There are several topics that I wish to highlight this week as we begin to prepare for the Lenten season at First Church.
1) Certainly you are aware of the Celebration of the Arts that begins this coming weekend. The Art Gallery is open Saturday, February 22 through Ash Wednesday, March 5.
2) Our two Sunday worship experiences on February 23 and March 2 will also be creative with lots of musical involvement.
3) Then, on Ash Wednesday, March 5 at 6:00 pm we begin our Lenten journey with an Ash Wednesday Service with the imposition of ashes. The service will be a reflective time as we prayerfully anticipate Lent with the music of Taize.
4) The book we will use for our Lenten study is; The Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations by Bishop Robert Schnase. It will be the thematic focus of our preaching each week , plus there are many opportunities to be involved in group study and discussion groups. The goal is for us (as a congregation) to think, listen, converse, pray, and plan for a greater future than our past. As healthy and vital as we are as a congregation, we want to be sure that we are doing all that we can do to prepare for vital ministry within a growing and changing urban center. I invite and encourage each member, constituent, or friend of First Church to participate in this important study.
5)Finally – for all the MEN of the church. YES – we ARE having the MEN´S Lenten Breakfasts each Friday morning from 7:00 - 8:00 am in Wesley Hall. Breakfast each week will be prepared by our resident culinary artist, Jeff Gooder. We will sing together with Norm Bradley leading us. I will share a scripture and spend some time in prayer each week. And our featured lay speakers are all from our congregation. They will focus their comments on the theme; Why First Church is MY Church! The speakers are:
• March 7 Fred Keller – is a life-long member of First Church who has been involved in many ministries and administrative responsibilities. An influential businessman in Grand Rapids, Fred is involved in many community organizations.
• March 14 Chuck Fry – is a retired United Methodist pastor who has served in several pastoral assignments including Grand Rapids Trinity UM Church. He also served a six-year term as a District Superintendent. He retired early to develop a clergy tax consultation business.
• March 21 Dr. Iain Charnley – Iain is a physician who is involved in many ministries throughout the congregation, serving as Missions Chair, engaged in Young Adult Ministry, and sings in the choir.
• March 28 Richard Johnson – Richard is a retired photography businessman who specialized in portraits. He developed a passion for outreach ministry and is on staff of First Church, leading our Work Program ministry.
• April 4 Dr. Dale Williams – Dale is a retired physician who has developed an incredible foundation, Koinonia, which provides bright, safe, versatile solar-powered lanterns and panels to the developing world.
• April 11 Ed Edwardson – spent his career in law enforcement administration and teaches at Grand Valley. Ed has been significantly involved in raising funds and developing the vision for the Ubuntu Center at Africa University. He will celebrate with us the role First Church played in this important ministry.
• April 18 Dan Miller – will share with us on Good Friday morning. Dan is the Chair of the Leadership Council and was a leader in the ‘tower project.´ Dan is a financial planner and serves in management in his firm.
MEN – please plan to join us … and make your reservations NOW! Thanks.
If you missed last Sunday´s Youth Service, you really missed something terrific. Our young people did an outstanding job in planning and leading worship. Thanks to Sami and the other leaders who worked with our youth to give us a memorable morning.
• February 19, 9:00 am — Caring Connection
• February 21 - March 5 — Celebration of the Arts
• February 21, 7:00 pm — Artists´ Reception
• February 22, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm — Art Gallery Opening Day
• February 23, 9:30 am — Celebration Gallery Walk
• February 23, 4:00 pm — Early Music Michigan Concert
• February 26, 12:00 pm — Celebration Gallery Walk
• March 2, 11:00 am — Celebration Sunday
• March 5, 6:00 pm — Ash Wednesday Service
• March 7, 7:00 am — Men´s Lenten Breakfast
• March 9 — Coffee Can Offering
• March 9, 12:15 pm — All-Church Birthday Dinner
• March 11, 7:00 pm — Infertility Support Group
• March 14, 7:00 am — Men´s Lenten Breakfast
• March 15, 6:00 pm — Jazz Vespers: The Jim Cooper Quartet
• March 19, 9:00 am — Caring Connection
• March 21, 7:00 am — Men´s Lenten Breakfast
• March 28-29 — Women´s Retreat
• March 30, 12:30 pm — Imagine No Malaria Movie: "Mary Martha"
• April 2, 6:00 pm — Taizé Sung Prayer Service
• April 4, 7:00 am — Men´s Lenten Breakfast
• April 11, 7:00 am — Men´s Lenten Breakfast
• April 13, 9:15 am ONLY — Palm Sunday Processional
• April 18, 7:00 am — Men´s Lenten Breakfast
SUNDAYS 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 email@example.com with any questions.
MISSION UPDATES: Dr. Iain Charnley, chair of First Church´s Mission Committee, will be traveling in late February with a group of 13 from the Grosse Pointe United Methodist church to the United Methodist mission and school in Petit Goave, Haiti, about 40 miles outside of the capital Port-au-Prince. They are planning to build additional classrooms and staff the local Methodist health clinic while they are there. This is a new effort from the Detroit Annual Conference and will be the first annual trip led by Iain´s brother-in- law, Rev. Dan Hart.
Habitat for Humanity is hosting a home dedication celebration for Nyanuer Madol and her family at 1048 Rathbone St. SW on Sunday, February 23 at 2:00 pm. Members of First Church helped with this build in September of 2013. We are invited to join Nyanuer and the Habitat staff as they celebrate the completion of this build and seek God´s blessing upon this home and family.
USED CELL PHONES AND TABLETS Safe Haven Ministries is a domestic violence agency located in Grand Rapids. The agency has served more than 7,500 women and children through their emergency shelter and supportive programs. Their outreach and education program has reached more than 35,000 individuals in the community with a message of domestic abuse outreach, education, and prevention. When you donate your used cell phone or tablet to Safe Haven, the agency uses some of the cell phones as 911 phones for clients and sends the remaining phones to an organization called Shelter Alliance that responsibly recycles or refurbishes the phones. All of the memory is erased from the phones and in exchange for the donation of cell phones, Shelter Alliance provides funds for Safe Haven´s programming. Safe Haven is deeply grateful for First Church´s ongoing support for our efforts to break the cycle of domestic abuse in our community. Thank you for thinking of us with your donation!
FAITH TRAVELERS MISSION OFFERING The K-4 Faith Travelers church school classes 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. Did you know that…1,800 children have been supported by Family Promise and that 90% of families have found a new home?!
KIDS´ CLUB: FIVE WORTH FIGHTING FOR! Children in grades 3-6 are invited to explore the Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations in their own way! Kids´ Club will discover that these practices are Five Worth Fighting For! Kids will learn about the five practices through activities and games such as prayer stations, a game of trust, crossing a river of bubbling lava, a scavenger hunt, and game of Sardines! Join Ken and Emily Mol in Wesley Hall, bring $2 for dinner, on the following Sundays from 5:00 – 7:00 pm for Five Worth Fighting For:
• March 2 Passionate Worship
• March 9 Intentional Faith
• March 16 Mission Impossible?
• March 23 Extreme Generosity
• April 6 Radical Hospitality
ALL-CHURCH BIRTHDAY DINNER Join us Sunday, March 9 as we celebrate everyone who has a birthday, which includes you! Following the 11:00 am worship service, we will gather and get to know others with the same birthday month. We are looking for table hosts. A table host is responsible for decorating the table and hosting the table for the meal. Please sign up using the Sunday bulletin insert. If you have any questions please contact Emil at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sign up online at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/sign-up-sheet
WOMEN´S RETREATInviting Mary into our Martha Lives - Seeking Attentiveness Even in Chaos March 28, 4:00 pm – March 29, 4:00 pm at Geneva Retreat Center (Holland, MI). Cost $75.00 per person. Martha is worried and distracted by many things. Jesus reminds her there is need of only one thing and that Mary has chosen this better part. Is it possible for Martha to know what Mary knows? Join us as we discover the gift of attentiveness while seeking to live faithful lives. Reserve your spot by sending a check to Sharon Sorensen by March 19. Sign up online at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/sign-up-sheet
USHERS NEEDED! USHERS CRUCIAL! USHERS ESSENTIAL! Have you ever wanted to serve, but didn´t know where to begin? Being an usher gives you an opportunity to share your gifts of hospitality and service in a tangible way. Ushers work as a team and are guided by a team leader. Sign up using the Sunday bulletin for this low-commitment opportunity for one Sunday a month for either the 9:15 or 11:00 am service. We are in great need of ushers for the third Sunday of the month, for both services. Sign up online at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/sign-up-sheet
HOLY LAND TRIP Lynn and Kay DeMoss will lead a trip to the Holy Land and Jordan from September 15 - October 1. While all the usual holy sites will be visited, the focus of the trip is meeting people - Jewish, Christian and Muslim. Experiences unique to this trip will include a meal with a Christian family, following the Palm Sunday path, exploring ancient Megiddo, meeting with religious leaders of all three faiths and visiting Christian ministries. Brochures giving full details can be found in the north lobby.
CELEBRATION OF THE ARTS
FEBRUARY 21 - MARCH 5, 2014
41ST ANNUAL JURIED SPIRITUAL ART COMPETITION, Art Exhibit Hours: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm daily through March 4 and 10:00 am to 1:00 pm; March 5, Ash Wednesday. For more information visit www.theCelebrationoftheArts.com
Special Guest Exhibit: The Spectrum Health Expressive Arts Program Under the direction of professional staff, the residents and patients in this therapeutic program express themselves as individuals, gaining independence and the motivation to be artistically creative. Visit our main floor gallery to view this inspiring exhibit.
Special Events: • Artists´ Reception, Friday, February 21 from 7:00 - 9:00 pm in Wesley Hall. Presentation of awards, jazz, and special desserts! Open to the public. • Gallery Walk-Through Celebration of the Arts, Sunday, February 23 at 9:30 am and Wednesday, February 26 at 12:00 pm in Wesley Hall. Experience this year´s show through the special insight of Nancy Clouse, artist and faculty member from Grand Rapids Community College. • Early Music Michigan, Sunday, February 23 at 4:00 pm in the sanctuary. Early Music Michigan is devoted to the lively interpretation of music from earlier eras. • Celebration Sunday, Sunday, March 2 at 11:00 am in the sanctuary. A festive morning service on the last Sunday before Lent, featuring a Dixieland band, led by Bob Nixon. • Ash Wednesday Service, Wednesday, March 5, 6:00 pm in the sanctuary. The service features music of Taizé in a reflective and solemn setting.
Concerns & Prayers for:
• Lynne Beals
• David Crawford
• Don Far
• Roy Hart (Meijer Heart Center)
• Leola Hathaway (St Mary´s)
• Ken McCaw
• Robert Newell
• Jim Strohmer (Blodgett)
• Chris Bolhouse
• Scott Grifhorst
• Stephan Mathos
• Jesse Mounts
• Trevor Norton
• Shawn Seher
• Peter Taylor, Jr
Congratulations to Linda and Brian Sorensen on the birth of a daughter, Alexis Keira Sorensen, on February 14th. Happy siblings are Devin, Ana, and Veronica - and proud grandparents are Sharon and Keith Sorensen!
It seems it is human nature to take certain things for granted. Many of the comforts and services we enjoy have become just plain "expected."
It is no different here at First Church. I have been working with the church Finance Committee for about fifteen years, and it has been interesting to see how many of the tasks of operating our church and its ministries have shifted from volunteers to paid staff.
This parallels our society in some ways. With so many more single parent or dual income families than in past generations, many church "jobs" traditionally done by volunteers, now fall to paid staff. Fortunately, at First Church we are blessed with a great collection of dedicated staff members who work hard to facilitate and lead the ministries of the church. Many forgo more lucrative positions outside the church because of their love for what they do. If not for our staff, many of the ministries we provide would not happen. I worry sometimes that we take the church staff for granted.
I doubt we are going back any time soon to the traditional volunteer leadership model that we used to have. We need to make sure we support the staff of First Church in the following ways:
First, when a staff member calls and asks for your help with something, why not just say "yes?" They can´t do it all themselves. We need teachers, musicians, art-sitters, tutors, committee expertise, kitchen volunteers…and the list goes on. We all made a vow of service and support. Where is your ministry passion?
Second, give generously. Does your giving reflect appreciation for all that your church provides? If you proudly tell others about your church home and the ministries we provide, does your giving support what you are so proud to talk about?
I hope your faith journey brings you to a place where you can rejoice at being a part of such a wonderful church. I pray you will find your personal ministry passion. Finally, I hope all of us give with gratitude as we continue to experience and share the uplifting ministry of First Church.
YOUNG ADULTS: ICE CREAM SOCIAL WITH OUR HEARTSIDE NEIGHBORS Young Adults (age 18-30) are invited to join us for an Ice Cream Social with our Heartside neighbors. Meet at The Vine on Wednesday, February 26 at 6:00 pm to carpool (or walk together). Please eat dinner before you arrive. If you´re able, sign up to bring a topping (message email@example.com).
ADULT SUNDAY CLASS: NOOMA A two- week drop-in series featuring Rob Bell´s Nooma videos. The class will be video- and discussion-based. Classes are Sunday, February 23 and March 2 at 9:30 am in the parlor. Led by Kurt and Randy Kimball.
ADULT SUNDAY CLASS: CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVES ON THE JUSTICE SYSTEM A four-week class featuring speakers and videos. Classes are Sundays, March 2 - 23 at 9:30 am in room 3107, led by Ruth Chisnall. This 4-week class will attempt to give new understanding to the issues faced by the State of Michigan in making the justice system more equitable. Our first class will have a short video segment and guest speaker Lynda Zeller. Lynda worked in medical care of inmates in prison for the State of Michigan and is now working in the mental health field to address the issues of prison being used as housing and treatment for citizens with mental health issues. Please join us to find ways you may be able to help the justice system become more equitable.
MEN´S LENTEN BREAKFASTS 2014"Why First Church Is My Church" Join us Friday mornings at 7:00 am in Wesley Hall beginning March 7. Sign up using the Sunday bulletin insert. Sign up online at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/sign-up-sheet
LENTEN STUDYFive Practices of Fruitful Congregations by Bishop Robert Schnase. You are invited to embark on a journey this Lent. The church has entered a new era. People are seeking spirituality, but not necessarily organized religion. How will the church respond? What will speak to the people of today? Robert Schnase tells us that people are searching for a church shaped and sustained by Radical Hospitality, Passionate Worship, Intentional Faith Development, Risk-Taking Mission and Service, and Extravagant Generosity. Let´s get talking about how we might use these practices to make disciples for Jesus today and into the future. Sign up online at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/sign-up-sheet
• Wednesday AM – March 5-April 9, 10:00-11:30 at Clark, with Dick Youells
• Thursday PM – March 6-April 10, 5:30-7:00 pm Church, with TBD
• Thursday PM – March 6-April 10, 7:00-8:30 pm at Kurt & Randy Kimball´s
• Sunday AM – March 9-April 13, 9:30-10:30 am at Church, with TBD
• Sunday PM – March 9-April 13, 5:00-6:30 pm at Church, with Pastor Bob
• Sunday PM – March 9-April 13, 6:00-7:30 pm at Dave & Peggy Thompson´s
• Monday PM – March 10-April 14, 7:00-8:30 pm John & Marianne Warnock´s
• Tuesday PM – March 11-April 15, 7:00-8:20 pm at Allyson Cave´s Home
• Wednesday PM – March 12-April 9 (or 16), 6:30-8:00 pm at Church, with Laure Mieskowski
FIRST AID STATION
CHURCH ASSISTANCE PROGRAM Had one too many "bad days" this week? Maybe it´s time we talked. Call the CAP Hotline at 455.6210. They will answer the phone 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! So don´t wait any longer – call today!