Loving our Asian American Neighbors

This Sunday as we gather for worship, we will recommit ourselves to loving, serving, and ministering to our neighbors. Living out this commitment to love requires us to condemn the violent, hateful, and racist attack on March 16th. Love of neighbor calls us to mourn the loss of eight innocent lives, six of whom were Asian American women. Love of neighbor calls us to see this recent attack is a continuation of anti-Asian attacks that have seen a dramatic rise throughout the pandemic. Love of neighbor calls us to acknowledge that this violence is rooted in a long history of racist perception and stereotyping of Asian Americans, immigrants, and refugees. Love of neighbor calls us to find ways to ensure the safety and security of our Asian American families, friends, co-workers, and fellow citizens. And, love of neighbor calls us to reaffirm our resolve to work together to prevent the spread of racial profiling, discrimination, and xenophobia. 

Here are two concrete ways you can support the Asian American/Pacific Islander community offered by the Indiana University Asian Culture Center:

  • Great Lakes Asian American Student Services invites you to participate in an anti-Asian racism bystander workshop. You can register for here:
  • Please circulate this petition to Governor Holcomb urging him to condemn racism against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders:

COVID-19 Update

During the March 17th meeting, Church Council passed a motion stating that we will consider indoor worship experiences and other First United Church-sponsored building usage when all Indiana residents ages 16+ have access to the vaccine through the state. We know that while everyone is missing community and eager to be together, individual needs and responses to reopening, even partially, vary greatly. We are planning to offer more outside opportunities for worship and gathering after Easter, during Eastertide. If you have ideas or wish to initiate an activity, please be in contact with Pastor Jessica, Siri Loescher, or Mary Peckham.

Glass Communion Cups

Traditional First United Communion cups for at home/virtual communion will be distributed at First United on Saturday, March 27th, 10am-4pm at the Narthex drive-up door (3rd Street side). These are the glass communion cups used at First United prior to using plastic cups (sometime before 2006). The time of the distribution/pickup coincides with the Board of Outreach Food Drive. You can drop food/items at the Woodscrest Drive circle, then swing by the Narthex (back area of the Sanctuary) circle to pick up communion glasses. Strands from the Advent paper chains will also be distributed for use in the Easter Service. If you are interested in receiving a communion cup, but cannot pick up on the 27th, contact Siri Loescher ( to make other arrangements.

Spring Yard Work Morning

The Board of Building & Grounds will host a spring yard work morning Saturday, April 3rd, 8am-11am. We will do some raking and removing of last year’s foliage, especially in the courtyard. Weeding, trimming, hauling—all are possibilities. Everyone is invited to come help. Come for all or part of the time. Questions? Contact Ted Wininger.

Holy Week Worship

As we will once again be observing Palm Sunday (March 28th) virtually, you are invited to print, color, and cut your own palm frond to wave throughout the service. Access your printable palm here.

On Thursday, April 1st @ 7:00pm, you are encouraged to join together via Zoom for a Maundy Thursday service of worship as we prayerfully reflect on the biblical story as told in the Gospel of Mark journeying from Jesus’s anointing to his burial aided by a variety of moving musical offerings. Join the Zoom Meeting here.

On Friday, April 2nd @ 12:10pm, you are invited to join together for worship and share in fellowship through an ecumenical Good Friday worship service offered live through First Presbyterian Church’s viewing platform: This collaborative effort is offered by First Presbyterian, First United Methodist, First Christian, and First United. The service will be available on demand here starting Friday, April 2nd.

Church Office Closed

Lisa Stanger will be taking time off on March 24th and 25th. For emergencies, please contact Rev. Jessica at or 812-727-4414.

Upcoming Deadlines

If you would like an announcement included in next week’s church email, please have your item to Lisa by noon on Tuesday, March 23rd.

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


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, spectacular music from Sam Grace and Hansol Kim, a special music offering from Section Leader Ben St. John. Throughout the season of Lent, we will remind ourselves of and recommit to the covenant we make with God and each other as members and friends of First United Church. This Sunday’s focus: We minister to our neighbors and care for creation. After worship, stay on the call to hear an update on this week’s Lent Madness action and learn about a “saint” or two during the first few minutes of coffee time.

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:

Southeast Association Virtual Lenten Series

Join our siblings in the Southeast Association (UCC) via Zoom Saturday, March 20th, 10am-11am for the final segment of an inspiring program celebrating the ministry of chaplains. Active chaplains serving in ministry share their stories and respond to questions; there is also a time for community prayers.

Join Zoom Meeting by clicking here

Dial-in number: (312) 626-6799; Meeting ID: 813 0588 9617; Passcode: 661797

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.

Interested in making paper flowers but don’t know where/how to start? Three suggestions:

  • Step-by-step instructions/patterns (easier to follow than many videos). Check out this option.
  • Put/glue together precut die-cut flowers. Mix and match sets for 8 small distinct flowers (with directions) will be available in the drop-off flower bin next week. These will be connected to yarn to create flowering vines of Lent/Easter flowers. 
  • Paper roses from any kind of paper (even magazine pages, newspaper, or used scrap paper). If we have enough paper roses, they will be made into ‘bouquets’ in vases to be displayed in place of the traditional Easter Lilies. Check out two methods: here and here.

Holden Evening Prayer Services

You are invited to gather together via Zoom on Thursday, March 25th, 7pm-7:30pm, for the final offering of Marty Haugen’s Holden Evening Prayer. The predominantly-sung service uses contemporary and inclusive language and offers space for quiet meditation, spoken prayer, and the presentation of scripture. The service will run live with pre-recorded music from some of our tremendous church musicians and live scripture readings and prayers. Participants are encouraged 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 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.


Food Drive for Humans and Pets

Mark your calendar: Another food drive for humans and pets! Saturday, March 27th, 10am-2pm. Join us as the weather warms and COVID relaxes its grip on our community. Monroe County United Ministries (MCUM) focuses on providing short-term emergency food for people in need, while also working with them on long-term goals and priorities. Area 10 Agency on Aging supports seniors and those with disabilities, enabling them to keep their cherished pet companions by assisting with pet food donations when their owners are in need.

The congregation’s help is needed to welcome people and assist with the food. To sign up, click here. Masks and social distancing required.

When shopping for human food, 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, or peanut butter and jelly, soup and crackers. 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
  • Canned vegetables (carrots, greens, potatoes)
  • Checks made out to First United (with MCUM for human support or Area 10 for pet support in the memo)

Area 10 Agency on Aging accepts pet food of all types, dry or canned, large bags and small. Dry food is okay if it has been opened, so long as it is still usable. They also accept pet treats.

See you on March 27th! Thanks in advance! 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.


Lent Madness Chats!

The third round of Lent Madness—the Elate Eight—is well underway! If you would like to chat about your selections, learn more about selected “saints,” or compare brackets, you are invited to log in for chats on the Tuesday nights of Lent 6:30pm-7pm. We hope to see you there! And, remember to visit to learn about the two “saints” going head-to-head each day and vote for your favorite.

Join Zoom Meeting by clicking here

Dial-in number: (253) 215-8782; Meeting ID: 880 8593 6668; Passcode: 054344

Creation Care Movie Screening and Discussion

The Board of Christian Education invites you to join our Baptist siblings as the ABC/RGR Creation Collaborative and RAICA (Rochester Area Interfaith Climate Action) present a movie screening of the film Gather with accompanying panel discussion on Thursday, March 25th, 6pm-8:30pm. Gather is an intimate portrait of the growing movement amongst Native Americans to reclaim their spiritual, political, and cultural identities through food sovereignty, while battling the trauma of centuries of genocide. After the film, discussion will be led by Glenn Gall, a teacher of permaculture, agroforestry, planned grazing, and biological farming. Get tickets (free) by clicking here.

Racial Justice Book Club

The Racial Justice Book Club will meet on Sunday, March 28th, 12pm-1:30pm (CORRECTED DATE), over Zoom to discuss the second half of the book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson. The study of this book is taking place over two meetings (February and March); for the March meeting, participants are invited to read and come prepared to discuss the second half of the book reading beginning with “Part Four: The Tentacles 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

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. This week Prof. Muesse will continue his discussion of Muhammad.

Join Zoom Meeting by clicking here

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

Children’s Learning Time

Derek continues to send out weekly CLT emails that include short, recorded CLT lessons that families can watch together with their kids, in addition to the usual craft and activity resources. Please contact Derek Roe with feedback or questions! 

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 Roe.


Racial Justice Working Group

The next meeting of the Racial Justice Working Group is this Sunday, March 21st at 2pm. The group 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 finalizing a land acknowledgement and developing a 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

Contact Information