First Church Notes: 08.20.2021

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 AM.


Sunday’s scheduled in-person gathering at FUMC has been canceled. Like all of you, we have been watching the COVID news closely and it is evolving all the time. Out of an abundance of caution, we are avoiding large indoor gatherings for now until we get firmer updates from Allegheny County. Although we regret to cancel our plans, this is one way we can respond to a rapidly changing world and culture with the hospitality of our hearts, as our fifth living stone reminds us.

This does not affect our plans to gather together again for worship on Sept. 12th, our planned date of reopening.



“In most cities, zoning rules need an upgrade. Limiting available housing and banning affordable home options and rentals pushes prices up and pushes people out. Indeed, exclusionary zoning laws uphold a long, ugly history of practices that segregated neighborhoods by race and class.

One important part of the solution is upzoning, revamping our zoning laws so that more neighborhoods allow a healthy mix of homes of all shapes and sizes, including duplexes, apartments, and backyard cottages.

Most people probably don’t think—or talk—about zoning too much. But if you care deeply about racial and social equity in your city, rising prices and affordability, and solutions to combat the climate emergency, it’s time to start!”


Not long ago, FUMC Leadership Council affirmed the newly developed Reconciling Ministries Statement in the context of First Church’s 10th year anniversary as a Reconciling Congregation. During the discussion surrounding the Reconciling Ministries affirmation, we were inspired to revisit the language of our own Hospitality Statement.

This simple, but powerful statement has described our congregation for the last 25 years. It is printed on the front of our worship bulletin. It is recited frequently in our worship services. It describes us to ourselves, to visitors, to prospective members and to applicants for positions on our staff. It has guided us well in our understanding of who we aspire to be as a congregation while we have grown and changed significantly throughout these years. Our journey has taught us that it is critical to apply a framework of intersectionality* to our hospitality and justice efforts.

What has this statement meant to you personally? Have you used it to briefly describe what First Church is about to others? Have you felt something was missing from our statement? How do you feel our congregation has grown, changed, and acted as a result of our statement? How does the Hospitality Statement need to change to enable us to continue to grow as a community of faith?

We invite everyone to participate in helping us enhance our Hospitality Statement. You can share your feedback by mailing or dropping it off to the church office or emailing the office:

In the near future, members of the Leadership Council will be reaching out to the congregation to listen to your ideas about our Hospitality Statement.

As part of this process, we hope you will join us for educational workshops that we are planning. These gatherings are intended to help us explore the ever-evolving opportunities for working on social justice efforts of FUMC and the concepts that guide our work.

*Intersectionality is an analytical framework for understanding how various forms of discrimination centered on race, gender, class, disability, sexuality, and other forms of identity, do not work independently but interact to produce interconnected oppression and exclusion. The term was conceptualized and coined by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw in 1989.


The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is scheduled to pull out First’s flowers on the corner of Centre and Aiken on Sept. 24th at 9:00 AM.

LAST CHANCE TO RSVP:  Patrick Haver’s Retirement Celebration (see attachment)

All FUMC members and friends are invited to an open house to celebrate Patrick Haver as he retires as Program Director of First Food & Friends. The date is Saturday, August 28th, from 11:30 – 1:30 in FUMC Fellowship Hall & Courtyard. A picnic luncheon will be served from 11:30 – 12:30 and “Stories of Thanks” will be from 12:30 – 1:30. (Food will be available 11:30 – 1:30). We will observe all safety precautions, including eating outside.

The deadline to RSVP is today, August 20th.  Please call or email Gwendolen at 412.450.8532 or

Let’s send Patrick off on a well-deserved retirement with our presence, our prayers and our congratulations on a job well done for 22 faithful years at FFF!


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.

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?


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 ( or Claudia Detwiler. We look forward to continuing this justice-seeking journey together! 


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.


Most of our Sunday School classes pause during the summer, but the Coffee and Chat time continues. If you would like to join, please email Michele Jury for the Zoom link.

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

A Prayerful Quote

We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it.

–Wendell Berry

First Church Staff

Tracy Cox
DeaconAnais Hussian
Director of Music and Community Tim Coles
Director of Spiritual Formation Joe Smith
Office Administrator Gwendolen Jackson
Office Assistant Sherrie Kaiser
Building Maintenance Manager Nelson Viola
Custodians Lamont Hunter
Tacoma Woods
Music InternMichael Dodin