First Church Notes for May 7, 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.

Marathon Sunday

Come to First Church on Marathon Sunday! But come early as the roads will be blocked off for the runners. On Sunday, May 7th, there will be no worship service at First Church due to the Pittsburgh Marathon going right by our building (Baum Blvd). But we will have a welcoming presence and open doors at the church on that Sunday. 

As is our tradition, we will be handing out oranges to the runners and cheering them on!  Fred and Lee’s band will be playing uplifting music! So please come early on Sunday, May 7th to help cut up oranges and be around to show First Church hospitality to any marathon participant or spectator!

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

Fellowship Hour on May 14th will be Birthday Sunday, hosted by the Hospitality team. Come celebrate our May birthdays!

Fellowship hosts for May 21st and 28th will be members of the Coffee & Chat Sunday School Class.

First Annual Rev. Paul D. Taylor Antiracism Award Dinner

You’re invited to the 1st Annual Rev. Paul D. Taylor Antiracism Award Dinner on Saturday, May 20, 5 8pm at Calvary UMC (971 Beech Avenue Pittsburgh).  Rev. Taylor labored tirelessly to dismantle institutional racism in the corporate world and in the church. In honor of his dedication and service, the Pittsburgh District Antiracism Team (Pittsburgh ART) is establishing the Rev. Paul D. Taylor Anti-Racism Award.  This year’s recipient is Tracy Merrick.  To learn more and register for the event visit

Warren Jazz Coffee House Is Resuming!

We’re excited to welcome The Brooks Brothers on Sunday, May 21, 4:00 pm at Warren UMC! Tickets are $15 and can be reserved or purchased from Nancy Ross or Tracy Merrick by Wednesday May 17th when Nancy will pick up the tickets for you. You can also purchase tickets at the door. Checks can be made out to Warren UMC.

WPC Garden Day

Volunteers are needed to help plant the Western PA Conservancy flower garden on Saturday May 27th at 9am.  We’ll be planting the flowers and mulching.  Tools will be provided, but please bring your own gardening gloves.  Contact the church office for more information or questions.

A related update on the raised beds installed above the WPC garden…they will be back in use again this year!  These specially designed planters is WPC’s first (there are now several more) ADA-accessible flower garden to provide gardening opportunities for people with disabilities or other physical limitations.  The program had been paused for several years due to COVID, but is re-starting this year and will be planted in early May.

PGH Wear Orange – National Gun Violence Awareness Day

PGH Wear Orange Day will be held on June 2, 2023, in honor of victims and survivors of gun violence.

Pittsburgh Pride Parade – Save the Date: June 3, 2023

The Pittsburgh Pride Revolution 2023 will be held June 2-4 in downtown Pittsburgh and on the North Side. (

The Pittsburgh Pride March & Parade has been scheduled for Saturday, June 3rd with a start time of noon.

This year, First Church participants will be joining Sewickley United Methodist Church and other Pittsburgh District United Methodist congregations. The current plan is to march in the parade on June 3rd and to provide an information table the afternoons of June 2nd and 3rd.

Please plan to join this celebration and be a witness of First Church’s love for ALL people!

Additional details will be shared in the coming weeks and a link to a sign-up sheet will be available soon.    

If you have questions about this event, please contact the church office.

Save the Date: RMN Convocation 2023

Reconciling Ministries Network Convocation will be held Oct. 13-15 at First United Methodist Church of Charlotte. We will provide more information on this event as we receive it.

Save the Date: Conference Events

WPA Annual Conference:  June 14-17, 2023 in Erie, PA

UMC General Conference: April 23 – May 3, 2024 in Charlotte, NC

WPA Annual Conference:  June 6-8, 2024 in Erie, PA

Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference: July 10-12, 2024 in PITTSBURGH, PA – we may be asked to assist!

First Food and Friends Items Needed

For the month of March, Monique McCain is gathering pasta and sauce for First Food and Friends.

FFF is trying to offset the reduction in SNAP allowances by providing some pantry staples for individuals and families, so be on the lookout for updates about needs.

Hands-On Mission

On May 21, we will be packing Snack Bags for the Caring Cupboard.  Activity will take place in the Fellowship Hall immediately after the Worship Service.  If you have any questions or would like to contribute items for the Snack Bags, contact the church office.

Other Hands-On opportunities this month include Marathon Sunday hospitality, and planting of the Western Conservancy gardens.  See more information included herein.

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:

Lectio Divina

Sunday, April 30 and May 14, 21

9:45 am, in the Nursery

This small group experience, which began during Lent, will continue for the next five Sundays.  New participants are invited and welcome!  Together we will learn and practice Lectio Divina, a peaceful method of listening, reflecting and discussing a reading from the Bible as the Spirit leads us.  Each class will include:

  • Welcome and check-in
  • Prayer
  • Scripture Reading
  • Quiet Reflection 
  • Discussion

There is no homework and there are no prerequisites; just a real opportunity to connect and reflect with others in our church community. The group is being co-lead by Sharon McCarthy and Donna Anderson. 

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.

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

No Godly Play this Sunday, May 7, but there are many Godly Play videos available on the FUMC YouTube channel.

Miss Helen and Miss Becky will be back on May 14 with more important stories about the life of John Wesley.  Last week we heard the story of John’s experience at Aldersgate, which helped to shape his future ministry.  And we’ll continue to work on a special project that helps us to remember all of the important things we learned about Bees.

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.

A Prayerful Quote

Nothing contributes so much to tranquilize the mind as a steady purpose – a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye.

–Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

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