First Church Notes for Feb. 5, 2023

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 LOW.

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.

Fellowship Hour

Members of the Preachers’ Aid Committee will be hosting fellowship time after worship on Feb. 12th and 26th (the 19th is the Chinese New Year Dinner).

Save the Dates: Widening the Circle of Discernment

First United Methodist Church of Pittsburgh continues with its Widening the Circle of Discernment series with Dr. Sharon Higginbothan as we continue our journey of becoming an Anti-Racist Congregation. Please mark your calendars for:

  • February 16th, 2023, 6:00 PM Online (1 1/2 hour, Zoom format)
  • March 2nd, 2023, 6:00 PM Online (1 1/2 hour, Zoom format)
  • April 15th, 2023, 9:00 AM …3:00 PM (In-Person)

Reparations: An Invitation for Conversation

Reparations: An Invitation for Conversation: Monday February 27th, 7 pm

The Reparations Advocacy Group invites you to a congregation-wide meeting on reparations on Monday February 27th, 7 pm (On-line, 1 ½ hour, Zoom format). This is one part of our exploration on how to become an anti-racist congregation. Here is the Zoom link:

Presenters will provide brief descriptions of different aspects to reparations and examples of past and current practices of reparations. Discussion will follow about these forms of reparations and what this could mean for Christian churches in particular.  Please note, this is not a regular meeting of the reparations team but an informational meeting for anyone wanting to learn more.

Note from Bethel AME

Pastor Tracy Cox, staff, and members of First United Methodist Church,

Greetings and blessings to you.

We the members of Bethel AME Church, Pittsburgh, PA, THANK YOU very much for your support and generous donation towards our Bethel AME Church Reparations Initiative project. As we continue our walk and reparation due Bethel AME please keep us in prayers and thoughts. Again thank you.

–Rev. Dr. Dale B. Snyder, Pastor

–Members of Bethel AME Church

–Rev. Prudence L. Harris, Assistant Minister and Chair of Fundraising Project Reparation

Hands-On Mission

February 12 is Super Bowl Sunday.  We’ll also be celebrating Souper Bowl Sunday, collecting cans of soup to share with First Food and Friends.  Collection will be during worship on the 12th.

There is now a donation box on top of the Aiken Avenue Caring Cupboard.  Look for the hearts!  Miscellaneous donations (toiletries, snacks and other small items) can be left in the box.  We’ll empty the box regularly and move items to the inside of the cupboard or wherever they are most needed.

If you have any questions, contact the church office at 412.681.8222 or

Save the Date: Chinese New Year All-Church Dinner – Feb. 19, 2023

Mark your calendars and prepare to celebrate Chinese New Year with our annual Chinese dinner on Sunday, February 19th, immediately after worship.  Dumplings, spring rolls, and noodles with vegetables will be on the menu.  The cost of the dinner is $6.00 for Adults, $4.00 for Children under 12, not to exceed $20.00 per family.  First time guests and college students, no charge.

Come and join us for good food, good fellowship and to celebrate the year of the rabbit! 

Exciting News about the Sound and Media Upgrades

Thanks to the generosity of many in the congregation, the fundraising for the Sound & Media Upgrades project is now getting close to our goal of raising $45,000. While we are now past the 80% mark with $38,000 raised, there is still the opportunity to make a contribution to this significant investment into enhancing 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

A milestone has been reached also for the project itself. This week, all the equipment has arrived and technicians from the vendor are starting the process of installation. While this will take a while, and we cannot expect the systems to be operational for some time yet, keep an eye out for the visual changes in the sanctuary.

Thank you again for your generosity.

Black Lives Matter Prayer Vigils

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

Our Prayer Vigils for Social Justice, at the corner of Centre and South Aiken, where we hold Black Lives Matter signs and, during the winter season, candles that glowi in the dark, are a very important, loving witness to the people of the community who pass First Church! These vigils are held now on the first two Wednesdays of each month, at 6:00 PM, for about 30 minutes. It is important to demonstrate our stand on the questions of social justice on this busy street corner while we reflect on how we can become Living Stones that act against the racism that still pervades our society. 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 church 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:

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.

The Seekers Class will discuss some refreshing theological passages by Fredrick Buechner this Sunday. David will lead the class this Sunday. February 12 and 19 Mary Brand will continue leading us on the relationship between spirituality and religion. February 26 Joe Smith will begin leading a series of weeks with us.

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

The unknown is where possibility glitters.

–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