- Sunday Morning Worship – Sundays @ 10:30am; Join Zoom Webinar here
- Off-Topic Scripture Circle – Mondays @ 10am; Join Zoom Meeting here
- Morning Café and Discussion – Tuesdays @ 10am;Join Zoom Meeting here
- Scripture Reader sign up – Click here
- Usher sign up – Click here (needed 03/12, 03/19, & 03/26)
- Flowers sign up – Click here
- Coffee Hour Host sign up – Click here (needed 03/12)
- Communion Server sign up –Click here (needed 04/02)
- Donate to First United Online – Click here
- First United Vimeo Channel – Click here
Daylight Saving Time Begins – Spring Forward
Daylight Saving Time begins this Sunday, March 12th, at 2am. Remember to turn your clocks ahead one hour before you go to bed on Saturday night, so you don’t miss morning worship!
First United’s Feminist Book Club
Our feminist women’s book club will meet this Sunday, March 12th, at 12pm, in Roger Williams Hall and via Zoom for an hour-long lively discussion on “The Phone Booth at the End of the World” by Laura Imani Messina—An international bestselling novel about grief, mourning, and the joy of survival, inspired by a real phone booth in Japan with its disconnected “wind” phone, a place of pilgrimage and solace since the actual 2011 tsunami. Feminist women of all ages are invited to join us. You may check out our book club’s Pinterest listing: http://pinterest.com/reginammoore/feminist-book-club/ which has our group’s past selections. You don’t have to have an account to see our picks. For Zoom information or more information about the book club contact facilitator Cindy Stone, email@example.com.
First United member Lisa Kwong, poetry writer and professor at Ivy Tech, will be reading a selection of her writings this Sunday, March 12th, at 2pm. She will read as a part of the Poetry Matters series at Morgenstern’s Books (849 South Auto Mall Rd, Bloomington). Enjoy listening while having a cup of coffee or tea and snack in a relaxed informal setting.
Living the Questions 2.0
Many people know that at its core, Christianity has something good to offer humanity. At the same time, many have a sense that they are alone in being a “thinking” Christian and that “salvaging” Christianity is a hopeless task. For those looking for an opportunity to think and talk through some of these challenges and develop a deeper, more nuanced faith in the process, Pastor Jessica invites you to join together in “Living the Questions” this spring. We will use “Living the Questions 2.0: An Introduction to Progressive Christianity” (LtQ2), a video-based resource with accompanying readings and discussion questions that invites participants to ask the questions they’ve always wanted to ask but may have been afraid to voice for fear of being thought a heretic.
While LtQ2 offers three “flights” consisting of seven sessions each, we’ll begin our journey of exploration and conversation focusing on Flight 1: Invitation to Journey. Aided by well-respected religious voices from throughout the church, including John Dominic Crossan, Marcus Borg, Yvette Flunder, Amy-Jill Levine, and John B. Cobb (find the full list here), we’ll consider how we can take the Bible seriously but not literally; challenges faced by Progressive Christians in the world today; and how we speak about, understand, and experience God and more! If this sounds at all intriguing to you, please contact Pastor Jessica by this Sunday, March 12th, and let her know you’re interested; she will follow up with everyone who expresses interest to determine a schedule that will work well for all. Learn more about ”Living the Questions 2.0” here.
Reader’s Choice Book Group
The Reader’s Choice Book Group will meet this Monday, March 13th, at 1:30pm in the home of Nancy Martin (1047 E Sassafras Cir, Meadowood). The book for this month’s discussion is “This Tender Land” by William Krueger—The unforgettable story of four orphans who travel the Mississippi River on a life-changing odyssey during the Great Depression. 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.
Volunteer with Community Kitchen
First United has a long history of volunteering with and financially supporting Community Kitchen of Monroe County. We are going resume volunteering there on the third Thursday of the month, 3:30pm-6:30pm. Our first shift will be March 16th. This also a good way to build community within and outside of our church. To volunteer next month or subsequent months, contact Laurie Eynon (firstname.lastname@example.org or (812) 336-1219); she will sign you up or put you on the call list, whatever works for you. Thank you!
NEW/UPDATED THIS WEEK
A Death in Our Church Family
It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the death of Ken Sparks. Ken died peacefully at home, amidst his beloved family, on the evening of March 3rd, 2023. Ken was a long-time active member and supporter of First United. His obituary can be found here. We send our love and sympathy to Malissa and their extended family. Malissa will be spending time with family for the next couple weeks, so food and visits are not needed at this time, but messages of support are always welcome.
A service of memorial will be held in First United’s Sanctuary on Friday, April 14th, at 12pm with interment in the Memorial Ash Garden immediately following. A time of visitation will take place just prior at 10am-12pm, and a luncheon will be offered in Fellowship Hall following the interment. To honor Ken, please consider donating to an American Indian education fund of your choosing or First United Church.
Allen Funeral Home and Crematory has been entrusted with arrangements. Online condolences, photos, and memories may be shared with family and friends at www.allencares.com.
Nominating Committee Formed
The 2023 Nominating Committee—Mary Peckham and Sam Troxal (Co-chairs), with Barb Clark, Julia Lebeau, Enrico Lunghi, and Michael Shell (representing their boards)—is now meeting. We are prayerfully seeking to fill officer and board vacancies—Vice President and Assistant Treasurer, plus Board of Building & Grounds (1 or 2 3-year spots), Board of Education (3 spots for 1, 2, and 3 years), and Board of Worship (2 3-year spots). You can nominate yourself or suggest that we approach someone you think has gifts to offer; no one is formally nominated without their knowledge and full consent! Please ask us about our work and about these opportunities to serve our faith family!! And, in the spirit of letting each of you know that we see you and all you have to offer, if we approach you, know that if the time is not right for you this year, a seed is being planted for the future. Contact Mary with questions.
We have two exciting events coming up to celebrate some milestones at First United Church. The date of the First Baptist Church (ABC-USA) and Christ United Church (UCC) merger for our congregation was on Palm Sunday, April 15th, 1973, and the date that we changed our name from First Baptist Church-United Church of Christ to First United Church was May 18th, 2003. So, we have two great anniversaries to commemorate!
Plans are underway, and YOU can be part of making these wonderful events a grand celebratory success! Email or call Rebecca Keith to join the fun: email@example.com or 812-325-0145.
Our Honduran Friends and the Displaced Immigrant Support Program
Recently Exodus coordinated a “graduation meeting” for Gutierrez/Mendoza family that the church has been sponsoring. This means that the church’s relationship with the family has transitioned from being our guests to becoming our friends. Dara and José have impressed us with how determined they are. Their capabilities in managing the huge transition in their lives has amazed all the DISP church volunteers.
We still have things that we are helping with like looking for summer camps for the kids, documents from the BMV, and other items, but they are really doing well in their new apartment and lives. José has been working for the last couple of weeks at IU as a full-time custodian, and Dara will start a new full-time job at Bell Trace as a housekeeper next week.
When DISP met this week, we discussed whether we are ready to sponsor a new family and agreed that we are. When a new family is assigned to us there will be many new challenges as well as new joys. We need more church volunteers to help as well as additional funds to support new refugees. Funds for the displaced immigrant program are independent from the regular church budget. Do you have a gift of time or treasure that you can share to help a new family feel welcome and gain capability in our community? Contact Dave Meyer (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Hopi Stosberg (email@example.com) for more information.
March Sermon Talk Back
This month’s sermon talk back will take place after worship on Sunday, March 26th. You are invited to head down to Fellowship Hall to grab a drink and a snack and say “hello” to some church friends, and then gather near the fireplace to engage in informal conversation spurred by the day’s sermon. Share with fellow congregants how the sermon connected with you and your life and ask any questions of clarification or curiosity and be enriched by their sharing. Pastor Jessica will be available to address questions, elaborate further on the day’s message, and share additional thoughts she may have had while preparing her sermon. This opportunity is offered in person only.
Newsletter, Announcements, and Congregant Monday Musings Deadlines
Members and friends of First United are invited to prepare a “Monday Musing” to be shared with the wider congregation via email on the third Monday of each month. Many thanks to Keith Gerber for offering the February “Congregant Monday Musing.” Please contact Pastor Jessica and/or Lisa Stanger if you would like to share your thoughts and ideas through this avenue, and they will help you get it scheduled.
The First News deadline is Monday, March 20th. If you would like to have an article included in the April newsletter, please have your article turned in to the church office by the end of the day.
And, 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.
Share Your Favorite Hymns
Pastor Jessica’s invitation to share the hymns that you love, that enrich your faith life, that inspire and comfort you is still open! This invitation is for old-timers, new-comers, and everyone in between, because it is together that we are First United. In addition to sharing the name of your beloved hymns, you are encouraged you to share a bit about why and how they are meaningful to you. Additionally, in your communication to Pastor Jessica, please indicate whether you would be willing to have your first name and last initial shared on the church bulletin board that is already coming alive with your hymn favorites. Share hymns via email, text, or conversation (phone or in person). Or write your hymn on the bulletin board in the hallway. As evidenced the past couple of Sundays, Pastor Jessica is committed to actually providing you opportunities to sing your favorite hymns on Sunday mornings further enriching our experience of worship together.
UPCOMING WORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES
Sunday Morning Hybrid Worship
Join us for worship each Sunday morning at 10:30am. The service will feature Rev. Jessica Petersen-Mutai in the pulpit; she will also offer a message especially for the young and young at heart. Lisa Kwong will present the day’s scripture reading and serve as our congregational lead. Eric Meincke and Hansol Kim will lead us in song, and the First United Vocal Choir will share a special musical offering. Mary Peckham will highlight some of the many ways we are invited to engage in the life of the church and our wider community. Kim Yaussy Albright and Keith Gerber will offer a warm welcome to all those who gather in the sanctuary (sign up here to help), while Dave Meyer will welcome all who join via Zoom. Lisa Kwong will provide a lovely floral arrangement, for rest and safe travels on spring break. Finally, Herbert Sizek will ensure the audio/visual pieces run as smoothly as possible. And, please sign up for coffee hour here to help out this Sunday (all supplies are provided by the church; click here to view revised instructions).
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 by clicking here
Choir and Bell Choir Rehearsals
All music lovers are welcome to join both the vocal and bell choirs. The vocal choir rehearses in the Choir Room on Thursdays at 7:30pm. The bell choir is on hiatus and will resume their regular 6:15pm Thursday evening rehearsals in Roger Williams Hall on April 27th.
First United Stickers
Been looking for a simple, non-intrusive way to share about First United? Well, look no further! First United stickers are here! Thanks to a generous donation from one of our members, you can now spread the word about our open, welcoming, and affirming community of love and acceptance with a simple yet informative 4” round sticker. Put one on your office door, backpack, laptop bag, bulletin board at your favorite coffee shop, anywhere and everywhere to spark curiosity and perhaps conversation about First United. And, if you can and are so inclined, perhaps donate a dollar for each sticker you take home. Stickers will be available in the church office throughout the week and near the Sanctuary entrances on Sunday mornings. Let’s spread the word about our fabulous faith community!
Support Nurse-Family Partnership
Throughout 2023, the Board of Outreach invites you to offer additional support a variety of local organizations and ministries through monthly special offerings. Thanks to your support of February’s special offering, Mother Hubber’s Cupboard now has an additional $350 to serve our neighbors with emergent needs. Thank you!
On Sunday, March 19th, another special offering will be received to support Nurse-Family Partnership. The IU Health Community Health in Bloomington Nurse-Family Partnership program is focused on helping families in our community have healthy pregnancies and healthy, thriving parents and children. Services are offered at no cost to those eligible throughout pregnancy and continue through the child’s second birthday. Thank you for your generous support of this meaningful ministry!
UCC General Synod Volunteer Opportunities
The 34th General Synod of the United Church of Christ will convene in Indianapolis June 30th-July 4th, 2023. Yes, you read that correctly, the Indiana-Kentucky Conference (UCC) will host this biennial meeting of the wider church! And, the IKC needs your help to extend an extraordinary welcome to our siblings in faith from across the country and around the globe as they gather together in our home conference. Learn about volunteer opportunities and share your interests by clicking here. Sign up to serve as a volunteer here.
With Synod taking place so close this time around, you are encouraged to consider attending this meaningful event as a guest and getting to know this part of our wider church family better whether you are interested and able to volunteer or not (though volunteering will certainly help with the registration fee; think $275 for regular full registration compared to $65 if you volunteer!). Visit the UCC’s General Synod website here to learn more about what’s in store for General Synod 2023.
First United Songwriting Festival
Do you love First United? Do you love music? If you answered “yes” to these questions, then have we got the opportunity for you! First United will host a songwriting festival this spring in celebration of the two important church anniversaries you read about above. Help us celebrate these milestones as you put your love of First United into song. Maybe you’ll take a favorite tune and give it new First-United-inspired words, or perhaps you’ll feel inspired to write a completely original song music and all. Not sure about taking this on alone? Ask a First United friend or two to partner with you! And, don’t forget to call on the great musical resources we have in so many talented members and friends of our faith community including but surely not limited to our Music Director, Eric Meincke.
So, what about timing? It would be great to have submissions in by mid-April (a firmer date is TBD) so that Eric can offer any assistance needed and the choir can start learning the songs in preparation for a performance event in mid-June (Sunday, June 11th in conjunction with our Congregational Meeting). That is when we will venture to join our voices together in singing these creative expressions in celebration of First United’s history and anticipation of the days yet to come.
A Coffee Hour Every Sunday!
The Member Relations Committee (MeRC) is encouraging our congregation to offer simple fellowship after worship every Sunday. You can sign up here, and click here to view revised instructions. Fellowship is vital to a strong community and easy to support with the gift of minimal time and effort. Malissa Sparks or Mary Peckham can answer any questions you may have. And, a reminder that, while hosts are free to supplement items if they wish, all food, drink, and serving supplies are provided by the church.
Off-Topic Scripture Circle
You are invited to join with members and friends of First United each Monday morning at 10am 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 meet via Zoom only in an effort to be more accessible; join the Zoom meeting here.
Tuesday Morning Café and Discussion
Join us in Roger Williams Hall or via Zoom (click here) on Tuesday mornings, 10am-11:30am, as we continue to explore the 36-session video series “The History of Christianity II: From the Reformation to the Modern Megachurch” presented by Dr. Molly Worthen. These weekly gatherings are a great opportunity to connect with First United friends though informal conversation (first 30 minutes) followed by thought-provoking theological study and discussion. While we’d love to see you every Tuesday, perfect attendance is not required, neither is previous participation. See you there!
Children’s Learning Time
Each Sunday, kids in kindergarten and up are welcome to Children’s Learning Time (CLT) in Room 2 after Children’s Time during the morning worship service. Many thanks to Sandra Meder and Noel Koontz for leading CLT this Sunday. Interested in joining our CLT assistant teacher rotation? Contact Molly Koontz.
A Joyful Path
First United has begun using a new curriculum for Children’s Learning Time. Intended to be inspiring for adult leaders and children alike, “A Joyful Path” celebrates compassion for all, the wisdom within, and a joy-filled life. Using the Bible, sacred texts, and wisdom stories from around the world, “A Joyful Path” helps children learn how to follow the path of Jesus in today’s world emphasizing behavior over belief, teaching reverence and gratitude for this life, and supporting children to find their own inner wisdom and to connect to the Spirit and God Within All. The decision to make this change in CLT curriculum was made in consultation and conversation with parents/guardians, CLT leaders, and the Board of Education. Find out more about “A Joyful Path” here.
Our youngest children are welcome to spend time from 10am-11:45am playing in the nursery or on the playground, weather permitting. Mary Peckham and Lena Stosberg 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.
In January, total income was $25,000, with identified giving coming in at 8% of what has been budgeted for the year. Expenses for January totaled $36,000. Aside from payroll, most major expenses so far have been for insurance (paid quarterly), fire alarm system maintenance, and expenses for parking lot plowing and repair. A number of large expenses accumulating at the same time have resulted in a low balance in the church’s checking account. A $10,000 transfer from the endowment in January helped to maintain cash flow. The outreach emphasis in January brought in $588 for the church’s Love Fund.
- Rev. Jessica Petersen-Mutai, Senior Minister – firstname.lastname@example.org; 812-727-4414 (Cell) (Friday & Saturday off; emergency calls only)
- Lisa Stanger, Office Manager – email@example.com; 812-332-4439 (Office)
- Eric Meincke, Music Director – firstname.lastname@example.org; 501-837-2708 (Cell)
- Dedric Dennist, Web Content & Media Coordinator – email@example.com
- Rebecca Keith, Church President – firstname.lastname@example.org; 812-325-0145 (Cell)