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First Church Notes for July 23 2023

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.

Save the Date – Membership Journey Lunch and Conversation

July 23rd and Aug 20th after worship. More details to follow.

Join Us July 30th – "If Stones Could Talk" Come Celebrate With Us

July 30th after worship, we will celebrate that we retired the remaining loan from the church construction and project that ended in 2010. It's time to reflect on and retell the story. Join us for storytelling, a gallery that shows key developments in our building's history, food and fellowship.

Art Camp

August 7th-9th, 6:00-8:00 pm

For all ages!! Dinner is provided. Come all three nights or just one. If you think that you’re “not creative” or “not artistic,” then this art camp is especially for you! The goal is not to make something beautiful (though we will do that, too!). The goal is to reflect the image of our Creator and to hear from the parts of ourselves that are tamped down by over-thinking everything.

Come play!

Please RSVP to

First Food and Friends Items Needed

First Food and Friends is gathering cereal for the month of July. FFF is trying to offset the reduction in SNAP allowances by providing some pantry staples for individuals and families, so be on the lookout for updates about needs.

Additionally, FFF is looking for a free stackable washer/dryer. Please contact the church office if you know of anyone who might be willing to donate.

All-Church Picnic – Save the Date, September 17th!

The Annual First Church Picnic will be on Sunday, September 17th, immediately following worship. Please mark this date on your calendars and plan to come and enjoy the fun!

More details to follow in the next couple weeks . . .

Reconciling Ministries Network Convocation: October 13-15, 2023

The national Reconciling Ministries Network organization has periodically conducted Convocations as educational, inspirational, and organizing events. The next “Convo” will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina on October 13 – 15, 2023.

Please use the following link to learn more about this amazing event:

A number of folks from First Church have already indicated an interest in attending! If you are so inclined, please let Tracy Merrick or Joe Smith know. There may be an opportunity to share transportation.

Please note:

  • The price breaks for early bird registration end July 31st!

  • The link to the Convo website identifies: costs for the event, accommodations options, and limited scholarship possibilities. As soon as specific presenters are known, the website will also include the worship leaders and the array of breakout sessions.

Please consider taking advantage of this great opportunity and please pass this information to anyone who might be interested in attending!

If you have questions concerning CONVO, please contact the church office:

Celebrating 40 years of the Reconciling movement

John Wesley encouraged Methodists toward perfection in the lifelong pursuit of love. Love looks like affirmation in the face of persecution, like kinship in the face of isolation, and like courage in the face of despair. It is in that spirit that we’re gathering on October 13-15 at First United Methodist Church in Charlotte, NC. Pre-Convocation workshops will be offered on October 12th, and post-Convo workshops will be offered on October 16th.

This year, we kick off the celebration of 40 years as a movement and a people purposed for justice. We invite you to join us in Charlotte to reflect on our history and boldly claim the future of the Church for all God’s children. There’s work to do, and there’s joy to share. And we want to do it all with you.

Special Music Requested

If you are interested in providing music for one of our summer worship services, please contact Tim Coles or the church office and we’ll be happy to oblige!

Covid-19 Recommendations

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.

Hands-On Mission

Many thanks for the support of our Caring Cupboard projects. The supplies in the Caring Cupboard have helped many friends and neighbors who stop in during the week, or who come on Saturday for the community meal.

In August, we will be working with First Food & Friends on several projects. Keep an eye on this space for more details.

Black Lives Matter Prayer Vigils

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

Our Prayer Vigils for Social Justice, at the corner of Centre and South Aiken, where we hold Black Lives Matter signs and, during the winter season, candles that glow in the dark, are a very important, loving witness to the people of the community who pass First Church! These vigils are held now on the first two Wednesdays of each month, at 6:00 PM, for about 30 minutes. It is important to demonstrate our stand on the questions of social justice on this busy street corner while we reflect on how we can become Living Stones that act against the racism that still pervades our society. 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.

Sunday School Will Resume In the Fall

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. During the summer the Seekers Class will meet in the parlor for casual conversation Sunday mornings at 9:30.

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

“It cannot be that the people should grow in grace unless they give themselves to reading. A reading people will always be a knowing people”.

--John Wesley

In our Godly Play room, we have two books that we read together on the MLK Day holiday – “Who Was Martin Luther King, Jr.?” and “What Was the March on Washington?”

There are SOOO many great books in the “Who Was” and “What Was” series. We can learn about the lives and accomplishments of well-known historical people and living people, and about famous events in history. There are books about Presidents (George Washington and Thomas Jefferson), people from politics (Michelle Obama and Ruth Bader Ginsberg), sports (Tom Brady and Simone Biles), movies (Stephen Spielberg), black history (Frederick Douglass and George Washington Carver), Pittsburgh history (Andrew Carnegie and Henry Heinz).

Who would you like to learn more about? We could learn together!

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.

First Church Staff



Director of Music and Community

Director of Spiritual Formation

Office Administrator

Gwendolen Jackson

Office Assistant

Sherrie Kaiser

Building Maintenance Manager


Tacoma Woods

Freddie Griffin

Digital Tech Engagement Specialist

Michael Dodin

Youth & Community Intern

Rudeene Jackson


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