Sunday Morning Worship

Join us for worship each Sunday morning at 10:30am (10am Log in). This Sunday’s service will feature Rev. Jessica Petersen-Mutai in the pulpit, a message from Derek Roe for the young and young at heart, and a special music offering from First United’s choir. The formal acknowledgement of the relationship between First United and Derek Roe as our Assistant Minister for Children and Youth Faith Formation that was previously planned to take place this Sunday has been postponed. Information regarding the rescheduled date will be forthcoming.

Join Zoom Meeting by clicking here

Dial-in number: (253) 215-8782; Meeting ID: 946 3570 8633; Passcode: 879535

The service will be posted late Sunday afternoon on First United’s Vimeo channel (where you can access all of our previous worship services).

Donate online at: https://tinyurl.com/FirstUCDonate

Lenten Flower “Garden”

The Board of Worship invites individuals and families to join us in creating a paper flower “garden” for the sanctuary throughout Lent. There are no parameters per type of construction of the flowers – like us – all are welcome. Flowers can be placed/collected in a plastic bin located outside of the Narthex entrance on the North side or dropped off in the church office. Each week before Sunday service, we will create collages to display the new flowers – so the garden may grow across the season. Search the internet for do-it-yourself basic paper flowers or DIY paper flowers for kids. If/when you make one, share with us at a coffee hour! For more ideas (internet links) contact Siri Loescher at sannloescher@gmail.com.

Ash Wednesday Worship

We will begin our observance of Lent with a special service offered on Ash Wednesday, February 17th. The service will be offered virtually this year, due to the continuing pandemic. Though we will not observe the traditional imposition of ashes in-person, you are invited to prepare a small amount of ashes, soil, coffee grounds, glitter, whatever “dust” you have readily available to you for this year’s socially-distanced imposition of ashes; you may also choose to simply use a bit of oil or water to mark yourself. A recorded service prepared for Ash Wednesday will be available on our Vimeo channel for you to access whenever is convenient and meaningful for you. You can choose to start your day or concluded it with this brief service or perhaps find a moment somewhere in between to begin your journey into this year’s virtual Lenten season. Watch for a reminder email, which will include the bulletin for the service, on Tuesday, February 16th.

Holden Evening Prayer Services

Throughout the season of Lent, you are invited to gather together via Zoom each Thursday evening (February 18th-March 25th), 7pm-7:30pm, 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. These services will run live with pre-recorded music from our tremendous choir and live scripture readings and prayers, and people will be invited to stay for about 15 minutes afterwards for fellowship. Can’t attend in person? Each service will be posted on Vimeo.

Join Zoom Meeting by clicking here

Dial-in number: (253) 215-8782; Meeting ID: 884 3149 1851; Passcode: 129896

Centering Prayer on Sundays and throughout the Week

During each Sunday morning service in Lent, Rev. Petersen-Mutai will invite the gathered congregation (via Zoom) to engage in a brief time of Centering Prayer. Centering Prayer is a method of silent prayer that prepares us to experience God’s presence within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than consciousness itself. It is simply a wordless, trusting opening of one’s self to the divine presence. This portion of the Sunday service will be accessible during the week on Vimeo, and you are invited to take a few moments each day during Lent for Centering Prayer.


White Privilege: Let’s Talk

During the season of Lent, you are invited to enter into Brave Space (a space where we can be honest and encourage honesty in others, where we are able to be challenged, learn, and grow) and join a facilitated cohort to work in depth through White Privilege: Let’s Talk—A Resource for Transformational Dialogue. White Privilege: Let’s Talk is an adult curriculum from the United Church of Christ that is designated to invite church members to engage in safe, meaningful, substantive, and bold conversations on race. All participant materials are available free for download at http://privilege.uccpages.org.

Meetings will take place via Zoom 6:30pm-8:30pm on Mondays (February 22nd; March 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th; and April 5th). Participants must commit to attending all seven weekly sessions. The cohort is limited to ten participants and will be facilitated by Rev. Petersen-Mutai and Amanda Udis-Kessler. There is still room for a couple more participants; please contact Rev. Petersen-Mutai by Sunday, February 14th to reserve your place in the cohort and with any questions.

Lent Madness Starts Thursday! 

All are invited to participate in Lent Madness 2021, a unique and somewhat absurd Lenten devotion that is as fun as it is meaningful. The absurdity comes in the format of a tournament-style, single-elimination bracket in which 32 saints (from biblical stories to modern times) are pitted against each other as they battle for the “Golden Halo.” Each weekday (plus one Saturday) from the first Thursday of Lent (February 18th) to the Wednesday of Holy Week, two saints “face off” against each other. During each 24-hour period, Lent Madness participants learn about the lives, legends, quotes of both saints and then vote online for who they want to advance to the Saintly Sixteen, then the Elate Eight, then the Faithful Four, and ultimately for who wins the entire tournament and earns the “Golden Halo.” Winners from prior tournaments have included well-known figures like Harriet Tubman, Mary Magdalene, and Florence Nightingale, but also less-known saints like Anna Alexander and George Herbert.

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, 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, we will have a weekly Zoom meeting just for that. Date and time TBA.  
  • If you would like your own booklet with information on the saints and a full-color bracket, they will be available for socially-distanced pick up at the church on Mondays, Wednesdays, or Fridays, 9am-12pm and 1pm-4pm. 
  • On the Sundays of Lent (Feb. 21st – Apr. 4th (Easter)), watch for a Lent Madness update in the first few minutes of Coffee Hour after church.

For more information, talk to Pastor Jessica, Derek Roe, or Kyle Hetrick. 

Racial Justice Book Club

The Racial Justice Book Club will meet on Saturday, February 27th, 2pm-3:30pm, over Zoom to discuss the book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson. In this brilliant book, Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings. She purports that, beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people’s lives and behavior and the nation’s fate. Wilkerson offers hope for the future as she points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity. Beautifully written, original, and revealing, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents is an eye-opening story of people and history, and a reexamination of what lies under the surface of ordinary lives and of American life today.

The study of this book will take place over two meetings (February and March); for the February meeting, participants are invited to read and come prepared to discuss the first half of the book reading through “Part Three: The Eight Pillars of Caste.” An online discussion board for the group has been established, so even if you are unable to attend the in-person meetings, you are invited to read the book and participate in the conversation. If you are interested in joining the group, please contact Laurie Eynon at leynon73@icloud.com.

First United’s Feminist Book Club

First United’s Feminist Book Club has continued to meet via Zoom, and all church women are invited to visit as a guest. We are women who have a lively discussion the second Sunday of each month 12pm-1pm, following morning worship. We read recent fiction “by women, for women, or about women.” We are a group of women from the church and community who actively discuss our book each month. Feminist women of all ages are invited to join us. The next two months of book selections are as follows: Sunday, February 14th: Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson, and Sunday, March 14th: All Adults Here by Emma Straub. For Zoom information or more information about the book club, contact facilitator Cindy Stone, stonec@indiana.edu.

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! Click below to join us, Sunday mornings 9am-10am.

Join Zoom Meeting by clicking here

Dial-in number: (253) 215-8782; Meeting ID: 896 7762 0237; Passcode: 043604

Tuesday Virtual Café and Adult Discussion

Pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea and join us at 10am-11:30am each Tuesday for a time of informal conversation followed by thought-provoking theological study and discussion. The group is currently exploring the video series Confucius, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad presented by Prof. Mark Muesse. It’s a great way to keep in touch with church friends during social distancing and to engage in adult faith formation. We hope to see you there!

Join Zoom Meeting clicking here

Dial-in number: (253) 215-8782; Meeting ID: 895 0519 1798; Passcode: 624328

Children’s Learning Time (CLT)
Are you the parent of a child in Kindergarten through age 11? Even during this time of virtual-everything, the church continues to provide materials to keep your child(ren) engaged with their faith formation through stories, crafts, and activities. If you have not been receiving emails for CLT and would like to, or if you have any questions, please contact Derek at droeminister@gmail.com.    

Youth Group
Are you (or your child) between ages 12 and 18? The youth group is a great way to make friends at church, to have some fun, and to engage some of life’s big questions. We’re currently meeting virtually on Zoom. This year we are adding guest speakers and art projects to our list of activities! For the meeting link or for more information, please contact Derek at youthgroup@firstuc.org.


Regular Monthly Finance Committee & Council Meetings

The Finance Committee and Church Council will meet (via Zoom) at the following times to plan and support the various ministries we offer as First United. The wider congregation is always invited and encouraged to participate in this process. You are encouraged to reach out to the appropriate chairperson if you have matters for them to discuss.

  • Finance Committee (Kyle Hetrick) – Monday, February 15th, 3:30pm
  • Church Council (Mary Peckham) – Wednesday, February 17th, 6:30pm

Racial Justice Working Group

The next meeting of the Racial Justice Working Group is Sunday, February 21st at 2pm. focuses on how we, as individuals and a faith community, can respond meaningfully to systemic racism. All are welcome, and we especially encourage the participation of people of color, whether as a member of this group or as someone willing to offer suggestions for improvement. The group is currently working on a land acknowledgement and racial justice commitment statement to include on the church website and reviewing resources to engage in an anti-racism audit of our church. Contact Rev. Petersen-Mutai if you are interested in joining this initiative, or if you have any questions or concerns.

Join Zoom Meeting by clicking here

Dial-in number: (253) 215-8782; Meeting ID: 865 2428 0983, Passcode: 040115 (Note: the Meeting ID and Passcode included in “First News” was incorrect. Sorry for any confusion.)


New Church Locks

New locks have been installed on all outside doors of the church building. A limited number of keys are available for staff and members of the church who have need for regular access to the building. Those who have old church building keys (outside doors only) may dispose of them in whatever way they deem appropriate.

First United’s Special COVID-19 Fund Applications

If you have a relationship with First United Church, you may apply for assistance for economic hardship caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Contact Sharon McCann at 1041sharon@gmail.com for an application form and instructions to apply for Covid-19-related assistance.

Deadlines for Announcements and Newsletter

If you would like an announcement included in this weekly church email, please have your item to Lisa Stanger (info@firstuc.org) by noon on the Wednesday prior to its release.

If you would like to contribute an article to the March edition of “First News,” please send your information to Lisa by 9am on Monday, February 22nd.

Rev. Petersen-Mutai’s Contact Info and Hours

You are encouraged to reach out to Rev. Jessica Petersen-Mutai should you be in need of pastoral care or simply want to say “hello.” You may contact her by email at revpetersenmutai@firstuc.org or by phone/text at 812-727-4414. Her weekly days off are Friday and Saturday; however, you are welcome to reach out to her on those days in case of emergency.