News regarding the life and ministry of our wonderfully diverse and energized faith community
Happy Valentine’s Day, and welcome to First Notes!
If you have articles for our notes we ask that they be submitted to the office by email no later than Wednesdays at 9:00AM.
A note from the Gruver family
We want to express our deep gratitude for the love and support Marcia and I received from the First Church community during her struggle living with cancer. We love this church family. She found great fulfillment working to restore and make the building more functional as a sacred space, but mostly she loved the community of faith. For over 50 years she worked to make it even better. Your many condolences and expressions of love and friendship have comforted our family as we face the future and strive to be grateful for all of the joy we shared with her.
Some of you have asked about memorial services. We have decided to wait until the virus has subsided so family and friends can travel to Pittsburgh and we can all gather safely in person. We will have a service at First Church, Marcia’s ashes will rest in the Memorial Garden, and we will have a reception to celebrate her life. We will announce the time when it is set.
Gene and family
First Church Chinese New Year Zoom Dinners
The 2021 Chinese New Year is February 13th (celebrated from Feb 11th through Feb 26th). Many of us have fond memories of the Chinese New Year all church dinners we have enjoyed with Gracie’s delicious dishes and of course, Ping’s famous spring rolls! We are really missing all the church dinners during this time of COVID restrictions!
So… how about a virtual Chinese New Year dinner via Zoom? The Hospitality Team is looking for several volunteers to host a dinner group on Zoom — it would be necessary to have a Zoom account (or a willingness to sign up for one. There is a cost). The date will be Friday, February 26th at 6:00 PM. Once our hosts are determined, FUMC members and friends will be invited to sign up for one of the hosted dinner groups. The number of guests for each host will be capped at 8 to allow for good conversation. Each guest will be expected to provide their own food — a homemade Chinese dish or maybe take-out from their favorite Chinese restaurant. We hope to have many dinner groups going at the same time!
The first step is to sign up our Zoom dinner hosts. So, if you are interested in hosting a dinner group, please email Karen Merrick, email@example.com or call at 412-779-0797 by Wednesday, February 10th. If you just want to participate in the dinner on February 26th, then stay tuned for another email where you can sign up for a “seat” in one of the hosted dinner groups.
We hope you will consider hosting one of the Zoom dinner groups to help us celebrate the 2021 Chinese New Year and experience the much-appreciated blessings of fellowship!
FUMC Hospitality Team
P.S. 2021 is the Year of the Ox. 2020 was the Year of the Rat (how appropriate!)
GIVE ONE, TAKE ONE
This familiar saying can often be seen next to cash registers and referring to pennies. Give a Penny if you have one, take a Penny if you need one. Well, this saying applies to our Cold Weather Gear collection boxes as well. We will have two brightly wrapped collection boxes outside the Aiken Avenue entrance during the day. If you are able to give items such as hats, gloves, scarves, socks, coats or blankets, drop them in the box at any time. And if you or anyone you know needs cold weather items, please take one out of the box, use it and stay warm!
RACE AND RACISM AT FUMC SURVEY
First United Methodist Church of Pittsburgh wants to hear from you! As part of our efforts to become an anti-racist church, we’d like to hear from the congregation and attendees about general experiences and perceptions of race and racism at FUMC. Your answers will help guide a team of FUMC members in creating an Anti-Racist church vision statement as well as the church’s next action steps on racial justice. Be on the lookout for virtual round table discussions early next year!
The survey is less than 10 questions and can be found at this link: https://forms.gle/vGjTY95jNEVkWGMy8
Thanks for your participation!
WEDNESDAY NIGHT PRAYER VIGIL FOR BLACK LIVES MATTER—6 PM AT FUMC
Over the last several months, each Wednesday at 6:00 – 6:30pm, there has been a faithful gathering at the corner of Aiken Ave and Centre Ave to be a voice of support for BLM. During this time, we pray in voice and in silence.
There is a constant stream of horns honking in support for the BLM. Voices can be heard from cars saying, “Thank you for your support,” and “We love you!” Conversations with those walking their dog, those coming off their shift at the hospital, and those just walking by have started. Some folks have even joined in the vigil.
Along with the growing affirmation, recently we have encountered voices of distraction. This coming Wednesday, there will be additional guidelines for safety for all to follow. This prayer vigil is a visible expression of FUMC’s voice to be a church that stands for justice.
Everyone and your neighbor is invited to come. Adherence to social guidelines for mask wearing and physical distancing is required. If you do not have a mask, FUMC will provide one.
***Looking for a volunteer to expand the vigil on social media. Could you help, or do you know someone who could?
Dear First Church Family,
Now more than ever, our thoughts, prayers, worries, time, and commitments are being pulled in endless directions. Many causes, both personal and national, fight for our attention. Knowing this, I would like to invite you to join our weekly prayer vigils on Wednesdays at 6:00-6:30pm in front of FUMC to pray for racial justice.
Being present at these vigils for a brief 30 minutes allows me to feel hopeful. I often feel paralyzed by the idea that no thought, prayer, or action ever seems to be enough. Our street corner vigils may not “solve” racial injustice (if only it were that easy). Instead of looking for The Answer, I cherish the ability to come together in a time when we are so isolated to pray, to reflect, to grieve, and to reinvest in our commitment to fighting for a more just nation for our siblings of color.
If one person passing by feels seen because we acknowledge that our country does not default to valuing Black lives in the way that we should, we have taken a step in a positive direction. If coming together in this way restores in us our commitment to allow God to guide us to seek racial justice in a world that has been imperfect long before we got here, we have gained the stamina to be a part of creating something better.
CALL TO ADVOCACY
The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened our awareness of deeply rooted inequity within our institutions and our communities that have been built on systems of white supremacy and oppression. We would like to create space in our weekly worship video to share moments where we have grown in our awareness and understanding of inequity, and have felt the call to take action to promote a more just world. As we are all on a journey of growth, there is no step too small to be significant.
So, we invite you to share your heightened awareness to an injustice or inequity in a short video and, if you’ve taken action, describe what you’ve done to respond to that new awareness.
If you are interested in recording a video, or want to learn more, please contact either Anais (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Claudia (email@example.com). We look forward to continuing this justice-seeking journey together!
FUMC SUNDAY CAST FOR CONGREGATION AND THE WORLD
Most of you by now have seen or heard of our weekly worship experiences we are posting on YouTube. We hope they have been meaningful to all of you. We invite you to share the experience with friends and family far and wide. If you search for “fumcpitt” on YouTube it will take you to our church page where you can find all past videos and also the live SundayCast .
An email will still be sent out to the FUMC email list each week by early Sunday morning with a link for each “live” experience. We are grateful to be able to connect in this way.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION AND SPIRITUAL FORMATION
Tuesdays with Lent
Tuesday evenings (March 2 – March 23), 7:00 – 8:00 pm
Pastor Tracy will facilitate a study of four Lenten Hymns that have sustained the hope of many through the years. Lyrics and composers will be studied along with Scripture references. We will remember these hymns from our own past we search for new paths of comfort and challenge.
· March 2: Were You There?, No. 288
· March 9: Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross, No. 301
· March 16: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, No. 298 & 299
· March 23: What Wondrous Love Is This, No. 292
To get the Zoom link for this study, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Beyond the Bloodthirsty God
Sunday evenings (Feb. 21 – March 28)
The story that is often said to be at the heart of Christianity is of an angry God sentencing his son to die a cruel and gruesome death to somehow appease his wrath against all humanity. How can we come to grips with a God like that? How could a God who stands for justice and love abandon his child to such a fate? In this series, Joe Smith will facilitate a discussion about the broad array of ways that Christians throughout the centuries have understood the meaning of Jesus’ death. We’ll explore these ideas carefully and fearlessly so that you can develop an understanding of the cross that coheres with your sense of justice and nourishes your spirituality.
Here’s Joe talking about the study: Beyond a Bloodthirsty God trailer – YouTube
Sunday School Classes
Haven’t been part of a Sunday School class before? This may be a better time than any! Sunday School classes meet each Sunday at 10:00 am (Seekers begins at 9:45) by Zoom.
Due to the increasing concerns about strangers logging into Zoom calls to cause trouble, we are not publishing invitations to Zoom meetings publicly. So to receive a weekly invitation to a Sunday School gathering, please email the convener:
Seekers – Kristi Woolsey Woolsey.Kristi@bcgplatinion.com
Spirit of Justice – Sam Procter email@example.com
Coffee and Chat – Michele Jury firstname.lastname@example.org
High School – Alyssa Stadelman email@example.com
Middle School – Joe Smith firstname.lastname@example.org
And Godly Play is now offering a virtual story time each Sunday morning at 9:30 am on our FUMCPitt YouTube channel.
The link below is for a song called “From Little Things Big Things Grow” by the Waifs. The song tells a story about Australian Aboriginal activism, focused around a man named Vincent Lingiari (1908-1988), who worked for years to convince the Australian government to recognize Aboriginal land rights. He was finally successful in 1976.
This story is geographically far from our social justice challenges in the United States, but I think it may inspire and renew us as we give our support to Black Lives Matter, LGBTQIA+ rights, environmental concerns, and other issues. The story makes clear that change didn’t happen overnight, but the people who were involved didn’t waver in their commitment.
“And Vincent sat down with big politicians/ ‘This affair,’ they told him, ‘it’s a matter of state./ Let us sort it out while your people go hungry.’/ Vincent said, ‘No thanks, we know how to wait.’/ From little things big things grow.”
|Director of Music and Community||Tim Coles|
|Director of Spiritual Formation||Joe Smith|
|Office Administrator||Gwendolen Jackson|
|Office Assistant||Sherrie Kaiser|
|Building Maintenance Manager|
|Custodians|| Lamont Hunter|
|Music Intern||Michael Dodin|