First Church Notes: 12.21.2019

News regarding the life and ministry of our wonderfully diverse and energized faith community


We are planning to give $5 Wendy’s gift cards to our guests at First Food & Friends this year as a Christmas gift. We will be collecting cash and checks for those cards during worship again on Sunday, December 22nd. The theme of the day from our lectionary scriptures is “Deliver.” May we deliver compassion and joy to our friends!


December is First Church’s month to volunteer at First Food & Friends, our weekly – every Saturday – meal ministry to anyone in need. (First Church has made a commitment to staff a volunteer team the last Saturday of every other month).     

Please consider volunteering to be part of this ministry on Saturday, December 28th. Come to Fellowship Hall at 9:00am.  Clean-up is done by 1:00pm.  

 Please email Karen Merrick at, by December 20th, if you are able to be there.  Any questions, please talk with Karen, Dave Keller or Fred Watts.

Thanks for considering being a part of this very important outreach ministry of First Church!


On January 5th after worship, the LGBTQIA+ Task Force will be watching the Pride Denied documentary and discussing why we as a community have/have not participated in the Pittsburgh Pride Parade in the past to help us discern our plans for this year. If you are interested in participating in this time of learning and discussion, please email Anais: to let her know. 

EcoMinistry News

Join us on January 14th at 7 pm for our 2020 planning meeting. One of the ideas is a daytime reading group on food, farming and agriculture. It’s a complicated topic and we are considering a Wendell Barry book as a place to start. If that is of interest to you, please join us.

And, thank you to all who gave to the carbon offset project. $1930 will be given to support two community projects that improve the quality of our environment.


Fat Tuesday before Lent is for pancakes, but Fat Saturday is for cake, birthday cake!  Please save the date of Saturday, February 22, 2020 for First Church’s “Fat Saturday Birthday Bash”.

There will be a table for each month of the year – decorated in a theme chosen by the host of that table who will make and decorate a delicious theme birthday cake.  Attendees will be asked to join the table corresponding to their birthday to enjoy cake, snacks and good conversation.   Volunteers willing to choose a month (it doesn’t have to be your birthday month) and host that table or anyone willing to organize/coordinate the tables, should email Karen Merrick (   May, July and August have been chosen, but the remaining months are open – first come, first served! AND…there will be entertainment! First Church is full of very talented people. Please consider sharing your talent either solo or with friends and contribute to the evening’s program. Register by contacting Tim Coles ( or Dave Keller (

More information to come, but for now – save the date and please consider volunteering for one of the following to make this event a success:

·         Host a table by yourself or with a friend (bake a cake and decorate it and the table in your chosen theme)

·         Organize/coordinate the host tables

·         Be part of the talent show!


Sponsored by the Pittsburgh District Anti-Racism Team      January – February 2020

Please join participants from across the Pittsburgh District who will be meeting in January and February 2020 to discuss challenging issues about race and racism. In light of the current environment across the country, it is incredibly important that we discuss these topics in our communities of faith.   

Participants are asked to attend four meetings, one each week. Since all three meetings each week will cover the same topics, attendees should feel free to participate in any one of the three. Here are the dates:

South Avenue UMC: Tuesdays at 7 PM – Jan. 21, Jan. 28, Feb. 4, and Feb. 11

Baldwin UMC:           Wednesdays at 7 PM – Jan. 22, Jan. 29, Feb. 5, and Feb. 12

McKnight UMC:        Thursdays at 7 PM – Jan. 23, Jan 30, Feb. 6Feb. 13

The teams leading these sessions expect to draw on a variety of resources, including the New York Times 1619 Project.

Please contact the Pittsburgh District Office to confirm your participation via email ( or phone call (412-281-7154). 

Additional information will be distributed soon!


As you un-decorate from your Christmas celebrations in January, please consider if you may have a decoration or two to donate to First Church. We are seeking pre-lit Christmas trees (white lights) of any size, blue, silver, or gold decorations of any kind.

You may bring them into the church office any time during the month of January.


If you have a new or gently used set of hats and/or gloves, we are seeking to replenish our Caring Cupboard as the weather can turn dangerously cold and affect those who have little to no shelter. You may drop them off at the church at any time.


Inspired, Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again, by Rachel Held Evans, will guide our conversation as we gather to discuss the stories, events, people and history of the Bible.  This class will be led by Pastor Tracy and all questions and comments are welcome.  Reading the book Inspired, ahead of the class may be helpful for you, but not required to participate in conversation. The class will meet in the parlor where we will be joined by the Seekers Class.


Sunday, December 22

  9:00am          Handbell Choir Rehearsal

  9:35am          Chancel Choir Rehearsal

  9:35am          Education for All Ages

11:00am          Worship in the Sanctuary

Monday, December 23

No Meetings Scheduled 

Tuesday, December 24

Church Office Closed

  7:45am          Susan Rupani Yoga

10:00am          Play Group

  1:00pm          East End Song Studio

  7:30pm          NA Reading Group

Wednesday, December 25

Christmas Day

Church Office Closed

7:30pm            NA

Thursday, December 26

 1:00pm           East End Song Studio

 2:00pm           Strengthen and Stretch

 7:00pm           Interplay          

Friday, December 27

12:00pm          AA – Cookies & Kisses

  1:00pm          East End Song Studio

  5:30pm          Women’s AA

Saturday, December 28

  9:00am          First Food & Friends    

Tracy Cox
DeaconAnais Hussian
Director of Music and Community Tim Coles
Director of Spiritual Formation Joe Smith
Administrative Secretary TBA
Office Assistant Sherry Kaiser
Building Maintenance Manager Curtis Mitchell
Custodians Lamont Hunter
Tacoma Woods
Hospitality Nick Solic
Music Intern Michael Dodin