The violence perpetuated at the US Capitol on Epiphany, January 6th, 2021, incited by a man grasping to hold on to political power is antithetical, that is, in direct opposition, to the gospel Jesus proclaimed with his words and actions. Though some who actively participated in these destructive acts waved banners wearing Jesus’s name and quoting sacred Christian scriptures, these reprehensible acts were not those of followers of Jesus but worshippers of White supremacy. As followers of Jesus, we must denounce and expose these actions and the beliefs that underlie them for what they are. As followers of Jesus, we must confess our complicity in creating the culture, the society, the nation from which this violence erupted. As followers of Jesus, we must commit ourselves to announcing, in word and deed, a still better way—the way of peace, the way of justice, the way of love. May it be so! – Rev. Jessica Petersen-Mutai

“Evil is real. Make no mistake about that. But love wins. And we who practice love need not shy away from the evil we confront. Like the saints before us, we face fully into the face of evil and show the strength of a love it cannot conquer.” – Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer, UCC General Minister and President; read full remarks here

“Whether the events of [January 6th] are an end to something or a beginning of something is up to us. … While we serve as the hands and feet of Christ, the energy to do our work comes from being Spirit-filled. May the Lord continue to manifest the pathway to peace, and may it be a path that surpasses all understanding.” – Interim General Secretary Dr. C. Jeff Woods and ABCUSA President Karen Podsiadly; read full remarks here


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 section leader Wayne Allen. As we reflect on the baptism of Jesus, you will be invited to remember your own baptisms and are encouraged to prepare a small bowl of water (or perhaps a bathtub for those who were immersed!) for use during the service.

Join Zoom Meeting by clicking here

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

The service is posted late Sunday afternoon on First United’s Vimeo channel.

Multifaith MLK Jr. Celebration

Join us this Sunday, January 10th at 4pm, when The Bloomington Multi-faith Alliance will host “A Single Garment of Destiny,” a virtual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration. Pastor Jessica, Tislam Swift, and First United’s choir will join local contributors including the IU African American Choral Ensemble and keynote speakers Maqube Reese, a 2020 Bloomington Black Leader of Tomorrow, and Melody Cooper of the Arc. Offering donations will be shared between three local organizations: Beacon, Stone Belt, and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration Commission (City of Bloomington). Donate online at: (use the Special Service Offering field) or send checks to: “First United Church,” with “MLK Celebration” in the memo line to: First United Church/ 2420 East Third Street/ Bloomington, IN 47401.

Join Zoom Meeting by clicking here
Meeting ID: 929 3335 4041

Star Gifts for Epiphany

The season of Epiphany can easily go by unnoticed and unheralded. However, this year, you are encouraged to experience this season between Christmas and Lent in a new and meaningful way as you receive a “star gift.” A star gift is simply a star-shaped piece of brightly colored paper with a word printed on it. If we were able to gather in-person, every person who would come to church on Epiphany Sunday, January 3rd, would receive such a star gift. However, as we continue to care for one another by not gathering in our building, you are encouraged to contact Rev. Petersen-Mutai ( or 812-727-4414) to receive your word (which will be randomly selected from a list of 150 possible words) and make your own star gift. Once you have received your word, you are invited to reflect on that word for the duration of Epiphany and, if you are so willing, throughout the entire year. You are invited to ponder what significance your word might have in your life and how God might be speaking to you through that simple message. Note: it helps to place your star gift in a location that you come across regularly (ex. the bathroom mirror, refrigerator door, etc.).

Miss a Service?

In case you missed our Christmas Eve and/or Candlelight and Carols services, you are encouraged to find a candle and experience these services via our Vimeo channel. These services combine readings, musical offerings and prayers that invite worshippers to once more consider the inbreaking of God through the birth of Jesus.


Budget Hearing, January 10th and Congregational Meeting, January 24th

An update on the church’s projected income and expense budget for 2021 will be held via Zoom this Sunday, January 10th. After 10-15 minutes of the usual coffee hour conversation, we will transition into a Q&A time regarding the projected budget. Please see a draft of the budget by clicking here.

In accordance with our bylaws, the second regular annual business meeting of the congregation will be held on Sunday, January 24th following morning worship. This meeting shall consider the annual budget for the fiscal year; and our church president, Mary Peckham, will present a report on plans for the coming year.

Pledge Commitments for 2021

Thank you to the 63 people/households who so far have pledged a total of $194,934 towards the 2021 budget! We are still accepting pledges in hopes of increasing the income we can count on to support our operations, programs, and ministries in 2021. If you have not pledged yet, please do so now if possible. We can send you another pledge card, you can e-mail your pledge to Lisa in the church office (, or you can fill out our online form at Thank you for your support!

Christmas Special Offerings

We collected over $800 for the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival ( from the Christmas Eve special offering and over $250 for My Sister’s Closet ( from the Candlelight and Carols special offering. You are encouraged to learn more about both recipients and get involved with the important work they are doing here in Bloomington and throughout the country. Thank you for your generosity!


Food Drive for Humans and Pets

Mark your calendar: Another food drive for humans and pets! Saturday, January 16th, 10am-2pm. Our goal? A record-setting ONE TON of food! Help us get there!

Help is needed to welcome people and assist with the food. Click here to sign up. Masks and social distancing required. Tent and warm building provided if needed.

When shopping, MCUM recommends purchasing items that you or your family would enjoy. You can also consider buying things that would be needed together, for example – purchase spaghetti and spaghetti sauce. Currently, the most needed items are

  • Reusable/Cloth Bags
  • Canned Meat (tuna, chicken, beef)
  • Peanut Butter
  • Dried Pasta
  • Pasta Sauce
  • Cereal
  • Ready to eat soups / chili / pasta
  • Frozen meat (1-2 pound ground beef, whole chickens)
  • Canned vegetables (carrots, greens, potatoes)
  • Checks made out to First United (with MCUM or Area 10 in the memo)

See you on Jan 16th! Thanks in advance! Your Outreach Board

Gifts of Grace

Gifts of Grace is an annual holiday drive that allows community members to give to Positive Link, an IU Health program assisting people living with HIV. Through January 31st, First United will be collecting $20 gift cards to the following stores AND rolls of paper towels and toilet paper:

  • Walmart
  • Kroger
  • Speedway
  • Goodwill
  • Dollar Store
  • Dollar Tree

Checks are also accepted (made out to “First United Church” with a memo of “Gifts of Grace”).

Drop off donations at the church office:

  • January 16th from 10am-2pm (at the food drive)
  • 30 minutes prior to any church service (midweek, Sunday, or Xmas Eve)
  • Mon-Wed-Fri beginning December 28th from 10am-12pm and 1pm-4pm (call 812.332.4439 when you arrive for instructions)

Please give as you are able, your Outreach Board

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 for an application form and instructions to apply for Covid-19-related assistance.


Off-Topic Scripture Circle (formerly Lectionary Discussion)

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 9-10am.

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 10:00am-11:30ish 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. We recently began the section covering Jesus, so now would be a good time to join us if you haven’t previously done so. 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 (Note: the link has been updated and is different from previous weeks)

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

Racial Justice Book Club

The fourth meeting of the Racial Justice Book Club will be Saturday, January 30th, from 2pm-3:30pm over Zoom. We will be discussing the book Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong. 

Poet and essayist Cathy Park Hong fearlessly and provocatively blends memoir, cultural criticism, and history to expose fresh truths about racialized consciousness in America. Part memoir and part cultural criticism, this collection is vulnerable, humorous, and provocative—and its relentless and riveting pursuit of vital questions around family and friendship, art and politics, identity and individuality, will change the way you think about our world.

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 Don Wooldridge at

Join Zoom Meeting by clicking here

Dial-in number: (253) 215-8782; Meeting ID: 872 5371 0204; Passcode: 834052


Regular Monthly Board & Council Meetings

The Permanent Boards of the congregation and the 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.

  • Board of Building and Grounds (Ted Wininger) – Wednesday, January 13th, 6:30pm
  • Board of Christian Education (Don Wooldridge) – Wednesday, January 13th, 6:30pm
  • Board of Outreach (Rebecca Nunley) – Wednesday, January 13th, 6pm
  • Board of Worship (Siri Loescher; may also contact Elizabeth Busey) – Thursday, January 14th, 3pm
  • Church Council (Mary Peckham) – Wednesday, January 20th, 6:30pm

Racial Justice Working Group

The Boards of Outreach and Christian Education formed a racial justice working group to focus 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 next meeting is Sunday, January 17th @ 2pm. Contact Don Wooldridge ( if you are interested in joining this initiative, or if you have any questions or concerns. 

Join Zoom Meeting clicking here

Meeting ID: 835 9843 9246 Passcode: 105177


Deadlines for Announcements and Newsletter

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

If you would like to contribute an article to the February edition of “First News,” please send your information to Lisa by 9am on Monday, January 25th.

Rev. Petersen-Mutai’s Contact Info and Hours

You are welcome 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 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.