First Church Notes for Nov. 13, 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.

All-Church Thanksgiving Dinner

After a long two-year absence, our annual All Church Thanksgiving dinner will take place on Sunday, November 13th, immediately after worship.  Once again, the Warren UMC community of faith is invited to worship with us that day and invited to the dinner.  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 and good fellowship! 

Rally and Press Conference

In our discernment about anti-racism, we have started to think about what reparations can mean in our Reparations Study Group (please watch for more information about ways to be involved). Locally, there is an opportunity to support this work of repair by helping Bethel AME Church in their quest to have land returned to them that was taken from them by eminent domain in 1957. When their church was demolished to make space for the Civic Arena, it also destroyed the first elementary school for Black students in Pittsburgh as well as other programs for Black residents. Pastor Dale Snyder is inviting us as part of a group of other congregations that are looking to be allies to share an important update on this path to reversing the harm and reinvesting in the health and safety of Black people in Pittsburgh. A press conference and rally will take place on November 18, at 11:00 AM at their current location, Bethel AME Church, 2720 Webster Ave. in the Hill District. More details can be found here:

Invitation to View the Movie “Till”

The Wrestling with Racism Team is planning to view the movie Till on Sunday, November 20th. You are invited to join us for the viewing and are welcome to have dinner with us afterwards. Since the theater schedules for the 20th have not been published, we are still trying to determine the time and place. Please stay tuned.

This movie is the story of 14-year-old Emmett Till who was brutally murdered in 1955.

The Wrestling with Racism Team will be discussing the film during its next monthly meeting on December 5th at 6 pm.

If you have questions, please contact the church office. 

Becoming an Anti-Racist Congregation

As we contemplate our journey of becoming an Anti-Racist Congregation, First United Methodist Church of Pittsburgh invites each of you to join us in an IN-PERSON session with our consultant Dr. Sharon Higginbothan on Saturday, December 3rd, from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM Every one of us is asked to contribute their gifts to the discussion of what this journey means for the future of our congregation. We will meet in the church building in the “Wesley Quad” downstairs. Coffee, tea, and other beverages will be provided. Please bring your own lunch.

Sound and Media Upgrades Fundraising

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.

We are launching a fundraising campaign that will give all of us the opportunity to become a part of this effort.  Our fundraising goal is $45,000.00. Please consider making a contribution. Thank you.

Black Lives Matter Prayer Vigils

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

Last Wednesday, 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 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.

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.

What Is the Bible?

Joe has created a series of short video to tackle the questions What is the Bible? And how should we read it? The series is available now on our YouTube channel, Be sure to subscribe to be notified of new videos each week.  

Joe’s New Bible Study

NEW DAY AND TIME! Fridays beginning November 11th, 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

If there’s a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child. If there’s a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for their prescription, who has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer – even if it’s not my grandparent. If there’s an Arab-American or Mexican-American family being rounded up by John Ashcroft without benefit of an attorney or due process, I know that that threatens my civil liberties. And I don’t have to be a woman to be concerned that the Supreme Court is trying to take away a woman’s right, because I know that my rights are next. It is that fundamental belief – I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper – that makes this country work.

–Barack 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