First Church Notes for Sept. 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.


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.


FUMC Greeters Needed for Sunday Morning Worship

First Church is known for its warm hospitality – the mantra being, “All are Welcome and Belong here.”  Our Greeters on Sunday mornings are an important way we demonstrate our welcome statement and this hospitality to all.

Currently, we need more Greeters to offer friendly greetings and welcome to members/guests and hand out bulletins at the Sunday morning worship service.

If you would like to be a Greeter for one Sunday a month or possibly a substitute Greeter (when a regular team member is absent on a Sunday), please see Karen Merrick or email the office at office@fumcpittsburgh.org for more details.  We encourage you to consider becoming a part of this important and meaningful ministry at First Church!


Discussing “Reparations”

This word has been getting some media attention lately. Some of us at First Church will soon be discussing what this term does, and doesn’t, mean and how we feel about the idea of reparations.

For five Tuesdays, beginning October 4, we will read and discuss Reparations: A Christian Call for Repentance and Repair by Duke L. Kwon and Gregory Thompson

We will also have opportunities to share our reflections with others in the First Church community by way of our new reparations bulletin board. 

If you are interested in joining in this exploration of reparations as a part of our anti-racism work, please contact the office at office@fumcpittsburgh.org.


Black Lives Matter Prayer Vigils

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

Last Wednesday, fourteen of us participated in the Prayer Vigil for Social Justice, most of us holding Black Lives Matter signs, as hundreds of people passed the corner of Centre and South Aiken. One African American woman who had just seen her doctor drove by and parked so that she could take pictures. She spoke at length with one of our members, expressed how deeply moved she was by the vigil, and indicated that she would like to join us for worship! Others who were walking by took photos and thanked us while oodles of drivers honked their horns or waved. These vigils are a very  important, loving witness to the people of the community who pass First Church!

In August, the Leadership Council deliberated extensively about the continuation and format of our Prayer Vigils for Social Justice. They have been an important part of our witness for Black Lives Matter and Social Justice. During the height of the pandemic, these Wednesday evening vigils were actually the only in-person event that was held at our church. For a while now, after re-starting in-person worship services, they have been held only once a month, on the second Sunday of every month. We are thankful to all who have supported these vigils and want to continue them as part of our work and focus to become an anti-racist congregation, as a faith-based statement for change in society. Beginning in September, we will hold these vigils again more frequently, 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, and, if you feel called, to even lead one of the vigils. Please contact the office at office@fumcpittsburgh.org if you need more information or would like to contribute to this witness as a leader.

The next vigils will be Sept. 14th, Oct 5th, and Oct 12th.


WPA Antiracism Summit

The Western Pennsylvania Conference Commission on Race and Religion invites you to register for the October 20 – 22 WPA Antiracism Summit – “Towards an Anti-Racist Church: The Intersection of Faith and Race.”  The 3 day summit features speakers, panels, cultural workshops, bible study, reflection, discussion, presentations, soul care,  gallery of videos of church and community groups engaged in antiracism and opportunities for action, a resource list and worship!  Opening worship is being led by Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi.  The summit will be held in-person and online and is geared toward those who are currently involved in anti-racism learning and are ready to move into action and/or those currently involved in advocacy activities.  For more information and to register: 

www.wpaumc.org/eventdetail/16538538


Working Towards Antiracism

As part of our journey towards becoming an anti-racist church, a small group  is beginning to talk about Reparations: A Christian Call for Repentance and Repair by Duke L. Kwon and Gregory Thompson. At our recent meeting, we agreed the group will work towards two goals 1) to educate ourselves and our congregation about the meaning of reparations as a part of our faith; 2) to  concretely support Bethel AME in its struggle to seek justice for the URA’s seizure of church property by eminent domain in the 1950’s.

Most Pittsburghers are aware of the razing of the Lower Hill in the 1950s to allow for construction of the Civic Arena. We are less familiar with the story of those who were displaced. In addition to the families and businesses forced to move, a number of churches were also destroyed. The story of Bethel AME is told in part by this article:

Oldest Black church in Pittsburgh calls out racism, seeks reparations (publicsource.org)

We encourage all members of First Church to read this account to familiarize themselves with the historical struggle of a particular Black church with whom we share spiritual roots. We will be endeavoring to more concretely tell this story to the congregation so that we can decide how First Church will support Bethel AME.


Pittsburgh District Lay Servant Ministries School – Fall 2022

The Fall 2022 Pittsburgh District Lay Servant Ministry School is pleased to be offering the classes listed below to help laity respond to their personal call in ministry and the life of the church. Each class is being held on different dates, allowing you to take more than one class if you wish.  There is a $15 fee per class plus you need to purchase the class book.  This flyer has more information.  You may register online here or through the flyer.  The Book of Discipline (¶251) urges Church Lay Leaders to become Certified Lay Servants.

  • The BASIC Course (Saturdays, 9/24 and 10/8, 9 am – 2:30 pm)
  • Spiritual Gifts (Saturdays, 10/15, 10/29 and 11/12, 1 – 4:30 pm)
  • UM Polity (Sundays, 10/2, 10/9, 10/16 and 10/30, 2 – 5:30 pm)

Pittsburgh District United Women in Faith (UMW) Annual Meeting

Baldwin Community UMC, 5001 Baptist Rd, Pittsburgh, PA 15236   Saturday, September 17, 2022 9:00 AM to 12:30 PM

Achieving Hope and Endurance in Our Daily Lives:  It’s no secret that the pandemic has changed our lives, but how can we change for the better?  How can we come together to support our fellow brothers and sisters in this still-unfamiliar world?  Your District Leadership Team are extremely excited to offer you a wonderful Program with a Panel Discussion with people from different disciplines all discussing how we can come together and support each other.  Please invite you family and friends to hear this much needed education and discussion. This program is for all people, not just women!  8:30 Gathering, Program begins at 9:00. We will end by 12:30 after lunch.  More details are in this letter. RSVP by Sunday, September 11 (contact office for RSVP email address).


Job Posting – Please Share

Associate Director (First Food and Friends)

This is a part-time position.  The Associate Director is assigned to work at least two Saturdays/month: on the first and fourth week of the month, averaging 10-15 hours per month.  In addition, the Associate Director will oversee the Saturday program in the Director’s absence. 

The Associate Director will assist the Director in preparing and serving meals every Saturday with the volunteers.  The Associate Director will have the following job duties:

   *Report directly to the Director.

   *Pick up assigned weekly donations; including weighing, packaging, and storing the products in the kitchen.

   *Assist volunteers in prep work, preparing meals, serving, and packaging the snack bags and other preparations. 

   *Assist with cleanup in the facility including the kitchen area. 

   *Meet with the Director every fourth week in the month.

   *Completion of the Allegheny County Food Service Training within 90 days of employment. (This is required.)

   *Completion of miscellaneous duties assigned by Director.

Additional requirements/duties:

   *Associate Director will receive mileage reimbursement for driving to pick up the donations.

   *Associate Director will complete Act 33 as a condition of employment.

   *Associate Director will be paid for one month trial period, while training with the Director.


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 

The Seekers is facilitated by one of our former pastors, Rev. David Keller. They discuss various topics related to the Bible, spirituality, justice, and personal growth. For now, The Seekers meet each Sunday 9:40-10:40, in the Parlor. (Note: The Seekers class is working on devising a better way to also include our ZOOM members, but that is still being arranged.)

The agenda this September 11 and 18 is to discuss the theology of the sacrament of communion. Please read Luke 24:13-35 and John 6:48-59. We will also walk through the wording, intent, and flow of our communion liturgy found in our hymnals.

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?

Coming soon!! Follow our channel, YouTube.com/FUMCPitt to catch this short series of short videos. 


Joe’s Sunday Night Bible Study

Resumes October 23rd, 6:30-8:00 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 joe@fumcpittsburgh.org


Dinner and Discussion with Keegan Osinski

Saturday, October 22, 5:30 pm Dinner, 6:00 Lecture

Baldwin Community United Methodist Church – Asbury Hall

5001 Baptist Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15236   

Keegan Osinski is a theologian and author of Queering Wesley, Queering the Church. This summer, a small group of First Church members studied the book and found it both enlightening and challenging. We are pleased to be able to continue the conversation with the author in October. You are invited to join whether you have read the book or not.

Please RSVP to 412-882-9300 or info@baldwincommunityumc.com

Keegan will also preach at First Church on Sunday, October 23rd.


A Prayerful Quote

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.

–Rachel Carson


Church Staff

Pastor
Tracy Cox
pastortracy@fumcpittsburgh.org
DeaconAnais Hussian
anais@fumcpittsburgh.org
Director of Music and Community Tim Coles
timcoles@fumcpittsburgh.org
Director of Spiritual Formation Joe Smith
joe@fumcpittsburgh.org
Office Administrator Gwendolen Jackson
Office office@fumcpittsburgh.org
Office Assistant Sherrie Kaiser
Building Maintenance Manager Nelson Viola
nelson@fumcpittsburgh.org
Custodians Tacoma Woods
Freddie Griffin
Digital Tech Engagement SpecialistMichael Dodin
michael@fumcpittsburgh.org
Youth & Community InternRudeene Jackson