christian should, too. In fact, Jesus said that the most important thing in life is to love God with everything we have and love others the same way. But it´s not always easy to love everyone around us, is it? Sometimes we strongly disagree with other people´s political views, religious beliefs, behaviors, or something else, and it makes it hard to love them when we feel like we´re right and they´re very wrong. But Jesus doesn´t separate loving God and loving others.
LEGACY BROCHURE Take a moment to download or pick up a copy of the Annual Legacy Ministry Report. Copies are available online, in the north lobby, and narthex. If you are interested in ways you might leave a legacy to First Church, contact Sharon Sorensen at 616.451.2879.
THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY Wednesday, November 21, the church building and First Place will close at 2:00 pm for the Thanksgiving holiday. We will be closed Thursday, November 22 through Saturday, November 24, with worship services at 9:15 and 11:00 am on Sunday, November 25. Over the Thanksgiving weekend if there is a pastoral emergency, you may call Parish Nurse Marj Timmerman at 901.9224.
CHRISTMAS CAROLING You´re welcome to join The Methodist Connection in Christmas caroling on Saturday, December 1. Meet in the parking lot at 3:00 pm and we´ll return to FUMC afterwards for a light supper.
ARE YOU WEARING YOUR NAMETAG? It´s very helpful for those who are new and those who are old.
HURRICANE SANDY Help bring hope to those in Hurricane Sandy´s path. Please donate to UMCOR US Disaster Response, Hurricanes 2012, Advance #3021787. You may donate online at www.umcor.org or leave a check in the Sunday offering plate with the words Hurricane Sandy in the memo line. You can also text the word RESPONSE to 80888 to give an immediate $10 donation.
YOUNG ADULTS: VOLUNTEER NIGHT AT SECOM If you´re 18-30, we´d love for you to connect with First Church´s Young Adult Group! On Wednesday, November 28 at 6:00 pm we´re volunteering at SECOM, a UMC food pantry. If you´d like to carpool, meet at The Vine at 6:00 pm. Please eat dinner before you arrive and come dressed to get dirty. Friends invited!
FEEDING AMERICA Join us Saturday, November 17 for the monthly food distribution at Cesar Chavez Elementary (1205 Grandville Ave 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.
HANGING OF THE GREENS Join us following 11:00 am worship on Sunday, November 25 for a simple meal and decoration of the church for Advent and Christmas. If you´re able to help, please use the Sunday bulletin sign-up sheet or contact Mary and John Judnich at firstname.lastname@example.org. Child care available.
MLK CHRISTMAS GIFT OF GIVING Volunteers are needed. Please sign up online or by using the Sunday sign-up sheet. All work will be done on the THIRD FLOOR of the CHURCH (follow the signs). Help is needed in the following ways:
• Monday, November 26: Set-up
• Wednesday & Thursday, December 5-6: Pass out, wrap & carry gifts downstairs
• Thursday, December 6: Pack-up
• Drive parents without transportation home with their gifts.
CASEY´S SOCKS There are just a few more weeks to donate to the Jr. High Youth Casey´s socks project! We need your donation by December 2nd to make it into our 200+ socks. We accept monetary donations as well as full-sized items such as: soap (bars for men & women), shampoo, deodorant, and toothpaste. We´re also seeking other items such as plain t-shirts (sizes L, XL & XXL), cotton gloves, and hand lotion. Drop off your items or monetary donation to Emily Uebbing at First Place or in the education office at the church.
THE UNITED METHODIST WOMEN´S CHRISTMAS DESSERT will be held on Friday, November 30th from 1:30 to 3:30 PM in the BK Room at Clark. Annette Erbes, Director of Children´s Ministry, will be the featured speaker for this Christmas Program. All women of the church are invited to this special event. Any questions, call Carilon Carr 245.1896.
BOX TOPS FOR EDUCATION Clip the logo on General Mills products (Pillsbury, Ziplock, Hefty, and more) and drop off in the north lobby. Meijer is offering 20 bonus box tops when you buy any 5 or more participating Green Giant vegetables, Pillsbury refrigerated baking items, or Yoplait items November 4 - December 15. Money is used for Martin Luther King, Jr Leadership Academy PTA.
2012 CHURCH CONFERENCE Our yearly Church Conference will be held on the evening of Monday, December 3, at 7:00 pm in Wesley Hall. District Superintendent William Haggard will lead our meeting as we take care of all required business and celebrate our ministry in 2012. Confirmed members of the church are eligible to vote on the business we conduct, but all are welcome. We expect the conference to last about an hour. More information will be available as the date draws near!
JOB POSTING First Church is now accepting applications for the position of First Place Custodian. Responsibilities include daily cleaning of the First Place building, set-up of classrooms and meeting spaces as needed, and preparing the buildings for closing at the end of the shift. This is a full-time paid position and schedule work time is 2:00 - 10:00 pm on Monday thru Friday. For more information and an application visit www.grandrapidsfumc.org/employment or email email@example.com.
INGATHERING On Sunday, November 18, we will receive an offering of nonperishable foods to support the Westminster Food Pantry. Bring food items to the sanctuary prior to the start of either worship service. If you prefer, you may also consider a financial (deductible) gift. The pantry can often purchase food for as little as $.16/lb. The pantry must use financial resources to purchase meat, personal care items, fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, eggs, dairy, and other items on a weekly basis. Checks should be made payable to FUMC with "Westminster Food Pantry" written on the memo line. Envelopes will be available in the narthex and at the reception desk. Please plan on giving a generous gift at this time of thanksgiving.
MARTIN LUTHER KING MOTHER GIFTS Sadly, we have discovered the parents who participate in our Christmas Gift of Giving program rarely receive Christmas gifts themselves. For the past few years we have collected donations of new items such as holiday decorations, jewelry, scarves, fleece blankets, candles, perfumes or other special treats/trinkets. These are left unwrapped and the mothers are able to select something they would really enjoy off our gift table. Sometimes volunteers then wrap the gift so Mom will have something to unwrap on Christmas. Please be on the lookout for some nice surprises and leave them in the collection room off the north lobby clearly marked "MLK Mom Gifts." Gifts are needed by December 2.
CARING CONNECTION The next meeting is on Wednesday, November 21 at 8:00 am at New Beginnings Restaurant (1455 Michigan St NE). We welcome anyone who would like to participate in caring for our homebound with phone calls, note-writing, and visits.
DID YOU KNOW the Paper Gator makes money for the church? Bring in your old phone books, newsprint, catalogs, magazines, and office/school paper. On the contrary, if you bring your cardboard items, the church has to pay to have these taken away. So please bring your paper to the church Paper Gator, but recycle your cardboard at home.
COLLECTIONS Do you know how many different donations we collect? We have a Donation Drop-Off Room in the north lobby full of donation bins waiting to be filled. In order to make sure your donation makes it to the correct bin, please clearly label all items dropped off in the north lobby.
FELLOWSHIP BREAKFAST Join the Fellowship Committee in Wesley Hall on Sunday, November 18 from 9:45 - 11:00 am for breakfast. Our menu will include oven French toast, turkey ham, scrambled eggs, juice and fruit. Don´t miss this opportunity to be in fellowship with your First Church family.
60+ LUNCHEON will be held on Monday, November 19 at noon. The program will be "Christmas Tree Ornaments, Old and New" by the Meijer Garden tree decorators. Please call Elaine Youngs at 735.5506 or Luci Baer at 457.7797 if you would like to make a reservation. There will be a special Thanksgiving meal, the cost is $7.50.
THE METHODIST CONNECTION Racism is still with us. We are all praying for its end. We have hoped that with legislation, desegregation, changes in the military, and other structural changes that it would go away. But it hasn´t. Why is that? It takes more than law changes and prayer to change hearts. It takes development of a personal relationship with someone different before changes can begin in your heart.
Fifteen years ago, First United Methodist Church joined with two predominantly black churches, First Community African Methodist Episcopal Church and St. Luke African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, to form The Methodist Connection. We decided to try to begin racial reconciliation by working on a project together, and we built a Habitat house. Those who worked on the house realized that we weren´t very different, and decided to continue to do things together.
The Methodist Connection holds an annual worship service, a summer picnic, Christmas caroling, bus trips, and sponsors book clubs where we tackle difficult racial issues. As we share together, we begin to get to know one another much more than superficially. We pray together, grieve together, laugh and cry together, call and chat with one another, ask about kids and grandchildren; and what many of us have found over the years is that we love one another. It is very hard to be racist when you love the person from whom you appear different. Racism, it turns out, is only skin deep.
We are always looking for folks who will join us in the journey to real racial reconciliation.
- Skip Moseley
BLOOD DRIVE The last blood drive of 2012 is coming up on Monday, November 19 from 3:00 - 7:00 pm in Wesley Hall. If you are eligible and available to donate blood, please use the Sunday sign-up sheet or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a time which works for you. Cookies are also needed. Please help save a life and sign up today!
INFERTILITY SUPPORT GROUP All who have experienced any type of infertility issues, including the inability to get pregnant, miscarriage, infertility treatments, and secondary infertility are invited to attend our next meeting on Tuesday, November 13 at 7:00 pm in The Vine. Our guest speaker will be Sue DeJonge who will share her journey through miscarriages to Grace. Please RSVP by using the bulletin sign-up sheet or by calling Marj Timmerman at 451-2879 x 115.
BLUE CHRISTMAS SERVICE Those who have experienced job loss, health concerns, the death of a loved one, depression, financial concerns or similar losses may find this holiday season a little less joyful. Our Blue Christmas service on Sunday, December 2 at 5:00 pm is a service of candles, prayer, silence, scripture, and encouragement. If you are finding the coming season tough, join us. Or think of those you know who are struggling and invite them. All are welcome!
ANGER ISSUES "My child seems angry all the time and can´t get along with her siblings." Call your Church Assistance Program (CAP) at 455.6210. They will answer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and will set you up to meet with a trained counselor. The first two one-hour sessions will be at no charge to you by telling them you are a member or friend of First Church
JAZZ VESPERS, featuring The Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra, on Saturday, November 17 at 6:00 pm, weaves scripture, a pastoral message and prayer into a celebration of faith, hope, and the love of God.
TAIZÉ SERVICE Wednesday, December 5 at 7:00 pm. Taizé is a meditative service of choruses, accompanied by instruments and vocal solos. Communion, prayers for healing, and the lighting of candles are also offered. It´s a wonderful way to connect with God in the midst of a busy week.
"SERVICE OF LESSONS AND CAROLS" Join us on Sunday, December 9 at 6:30 pm in this Christmas tradition based on the scriptures and songs of Advent. The voices of children, youth, and adults combine with handbells and liturgical dancers to make this a reflective and meaningful event. Of course, there is the opportunity for the audience to join in this festive time through the singing of carols, led by the mighty sounds of the pipe organ. Plan to join us for Christmas 2012.
CELEBRATION OF THE ARTS Plans are in progress for the 40th Annual Celebration of the Arts juried spiritual art show which will take place from February 2 -13, 2013. If you are interested in the arts and would like to volunteer to be part of the Celebration Planning Team, please indicate your interest on the sign-up sheet or contact Deb May at 451-2879 x 133 or email@example.com.
FIRST CHURCH FAMILY CONCERNS Concerns & Prayers for:
• Donna Anton
• Judy Beals
• Rick Kase
• Jeanne McCaw
• Margaret Thomas
• Laura Wright
• Nancy and Bob Gillette (mission team to Nicaragua)
• 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 Ted Rosendall and family on the death of long-time First Church member Betty Rosendall on November 10th. Her memorial service plans are pending. Our love and prayers are also extended to Sharon and Keith Sorensen and family on the death of Sharon´s sister, Sandi Shelton, on November 7th; to Lou and Cheryl Sinigos and family on the death of Lou´s father, Spiro Sinigos, on November 9th; and to Jill and Ken Peirce and family on the death of Jill´s mother, Mary Bolhous, on November 10th.