- Off-Topic Scripture Circle – Sundays @ 9am; Join Zoom Meeting here
- Sunday Morning Worship – Sundays @ 10:30am; Join Zoom Webinar here
- Morning Café and Discussion – Tuesdays @ 10am;Join Zoom Meeting here
- Scripture Reader sign up – Click here (needed 04/17)
- Usher sign up – Click here (needed 04/03, 04/10, and 04/17)
- Flowers sign up – Click here (needed 04/10 and 04/17)
- Donate to First United Online – Click here
- First United Vimeo Channel – Click here
BMA F4RE Spring 2022 Community Book Read Capstone Event
All are invited to join Bloomington Multifaith Alliance Faith for Racial Equity (BMA F4RE) in-person (at First United; masks will be required) or online (access Zoom webinar here) for guest speakers and discussions of housing discrimination and school segregation, issues covered in Heather McGhee’s book “The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We can Prosper Together.”
You are invited to participate in the event on Sunday, April 3rd, 2-4pm, regardless of whether or not you have read “The Sum of Us” or participated in the book discussion groups. We will discuss these critically important issues of racial justice and their history and impact locally in Bloomington, IN. Guest speakers will be Ashley Pirani (Monroe County Black Democratic Caucus) discussing Housing Discrimination in Bloomington and April Hennessey (MCCSC School Board Trustee) discussing School Segregation in Bloomington.
Sermon Talk Backs
Throughout the season of Lent, Rev. Petersen-Mutai is preaching a 7-part sermon series in which she will explore the last week of Jesus as depicted in the Gospel of Mark. Worship participants are invited to remain after the service each week (now through April 10th) to talk about what they’ve heard with a moderated discussion on the sermon. Those gathering in person will do so in Roger Williams Hall; those joining virtually can simply stay on the Zoom webinar (you will be made a “panelist” so you can participate in the conversation). Thanks to Byron Bangert and Rebecca Hoke-McCall for facilitating these conversations!
NEW/UPDATED THIS WEEK
Feminist Women’s Book Club
Our feminist women’s book club will meet on Sunday, April 10th in Roger Williams Hall and via Zoom. As always, we welcome new members to visit as a guest. While the group typically meets at 12 noon, following worship for about an hour, discussions are underway regarding shifting the meeting time for this one gathering to 4:30pm; stay tuned to next week’s email or contact Cindy Stone for confirmation. For April 10th, Terrie Kercher has chosen “American Dirt” by Jeanine Cummins – a #1 New York Times bestseller and Oprah Book Club pick with over two million copies sold. It tells the story of Lydia, a mom & wife from Acapulco. Her life is comfortable. But when her journalist husband’s tell-all profile of a drug lord is published, lives will never be the same. For the Zoom link or more information contact facilitator Cindy Stone, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reader’s Choice Book Club
The Reader’s Choice Book Group will meet Monday, April 11th, 1:30pm at the home of Nancy Martin, 1047 Sassafras Circle (Meadowood). The book for discussion is ‘The Indigo Girl,” a historical novel by Natasha Boyd. Based on a true story, it is about Eliza Lucas, a 16-year-old girl, who is left in charge of her father’s three plantations in South Carolina when he leaves the country to pursue his expensive military ambitions. Eliza soon realizes the estates are in serious financial trouble and believes the way to save them is by learning to make indigo dye, a product highly prized by the French. Others tell Eliza that indigo can’t be grown in South Carolina; it has been tried and failed. Eliza is determined to learn the one-thousand-year-old secret and learns it from an unlikely source. Everyone is welcome to join any of these monthly discussions. For more information, contact Nancy Martin.
Holy Week Worship
You are invited to gather together in the sanctuary on Holy Thursday evening, April 14th, 6:30pm-7:15pm, for a predominantly-sung service using Marty Haugen’s Holden Evening Prayer. The service uses contemporary and inclusive language and offers space for quiet meditation, spoken prayer, and the presentation of scripture. We will also celebrate communion together with freshly-baked bread and freshly-poured grape juice! (The individual pre-packaged elements will also be available for those more comfortable with receiving communion in that way.) This service will be offered in person only.
Then on April 15th, 12:10pm-1pm, you are encouraged to attend the annual Good Friday service offered collaboratively by First United Methodist, First Christian, First Presbyterian, and First United. First United will host this year’s service as we mark this mournful day together with song, prayer, silence, and reflection. The service will be held in the sanctuary and can be accessed via Zoom here (Dial-in number: (312) 626-6799; Webinar ID: 828 3681 0281).
Youth Participation in Solidarity Sleepout
First United youth are invited to join together to support Beacon’s Solidarity Sleepout April 22nd-23rd (see more details below). First United members and friends who are not able to sleep out yourself but want to support the effort are encouraged to support First United’s youth as they participate in the sleepout. You can give through Pastor Jessica’s page here (individual youth pages will be shared in upcoming announcements emails).
UPCOMING WORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES
Sunday Morning Hybrid Worship
Join us for worship each Sunday morning at 10:30am. This Sunday’s service will feature Rev. Jessica Petersen-Mutai in the pulpit; she will also offer a special message for the young and young at heart. Beautiful music will be led by Hansol Kim and Sam Grace, and the First United Vocal Choir will offer a special music piece. Terrie Kercher will present the day’s scripture reading and serve as our congregational lead. Kim Yaussy Albright will offer a warm welcome to all those who gather in the sanctuary and could use some help (sign up here). Dedric Dennist will welcome all who join via Zoom, and Lisa Kwong will provide a beautiful floral arrangement in celebration of National Poetry Month. And, Jim True and Kyle Hetrick will ensure the audio/visual pieces run as smoothly as possible. We will celebrate communion during worship; those who are joining via Zoom are encouraged to prepare a “nibble” and a “sip” to participate from home.
Join the Zoom Webinar by clicking here
Dial-in number: (312) 626 6799; Webinar ID: 828 3681 0281
The service will be posted on Sunday evening on First United’s Vimeo channel (where you can access all of our previous worship services).
Donate online at: firstuc.online/donate
Food Drive Results
The Board of Outreach sponsored food drive on Saturday, March 19th received 403 pounds of donated items and $200 in checks to MCUM. Don Shelton delivered the donations to MCUM on Monday, March 21st. Thanks to all who donated and volunteered to provide food and pet products. It was a cold raw rainy day, but thanks to a canopy provided by Dave Meyer and persons who braved the weather we succeeded in filling a car full of items.
The Board of Building and Grounds is having a spring workday on Saturday, April 9th, 8am-noon. Come join us as we prepare our beautiful church grounds for spring!
Wheeler Mission—Bloomington will be holding their first-ever rummage sale, Rummage for Refuge, where the sale’s proceeds will directly benefit their programs and services for those in our community who are experiencing homelessness. There will be a variety of nice clothes (adult and children), accessories, linens, and miscellaneous items to choose from.
- What: Wheeler Mission—Bloomington’s Rummage for Refuge
- When: Thursday, April 7th-Saturday, April 9th
- Where: The Warehouse (1525 S. Rogers St., Bloomington, IN 47403)
- Timeframes: 4-8pm on Thursday (4/7); 9am-4pm on Friday (4/8); 9am-4pm on Saturday (4/9)
They are in need of volunteers to presort items in advance of Rummage for Refuge as they still have a large amount of items to go through. Additionally, they will need volunteers for set-up/tear-down, as well as assistance each day of Rummage for Refuge. Anyone who is interested or has questions should contact Chris-Michael G. Morrison (Director of Advancement—Bloomington Area, Wheeler Mission) at email@example.com or 812.219.2939 (call/text).
Beacon Solidarity Sleepout
First United is honored to host this year’s Beacon Solidarity Sleepout on Friday, April 22nd, 7pm-Saturday, April 23rd, 8am, as dedicated adults, teens, and children will be sleeping out to raise critical funds and awareness for people experiencing homelessness in Monroe County. With sleeping bags, tarps, and tents, participants can choose to gather on the grounds of First United Church or sleep in their backyards, on their living room floor, etc.
All ages are welcome. Adults and teen participants are asked to register at givebutter.com/sleepout2022, choose a personal fundraising goal, and ask friends and family to sponsor them as they sleep out.
The net proceeds from the event will support Beacon’s overnight shelter, Friend’s Place, the only nonreligious, year-round emergency shelter for homeless adults in the region. Friend’s Place is a sober shelter for Monroe County residents, providing hope and support as people find their way back home. Combined with Beacon’s housing and employment assistance, Friend’s Place has become one of the most successful shelters in Indiana.
First United members who are considering participating in this year’s sleepout are also encouraged to consider serving as an official First United representative offering a warm welcome and abundant hospitality while participants gather on our grounds. Please contact a member of the Board of Outreach if you are interested.
Displaced Immigrant Support Program
Our Displaced Immigrant Support Program team remains hard at work as they offer support to our Afghan guests, and you are invited to help with the effort in a number of ways. If you think you can help, please let Dave Meyer know (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- The family has secured an apartment to move into in August, and there is a pool onsite! We would love to connect the family with swim lessons before the move. Do you have any connection with the YMCA or other group that offers lessons? If so, we’d be glad to hear from you as we attempt to get the family familiarized with pool safety.
- With the family preparing for a move in August, we remind you that we receive household furniture on an on-going basis. If you are planning a move of your own, down-sizing, or wanting to get rid of any furniture that might be suitable to share with our Afghan guests, please let us know! (Items can be stored in the church Fellowship Hall.)
- We continue seeking church members’ help with job coaching and employment contacts in Bloomington’s medical technology business community. Ahad’s previous work experience is in medical technology manufacturing and sales, and he has an updated resume ready to share.
- Finally, your financial support is greatly appreciated and continues to be needed. A special giving section on the church donation page has been set up as one way to give; click here to access it. Individuals may also write checks to First United with “DISP” in the memo line.
Both the UCC and the ABC-USA are actively offering support to Ukrainians during the ongoing Russian invasion. International Ministries, on behalf of American Baptist Churches USA, has sent an initial grant of $15,000 in One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) emergency relief to the European Baptist Federation to provide humanitarian aid for Ukrainian Baptists. And, as a member of the ACT Alliance, UCC support is being targeted to people most in need through humanitarian relief partners with a history of working in the region; UCC aid also is being extended through Hungarian Reformed Church Aid, the relief agency of the Reformed Church in Hungary.
- “International Ministries” and mailed to: International Ministries, Attn: Gifts Processing, 1003 W 9th Avenue, Ste A, King of Prussia, PA 19406 or
- “United Church of Christ” and mailed to: United Church of Christ, PO BOX 71957, Cleveland, OH 44194 (be sure to note “Ukraine Relief Fund” on your check in the memo section).
CLT and Nursery Care
Kids in kindergarten through 5th grade are welcome to Children’s Learning Time (CLT) during the last half of the service. Many thanks to Ted Wininger (our interim Lead CLT Teacher!) and Emily Mathes for leading CLT this Sunday. Interested in joining our CLT assistant teacher rotation? Contact Molly Koontz.
Our youngest children are welcome to spend time from 9:15am-11:45am playing in the nursery or on the playground, weather permitting. Jessica McIntosh and Allie Gentry will ensure our little ones are safe and engaged in fun activities during worship this Sunday. We are still looking for additional volunteer assistants to help in the nursery occasionally. Contact Molly Koontz if you are interested and with any questions.
Tuesday Morning Café and Discussion
Join us in person (Roger Williams Hall) or online (click here) on Tuesday mornings, 10am-11:30am, as we continue a 36-session video series entitled “The History of Christianity: From the Disciples to the Dawn of the Reformation.” After a time of informal conversation, we’ll engage in thought-provoking theological study and discussion as we explore the phenomenal story of Christianity’s first 1,500 years, with all its remarkable diversity and complex dimensions. Professor Dr. Luke Timothy Johnson will lead this examination of Christianity’s origins, rise, and civilization-shaping activities from its inception to the Reformation. While we’d love to see you each Tuesday for the next several months, perfect attendance is not required, neither is previous participation.
Off-Topic Scripture Circle
Want to read and discuss the week’s scripture readings with friends before church in a casual setting where you will never be asked to leave your brain or your heart at the door? We have the place for you! Those who would like to gather in person can do so in Room 6 and those who would like to participate virtually can join via Zoom here. See you Sunday morning, 9am-10am!
Lent Madness 2022 is well underway, and it’s not too late to join in this unique and somewhat absurd Lenten devotion that is as fun as it is meaningful as the competition finishes up the Saintly Sixteen! (Followed by the Elate Eight, then the Faithful Four, and ultimately for who wins the entire tournament and earns the “Golden Halo.”)
How to get involved:
- Visit www.lentmadness.org to find the saints’ biographical information and vote. Voting takes place daily, and you can vote as frequently or infrequently as you like (but only one vote a day), and it’s all free.
- If you would like to discuss your votes, the bracket, or just take a deeper dive into the lives of the fascinating people featured, you’re invited to join the “Lent Madness at First United Church!” Facebook group here.
For more information, talk to Pastor Jessica or Kyle Hetrick.
Change to Masking Policy
During their March 16th meeting, Church Council voted to make masking optional for Sunday services, Sunday Bible study, and other small group meetings, but we will continue requiring masks for the nursery and Children’s Learning Time (CLT). This change was effective immediately. Social distancing is still to be observed, and vaccination continues to be strongly recommended for all who are eligible.
Thank you for your continued support as we navigate this unknown terrain together. Please be in touch with Rebecca Keith, Church President, or other members of the Council with any questions regarding this change in our policy.
First United is seeking to hire someone as a part-time Director of Children’s and Youth Ministries. Please see the job description here. Share widely or apply today! Candidates should respond to Lisa Stanger (email@example.com) with a resume and email cover letter detailing relevant experience and intent to apply. Thank you for your help!
If you would like an announcement included in next week’s church email, please have your item to Lisa Stanger by noon on the Wednesday before.
- Rev. Jessica Petersen-Mutai, Senior Minister – firstname.lastname@example.org; 812-727-4414 (Friday & Saturday off; emergency calls only)
- Lisa Stanger, Office Manager – email@example.com
- Sam Grace, Music Director – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dedric Dennist, Web Content & Media Coordinator – email@example.com
- Rebecca Keith, Church President – firstname.lastname@example.org; 812-325-0145 (Cell)