• 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 10/22, 10/29, & 11/05)
  • Flowers sign up – Click here (needed 10/22, 10/29, & 11/05)
  • Coffee Hour Host sign up – Click here (needed 11/05)
  • Communion Server sign up –Click here (needed 11/05)
  • Donate to First United Online – Click here
  • First United Vimeo Channel – Click here


Newsletter Articles

The First News deadline is TODAY, Friday, October 20th.If you would like to have an article included in the November newsletter, please have your article turned in to the church office by the end of the day. If you need an extension, please notify Lisa.

Support the Love Fund

Throughout 2023, the Board of Outreach invites you to offer additional support to a variety of local organizations and ministries through monthly special offerings. This Sunday, October 22nd, a special offering will be received to support First United’s Love Fund, which was created to help those who turn to First United with emergent needs. Mike Carson from St. Vincent De Paul will share how disbursements from the Love Fund have been used to assist local people through our cooperative efforts. Lisa Stanger reports, “Not only do they give me a referral for clients that need assistance, they also sit down with the client and help them with community resources.” Thank you for considering making a donation!

And, thank you for your support of our impromptu special offering for My Sister’s Closet on Sunday, October 8th. We raised $355! We offer continued support for Sandy Keller and everyone at My Sister’s Closet as they continue to move forward after the recent burglary.

Youth Connections

Youth in grades 6 and up are invited to gather in Room 6 this Sunday, October 22nd following worship. Feel free to grab a snack from Fellowship Hall and then join us as we consider your questions, big and small, and explore faith matters as they are relevant to your life. We are planning to gather after worship one Sunday each month for about an hour (schedule TBD). If you or your youth are interested in getting involved, please contact Pastor Jessica.

Voice Faculty Cabaret

The Voice Faculty Cabaret will take place in First United’s sanctuary this Sunday, October 22nd at 7:30pm. It will feature members of the Voice Faculty of the Jacobs School of Music, including Jane Dutton, Kim Gill, Alice Hopper, Deanne Meek, Marietta Simpson, Patricia Stiles, Brian Gill, Brian Horne, Thomas King, Russell Thomas, Wolfgang Brendel, Zachary Coates, Timothy Noble, Peter Volpe, Kevin Murphy and Allan Armstrong. Admission is $10. Proceeds go to benefit the Student NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing) chapter at IU.

Critical Race Theory Panel and Conversation

The NAACP and IU’s Black Law Students Association will offer a Critical Race Theory panel and community conversation this Sunday, October 22nd, 2pm-4:30pm, in the Auditorium of the Monroe County Public Library (303 E. Kirkwood Ave., Bloomington). The event will address such questions as: What is Critical Race Theory? Why was it developed? What are its goals? Why does it scare some people?

Panelists include: Rashad Nelms, JD (IU’s Associate Vice President for Strategy and Innovation and Associate Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion), Elizabeth Mitchell (Renowned historian of Southern Indiana’s African American community, film maker, and activist), Nashuba Hudson (President of IU’s Black Law Students Association and Student of Critical Race Theory), and Maqubé Reese (President of Monroe County Branch of the NAACP). Free Sunday parking is available at Poplars Garage (415 E 6th St., one block from the library) and all city lots and streets.

Say “Hi” to the Homeless

Recently, unhoused people have been setting up tents to sleep overnight in the Perry Township parking lot, at 1010 S. Walnut. Perry Township staff have been visiting with them when they arrive around 8am, saying “Hi”, and letting them know the Township needs the parking lot by 9am, when the office opens. They are looking for community members who would be willing to join this welcoming effort and visit with the people sleeping in the parking lot each morning as this friendly contact has been very well received and appreciated. Those who are interested in helping with this community building endeavor are invited to gather with Trustee Dan Combs at the Perry Township Office on Wednesday, October 25th, at 11am, to brainstorm how to make this or something like it happen.

Responding to Crisis in Israel-Palestine

Violence has continued to escalate in Israel-Palestine and the surrounding region, and the humanitarian crisis of Palestinians fleeing south has reached the point of deep urgency. In the midst of this ongoing crisis, our partners in Global Ministries in the Middle East have shared an action alert (engage by clicking here) with the wider church calling for a few important steps in advocacy:

  1. Calling for an immediate ceasefire
  2. End of the Gaza blockage to provide safe spaces for Gazan non-combatants.
  3. Release without harm to hostages.

Additionally, you are encouraged to join with folks throughout the world in prayer for the crisis that is unfolding and to engage with some resources and information offered by the wider UCC and partner organizations: Churches for Middle East Peace, Global Ministries, and Open Letter from the Participants in the Palestine Festival of Literature.


Keeping Up with Our Congregation

Throughout our daily living, we, each and all, experience hardships and struggles as well as celebrations and joys. One of the gifts of being part of a community of faith is that we don’t face the ups and downs and middles of life alone. However, if information isn’t shared with others in the community and no one reaches out, it can feel like we are on our own. In an effort to more fully live out our identity as a community of love and acceptance, we invite you to share what is going on in your lives. Contact Lisa Stanger and/or Pastor Jessica so we can appropriately share information (with your permission) with our wider community of care (via email, newsletters, announcements, and even from the pulpit) that we might offer our support whatever you may be facing.

You are encouraged to offer your prayers and actions of support for:

  • Jeanne and Norm Overly
  • Sam Troxal
  • Carol Walter
  • James Lane (who was recently hospitalized) and his family

2023 Sassiest Salsa Contest

First place goes to our very own James Lane! His Pickled Jicama Verde beat out other competitors in the 2023 Sassiest Sala Contest sponsored by Sammic a manufacturer of restaurant food prep equipment including blenders for salsa. Way to go James! To see the full article click here.

Teal Pumpkin Trick-or-Treat Trail

Mark your calendars and plan to join us on Saturday, October 28th, 5pm-7pm, for an inclusive, allergen-conscious Halloween experience! Free and open to all. The Teal Pumpkin Project is a simple way to make trick-or-treating safer and more inclusive for the one in 13 children living with food allergies and many others impacted by intolerances and other conditions by offering allergy-conscious candy options and non-food trinkets and treats that are safe for all trick or treaters. Learn more about the Teal Pumpkin Project here.

In addition to trick-or-treaters, we need your help to make this trail happen! Click here to sign up to help with the following and more:

1) Trail and Trunk Volunteers: Our trick-or-treat trail will be a combination of trunks and tables. These volunteers will dedicate themselves to decorating their car, truck, table, etc. and serve as a spot for the kids to stop and get treats on their walk around the parking lot. This is a great opportunity to meet and connect with the children and families. Also a wonderful idea for those who are creative and love to think big!

2) Treat Sponsors: We are going to need A TON of treats! Because we are dedicated to making this an allergy-conscious experience, we are encouraging financial donations that will then be used to purchase appropriate treats for the kids. Send your donation to the church office or drop it in the offering plate on Sunday mornings; clearly indicate that your gift is designated for the “Trick-or-Treat Trail” by marking your check or envelope. Additionally, we are accepting donations of the following sweet treats: DOTS, Skittles, Smarties, Ring Pops, Sour Patch Kids, Starburst, Swedish Fish, AirHead Minis, Mott’s Assorted Fruit Flavored Snacks. You may leave these donations on the marked table in the Narthex or deliver them to the church office.

3) Inviters/Sharers: Invite friends, family, neighbors, all to come! And, share the event on Facebook; access here.

Halloween Fall Festival

In addition to our free “Teal Pumpkin Trick-or-Treat Trail, the People’s Market will offer a fabulous Fall Festival to help raise funds for the tremendous work they are doing in and with our community. This event is free for ages 10 and under, and $10 for age 11 and up). All Trail and Trunk Volunteers get in free (though donations are always welcome). The price of admission includes the activities listed below as well as a pumpkin for each person! Be sure to check it out!

  • Friday, October 27th, 5pm-9pm: Haunted Maze, Halloween Games, Hot Food & Drinks, & Outdoor Spooky Movies
  • Saturday, October 28th, 10am-2pm: Daytime Maze, Halloween Games, Hot Food & Drinks; the regular Market will also be going at this time
  • Saturday, October 28th, 5pm-9pm: Haunted Maze, Halloween Games, Hot Food & Drinks, & Outdoor Spooky Movies

Pizza & Play

Members and friends of First United of all ages and family configurations (and your friends and family) are encouraged to gather for Pizza & Play on Friday, November 3rd, 5:30pm-7:30pm. We’ll enjoy a time of informal, unprogrammed fun and fellowship in Fellowship Hall and surrounding areas, both inside and out (weather permitting). As the name implies, pizza, drinks, and dessert will be provided. If you’re planning to attend, please let Pastor Jessica know by Thursday, November 2nd so she can be sure to have enough food for all and account for any dietary needs.

Harvest Ingathering

While the Board of Outreach regularly invites you to offer food donations on the first Sunday of each month on at table in the narthex, next month we encourage you to bring a donation every Sunday leading up to our Annual Harvest Ingathering on Sunday, November 19th. Please bring non-perishable food items anytime and every time you come to our building to help with this critical community need. As always, all of the collected food and cleaning/hygiene items will go to Monroe County United Ministries (MCUM), located in the Crestmont neighborhood of Bloomington, and pet food will go to Area 10 Agency on Aging. Click here to for a list of MCUM’s ongoing needs. Thank you for your generosity!

Time to Order Holiday Poinsettias 

Brighten the church sanctuary with Holiday Poinsettias and support the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra by ordering poinsettias through the BSO’s Annual Poinsettia Sale. To order poinsettias to decorate the chancel during Advent and take home afterward, bring your check (made out to BSO Poinsettia 2023) to the church office or place it in the offering plate no later than Thursday, November 9th; write “poinsettias” in the memo line. Each plant costs $15.00, beautifies the church, and supports the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra. Your poinsettias may be picked up outside Fellowship Hall on Monday, December 18th, if you would like to take them home. Please let Lisa in the church office know if you would like to order one.

All Saints’ Sunday

Join us Sunday, November 5th as in reverence and remembrance we light candles and toll a bell in honor of the life of congregants who have died in the past year. As part of our observance, we invite you to bring candles to light in remembrance of deceased loved ones and display on a table on the side of the sanctuary. These can be for family members and friends or other influential individuals; there will also be an opportunity to share the names of these beloved. Those who choose to bring candles should take them with them at the end of the service.

Daylight Saving Time Ends – Fall Back

A reminder that Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday, November 5th at 2am, so remember to set your clocks back one hour before you head to bed on Saturday night and get an extra hour of snoozing time, or you may end up at the church an hour earlier than intended!


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. Enahah Seda will present the day’s scripture reading and serve as our congregational lead. Eric Meincke and Hansol Kim will lead us in song, and First United’s Children’s Choir and Adult Vocal Choir will each offer special music. Mitchell Farmer will highlight some of the many ways we are invited to engage in the life of the church and our wider community. We are still looking for volunteers to offer a warm welcome to all those who will gather in the sanctuary (sign up here to help), while Kyle Hetrick and Jim True will welcome all who join via Zoom as they ensure the audio/visual pieces run as smoothly as possible. Finally, be sure to join us in Fellowship Hall after worship for a time of fellowship and refreshment hosted by Ted Wininger.

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 Rehearsals

We are grateful for the return of both the vocal choir and bell choir in worship. All who are interested in engaging in our Music Ministry are encouraged to join! No prior musical experience is required, but a foundational ability to read music is recommended. The bell choir and vocal choirs will rehearse together on Thursdays, 7:30-9pm, now through the end of October as they work on a beautiful, collaborative piece.

Both groups are a great way to share your time and talents with the congregation and for fellowship with your First United community. We perform a diverse selection of music ranging from the Renaissance era to present day and are proud to continue performing music by composers from a variety of backgrounds. If you are interested in joining or have any questions, please contact Eric Meincke at ericdmeincke@gmail.com.

The choirs don’t work for you? All those who are musically inclined are encouraged to offer your gifts of music during worship as special music. Please contact Eric Meineke or Pastor Jessica to arrange your special musical offering.


Fall Workday

Join the Board of Building and Grounds on Saturday, November 4th from 8am to 11am for a workday to help us keep the grounds looking good. We will be raking, weeding the courtyard, cleaning leaves from the gutters and other chores. We have some rakes and snips, but more would be welcome. Hope to see you then, it will be a good time!

Potluck & Pumpkins!

Mark your calendars for the Fifth Sunday Potluck Sunday, October 29th immediately following worship. Bring a dish (or two) to share, and be sure to label your item! In order to pull it off, we’ll need a little help. Are you willing to arrive early to set up, serve during lunch, or stay late to clean up? Call/text or email Molly Koontz at (812) 360-2885 or molly.koontz@yahoo.com, and she’ll slot you with other fun people.

Be sure to stay afterward for Pumpkin Decorating! Once you’ve had your fill at the potluck, burn some calories and put your creativity to work with pumpkin carving or painting (bring your own pumpkin; limited pumpkins will be available) and get in the mood for Halloween! All supplies will be provided for painting and carving. Plan to attend! If you have questions, contact Hopi Stosberg.

The Joy of Hosting

We continue to offer support to weekly coffee hour hosts and encourage everyone to sign up to host—it’s easy, fun, and a great way to serve your church family with a one-time commitment. Sign up as buddies or families, invite someone you’ve been wanting to get to know, use the occasion to showcase a family recipe or try out a new one. Sign up to host by clicking here.

Serve Meal with Community Kitchen

First United has a long history of volunteering with and financially supporting Community Kitchen of Monroe County. We volunteer there on the third Thursday of the month, 3:30pm-6:30pm. Our next shift is on Thursday, November 16th. This is also a good way to build community within and outside of our church. To volunteer this month or subsequent months click here to access our online sign up or contact Laurie Eynon (leynon73@icloud.com or (812) 336-1219). Thank you!


Tuesday Morning Café and Discussion

You are invited to join us in person or online Tuesdays at 10am-11:30am as we explore “The Pagan World: Ancient Religions before Christianity” presented by Dr. Hans-Friedrich Mueller. After a time of informal conversation, we will engage in thought-provoking theological study and discussion as we meet the fascinating, ancient polytheistic peoples of the Mediterranean and beyond, their gods and goddesses, and their public and private worship practices, and come to better understand the foundational role religion played in their daily lives. Previous participation and perfect attendance are not required. Those interested and able are welcome to gather in Roger Williams Hall; those choosing to join online via Zoom can do so here.

Off-Topic Scripture Circle

You are invited to join 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.

Children’s Learning Time

Each Sunday morning, children in kindergarten and up will begin in the Sanctuary with their families and proceed to Room 2 with their adult leads for Children’s Learning Time (CLT) following the Children’s Time. Many thanks to Molly Koontz and Sabine Lammers for leading CLT this Sunday.

We continue to welcome and encourage additional adults to join our teaching rotation to enrich the program for the kids. Lesson materials and supplies are provided, and we have seasoned leaders to help you get acclimated. If you are interested or have questions, please reach out to Molly Koontz, Pastor Jessica, or any member of the Board of Education.

Nursery Care

Our youngest children are welcome to spend time from 10am-11:45am playing in the nursery or on the playground, weather permitting. Lena Stosberg and Jessica McIntosh 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.

“Poverty, By Bloomington”

Mark your calendars for the capstone/springboard event “Poverty, by Bloomington” on Sunday, November 5th, 2pm-4pm, at St. Thomas Lutheran Church. The event will feature a panel with representatives from four Bloomington non-profits (Beacon, MCUM, Thriving Connections SCCAP, and New Leaf New Life) to discuss the issues raised in the book and how they see them applying here in our hometown. It will also be accessible via livestream (click here). Access more information here.


Stewardship Timing Notice

Your Boards, Committees, and Council are starting to draft an expense budget for 2024. Per our revised bylaws approved by the Congregation in 2022, the Congregation will vote on the budget in December. For many years, the church’s annual stewardship campaign has taken place at the same time as the drafting of the budget. This meant asking members and friends to pledge towards the budget before it was fully developed and approved. Another model used in many faith communities is to draft and approve the budget first, and then solicit pledges towards that budget. The Church Council would like to try implementing that model this year. Therefore, instead of a stewardship emphasis in October/November of this year, as has been done for a long time, you can expect this emphasis to occur early in 2024, when people may have a better sense of what they can give towards the church’s ministries and operations. While this is indeed different timing from what this community is used to, there are enough potential advantages that it is worth trying to see if it is worth moving to this new timing permanently or returning to the fall emphasis for 2025 and beyond. As always, pledges are accepted at any time of the year – the stewardship campaign is just the time when pledging is put at the forefront of the community’s consciousness. If you have any questions about this trial in altering the stewardship emphasis, please reach out to Mitchell Farmer, Kyle Hetrick, or Rev. Jessica Petersen-Mutai. 

Announcements Deadlines

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.

Finance Update

At the end of August, total income was $222,000 or 69% of budget. Total expenses were at $221,000, or 62% of budget. Therefore, we were breaking even two-thirds of the year through. Unfortunately, some of the anticipated major expenses mentioned previously have not shown up in the accounting yet – they will start showing in September. Beyond the budget, for our special offering we raised and $200 for IU’s Crimson Cupboard as part of WelcomeFest.

Online Directory Available!

An online church directory is available for all members of First United! You may access the directory by clicking on “Member Directory” from the “Member Area” drop-down menu located at the top of any page of the church website. Contact Lisa in the office for your sign-in credentials (you are encouraged to change your password after logging in for the first time).

Contact Information