First Church Notes for September 4, 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.

Office Closed – Labor Day

The church office will be closed on 9/5 for Labor Day. Have a happy long weekend!

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.

State of the United Methodist Church

On Sunday, August 14, 2022, after the worship service, a presentation and Q&A session was conducted to educate the congregation about the state of our church and the effects of this year’s annual conference on this congregation and the church as a whole. The event took place in the Fellowship Hall and was live-streamed on our YouTube channel. The event was also videotaped for later viewing. For those of you who missed the event in person or live online or who want to refresh their memories about what was presented, you may view the entire recorded session on YouTube by logging on to on your computer’s or phone’s internet browser.

Black Lives Matter Prayer Vigils

Leadership Council recently 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 church office at if you need more information or would like to contribute to this witness as a leader.

Summit on Race and Faith

Are you beginning to become involved in anti-racism?  Are you a seasoned ally and want to stretch? Then the SUMMIT ON RACE AND FAITH gathering on October 20-22, 2022 is for YOU??!!  The intersection of race and faith will be engaged so that we may become a conference of anti-racist congregations.

This summit organized by the Conference Commission of Religion and Race in collaboration with other groups will feature Bible Study, worship, panel presentations, and table talks.  You will be able to name your next action steps as you depart.

Sessions will be both in person and virtual. Registration coming soon – Check the event page for up to date information. 


Working Towards Anti-Racism

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 (

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.

Christian Education and Spiritual Formation

The Seeker’s Class will resume meeting beginning Sunday, September 11 from 9:40-10:40 AM in the parlor. We are 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.

A Prayerful Quote

I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.

–Nelson Mandela

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