First Church Notes for Sept. 25, 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 for more details.  We encourage you to consider becoming a part of this important and meaningful ministry at First Church!

Black Lives Matter Prayer Vigils

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

Recently, 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 if you need more information or would like to contribute to this witness as a leader. You can also sign up via this Doodle poll:

The next vigils will be 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:

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)

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. 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.)

This Sunday, Sept. 25th, we will continue to discuss the text and theology of our two sacraments: baptism and communion.

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, 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

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

A Prayerful Quote

Some rabbis say that, at birth, we are each tied to God with a string, and that every time we sin, the string breaks. To those who repent of their sins, especially in the days of Rosh Hashanah, God sends the angel Gabriel to make knots in the string, so that the humble and contrite are once again tied to God. Because each one of us fails, because we all lose our way on the path to righteousness from time to time, our strings are full of knots. But, the rabbis like to say, a string with many knots is shorter than one without knots. So the person with many sins but a humble heart is closer to God.

–Rachel Held Evans

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