A Personal Sighting
This weekend, I’ll conclude our examination of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus by taking a look at a fascinating passage in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian Christians. In a powerful section on belief in the bodily resurrection, he mentioned, seemingly almost as an aside, that Jesus made several appearances in the days following that first Easter. He noted that Jesus even appeared to a crowd of 500 believers on one occasion. Then he instructed his scribe to write, and at this point I imagine his voice is trembling with the thought of it all, “…and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”
You may want to read 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 in preparation for services this Saturday and Sunday. I’ll try very hard to be in good health this time!
A Special Welcome to Josh Sarchet!
Last Saturday evening, Josh Sarchet was welcomed into membership at Pearce. Rev. Nelson Grimm did the honors of receiving this gifted young man who has blessed our congregation with his musical gifts. You may have noted the joy on his face this past Easter morning when he led our bell choir at a special point in the services. During the week, Josh is a music teacher at Rochester Prep Elementary School. A special welcome to Josh!
A Bevy of Bishops
I’ve always delighted in those collective nouns such as a coalition of cheetahs or a zeal of zebras. Well, this year Pearce is privileged to welcome a bevy of bishops. Now, I mean no disrespect by using that term. It just has a way of rolling off one’s tongue. But it also expresses a wonderful reality that is occurring this year at Pearce. We are hosting three bishops at various times in the next five months.
First, we have the privilege of hosting Bishop Samuel Kayinamura of Rwanda. I enjoyed meeting this wonderful and gifted leader during Pearce’s exploratory visit to Rwanda in January of 2015. Bishop Samuel is traveling to North Chili to participate in our “Linked with Love” partnership celebration on the weekend of April 30 & May 1. I’ve asked him to preside over our time of Communion in worship services that weekend. He will also be sharing his story at a special reception on Thursday, April 28, at 7pm in the Friendship Center.
Then, on the weekend of July 16 & 17, Bishop David Kendall will be our guest preacher. Bishop Kendall was elected to this position of service in 2005. He oversees Free Methodist ministries in the heartland of America and those on the continent of Africa. He is a gifted communicator and has keen insight into the Scriptures.
Finally, on our fall “Kick-off Weekend,” Bishop David Roller will return to Pearce to help us gather and celebrate coming back together after a busy summer. Bishop Roller has graciously preached at Pearce on several occasions over the nine years he has served as our bishop. He is one of the best storytellers I’ve ever heard and, as a result, wonderfully communicates the narrative of the Bible.
How blessed we are as a congregation to have this “bevy of bishops” flocking to our community of faith. I hope you take the opportunity to hear each of these godly leaders.
When You Need a Friend!
I would be remiss if I failed to express deep appreciation to those who came to my aid in my time of need this past weekend. Friday night, I came down with an unfortunate stomach bug that kept me down and out for a couple of days. (As I write this on Tuesday, I am 80% back to normal. I heard that cackle from those of you who have never considered me “normal!”)
Saturday morning, as Mary stood over me while I shivered on the couch under an afghan, she informed me that it was clear I wasn’t going to be in any condition to preach that evening. “Who should I call?” she asked. I ran through a list of potential rescuers and replied, “Call Wayne McCown!”
Well, as those of you who attended last weekend’s worship services at Pearce are well aware, Wayne put on his superhero cape and came to my aid. He was even so gracious as to continue with the weekend’s planned text and theme. What a guy!
Then there were others who helped out as well. Nelson Grimm assisted with the Saturday worship leading tasks that had been assigned to me. Scott & Beth Bellinger took charge of the Sunday evening Bible study in my stead. My wife made several contacts on my behalf and tolerated my moaning and groaning throughout the weekend. (Am I making this sound dramatic?)
All this to say, thank you to a wonderful group of people!
This week’s Dangling is abbreviated due to Spring cleaning! Although the week’s weather did not feel spring-like, the Pearce pastors and office support staff collaborated this Tuesday on cleaning out closets and various nooks and crannies in our facility. (Hence the photo of Kim Brittin, assistant to our administrator, and Jess Alcorn, our bookkeeper, cleaning out one of the “cages” in the lower level of the education wing.)
This Spring cleaning, which pre-empted my usual time to devote to tasks such as the week’s Dangling, has become an annual tradition for us, providing an opportunity not only to attend to cluttered areas of our facility, but also to see if there are items that we can pass on for inclusion in our Annual Mission Garage Sale. (I encourage you to begin identifying items in your own home to bring to Pearce the week of April 18. This year’s sale will be held on Friday and Saturday, April 22 and 23.)
In light of this week’s schedule, permit me to briefly highlight a few items! (I’ll resume my typicial long-winded Dangling next week!)
First, this weekend we’ll continue our “We Were There” series of sermons on the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. Check out John 20:24-31 in preparation.
Secondly, Dr. Tim Dwyer begins a three-week series on “Human Sexuality” next Wednesday, April 13, at 6:30pm in Room 82 of Pearce’s education wing. You’ll appreciate hearing Tim share his insights and perspectives.
Thirdly, I want to commend all of you for your support of the campaign to raise $160,000 to install a new roof this June on Parmerter Chapel. Last weekend was amazing, as we received more than $5,000, bringing our total to $130,865. The end of this campaign is beginning to appear on the horizon! Thanks for your continued generosity!
Lydia Monroe, our P4K director, showed me a photo book she put together of our “Linked with Love” partnership. The book will be used with P4K children, to help them better understand this partnership. I love the wonderful ways in which God is using this partnership to bless children, not only in Rwanda, but here in North Chili!
An finally, in last Sunday’s “Children’s Moments,” I got into a discussion about breakfast. You may recall, the sermon text for the day was John 21. In this passage, Jesus prepares a breakfast on the beach for his disciples.
I asked the kids what they had eaten for breakfast that morning before coming to Pearce. One of those responding was Rachel Kuhlkin. She told me she had eaten “Krave” for her breakfast. I was totally clueless as to what “Krave” is. All I could think of was something like “scrapple,” a popular Pennsylvania Dutch food. (Krave does have a bit of a German sound to it, doesn’t it?)
I asked Rachel to describe Krave, which she proceeded to do as a type of “hard chocolate on the outside with soft chocolate on the inside.” (I’m not doing justice to her description!) I continued to be mystified and couldn’t quite wrap my head around Krave.
Well, yesterday, I found a bag containing Krave in my mailbox at church. It was from my young friend, Rachel, with a note:
Dear Pastor Wally,
Here, now you can taste some Krave. There’s two kinds in there you can eat it dry or with milk. Hope you like it.
From Rachel Kuhlkin
I now know what Krave is. It’s actually quite good! Thanks to Rachel for providing me with a new insight into breakfast. The things I learn during children’s moments!
This Weekend at Pearce
Last weekend, I began a new sermon series on the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. I’ve chosen this
four-week series because I feel it is critical we realize that the cornerstone of our faith, the resurrection of Jesus, is a historical event. The Biblical writers make a point of documenting the many eyewitnesses who encountered Jesus after his resurrection from the grave.
This weekend, I’ll look at the closing chapter of John’s gospel, where Jesus encountered members of his inner circle near the shores of Lake Galilee. You might want to read and reflect on John 21:1-14 in preparation. Communion will also be served in both the Saturday and Sunday worship services.
I’ve asked Dr. Tim Dwyer to present a three-week seminar at Pearce on the subject of “Dealing with Human Sexuality.” This seminar will explore three significant topics. On April 13, Tim will help us understand the relationship between Biblical authority and human sexuality. The following week, April 20, he’ll help us consider the issue of homosexuality and how to blend both truth and grace into discussions. Finally, on April 27, Tim will highlight gender relations and gender confusion. Each seminar will begin at 6:30pm in room 82 in Pearce’s education wing.
Tim is a familiar face to many of us at Pearce. Since 2003, Tim has served as Professor of Christian Scriptures at Roberts and throughout that time he has been a guest in the pulpit of our church. (In fact, Tim is scheduled to preach during my sabbatical on June 4 and 5!) I appreciate him taking time out of a demanding teaching schedule to help us think through these issues.
Are you among the 149 families that have signed up for their photo for Pearce’s upcoming photo directory? If not, here’s what I want you to do. Go to www.pearcechurch.org and click on the link located near the bottom of the page.
It’s easy to schedule your appointment online. I should know, as I just made an appointment for Mary and myself while I was working on this Dangling. Now 150 families are signed up!
Nzige Team Selected
I’m pleased to announce that the members of Pearce’s VISA (Volunteers In Service Abroad) team have been selected for this summer’s ministry in Rwanda. Carol Stevenson, the team’s leader, will be accompanied by Kim LaCelle, Sue Smout, and Ruth Stewart. Each of these individuals have extensive experience in education.
Both Carol and Kim have long taught in public school districts in our area. Carol presently teaches elementary grades in the Rush-Henrietta School District. Kim has served as a science teacher for nearly two decades and previously worked at the Life Sciences Learning Center at the University of Rochester, leading teacher training for grant-funded projects. Sue Smout has taught at P4K for 16 years. (You may recall that last year Rochester’s News 10 NBC presented Sue with a “Golden Apple” award for excellence in instruction.) Ruth Stewart has 20 years of experience in home schooling, and has also taught at both the high school and college level.
Each of the three educators applied, underwent an interview, and were selected out of a total of six applicants. Interviews were conducted by Carol, as the team’s leader; Lydia Monroe, Pearce’s P4K director, and Becky Draper, the chair of Pearce’s Great Commission Leadership Team (GCLT). One of the primary reasons the members of this summer’s team were selected is that each of them have experience in training other teachers, the primary focus of the August trip.
This team is scheduled to provide training for the Nzige school faculty August 1 through 5, a week during which the students are enjoying summer vacation.
A second team is now being anticipated for February 2017. To find out more about this 2017 VISA team, contact Lydia Monroe. This team will have the opportunity to observe teachers in action, as well as model creative teaching techniques.
Saturday’s Delightful Moment
Easter Eve was a special moment at Pearce as two families brought their children to be presented before the Lord.
Chris and Lauren Grimm brought their daughter, Avery, for baptism. Chris and Kelly Brody brought their daughter, Grace, for dedication.
The relatives of these two infants pushed the Saturday service to a new high attendance of 113. Including the Good Friday Service, nearly 1,400 people attended one of the four worship services held at Pearce last weekend.
This Weekend at Pearce
I hope your plans for this weekend include attendance at one of Pearce’s four worship services.
Tomorrow evening (Friday) at 7pm, our Good Friday “Tenebrae” Service will be held in the Sanctuary. This service provides a time of sober reflection as we recall the death of Jesus on the cross. Pastor Harold Scott will provide a homily and Communion will be served.
Saturday evening, we’ll gather for our 5pm service. A highlight of this service will be the presentation before the Lord of two young daughters by the Brody and Grimm families.
Two opportunities for worship will be held on Easter morning, at 9 and 10:30am. Pastor Tim and his team have prepared beautiful music for these services. I’ll begin a new series of messages that examine the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. This weekend, we’ll look at Luke’s account of an encounter with Jesus on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35).
If you are a regular attender at Pearce, I encourage you to help us alleviate parking problems that may occur Sunday morning in the brief interval between the two worship services. You can do that by parking farther away from the church, allowing visitors to enjoy the prime spots. (The forecast for Sunday is cloudy and relatively warm.) You may also want to join the pastoral team and park on the lawn of Pearce’s Orchard Street property in order to free up space.
During this past weekend’s sermon, I read an excerpt from Corrie Ten Boom’s classic book The Hiding Place. The book became an immediate best-seller upon its publication in 1971, and was made into a movie four years later.
Following last Sunday’s service, Mary and I talked about the book and its impact on us. “You should encourage a new generation of readers to pick up The Hiding Place.” She’s right; I should!
Piece by Piece
When we kicked-off our campaign to raise funds to replace the Parmerter Chapel roof at the outset of 2015, our graphic designer, Jess Brannan, designed a poster for placement in Pearce’s lobby. Featured on the poster is a whimsical rendering of Parmerter Chapel.
As funds have been raised, portions of the roof have been added to the poster. This has highlighted, with only a quick glance, our progress towards our $160,000 goal.
I was quite pleased this past Monday to witness Jess’s addition of another portion of the poster’s roof. This means we now have a total of $121,841 on hand and are less than $40,000 away from our goal!
I am deeply grateful to the many who have given sacrificially to enable us to have a new roof installed this coming June. Let’s keep making progress so that we can accomplish this need without borrowing any funds.
Real Pastors Climb Mountains
Do you ever wonder what real pastors do in their spare time? This past weekend, Pastor John Tassone and his youngest son climbed one of the peaks in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. On Saturday, the two made their way up Mount Madison, which is the fifth highest peak in the Presidential Range with a summit of 5,367 feet above sea level.
On the morning of their assent, the temperature was a cool minus four degrees Fahrenheit, with wind gusts of 30 miles per hour.
To keep up with Pastor John, I’ve determined to ascend to the top of Cobb Hill (elevation 633 feet) sometime this summer when the temperatures are more comfortable!
I recently received word that parents of the Nzige students have begun construction on a new classroom building to accommodate this growing school. This building will permit the school to begin providing instruction for primary students. Until now, the school has focused on preschool education. This new structure will provide an additional three classrooms. Commenting on this project, Dr. Linda Adams, director of International Child Care Ministries said, “They are people of great faith!”
Update from the Flemings
Mary and I want to express appreciation for your support during the past several months as Mary underwent a series of chemo infusions at the Wilmot Cancer Center at Strong. Last week, the decision was made to discontinue any further chemo treatments at this time. The initial series of three treatments appear to have been effective in getting Mary’s CLL (Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia) under control for now.
Your prayers and your many expressions of encouragement and love have touched us deeply. We are blessed to be a part of such a loving community of faith. Thank you!
Holy Week at Pearce
As you know, this weekend begins a special week of observance for Christians all over the world. Here at Pearce, we’ve planned several opportunities for you to gather with other believers to remember our Savior’s life and ministry.
This weekend, I’ll conclude our examination of the Lord’s Prayer with a message on forgiveness entitled “A Two-Way Street,” based on Matthew 6:12-15. On Palm Sunday morning, Jim Heeks and his crew will serve a delicious breakfast in our Family Life Center from 8-10:15am. Tickets for the breakfast can be purchased at the door for the modest price of $5.50 per person or $22 for an immediate family of four or more.
Next Wednesday, Pastor Kathy and her children’s ministry team will be hosting an egg hunt at Pearce, beginning at 6:30pm. I’ve been asked to participate in this event, so I am planning to be there!
On Good Friday, a sober service of Communion will be held in our sanctuary at 7pm. This is a Tenebrae service, a Latin term meaning “darkness,” referring to the fact that the service ends in darkness and silence to remind participants of the horrific death of our Lord on the cross.
On Easter Eve, our 5pm Saturday service will focus on the anxious period of waiting that the first followers of Jesus experienced in the hours following Good Friday and before receiving the news of Jesus’s resurrection. Although at this point in Christian history, we know that Jesus did indeed rise from the grave, we continue to experience a sense of waiting as we look forward to His return. As a special feature of this service, two young girls (Grace Brody and Avery Grimm) will be brought before the Lord by their parents.
Pearce will hold two worship services on Easter: the first at 9am followed by a 10:30am service. The services will be identical, filled with the rich music of Easter. I’ll be starting a new four-week sermon series that will take a look at the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. On Easter, we’ll consider His encounter with two of His disciples on the Emmaus Road (Luke 24:13-35).
I hope you and your family will avail yourself of these times to gather to observe Holy Week.
Leaders of the Pack
Officers for Pearce’s Official Board, the board providing oversight of our church’s ministry, were elected last week. Evidently last year’s officers did a great job as all three of them were elected for another one-year-term. They are Jim Morton (chair), Mike Wilson (vice-chair), and Chuck Cockrell (legal secretary). I’m grateful to each of these individuals and appreciate their servant-leadership in helping our congregation fulfill its mission and vision.
On a bit of whimsical note, the board observed in a rather delicious way, a significant milestone at its meeting. Chuck Cockrell, who also serves as the chair of the board’s finance committee, brought a selection of desserts sliced in half. Board members were encouraged to enjoy “half a dessert” in recognition that Pearce has reached the point in its loan payments where the portion allocated for principal is equal to that allocated for interest.
The current weekly payment on Pearce’s debt is $4,866.25. So of that payment, 50% is now going to principal. Total debt now stands at $2,321,000. This debt was incurred in 2001, when the latest addition (the Pearce atrium, Family Life Center, and educational wing) was constructed. A special note of thanks to those of you who give regularly to our “Building Fund” and help reduce this debt.
Annual Mission Garage Sale
Earlier this week, I made my way to our “mission garage sale” shelves in my basement. You may have such a spot in your own house. Throughout the year, as Mary and I come across items we no longer wish to keep, we take those items down and set them on the shelves, poised to be taken to Pearce during the month of April.
I remind you that Pearce’s Annual Mission Garage Sale, now in its 13th year, has raised more than $150,000 for mission projects, both local and global. Last year’s sale set a new record and raised an astounding $21,437.28!
Following last Sunday’s worship service, I was gratified to have the unexpected privilege of meeting Xavier, a student at The Charles Finney School. Xavier, along with another student from the city of Rochester, has received a scholarship to attend this Christian school as a result of past Mission Garage Sales!
The 2016 Mission Garage Sale will be held on April 22 and 23. Why not start gathering items now?
The Report of My Death
In 1897, the New York Herald published an article reporting that Mark Twain, then 61 years of age, was “grievously ill and possibly dying.” A quite-healthy Twain, in London at the time of the article’s publication, responded “The report of my death was an exaggeration.”
I felt a bit like Twain when a someone recently commented that a Pearce attender had asked them “Why is Pastor Wally going on sabbatical for a year?” The report of my sabbatical, I feel compelled to state, was an exaggeration!
The real story is that I will be taking a sabbatical beginning on Friday, May 27, and that I will return to my pastoral duties at Pearce on Wednesday, August 31. Except for officiating at a couple of weddings and a week serving as the camp pastor at the Wabash Family Camp in Indiana (July 17 & 23), I’ll be “off the grid.” The Pastor’s Cabinet has graciously advised me to take advantage of the opportunity to attend other churches during this time and see what I can learn from observing other congregations.
The purpose of the sabbatical is to make headway on my dissertation at Northeastern Seminary, a task that I have delayed far too long! My dissertation, for those of you who are curious, is an ethnographical study of Pearce.
Ethnography is, to use the definition of Mary Clark Moschella in her book Ethnography as a Pastoral Practice, is “a way of immersing yourself in the life of a people in order to learn something about and from them.” More simply, it is a means of understanding an organization, Pearce Church in my case, by listening to the stories of the people who comprise the organization. So, even though I will be away from Pearce, I will be immersing myself in the stories of Pearce to better understand our community of faith.
I’ve had many people ask how I’m feeling about the sabbatical. I’ve responded that it’s a mixed bag. On the one hand, I’m looking forward to doing some research and writing. On the other hand, I am a bit anxious at the thought of stepping away for a few months from my vocation of 36 years. It will definitely be a new and challenging experience for me!
I’ve begun meeting with Pastor Jeremy to ensure everything functions smoothly in my absence. He will be serving as the interim lead pastor while I am gone.
I am deeply appreciative to Pearce’s generosity in granting this sabbatical. Thanks for your support, as I anticipate this time of being away.
Join Lydia Monroe, Kristen Coon, and Carol Stevenson for an update from their recent mission trip to Nzige, Rwanda. Through slides and stories, they will share their observations at the preschool and their plans for future training of Nzige teachers. Come to Room 134 (education wing) at 6:30pm on Wednesday, March 9.
Family Night at Pearce:
I am very excited about the Family Nights Pearce has been hosting each month. The January Family Night was “Human Hungry Hippos.” If you were there, you know how much fun it was! At the end of February, we held Life Size Angry Birds and it was another fun family night. The kids were excited and had lots of fun being together. It is amazing how God brought these events about. Dave Mantegna is the key leader and mastermind of these nights. He has had a vision of doing something that would bring families into the church to have fun together where casual conversations about God and life happen. Dave has gathered some families to be part of the planning. The next two are planned for March and April. Plan to come out and have some fun as a family. You may have some great ideas for future family nights. I would encourage you to talk to Dave, he is always looking for new ideas! Be praying that God would use this ministry in the lives of the families of our church.
I am thankful for the ministry of Kids’ Worship. During the season of Lent, the kids are receiving messages about Easter. Over these next several weeks, each child is making their own “Easter Story Box.” It is a fun, hands-on way to teach the Easter story. I am encouraging them to use their completed story box to teach the story of Easter to their family and friends. The picture above shows the contents of each Easter Story Box. Another important thing we do together in Kids’ Worship is to pray. At the beginning of our time together, the kids share their requests. This past Sunday, many of the kids asked for prayer for their Dads. It is amazing to hear what is on their hearts; it gives insight into the concerns they carry.
Easter Egg Hunt:
Get ready for our first Pearce Easter egg hunt on Wednesday, March 23, from 6:30-8pm! This is our regular time for Wednesday Kids’ Ministry: Camp Wednesday and Collide 56. If you have never been to a Wednesday night, this would be a great night to come. We will divide the kids into three groups: preschool, K-4th grade, and 5th&6th grade. The church building will be our egg hunting ground. At the end of our night together, Pastor Wally will share an Easter devotion with the kids.
My desire as a children’s pastor is for our kids at Pearce to fall in love with Jesus and know that He has a plan for each day of their lives. When I made my first commitment to Jesus, I was 13 years old. It was life-changing for me. I remember decisions I made as a teenager because I loved Jesus. Decades later, I still love Jesus and desire the hearts of our children to love Him, too!
May our families experience the love of Jesus and the power of His Resurrection this Easter season!