Thank You for a Wonderful Weekend!
I would be amiss if I didn’t take a moment in this week’s Dangling to acknowledge the many individuals who helped make the recent Easter weekend at Pearce such a worshipful and memorable time.
Let me express appreciation to a few of the many who gave of their time and talents:
- Thanks to Pastor Tim Lambert and Julie Smith for their wonderful planning of each worship service.
- Thanks to Kim Brittin for her inspired decorating of the sanctuary for Good Friday and Easter, and Parmerter Chapel for Saturday’s service.
- Thanks to Jessica Best for her “scripting” of readings for our Good Friday and Easter morning services. Also, to the wonderful narrators who helped communicate the Story so effectively.
- Thanks to the many musicians who stirred our hearts with touching songs. (A special note of thanks to Jameson Kelly for his duet with Jessie Keim. He’s pictured above with his Uncle Jeremy. And to Brandon Hammel for his joyous percussion accompaniment of our service on Sunday! He’s pictured here as well!)
- Thanks to Jim & Susan Heeks and their crew for a wonderful Easter breakfast!
- Thanks to Wes Tagliaferre’s for putting together the video that so beautifully depicted Jesus’ ministry on earth and served as a backdrop for one of the songs on Sunday.
In this weekend’s services, we’ll continue our journey through Scripture with a message from Ecclesiastes, chapter 3. I hope you’ll join us as we consider the ways in which our stories, told in particular times and places, are touched by God to become beautiful stories for all time.
Annual Mission Garage Sale
Since 2004, the first year Pearce held this annual event, you have helped us raise a total of $179,413.21 to support a variety of local and global mission projects. We are hoping this year’s sale will enable us to support the completion of a new classroom building for the school in Nzige, Rwanda, as well as continue to provide scholarships for two wonderful students from Rochester’s inner city who are attending The Charles Finney School.
Walk through your home this weekend and select objects that you would love to see help fund these significant and life-changing ministries. You can bring them into Pearce beginning this Sunday, between the hours of 9-10:30am and 11:45-12pm. Or, you can deliver your items Monday through Wednesday from 9am-7pm. (Remember, we cannot accept donations of chemicals, children’s toys and car seats, intercontinental ballistic missiles, or old TVs/monitors – flat screens will be accepted.)
The sale will be held from 9am-7pm on Friday, April 28, and from 9am-12pm the following day.
Have you noticed the generous financial support we’ve received so far this year at Pearce?
Last fall, we braced ourselves for financial challenges this year and appealed to you to remain a faithful tithing and giving community of faith.
Although we remain about $14,000 below budgeted giving, you have been faithful in your support and giving is even slightly ahead of this same period last year. Some of our existing short-fall can be attributed to the “storms of March” and their impact on attendance the weekend following the wind storm of March 8.
Jiggly Jell-O Jubilee
One of my favorite childhood snacks, after playing outside in the dirt and warm sun, was the cold jiggly treat we all came to love: Jell-O. Do you remember mixing that sweet powder and warm water with mom, and then waiting for it to set in the refrigerator? It seemed to take forever, but it was well worth the wait.
At Pearce, we have a Food Cupboard that ministers to over 130 households a year—households that include a lot of children. Those kids love the Jell-O and pudding treats we are able to send home with them. So much so, we often run out of this fun item.
The weekend of April 29 and 30, we want to help replenish the Food Cupboard with this item (especially with summer right around the corner) by sharing in a fun event called Jiggly Jell-O Jubilee. Whether you are a child or simply kid at heart, we’re asking you to bring to the Saturday and Sunday services on that weekend a donation of either one box of gelatin or pudding mix. There will be a decorated shopping cart to place your donation in. Kids can hang on to their donations, and bring them up front during their time with me at Children’s Moments.
Following the service, there just might be an exciting surprise waiting for us all in the atrium. Don’t tell your kids, but it’s going to be an awesome structure built by our Pearce youth from the donated boxes! There will also be a Jell-O snack for them as well! Hope you will consider participating in our Jiggly Jell-O Jubilee on April 29 and 30!
Don’t Miss this Seminar
Several months ago, Dr. Richard Middleton, professor at Northeastern Seminary, suggested that Pearce may want to host a seminar on the authority of Scripture. Once I heard the details of what he was proposing, I enthusiastically said “Yes!”
Jim Walton, a pastor in Buffalo with whom Dr. Middleton has collaborated in the past, is the founder and president of The 3rd Choice. This organization will be presenting a “Proof of the Truth” seminar at Pearce next Friday, April 28, in Parmerter Chapel at 7pm. The 3rd Choice is committed to engage people in conversation about apologetics and discipleship.
What is of particular interest to me is that Dr. Craig Blomberg is featured as one of the two-hour seminar’s speakers. Dr. Blomberg is a well-known biblical scholar, and his books and articles are highly regarded around the world. He presently teaches at Denver Seminary in Littleton, Colorado.
There is a fee for this seminar. Tickets are $15 per person and may be purchased the evening of the event. (You are encouraged to pay by cash or check, although credit cards will be accepted.)
For details, check out Pearce’s website or go to proofofthetruth.info.
Another Priest at Pearce
Peter notes in his first letter to the scattered believers of his day that Christians “like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).
I had the privilege, this past Saturday, of officiating at the dedication of a new member of the holy priesthood – Levi Jeffrey Dorr, the firstborn son of Andrew and Jennifer Dorr. The Dorrs are cross-country coaches at Roberts, and it was special to have the college’s cross-county team present to witness the dedication. (I thought you’d enjoy seeing the exuberant team!)
It’s wonderful to be a part of a congregation with so many children. What a blessing each of them are to us!
A Memorable Weekend for Christians
This weekend is a wonderful time for all who follow Jesus Christ to gather and remember His death and resurrection. Pearce will hold four services this coming weekend, providing you and your family with opportunities to worship our Savior and Lord.
Our Good Friday Service is a stark service that helps us recall the sacrificial death of Jesus. Join us at 7pm in the main sanctuary for a sober hour of worship. Dr. Jeff Altman will be providing the Good Friday homily and the service will conclude, as is traditional, in silence and darkness. Also as a part of this service, selections from Handel’s Messiah will be featured.
At 5pm on Easter Eve, we’ll gather in Parmerter Chapel for a service that, while restrained, carries the hope of the resurrection.
On Easter morning, all restraints will be thrown off as we rejoice in the reality of Christ’s resurrection. Identical worship services will be held at 9 and 10:30am to provide the opportunity for your friends and guests to celebrate with us.
You are also encouraged to take advantage of the wonderful Easter Breakfast in the Family Life Center from 7:30 to 11am. Enjoy an abundance of good food, such as pastries, buttermilk pancakes, scrambled eggs, and breakfast sausages. Tickets are available to purchase at the lobby reception desk. Cost is $5.50 per person, with an immediate family maximum of $22; children under age 5 are free.
I hope to see you this weekend!
Off to a Good Start with SWAG
Jim Morton recently announced that we are bringing back SWAG this year. SWAG (Stewardship with a Goal) was first introduced at our Annual Celebration in February 2013 as a way of encouraging those in our community to go above and beyond their regular giving to help fund needed improvements and repairs to our facility. Over the years that we have highlighted SWAG, we have raised funds for such projects as a new sidewalk on Orchard Street, the sealing of our driveways, and new roofs on both our main sanctuary and Parmerter Chapel.
This year’s goal for SWAG totals $99,000 and includes the following projects
Project #1: $10,000 payment on the principal of our loan
Project #2: $11,000 to convert the aging light fixtures in our Family Life Center to LED lamps
Project #3: $10,000 payment on the principal of our loan
Project #4: $18,000 to install a new concrete porch, making it handicap accessible, at the entrance to Parmerter Chapel
Project #5: $10,000 payment on the principal of our loan
Project #6: $30,000 to upgrade our fire alarm system
Project #7: $10,000 payment on the principal of our loan
Check the SWAG poster in Pearce’s reception area to keep updated on our progress. Already we have received $995.00; and we’ve only just started! Thanks for your continued generosity in supporting the upkeep of our facilities!
Not Bored with this Gang!
Pearce’s leadership board, known as the Official Board, will be meeting tonight for their monthly gathering. At last month’s meeting, the Board elected officers for the year.
Jim Morton was re-elected as Chair, Terry Taber as Vice-chair, and Chuck Cockrell as the legal secretary. Lynn Bates (not included in the photo) has graciously agreed to serve another year as the recording secretary for the Board. New members Donna Barefoot, Mike Faro, and Susanne Mohnkern also assumed their responsibilities at the March meeting.
I am deeply appreciative of these individuals and their willingness to serve our congregation and to be led by God’s Holy Spirit. When you see them, be sure and thank them for the many hours of service they donate to Pearce.
Staying Connected at Pearce
Kim Brittin, a member of our office team, has been hard at work over the past few weeks overseeing the installation of new Wi-Fi equipment at Pearce.
The upgrade was necessitated by the fact that in June Roberts is removing its Wi-Fi hardware from the education wing. You may recall that Roberts installed Wi-Fi hardware upon the completion of the education wing in 2002. At that time, the school signed a fifteen-year rental contract to utilize our facility for classroom space. As the college has since expanded its own classroom space on campus, they decided not to renew their contract upon its expiration at the end of this academic year.
Throughout the rest of our building, the Wi-Fi equipment needed to be replaced and upgraded. It is hoped the new hardware will provide better access and eliminate some “dead spots” that existed with the old equipment.
The new password for PearcePublic will be available on signage posted throughout the building. I hope you find this upgrade to be helpful in keeping connected while at Pearce!
I’m a Basket Case
I was touched by the generosity of some of our church’s youth this past weekend as I waited for the Saturday worship service to begin. I noticed an Easter basket sitting on the platform at the front of Parmerter Chapel and, thinking it had been left from a P4K event, began to move it off the platform only to notice a card addressed to me!
It’s been awhile since I’ve had my own Easter basket, so thanks Andrew, Jaden, Josh, Emma, Nolan, and Ethan. Anybody want to enjoy some of my candy with me? Mary has always told me that “sharing is fun!”
Best Moment of the Day
I’ve referred occasionally to a long-standing custom in my marriage. At the end of each day, Mary and I will ask each other, “What was your best moment today?”
This past Sunday, I knew what my best moment was. It happened during “Children’s Moments” in worship that morning. I was talking with Emma Draper about her passion for dance. She did a great job sharing about her love for Jesus and how dance provides one of the ways she can express His love.
When I mentioned that I did not have the gift of dance and made a fool of myself when I tried to do so, little Sirona Wainwright, who was sitting next to me, asked, “Pastor Wally, can I say something?” I turned from my interview with Emma to give the microphone to Sirona. She said with all the passion her little frame could muster, “Pastor Wally, you do have the gift of dance! You just have to believe!”
Don’t be surprised if I start dancing in future worship services! (Thanks to Karen Hopkins for snapping a photo of my “best moment of the day!”)
A Deep Longing
This weekend, Pastor Jeremy will continue our series of messages, “Shaped by God’s Story,” with a further consideration of the prophet Isaiah. Last weekend, we considered the “Honest Voices” that speak into our lives as we reflected on Isaiah’s messages of rebuke, encouragement, and invitation. This weekend, the ancient prophet will remind us of our deep longing for someone to deliver us. The theme of the message will be that when our relationship with God is made right, other things in our lives fit into their proper place.
Where in the World is Pastor Wally?
March has proven to be a very odd month for all of us, with storms, power outages, and even having to shut down Pearce at times. Then, of course, the month became even odder with my unexpected hospitalization on March 18/19. So my plans to be gone one weekend (March 11/12) for vacation, suddenly changed and I found myself gone two weekends this month.
Now, I’m going to be gone this weekend! You may ask yourself, “Where in the world is Pastor Wally?” The answer is that I will be honoring a commitment I made last fall to serve as a retreat speaker for the pastors of the Wabash Conference of our denomination. Wabash, if you aren’t familiar with it, encompasses the Free Methodist congregations in Indiana and southeastern Illinois.
Mary and I will be traveling on Saturday and Sunday, stopping in Cincinnati to meet with my niece Amanda and her fiancé. I’ll be officiating at their wedding in May and this will provide an opportunity to do some wedding planning with them, as well as provide an overnight stopover. The retreat will be held Monday and Tuesday in Clay City, Indiana and we’ll return to town on Wednesday. I appreciate your prayers for this time and for the Lord’s leading as I share with this team of ministers and their spouses.
Over the past few years, I’ve highlighted our pastoral team’s desire that a congregation be truly intergenerational. In an era when generations are often segmented and divided, we want a wonderful holy and healthy interaction between the various generations to be evident at Pearce.
The past couple of Wednesday evenings, members of various generations have been helping us better understand the outlooks characteristic of each generation. An articulate group of Baby Boomers (Terry Taber, Bev Faro, and Julie Grimm) helped us understand the world view of those born between 1946 and 1964. Last evening, Aimee Lyon, Rob Repass, and Becky Draper invited us into the world of Generation X (1965-1980). This coming Wednesday, Andrew Dorr, Honna Curtis, and Melissa Lampanaro will invite us into the world of Millennials (1981-2000).
I invite you attend this informational gathering next Wednesday, April 5, at 6:30pm in Room 81 on the lower level of Pearce’s education wing.
A Story Interrupted
Stories get interrupted. It’s one of the realities of life. Irish film director Lenny Abrahamson said, “I’m interested in discontinuities and interruptions, people having to rewrite the narrative of their lives because of sudden changes.”
Sudden changes! My own story was briefly interrupted last weekend by an unexpected illness. In turn, our walk through God’s Story in our sermon series “Shaped by God’s Story” was interrupted as well.
Considering the narrative of Scripture, interruptions are more the norm than the exception. Abraham’s quiet life in Ur is interrupted and he is propelled out on a very long journey. Paul finds he can no longer do business as usual after being stopped in his tracks on the Damascus Road. Again, interruptions are one of the realities of life, both in the Bible and in our own lives!
This weekend, hopefully, we’ll get back to the central narrative of God’s Word with a consideration of the prophets. Looking at texts from Isaiah, we’ll talk about the way God sends messengers to speak truth into our lives. You may want to glance through Isaiah’s book, especially chapters 1, 40, and 55, in preparation for the message that is titled “Honest Voices.”
I must acknowledge my deep gratitude to Pastor Jeremy for doing a marvelous job of preaching last weekend on short notice. Also, I am thankful for the many expressions of concern that have been offered to me.
An Empty Office
I confess that I’m doing a bit of grieving this morning. After my brief illness last weekend, I headed out early Monday to attend a denominational gathering near Baltimore. I just returned to my office at Pearce this morning and confronted, for the first time, the reality that Pastor Mike is no longer on our pastoral team. His former office looked quite empty and forlorn as I passed by it on my way in today.
I need to say a couple of things. First, I am so grateful to the Lord for the privilege I had to work with Pastor Mike for more than nine years. It was a joy to serve with him. His humility, his enthusiasm, his deep concern and care for others were vividly evident. What a blessing!
Second, I should note that we are working to identify a gifted individual who can serve as the interim director of student ministries. If you know of someone who should apply for this position, have them contact Honna Curtis at the church office.
Third, I am thankful for the marvelous staff of volunteers who are committed to making sure our student ministries continue during these months of pastoral transition.
Cleaning Shelves for Nzige
Our Annual Mission Garage Sale is rapidly approaching. Held on April 28 and 29, this year’s sale will benefit, in part, the construction of a classroom building in Nzige, Rwanda.
Last week, a team from the Northgate Free Methodist Church in Batavia was in Rwanda to explore the development of a partnership with another village there. During their trip, they visited Nzige to see the school and the progress that has been made over the past two years as the result of Pearce’s “Linked with Love” partnership. Mark Logan, one of the members of the Northgate team, sent me this photo of the Nzige students.
All of that to say, now’s the time to begin identifying those household items you can donate for this year’s sale! You can begin to bring those items to Pearce on Sunday, April 23, at designated times
Thanks for the Memories
Well, the lights are on, the sidewalks are cleared, and Pearce Church is open today! What a memorable stretch these past eight days have been! First, the church was closed last week for three days due to the power outage from the wind storm; then, Pearce was shut down for two days due to a memorable winter storm. (This morning on the radio, they said that this week’s snowfall was the third heaviest on record in Rochester!)
I wonder if all of this is tied to Pastor Mike’s decision to leave us, don’t you? Even nature rebels at the thought!
As much as I’ll miss him, I want to express my deep appreciation for the privilege it has been for me to work alongside this gifted pastor. The congregation at Hope Chapel in Perry will soon realize what a blessing their new pastor, and his entire family, will be to their community.
I invite you to join us this weekend as we say thank you and goodbye to the Kuhlkin family. Following the Sunday worship service, we’ll gather for a reception in the Family Life Center. Jim Heeks will have a great selection of tasty treats, including pulled-pork sliders and venison chili. After all, this is Pastor Mike’s farewell, so there’s got to be venison somewhere. At the special request of Pastor Mike’s daughter, Rachel, there will also be a chocolate fountain.
And let’s hope things settle down after Pastor Mike’s departure! I could use a sunny day with temps in the sixties, couldn’t you?
(I pulled the photo above out of the archives. It was taken in May 2008 at my first pastoral retreat with the Pearce team.)
Putting on the Armor
The church of my childhood had a program for kids called “Christian Youth Crusaders,” usually referred to as CYC. It was the Free Methodist denomination’s version of scouting – with uniforms, badge-laden sashes, and its own pledge. The highlight of each year was the spring awards ceremony. One of the CYCers donned a plastic suit of armor and marched down the center aisle of the sanctuary, leading the procession of eager kids.
The suit of armor was a vivid reminder of the guiding scriptural passage of the CYC program: Ephesians 6:10-16. I’m sure that passage is in the back of Pastor Jeremy’s mind as he works on the message for this weekend. He’ll walk us through God’s Story as found in the opening chapters of the Old Testament book of Joshua.
I hope you’ll join us for worship this weekend, either on Saturday at 5pm or Sunday at 10:30am. As this is the first weekend of a new month, Communion will be offered at each service.
A Devotional Memoir
A couple of weeks ago, I was surprised to discover, in The New York Times Book Review, a recently published book with the title My Utmost: A Devotional Memoir. As someone who first encountered Oswald Chambers’ marvelous devotional classic My Utmost for His Highest as a college senior, I was immediately intrigued.
Intrigued, for one reason, because the red copy of Chambers’ book that I purchased 41 years ago this month, is never far from my reach. The binding is broken and battered from the decades of wear-and- tear, as I have found myself often turning its pages for spiritual refreshment. Intrigued also because I don’t usually encounter books with a Christian theme in the pages of The New York Times Book Review.
The book is worth your read on several levels. On one level it is a well-researched, intellectual biography of Chambers, with marvelous insights into his spiritual formation. On another level, it provides insight into the journey of so many young adults in our world who are nurtured in a warm evangelical faith but find the transition to a secular culture challenging. Finally, it is beautifully written and a delight to savor.
You may not be comfortable with where the author, Macy Halford, emerges at the book’s end. But you will appreciate her honesty and marvel at the ways in which Oswald’s gem of a devotional continues to speak into Halford’s life.
Just Talkin’ Bout My Generation
In 1965, the British rock band The Who sang a rather self-obsessed anthem to their generation. Years later the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for “historical, artistic, and significant” value. Roger Daltrey, the band’s lead singer, sang with a bit of attitude:
Why don’t you all fade away?
Don’t try to dig what we all say!
I’m not trying to cause a big sensation.
I’m just talkin’ bout my generation.
That old rock and roll song reminds me of the challenge each of us face in understanding those of a different generation. Just the other day, I asked a twenty-something if they knew who the Beverly Hillbillies were and they responded with a blank stare. Oh, the declining lack of artistic culture today! (It was the number one show of its day and, unbelievably, still holds the record for TV’s highest rated half hour.)
It may be a challenge to love our neighbor, especially if they are of another generation! Next Wednesday, a six-week seminar, Loving My Neighbor of a Different Generation, will begin to address this challenge.
On March 8, the seminar will start with an overview of the generations of adults presently identified among those living in America today. In the weeks to follow, panelists representing the various generations will share their perspectives on a wide range of issues. It is my hope this will not only help us to better understand each other, but to better serve Christ together.
The first panel, on March 15, will be comprised of Mendal Dick, Judy Cicha, and Wes Vanderhoof, all members of the “Silent Generation” or, as Tom Brokaw popularized, the “Greatest Generation.” The following week, on March 22, panelists Terry Taber, Julie Grimm, and Bev Faro will provide insights into the Baby Boomers. Generation Xers will be represented on March 29 by Aimee Lyon, Rob Repass, and Becky Draper. The Millennial panel is still being assembled; they’ll report on April 5.
I think this will be a fascinating opportunity to celebrate Pearce’s rich intergenerational fabric. Join us, beginning next Wednesday, in the Friendship Center at 6:30pm.
A Gifted Team!
Following last Sunday’s worship service, I had the opportunity to meet with a wonderful group of dedicated Kingdom servants. The volunteer youth staff of our congregation met over pizza in Common Grounds Café to discuss Pearce’s youth ministry in the months following Pastor Mike’s departure for his new ministry assignment in Perry, New York.
Because of my plans to retire at the end of this year, it is inappropriate for me to bring a new youth pastor on staff. I want my successor to have the privilege of recruiting and selecting that individual. This means there will be an interim period in youth ministry at Pearce during the next year.
I met with the many gifted volunteers who give so freely of their time to minister to our youth to brainstorm ways we can continue to effectively serve the teens of our congregation and communities. I went home after the meeting with a full heart. It was filled with an appreciation for the many wonderful people who care deeply about our youth. It was clear to me that this ministry will remain in good hands!
If you encounter any of the people pictured above, please extend to them your appreciation for their fine ministry.
Next week, I’ll be taking a few days off to travel with Mary to Washington, D.C. She will be attending a conference for her employer; I’m going to catch up on some reading and enjoy some vacation time. (See the photo of my current reads. Remember, on the sixth day of creation God created books!) So don’t look for a Dangling next week, but eagerly anticipate receiving one on March 16.
Loving Our Neighbor
A recent Pearce Reads is Edward Gilbreath’s Reconciliation Blues: A Black Evangelical’s Inside View of White Christianity. While the author acknowledges that there has been “significant progress” in race relations in America, he also feels that “to break out of the white cultural status quo of today’s evangelical movement, we must confront hard truths about ourselves.”
The past several Wednesday evenings, our seminar “Loving Our Neighbor of a Different Race” has been examining the history of racial relations and confronting hard truths. The final session in this seminar is an opportunity to hear from a panel of distinguished and gifted African-American pastors from our area. They are:
- Rev. Dr. Marlowe Washington, pastor of the historic Parsells Church
- Rev. Fred Johnson, pastor of First Genesis Church
- Rev. Imani Olear, pastor of Reformation Lutheran Church
- Denis Johnson, pastor of creative arts, music, and teaching at The Father’s House
Pearce’s own Brian Babcock will serve as the facilitator for this stimulating and challenging evening of dialogue. Join us at 6:30pm this coming Wednesday (March 1) in the Friendship Center.
All Who Wander
One of my favorite t-shirts is an old one that says “All who wander are not lost!” The shirt embraces, at least in my view, the idea that we take a circuitous path on our life’s journey. We often end up in places where we never expected to find ourselves. In that sense, wandering can be quite delightful and even desired!
But there are wanderings that are painful and we end up in places where we feel quite lost. Not pleasantly detoured, but truly lost and alone. (I selected a photo from the Pearce group traveling this week in Israel. They began their journey in the wilderness of the Negev.)
This weekend, I’ll be considering the 13th and 14th chapters of the Old Testament book of Numbers. The theme of my message can be summarized this way: “When we choose to go our own way instead of God’s, He goes with us into the wilderness, and graciously leads us back to His purposes.”
I hope you’ll join us as we continue to be shaped by God’s Word!
I’ve placed two new books on the “Pearce Reads” display in Pearce’s lobby. I selected them as possible resources for you during the Lenten period that begins on March 1.
I love finding devotional books to aid me in my daily walk with Christ. I recently picked up a copy of Walter Brueggemann’s new devotional titled A Way Other Than Our Own. Brueggemann is a prolific Old Testament scholar, well known to seminary students. But don’t let his academic credentials prevent you from utilizing this slim book in the coming weeks. Each day is marked by a scripture reading, a thoughtful reflection and a brief prayer.
I also recently came across Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Trish Harrison Warren. Do not let the word “liturgy” in this book’s title mislead you or put you off. This is a refreshing and winsome reflection on everyday chores and how they can draw us closer to the Lord. Warren, an Anglican pastor, writes about the common elements of daily life, such as brushing our teeth or sitting in traffic, and how such small moments can help us pay closer attention to God’s presence in our lives.
Copies of both books are available for modest donations ($13 for Brueggeman’s and $9 for Warren’s) and will be available for the next few weeks.
Last week, I received of Scott Lewis’ first-hand account of a recent experience that left him dangling…literally. It’s a bit longer than my typical Dangling article, but well worth your time!
A friend encouraged me to share an incident I experienced recently.
My wife and I were enjoying a quiet weekend together at a lake in mid-January. We woke Saturday morning and, after a simple breakfast together, I decided to check the ice thickness and wind in hopes of going ice boating (fuselage, 3 runner blades, and sail). I drilled several holes, all 5″ thick. There were over a dozen ice fishermen and shanty’s south, a quad and more ice fishermen north, I’m good to go.
After a few laps across the lake and back, the left runner breaks through the ice and the boat comes to an abrupt stop. The left side of the boat sinks through the ice tipping me out, and I’m in ice water up to my neck, the water depth being about fifteen to twenty feet deep. In an instant, I was facing one of my most dreaded fears! (You can’t survive long in ice water and it is often tricky to impossible to get out.)
The water was so shocking it forced an involuntary “UGH!” from the depth of my lungs. Several thoughts came to me at once: God help me. Is this how it ends? The feeling of humiliation and embarrassment for missing something that allowed me to be in such a dangerous situation, and please don’t let Esther see this!
I was hanging on to the edge of the ice to prevent the weight of my soaked winter clothing and boots from pulling me under. My first attempt to pull myself up and onto the ice failed quickly. Water on ice is slippery, and you can’t get your center of gravity past the ice edge before slipping back in the water.
I hear my wife yell, “Scott, are you OK?” Now I’m troubled with the thought that whatever happens will be in the audience of my tormented wife, who would be able to do next to nothing but watch. “I’m OK!” (Not true!)
Esther couldn’t hear me, I was facing away from her. “Scott, are you OK!” The ice boat was mostly on top of the ice, tipped sideways. The ice was thick around me. I broke through a small pocket about the size of a small car that had not frozen over completely. At risk of pulling the ice boat into the water with me, I grabbed it and was able to pull myself out of the water. Saved.
The whole incident lasted only a moment.
I’m most grateful. Things don’t always work out this way, but I chose not to live in fear of the “what ifs”: What if the thin ice had covered a large area? What if the ice kept breaking under my weight as I tried to pull myself up? What if the ice boat was not there to grab onto? What if I died? Though situations like this can be alarming, I have learned over time to place my faith and trust in God. Now, each new challenge I face is another opportunity for deeper trust and faith. I don’t need to know the answer to the “why” questions, I am content to know “what!” God loves me and will never leave me or forsake me.
I have learned to “number my days”; that day was not my last. Someday, there will be a different outcome. I have the assurance that on that day “faith will be sight,” and “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” I don’t know why things happen either for good or for bad, but I have learned to “give thanks in all circumstances.” I hope my “ugh” story encourages you to a deeper trust and faith in God.
Nzige, Here We Come!
Pearce’s fourth VISA (Volunteers In Service Abroad) team to Nzige is leaving today for Rwanda. This past Sunday, our congregation took time to pray for Carol, Laura, Cheryl, and Jackie as they prepare to embark on this time of ministry to our “Linked with Love” partner.
I asked Andrew Berardicurti, who will turn eleven-years-old this month, to lead Pearce in a time of prayer for the team and for the children in Nzige. I thought he did a wonderful job as the kids from “Children’s Moments” gathered around the four team members and laid hands on them as part of the commissioning prayer.
I asked one of the team’s members, Laura Ciminelli, to share her thoughts as she packs her bags. She offered “Five Thoughts, Feelings, and Prayers as I Prepare to Go to Rwanda” in her email to me:
- God is GOOD! He has prepared a way for us to go. Thank you, Pearce Church, for letting Him use you to support and connect with Nzige School and this team.
- So excited to meet the kids, teachers, and people in the church and community, and to build relationships with them to love each other in Jesus’ name.
- A little nervous about stamina and health for the travel days and long days of DOING. Prayers that we would remember to be held by God as He provides.
- Wondering about the unique ways two cultures will come together and looking forward to learning about the ways the Holy Spirit breathes in this new place, people, and even ways of teaching.
- Amazed by the Lord, as always, at the ways He has already used this trip. So many (unexpected) conversations with family, coworkers, and friends that have ministered to me and them. More to come on the travel days, on the trip, and after, I’m sure! “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21).
Debt Free in 2028
If you were a part of Pearce in the early 1980s, a campaign was conducted to eliminate the outstanding debt incurred in the construction of the sanctuary. The slogan was “Debt Free in ‘83” and resulted in eliminating that debt.
If we were to have a slogan for our present debt, incurred while building the Family Life Center and educational wing, it would be “Debt Free in 2028!” Not much of a ring to it, is there? And, November 2028 seems a long, long way away.
All of that to say, I am celebrating this past weekend’s “building fund” offering. (We call it the building fund, but it is more accurately a “debt reduction fund.”) This past weekend, more dollars were contributed to the building line than in any single weekend throughout all of 2016!
As our administrator, Honna Curtis, wrote to me in an email this week: “This is a great praise!”
The building line received $7,048 last weekend, 100% of which goes toward paying our weekly loan payments. With an outstanding balance of approximately $2,205,000 left on the loan, we are excited when folks become as passionate about decreasing our debt as we are! Your steady and continued faithful giving is much appreciated. Thank you!
Writing is a Love Language
As we think of the VISA team heading out to Rwanda this week, perhaps this is a good time to remind those of you who sponsor children in Nzige to write them a letter. ICCM (International Child Care Ministries) offers the following encouragement and instruction on writing letters to sponsored kids:
- Letter writing and card sending is not a lost art. It just isn’t being practiced as much as it once was.
- Besides daily prayer, a short letter or brief note of encouragement is, perhaps, one of the best gifts you can give your sponsored child. It conveys the message: I’m interested in you. I am thinking about you. You are special. Consider making a resolution in 2017 to write your child or send a card, once or twice in the year, if not more. It’s like a treasure and priceless to your sponsored child.
- All correspondence should go through the ICCM office. Write clearly and simply so our translators will not have difficulty in translating your letter. Because most letters must be translated before they can be given to children it may be two months or more before they are received.
- To write your child using the form provided on our website, click here. Or send a note by post to this address: Child’s Name & Number, International Child Care Ministries, 770 N. High School Rd., Indianapolis, IN 46214
An Uncommon Moment at Common Grounds
I happened to be in Pearce’s Common Grounds Café this past Sunday morning when Gary and Suzanne Russo stepped up to the counter to order their morning coffees. They called me over to highlight that they were using a gift certificate that had been given to them in July of 2011, signed by Ruth Stewart when she worked at the café.
Needless to say, the certificate was gladly honored and even carries a small balance to be used six years from now in 2023!
The results are in from Pearce’s election central! With a total of 205 ballots cast, the following were elected to three-year-terms on our church’s Official Board: Mike Faro, Susanne Mohnkern, and Donna Barefoot. These three will be assuming their duties at the March 9 sitting of the Board.
Mike Vannest was re-elected to another term on the Board as Pearce’s treasurer.
Also elected to serve three-year-terms on the Nominating Committee were: Bill Smout, Nancy Carden, and Janise Beguhl. The Nominating Committee, charged with identifying gifted leaders for the Board, will once again get down to business in September.
I am deeply appreciative of each of the individuals who permitted their name to be placed in nomination. Our church, as I have often thought, is blessed with many gifted and gracious servants of the Kingdom.
Stick to Preaching
Okay, so here’s the story. In last week’s Dangling, I mentioned Sabrina Kovach’s recent comment that in order to cover the entire Bible in a year, I needed to average a certain number of verses each week. In the Dangling, I said that was 5,977 verses per week. In reality, Sabrina had told me I needed to cover 598 per week.
Sorry, Sabrina, for misquoting you! Your math is better than mine. As Kim Brittin said, upon hearing of my error: “Just stick to preaching and let others handle the math!”
On a Mission
Last Thursday, I made my daily stop at Pearce’s Common Grounds Café to discover Sheryl Hunt and Bev Roy hard at work on our upcoming Annual Mission Garage Sale. If you have been around Pearce in the springtime, you know that this is a major undertaking each year that has a significant impact on our local and global mission efforts. Since 2004, this event has raised $179,413.21 to be distributed to ministries outside of Pearce.
I’d like to encourage your participation in this year’s sale. You can help in one of two ways.
First, begin now to collect items that someone would be willing to buy at the sale. Now be a bit discerning and don’t bring items that really should be tossed in the trash! You might even want to challenge yourself to give away something of value. After all, you can’t take it with you!
Secondly, sign up to volunteer to help prepare for and staff the sale. This year’s sale will be held on April 28 and 29, but help will be needed throughout that week as items for the sale are sorted and tagged.
For more information on how you can help serve as a volunteer, contact Sheryl Hunt (585-738-0899) or Bev Roy (585-455-4348).
Loving Your Neighbor
In recent weeks at Pearce, a group of us have been meeting on Wednesday evenings to consider what it means for us to love our neighbors of a different race.
Next Wednesday, February 15, a documentary about John M. Perkins, Let Justice Roll On: The Life and Legacy of John M. Perkins, will be shown at 6:30pm in Room 81 in Pearce’s lower educational wing.
I had the privilege of working with John in January 1978, while I was a student at Asbury Theological Seminary. Four of us from the seminary went to Jackson, Mississippi to work at Voice of Calvary Ministries, a holistic ministry with the mission “to help people reach their full potential in Christ.”
One of our sister Free Methodist institutions of higher learning, Seattle Pacific University, launched the John Perkins Center for Reconciliation, Leadership Training, and Community Development. You can read more about John on the SPU website.
The Generosity Continues
At the conclusion of this past Sunday’s worship service, those present were encouraged to participate in an Exit Offering to help purchase supplies for the school in Nzige, Rwanda. Once again, the Pearce family responded generously by giving a total of $1,086. This money will be used to restock supplies at the preschool, helping to ensure that the Nzige teachers can implement the teaching methods they have been taught by recent Pearce VISA (Volunteers In Service Abroad) teams.
Our third VISA team specifically geared to help train the teachers at Nzige leaves on Thursday, February 16. Pray for the members of the team: Carol Stevenson (team leader), Laura Ciminelli, Cheryl Heimberger, and Jackie Kuhlkin. If you signed up to purchase supplies for the team, be sure and drop them off in the atrium at Pearce no later than this coming Sunday, February 12.
This past Sunday, we showed an edited version of the new ICCM video (International Child Care Ministries) on Connected Communities. This video highlights Pearce’s “Linked with Love” partnership with Nzige. Check here for the complete video.
Books on My Nightstand
It’s been a while since I updated you on my current reading. I offer this in the spirit of encouraging all of us to continue to read broadly and passionately.
On the history side of things, I’m reading Three Days In January: Dwight Eisenhower’s Final Mission, by journalist Bret Baier. The author focuses on Eisenhower’s farewell speech and the challenging transition to Kennedy’s new administration. I am halfway through this and find it to be a fascinating and absorbing read against the backdrop of our current political environment.
My current theological read is N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’ Crucifixion. Wright argues that the Protestant Reformation did not go far enough in transforming our understanding of the Crucifixion. Most Western Christians, asserts Wright, have been taught that Jesus died so that they could escape the results of sin and go to heaven after they die. He argues that the New Testament speaks of Jesus’ death as the defeat of the powers of evil that have kept the world in captivity. The implication of Wright’s argument is that the world is actually going to change as a result of the Crucifixion, through the life and the work and the witness of those who believe the good news. It’s a challenging read, but has wondrous insights. There’s an interesting interview with Wright in the October 13, 2016 issue of Christianity Today, available online.
For sheer fun and relaxation, I read The Lost City of the Monkey God, by Douglas Preston. The author narrates his experience as a member of an archaeological expedition through the jungle of eastern Honduras. I will never view snakes in quite the same way after reading about Preston’s encounter with a venomous pit viper.
A Personal Note
Many of you have approached me in recent months to comment on my weight loss. At the encouragement of my wife, I am letting you know the reasons behind it.
During a routine physical this past summer, I was informed by my primary care physician that I have type 2 diabetes. The news was no surprise to me as this disease runs in the maternal side of my family. It is also, unfortunately, a common predicament for many older adults in our country. (In 2012, 29.1 million Americans, or 9.3% of the population had diabetes. The percentage for adults 65 and older is 25.9%!)
At that appointment, my doctor encouraged me to change my diet to see if that alone could control the diabetes. So after a consultation with a dietician, I began to alter my eating habits. I was not trying to lose weight; I simply began to try to eat healthy. Over the past few months, I have lost about 45 pounds. As a result, my A1C is significantly lower than it was in June and I feel healthy and energized.
Thanks for the many comments and questions. You have been an encouragement to me and I am grateful for being part of a caring community.
Immersed with Love
This past Sunday, Heart & Soul Community Church made use of their new baptistery. The purchase of this baptistery was made possible through the generosity of the Pearce family as a sign of our love and support for this sister congregation. Last October, more than $3,100 was donated through an exit offering.
I often comment on the generous spirit that is woven into the DNA of this congregation. Thanks, once again, for blessing those outside of our immediate fellowship.
Suzanne Rodriguez, a member at Heart & Soul, emailed the photo and wrote:
What an amazing service of celebration we had yesterday. It was the first time we were able to have water baptisms within the four walls of our church building. Javon, Ben, and Edi, all members of Heart & Soul’s Youth Group, chose to declare publicly that they belong to Jesus.
A big thank you to all for making our dream of having baptisms be a regular part of our worship services a reality!
Stick to Preaching
First thing Monday morning, I headed to the kitchen at Pearce with my bowl of brownie ingredients left over from Sunday’s children’s moments. If you were in the service on Sunday, you know the contents of the bowl. If you weren’t in church, just picture a large stainless mixing bowl with brownie mix, oil, water, raw egg, and cat food. If you don’t understand that list of ingredients, talk to one of the Pearce kids.
Jim Heeks, our quite capable food director, said when I entered his kitchen, “You stick with preaching; I’ll handle the food!”
I think I’ll take his counsel!
Thanks for Years of Counsel
It is with sadness and a deep sense of appreciation that I announce that Pearce’s rental agreement with Agape Counseling Associates will come to an end, effective March 1, 2017. As you may know, for many years, Agape has rented office space in our facility, first in the lower level under Parmerter and, more recently, the offices just off the atrium balcony.
The ending of this partnership results from significant changes at Agape. In recent months, Agape has been acquired by Life Counseling Center, an organization based in Maryland. With this change in oversight, as well as a change in organizational culture, it seemed appropriate to bring an end to this rental agreement.
As someone who served for several years on the Agape Counseling Board, I am grateful for the many years this organization served our faith community, as well as many others on the west side of Monroe County.
No determination has been made as to the use of the offices being vacated by Agape.
Verses to Go Before I Sleep
In last week’s Dangling, I related a comment shared after my first message in our sermon series “Shaped by God’s Story”. Someone wondered if I would get through the entire Bible this year after spending the first message on only two verses in Genesis.
This past week, we made up some ground as we swept through chapters 3 through 11 of Genesis.
At the conclusion of Sunday’s service, Sabrina Kovach came up to me to share the results of her calculations. With 31,102 verses in the New International Version of Scripture, I would have to cover 5,977 verses each weekend to get through the Bible in one year.
I guess I have my work cut out for me!
A Word from Pastor Mike
Pastor Mike sent me this brief update on January’s teen retreat. I thought you’d enjoy hearing about this special weekend!
Each year, our senior teens venture out into the harsh winter for a retreat to Penn-York in Ulysses, Pennsylvania. With temps in the 50’s, the weather was hardly harsh; but we enjoyed our winter weekend nonetheless.
We spent our time hiking, holding a homerun derby using oversized marshmallows, and participating in discussions that focused on wisdom, humility, and loving God and others. It was a special weekend for my family and me as we soaked in every moment of our last trip with these great folks.
The trip was capped off with a stop at Hope Chapel in Perry and a tour of the parsonage. It was fun to be able to share with the teens where we are going to be living and ministering, and I think it was helpful for them to see that we really are not that far away.
(In the photo, Pastor Mike and those that went on the retreat are standing on the steps of Hope Chapel in Perry.)
Thanks for Your Advocacy on Behalf of Children
Last fall, I encouraged you to participate in the Children’s Sabbath by signing letters advocating for child care assistance for low income working families. You may be interested to know that 2,654 letters were signed by individuals in 75 faith communities throughout Monroe County.
In response, County Executive Dinolfo included an increase of $100,000 for child care subsidies in her proposed budget. The County Legislature added another $52,200, for a total increase over the previous years of $152,000 in child care subsidies.
Thanks for your advocacy on behalf of the children in our communities!
Helping Prepare for “What’s Around the Corner?”
Jim Morton, the chair of Pearce’s Official Board, is working with the Board and the Genesis Conference to anticipate our congregation’s next lead pastor. This month is a busy one for the Board as they gather the information that will help identify the best person to lead Pearce in the coming years.
Jim sent me this note, requesting your help!
I hope you were able to attend the Annual Celebration and you heard the Board’s desire to receive input from you concerning the pastoral transition. We want to know what you think Pearce needs for its next pastor. In order to provide that input, please attend an ABF class this week, sign up for a Focus Group, or take an online survey. Thank you in advance for your participation and most importantly, your prayers.