First Church Notes: 09.17.2021

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 9:00AM.

Join the STOP the Violence Prayer Team

Stopping violence will take the efforts of the entire community. The ultimate objective of the City’s STOP the Violence office is to convert a culture of violence into a culture of non-violence. One component of this effort is the STOP the Violence Prayer Team.

“I believe that prayer changes things and the more people praying for the same things, the better,” said the Reverend Cornell Jones, formerly a chaplain at Western Penitentiary and now the City’s Group Violence Intervention Coordinator. 

For more information, contact Glenna Wilson at

A note from Hayley and Joseph Beard, Friends of First Church

Hi Pastor Tracy,

We are struggling to get donors to go out to Pittsburgh to be tested to be a donor for my husband, so now we are trying to see if we can get anyone local to Pittsburgh to register. Please if you can, help us get the word out. Thank you. Here is a news story that our local news did on our family in July, since then we have thankfully gotten full insurance approval, so all we need now is donors.

Holding onto Hope: Rockton man fighting for potential life saving surgery

And here is a link to our facebook group with the info on how to register to be a donor or they can email me at or call me at 608-790-5660.

Thank you, Hayley Beard


Pittsburgh Toy Lending Library is offering a flu shot clinic on 9/25 from 10 AM to  approximately 4 PM (end time depends on demand). If you’d like to sign up, please follow the information on attached flyer. You can also use this link:

Black Lives Matter Vigil: Next Steps

Since June 20, 2020, members and friends of First Church have gathered each Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. on the corner of Centre Ave. and S. Aiken to witness and pray for Black Lives in our community, our Nation and our world. Each Vigil has been led by a variety of volunteers, each bringing their own special gifts and what was weighing on their hearts that particular week. The faithfulness of those who gathered and those who led us has been noticed and appreciated by those who drove or walked by, many who honked their horns or stopped to talk and some who even joined us. Our ability to connect outdoors, socially distanced and masked as the pandemic and social injustice raged around us was amazing.

We gathered in the snow and rain, steamy late afternoons and dark winter evenings, undeterred from our mission to pray and meditate for the length of time George Floyd lay dying on the street in Minneapolis. As we prayed, we often challenged ourselves to think about how we would each progress on toward action from our Vigil. We were unsure when would be the right time to move on as a group. With our imminent return to in-person worship, this feels like the right time.

We will continue our Outdoor Prayer Vigils on the 4th Sunday of each month with volunteer leaders. Most exciting, next steps will include opportunities for actions tailored to First Church. These specific actions will include things you can do individually, as a family, as a group and as part of a larger community. One of the most extraordinary parts of the Wednesday Night Vigils has been the diversity of volunteer leaders and we want to build on that success with our action items.

We pray you will also join us in committing to action as well as our on-going monthly 4th Sunday Prayer Vigils on the Center Ave. / S. Aiken corner.

Climate Action Invitation from the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh

A friend from previous joint ecojustice events with First Church asked me to share this with you. I can attest that this is a panel of vigorous climate activists.



The Social Justice and Outreach Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh

And the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer Present a Zoom Panel 

How Your Church Can Fight Climate Change and Save Money  

                 Sunday, September 19, 3 pm

·         Preston Shimer, Chair, Sustainability Committee, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Mt. Lebanon

·         Matt Mehalik, Chair, Green Sanctuary Team, Unitarian Universalist Church of the North Hills, Executive Director, Breathe Project

·         Kathy Hrabovsky, Sustainable Landcare Accredited Professional, Development Associate PA Interfaith Power and Light

·         Rev. Moni McIntyre, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, McKeesport, panel chair

As extreme and disastrous weather becomes more and more frequent, the need for people of faith to work for a livable environment becomes more obvious.
If required: Meeting ID: 813 0652 0902    Passcode: 839245

Dial by your location +1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)

                                    +1 929 205 6099 US (New York)


Looking for a break, an enjoyable learning experience, some new sights and experiences? Register for the October 11-13 Olmsted Manor Fall Photography Retreat! Leader: Pastor Dean D. Ziegler

There are two themes: Cultivating a Habit of Wonder, and How to Compose a Better Picture.

On this fifth-year version there’s an extra meal, but no extra cost! Still just $200 for two nights, three days, seven meals, a day trip to Kinzua Bridge Sky Walk with picnic lunch, and several easy-listening, non-technical digital slide-show lessons on composition tips and tricks for better Photos, whether taken by smart phone, pocket camera or DSLR. Oh, and some kick back and relax time built in too.

For pastors, the event qualifies for CE credits. For pastors and laity, the retreat offers the beauty of Autumn colors in the Allegheny National Forest, the delight of making new friends and the serenity of Olmsted Manor’s Facilities and Grounds.

The Retreat starts with lunch on Monday and ends with lunch on Wednesday.


With flooding in Western PA and the Louisiana Conference and other areas hard-hit by Hurricane Ida, our Eastbrook Mission Barn needs cleaning buckets and hygiene kits. These items can be brought to the Mission Barn or one of its satellites. 
Get kit assembly instructions


September is National Preparedness Month an annual observance to remind all Americans how important it is for individuals, families and communities to be prepared for disasters and emergencies that can happen at any time. The 2021 theme is “Prepare to Protect. Preparing for disasters is protecting everyone you love.”

 “Now is the time that everyone should have a conversation with their family, neighbors or loved ones to discuss what you would do in the event of a disaster in your area. Use the resources on or to make sure you have taken the steps to get prepared,” said FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell.

Also, everyone should sign up to receive local alerts and warning on your mobile phone. Download the FEMA app and receive real-time alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations nationwide and have the steps to prepare for disaster with you at all times to keep you and your loved ones safe.

Each week during National Preparedness Month will focus on a theme with easy-to-follow steps that individuals and families can take to enhance their emergency preparedness efforts. This year’s weekly themes include:

•           Week 1: September 1-4: Make A Plan.

•           Week 2: September 5-11: Build A Kit.

•           Week 3: September 12-18: Low-Cost, No-Cost Preparedness.

•           Week 4: September 19-25: Teach Youth About Preparedness. has free resources online, including social media content in multiple languages, for public use. Help spread the word of how to be prepared for disasters and emergencies before they happen.


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. Volunteers would be appreciated!


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 ( 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.


Unless otherwise indicated, Sunday School classes meet each Sunday from 9:45 – 10:45 am. A combination of online and in-person classes reflects out commitment to being one community in multiple locations and modalities. 


Mrs. Helen and Mrs. Becky will offer Montessori-inspired play and storytelling for our preschool and kindergarteners.

Rather than separating by age, older children and youth will gather into “modes.” Those interested in calm discussion can join Alyssa Stadelman and our new Intern for Youth and Social Justice Ministries, Rudeene Jackson, for study of The Bible and Social Justice. Those who need to get some energy out can join Joe in the courtyard or Fellowship Hall (depending on the weather) for group games. Other modes (crafting, music, etc.) may be offered periodically.

The nursery (just outside the sanctuary) has been recently remodeled and refreshed and it will be staffed by Emily Burke, our loving and nurturing childcare professional from 9:30 – 12:30 each Sunday.

There is no online Sunday School offerings for children or youth at this time. 


The Seekers is facilitated by one of our former pastors, Rev. David Keller. They discuss various topics related to the Bible, spirituality, justice, and personal growth. For now, The Seekers meet online each Sunday 9:30-10:30 (note the time difference) to participants to transition to church for in-person worship, if they choose. Contact Rev. Keller for the zoom link (

Currently the Seekers are discussing the presentations of Sister Elizabeth Johnson. In preparation for this Sunday’s discussion, you can view the first on here:

The Spirit of Justice class discusses books, articles, and podcasts about various social justice issues. This class is currently fully online. For the zoom link, please contact the church office ( or Lisa Morse ( 

Coffee & Chat is a more organic conversation in Morrow Park (just across Aiken Street) and will live stream for those joining in from home. For the zoom link, please contact the church office ( or Michele Jury (  


Sunday evenings beginning Sept 19th, 6:30-8:00 pm, online

Does your knowledge of the Hebrew Bible (or, the Christian Old Testament) feel like a grab bag of people, books, events, and ideas? This fall we’ll use Dr. Sandra Richter’s book and twelve-week video lecture series, The Epic of Eden to orient us in the time, geography, culture, and history of the Hebrew Bible. We’ll weave together the patterns of the story that runs from the Eden of the Garden to the garden of the New Jerusalem and how it related to God’s activity in our own lives.

Zoom link:

Meeting ID: 823 5451 2499


Saturday, November 13, 4:30-6:00 pm, in the Parlor. 

For years, Christians have argued, debated, and fought one another while “speaking the truth in love,” yet we are no closer to the grace-filled life Jesus modeled. Love Matters More is a workshop designed to help Christians learn to lovingly talk with folks on “opposite sides of the aisle,” and to shift our focus from collecting the “right” answers to loving others deeply and authentically. The workshop includes teaching, interactive exercises, and time for reflection geared towards offers a path forward beyond truth wars and legalistic religion to a love that matters more.

The workshop will be facilitated by Jared Byas, author of Love Matters More: How Fighting to Be Right Keeps Us From Loving Like Jesus and cohost of the podcast, The Bible for Normal People. Jared will also preach at our in-person worship gathering on Sunday, November 14th

Please RSVP to FREE copies Jared’s book, Love Matters More: How Fighting to Be Right Keeps Us From Loving Like Jesusare available for the first 20 people who RSVP (one copy per family).  

A Prayerful Quote  

God is not a “being” removed from creation, ruling it from outside in the manner of a patriarchal ruler; God is the source of being that underlies creation and grounds its nature and future potential for continual transformative renewal in biophilic mutuality.

–Rosemary Radford Ruether


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
Digital Tech Engangement SpecialistMichael Dodin