We are just under two weeks until Advent begins! Soon our annual Advent Devotional will be published and ready to pick up. (It´s written entirely by the staff this year as our gift to you!) Next week our Advent calendar will be in your hands. (There are so many exciting things happening in December – be sure to invite a friend.) And in this publication you will find information on our Advent series, ‘Advent is…´ and the times and dates of all the other worship services offered. (I highly recommend the Taizé service as a way to begin the season with a quiet heart and focused mind.) It´s a great time to be a part of First Church!
This Sunday is Ingathering, our annual collection of food for the Westminster Pantry. I have never gone hungry despite the times I whined to my parents, "I´m starving!" (often shortly after having eaten a perfectly good meal!). I am very grateful that has never been the case, but I know that there are many who go to sleep too often on an empty stomach.
For some of us it would be a fairly easy thing to fill a grocery cart or two with food and household supplies. For others an extra item or two will stretch the budget to the very breaking point. Whatever your circumstance, I urge you to give with generous and joyful hearts. God has blessed you with something to give and we honor God through our faithful giving. By the way, if you didn´t get a bag on Sunday, no worries, any bag will do.
This Sunday we will also be ‘Decorating for Jesus´ Arrival.´ Following the 9:15 am service we will be gathering in the parlor for the annual fluffing of the greens. Fluffing is a very important job and can actually be done while sitting in a chair and getting to know your fellow fluffers! Then following the 11:00 am service we will hang the wreaths, swoop the swags, light the tree, place the candles, raise the banners, and all of the other little touches that make our church festive as we anticipate Jesus´ arrival. Of course, every good Methodist gathering deserves food and this is no exception. Lunch will be provided (nursery care too, if you need it!). I love it when we all pull together and make it happen.
Finally, please mark your calendar and plan to attend our Annual Church Conference on Tuesday, December 3 at 7:00 pm in Wesley Hall. Our District Superintendent, Rev. Bill Haggard, will lead us in worship, business, and the celebration of all that we are and all that we do as the body of Christ. The Fellowship Committee will be providing snacks (!) and the nursery will be available. I´ll see you there.
P.S. Be sure to sign up to participate in one of our Advent studies. "When God Comes Down" will be offered on Sundays at 9:30 am and 5:00 pm or at 10:00 am Fridays (at Clark). In this study, we will explore the meaning of the incarnation… God with us in human flesh. Often our Advent/Christmas journey is focused on us – our memories, feelings, relationships and experiences. This study puts the focus on God´s action in Jesus Christ. It encourages us to think more deeply in terms of the biblical, theological, and spiritual meaning of the Nativity and to apply it to our own lives. The study looks at the stories of the primary biblical characters in the birth stories through whose lives the miracle of incarnation happened: Zechariah, Elizabeth, Joseph, Mary, the inn keeper, and Jesus.
Another study called, "Advent Conspiracy: Can Christmas Still Change the World?" will be offered on Sunday evenings. Are you tired of how consumerism has stolen the soul of Christmas? This year, take a stand! Join the groundswell of Christfollowers who are choosing to make Christmas what it should be – a joyous celebration of Jesus´ birth that enriches our hearts and the world around us, not a retail circus that depletes our pocketbooks and defeats our spirits. Advent Conspiracy shows you how to substitute consumption with compassion by practicing four simple but powerful, countercultural concepts: Worship More, Spend Less, Give Presence, Love All.
• November 20, 9:00 am — Caring Connection
• November 24 — Thanksgiving Ingathering
• November 24, 12:00 pm — Decorating for Jesus´ Arrival
• November 27, 2:00 pm — Church and offices closed
• November 28-30 — Thanksgiving holiday – Church/offices closed
• December 1, 5:00 pm — Blue Christmas
• December 2-12 — MLK Gift of Giving
• December 3, 7:00 pm — Church Conference
• December 4, 6:00 pm — Taizé Sung Prayers
• December 5, 9:00 am — Prayer Quilters
• December 6, 6:00 pm — Young Families´ Christmas Craft Night
• December 7, 3:00 pm — Methodist Connection Caroling
• December 15, 12:15 pm — All-Church Caroling to Homebound
• December 21, 10:00 am — Christmas Eve Dance rehearsal
• December 21, 6:00 pm — Jazz Vespers: MacNaughton Blvd
• December 22, 10:00 am — One Worship Service Only
• December 24, 8:00 am — Casey´s Breakfast
• December 24, 5:00 pm — Family-Friendly Christmas Eve Service
• December 24, 7:00 and 9:00 pm — Traditional Candlelight and Communion Christmas Eve Service
• December 25 — Christmas Day Church and Offices closed
• December 26 — Church and Offices closed
• December 29, 10:00 am — One Worship Service Only
• December 31/January 1 — Church and Offices closed
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 6 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.
DIFFERENT KIND OF CHRISTMAS FAIR There are some groups who were at A Different Kind of Christmas Fair who would like to continue to sell their wares. This is good fortune for those who were unable to make the event on Sunday, November 17! Check at the upcoming coffee hours following worship to see what things are being sold to benefit our many mission groups.
EASY FUNDRAISER TO BENEFIT OUR TUTORING CENTER AT MLK Shop D &W Fresh Market Stores and Family Fare Stores November 17-23. 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….
1. 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
2. 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
3. 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
4. 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.
SOCK IT TO US! The Junior High youth are collecting items for Casey´s Socks. We accept donations of full-size toiletries such as deodorant, shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc.) as well as monetary donations. The Jr. Highers will be stuffing up to 170 socks on November 24. We need your donations! Please drop them off in the north lobby, labeled for "Jr. High" by November 22. If you have any questions, please contact Emily Uebbing at emilyu@ grandrapidsfumc.org.
THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY Wednesday, November 27, the church building and First Place will close at 2:00 pm for the Thanksgiving holiday. We will be closed Thursday, November 28 through Saturday, November 30, with worship services at 9:15 and 11:00 am on Sunday, December 1. Over the Thanksgiving weekend, if there is a pastoral emergency, call Parish Nurse Marj Timmerman at 901-9224.
ADVENT DEVOTIONALS On Sunday, December 1, Advent begins. Plan to pick up an Advent Devotional book that day when you come to church.
CHURCH CONFERENCE Our yearly Church Conference will be held on Tuesday, December 3 at 7:00 pm in Wesley Hall. District Superintendent Bill Haggard will lead our meeting as we take care of all required business and celebrate our ministry in 2013. 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.
UNITED METHODIST WOMEN The annual Christmas meeting of the UMW will be held on Wednesday, December 4 at 2:00 pm in the Game Room of Clark Retirement Community. The program will be a Christmas sing-a-long with Nancy Berger. The World Thank Offering will also be taken. The meeting will close by a visit to the Chatterbox for refreshments. Everyone is welcome!
MOMS´ GROUP CHRISTMAS CRAFT NIGHT The whole family is invited to join us for pizza and Christmas crafting in The Vine (first floor of First Place; enter by the basketball hoop door from the lower parking lot). Friends are invited, too! Please bring $5/family to help cover food/supply costs. RSVP for this Friday, December 5 event at 6:00 pm (so we order enough pizza) to Marj or Sami at 451-2879, email Marj at email@example.com, or find us on facebook.
PRAYER QUILTING The next meeting will be on Thursday, December 5 from 9:00 am to noon. No experience is necessary and we have a job for everyone. It´s a great opportunity to be a part of this worthy mission, meet new people, and to learn about quilting. For more information, contact Ginnie Edwardson at 261-2602 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ALL-CHURCH CHRISTMAS CAROLING Share the songs of the season with our homebound, hospitalized, those recovering from illness or surgery, and our senior members. This is a great activity for families to do together, and the listeners love to see and hear the children! It´s a good way for individuals to get to know others in the congregation, too. Come one, come all, and spread Christmas cheer! Check the sign-up sheet in the Sunday bulletin to indicate your interest in participating on Sunday, December 15.
ONE WORSHIP SERVICE on Sunday, December 22 and December 29 at 10:00 am.
THE UNITED METHODIST COMMITTEE ON RELIEF (UMCOR) is mobilizing resources to respond to Typhoon Haiyan, the latest and largest in a series of disasters to hit the Philippines in the last 12 months. Although an accurate casualty toll is yet to be determined, it is clear the destruction and disruption of lives is massive. Haiyan hit the Philippines Friday, November 8. You may support UMCOR´s work via on-line donations at www.umcor.org or by sending a check to the church and noting "UMCOR Philippines relief" on the memo line. 100% of your donation goes to international disaster relief.
CELEBRATION OF THE ARTS Was ArtPrize a favorite activity for you this year? Do you enjoy viewing and supporting the fine arts? Consider using your love of art in support of First Church´s own art exhibit, the 41st annual Celebration of the Arts, by becoming a participant in the Celebration Committee. We need people with various talents, from reception planning to construction of the gallery. Sign up today for Celebration 2014 by using the Sunday sign-up sheet, or by contacting Eric Strand (erics@grandrapidsfumc. org ), Deb May (deborah. email@example.com), or calling the church at 451-2879.
PAPER GATOR Did you know that the Paper Gator makes money for the church? Bring in your old phone books, newsprint, catalogs, magazines, and office/school paper and desposit them in the bin found in the north church parking lot. On the contrary, if you bring your cardboard items, the church has to pay to have these taken away. Please bring your paper, but recycle your cardboard at home. Thanks!
INKJET CARTRIDGE RECYCLING FUNDRAISER Drop off your used inkjet cartridges for recycling and help support the Senior High Youth. Cartridges can be deposited in the collection bin located in the north lobby drop-off room. Simply place your old cartridge in a plastic sandwich bag and deposit it in the bin.
WOMEN´S RETREAT Save the date! Friday, January 24 and Saturday, January 25.
Concerns & Prayers for:
• Dave Berles
• Brenda Heerdt
• Albert Hoff
• Robert Newell
• Janet Nichols
• Carol Ryan
• Peggy Child Smith
• Imogene Stafford
• Jim Weaver
• Laura Wright (Metro Health)
• Chris Bolhouse
• Scott Grifhorst
• Stephan Mathos
• Jesse Mounts
• Trevor Norton
• Shawn Seher
• Peter Taylor, Jr
Congratulations to Michele and Tyler Van Wingen on the birth of a daughter, Selah Venegas VanWingen, on November 12. Proud grandmother is Ruth VanWingen and big brothers are Jonah and Tobin.
Congratulations to Christy and Casey McDonald on the birth of a son, Ford Andrew McDonald, on November 14.
The love and prayers of the congregation are extended to Debbie, Tim, and Christopher Lambrix on the death of their father and grandfather, Arnold Babcock, on November 16; and to Jill and Aaron Smith on the death of Jill´s grandmother, Garnet Showalter, on November 17.
INGATHERING — On Sunday, November 24, we will receive an offering of nonperishable foods to support the Westminster Food Pantry. Adults may bring food items to the sanctuary prior to the start of both worship services. If you prefer, you may also consider a financial (tax-deductible) gift. Checks should be made out to FUMC, with "Westminster Food Pantry" in the memo line. The Westminster Food Pantry can often purchase food for as little as 16 cents a pound. 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. Envelopes are available in the narthex and at the reception desk during the month of November. The need is great for both food and financial support. Please plan on giving a generous gift at this time of thanksgiving.
INGATHERING PROCESSIONAL — Our annual Ingathering will take place this Sunday, November 24. 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. At 9:15 am worship, the children will be excused to their church school classes. At 11:00 am, children ages older 3s through Grade 2 will be excused to their classes with children Grades 3 and up remaining in worship with their families.
FAITH TRAVELERS´ MISSION OFFERING FOR HEIFER PROJECT INTERNATIONAL — Our Faith Travelers 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. (We have currently raised $34 toward 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.
DECORATING FOR JESUS´ ARRIVAL Every year the church celebrates the birth of Jesus and every good celebration has decorations, right? We are in need of volunteers to decorate the church for Christmas. We will have a light lunch in the parlor and then begin to decorate once the church is clear from Ingathering. If you go to the early service, you are welcome to come to the parlor after the first service and help fluff the greens in preparation for hanging them.
MLK GIFT OF GIVING Now we have our gift donors, and the fun begins! Help is needed with the Martin Luther King, Jr., Leadership Academy Gift of Giving implementation. We need help with setting up the workshop on December 2 (9:00 to 11:00 am); passing out gifts, wrapping, and carrying gifts downstairs on December 11 (12:00 to 3:00 pm and 6:00 to 8:00 pm), driving parents home after wrapping, if needed (6:00 to 8:00 pm). Wednesday, January 8, we need help with sorting and packing the Giving Tree gifts for the MLK classrooms. There are many ways to contribute to making the program run smoothly. Check out the website (www. grandrapidsfumc.org) or the Sunday signup sheet to indicate your ability to help.
MLK MOTHER GIFTS We have discovered that 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, household items, 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 north lobby collection room clearly marked "MLK Mom Gifts." They are needed by Sunday, December 8. Thank you!
ADULT EDUCATION CLASSES
•When God Comes Down Often our Advent/ Christmas journey is focused on us – our memories, feelings, relationships and experiences. This study puts the focus on God´s action in Jesus Christ. It will encourage you to think more deeply in terms of the biblical, theological, and spiritual meaning of the Nativity and to apply it to your own life. Join a class on Sunday, December 1 at 9:30 am (led by Marlys Davis, George Bob, and Dick Youells) or at 5:00 pm (led by George Bob and Dick Youells) in 3109. (Child care will be available for the 5:00 pm class.) There also will be a class running Friday, November 29 to December 20 at Clark Retirement Community at a time still to be determined. Books will be available in the north lobby for $5 and also are available on eBooks. Please use the sign-up sheet in Sunday´s bulletin to indicate your interest in attending one of these classes.
• The Advent Conspiracy Christmas is meant to be celebrated, not regretted. We all want our Christmas to be a lot of things. Full of joy. Memories. Happiness. Above all, we want it to be about Jesus. What we don´t want is stress. Or debt. Or feeling like we "missed the moment." Advent Conspiracy is a movement designed to help us all slow down and experience a Christmas worth remembering. But doing this means doing things a little differently. A little creatively. It means turning Christmas upside down. Join us for this four-week class that will begin Sunday, December 1 at 5:00 pm in room 3108 of First Place with Peter Muszkiewicz leading. Child care is available. Sign up using the Sunday bulletin insert or by calling the church office at 451-2879. Books are available in the north lobby, the first six people to pick one up get a free copy! (Ebooks are available on Amazon.)
CUBA MISSION Are you interested in being a part of the team traveling to Cuba over spring break April 2014? Wendy Taylor, our team leader, will be holding an informational meeting on Sunday, November 24 from 10:30 to 10:50 am in the chapel. Please plan on attending this meeting or contact Wendy Taylor at email@example.com or 304-6754.
FIRST AID STATION
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 1 at 5:00 pm is a service of candles, prayer, silence, scripture, and encouragement. If you are finding the coming season tough, join us in the chapel. Or think of those you know who are struggling and invite them. All are welcome!
MEMORY ISSUES? Is it becoming more difficult to remember the date or perform familiar tasks? Contact your Church Assistance Program (CAP) to talk about it. Call 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.