I have often mentioned from the pulpit that Pearce’s beautiful, traditional Christmas Eve services are among my favorite of the entire year. I must add, however, that Pearce’s Good Friday service is pretty high on the list, even though it stands in great contrast to the Christmas Eve service. I appreciate the quiet, somber reflection that so permeates worship services on Good Friday.
At Pearce, our Good Friday is in the tradition of a Tenebrae service. Tenebrae is Latin for “shadows” or “darkness.” This service ends in silence and complete darkness, symbolic of the moment Jesus died on the cross.
I find this service prepares me for Easter morning and makes the shout of “He is risen!” all the more meaningful and celebratory.
I hope you’ll join us at 7pm this Friday.
This Saturday, our evening worship service will take on a special somberness as we gather and remember the day that Jesus Christ lay in the tomb after his death. This day after Good Friday and before Easter Sunday has historically been known as Easter Eve or Black Saturday in the Christian tradition.
Here at Pearce, our regular 5pm Saturday service will focus on the waiting and wondering that must have characterized the original disciple’s experience in the aftermath of Jesus’s crucifixion.
Dr. Dan Barta, Chair of the Department of Music and Performing Arts at Roberts, will serve as the music minister for this special hour.
C. S. Lewis once called the story of the Jesus’s resurrection “the strangest story of all.” He went on to explain what he meant: “Something perfectly new in the history of the universe had happened. Christ had defeated death. The door which had always been locked had for the very first time been forced open.”
No question that Easter celebrates a “strange story,” but it is also fantastically wonderful!
I hope you’ll join us on Easter for one of our worship services, either at 9am or 10:30am. Marvel with us at the wondrous “door” that has been forced open by Jesus’s resurrection!
A Few of the 6,500
Songwriter Charles Wesley is said to have written more than 6,500 songs. Some of them, songs like “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” and “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” are among the most frequently sung hymns, even though they were penned more than 250 years ago.
Dr. Doug Cullum, Vice President and Dean of Northeastern Seminary, will guide us on a “hymn sing” through a few of Wesley’s songs this coming Sunday evening in Parmerter Chapel at 6pm. Dr. Cullum has long taught Wesleyan theology courses where he has utilized Charles Wesley’s hymns, so you will benefit from his wide knowledge.
“Memorable Lines” Continues
Our sermon series “Memorable Lines from the Story” continues this coming weekend with a consideration of Jesus’s words from the cross: “It is finished!”
Oswald Chambers, the early twentieth-century evangelist and teacher, wrote regarding these words: “The greatest note of triumph ever sounded in the ears of a startled universe was that sounded on the Cross of Christ—‘It is finished!’ That is the final word in the redemption of humankind.” I hope you’ll join us this weekend as we consider these solemn words.
In last Sunday’s 10:30am service, I had the privilege of co-officiating with Rev. Gary Bauch at the baptism of Owen Christopher Marshall-Stark. Pastor Gary, an ordained Lutheran clergy who presently serves at Food for the Poor, and his wife, Jean, are a part of our Pearce family.
In the photo, Pastor Gary is shown with Owen and his parents, Cary and Tiffany.
Adult Education at Pearce
New offerings in our Sunday morning adult education classes begin on Sunday, April 12. Among the new offerings is Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Pearce University” during the 9am time slot. Pearce offered this course last fall on Wednesday evenings and is now offering it, due to “popular demand,” to have the course on Sunday mornings. Dan Pappa will facilitate this seminar. There is a $93 (plus shipping) cost per family and you can register for the course at www.daveramsey.com.
Have you noticed the total on the “Raising the Roof” poster in Pearce’s foyer? As of this past weekend, we have received a total of $26,833.70 towards the $160,000 project to install a new roof on Parmerter Chapel in 2016. We are on pace to make that ambitious goal, so thanks to all who are participating!
What a Discovery!
Last Saturday, I had the privilege of hosting a wonderful group of people at our Discovery Class. I thought you might enjoy seeing a photo of the gang!
This weekend, I’ll continue our series of messages from John’s gospel by taking a look at a memorable line from verse 19 of chapter 19: “Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” We’ll consider the significance of that title, King of the Jews, which Pilate wrote in derision and nailed on the cross. You may want to read John 19:17-27 in preparation.
Also, have you placed the bookmarks we distributed this past weekend in your current read? The bookmarks, containing Paul’s summary of Jesus’s life and ministry as found in Philippians 2, are a great way of reminding you of God’s Story! (Additional bookmarks are available at the Welcome Kiosk!)
At last week’s Official Board meeting, two recently elected members were seated. Nicole Berg and Chris Grimm joined the other seven board members for dinner and a time of orientation. The board also elected Jim Morton as the chair. Jim commented: “I am humbled and honored to be able to serve the Pearce community in this capacity for another year. As chair, my goal isn’t as much to lead as it is to follow—follow God’s plan for Pearce. In so doing, I hope the board as a whole will accomplish much as we enable the fulfillment of our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ.”
Making a Dent in Debt
Last weekend, Chuck Cockrell, the chairman of Pearce’s Finance Committee, presented brief updates in each of our worship services. Chuck reminded us that our church carries a debt totaling $2,446,429—a debt incurred in 2001 in the construction of the Family Life Center and education wing. Our weekly payment is $4,866.25. At our present rate, the debt will be eliminated in October of 2028.
To date this year, we have received a total of $48,804 towards the Building Fund. This is right on target to cover our weekly payments. Thanks for all of you who regularly support this fund!
Orchard Street Update
This coming July, Pearce will take ownership of two houses along Orchard Street, located on either side of our Orchard Street parking lot. This is the result of plans that were developed in the mid-1990s by Pearce’s leadership.
At that time, parking had become a significant issue and the church decided to create a new parking lot. To gain land necessary for this, the church had to acquire the houses in whose backyards the lot was to be developed. As the college owned the properties in question, utilizing the houses for faculty offices, a deal was struck with Roberts for the church to make payments over a fifteen year period to purchase the properties.
The final payment will be made this summer and, as of July 1, 2015, the houses will belong to Pearce. The future fate of the two houses is yet to be determined.
Thanks for your faithful giving to Pearce that has enable us to purchase these properties and ensure the necessary land for the future needs of our congregation.
A Quick Visit to Israel
Enjoy our informal “travelogue” of Israel this coming Saturday, March 21, at 6:30pm in Common Grounds Café. Pearce members who recently participated in the February study tour of the Holy Land will present photos and commentary.
Tentative plans are being made for a second study tour in 2017; this weekend’s gathering may whet your appetite for this upcoming tour!
The Café will open at 6pm serving, along with its regular coffee/drink menu, soup and grilled cheese sandwiches at modest prices.
Raising the Roof!
This past weekend, a poster was hung on one of the bulletin boards in Pearce’s lobby to better help you track our progress on getting a new roof on Parmerter Chapel. This $160,000 project is an ambitious one, requiring all of us to join together in providing the funds necessary to ensure the integrity of our building is maintained for both present and future ministry.
Each time $20,000 is raised for the roof, a new section of roof will be added to the poster’s rendering of Parmerter Chapel. This past Monday, I had the opportunity to catch our administrator, Honna Lusk, as the first section was applied, signaling that we have now received a total of $21,551.50 toward the new roof.
We are on our way!
A Milestone for New Hope
An invitation to the Pearce congregation has been extended by New Hope Free Methodist Church to join them in celebrating 25 years of ministry.
The festivities will begin on Saturday, March 28, with an open house and prayer time from 1-4pm.
At 6pm that same day, an hors d’oeuvres reception will be held at the German House, the original gathering place for New Hope. Past lead pastors will be present and participate in a remembrance of God’s faithfulness for the past quarter of a century. (There is a $25 per person charge for this reception, and reservations must be made with payment by March 15 at newhopefree.org under community events. Or mail in your RSVP with payment to 62 North Union Street, Rochester, New York 14607.)
The celebration will continue Sunday morning with a 10:30am worship service at New Hope’s present location of 62 North Union Street.
As Pearce was instrumental in the “birthing” of the New Hope congregation, I hope you’ll join in the celebration!
This weekend, I’ll begin a new series of messages at Pearce entitled “Memorable Lines from the Story!”
If you have been around Pearce the past couple of years, you’ve heard quite a bit about the grand narrative of Scripture, the overarching story contained in God’s Word. In these weeks surrounding Easter, I’ll highlight some of the unforgettable lines from John’s Gospel that are a part of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
This coming weekend we’ll consider the words found in John 19:15: “Crucify Him!”
These, of course, are the jeers of the crowd at Jesus’s trial before Pilate. In preparation for this message, you may want to read the account of Jesus’s trial as found in John 19:1-16.
Life in the Holy Land
As many of you know by now, I was able to cross “pilgrimage to the Holy Land” off my bucket list this month. What a transforming experience! Honestly, I am still processing the trip; we saw, learned, and experienced so much, it was like drinking water from a fire hose. One thing I have processed is the need to be able to share it all. I believe much of this will come simply in the way that I teach. For example, in this week’s Sunday School classes, I was able to share pictures of the areas where David was hiding from Saul. I was also able to speak about some of the Jewish culture that David and Saul shared. These are insights that I gained directly from the teaching of our guide in Israel.
In addition to helping my teaching, this trip has had an impact on my spiritual and personal life. Spiritually, I have had to come to terms with how Jewish Jesus really was. I have been awakened to the fact that the stories of scripture have a very real place in history and I have been inspired to dig deeper in my understanding of the Old Testament. Personally, the trip was a gift that I was able to share with my mom. Working with teens, I interact frequently with students who are not yet at a place in life where they appreciate the limited time we have with family. I became keenly aware of how special my times with my mother truly are. God did not just say “be nice to your parents,” He said “honor your mother and father.” As I tried to honor my mom on this trip, I came to realize how much it was my honor to be there with her.
Pearce’s Got Talent
Every three years, the teens of Pearce head out internationally for a missions experience. This year, we will be taking our final trip to Romania. After a process of applications, interviews, and monthly training, we believe our team will bond and be ready to serve. A significant part of our team training is fundraising, and one of two marquee events is our Variety Show Dinner. On the first of March, we held our annual show with food by Texas BBQ Joint and entertainment by our teens. It is such a blessing to be able to work with this group. We have 16 students going on the trip, but had over 30 students participate in serving the meal, singing, playing instruments, dancing, and doing skits. It was a wonderful night of ministry. We served over 100 guests and received about $3,100 toward funding our trip. Thank you again to all who attended and who participated.
It’s March, but August is Coming
Yes, I know there is still three feet of snow on the ground, that the Great Lakes are 90% frozen over, and the temperatures have been some of the coldest on record, but I can’t help but think about canoeing! When the winter gets long, I turn my mind toward the lakes and islands of Algonquin Provincial Park. Once again this year, we will be taking teens to Algonquin for our six-day Spiritual Disciplines Canoe Trip: August 2-7. The cost is $425 if you get your application and deposit in by May 1, or $450 after. Applications are available at the bottom of the stairs heading to the teen area.
In these weeks leading up to Easter, I thought it might be helpful to offer some books on the life and ministry of Jesus. I’ve selected three of my favorites.
The first book is John Stott’s classic, The Cross of Christ. Annie Graham Lotz writes regarding this book: “Outside of the Bible itself, this may be the best book I’ve ever read on the cross of Christ. It is thorough, thoughtful and timely. As I read it, my mind was challenged, my heart was warmed, my faith was strengthened, and my focus was sharpened on the cross. Praise God for just giving us Jesus with nail prints in his hands and feet!”
N.T. Wright’s book, The Challenge of Jesus, in the words of his publisher (InterVarsity Press), “poses a double-edged challenge: to grow in our understanding of the historical Jesus within the Palestinian world of the first century, and to follow Jesus more faithfully into the postmodern world of the twenty-first century.”
Philip Yancey, one of my favorite authors, wrote The Jesus I Never Knew as the result of his experience in teaching a course on Jesus that relied on movie depictions of His life. Yancey seeks here to gain a new and different perspective on Jesus’s ministry and, ultimately, who He was and why He came. Yancey places his emphasis on the relational and personal dimensions of Jesus, rather than the scholarly. As a result, this is the most accessible of the three books I’ve selected.
I hope you will enrich your Lenten observance by indulging in some good reading!
Thanks for Assisting Our Teens!
I am appreciative of the ways in which our congregation supports our teens. The Bible quiz team received $400.65 as a result of the exit offering this past Sunday. This will help defray their expenses in attending monthly quiz meets as well as this year’s national tournament. The thirteen members of the team travel to Gowanda, Albion, Batavia, and Brockport for monthly quiz tournaments. This year, in April, Pearce will be hosting the Regional Tournament, which includes additional Free Methodist quizzing teams from as far away as Pennsylvania. The National Free Methodist Bible Quizzing Finals are being held this year at Spring Arbor University in Michigan.
Also this past weekend, Sunday evening’s Teen Mission Variety Show Dinner raised $3,109.00 for this summer’s teen mission trip to Romania. Once again, I am moved by the generosity of our community of faith in supporting these teen ministries.
The Problem of Pain
This weekend, I’ll conclude our three-week series of messages to better prepare you for “Corner Conversations” with your friends and co-workers. This weekend’s message will address the problem of pain, the fact that many people discount the possibility of the existence of a loving, gracious God because of the overwhelming suffering that occurs in our world.
Raising the Roof!
An added sense of urgency for our “Raise the Roof” campaign was felt this past week when water began dripping though the wall separating Parmerter Chapel from Parmerter East. Buckets were placed on the floor on Monday to catch the steady drip of water.
Getting a new roof on Parmerter is a priority for 2016; this year’s stewardship focus is to raise the $160,000 to cover the estimated cost of this significant project. The response thus far has been wonderful! As of last weekend, a total of $19,546.50 has been given. Thanks to all of you who are sacrificially giving to this need.
Youth Baptism will be offered on Sunday, May 10. As we draw closer to this date, I am asking each young person who has a sense that God is calling them to be baptized to fill out an information sheet including their testimony. I will need these sheets back by Sunday, April 12. I will be handing the sheets out to 5th & 6th grade classes on Wednesday night and Sunday morning, or you can just ask me for one.
Once I have your young person’s information/testimony sheet, I will schedule a time to meet with them to talk and pray about their faith journey with Jesus. If your child is not ready to make this step of baptism, I do not want them to feel pressured to do so. It is their journey with Jesus—some are ready now, some will be ready at another time in the future. Pastor Wally will be teaching on Baptism and Communion on Wednesday, March 18, during Collide 56 (6:30-8pm). I encourage all our 5th and 6th graders to attend, even if they are not ready to be baptized. It is a wonderful teaching time and a great opportunity for them to connect with the Lead Pastor of our church.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions.
Preparation for this summer’s VBS Everest is well under way. We need you! First, we need you to be praying about this ministry and for the children that will fill our sanctuary July 13-17. Second, we need station leaders (teachers) for various stations. Third, we need crew leaders. If your heart is being touched to be a part of VBS 2015, please contact me or Julie Bailey (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I would ask that you continue to pray for the kids ministry at Pearce. A lot is happening in our kids’ lives. It is a blessing for them to have a safe place to learn and fellowship. If you have any questions about Sunday School, Wednesday night kids’ programs, Kids’ Gym, VBS 2015, or the nursery, please let me know.
Hold On and Lean Back!
I want to express my thanks for your prayers for the seventeen of us who just experienced a rich week of touring Israel. We enjoyed an incredible week that began with a camel ride in the desert of the Negev near Beersheba. We were instructed, after mounting our camels, to “hold on and lean back!” That instruction became our mantra for the remainder of the trip. (In the photo, Alan Bowman demonstrates the “hold on and lean back” method!)
I posted daily photos of the trip to my Facebook account. If you are interested in checking them out, go to my account at “Walter S. Fleming” on Facebook. (Sherri Taber and Pastor Mike also posted photos on their Facebook pages.)
Members of the group that participated in the study tour of Israel will present a brief overview of the trip on Saturday evening, March 21, at 6:30pm in Pearce’s Common Grounds Café. The café will open at 6pm and a light dinner menu will be available at modest prices, along with the regular café drink menu.
My thanks to Pastor Jeremy for filling the pulpit on an extremely cold and snowy winter weekend, on February 14 and 15, and to Dr. Jeff Altman for kicking off our new sermon series this past weekend. It is wonderful to partner with such gifted ministerial colleagues.
This Week at Lifetree Café
The topic at this evening’s Lifetree Café is “Make a Difference Now” and features an interview with best-selling author Mark Sanborn. You may be familiar with his book The Fred Factor: How Passion in Your Work and Life Can Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary. Come, enjoy a cup of coffee and get tips for transforming a normal life into a remarkable one! Lifetree Café begins at 7pm in Common Grounds.
Next week (March 1) the subject is “Coming Together: Finding Common Ground When it Seems Impossible.” This café will feature a screening of the lighthearted, award-winning South African short film “Kanyekanye.” The film will provide the backdrop for a discussion on the issues that divide families and communities, and practical ways to overcome those divisions.
Raising the Roof
The past two weeks, we’ve been encouraging everyone to make a pledge to help us put a new roof on Parmerter Chapel. To date, we have received $10,855.50 toward this ambitious $160,000 project, scheduled for installation in the spring or summer of 2016.
Members of Pearce’s Official Board have made pledges totaling $21,400 toward the roof; members of our congregation have committed an additional $16,793 in pledges during the past two weeks. Thanks to each of you who have made a commitment to “Raising the Roof!”
What does it mean for worship to be “culturally contextual” at Pearce? When our worship planning team put together the core values that guide us in planning services for our congregation, this particular value was probably the most difficult one to put into writing. Here’s how we expressed this value: “Christian worship expresses the character and personality of our congregation in its local context. The Gospel is proclaimed and responded to in a manner that frees us to worship God in ways that are historic and dynamic.”
I’ll try to unpack this challenging task of communicating God’s Words to a community of faith living in a specific geographical place and at a particular time in history. In preparation, you may want to ponder the ways in which worship at Pearce has changed. What’s the difference between worship services in 2015 and those at Pearce in 1965? Or, what’s the difference between a worship service in Rochester and a group meeting in New Orleans or Los Angeles?
The text for this weekend is Jesus’s encounter with the Samaritan woman as recorded in John’s Gospel, chapter 4. If you read that chapter, notice the difference in worship perspectives between the woman and Jesus.
Last Saturday, our worship service reached a new high attendance with a total of 102 people gathering in Parmerter Chapel. When this small, informal worship service began in the fall of 2011, it was typical to have 35 or 40 attenders on a Saturday evening. Although I don’t anticipate this ever being a large gathering, it is clear that this Saturday format is appealing to a growing group of people.
Following the Saturday service, a group of more than 50 people gathered in Common Grounds Café to hear about Pearce’s emerging partnership with the Nzige Preschool in Rwanda. I was encouraged by the response to the vision for this partnership that Lydia Monroe and I shared.
Changing of the Guard (or Sign!)
You can hardly make them out, but in this photo, Dave Mantegna and two of his kids are changing the message on Pearce’s sign in the middle of Monday’s snow storm. (We received more than 11 inches of snow that day!) Usually, the communications team in the church office maintains the sign, but the Mantegnas volunteered to help out in our time of need! Thanks for braving the elements on our behalf!
Providing Clean Water
Last Sunday’s exit offering was designated to help International Child Care Ministries purchase Sawyer water filters for distribution in places around the world where clean water is not readily available. A total of $892.84 was received, enabling nearly 18 filters to be purchased.
If you aren’t familiar with these filters, check out this video about Sawyer filters. You’ll see how these simple filters are transforming the way clean water is being provided.