First Church Notes: 07.03.2020

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

Welcome to our “reboot” of First Notes! We are intending to provide this source of First Church news once per week on Fridays once again in the midst of the ongoing crisis. We hope this will be a way to better stay connected with everyone and share good information with you all.

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. 


Thanks to all of the individuals who have participated in the FUMC vigils on the corner of Centre and South Aiken. The community response to our witness has been overwhelming at times.

In light of the recent increases in COVID-19 cases in Allegheny County, and specifically in Shadyside, a number of us have expressed concerns about our vigils.

For that reason, we are suggesting that we temporarily suspend the Wednesday evening witnesses until the COVID-19 daily counts drop considerably below the levels that have been announced during the last week. 

Our plan is to resume the vigils at 6:00 pm on Wednesdays as soon as it is safe to do so. We will all wear masks and practice social distancing.

In lieu of the vigils, please read a writing by an author who is a person of color. This week, may we suggest the Langston Hughes poem, Let America Be America Again which can be accessed through the following link:

Please also pray for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Some possible prayer concerns / topics include:

– For the elimination of the pervasive systemic racism and ever present prejudice and bias present in our nation and communities

– That all of us would be more sensitive to the interrelated issues of systemic racism, including but not limited to voting rights, housing, education, environmental justice, employment practices, wealth disparities, poverty,  governance, criminal justice, incarceration, clean water and air, nutrition, etc  

– For guidance regarding what we each can do to dismantle racism, deal with our biases, educate ourselves 

– The state of our nation and world

– For national and local wisdom to deal with issues of law enforcement and the criminal justice system

– The upcoming elections

– How we as individuals deal with the political rancor and goings-on

– For the resolve as a nation to aggressive address racism

– The Wrestling with Racism team and its work

– Warren UMC as it experiences a change in pastors

– The Warren UMC & FUMC relationship

– FUMC, its witnessing to justice, and its anti-racism efforts

– FUMC, as it diligently deals with its own issues of racism and tries to become a more inclusive community of faith 

– The FUMC Leadership Council as it studies White Fragility

If you have questions regarding this request, please contact Pastor Tracy Cox or Tracy Merrick.

Once we resume the vigils, we would like others to read readings, share thoughts, and lead prayers. If you would like to do so or have a suggestion, please let us know. 

All who participate will need to wear masks and stand at least 6 feet apart. If you do not have a mask, First Church will provide one.

Please feel free to bring signs consistent with support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Those who wish to drive by the church and honk their horns in support of the witness may do so beginning at 6:10 AM.

If you have questions about these observances, please contact either Pastor Tracy Cox or Tracy Merrick.


July’s Advocacy Focus will explore a specific proposal: “Medicare for All as a

response to economic and racial injustice”. Below are some articles for engaging

with this topic.

Racial Health Inequities: Dr. Susan Rogers , president-elect – Physicians for

a National Health Program: (2 minute video)


We’re doctors, and we’re debunking myths about Medicare for All:

Economists in Support of a Medicare for All Health Care System:

Medicare for All saves money; Medicare for some doesn’t:

Please feel free to contact Claudia Detwiler ( for

additional information.


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.


Our commitment to appropriate social distancing doesn’t mean that we can’t connect. Many of our regular Sunday School classes continue to meet each Sunday at 10:00 am 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

Spirit of Justice – Sam Procter

Coffee and Chat – Michele Jury

High School – Alyssa Stadelman

Middle School – Joe Smith    

And Godly Play is now offering a virtual story time each Sunday morning at 9:30 am. Watch your email for the link. 

And you can check out previous sessions here:

Haven’t been part of a Sunday School class before? This may be a better time than any! 

At a time when children are spending more time at home than ever, families are beginning once again to take a more active role in children’s spiritual formation. We offer the FAITH5 as a simple yet profound model for families to engage in conversation and meditation together:

Join Joe Smith for a virtual study of the book of Genesis:

New videos are available every Tuesday at 8:00 am. Subscribe to the FUMC YouTube channel or just watch your email.


“To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget…another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”

― Arundhati Roy


Tracy Cox
DeaconAnais Hussian
Director of Music and Community Tim Coles
Director of Spiritual Formation Joe Smith
Administrative AssistantShelby Vane
Office Assistant Sherry Kaiser
Building Maintenance Manager Curtis Mitchell
Custodians Lamont Hunter
Tacoma Woods
Hospitality Nick Solic
Music Intern Michael Dodin