Based on the latest Monroe County data and weighing the impact in our local community, all church activities, including worship, will be offered online only. We hope to return to in-person activities on Sunday, February 6

UPCOMING WORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Sunday Morning Worship

Join us for worship each Sunday morning at 10:30am (10am Log in). This Sunday’s service will feature Derek Roe, M.Div., in the pulpit, a message from Rev. Jessica Petersen-Mutai for the young and young at heart, and a special music offering from Section Leader Ben St. John. We will also be joined in worship by our UCC Indiana-Kentucky Conference Minister, Rev. Chad Abbott, who will bring greetings from the Conference.

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

Request to the Youth for Special Music

We have so many talented youth at First United, and you are invited to share your gifts with our wider congregation. Do you sing? Play the piano? Perhaps BAGPIPES?! (Kidding, but that would be really cool if you played those.) Maybe you like to dance, or perhaps you enjoy writing or reading poetry out loud. Whatever your talent, we want to feature you! We could use some extra help on or around Easter if you are interested, and we will have a lot of opportunities available this summer. Please take some time to think about this opportunity and have your parents reach out to our Music Director Sam Grace at samuelcgrace@gmail.com to set it up. We are grateful for your gifts and encourage you sharing them with others in our community.

FAITHFUL FINANCES

Congregational Meeting

In accordance with our bylaws, the second regular annual business meeting of the congregation will be held on today immediately following morning worship (just stay on Zoom). This meeting shall consider the annual budget for the fiscal year (access here), and our church president, Mary Peckham, will present a report on plans for the coming year.

Budget Statement of Guidance from the Finance Chair on behalf of the Church Council

The budget being forwarded to the Congregation for consideration is an aspirational budget, as it indicates the anticipated expenditures in a year where the church building is fully open and its programs and ministries are fully operational. However, given the realities of the pandemic limiting the ability of certain programs and ministries to function for at least the next six months, Council will place a spending freeze on certain lines until such time as it is deemed safe to resume those operations. This will serve to bring overall expenses in line with anticipated income, and with your continued giving, our faith community will be well positioned to continue bringing forth the Reign of God as the pandemic subsides.

Pledge Commitments for 2021

Thank you to all who have pledged towards the 2021 budget! We are always accepting pledges to support our operations, programs, and ministries in 2021. If you have not pledged yet, please consider doing so now. We can send you another pledge card, you can e-mail your pledge to Lisa in the church office (info@firstuc.org), or you can fill out our online form at https://tinyurl.com/1stUC21pledge. Thank you for your faithful support of our shared ministry!

CARING FOR OUR COMMUNITY

Record-breaking Food Drive

Thank you to all who supported the January 16th food drive for humans and pets! The cold and snow could not stop the generosity of our First United family as we collected a record-breaking 1093lbs. of human food and cleaning supplies, 122lbs. of pet food, and $785 in cash donations for MCUM and Area 10. Thank you all!

Shelter Volunteers Needed

Many First United members and friends volunteered faithfully for shifts at the Interfaith Winter Shelter for unhoused adults. For years, as many as 60 people slept on our church floor three nights a week during the winter because they had no other place to go. Wheeler Mission is now housing many of those people, very much as we did. But until recently, some were still sleeping in tents in the park, where one man died of the cold, and the city is no longer permitting them to sleep there.

Beacon, the new parent organization of Shalom Community Center, which provides food and services for unhoused adults during the day, is now making ten more beds available at “A Friend’s Place,” its overnight shelter, which has been in operation for almost six years. Volunteers, 18 or older, are needed to assist Beacon staff members at its COVID location at 300 W. Hillside 5pm-9pm. One volunteer a night will be stationed at the door to help two experienced Beacon staff members with health checks and to check people in. Masks are provided and COVID precautions and distancing are observed. Weapons are prohibited. There is no metal scanner, and they don’t frisk guests, who keep their belongings in lockers during the night. Volunteer orientation is provided by Sue Murphy, Beacon’s volunteer coordinator, for all Beacon volunteers (overview, paperwork, policies) and then site-specific training with shelter staff. During their first shift, volunteers will shadow the staff.

Additionally, a new 49-bed low-barrier winter shelter opened on Tuesday, January 19th. All genders and couples are welcome to access this low-barrier sheltering 9pm-7am every day until at least April 15th. Volunteers are needed to bring soup, chili, and snacks and to work shifts especially 8:30pm-11:30pm and 5:30am-7:30am. The building is located in the old CrossFit training warehouse on the B-Line Trail (turn into the entrance to Switchyard park on W. Grimes and you will see the warehouse).

To volunteer with either of these opportunities, contact Sue Murphy at 812-334-5734, ext. 113, or sue@beaconinc.org.

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 (Walmart, Kroger, Speedway, Goodwill, Dollar Store, and Dollar Tree) AND rolls of paper towels and toilet paper. Checks are also accepted (made out to “First United Church” with a memo of “Gifts of Grace”).

Drop off donations at the church office: 30 minutes prior to the Sunday worship service OR Mon-Wed-Fri from 10am-12pm and 1pm-4pm (call 812.332.4439 when you arrive for instructions). Please give as you are able, your Outreach Board

Valentine Card Initiative

Are you interested in sharing some love this Valentine season? Join the Committee for Community Development (CCD) in a card sending initiative by signing up to send 1, 2, or 10 Valentine’s Day cards to our fellow community members. Cards do not have to follow a specific design or model, and if you need cards, envelopes, or stamps, those can be provided. Sign up using this Google form. A member of CCD will send you a list of people to send cards to. To ensure mail deliveries by Valentine’s Day, please sign up by Sunday, January 31th. If you have questions, please contact Hopi Stosberg at hopi@stosberg.com

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.

EDUCATIONAL OFFERINGS

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 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. 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

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.

Racial Justice Book Club

The Racial Justice Book Club will gather via Zoom on Saturday, January 30th, 2pm-3:30pm, to discuss 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. Many thanks to Lisa Kwong for guiding this month’s discussion.

Join Zoom Meeting by clicking here

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

Ecumenical Education

First United Methodist Church is hosting two Zoom workshops, one on gender diversity and one on racial justice in faith, as well as an online group focused on supporting mothers in our community. They are inviting the broader Bloomington community to join in the sharing of these events:

  • January 26th, 7:00pm – Austen Hartke: Seeing Gender Diversity in Scripture – for more information and to register click here
  • Beginning January 27th, 6:30pm – Moms at First: Monthly Community Group – for more information and to register click here
  • February 2nd, 7:00pm – Dr. Leah Gunning Francis: Faith & Racial Justice- for more information and to register click here

Lent Madness is Coming!
Be on the lookout for more information about the fun March Madness-style tournament that offers you the opportunity to learn about significant Christian figures while also having the chance to vote for your favorites.

CONGREGATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS

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 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 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.