First Church Notes for Jan. 29, 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, 19th, and 26th.

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 2nd, 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

Monday February 27th, 7 pm on Zoom

As a part of our work to become an anti-racist congregation, some of us have been reading about the ideas and practices of reparations.

On Feb 27th, for discussion we will provide a summary of the themes in Reparations: A Christian Call for Repentance and Repair. We will also provide examples from other sources of past and proposed practices of reparations.

Prior reading is not necessary, but if you want to do some, our library has several copies of Reparations: A Christian Call for Repentance and Repair. If you don’t want to tackle the whole book, chapters 5-6 would be the most helpful. More information to follow next week.

Service Projects

Thank you to all who participated in the Martin Luther King Day service project last Sunday. We assembled over 60 snack, hygiene and underwear packages to fill the Caring Cupboard. We have packages in inventory to replenish the Cupboard when needed. Our Just Worship group assembled 16 breakfast bundles to be placed in the Cupboard. Many thanks for a great collaborative effort!

In February, we will be celebrating Super Bowl Sunday by donating cans of soup.  More information to come!

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 be discussing the complementary and divergent aspects of the area of Psychology and Spiritual Development.  We will explore how each discipline can enhance our understanding of human behavior and broaden our perspective of spiritual growth. The class will be led by Mary Brand, Ph.D., Psychologist.

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

You, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you. Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my cry of supplication. In the day of my trouble I call on you, for you will answer me.

–Psalm 86:5-7 (NRSV)

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