First Church Notes for Dec. 18, 2022

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.

COVID-19 Update on Levels for Allegheny County

As of today, the aggregate level for Allegheny County is marked LOW. One factor within that designation is transmission rate. The transmission rate as of today in Allegheny County is Medium.

Because of the overall LOW designation, masking will be optional in the church building this coming Sunday. As always, we encourage one and all to make sure you are updated with the latest vaccine booster that is available right now.

If you are showing any symptoms of sickness at all we ask that you heartily consider staying home and testing. If you are at a higher risk level you are encouraged to mask inside the building. We will continue to have masks available.

Handel’s Messiah at Calvary UMC

Calvary UMC on Pittsburgh’s Northside is having their 10th Annual Sing-Along Concert of Handel’s Messiah.  The performance includes a professional chamber orchestra, soloists, our Festival Choir, and also audience participation.  The Calvary Festival Choir performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City in the Distinguished Concerts (DCINY) Messiah Concert 2018.  We always do two local performances.  Tickets are available for Saturday, December 17th and Sunday, December 18th, both at 4:00pm.  We are expecting a big comeback after COVID-19 and hundreds of tickets have been sold.  Tickets can be found at our website: (click on the “Purchase Tickets” banner.  If you have a larger group over 10, please call us for special pricing at (412) 231-2007.  When you come to Calvary UMC, 971 Beech Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15233, our parking attendants will guide you to a spot.  We are always family friendly and handicapped accessible.  Experience the Messiah with us!

Christmas Food Giveaway

The Joseph McCain and Park Place Methodist AME Church will host their 10th annual Christmas Food Giveaway on Dec. 16th and 17th.  They provide healthy foods to ease the holiday season that can be tough for some people. This foundation provides a way to help those that can’t afford good food. 

If you are interested in receiving food for yourself, your family, or friends and neighbors, please notify Monique McCain or the church office to reserve your food package.

Sound and Media Upgrades Fundraising

As you will know, since the beginning of the fall, we are raising funds for the Sound & Media Upgrades project. This is a significant opportunity to invest in our staff and lay participants to enhance creativity, connection, and outreach for the mission of First Church. The upgrades will be a critical tool for promoting our values and message and for re-imagining how we define community.  Some of the goals of this project are:

·         To provide accessible, high-quality experiences for all participants – in-person and on-line

·         To unify, as much as possible, the community of in-person and on-line participants

·         To maintain creativity and intimacy for staff and for participants that is authentic to our identity as a community

Our staff and leadership have spent a lot of time discerning how to create intimate, authentic experiences throughout the pandemic; and how to best serve our community, expand our community, and make our worship and other events as accessible and welcoming as possible. The sound and media upgrades will provide the tools for these goals.

Thanks to your generosity, the campaign by now has raised already more than $30,000 of our $45,000 goal and we should see some changes in our sanctuary early next year. If you have been thinking about your year-end giving, please consider making a contribution to this campaign. Thank you.

Black Lives Matter Prayer Vigils

Please consider joining the vigil at 6 pm on the first and second Wednesdays of each month!

Recently, 17 of us participated in the Prayer Vigil for Social Justice, at the corner of Centre and South Aiken, holding Black Lives Matter signs. Our candles glowing in the dark, we were inspired by Pastor Dave Keller’s reflections on the glory and worth of all human beings, how honor and glory given freely to others is not taking away in a zero-sum game, but how love multiplies endlessly. These vigils are a very important, loving witness to the people of the community who pass First Church! We are holding these vigils now on the first two Wednesdays of the month, at 6:00 PM. It is important to demonstrate our steadfastness on this busy street corner and speak and pray about the issues that constitute injustice. Numbers matter, so we encourage you to prayerfully consider your participation. Please also prayerfully consider how you can lead one of these vigils, sharing from your own personal journey to become an anti-racist. Please contact the office if you need more information or would like to contribute to this witness as a leader. You can also sign up to lead via this Doodle poll:

Spiritual Care Volunteers Needed

Are you compassionate?  A good listener? Spiritual care volunteers are needed to visit inpatients of Allegheny Health Network’s palliative care division. (We also have opportunities for telephone call volunteer teens.) These are “chaplain extenders,” as we only have one chaplain to cover five hospitals:  Allegheny General, Allegheny Valley, Forbes, Jefferson, and West Penn. No prior experience needed. Training and ongoing support is provided. Adults 22 and over are invited to apply. For more information, contact:  Pastor Kim Rapczak, Spiritual Care Coordinator for Palliative Care, 412-738-4650 or

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.

Sunday School at 9:45 AM

The Seekers is facilitated by one of our former pastors, Rev. David Keller. The Seekers discuss various topics related to the Bible, spirituality, justice, and personal growth. We meet each Sunday 9:40-10:40, in the Parlor. Note: Contact the church office if you would like to participate in the class via phone or zoom.

During these four Sundays in Advent we are being led by Alice Riecks using a study by Amy Jill Levine.  Alice led this four Sunday Advent presentation/discussion at the church to which she and Chuck belonged before coming to Pittsburgh earlier this year.  We know Amy Jill Levine always bring insights and humor to any study she has written.

Coffee & Chat is a more organic conversation in that takes place in the church library (off of the Gathering Space). Just pour a cup of coffee or tea and pull up a chair.

Children and Youth

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

Older children and youth are invited Joe and Rudeene in the courtyard or Fellowship Hall (depending on the weather) for games and discussion.

The nursery (just outside the sanctuary) is staffed by our loving and nurturing childcare professional, Emily Burke 9:30 – 12:30 each Sunday.

Joe’s Bible Study

Fridays, 1:00-2:30 pm, online.

Painting the Stars: Science, Religion, and an Evolving Faith. Featuring more than a dozen leading theologians, this curriculum celebrates the communion of science and faith and explores the promise of evolutionary Christian spirituality.

Please RSVP to

A Prayerful Quote

There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others.

–Michelle Obama

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 Tacoma Woods
Freddie Griffin
Digital Tech Engagement SpecialistMichael Dodin
Youth & Community InternRudeene Jackson