The Soundtrack Continues to Play
Thus far this month, we’ve listed to a hymn, a jingle, a fugue, and a dirge. (By the way, Pastor Jeremy is still trying to comprehend a fugue. Perhaps that’s why I’ve heard such an odd assortment of music emanating from this office next door to mine!)
This weekend, we’ll look at a “serenade” as we consider the words of 2 Samuel 1:25 and reflect on the songs of sorrow that invade each of our lives. In this passage in Samuel, David grieves the loss of his best friend in song. His words prompt us to consider the deep emotions that we encounter on the death of someone near to us.
Join us for this fifth message in our series “The Soundtracks of Our Lives” at our 5pm Saturday or 10:30 am Sunday service.
For Crying Out Loud!
I’m pleased to announce that Pastor Kathy and Rita Dean, Pearce’s nursery director, are making plans to launch a nursery for the Saturday evening service, beginning on February 20. The “purple room” on the lower level of our facility is a well-equipped nursery within close proximity to Parmerter Chapel. Parents attending the worship service will be provided with pagers in the event they need to be summoned to the nursery for any reason.
As the Saturday service has grown over the past four years, it has become apparent that a nursery is needed. (Attendance the first four weeks of the service in 2012 averaged 62. This year it averaged 85. It is interesting to note that the average worship attendance of a Free Methodist congregation in the United States is 77.)
Jim Morton, on behalf of the Pearce Official Board, announced at the close of last Sunday’s worship service that I’ve been granted a sabbatical beginning in late May. My time away from my responsibilities at Pearce will begin on Friday, May 27, and conclude on Monday, August 29. The purpose of this sabbatical is to provide an opportunity for me to work on finishing my D. Min. degree at Northeastern Seminary.
I began this program at the seminary in the spring of 2009 and completed all but the dissertation phase by 2011. For the past five years, I’ve not made any progress. (Alas!)
The board has graciously encouraged me, along with my colleagues on Pearce’s pastoral team, to take time to make headway on my dissertation. I am grateful to them for their support. Although I will not complete my dissertation by summer’s end, I hope to make significant progress and complete my work by the end of March 2017.
I’ll be meeting with my Pastor’s Cabinet (Nelson Grimm, Gina Spear, and Terry Taber) in a couple of weeks to clarify details of the sabbatical. Dr. Doug Cullum will be serving as my dissertation advisor.
“Bridges over Troubled Waters”
Why should you come to next Wednesday’s Annual Celebration at 6:30pm in Parmerter Chapel? Let me suggest the following reasons:
- You’ll be surrounded by nice people who love the Lord and have a heart for the work of the Kingdom and of the local church.
- Individuals from our congregation will be sharing how the Lord, working through His people, brought them through “troubled waters.” I never tire of hearing people’s stories!
- No offering will be received.
- Two words: cheesecake bar! Heeks & Company will provide a wonderful time of refreshment in the atrium at the close of the celebration.
Over the Rooftops
This week I was talking with Lauryn Bates, a cast member of the production of Mary Poppins which is on stage at the RWC Cultural Life Center this weekend. When I asked her for her favorite song of the production, Lauryn said, “Definitely Step in Time!” This is a song where Bert, the chimney sweep, and the rest of the cast dance across the rooftops of London. The lyrics of the song include, “Never need a reason, never need a rhyme,
over the rooftops step in time.”
This may be a stretch, but doesn’t that remind you of another roof…say the one over Parmerter Chapel? You’re right, that is a quite a stretch.
Just let me add that I’m glad there is no cast dancing atop Parmerter with the existing condition of the roof! But the good news is that we are making significant progress on raising the funds necessary to reroof Parmerter and replace its aging and brittle shingles.
To date, we have received a total of $107,441. This means we are nearing our $160,000 goal. Thanks for helping us gather the necessary finances to have the new roof installed this summer!
Many of the Pearce family surrounded Trevor Davis during last Sunday’s worship service, for a special time of prayer for him as he heads for service in the Marine Corps. Trevor’s ship date was originally scheduled for this month, but it has now been delayed until April 11.
Although disappointed, Trevor will now get his first choice of MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) of aviation mechanics. Another upside, according to Trevor’s mom, Phoebe, is that he’ll be around for a few more weeks.
Trevor appreciated Sunday’s prayer time and is moved by the congregation’s show of love and support.
Insight into Rwanda’s Challenges
I’ve been reading a book published last week with the title Bad News: Last Journalists in a Dictatorship by Anjan Sundaram. The book recounts the author’s time in Rwanda overseeing a training program for journalists.
Covering the period of April 2009 to December 2013, Sundaram highlights the challenges journalists face in providing an independent and free press in a country where there is little tolerance of any voice that departs from the government’s narrative.
There is, as suggested by Publishers Weekly, a “wearying grimness” to the book. But it does provide insight into a part of Rwanda that is often hidden from the awareness of those visiting there. The British newspaper The Guardian recommends the book as required reading, especially by donors in the west.
I think this book would be a beneficial read for anyone from Pearce who travels to Rwanda as a part of our “Linked with Love” initiative.
Quite the Preparations
Rwanda’s ICCM (International Child Care Ministries) Director, Ephaste Niyigena, sent Lydia Monroe some photos earlier this week. The photos show students at the Nzige school rehearsing a traditional tribal dance that will be presented to Lydia and her teammates upon their arrival at the school. Looks like it is going to be quite the welcome!
I hope you’ll be a part of our Annual Celebration on Wednesday, February 3, at 6:30pm in Parmerter Chapel. This gathering is an opportunity for us to acknowledge God’s many blessings on our congregation over the past year, as well as acknowledge His guidance in 2016. The theme of this year’s celebration is “Bridges Over Troubled Waters” and will provide an opportunity to focus on our care ministries at Pearce.
Yesterday Jim Heeks, our Food Service Director, stepped into my office to let me know that following the meeting on February 3, a “cheesecake and toppings bar” will be provided in Pearce’s atrium. The thought of a nice slice of cheesecake loaded with selected toppings will hopefully prompt you to consider attending this year’s Annual Celebration!
Happy New Year! We have had an incredible year of ministry and I want to thank all of you who have volunteered to work with our kids in 2015. I am looking forward to what God has ahead for us in 2016. This month, we begin planning meetings for VBS 2016. We are using Group Publishing’s VBS curriculum, “Cave Quest: Following Jesus, The Light Of The World.”
Krys Merriam is our VBS director this year. She has a vision and a passion for this ministry. Krys grew up at Pearce and has years of memories as a VBS participant; to see her as a leader now is exciting! Please be praying for Krys and the entire VBS team and also how God would want you to be involved this year.
Parents, pictured above are two creative tools you can use to get your kids into God’s Word this year. The first tool is called Our Daily Bread for Kids: Meaningful Moments with God. I handed these out in Kids’ Bags on Sunday, January 3. If you weren’t here that Sunday, I still have copies left, just let me know if you would like one. This devotional is a 30-day adventure. Every day, your child is given a scripture to search out, a story to read, and a fun fact of the day.
The second tool pictured is an app you can download—I downloaded it on my smart phone. It takes your child through all of the major stories in the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. When I showed my sister-in-law this app over Christmas break, she immediately downloaded it on her iPad for her two little ones! The adult Bible app of this particular version is great, too. It gives you great devotion ideas for advent, lent, and everyday life.
These are great tools that I would encourage you to check out.
I pray that we, as a church, would see God move mightily in the midst of our children this year. Thank you again to all who pray and give of their time to teach the kids at Pearce!
Dinner is Served
Our annual Progressive Dinner took place December 13 and was a wonderful evening. This year, almost 60 students toured close to 20 homes of Pearce families, but we added a bit of a twist. The ministries at Pearce have been actively seeking ways to provide more “intergenerational” experiences. As part of our Progressive Dinner, we specifically asked for hosts who might have little to no interaction with our teens. It was a wonderful experience. Our students were able to hear Bill Christopher share his testimony, got to experience food from Poland and Latvia while dining with the Vitolins, and got to share appetizers with an entire small group meeting at Char and Roe Kuhlkin’s home. It was a truly wonderful way to celebrate God’s acts of salvation in our lives this year, as well as in the lives of our hosts. Thank you to all of you who participated!
Don’t Even Try to Escape!
Every year we take the teens on a weekend retreat in January. Every year I have students who say “um, I don’t know, I’ve got stuff to do, the dog needs a bath, I have people to text with, and TV to watch, I can’t go.” Every year I fight these excuses, and every year the kids who end up going say it was an awesome trip. This year, let’s just skip the excuses and my rebuttals. Sign up now! This weekend is a gift, and an opportunity to escape the busyness of life to play, learn, and laugh with your friends. We leave January 22 and return the afternoon of January 24. The cost is $80, but money will never keep anyone from coming. See Pastor Mike to sign up.
The Christmas Blues
Each month, I am trying to provide a resource for parents. This month, I found a short article regarding helping our students move back into “normal” life after a vacation full of digital media, movies, and video games. Check out the link HERE for some fantastic hints on how we can help our kids navigate these first few weeks of January.
Telling God’s Story
Last week, a large mural was installed in Parmerter East. This striking painting of acrylic on masonite features 28 scenes from the Bible, all from the Old Testament, save the central image of the crucifixion.
Charles Bratt, father of Chaplain Jonathan Bratt, invested two years of studying scripture and painting the mural, completing it in the mid 1970s. Over the past 40 years, the painting has been displayed at more than 100 churches and art shows.
Mr. Bratt, writing about his experience, comments, “This mural was a turning point in my life….The Lord has used this work to bring me closer to Him!”
Jonathan’s father recently celebrated his 83rd birthday and was gratified to hear of the mural’s installation at Pearce.
On behalf of the Nominating Committee, I am pleased to announce the five nominees for this year’s Official Board elections: Chuck Cockrell, Lori Garratt, Aimee Lyon, Terry Taber, and Ardis Tucker.
Ballots will be available at the Annual Celebration held on Wednesday, February 3. Three of the nominees will be elected to three-year-terms on Pearce’s Board. (Balloting will also be available during the days immediately following the Annual Celebration.)
A brochure providing more information regarding each candidate will be available at services this weekend or can be found on the NEUs page of our website.
Coffee and Conversation on Nzige
Any educators interested in participating in this summer’s VISA (Volunteers in Service Abroad) team to Nzige, Rwanda are invited to a meeting this Sunday, January 17, at the home of Ruth Stewart (300 Chili Avenue Extension, Churchville). Beginning at 6:30pm, the meeting will provide an opportunity for Lydia Monroe to give an update on her team’s plans for their exploratory trip in February. It also provides time for those attending to share ideas for what the team should explore during their time in Nzige and at the Amizero Special Needs Daycare. Ruth is planning to provide Rwandan coffee to inspire the dialogue. For more information, contact Lydia Monroe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An Eye on History
Susanne Mohnkern has recently accepted the position of Church Historian at Pearce. Susanne, Professor of Medical and Surgical Nursing at Roberts, has an interest in general Free Methodist history and in the story of Pearce in particular. She is a fourth-generation Free Methodist on both her father’s and mother’s sides of the family. She has attended Pearce for 56 years. (Obviously, she began attending at a very young age!)
Pearce has been without a historian since Kathryn Martin moved to Texas in 2014. I am pleased that Susanne will help us maintain our archive of historical documents and photos.
Talking with Susanne about her new responsibilities, she related a quote she had recently come across: “History is like a swing. You have to go back to propel yourself forward.”
A Global Perspective
Becky Draper has been appointed to serve this year as the Chair of the Great Commission Leadership Team (GCLT). Becky is in her third year on the GCLT and has a passion for both local and global ministry.
Becky is a 1994 graduate of the State University at Geneseo, with a degree in psychology. She then completed a Masters in Social Work at Syracuse University in 1996. Becky now works as an adoption social worker for Bethany Christian Services. She and her family have attended Pearce since 2001.
Commenting on assuming this new leadership role, Becky said, “I am excited about watching the GCLT moving forward with new projects and new opportunities, both locally and internationally. Serving on the GCLT has provided me with a wonderful vantage point from which to see God’s hand working through servant-hearted people. I appreciate the opportunity to serve in this role.”
This past year, Karen Hopkins lead the GCLT and did an excellent job, particularly in developing Pearce’s “Linked with Love” partnership with the Rwandan village of Nzige.
On My Nightstand
I just finished 1944: FDR and the Year that Changed History, an excellent history by Jay Wink. It includes a dramatic account of America’s response to Nazi aggression and, in particular, the concentration camps. It’s a timely read as today’s news is filled with the Syrian refugee crisis in Europe.
I’m nearly finished with a book I mentioned last weekend, Rachel Held Evan’s Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church. The book chronicles Evan’s quitting church while in her twenties, helping to plant and then close a new church before she turned thirty, and finally settling into an Episcopalian congregation at the age of thirty-three. You likely won’t agree with everything she says, but she’ll help you to understand her generation’s quest for authenticity in today’s churches.
I am in the early chapters of Eric Weiner’s The Geography of Genius. Weiner, a delightful curmudgeon, zips around the world in the search for the genesis of genius and creativity. He travels through places like Athens, Edinburgh, and Silicon Valley. This is a fun read as you explore with Weiner the possible reasons for genius seeming to cluster in particular times and places.
It sounds like I have an obsession with geography if I add a final book with the title Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps that Explain Everything About the World. By Tim Marshall, a former British correspondent, this book helps me understand world events in light of geographical realities.
Looking to Grow in Your Faith?
The first is “Understanding and Interpreting the Bible,” taught by Laura Cockrell. I’m always challenged in my search to understand, interpret, and properly apply scripture. Laura’s class will help you in your own quest.
The second is Pastor Jeremy and Michele Kelly’s class, “Snapshots: Glimpses into the Lives and Writings of Classical Christian Writers.” This class provides a great opportunity to benefit from the wisdom of Christians over the history of the church.
All adult classes begin at 9am this Sunday. For a full listing of all six adult courses available, check out our website at www.pearcechurch.org.
Linked with Love Updates
There are several updates with regard to Pearce’s partnership with the school in Nzige, Rwanda.
First, applications are now being received for any educators interested in participating in a short-term mission team to Rwanda this coming summer. Lydia Monroe is heading up this group that will leave in late July for two weeks. The team will provide teacher training for the staff at the Nzige school. The approximate cost of the trip is $2,900. You can obtain application and informational forms by contacting Lydia Monroe at email@example.com.
Secondly, we have nine child sponsorship packets available in the Pearce office. During 2015, our congregation “adopted” 101 children for sponsorship in Rwanda. I’d love to see these remaining children sponsored in the coming weeks. If you would like a packet, call Kim Brittin at 549-9488.
Speaking of sponsored children, I received several photos of children with gifts they received last month. Ephaste, the Rwandan director of International Child Care Ministries, noticed while visiting the homes of children from the school in Nzige that many of them did not own mattresses to sleep on. Mattresses were purchased and I’ve included one of the photos of a young girl with her new gifts.
Thirdly, in just over a month from now, Lydia Monroe and two others from Pearce will head to Rwanda on an exploratory trip in preparation for the team that will be traveling this summer. The group will be staying in this home in the village of Nzige that is being rented for their use. Be praying for Lydia, Carol Stevenson, and Kristen Coon as they prepare to travel in February.
In the Triple Digits!
This past weekend, we reached triple digits in our effort to raise $160,000 to replace the roof on Parmerter Chapel. Thanks to your faithful giving throughout 2015, we raised a total of $100,084.
Recently John Harriff, a hardworking member of our facility crew, gave me a newspaper clipping that he came across in his mother’s papers. The article on Roberts Wesleyan College that appeared in the Rochester Times-Union on April 3, 1952, included a photo of the construction of Parmerter Chapel.
It’s interesting to note that that cost of constructing the entire Parmerter Chapel totaled $200,000 in 1952!
The Soundtracks of Our Lives
Last weekend, I began a new series of messages based on songs found in various Old Testament passages. Each of the songs examined in this six-week series addresses a situation in which strong emotions were felt.
This weekend, we’ll take a look at a song that is found in 1 Samuel 18:7: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” Join us as we consider this song sung by women from the villages of Israel and the ways in which their “jingle” stirred strong feelings of jealousy in King Saul.