This past Monday evening, Mary and I had the opportunity to renew our friendship with Larry and Lynn Harris, old friends from our days in seminary. Back in the 1970s, they were young newlyweds, as Mary and I were, and we would gather each Saturday evening for dinner, board games, and watching Fantasy Island. (Our tastes in television were rather unrefined back then!)
Larry retired last month after serving 34 years in pastoral ministry, the last 31 years at Olivet United Methodist Church in New Jersey. So it was wonderful to catch up with Larry and Lynn and talk about life, ministry, and this new stage of life.
Their oldest son, Jason, is the Director of Worship Ministries at Browncroft Community Church here in Rochester. Jason is also Mary’s and my godson. We are quite proud of him! (The photo above is of me, Larry, and Jason.)
I greatly admire Larry and Lynn. Seventeen years ago they, along with their four children, were in a traffic accident. Lynn and the kids emerged okay; Larry was rendered a quadriplegic and, as a result, has pastored the last half of his ministry from a wheelchair. He has demonstrated wonderful faith and determined courage.
People like Larry and Lynn inspire me. Whenever I meet people who have chosen to follow Jesus, even though the path has been quite difficult, I celebrate such faithfulness and integrity. Don’t you?
Maintaining the Façade
In last week’s Dangling, I spoke of the views out of my office windows. Last week it was P4K children washing their toy cars, this week it is Bill Sullivan and his crew scraping and painting the large columns on the façade of Parmerter Chapel.
The columns, as you have probably noticed, have been looking a bit neglected recently. This summer’s coat of paint is, regretfully, only a stopgap measure. Paint no longer adheres to the wood of the columns; Pearce’s Property Committee is considering long-range solutions. I don’t usually encourage maintaining facades, but in this case, I highly recommend it!
Throughout 2014, I’ve included some information on Pearce’s accounting process. Assisted by Bill Smout, a member of our Finance Committee, the purpose of these brief articles has been to help you gain some insight into our church’s financial practices.
This week, I want you to understand our bookie. Wait, I think I have the title wrong. I should have said “our bookkeeper,” as I understand they are distinguished from bookies!
Jessica Alcorn, known as “Jess” around the office, is the young lady responsible for virtually all of Pearce’s financial recordkeeping.
What does our bookkeeper do? She notes the contributions on each person’s giving record and mails that record at year’s end. (Helpful to you, I am sure, at tax time!) Jess also administers the preparation of our payroll, pays all the bills, and handles receipts and disbursements for Pearce’s food ministry, Common Grounds Café, and our rental properties on Orchard Street. She maintains thorough records of all categories of budget spending and performs monthly bank reconciliations.
In addition to the many mundane and routine functions of her job, Jess tries to be a creative steward of Pearce’s funds. She is constantly seeking ways to cut costs by carefully reviewing the goods and services we use and the vendors that provide those products.
I appreciate Jess’s contribution to our team and the way she helps maintain our financial integrity as a congregation.
A New Decade
I want to express my appreciation for the many gestures of affection showered on me upon the occasion of my 60th birthday last week. Or, as Mary pointed out, the beginning of my seventh decade of life!
I should probably take this opportunity to disclose that the years have taken their toll on me, in particular on my knees. Do you remember the Chicago Tribune column from 1997: “Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.”
All of this to say I’ll be getting a knee replacement for my right knee on November 3 of this year. I’d rather not announce this procedure; it’s rather embarrassing at my “young age!” But those in the office have to block out my schedule for November and thought I’d better just be up front about it all and thus insure that people won’t think I am avoiding them later this fall.
Well, that’s probably more information than you wanted to know. But thanks, again, for the birthday wishes!
Beth is Back!
I was glad to have Common Grounds, Pearce’s café, open once again after a long summer hiatus. But even more so, I was pleased to encounter Beth Honan when I walked into the shop on Monday for my morning decaf. Beth, as you probably know, recently returned from a seven-month-stint as a missionary in Romania.
In Beth’s final blog while still in Romania, dated August 15, she wrote the following:
“I’ve struggled some with knowing exactly what my purpose here was. It’s hard to look back and wonder if everything I invested and gave really made a difference, or if I pleased God with it. It’s been an interesting struggle as I’ve realized that I can’t think so much on that, or then I put too much focus on myself and what I’ve done, rather than on God’s work, timing, and plan.
I followed Him in coming, and I hope I gave my best. I have to trust Him with His purpose. It’s a lot harder to have clear perspective when it’s you looking back, but I’m starting to see that if I stop focusing so much on what I did and gave, and more on just God himself, I forget to worry about whether or not what I did was enough and instead can find joy in the fact that He wanted me to be a part and He will never stop working.
I would ask for prayer through these next few days, and as I adjust at home again. I would ask for prayer for all of the ministries I’ve written about over the months, and I’d ask for prayer for my host family. Even down to the last days, they are difficult to understand, and this is the hardest area for me to trust God’s plan in.
I am greatly looking forward to seeing each of you in a short number of days. Your prayers, your letters of encouragement, your thoughts, your investment all the way through these 7 months, and so much more has meant the world to me. Thank you for showing me what the body of Christ really means, and setting that example for me. It’s been a joy to be connected with you, and I’m looking forward to communication in person very soon!”
It is great to have Beth back!
A Guided Tour of Life
August 24, 2014
The Treasure of a Good Book
Last Sunday afternoon, I had the opportunity to visit with Miranda and Chenoa Lyon and talk with them about their participation in Pearce’s “Kids’ Treasure Quest,” our summer reading incentive for kids. Miranda and Chenoa have been reading and have had their parents document the completion of their books. Now they just need to bring their “tracker” to the church this weekend to get their ticket for a free ice cream at LuGia’s. Miranda and Chenoa will be joining other kids at LuGia’s, at 4pm on August 24, to enjoy their reward for books well read!
This Weekend at Pearce
I am pleased that Dr. Linda Adams will be in Pearce’s pulpit this weekend. She is no stranger to Pearce, having served for many years as the pastor of one of our sister congregations in Rochester: New Hope Free Methodist Church.
Linda presently serves as the director of International Childcare Ministries (ICCM). The mission of ICCM is to advocate “for the spiritual, educational, physical and social development of children by partnering with the global Free Methodist Church through sponsorships, scholarships and creative initiatives.” You can read more about this wonderful ministry at www.childcareministries.org.
Linda will be continuing our “tour” of the Sermon on the Mount by examining Matthew 7:12. I hope you’ll join us!
Next Monday, Pearce’s Common Grounds Café will open after the long summer hiatus. I always celebrate the café’s “reawakening” and revel in the many ways this special place facilitates ministry in our church.
You may notice that we are making some improvements in our café in anticipation of a new ministry launching in October. This new ministry is called Lifetree Café.
Lifetree Café is a weekly time for people to gather to explore life and faith. On Thursday evenings, we’ll seek to provide an atmosphere that encourages conversations, questions, and personal stories. I hope it will be the place you can invite your friends and co-workers to come and discover what God is doing in the world around us. To facilitate this new ministry, we are making a few improvements to our café to create a less “institutional” and more “intimate” atmosphere.
You’ll hear more about this new ministry in the coming weeks, especially when we gather on the weekend of September 6 and 7. So when you walk by our café at Pearce, will you be praying that the ministry of Lifetree Café will bring others to discover where God’s Story impacts their own? Thanks!
If you are interested in finding out more about the Lifetree Café ministry, they have a nice website at www.lifetreecafe.com.
Did you notice the new sidewalk along the east side of Orchard Street as you came to church last weekend? Thanks to all who contributed to this project as part of our Stewardship With A Goal (SWAG) emphasis. Now that the sidewalk project has been completed, our full attention turns to funding a $20,000 payment on the principal of our loan. As of this past weekend, we are now halfway toward making this payment, with a total of $10,602 received for this fourth project.
A Guided Tour of Life
August 17, 2014
What a Day to Look Out My Windows
Monday was a great day to look out of my office windows. My office is located on Pearce’s second floor, right at the southwest corner of the building. While working at my desk, I could look to my left and see the construction crew digging the foundation for the new sidewalk. What guy doesn’t love seeing powerful machines at work? (Check out the photo in the next article!)
Swiveling around in my chair, I could glance out the south side of my office and see a group of kids from P4K who were “washing their cars” on the front driveway. It was entertaining to watch the kids’ antics as they soaped up their cars and, sometimes, themselves!
I had the best view in the entire church this past Monday! What a great place to work!
SWAG Project Under Construction
Walking into Pearce this past Monday, I was greeted with a beehive of activity on the east side of Orchard Street. There, a crew was busy at work on the new sidewalk that will provide safer access to the off-street parking on Orchard. This $10,000 project was entirely funded by this year’s SWAG (Stewardship With A Goal) giving.
Project #4 is currently our SWAG focus. This project is to raise $20,000 to pay on the principal of the loan assumed by our congregation when the 2001 addition was added to our facility. To date, we have received a total of $7,363 toward this project. We are more than a third of the way there! I hope you’ll join the 121 individuals/families who have given toward this year’s SWAG.
I got carried away a bit during last Sunday’s “Children’s Moments” at Pearce. Corbin sat next to me and, in the middle of my remarks, began waving at his parents in the balcony. So I thought I should take a “selfie” of me with him. Then Kristina, who was sitting on the other side of me, asked for a photo too! So I took another one. It wasn’t until later in the day, after posting the photos on my Facebook page, that Alicia Thomson pointed out to me that Al Krober, one of our organists, photobombed the picture. I never know what is going to happen on a Sunday morning at Pearce!
The Next Stop in Our Tour!
This summer, we’ve been touring the Sermon on the Mount: the wonderful extended teaching of Jesus found in chapters five, six, and seven of Matthew’s gospel. This week, we’ll turn our attention to the opening paragraph of chapter seven and Jesus’s words about judging others. You may want to read the first five verses of the chapter in preparation. Together, we’ll explore what it means to provide a community of true sanctuary in our world. See you this weekend!
Financial Peace University
An excellent resource for learning how better to manage your finances is Dave Ramsey’sFinancial Peace University. Dave Ramsey’s organization describes the class this way:
It teaches God’s ways of handling money. Through video teaching, class discussions and interactive small group activities, FPU presents biblical, practical steps to get from where you are to where you’ve dreamed you could be. This plan will show you how to get rid of debt, manage your money, spend and save wisely, and much more!
Pastor John Keller, a former member of the Pearce staff and now serving on the pastoral team at Northgate Church in Batavia, will be hosting the class, along with Pearce’s own Dan Pappa. The class will be held on Wednesday evenings from 6:30 to 8:00pm beginning on September 17.
Recently Graduated from College?
I want to invite any “twenty-somethings” to Mary’s and my home on Sunday evening, August 31, at 5:30pm. On that evening, we’ll talk about plans to start a new Bible study group for those who have recently graduated from college and are making their way in the “real world.” We’ll provide the picnic food, I’ll grill some hamburgers and white hots, and we’ll dialogue on what the small group might look like. RSVPs are requested by August 29, so Mary and I can prepare for the cookout. Just shoot me an email at email@example.com!
Status of Pearce Finances
Mike Vannest, our treasurer, recently sent me the following graph that illustrates our church’s financial status. You can see we are slightly behind in our three main categories of giving: operations or general budget, building or debt reduction, and missions. Summer is always a bit tough financially, so in light of it being mid-August, we’re not in too bad a shape.
As Mike put it in his note to the Official Board: “…being a couple of percentage points behind budget as we come out of summer is not a terrible position to be in, and it is reasonable to think we will make up the gap by year-end. I would love to see us do better, but this way we get to exercise our faith over the coming months, until year-end….and what would we do without something to test our collective faith?”
Next Thursday, August 21, Ryan Palma will be taking photos of individuals from our congregation for a bulletin cover. The cover requires photos of nine individuals: ordinary, everyday people of any age. If you would like to help us out with this, contact Kim Mantegna at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, this is open to anyone! Teens, moms or dads, college students, retired adults, or anyone else who wants to get in on the fun is encouraged to contact Kim to set up their own “photo shoot!”
A Guided Tour of Life
August 10, 2014
The Tour Hasn’t Ended Yet
Pearce’s “tour of the Kingdom” sermon series continues this coming weekend. Last weekend, Dr. Doug Cullum helped all of us better grasp the Lord’s Prayer, as found in Matthew’s account of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. This weekend, I’ll be dealing with Jesus’ words regarding money, as found in Matthew 6:19-34. I hope you’ll join me!
I appreciated Dr. Cullum’s closing illustration in last weekend’s message. I thought you might like a copy of the poem to which he referred. Here it is:
To pray is to laugh, whistle, dance on happy feet,
sing, shout, and jump higher than ever before.
But it is also to whisper, wander,
stumble in dark places, cry, scream, or just hold a worried head in tired hands and wait.
Prayer is our tired reaching out
to the one who holds us closer
and loves us more than we would dare imagine.
This past week, the Orchard Street parking lot received a layer of chip and seal, helping to extend the life of the blacktop. After the chip and seal has hardened, the lot will be painted with parking stripes, sometime later this month.
This important maintenance project was funded through Stewardship With A Goal (SWAG) giving from 2013. Although the money was raised last year, inclement weather in the fall prevented the project’s execution then.
To date, three projects have been funded for this year. First, $10,000 was raised to pay on the principal of our church’s loan, incurred when the Family Life Center and education wing was constructed. The second project was putting a new blacktop surface on the east side driveway, a road that was in need of significant attention for several years. The third project was funding a new sidewalk along the off-street parking on the east side of Orchard Street. This project should be completed within the next several weeks.
I want to encourage you to contribute to our fourth project for 2014, which is a payment of $20,000 on the principal of our loan. To date, we have received a total of $5,358 toward this project, one that reaps significant savings in interest payments over the life of the loan.
Thanks to the 115 people who have thus far contributed to this year’s SWAG projects. I appreciate your help in taking good care of Pearce’s facility to enable ministry both now and in the coming years.
Head Pew Stuffer Wanted!
Did you know that Pearce has “pew stuffers” at our church? Perhaps you are envisioning people filling seat cushions with cotton, but that’s not what our pew stuffers actually do. Our pew stuffers go through each pew in the sanctuary after our weekend services and make sure the pews are clean and that the appropriate printed materials are “stuffed” in the holders. You can imagine, with a sanctuary the size of Pearce’s, it takes a great team of individuals to carry out this usually unseen ministry.
Dona Stockton has served as the leader and coordinator of Pearce’s pew stuffer team for many years. She will be stepping down soon and I’m on the lookout for a new head pew stuffer. No experience necessary, just a heart to serve!
Thanks, Dona, for taking care of this task for so many years!
The Newest Member of our Team at Pearce
I am pleased to announce that Jason Wilson has accepted the full-time position of Facilities Evening Supervisor at Pearce. Jason is the son of Mike and Cindy Wilson and has been working for the past few weeks in a part-time summer position on the facilities staff. Jason graduated earlier this year with a Masters of Art and Religion from Trinity School of Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. He is also a 2011 graduate of Geneva College, majoring in Communications with a concentration in theatre. In addition, Jason has served in a variety of custodial jobs over the past several years.
We welcome Jason to this position, recognizing that he brings a wonderful skill set accompanied with a heart for ministry. If you spot Jason around Pearce, usually wearing his dapper hat, please welcome him to our team!
This coming Saturday, men from our church will be participating in Pearce’s Neighborly Help ministry. Each month, a group of individuals head out on a Saturday morning to help provide assistance for those in our community who may need a helping hand. Since this ministry began last spring, over two hundred hours of labor have been donated by Pearce members.
Al Lawrence, who heads up this ministry, wrote this in his most-recent communication with his team: “As I’ve stated probably every month, this is a very natural ministry. All we need to do is open our eyes to see the need, open our hearts to share our love and caring, and wedge in a few hours to help those in need.” Thanks to all who serve in this vital ministry of caring!
VBS Jungle Safari 2014 was a fantastic week at Pearce! I want to thank all of you who volunteered, gave, and prayed. Your servant hearts made the week a great success! I want to share a bit of what I have heard through the grapevine here at church. A Pearce mom shared with me how pleased one parent was that her kids came home every day telling her not only how much fun they had, but what they actually had learned about God. Another mom was overheard saying, “This is the best program I’ve ever seen.” Fourteen of our 5th and 6th graders indicated they received Jesus in their heart for the very first time. In reading the kids’ response cards this year, so many expressed their love for Jesus and their desire to follow Him. The written prayers are precious to read. Please continue to pray for the kids who came to VBS, that they would carry with them all that they have learned and be encouraged by the friends they have here at Pearce. Thank you again for another year of VBS that touched the hearts of many kids and glorified God!
I am excited to say that our Sunday school and Wednesday night programs will start before you know it—please be praying! I am in need of many teachers and helpers to make our kids ministry programs a safe and fun learning environment. Please email me (email@example.com) or give me a call letting me know how you would like to serve.
Here is a brief overview of what to expect this fall:
- Beginning September 14, children’s Sunday school classes will be offered for children age 2-6th grade. Classes will run from 9-10:15am.
- Kids Worship will be offered during the 10:30am worship hour for 4-year-olds and children in Kindergarten, and will be held in the blue room of the nursery wing. Signs will be posted to help you find your way. This is another big change for this ministry. If you have any questions, please contact me.
- First-sixth graders will have the privilege of worshiping with their families in the main Sanctuary during the 10:30am worship service. Kid’s bags will be provided during this worship hour.
- Our new Wednesday night program, for grades K-6, will be called “Camp Wednesday” and will meet from 6:30-8pm each week, starting September 10. Grades K-4 will meet in Parmerter, grades 5-6 will meet in the Fellowship Hall. The night will begin with an hour of crafts and games—a time for the kids to let out some energy and have fun with their friends. From 7:30-8pm, everyone will gather together around a campfire (a fake one!) to sing camp songs, have a devotional time, and pray together.
- Rehearsals for this year’s kids’ Christmas musical will start on Saturday, September 13, 9am-11am in Parmerter. If you haven’t already done so, there is still time to register your child! I am taking registrations right up to the first practice. Registration forms are available at the Pearce lobby reception desk, or you can download one here.
Thank you for your prayers and support of our kid’s ministry programs. Please contact me if you want to join the team!
TNT with a delayed fuse
It took three tries, but we finally got TNT off the ground. Tuesdays this summer have been especially wet, and for a few weeks it seemed we would never get together. But it finally happened July 15, when 63 of us headed to Seabreeze for a fantastic evening of rides, fried food, and laughs. Every year, this is one of our favorite events and, despite the morning rain and cooler temperatures, this year was no different. Seabreeze is a fantastic little hometown park, and it has something for all ages. This year, students from 7th-12th grade, and even a few parents, spent the evening sliding down the water slides, screaming on the Jack Rabbit, and bumping into each other on the go-carts.
It’s not too late to join us for TNT. We have a few more left this summer. On August 12, we will be at the Bentley’s for a pool party; August 19, we will be at SkyZone (release form required: http://www.skyzone.com/rochester/online-waiver ); and August 26 we will close out the summer Go-Carting at the Club House Fun Center. If you want to join us for any of these, contact me.
Annually, Pearce offers a weeklong VBS. The age for this week ranges from preschoolers to 6th grade, however this week is a true picture of intergenerational ministry. Grandparents, moms and dads, as well as students, volunteer their time and energy to make this ministry a huge success. I am blown away every year by the number of volunteers that come from the Pearce Student Ministry. Our teens love to minister to the younger students at Pearce and have become an integral part of VBS.
Our vision at Pearce, and specifically Student Ministries, is to create opportunities for intergenerational ministry. Recent studies show that students who minister side-by-side with adults tend to hold onto their faith through the difficult college years better than those who have not had this opportunity. VBS provides an excellent platform for intergenerational ministry, as teens co-lead with Pearce adults. Stay tuned, as we look for more of these types of opportunities.
Chili Commons VBS
Throughout the last year, students at Pearce have been actively seeking ministry opportunities at Chili Commons. This pursuit was born from a desire to be “doing” ministry in our own neighborhood. Every three years, we take an international mission trip and we are involved in numerous ministries in the city of Rochester, but we wanted to impact the people we live closest to. The last week of July was the capstone for a year of ministry at Chili Commons (Meadowbrook). For three nights, our teens spent two hours leading workshops in Karate, Dance, Sports, Crafts, and Drama. They also played games, shared snacks, and gave a Bible lesson. Once again, the weather was not ideal, but the kids that came were blessed by the investment our students made.
On many occasions this year, as we ministered at Chili Commons, I heard students make comments like, “this feels like being in Romania.” It amazes me how, just by leaving the walls of Pearce, we can gain the sense of being on a mission trip. Our students are beginning to get the concept that “missions” happens every day, wherever you are. The teens are really working to live a missional lifestyle, and their success is seen on the faces of the children they invest in.
School is just around the corner
With the turn of the calendar to August, it’s time to begin thinking about the startup of school and the return of Sunday morning and Wednesday evening programs. In the interest of full disclosure, I am not ready. This summer has been more full than any other I have experienced, and I have only been able to give fleeting thought to the fall. However, with August, that will change. A calendar for the year will be posted here in September, so that you can make plans for the year. There will also be some changes in our curriculum on Sunday mornings. With regard to Wednesday night programing, I plan to move back up to the senior high team. We have the junior high team running like a well-oiled machine, and I am looking forward to transitioning with this year’s new freshmen class.
A Guided Tour of Life
Matthew 6:5-15, 7:7-11
August 3, 2014