Pastor’s Message

A New Start for the Newsletter

For the past few months, the church staff, along with the help of Communications Chair Art Shirley, have been looking at updated, economic-friendly ways for us to improve the church’s newsletter. We are excited to share that we will now be able to assemble the weekly newsletter with photographs, our new church logo, an easily readable format, and a much lower cost. With continued increases in the costs of postal mailing, we can be good stewards of our resources by distributing the newsletter electronically.

We know this will be a big change, and here’s what we need from you to ensure you stay updated on everything First United Methodist:

Contact the church office by Wednesday, January 31, and let us know if you would prefer to receive the newsletter via text message (through Remind) or email.

Have you seen our beautiful posts that Julie, Stacy, and Jessi have sent out with church announcements and on social media over the past couple of years? Those were made on a program called Canva, which we will use for the newsletter, too. We can’t wait for you to see how bright and beautiful it is!

We know this will be a big change, and thank you for understanding. We look forward to hearing from you!

all good things,
dr. darian

Pastor’s Message – December 19, 2023

One More 2023 Pastoral Letter

Dearly Beloved Friends (And Flock),

This is our last newsletter of 2023, and as I reflect on the past year, I understand why the New Testament writers always began and ended their letters with words of thanksgiving. Paul, Peter, James, John, and any anonymous writers expressed how grateful they were for the letter’s recipients. Let me begin with the same blessing that I give thanks to God our Father through our Lord Jesus Christ for the ways I see the Holy Spirit at work in you.

I’ve had to write you a number of pastoral letters this year, and it felt appropriate to end with one that looks upwards & forward. Now is the opportunity for us to live out what we believe, and what we believe in is resurrection. New life. New beginnings. Miracles. We are already showing signs of such new birth! Two words that the Lord keeps impressing upon me for 2024 are gratitude & generosity. I will share more in the Epiphany worship series about these words and what they might mean for us.

I will update you that the finance committee will meet this week to discuss and hopefully approve our budget for next year. By the end of this week, we should also have most of our church officers in place and ready to approve. Both officers and the budget will be distributed to our active members soon after. In early January, we will talk about stewardship as well, how you might commit not only your monetary gifts but the gifts of your hands, feet, and hearts.

I give thanks for each of your hearts. It is an honor to serve as your pastor, shepherd, and friend. Let us take our sheep lives into 2024 with gratitude and generosity!

all good things to each of you,
dr. darian

Pastor’s message – December 12, 2023

More Glory Sightings

On behalf of the Staff Parish Committee, I’m delighted to share that Gail Foote has accepted the position of office manager, to begin on January 1, 2024. Gail is no stranger to our church’s membership or staff. She has served as Director of Family Ministries in the past and is involved in many areas of church life. Most likely, if you are reading this newsletter, then you have gotten a text from Gail! Her gifts of hospitality and encouragement, among others, will be most welcome as she returns to the staff.

We’re also thankful that our new pianist, Kindal Gammill, will start playing weekly in January. These two “newest” members of the staff have something in common that I believe is so important: the Holy Spirit led them to us, and they answered a “nudge” from the Holy Spirit. Glory sightings emerge when we respond to these leadings and nudges.

When the angel Gabriel visits Mary and tells her that she will bear a son named Jesus, the Savior of the world, Mary asks a legitimate question: HOW? Gabriel responds by saying, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you: (Luke 1:35).

The same Spirit that came upon Mary is upon us. We are overshadowed by the same God who brought forth eternal life. What have we to fear? Let us give thanks for all the ways that God’s glory is shining, and may his Light shine through us.

all good things to each of you,
dr. darian

Pastor’s Message – December 5, 2023

Stewarding the Season

What a beautiful start we have had to the Advent season with Sunday’s worship service, fellowship meal, and outing for our youth to go ice skating! And we have even more joy in store next Sunday, December 10, with the Blessing of the Tree. Don’t forget to bring an unwrapped toy that you’ll bring forward in the worship service. We’ll look forward to sharing these alongside our blessing box this month.

We are in a season when we are more aware than ever of God’s blessings. Normally by this time of the year we have shared with you three things: the budget for next year, a stewardship campaign, and a list of upcoming officers for next year. Please know that all of these are all still in progress right now, and you will be hearing more about them soon. With many changes in our congregation this year, we’re taking our time on these important, administrative matters and adapting just as we have made adjustments to some of our annual traditions and activities.

One thing that I am committed to improving everyday as your pastor and shepherd is communication. As we enter a new calendar year, know that the staff, church leadership and I will be following up on these three important items with clarity and integrity. In fact, I am really excited to share with you more about all of these in the weeks to come!

What I do ask of you right now is to steward wisely the time God has given us with practices of prayer and thanksgiving. Every day, let us pause to name where we’ve seen God’s glory and where we need his grace. Every week, let us set aside time to worship together as a church family and to fellowship with each other. And let us regularly ask the Lord how we might bless others as he has so richly blessed us.

all good things to each of you,
dr. darian

Pastor’s message – November 28, 2023

Worship in Advent: Song, Word, and Spirit

Sunday begins the wonderful season of Advent, where we prepare the homes of our heart and the our church’s home for the coming of Jesus our King. As is our tradition, we will share in the hanging of the greens this Sunday, December 3, which includes a wonderful “lessons and carols” rhythm. We share in some verses of Scripture, then sing, and repeat. This year, we are going to follow the pattern every Sunday of Advent. After all, we have a lot of favorite songs to sing, and we also need to be in the habit of speaking God’s Word as much as possible—as we welcome the Word made flesh.

Here is brief overview of each service, and I hope you will hang on to this description as you prepare your heart each Sunday for worship. Let us welcome the Holy Spirit into our heart as a church, and we will witness Him make all things new!

Dec. 3: We will hang the Greens, share in Holy Communion, and enjoy a meal afterwards. This is the perfect Sunday to invite a friend! Just bring yourself and a big appetite.

Dec. 10: We ask everyone to bring an unwrapped toy for the Blessing of the Tree and bring it forward at the appropriate time in the service. These toys will be a part of our “Blessing Box” ministry, as Jessi has shared with you.

Dec. 17: ‘Blue Christmas’ is more than an Elvis song! It is also a term used for a worship service that allows space for people to grieve during the holiday season. It reminds us that everyone is not always ‘happy’ during the holidays, and we will pray for the hurting while also celebrating with joy the hope of Jesus.

Dec. 24: We have two opportunities for you to worship on Christmas Eve. At 11AM we will celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Advent in Word and Song. At 5PM we will have our service of Holy Communion, Carols, and Candlelight.

I so look forward to worshipping with you this holy season. Let us look for His arrival together!

all good things to each of you,
dr. darian

Pastor’s Message – November 14, 2023

OutReach and Reaching Out

When we began our online ministry with a livestream of the Sunday worship service, an unexpected challenge that arose was how to measure and follow up with those on the other side of the screen. For our “online attendance” on the reverse side of this newsletter, I had to look up the number of “one minute views” on Facebook and multiply by another number to estimate how many individuals were watching. Facebook refers to these numbers as our “reach,” and I’ve recently discovered a more accurate way to make those calculations of our online attendance.

Looking at all those numbers reminded me of what matters: behind every number is a person. Within every person is a set of gifts and graces. How might we look beyond the numbers to connect with one another?

Here are a few, easy things you can do to help us out:

1. If you are watching online, let us know by leaving a comment or “liking” the video. This lets us know who is present so we can reach out to you. Those of us who are not watching live (like your pastor :)) don’t know who is with us unless you tell us.

2. We have ordered some new visitor cards for the sanctuary. Please encourage those you are meeting for the first time to fill one out!

3. Most importantly: did you know that 82% of people who are invited to church by a friend will come with them? By “church,” I mean worship service, small group, fellowship meal, or outreach event. One of the simplest and most effective ways to reach out is to invite someone personally. And what better time to do so than as Advent begins and Christmas approaches?

Thank you for being a part of what God is doing at FUMC! Let us expand our reach.

all good things to each of you,
dr. darian

Pastor’s Message – November 7, 2023

We are (Still) Standing on Holy Ground

My parents were here for a brief visit this weekend, and how they loved the time of All Saints’ worship and fellowship at the picnic afterwards. I felt the same! Didn’t you feel as if you were standing on holy ground, both in our sanctuary and ‘beside the still waters’ of the Dills’ pond?

My mom brought me one of our church’s newsletter from August 2017 that she came across recently. She’s not sure why she saved it, but I’m glad she did. That particular week I had written about the song, “Holy Ground.” This was so neat because about a couple of months ago the Lord was constantly telling me that our sanctuary was holy ground and to tread carefully.

I wanted to share with you again the verse and chorus to this beautiful song. I invite you to pray it over our church and to give God praise for what he is doing on what he has set us apart to do and to be!

As I walked through the door,
I sensed his presence.
And I knew this was a place
Where love abounds
For this is the temple
Jehovah God abides here.
We are standing in his presence on holy ground.
We are standing on holy ground,
And I know that there are angels all around.
Let us praise Jesus now,
For we are standing in his presence on holy ground.*

all good things to each of you,
dr. darian

*Words and music by Geron Davis, 1983.

Pastor’s Message – October 31, 2023

Worship in November: Come and Feast

On Sunday, we are entering our final four Sundays of this Christian year, and how I love these special days. Our readings from the lectionary all seem to revolve around themes of the Thanksgiving holiday: feasting, celebrating, and God’s abundant kingdom. Here’s what we have to look forward to each Sunday, and remember that we will only have one service at 11AM each week:

November 5: Feasting will kick off the month for us with our annual All Saints’ worship service on November 5 at 11AM. We will first come to the Lord’s table and then make our way to the Dill’s pond to gather at tables for our fall picnic. Dress casually for the worship service, stand for the saints you are remembering, and go forth to share a good meal and conversation at the picnic!

November 12: We will pray for and recognize the military veterans among us with some special prayers of the people for Veterans Day in the worship service. If you would like your name included in the list of those who have sacrificially served our country, please contact the church office.

November 19: This is the Sunday before the Thanksgiving holiday. We’ll enjoy a special altar arrangement given by Louise Campbell, sing hymns of gratitude, and hear some glory sightings of how God is on the move in our congregation. Come fill your spirit in worship as you prepare to fill your bodies with good food on Thanksgiving Day!

November 26: Christ the King Sunday is the last Sunday before Advent. I’m looking forward to preaching on an important and moving passage and Scripture in Matthew’s gospel that includes the verse where Jesus said,” As you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me.” A refrain I’ve shared with you all year is, “God’s got this.” On this special Sunday we will take that one step further to say, “The King is on the throne! Let us celebrate!”

all good things to each of you,

dr. darian

Pastor’s Message – November 24, 2023

FUMC Staff: Gratitude and Opportunities

The Staff-Parish Relations Committee gives thanks for the good work of the FUMC staff, especially in the past few months as our congregation walked through a difficult season. They have continued to serve and fulfill their duties faithfully, and we are grateful.

We want to recognize with gratitude the work of our office manager, Melanie Sanders, and organist, Polly Grimes, as they depart from the staff and embark on new opportunities. We pray God’s blessings and peace go with them, and please be sure to express your gratitude to them.

If you or someone you know would be interested in applying for the office manager position, please contact me in the church office or Robin McCormick, SPRC chair, for a job description and more information. Rachel has been working to find an accompanist and will keep you posted.

Please also take a moment to reach out to our wonderful staff and thank them for the good work they have done and are doing. There is no way that I could serve in the shepherding role that is needed now without the organizational skills and initiative-taking of Julie, Stacy, Jessi, Ron, Paul and Rachel. Their names and contact information are on the back of this newsletter, and I encourage you to contact them with a word of encouragement.

Know how grateful I am for each of you. It is an honor to serve as your pastor!

all good things to each of you,
dr. darian

Pastor’s Message – December 20, 2022

What Brought Us Joy in 2022

It’s hard to believe that 2022 is coming to a close. Next week we will not have a newsletter, so I wanted to take
a moment to share some of the things that have brought me joy. I hope as you enter the Christmas season and
prepare for a new year that you’ll take some time to reflect on this year.

Where did you experience joy?
When did you experience grief?
How did God reveal himself to you in those moments?

Lucy By the Sea by Elizabeth Strout (book): I love Strout’s novels, and this one was especially poignant
because it was set at the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic. There was such a balance of joy and grief as
friendships formed and deepened in the story, against a backdrop of loss.

Abbott Elementary (TV show): Told in the mock-umentary style of shows like The Office and Parks &
Recreation, this delightful show that airs on ABC follows the happenings of an elementary school in
Pennsylvania. It doesn’t shy away from the troubles of funding and resources but also carries an optimism you
can’t resist in the lead character of Janine. I look forward to it every week.

Blood Oranges in the Snow by Over the Rhine (music): Released in 2014, this is the album I listen to the last
few weeks of every year. It is more than a Christmas album, even though Christmas is a central character. The
last track, “New Year’s Song,” which includes, “Auld Lang Syne,” is perfect for the dawn of a new year.

all good things to each of you,
Dr Darian

FUMC Staff Announcement: The Staff Parish Committee is happy to share the hiring of Melanie Sanders as
office manager. Melanie will begin on January 1, 2023. Julie Gray will transition to the role of financial
secretary on the same date. As a reminder, the church office is open Monday-Thursday, 9AM-4PM, and Friday
8AM-12PM. Please congratulate Melanie and Julie on these new roles!

Holidays – The church office will be closed on Friday, December 23 and Monday, December 26 for Christmas.
The church office will also be closed on Friday, Decembe r30 and Monday, January 2, 2023 for New Years.
We will not have a newsletter the weeks on December 26 or January 2nd.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from your FUMC Staff.