• Off-Topic Scripture Circle – Sundays @ 9am; Join Zoom Meeting here
  • Sunday Morning Worship – Sundays @ 10:30am; Join Zoom Webinar here
  • Morning Café and Discussion – Tuesdays @ 10am;Join Zoom Meeting here
  • Scripture Reader sign up – Click here (needed 03/27)
  • Usher sign up – Click here
  • Flowers sign up – Click here
  • Donate to First United Online – Click here
  • First United Vimeo Channel – Click here


Change to Masking Policy
During their March 16th meeting, Church Council voted to make masking optional for Sunday services, Sunday Bible study, and other small group meetings, but we will continue requiring masks for the nursery and Children’s Learning Time (CLT). This change is effective immediately. Social distancing is still to be observed, and vaccination continues to be strongly recommended for all who are eligible.

Thank you for your continued support as we navigate this unknown terrain together. And, a special thank you to all who took a few moments to share your preferences via the brief survey sent out this past Monday. Please be in touch with Rebecca Keith, Church President, or other members of the Council with any questions regarding this change in our policy.

Food Drive for Humans and Pets

The Board of Outreach is sponsoring a drive-up/drop-off food drive this Saturday, March 19th from 10am-2pm. We will accept donations of pet food (to be given to Area 10 Council on Aging) and people food and hygiene items (which will be given to Monroe County United Ministries). Most-needed items are: peanut butter, soups, crackers, baking mixes, canned fruits and vegetables, and toilet paper. Thank you for donating! And, a special thank you to everyone who has signed up to help receive donations!

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. The deadline for the March Congregant Monday Musing is TODAY, Friday, March 18th. Email Lisa Stanger your submission.

The First News deadline is Monday, March 21st. 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.

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.

Sermon Talk Backs

Throughout the season of Lent, Rev. Petersen-Mutai is preaching a 7-part sermon series in which she will explore the last week of Jesus as depicted in the Gospel of Mark. Worship participants are invited to remain after the service each week (now through April 10th) to talk about what they’ve heard with a moderated discussion on the sermon. Those gathering in person will do so in Roger Williams Hall; those joining virtually can simply stay on the Zoom webinar (you will be made a “panelist” so you can participate in the conversation). Thanks to Byron Bangert and Rebecca Hoke-McCall for facilitating these conversations!

Multifaith COVID Memorial Service

A multifaith COVID memorial service (First United is involved in the planning) will be hosted at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Bloomington (2120 North Fee Lane) this Wednesday, March 23rd, 6:30pm as we mark two years of living in a global pandemic. The service will be a time of remembrance, recognition, music, reflection, and prayer. Participants are required to wear an N-95 or KN-95 mask or to double mask.


Support Ukraine

Both the UCC and the ABC-USA are actively offering support to Ukrainians during the ongoing Russian invasion. International Ministries, on behalf of American Baptist Churches USA, has sent an initial grant of $15,000 in One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) emergency relief to the European Baptist Federation to provide humanitarian aid for Ukrainian Baptists. And, as a member of the ACT Alliance, UCC support is being targeted to people most in need through humanitarian relief partners with a history of working in the region; UCC aid also is being extended through Hungarian Reformed Church Aid, the relief agency of the Reformed Church in Hungary.

You are invited to learn more about and contribute to the ABC-USA and UCC efforts here (ABC-USA) and here (UCC). One can also write a check made payable either to:

  1. “International Ministries” and mailed to: International Ministries, Attn: Gifts Processing, 1003 W 9th Avenue, Ste A, King of Prussia, PA 19406 or
  2. “United Church of Christ” and mailed to: United Church of Christ, PO BOX 71957, Cleveland, OH 44194 (be sure to note “Ukraine Relief Fund” on your check in the memo section).

BMA F4RE Spring 2022 Community Book Read Capstone Event

All are invited to join Bloomington Multifaith Alliance Faith for Racial Equity (BMA F4RE) in-person (at First United; masks will be required) or online (access Zoom webinar here) for guest speakers and discussions of housing discrimination and school segregation, issues covered in Heather McGhee’s book “The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We can Prosper Together.”

You are invited to participate in the event on Sunday, April 3rd, 2-4pm, regardless of whether or not you have read “The Sum of Us” or participated in the book discussion groups. We will discuss these critically important issues of racial justice and their history and impact locally in Bloomington, IN. Guest speakers will be Ashley Pirani (Monroe County Black Democratic Caucus) discussing Housing Discrimination in Bloomington and April Hennessey (MCCSC School Board Trustee) discussing School Segregation in Bloomington.

Rummage Sale

Wheeler Mission—Bloomington will be holding their first-ever rummage sale, Rummage for Refuge, where the sale’s proceeds will directly benefit their programs and services for those in our community who are experiencing homelessness. There will be a variety of nice clothes (adult and children), accessories, linens, and miscellaneous items to choose from.

  • What: Wheeler Mission—Bloomington’s Rummage for Refuge
  • When: Thursday, April 7th-Saturday, April 9th
  • Where: The Warehouse (1525 S. Rogers St., Bloomington, IN 47403)
  • Timeframes: 4-8pm on Thursday (4/7); 9am-4pm on Friday (4/8); 9am-4pm on Saturday (4/9)

They are in need of volunteers to presort items in advance of Rummage for Refuge as they still have a large amount of items to go through. Additionally, they will need volunteers for set-up/tear-down, as well as assistance each day of Rummage for Refuge. Anyone who is interested or has questions should contact Chris-Michael G. Morrison (Director of Advancement—Bloomington Area, Wheeler Mission) at cmmorrison@wheelermission.org or 812.219.2939 (call/text).

Beacon Solidarity Sleepout

First United is honored to host this year’s Beacon Solidarity Sleepout on Friday, April 22nd, 7pm-8am, as dedicated adults, teens, and children will be sleeping out to raise critical funds and awareness for people experiencing homelessness in Monroe County. With sleeping bags, tarps, and tents, participants can choose to gather on the grounds of First United Church or sleep in their backyards, on their living room floor, etc.

All ages are welcome. Adults and teen participants are asked to register at givebutter.com/sleepout2022, choose a personal fundraising goal, and ask friends and family to sponsor them as they sleep out.

The net proceeds from the event will support Beacon’s overnight shelter, Friend’s Place, the only nonreligious, year-round emergency shelter for homeless adults in the region. Friend’s Place is a sober shelter for Monroe County residents, providing hope and support as people find their way back home. Combined with Beacon’s housing and employment assistance, Friend’s Place has become one of the most successful shelters in Indiana.

First United members who are considering participating in this year’s sleepout are also encouraged to consider serving as an official First United representative offering a warm welcome and abundant hospitality while participants gather on our grounds. Please contact a member of the Board of Outreach if you are interested.


Sunday Morning Hybrid Worship

Join us for worship each Sunday morning at 10:30am. This Sunday’s service will feature Rev. Jessica Petersen-Mutai in the pulpit; she will also offer a special message for the young and young at heart. Beautiful music will be led by Hansol Kim, and Tislam Swift will offer a special music piece. Rachel Caswell will present the day’s scripture reading and serve as our congregational lead. Dave Meyer, Keith Gerber, and Kim Yaussy Albright will offer a warm welcome to all those who gather in the sanctuary, and Herbert Sizek will welcome all who join via Zoom. A beautiful floral arrangement will be provided by Marge and Jim Faber. And, Jim True will ensure the audio/visual pieces run as smoothly as possible.

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


Displaced Immigrant Support Program

Our sponsored Afghan family is doing well. The father, Ahad, has begun a new term in IU’s intensive English program. We are still seeking church members’ help with job coaching and with employment contacts in Bloomington’s medical technology business community. Ahad’s previous work experience is in medical technology manufacturing and sales. If you think you can help, please let Dave Meyer know (dwm@davemeyer.org).

Additionally, your financial support is greatly appreciated and continues to be needed. A special giving section on the church donation page has been set up as one way to give; click here to access it. Individuals may also write checks to First United with “DISP” in the memo line.

SUNday FUNday

Mark your calendars for a time of outdoor play and games on Sunday, March 27th, 2pm-4pm, on the church grounds. It will be an amazing time of games, food, music, and prizes, and most importantly a time to connect with First United friends. We hope to see you there!


First United Scholarships

Thanks to the generosity of several of our families, the church has scholarships available for those who are graduating from high school and for those pursuing higher education in certain fields. There is a general information form that all applicants need to fill out. It also gives information about the requirements for each scholarship. You can find it here. To apply for the Walling/Troxal Endowed Scholarship Fund, an additional form is required; it can be found hereAll application materials are due on March 31st.

For more information, or hard copies of these applications, please talk to any member of the Board of Christian Education.

  • Derrick Ping Memorial Scholarship: Applicant must be an active participant in the life of First United Church who demonstrates outstanding character through service to the church, community, or his/her family.
  • Weigand Family Scholarship: The scholarship is to be used to support college tuition costs of graduating high school seniors at First United Church.
  • The Walling/Troxal Scholarship: The award requires a beginning or continuing undergraduate or graduate student be engaged in studies in education or a closely related field. Preference will be given to applicants who are studying the arts in connection with education, are members of FUC, identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, are the child of LGBT parents, or are a long-time supporter of/ally to LGBT people.

CLT and Nursery Care

Kids in kindergarten through 5th grade are welcome to Children’s Learning Time (CLT) during the last half of the service. This Sunday, the children will return to the sanctuary toward the end of the service to celebrate communion with the rest of the congregation. Many thanks to Ted Wininger (our interim Lead CLT Teacher!) 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 9:15am-11:45am playing in the nursery or on the playground, weather permitting. Allie Gentry and Mary Peckham will ensure our little ones are safe and engaged in fun activities during worship this Sunday. We are still 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 person (Roger Williams Hall) or online (click hereon Tuesday mornings, 10am-11:30am, as we continue 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’ll 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

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! Those who would like to gather in person can do so in Room 6 and those who would like to participate virtually can join via Zoom here. See you Sunday morning, 9am-10am!

Lent Madness! 

Lent Madness 2022 is well underway, and you are invited and encouraged to join in this 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 through 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 (but only one vote a day), 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, you’re invited to join the “Lent Madness at First United Church!” Facebook group here.
  • If you would like your own booklet with information on the saints and a full-color bracket, a limited number are available in church Narthex (get them before there gone!).
  • Stay tuned for Lent Madness updates in upcoming email announcements through the season of Lent (through April 17th (Easter)).

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


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. Thank you for your help!