First Church Notes: 04.30.2021


News regarding the life and ministry of our wonderfully diverse and energized faith community


Welcome to First Notes!

If you have items for our notes, we ask that they be submitted to the office by email no later than Wednesdays at 9:00 A.M.


CALLING ALL VOLUNTEERS

We are looking for volunteers to prepare the spaces of First Church for when we reopen in the fall. There are spaces that need to be decluttered and organized, sanitized and cleaned, and generally “redd up,” as we say in Pittsburgh. If you are interested in forming a small volunteer team (2-4 folks) please contact the church office at office@fumcpittsburgh.org or 412.450.8532 to sign up.

All CDC and Allegheny Health Department COVID safety procedures still apply.


Make the Pray It, Say It, Stop It Commitment

Violence takes many forms — guns, knives, fists, even words on social media. Some violence is far away, like the mass shootings in Atlanta, Boulder, and Indianapolis. Other violence is close to home, like violence in the streets and violence in households.

Psalm 11:5 in the Contemporary English Version of the Bible, states: “The LORD tests honest people, but despises those who are cruel and love violence.” While the causes of violence are many and the solutions may vary, you can take the first step by praying against violence.

The STOP the Violence Office is encouraging prayers against violence at every opportunity during 2021.

Can you make the Pray It, Say It, Stop It Commitment and pledge to name the problem of violence every time you pray this year? If you can make the commitment let Glenna Wilson know at glennapw@gmail.com. 

Your prayers can be part of the solution. Let’s Pray It, Say It, Stop It.


FIRST FOOD & FRIENDS JOB OPENING

First Food & Friends is looking for a new Program Director. Patrick Haver, the current Program Director, is retiring at the end of the summer. As the host site for FF&F’s Saturday meals, First Church is the first to hear of the job opening. If you or anyone you know are interested in the position, please read the attached job description and contact the church office at office@fumcpittsburgh.org or 412.450.8532.


WPA Reconciling Ministries Spring Event

Greetings!

As in previous years, WPA Reconciling Ministries is planning a Spring Event. This year it will be a virtual gathering 9 am – noon on May 1st with the theme Love In Action: Practical Ways to be Affirming and Inclusive. 

9:00-9:10- Welcome
9:10-9:45- Worship
9:45-10:30- Language Workshop (may include a short break) 
10:30-12:00- Panel

Information and registration:   

https://fb.me/e/3oAyCv1iO

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfUnVgjQpprJENcVmyeM-UquscbNuhiyfltf36oH0NYuGH7GA/viewform

Please share this information with anyone who might be interested in registering and joining the event.

If you have any questions regarding this virtual gathering, please let me know!

Shalom!

tracy merrick (he/him/his)


Planting Flowers

FUMC will be planting flowers on Friday, May 14th, at 9 AM, rain or shine!


“Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?”  First Church Pentecost Zoom Dinner

Since there was such positive feedback regarding our Chinese New Year Zoom Dinner, there will soon be an opportunity to join another dinner via Zoom with First Church, Warren and other friends.  This is the plan: 

What: “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” 

Participants will be randomly assigned (“Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?!”) to virtual breakout groups to enjoy dinner (take-out or home-cooked) with people that perhaps they don’t know very well.  What a great way to connect with old and new friends during what we hope will be the last stage of this pandemic!

When:  Saturday, May 22nd at 6:00 pm. 

The evening before Pentecost.  Celebrate by wearing red and/or making a red dessert (be prepared to share the recipe, if requested!)

FUMC Pittsburgh is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Pentecost Pop-in Dinner

Time: May 22, 2021 06:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

If you have questions, please contact Karen Merrick of the Hospitality Team at crimmerr@aol.com 


WPAUMC (Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference of the UMC) Apportionment 2021 News                                                                       

One of the unique and defining factors of the United Methodist Church is that we are Connectional. One way we show this connection is through apportioned giving.

Apportioned giving is a term which describes how the money we give to FUMC of Pittsburgh, each week is divided and distributed throughout the United Methodist Church. Through you and your support of apportioned giving, we are able to participate in the ministry and mission of the United Methodist Church both locally and around the world.  (We at First Church have an additional layer to our connectional apportionment that allows for your offering/tithe to support UMC ministries of your choice.  For more information on this this, please contact the church office office@fumcpittsburgh.org.)

Our 2021 Connectional Apportionment is $60,579 with Stretch Goal (additional 1% of income): $66,294

Despite First Church being unable to gather throughout the pandemic, the giving of tithes and gifts remained consistent. Our 2020 Connectional Apportionment was $61,762, and the total giving for Connectional Apportionment was $51,800.00.


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!

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 – 6:30 pm, 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.

Olivia Migliori


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 (anais@fumcpittsburgh.org) or Claudia (cdetwiler@icloud.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

Playing with Parables

(in Joe’s Sunday night Bible Study)

Sunday evenings (April 11 – May 23, excluding Mother’s Day), 6:30 – 8:00 pm

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82354512499

Jesus carefully crafted his parables to get under the skin, to irritate and provoke. They’re not puzzles to be decoded or principles to be understood, but stories to be participated in, pondered, and played with. In this class, we won’t just try to understand what the parables meant; we’ll engage them through active imagination to find their significance for our stories.


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 sam.procter@gmail.com

Coffee and Chat – Michele Jury mcjury@gmail.com

High School – Alyssa Stadelman alyssastadelman@gmail.com

Middle School – Joe Smith joe@fumcpittsburgh.org

And Godly Play is now offering a virtual story time each Sunday morning at 9:30 am on our FUMCPitt YouTube channel.


A Prayerful Quote

This is a time for straying, for losing one’s way, for asking new questions. A sacred activism. A slowing down that knows enchantment is not in short supply.

–Bayo Akomolafe


First Church Staff

Pastor
Tracy Cox
pastortracy@fumcpittsburgh.org
DeaconAnais Hussian
anais@fumcpittsburgh.org
Director of Music and Community Tim Coles
timcoles@fumcpittsburgh.org
Director of Spiritual Formation Joe Smith
joe@fumcpittsburgh.org
Office Administrator Gwendolen Jackson
Office office@fumcpittsburgh.org
Office Assistant Sherrie Kaiser
Building Maintenance Manager Gabe Amri
Custodians Lamont Hunter
Tacoma Woods
Music InternMichael Dodin