• Sunday Morning Worship – Sundays @ 10:30am; Join Zoom Webinar here
  • Morning Café and Discussion – Tuesdays @ 10am; Join Zoom Meeting here
  • Off-Topic Scripture Circle – Thursdays @ 5:30pm; Join Zoom Meeting here
  • Scripture Reader sign up – Click here
  • Usher sign up – Click here (needed 08/21 & 09/04)
  • Flowers sign up – Click here (needed 09/04)
  • Coffee Hour Host sign up – Click here (needed 09/11)
  • Donate to First United Online – Click here
  • First United Vimeo Channel – Click here


Upcoming Mission Moment – My Sister’s Closet

Be sure to join us for worship THIS Sunday, August 21st, when our own Sandy Keller, founder and executive director of My Sister’s Closet, will offer brief comments during worship regarding their powerful work and then offer a more in-depth exploration and a time for questions in a session after worship (gather in Roger Williams Hall or join via Zoom by staying on the Zoom webinar); we will also take up a special offering for My Sister’s Closet during the service that day. You won’t want to miss this wonderful opportunity to learn more about this important organization that we continue to support in a variety of ways as a congregation (including a portion of our Outreach budget).

Sunday Funday

Members and friends of First United are invited to gather for fun and fellowship
THIS Sunday, August 21st, 2pm-4pm (and the third Sunday of each month). Plan to join us for Sunday Funday as we come together for an informal, unprogrammed play time in Fellowship Hall and on our playground and surrounding area. A light snack will be available for each Sunday Funday. Feel free to bring an indoor and/or outdoor game/activity to share!

Sacred Recital

Rebecca Keith and Hansol Kim are giving a sacred recital THIS Sunday, August 21st, at 5pm. If you happen to be available, they would love for you to join them. The concert about 45 minutes in length) will be held in First United’s sanctuary and will include an optional offering taken to support the mission and ministry of First United. Attendees will be treated to sacred pieces by Undine Smith Moore, Charles Gounod, J.S. Bach, and others. Special guest Liza Saracina will be featured on oboe on one of the pieces. Hope to see you on Sunday, August 21st at 5pm!

Newsletter and Announcements Deadlines

The First News deadline is this Monday, August 22nd. If you would like to have an article included in the September newsletter, please have your article turned in to the church office by the end of the day.

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.

BMA Faith for Racial Equity

You are invited to join the Bloomington Multifaith Alliance Faith for Racial Equity (BMA F4RE) committee for their regular meetings on Thursday, August 25th, 12pm-1pm (and the second and fourth Thursdays of each month). Click here to join the meeting on Zoom. The committee is currently focusing their work on 1) assembling a map of Bloomington’s whites-only properties and neighborhoods in order to visualize just how much housing in Bloomington was once whites-only by policy and 2) connecting with Monroe County schools and their Parent-Teacher Organizations to address resource disparities. Please contact Pastor Jessica if you are interested in getting involved with this important work as she is the current facilitator of the BMA F4RE committee.

Bloomington Pridefest

First United will be participating with a booth at Bloomington Pride on Saturday, August 27th. Volunteers can sign up for 1-hour segments online click here or on a sheet located in the church narthex. Volunteers are needed for set-up at 12noon, for clean-up at 8pm, and to talk with folks at the booth from 1:30pm-8:00pm. Our table will be under a tent to provide protection from the weather (rain or shine!). For questions or further information, contact co-chairs Keith Gerber or Kim Yaussy Albright, or any member of the Board of Outreach. Please consider representing First United as the opening, welcoming, and affirming congregation we are!


New Members Joining

We will welcome new members into the First United community during worship next Sunday, August 28th. You are encouraged to join us for worship as we offer an abundant welcome to these new members of our faith family and celebrate the ways we continue to transform as this community of faith. If you are interested in officially joining First United, please contact Pastor Jessica if you have not already been in conversation with her.

Worship Reflections – An Invitation

You are encouraged to share your reflections regarding the variety of new worshipful practices we explored throughout the month of July to help Rev. Petersen-Mutai as she continues to discern how to offer meaningful worship services as we seek to live our faith. Share your thoughts via the Google form by clicking here. All responses will be viewed solely by Rev. Petersen-Mutai though summary findings may be shared within the wider church (no names will be included). While you are invited to include your name so that Rev. Petersen-Mutai can follow up with you with any questions she may have and to address any concerns raised, anonymous responses are also welcome. Thank you for sharing your thoughtful reflections!

Attendance Pads Return!

The Attendance Pads have returned to the Sanctuary pews! As you gather for worship in the Sanctuary on Sundays, you are encouraged to let us know “I was here!” by signing in. Why do we want to know you were here? To offer perfect attendance awards? To penalize folks for absences? No, we want to know because we care about one another and would like to be able to reach out and check in on you and your well-being should you be away multiple Sundays in a row unexpectedly.

Congregational Survey

The participation in our recently-released Congregational Survey has been great! If you have not already done so, you are invited to complete it, too. Here’s the link again: https://forms.gle/VQGQSrVMjAhPwWoc8. Also, since the survey is completely anonymous, if you’d like a personal phone call or in-person conversation about some of your feedback, please reach out to Rebecca Keith (Church President) directly: rekeith@iu.edu.

Nursery Worker Needed

First United is seeking an additional nursery worker to staff our church nursery on Sundays from 10am-12pm. If you or someone you know might be interested in applying, please send a resume or letter of interest to Molly Koontz at Molly.Koontz@yahoo.com.

Pastor Jessica’s Vacation

Pastor Jessica will be taking the vast majority of her remaining vacation time to travel with her family to Kenya (her husband’s country of origin) September 6th through October 6th (she will be back with us for worship on October 9th). While she is away, Rev. Rebecca Hoke-McCall will offer worship leadership and pastoral care and will facilitate both the Tuesday Morning Discussion and Café and Thursday evening Off-Topic Scripture Circle. Rev. Byron Bangert will also share in offering worship leadership during this time. We wish Pastor Jessica and her family safe travels and rejoice in her taking the time to model healthy self-care and life balance. Please contact Pastor Jessica or Rebecca Keith with any questions.

Feminist Women’s Book Club

Our feminist women’s book club will meet again on Sunday, September 11th at 12pm (for about an hour) in person in Roger Williams Hall and via Zoom for anyone who would prefer to join virtually. The book for the September gathering’s discussion is “The Women’s March” by Jennifer Chiaverini—a historical novel of the women’s suffrage movement inspired by several courageous women who risked their lives to win the vote. Alice Paul from Britain, journalist Ida B. Wells, and others tell the story of the challenges for women, especially for women of color to be included. The Women’s March offers a fascinating account of a crucial but little-remembered moment in American history, a turning point in the struggle for women’s rights. As always, new members are welcome to visit as a guest. For Zoom or more information contact facilitator Cindy Stone (stonec@indiana.edu).


Sunday Morning Hybrid Worship

Join us for worship each Sunday morning at 10:30am. In addition to a Mission Moment by Sandy Keller of My Sister’s Closet, this Sunday will feature Rev. Jessica Petersen-Mutai in the pulpit; she will also offer a message for the young and young at heart. Sara Cole will once again present the day’s scripture reading and serve as our congregational lead. Hansol Kim will lead us in song throughout the service, and Rachel Caswell (accompanied by Jamaal Baptiste) will offer special music. Rebecca Keith will highlight some of the many ways we are invited to engage in the life of the church and our wider community. Keith Gerber and Phyllis Eads will offer a warm welcome to all those who gather in the sanctuary, while Dedric Dennist will welcome all who join via Zoom. Mary Peckham and Chris Raphael will provide a beautiful floral arrangement in honor of Anna’s 23rd birthday and her realizing her dream of a classroom or her own. Finally, Kyle Hetrick and Jim True will ensure the audio/visual pieces run as smoothly as possible. Looking forward to worshiping with you!

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

Sermon Talk Backs

Our monthly sermon talk backs, during which worship participants are invited to remain after the service for a moderated discussion on the sermon to discuss what they heard and what questions remain, will make a glorious return next Sunday! Beginning on Sunday, August 28th, we will once again offer folks an opportunity to engage in these rich conversations with one another and Rev. Petersen-Mutai one Sunday each month. In-person participants will gather in Roger Williams Hall, while online participants can simply stay on the worship Zoom webinar (you will be made a panelist so you can be seen and heard).


Our Afghan Guests

There is great transportation news for the Arman family! Since the family doesn’t own a car or and no one has a driver’s license, transportation for the father (Ahad) to his work on the west side of town has been very difficult. The church solved this commuting issue with the purchase of an electric bike that is being “rented” (loaned) to the family until better transportation can be found. The Displaced Immigrant Support Program (DISP) team will (re)use the e-bike into the future. 

In further good news, Ahad passed the BMV written driving test, after several attempts.  The BMV does not offer the test in Dari so he had to take it in English. Now, Ahad will be able to get a driver’s license in six months after driving practice.

The family is moving on Friday, August 26th to a new apartment. The DISP team is also moving the pile of home goods in Fellowship Hall to Exodus for use with other refugee families at the same time. We need your help! If you can help by lifting some boxes or moving some box springs on that date, please contact Dave Meyer (dwm@davemeyer.org). We need some younger and stronger folks to help with this important milestone.

Ways to Support Recovery Efforts in Eastern Kentucky

While the Disaster Ministry of the Indiana-Kentucky Conference (UCC) focuses on long term recovery, they invite church to be a part of the immediate response by sending financial donations. Please do not send any items at this time; warehouses can become overwhelmed with items they do not need. Financial contributions are best at this point in the recovery as the funds can be disbursed to the areas needing help and used to provide the greatest need at any given time. Also, the funds will help the communities recover from the economic strain they are experiencing.

Here are some options to make financial donations shared by the Disaster Ministry of the IKC:

  1. Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund
  2. If you go to the ikcucc.org website, there is also an option to donate through PayPal. See this website for donation instructions. If you go this route, please designate “IKC-Kentucky Recovery Fund.” to the “Add special instructions to the seller note field.

One of our congregation members also shared a list of resources to assist flood victims in Appalachia. You are invited to consult the list here.

Do the Dash! – Global Ministries Mission Dash 5K

Did you know that if you “Do the Dash” you can help olive tree farmers in Palestine plant more trees? “Dashers” can also assist people in five coastal villages of Bangladesh find a way to grow food, despite the growing amount of saline in their soil, a byproduct of rising seas. These are just two projects that the Global Ministries (a joint witness in mission between the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ) Mission Dash 5K will help fund through participation in the August virtual event focusing on climate justice. You are invited to “Do the Dash” by completing a 5K anytime in August — and in many ways. Learn more and register to “Do the Dash” here.

Coffee Hour

You are invited to join together for conversation and light refreshments after worship Sunday, August 28th. Additionally, all are invited to consider hosting one of our bimonthly coffee hours after worship on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month. Food, drink, and serving supplies are provided by the church, though hosts are free to supplement items if they wish. Clear instructions regarding setup/cleanup and guidelines for serving snacks are posted in the kitchen and will be emailed to each volunteer. Click here to sign up to volunteer to host Sunday, September 11thor a subsequent Sunday. Your Member Relations Committee thanks you for considering this act of service—supporting this fellowship opportunity is meaningful, does not demand a lot of time, and can be kept very simple.


CLT and Nursery Care

Kids in kindergarten through 5th grade are welcome to Children’s Learning Time (CLT) in Room 2 during the last half of the Sunday morning worship service. Many thanks to Mary Peckham and Rebecca Keith 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 10am-11:45am playing in the nursery or on the playground, weather permitting. Lena Stosberg and Jessica McIntosh will ensure our little ones are safe and engaged in fun activities during worship this Sunday. We are always 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 Roger Williams Hall or via Zoom (click hereon Tuesday mornings, 10am-11:30am, as we embark on the final third of 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 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

You are invited to join with members and friends of First United on Thursday evenings, 5:30pm-6:30pm to check in and explore the week’s lectionary scripture readings in a casual setting where you will never be asked to leave your brain or your heart at the door. We will meet via Zoom only in an effort to be more accessible to folks after work and near dinnertime; join the Zoom meeting here.

Reader’s Choice Book Group

During their August meeting, participants shared a variety of books to explore over the course of the year ahead. The books selected for the coming months are: “The Ku Klux Klan in the Heartland” by James Madison for September 12th and “The Stranger in the Lifeboat” by Mitch Albom for October 10th. If you like to read, come join the group at any or all of its meetings at 1:30pm on the second Monday of each month.


Job Opportunity!

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 (info@firstuc.org) with a resume and email cover letter detailing relevant experience and intent to apply. While the hiring team has received materials from a number of applicants, none have yet seemed to be the right fit. Thank you for your help!

Contact Information