It´s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just a few days away … and next Sunday, we begin our journey to Bethlehem with the first Sunday of Advent. Our Advent series is based upon the lectionary texts and titled; Advent is … Anticipation … Preparation … Expectation … Celebration.
On the first Sunday of Advent we are celebrating communion.
On the second Sunday, we will be celebrating baptism.
On the third Sunday, we will be caroling to our homebound members and friends.
The fourth Sunday – is ONE worship service at 10:00 am. This will be one of our intergenerational worship experiences. It will be "A Festival of Lessons and Carols" … with lots of music, scripture readings, something for children and youth, and a brief meditation.
Then, the culmination is our three services on Christmas Eve … at 5:00, 7:00 and 9:00 pm.
There is also the ‘Blue Christmas Service´ on the evening of the 1st – for those who have experienced loss or are grieving during this holiday season. The Taizé Service (December 4) and the Jazz Vespers (December 21) are also special additional services for the Advent season.
There is something for everyone in worship. Come and celebrate with us – and invite a friend!
AND – don´t forget our Annual Church Conference at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, December 3. It is a way for you to hear the good news reports of our ministry and celebrate 2013 while beginning the preparatory steps of establishing a vision of ministry for our future.
This past Sunday, (November 24), we introduced a new ministry opportunity that will take shape over the next few months. We are going to begin an intentional prayer ministry. Hopefully, this new ministry will become the fruit of our fall series of sermons on prayer. It is our hope that we will offer classes in going deeper in the study of the disciplines of prayer. We also want to develop a prayer team that will pray for the many needs that are part of our community of faith. We typically have 4 – 6 prayer requests each week that are sent to us via our church web site. We also have prayer needs of our membership and constituency … as well as needs of our ministry and our neighboring community. There is no shortage of prayer needs. We simply want to be able to respond with a team of prayer partners – so that when we say that we are praying for someone … we really are in a systematic way!
If you are willing to explore the possibility of being part of the prayer ministry, please let us know at the church office. We will gather the names of those interested and then begin the implementation process.
Finally, we are praying for a strong financial month in December. First Church depends on the generosity of its people in supporting the wide variety of ministries that are ours.
Thank you for your faithfulness and I look forward to welcoming you on the First Sunday of Advent.
• 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
• January 5 — Wesley Covenant Sunday
• January 8, 6:00 pm — Taizé Sung Prayers
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.
INGATHERING Thank you to everyone who donated items for our Ingathering. Your generosity will touch the lives of many in our community through the efforts of the Westminster Food Pantry this holiday season. Whether you donated food items, helped with the delivery and transportation, gave a monetary donation, or assisted with our Ingathering procession, your graciousness is appreciated. Thank you for helping to meet the needs of those in our community this Thanksgiving season.
AFTER-CHURCH COFFEE will be in the parlor during Advent. Mulled cider will be offered in the north lobby and the narthex.
ADVENT DEVOTIONALS Advent begins on Sunday, December 1. Plan to pick up an Advent Devotional book when you come to church this Sunday. You can also download it at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/advent.
2013 ADVENT CALENDAR Advent begins on Sunday, December 1. Check out all the upcoming events by downloading the 2013 Advent Calendar.
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!
CELEBRATION OF THE ARTS 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 (email@example.com), Deb May (firstname.lastname@example.org), or calling the church at 451-2879. The first Celebration of the Arts meeting will be held on Wednesday, December 4 at 7:00 pm in the choir room.
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 the 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.
CLARK CAROL SING Clark friends, please join Pastors Bob and Tish, Marj Timmerman, and Eric Strand for a carol sing on Wednesday, December 11 at 1:30 pm in the chapel at Clark. We´ll also enjoy refreshments and fellowship in the Victorian Parlor after we sing.
ONE WORSHIP SERVICE on Sunday, December 22 and December 29 at 10:00 am.
90+ DECEMBER BIRTHDAYS
• Ruby Spicer, 93 on December 5
• Freda Grover, 90 on December 18
• Bill Bassett, 90 on December 27
If we have missed listing your 90+ birthday, please call the church office at 451.2879 with your name and birthdate and we´ll list it!
BLOOD DRIVE UPDATE – Congratulations to Mark Rector who received his 10-gallon pin last week: that equals 80 donations! Thanks to all the blood donors, those who tried to donate, to Nel Kastner for running the last hour of the canteen, and to Marlys Davis and Kathy Berg for the wonderful cookies. You all helped save lives! Our next Blood Drive will be on January 20, 2014. Mark your calendar! Marj Timmerman RN, Parish Nurse
WOMEN´S RETREAT Save the date! Friday, January 24 and Saturday, January 25.
Concerns & Prayers for:
• Shirley Etcher (St. Mary´s)
• Roy Hart
• Brenda Heerdt
• Albert Hoff
• Norma Mann
• Robert Newell
• Janet Nichols
• Alan Norton (surgery 11-26)
• Jim Weaver
• Laura Wright
• Chris Bolhouse
• Scott Grifhorst
• Stephan Mathos
• Jesse Mounts
• Trevor Norton
• Shawn Seher
• Peter Taylor, Jr
Thank you for your prayers, cradle cross, and blanket. We are so blessed to have your love and support. We look forward to Andrew becoming an active member and following the way of our Lord. Thank you!
Jen, Steve, and Andrew Brown
During this season of gratitude, we would like to thank everyone for their prayers, thoughts, and caring during Ken´s shoulder replacement hospitalization as well as now during the rehabilitation process.
Jill and Ken Peirce
FAITH TRAVELERS´ ADVENT-URES — MOO NEWS: K- Grade 4 students have raised $34 for Heifer Project International! We have now raised over 1/2 of our $50 goal toward a heifer cow share to assist a family in need in the world! Donations are optional and are taken each Sunday during Faith Travelers.
• Sunday, December 1: Lessons & Preparation for December 22 Worship
In Advent, Faith Travelers will share in rotation model lessons while also preparing to share in worship on December 22. To allow time to learn and rehearse a song "The Lion and the Lamb," K-4 Faith Travelers will be extended from 9:30 – 10:45 am December 1 and 8. Grades 5-6 Faith Travelers in Mission will learn a hand chime accompaniment to share in worship as well. They will rehearse during their regular class time.
• Sunday, December 8: Birthday Party for Jesus!
Students in Grades K-4 are invited to a Birthday Party for Jesus! Students will be dismissed from worship and head to Wesley Hall where our senior high youth will lead Christmas crafts, nativity photo booth, birthday cupcake decorating, and more! We will also recognize K-4 student December birthdays, take a Heifer project offering, and practice the anthem for worship on December 22. If students choose, they may bring a baby gift in honor of Jesus´ birthday to donate to a non-profit organization.
CHRISTMAS COOKIE BAKERS NEEDED FUMC traditionally provides decorated cookies for each MLK class. We are in need of cookie bakers of all ages to meet in the kitchen of FUMC on Thursday, December 19. Baking and cookie decorating will start at 12:30 pm and finish up about 2:00 pm. Feel free to bring along some holiday sprinkles for decorating. Please use the Sunday sign-up sheet or call the Tutoring Center (819-1745) to let us know we can count on you!
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. Please leave these gifts in the north lobby collection room clearly marked "MLK Mom Gifts." They are needed by Sunday, December 8. Thank you!
CHRISTMAS EVE FELLOWSHIP HELP If you´re able to help with setting up and getting food out on the tables for our many members and guests who will enjoy a snack before or after a Christmas Eve service, please use the Sunday bulletin sign-up sheet. The shifts are 6:00 to 7:00 and 8:00 to 9:00 pm.
SHARE BLESSINGS First Church is providing opportunities for you and your family to share the blessings of Christmas! You are invited to choose one or more of the following suggestions....
• Casey´s Christmas Eve Breakfast — First Church will be serving a hot and hearty holiday breakfast for our Heartside neighbors in Wesley Hall on Tuesday morning, December 24, 8:00 – 10:30 am. This annual event invites community members into our church for food and holiday fellowship. We need two kinds of helpers to make this event a success. (1) Table Host: Be a friendly host to our guests; share a cup of coffee, sit and chat, create a welcoming environment. (2) Food Server/Worker: Serve food, bus tables, and help clean up. Sign-ups for volunteer helpers will be held in the parlor on Sunday, December 1.
• Casey´s Socks for Christmas — Each Casey´s breakfast guest receives a Christmas sock filled with practical items and goodies. 400 socks appropriate for an adult are needed! Purchase a pair of medium-weight, warm, winter, washable socks. Stuff one sock in the toe of the other so that each recipient receives a pair of socks! Fill the sock with full-size personal care items, nonperishable snacks, warm hat, gloves, or even a t-shirt. (Please avoid items that have alcohol, anything sharp, and crushable foods.) Drop off socks at the north lobby church office or bring them to worship on December 15. With your help, each of our Christmas Eve breakfast guests will leave with a warm heart and warm feet.
• The Giving Tree - You are invited to take one of the ornaments off the Giving Tree located in the north lobby. Each ornament contains a suggested item requested by Martin Luther King Academy staff for their classrooms and children. Please limit your gifts to the suggested items on the tree. Unwrapped gifts may be left under the Christmas tree for delivery to MLK.
• Alternative Christmas Gifts — Did you miss the Different Kind of Christmas Fair? You may still honor a friend or loved one by giving an alternative Christmas gift. For each gift you will receive a Christmas card that acknowledges your gift. You can send the card to the person of your choice. You may give online at: www.grandrapidsfumc.org/
• The Christmas Offering — You will soon receive a special letter from our pastors inviting you to care for our brothers and sisters around the world through our annual Christmas offering. Whether your gift is small or large, let the love of Christ flow through you this Christmas to people in desperate need. Our goal this year is $15,500.
• Family Promise – Consider giving the gift of your time this holiday season. Several homeless families will be our overnight guests during the week of January 5. Volunteers will be needed to act as evening hosts, overnight hosts, and dinner preparers. Watch for sign-up opportunities in the worship bulletin.
• Have Extra Christmas Cards? – Pick up some address labels from the north lobby desk and use those cards to spread some cheer to our senior and homebound members. Your cards will help brighten their day while reminding them their church family is thinking of them this Christmastime.
• Christmas Caroling – Share the songs of the season with our homebound, hospitalized, those recovering from surgery or an illness, and our senior members on Sunday, December 15. Watch for sign-up opportunities in the worship bulletin.
• Coffee Can Offering, Sunday December 8 — It´s a small thing, but your loose change can make wonderful things happen for those who are in need and hungry. Our December offering will benefit the Nicaragua Feeding Program.
Please contact Laure Mieskowski at 451-2879 or email@example.com if you would like more information about any of the above opportunities.
ADULT EDUCATION CLASSES
•When God Comes DownOften 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) 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.) • A Gift of Loveis a study based on the classic collection of sixteen sermons preached and compiled by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Collectively they present King´s fusion of Christian teachings and social consciousness, and promote his prescient vision of love as a social and political force for change. Being held at 9:30 am in room 3107 from Sunday, January 5 through February 16, the leader is Deanna Mitchell. Books will be available in the classroom. • Have a New Kid By Friday Want a kid without the attitude? Without the behavior that makes you want to slink away in the grocery store and pretend you´re not the parent? Anyone can do it. All it takes is you deciding to stand up and take charge. Want a great kid? Want to be a great parent? Then take the 5-day challenge. Someday your kid will thank you for it. Led by Paula and Richard Gibson and Ivy Quaye and Gabriel Aquah on Sundays at 9:30 am in room 3109 January 5 through February 16.
A DIFFERENT KIND OF CHRISTMAS FAIRThere 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.
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!