"So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them." Luke 8:18
Do you remember the old Verizon Wireless® commercials where a serious looking phone tech was seen in all sorts of places with a phone to his ear asking: "Can you hear me now?" Someone on the other end of the line must have always said "yes" because his next word was always, "good." He would then take a few steps and repeat, "Can you hear me now?" The implication, of course, was that their company offered full coverage anywhere, but with other cell phone carriers you would be limited by lots of "dead zones."
I´ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to hear the voice of God, especially as the body of Christ, the church. Through his recent vision series, Dr. Bob has been getting us all ready to think about what God might have in store for us as we prepare to enter a ‘third century of ministry.´ Now that we have celebrated who we have been (Hindsight), who we are (Insight), and who we might become (Foresight), we are ready to wrestle with our call to fruitfulness. If you weren´t able to be in service to hear this series, I would encourage you to go online this week to see them at www.youtube.com/grfumc.
Jesus said that as his followers we are to go into all the world making disciples in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Mt. 28:18-20). Bishop Robert Schnase says that the congregations who do this best excel in five specific areas. He identifies these areas as: 1) Radical Hospitality, 2) Passionate Worship, 3) Intentional Faith Development, 4) Risk-taking Mission and Service, and 5) Extravagant Generosity. Over the Sundays of Lent we will turn our focus to each one individually in our sermon series entitled ‘Fruitful,´ exploring the biblical mandates of each, looking at how we are currently doing and then envisioning a future where each is done with excellence and joy in our church.
To enhance our "hearing" we are also offering Lenten study groups, both at the church and in people´s homes. I hope you will sign up for one of these opportunities to discuss the book "Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations." When we gather together to listen for and discuss the word of God, amazing and exciting things begin to happen – the blind see (intentional faith development), the lame walk (risk-taking mission and service), the lepers are cured (radical hospitality), the dead are raised to life (extravagant generosity), and Good News is preached to the poor (passionate worship).
John Wesley once said, "I am not afraid that the people called Methodist should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out." What will the future look like at First United Methodist Church here in the heart of Grand Rapids? I´m not sure. I am certain though, that if we take the time to hear the voice of God calling us to excellence in discipleship, we will not find ourselves in the "dead zone" of a fruitless faith. God is the one asking us "Can you hear me now?" Let´s get ready to respond with a resounding, "Yes!"
P.S. Speaking of problems hearing, we would like to apologize for the troubles you have noticed with our sanctuary sound system the past couple of weeks. As with all technology, it´s great until it isn´t. Something in the system crashed, wiping out all of the customized settings for our sanctuary. Please know that we are working with the system provider to re-set all the levels (something they call EQ-ing) and that we are confident that you will be able, once again, to "hear us now!"
• 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 13,10:15 am and 12:00 pm — Palm Sunday Brunch
• 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.
ADOPTION HOE DOWN UPDATEThe Valentine´s Day Hoe Down netted $1,132 for our Adoption Fund! A special thanks to Bob and Shelley Hudson and Glenn and Julie Warners of Gooder ‘N Grits for providing the lively music, and to the Adoption Ministry Team for all their hard work. A check was sent to the Kingma Family to help them with expenses as they get ready to travel to Hong Kong to bring almost 2-year old Raymond home. Thank you for being a congregation who is passionate about adoption and the ministry to help children find their forever families!
ASH WEDNESDAY SERVICE Join us on Wednesday, March 5 at 6:00 pm for a service featuring music of Taizé in a reflective and solemn setting.
IPADS FOR MLK – A CHALLENGE FROM THE LEGACY MINISTRY A request came to Legacy Ministry for the purchase of 15 iPads, one for each tutoring station at the Martin Luther King Leadership Academy - FUMC Tutoring Center. The request includes the purchase of educational apps, and equipment that will appropriately provide security against theft. According to Jer Hon-Hawkins, iPads would "expose our students to current technology so they will be competitive learners in the future." The estimated cost for this project is $9,500. Legacy does not have the full amount available for this request, therefore, they would like to challenge the congregation. Legacy Ministry will match up to $5,000. If you are willing to help with this project, please specify iPads for MLK on your giving envelope. Thank you for all you do to help with the vital ministries of our church!
CELEBRATION OF THE ARTS SCAVENGER HUNT Children in Grades K-4 are invited to join our Faith Travelers on Sunday, March 2 for a scavenger hunt to experience the artwork in Wesley Hall during the Celebration of the Arts. Children will meet as usual on the third floor following their dismissal from the 9:15 am worship service. Join us for an art walk-through learning experience!
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 the 11:00 am service. Sign up online at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/sign-up-sheet
ARTS ALIVE CAMP, our summer day camp, will be held on August 4 - 7. This camp is open to all children who are entering 1st - 6th grade in the fall of 2014. Mark your summer calendars now!
HEIFER INTERNATIONAL Sunday, March 9, the Coffee Can offering will benefit Heifer International. Heifer International´s mission is to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the Earth. By giving families animals, Heifer empowers them to turn hunger and poverty into hope and prosperity. By bringing communities together and linking them with markets in their area, Heifer helps bring sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty.
JOURNEY TO LIFE Bishop Deb Kiesey invites you to join her for Journey to Life, a 40-day Lenten journey that will deepen our faith and connect us with our brothers and sisters in Sub-Saharan Africa. You will receive a daily devotion delivered by email. Register online at https://wmc-reg.brtapp.com/ImagineNoMalariaDailyLentenStudy
IMAGINE NO MALARIA is a $75 million effort of The United Methodist Church to eliminate malaria deaths in Africa by 2015. Achieving this goal will require a comprehensive approach to fighting this disease. Mark your calendar now to attend a screening of the inspirational movie Mary and Martha starring Hilary Swank and Brenda Blethyn on Sunday, March 30. A movie for children will be shown at the same time. A simple lunch will be served immediately following the 11 am worship service followed by the movie screening at 1 pm. A free willing offering will be taken.
THE 2014 FIRST CHURCH LENTEN DEVOTIONAL will be available on Sunday, March 2. A devotional has been written for each day of Lent, by a member or friend of First Church, beginning with Ash Wednesday, March 5. Use the daily devotionals for a time of personal prayer and reflection as we journey together toward Easter. You may pick up a devotional in the north lobby, at any entrance to the sanctuary, or online at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/lent.
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: • Gallery Walk-Through Celebration of the Arts, 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. • 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
• Rev. Lynn DeMoss (Butterworth)
• Don Far
• Roy Hart
• Leola Hathaway
• Ken McCaw
• Robert Newell (hospice care)
• Jim Strohmer
• Young Adult Mission Trip to Chicago
• Chris Bolhouse
• Scott Grifhorst
• Stephan Mathos
• Jesse Mounts
• Trevor Norton
• Shawn Seher
• Peter Taylor, Jr
Congratulations to Debbie and Rick Schuitema on the birth of a son, Gideon Lucas, on February 22nd. Proud big sister is Veda!
The kind and encouraging words and gestures of our First Church friends have been greatly appreciated as we have cared for Jer´s dad during his recent illness and death. It was humbling and uplifting that so many made the trip to attend his memorial service. Our church is a true blessing to us.
Jer Hon-Hawkins and Chris Hawkins
I heard an touching story regarding our MLK Leadership Academy ministry this week. As you might expect, I hear a lot about MLK! But this story struck me.
Last week, a Grand Rapids police officer stopped at the school and indicated that he had encountered an MLK middle school student in the neighborhood. This particular youth was discovered to not own any boots. The police officer, out of the goodness of his heart, gave the young man an old worn pair of boots he had in the trunk of his squad car. The officer stopped into MLK, knowing about our ministry there, and asked if it was possible for us to provide a new pair of boots to the young man.
Ordinarily, this would be no problem, as First Church maintains an inventory of coats and boots for just such occasions…however this young man needed size 13! Not only did we not have a pair this big, but the normal team of shoppers hasn´t yet located a pair anywhere because of depleted inventories this late in the winter. The hunt is on, with the hope of finding these boots soon. In the meantime, the kind officer´s boots are being gratefully worn.
I tell this story because it illustrates just how meaningful and impactful the ministries of our church are in Grand Rapids. Most of us have boots, coats, a warm house, and all that is needed to protect us from the winter. Yet, many in our midst do not have these basic necessities. Our giving to First Church supports the MLK ministry and a variety of other outreach activities so that folks with no means have a chance to get by.
Your giving to First Church makes a difference in very real ways. This is a real story about a real person just a mile from our church doorstep, whose life will be impacted by what we give and what we do. There are countless other stories like this as well.
So as we give to First Church, let us all remember that most of us are truly blessed with God´s abundant gifts. Let this translate into joyful giving to First Church so that we can continue to make a difference as disciples for Jesus Christ!
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).
MEALS NEEDED Meals are needed for Lynne Beals who is undergoing chemo and for Debbie and Rick Schuitema who have a brand new baby! If you are able to help, please sign up at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/meals or contact Marj at 901.9224 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
BLOOD DRIVE Our next Blood Drive is Monday, March 24 from 3:00 - 7:00 pm in Wesley Hall. Michigan Blood is running a special promotion for March. Sign in to donate and you could win one of 4 prizes: 4 tickets to a Griffins game, 4 tickets to Celebration Cinema, 4 passes for the Children´s Museum or 4 passes to Meijer Gardens PLUS you may be saving someone´s life! Sign up for a time or to provide cookies by using the Sunday sign-up sheet or contact Marj at 451.2879 or email@example.com.
ADULT SUNDAY CLASS: NOOMA A drop-in series featuring Rob Bell´s Nooma videos. The class will be video- and discussion-based. Class is Sunday, March 2 at 9:30 am in the parlor, led by Kurt and Randy Kimball.
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 be a video segment with discussion. (This is a change.) Lynda Zeller will be our guest speaker on March 16. 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 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!