Always Winter and Never Christmas!
Winter officially arrived in Rochester at 5:44am yesterday (Wednesday), although we have experienced winter weather for a few weeks already. I, for one, haven’t minded it. I love winter. (more…)
Blessed By Their Presence
I thought it appropriate to call your attention to the fact that two of Pearce’s “tribal elders” will soon celebrate their birthdays. Howard Myer and Arden Travis will both be turning 97! (more…)
Almost There is Almost Gone!
The Christmas season always passes too quickly for me. Every year, I tell myself to move slowly and deliberately savor the anticipation of Christ’s coming. But time is passing and Christmas is only two weeks away. (more…)
Can I Ask for Your Help?
Let me just admit right up front that I am one of those who usually ignores invitations to complete a survey. If someone with a clipboard is standing in the center of a mall aisle, I steer well clear. So, I understand that I may be asking quite a lot of you; but I’m going to do it anyway. After all, it’s almost Christmas and I hope I’m catching you in a good mood! (more…)
I leave you with a quote from William Law, an Anglican priest who greatly influenced John and Charles Wesley. Law wrote: “Would you know who is the greatest saint in the world: It is not he who prays most or fasts most, it is not he who gives most alms or is most eminent for temperance, chastity or justice; but it is he who is always thankful to God, who wills everything that God wills, who receives everything as an instance of God’s goodness, and has a heart always ready to praise God for it.”
This Weekend’s Message
This weekend, hopefully with a much stronger voice than this past weekend, I’ll conclude our consideration of selected passages from the prophet Isaiah. You may want to read Isaiah 53 in preparation for considering “The Endless Whys” we encounter as we move through life. Why is there so much suffering in our world? I hope you’ll join me!
Have You Invited Someone?
In only a week, the musicians of Pearce will present the Christmas musical Almost There! I hope you have invited friends or coworkers to experience the awe and wonder of Christmas as Mary did so many years ago. This unique take, featuring popular Christmas anthems by Michael W. Smith, will draw your heart closer to the expectation of Christ’s coming!
Almost There will be presented on Friday, December 2, at 7pm and on Sunday, December 4, at 6pm. Both performances will be followed by a dessert reception. A free-will offering will be received during the musical, with proceeds going toward Pearce’s Compassion Fund—which assists many families in our community throughout the year.
A Breath of Fresh Air for Pearce Outdoors
For many years, Pearce has had a ministry specifically directed to reaching those who love to pursue God in the great outdoors. Through various guests, large group events, and our Sportsmen Academy, we have sought to reach others for Christ through their interest in the outdoors. Recently, we took assessment of our successes and failures and have decided that some retooling was appropriate.
For starters, we have been very gender specific. To address this, we have changed our name from Pearce Sportsmen to Pearce Outdoors.
The second thing we have taken note of is that not everyone is interested in hunting, trapping, and fishing. I know—hard to believe! But there are a great many other ways to see the Creator in the created. So with our name change we are also offering new topics of interest in our monthly seminars. Topics such as canning/freezing, bird watching, track identification, wild life rescue, fly fishing, and gardening give you a sense of the breadth of the seminars.
Our final shift is the nature of the seminars themselves. Pearce Sportsmen had become a monthly meeting of smelly outdoorsmen sitting around eating pie, drinking coffee, and telling tales while planning our next meeting. While that sounds attractive to many, we decided we wanted to gear ourselves as a group that actually does something, a group that offers something monthly. To that end, we are now meeting the second Tuesday of each month, and have a guest speaker lined up for each meeting.
We want to invite you to join us, and bring your friends. There will still be pie and coffee; but our desire as Pearce Outdoors is not to wait for events, but to offer monthly opportunities to introduce people who don’t yet know the Creator to come and see Him in the created!
The seminar line-up for the next few months is:
- December 13: Andrea Patterson, Education Director of the Braddock Bay Bird Observatory—Andrea will be joining us to help those interested in getting started in birding.
- January 10: Bob Samuelson, NYS Trapping Association—Have you ever seen tracks in the snow or mud and wondered what animal made those? Bob will teach us track identification.
- February 14: Gary Zimmerman, Wild Life Rescue Expert—Gary will be joining us with various birds of prey and rescued wild life. You won’t want to miss the opportunity to see these creatures up close and to hear more about what we can do to be stewards of God’s creation.
- March 14: Kyle Poag, local high school teacher, Pearce Member, and Fly Fisherman extraordinaire—Kyle will be with us teaching us the finer points of getting started and preparing for the upcoming fishing season.
- April 11: Rob Harris, Owner of Higbies—Rob will be here to discuss gardening and lawn care for the coming growing season. Jack Bryant from Preferred Seed will also be joining Rob for this presentation.
Progress at Nzige
In last week’s Dangling, I included a photo of the new classroom building under construction in Nzige, Rwanda. A few days ago, I received an update on the construction with two additional photos. I thought you’d enjoy seeing the progress on this project that will permit the Nzige school (that up until now has been a preschool) to begin offering elementary level classes.
I am thankful for a generous church that loves to share with others. My deep appreciation to the many volunteers who donated, packed, and delivered boxes of food to 1,000 families in Monroe County. Thanks, also, to the excellent leadership of Terry and Sherri Taber in overseeing this ambitious annual ministry.
The Rest of the Story
This past weekend, I related the story of my dad’s coming to personal faith in Christ during the closing months of his life. A man in my home church by the name of Dick Rogenbaum was a significant influence in my dad’s conversion.
Dick would regularly call my dad and offer to pray with him on the phone. My dad was going through an extended hospitalization and chemo; Dick’s calls were a great encouragement to him. One day Dick asked my dad, “Walt, wouldn’t you like to turn your life over to Jesus?” My dad admitted that he wanted to and, as a result, embraced the Lord.
After the service, Bev Kinde came up to me and mentioned that Dick Rogenbaum had played a significant role in her own family coming to faith in Christ. When Bev was a child in Bradford, Pennsylvania, Dick and his family picked Bev up at her nearby home and took her to church with them. “I’m sure the Rogenbaums had no idea how many of my dad’s family and children are born again Christians because of their love and faithfulness to all of them.”
I marvel that, years ago, one man could impact two of the families presently worshiping at Pearce Church so many years later.
To top it all off, I received an email on Monday from Alberta Anderson. In her note she related that as an older child she knew Dick and his family. “When I remember Dick through the eyes of a pre-teen,” Alberta wrote, “I see a happy face and someone full of life.”
So the story continues, doesn’t it? I hope each of us influence others for Christ and are remembered as someone full of life!
Thanks, Bev and Alberta, for the rest of the story!
(Here’s a photo of my dad with three of the kids in my family. I’m the calm, steady child in the center of the photo.)
Encouragement from Rwanda
When we first began exploring a partnership with the school in Rwanda, we expressed our desire that it be a true partnership with both parties benefitting from the relationship. We didn’t want it to be all about Pearce ministering to Nzige, but also about allowing Nzige to bless us.
This past Saturday, I sensed the special nature of our “Linked with Love” relationship upon receiving an email from Niyigena Ephaste, the Rwandan Director of International Child Care Ministries (ICCM). Ephaste wrote:
Greetings from Rwanda.
Our local and national radios & television update us about the situation in the USA since the presidential campaign started, with lots of comments of the journalists. I personally take time listening to the voice of America, BBC and French International Radio to be aware of the news.
The purpose of this email, friends, is to let you know that we pray for the States.
Tomorrow, in Sunday Service, at Nzige, the congregation will take like 10 minutes thinking and praying for you and for the leadership of the elected president, Mr. Donald Trump and his coming leadership. They will pray also for their children sponsors.
We trust that the Lord takes control of everything. Here, we know that the Lord has chosen the States to bless and be the light of several other countries around the world.
Meanwhile, please send our thanks to every one who donate to build classrooms at Nzige. The photos show where we are today, and we hope to be done with the funds available by next week.
How wonderful to think of the people of the Nzige Free Methodist Church gathering this past Sunday for worship and taking time in their service to hold a time of special prayer for us, our church, and our country. I hope you feel blessed and encouraged by Ephaste’s email!
Light on Dark Days
As I write this edition the Dangling, it sure doesn’t feel like the dark days of November. It is sunny and relatively warm for this time of year! But this morning, I read the forecast for next week and was assured that the dark, cold days of November are just around the corner.
This weekend, I’ll be taking a look at Isaiah’s 49th chapter. The title of my message is “When the Light Breaks Through” and will focus on God’s plan to bring transformation to the entire world. God speaks through Isaiah about the scope of his salvation: “I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” So this weekend we’ll be thinking about how we participate in announcing the good news of Jesus’ salvation to the ends of the earth. I hope you’ll join us!
Don’t forget that we’ll be packing Thanksgiving Boxes beginning at 9am this Saturday morning. Come help us out! If you are able, offer to help deliver some of the boxes. If you want to deliver, come to Pearce’s Family Life Center between 10am-4pm on Saturday, 12-4pm on Sunday, or 9am-4pm on Monday.
Ten years ago, five American pastors imagined a better Christmas practice for the churches they served. Out of their reflection emerged Advent Conspiracy, a global movement of people and congregations resisting the cultural Christmas narrative of consumption. Advent Conspiracy is all about choosing a revolutionary means of observing Christmas by worshiping more fully, spending less on gifts, giving more to those in poverty, and, through it all, loving all people.
Pearce has participated in Advent Conspiracy for several years now. How we participate is quite simple. We ask those in our community of faith to spend less on Christmas gifts and, instead, make gifts or give the gift of presence to our friends and family. Then, as a result, we free up resources for a great need of our world: clean drinking water.
I invite you to join this movement. We’ll be receiving a special offering the weekend before Christmas that will go to Clear Blue Global Water, a ministry committed to bringing fresh water to impoverished areas of our world. If you’d like to read more about Advent Conspiracy, check out their website at www.adventconspiracy.org.
Never Know Who Will Show Up at Pearce
After last Sunday’s worship service, I was able to greet Rev. Brad Button, the superintendent of the East Michigan Conference of the Free Methodist Church. Brad was in town to visit his daughter, a student at Roberts. Brad was talking with the Everetts when I saw him. Norm and Jennifer shared with me that Brad was in their wedding back in 1992. At that time, Brad was Norm’s friend and co-worker at Chase Bank. What a delight to have old friends visit Pearce!
Financial Forum Update
Thanks to the many of you who attended this past Tuesday’s Financial Forum. Parmerter Chapel was filled with 146 people, all who care deeply about our church and its financial health. I sensed a wonderful spirit throughout the meeting and am grateful for this community of faith.
My thanks to the Finance Committee, under the leadership of Chuck Cockrell, for their work in preparing the presentation and the proposed 2017 budget. Also, I am appreciative of the work of our administrator, Honna, and Pastor Jeremy in putting together the evening. One final word of thanks to the Heeks for supplying the salad and the members of our Official Board for purchasing the delicious pizza.
I invite you to pray along with me that the Lord will supply our congregation’s financial needs in the coming year. We have certainly seen evidence of His faithfulness in the life of this church many times in the past!
Women’s Fall Brunch
We held our annual fall Women’s Brunch on November 5. Janet Bratt was our main speaker. She spoke from her heart, and shared part of her story and how God is at work in her life. Sarah Thomson sang a lovely solo with her mom, Alicia, accompanying her on the piano. There were about 100 ladies present. Jim Heeks and his team served a delicious brunch. All around, it was a great time of being together. Thank you to everyone who made this year’s brunch a success!
Family Story Hour
Pearce families, we have some fun events coming this Christmas season at Pearce! Mark your calendars for our next Family Fun Night on Wednesday, December 28, at 7pm. This will be our annual Family Kickball Night. Also, you can join us for our Family Story Hour on Wednesday night, December 14. This is a fun event for the whole family! We will begin the evening singing several well-known Christmas songs together, then Pastor Wally will read a couple of Christmas stories to the children—everyone enjoys the way he brings the characters to life. We’ll then end the evening with a cookie reception in the Family Life Center.
Can you believe that in about two months (January 2017), we will begin preparations for VBS 2017?! The theme for 2017 is “Maker Fun Factory: Created by God, Built for a Purpose.” Mark your calendars for the week of June 26-29. As you pray for VBS, ask God how he wants you to serve—VBS is a great ministry for the children in our church and also in our community.
Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas! Thank you for the prayers and support you give the children’s ministry at Pearce!
Light on Dark November Days
I think you will find the words of this ancient prophet to be encouraging, especially as we face winter and the dark months of the year. “Wonderful, Glorious Light” is the title of this week’s message, based on chapter 42 of Isaiah.
Thankful for Your Help
As you know, we are in the midst of getting 1,000 boxes of food prepared for delivery this Thanksgiving. Many of you have already been at work, helping us get ready for this expression of love.
Here’s how you can continue to assist us:
- Bring in your copy paper-sized boxes. We still need about 300 of these.
- Donate funds to help purchase frozen turkeys. In the past, many of you purchased turkeys and brought them into the “Turkey Hotel” at Pearce. Due to the significant growth to this ministry in recent years, we can no longer accommodate 1,000 frozen turkeys in Pearce’s freezers. So your helping to fund the purchase of the turkeys is deeply appreciated.
- Help deliver boxes by signing up as a driver for Saturday, November 19, or Sunday, November 20.
- Pray that God will use this ministry for His purpose and to His glory!
This past Sunday, I had the opportunity to visit with one of our church’s attenders over a cup of coffee. As often happens when I meet with people, our discussion turned to the latest books each of us was reading. My friend mentioned that they had just finished the Bonhoeffer book that I had on the “Pearce Reads” shelves a few weeks ago. She then told me that she also read the Lewis biography that was highlighted a few weeks prior to Bonhoeffer’s book. I was gratified to hear that the books offered as “Pearce Reads” are proving to be helpful.
Well, let me encourage those of you who are interested, to read a new book by Tim Keller titled Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ. Keller’s books are always worth the investment of your time and this book will provide a thoughtful read in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
I’ve also placed copies of three devotional books that I’ve featured in prior years. The first is Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas. Several families have mentioned to me their use of this book to enrich their family’s observance last Advent. The second book is Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas. I have used this for the past several years and always enjoy the rich variety of readings from a wide selection of gifted authors. The third book, Goodness and Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas, sounds a lot like the book I just mentioned; but it is a different compilation of advent devotional readings.
I hope you find some good reading during these long, dark evenings of November and December!
A Rather Odd Reality
It seems a bit odd to me in some ways, but this is the reality: it is challenging to put together a volunteer staff for the worship service on December 25. Yes, in case you haven’t realized it, Christmas falls on a Sunday this year. On that special day, Pearce will hold a 10:30am worship service.
It’s understandable why it is difficult to find volunteers to help staff the nursery, greet those entering the church, and help with parking. After all, everyone wants to enjoy a day with family and friends, especially on Christmas morning.
On the other hand, it is Christmas! What more wonderful time, other than Easter perhaps, to gather and worship. We want Pearce to be well prepared for any visitors who may decide to worship Christ this Christmas.
If you are able to help with greeting or parking lot ministries, contact Joan Goulart at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are able to help with the nursery, contact Pastor Kathy at email@example.com. Thanks for helping us welcome others to worship the newborn King!
Nzige Team #4 Now Complete!
I’m pleased to announce that Pearce’s fourth VISA (Volunteers in Service Aboard) team to Rwanda is now fully staffed. Recently, Jackie Kuhlkin was named to the team by our church’s Great Commission Leadership Team (GCLT), joining the three other members: Laura Ciminelli, Cheryl Heimberger, and Carol Stephenson. These four gifted individuals will spend several days in Nzige next February. The focus of the team will be to continue training the Nzige teaching staff as part of our church’s “Linked with Love” partnership with the Nzige school.
I also recently received word from Dr. Linda Adams that International Child Care Ministries (ICCM) is now encouraging other Free Methodist congregations in the U.S. to partner with ICCM schools around the globe. Two videographers from Indianapolis, Josh and Alicia Baker, will be visiting Pearce the first weekend of December to secure footage that will help tell the story of our “Linked with Love” partnership. It is hoped that the resulting video will help spur other churches to develop similar relationships.
By the way, we have a great supply of sponsor packets if you are interested in becoming a sponsor for one of the children in Nzige. You can check out the packets by contacting Kim Brittin in the church office at 594-9488.
Johnny on the Spot
If you drive by Pearce this weekend, you may be surprised to see a port-a-potty in our front lawn! This odd sight is just an indication that it is time, once again, for Pearce’s annual “Project Out in the Cold.”
Tomorrow, our junior and senior teens will be spending the night outside in cardboard boxes to help bring awareness to the plight of those without enough in our community. By this, the teens hope to stand in solidarity with them and raise funds to help three vital organizations that minister to the disadvantaged in our area: Open Door Mission, Straight from the Heart, and Center for Youth.
Representatives from all three of these ministries will be sharing throughout the evening, beginning at 7pm. You are invited to join them for dinner and to hear the powerful testimonies of these three organizations. For more details, please contact Karen Hopkins.
As you drive by Pearce on Friday night, give our students a honk and say a prayer for them, as they learn in a very real way what it is like to spend a cold night outdoors. (It’s forecasted to get down to 39 degrees on Friday!)
When Your Fabrics Clash!
This weekend, I’ll bring our sermon series on Christian Community to a close with an examination of Romans 14:1-12, “When the Fabrics Clash!” This message will consider how we handle disagreement within the church.
Want Help in Sharing Your Faith?
I’m always interested in learning new ways to present the old, old Story! Colleen Dick, Pearce’s newest Local Ministerial Candidate, will be sharing a seminar geared to help you in the task of bringing hope and restoration to a broken world. This seminar will expose you to a marvelous tool, The Flower Man, a wordless picture book geared to speak to a post-Christendom culture.
This seminar will be held over three Wednesday evenings, beginning on November 9. The other two sessions will be on November 16 and 30. (There will be no Wednesday evening activities at Pearce on Thanksgiving Eve.)
This seminar, you may notice, was originally scheduled to being yesterday (November 2), but was moved back a week to accommodate the “My Faith Matters” simulcast.
The Music of Christmas
Now that November has arrived, I’m in full Christmas music mode! While riding in my car the other day, I offered to play some Christmas music for a friend. They quickly declined saying, “Christmas music is not permitted ‘til after Thanksgiving!”
Obviously, I don’t live with that restriction. (I am, after all, a “Free” Methodist!)
So, I thought I should highlight a few new Christmas albums I’m enjoying this week.
The first is Matt Redman’s album These Christmas Lights, and features completely original Christmas music. This album grew out of a time when Redman retreated to walk the paths and roads of Israel, places so familiar to us in the Christmas story. He explains, “I don’t want to just tell a story, I want to make sure that we put ourselves in the story too.” Take special note of the song His Name Shall Be.
Give a listen to Salt of the Sound’s rendition of the old English carol In the Bleak Midwinter. Its ethereal sounds create an evocative atmosphere for this traditional song.
I have really been enjoying Future of Forestry’s Advent Christmas, Vol. 3. I find this to be a reverent album that beautifully assists me in glorifying God for the gift of His Son.
Let me know of any new Christmas music you are discovering! It’s beginning to sound a lot like Christmas, at least where I go!
Facing a Significant Shortfall
A few weeks ago, I informed you of Roberts Wesleyan College’s recent decision to no longer rent classroom space from Pearce after the end of this academic year. Rental income from the college has significantly contributed to our Operational Budget for many years. Because Pearce will no longer benefit from this arrangement, putting together our budget for 2017 is particularly challenging.
I hope you’ll join us on Tuesday evening, November 15, in Parmerter Chapel to hear the Finance Committee outline Pearce’s financial situation and the possible cut-backs that may be in our near future.
As always, I am grateful for the wonderful generosity of so many of you. Thank you for your faithful and regular financial support of our ministry!
In last week’s Dangling, I mentioned that Jared and Tracy Bush were bringing their daughter, Emelyn Joy, in dedication at the Saturday worship service. I thought I should follow up this week with a photo of the Bush family. You must admit, Emelyn is too cute!
Paul on Paul
One of the many blessings of Pearce is its abundance of gifted teachers of God’s Word. Dr. Paul Livermore is one of those teachers. Paul has graciously agreed to participate in our fall sermon series, “The Fabric of Christian Community.” His message this weekend is based on Romans 12:9-21 and is titled “Behaving as a Christian Should Is a Learned Skill.”
When I was a seminarian at Asbury, someone referred to Dr. Robert Traina, a gifted Bible professor, with this comment, “He’s forgotten more than I’ll ever know!” I feel that way about Dr. Livermore. I encourage you to come and join us this weekend and learn more about Christian community and the life of discipleship.
My Election Quandary
Last evening, my wife mentioned to me that she felt like we were living in the time of the Old Testament prophets. She had been reading Ezekiel and, with a sigh, expressed her frustration at the behavior of the major party candidates in this year’s presidential election. I share her exasperation. Perhaps you do as well.
I offer, in light of these times, a few brief thoughts:
- Let’s remind ourselves where our true citizenship lies. We are people of another Kingdom and we need to keep our eyes on the city whose architect and builder is God. I don’t say that lightly, nor to evade our responsibility to be salt and light in this troubling hour. But we need to keep in perspective the big picture and the reality that God remains on his throne. The words of Isaiah have run through my mind often recently: “Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket….Before [God] all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing” (Isaiah 40:15-17). Kind of puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?
- We must be gracious to those who advocate for a candidate of whom we do not approve. I remind you that Pearce is not a congregation of Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals. We are made up of a diversity of political affiliations and convictions. We must show respect to those with whom we may disagree.
- Keep reading valued, wise, and informed voices on this subject. Permit me to suggest our own Bishop Kendall’s recent blog “Political Questions—Does Character Really Matter?” You can find this at fmcusa.org/davidkendall/2016/09/20/political-questions-does-character-really-matter/
Pearce’s treasurer, Mike Vannest, sent me this graph which provides a financial snapshot at this point in the year. With nearly 79% of the year behind us, we are under projections in our three main areas of giving: Operations (which provides for the day-to-day operations of the church), Building (which is our payment on the debt incurred in the building of the 2001 expansion) and Missions. These percentages translate into the following gaps: $55,000 in Operations; $15,000 in Building; and $4,000 in Missions. I encourage you to consider helping us stay financially strong through your faithful and generous support of Pearce Church.
International Child Moments
It was a pleasure to have Nancy, Anupam, and Ravi join me for Children’s Moments this past Sunday. These three graduate students from India are presently working on their MBA degrees at Immanuel University in Hydrabad, India. They are staying in our mission house for several days as part of their tour of Free Methodist colleges and universities in the United States. We ask God’s blessing on them as they experience a global context to their studies.
Don’t forget, this Sunday, October 16, last summer’s Nzige team will be sharing about their experience spending several days at the school in Rwanda. Come hear them at 9am in Room 134 of Pearce’s education wing.
Also, we still have packets for child sponsorship in the Pearce office. If you are interested in helping to change the life of a child in Nzige, contact Kim Brittin at 594-9488 to obtain a packet.
This weekend, Pearce will join with other churches to observe “Children’s Sabbath:” a national observance of churches across America. The purpose of this observance is to remind us of our moral responsibility to care, protect, and advocate for children.
I asked Lydia Monroe, our Pearce 4 Kids director, to write about the importance of government subsidies in helping make child care accessible to families who might not otherwise have the means. Here’s what she wrote:
Pearce Church began providing care for children in our community through Pearce 4 Kids in 1987. This was in response to a tangible need in our community.
We strive for the highest standard of excellence in our staff and our classrooms. But day care is not inexpensive. Day care centers are required to be licensed by the state of NY, which imposes many regulatory laws upon us. Having 250 children in and out of the building each week puts wear and tear on carpets, toys, and equipment. P4K is responsible to cover these costs as well as everyday things like lights, toilet paper, custodial support, and food service.
All day cares have these financial demands, along with the rising cost of minimum wage. So day care is not cheap. I often hear news stories with the headline, “Soaring Child Care Costs Squeeze Families!”
This is why having day care subsidies is imperative for some families. Whether it’s due to a short-term family crisis or a long-term financial struggle, families often need help with the cost of child care.
While it is not mandated that day care centers serve families on state subsidies, we at P4K feel it is our responsibility and privilege to do so. Our hope is that we can provide care for all children and their families, showing them the love of Jesus as we care for their children.
Thanks for joining with Lydia in advocating for government policies that help nurture our children. Find out more about how you can advocate by stopping by the table in the atrium at Pearce this weekend.