Johnny on the Spot
If you drive by Pearce this weekend, you may be surprised to see a port-a-potty in our front lawn! This odd sight is just an indication that it is time, once again, for Pearce’s annual “Project Out in the Cold.”
Tomorrow, our junior and senior teens will be spending the night outside in cardboard boxes to help bring awareness to the plight of those without enough in our community. By this, the teens hope to stand in solidarity with them and raise funds to help three vital organizations that minister to the disadvantaged in our area: Open Door Mission, Straight from the Heart, and Center for Youth.
Representatives from all three of these ministries will be sharing throughout the evening, beginning at 7pm. You are invited to join them for dinner and to hear the powerful testimonies of these three organizations. For more details, please contact Karen Hopkins.
As you drive by Pearce on Friday night, give our students a honk and say a prayer for them, as they learn in a very real way what it is like to spend a cold night outdoors. (It’s forecasted to get down to 39 degrees on Friday!)
When Your Fabrics Clash!
This weekend, I’ll bring our sermon series on Christian Community to a close with an examination of Romans 14:1-12, “When the Fabrics Clash!” This message will consider how we handle disagreement within the church.
Want Help in Sharing Your Faith?
I’m always interested in learning new ways to present the old, old Story! Colleen Dick, Pearce’s newest Local Ministerial Candidate, will be sharing a seminar geared to help you in the task of bringing hope and restoration to a broken world. This seminar will expose you to a marvelous tool, The Flower Man, a wordless picture book geared to speak to a post-Christendom culture.
This seminar will be held over three Wednesday evenings, beginning on November 9. The other two sessions will be on November 16 and 30. (There will be no Wednesday evening activities at Pearce on Thanksgiving Eve.)
This seminar, you may notice, was originally scheduled to being yesterday (November 2), but was moved back a week to accommodate the “My Faith Matters” simulcast.
The Music of Christmas
Now that November has arrived, I’m in full Christmas music mode! While riding in my car the other day, I offered to play some Christmas music for a friend. They quickly declined saying, “Christmas music is not permitted ‘til after Thanksgiving!”
Obviously, I don’t live with that restriction. (I am, after all, a “Free” Methodist!)
So, I thought I should highlight a few new Christmas albums I’m enjoying this week.
The first is Matt Redman’s album These Christmas Lights, and features completely original Christmas music. This album grew out of a time when Redman retreated to walk the paths and roads of Israel, places so familiar to us in the Christmas story. He explains, “I don’t want to just tell a story, I want to make sure that we put ourselves in the story too.” Take special note of the song His Name Shall Be.
Give a listen to Salt of the Sound’s rendition of the old English carol In the Bleak Midwinter. Its ethereal sounds create an evocative atmosphere for this traditional song.
I have really been enjoying Future of Forestry’s Advent Christmas, Vol. 3. I find this to be a reverent album that beautifully assists me in glorifying God for the gift of His Son.
Let me know of any new Christmas music you are discovering! It’s beginning to sound a lot like Christmas, at least where I go!
Facing a Significant Shortfall
A few weeks ago, I informed you of Roberts Wesleyan College’s recent decision to no longer rent classroom space from Pearce after the end of this academic year. Rental income from the college has significantly contributed to our Operational Budget for many years. Because Pearce will no longer benefit from this arrangement, putting together our budget for 2017 is particularly challenging.
I hope you’ll join us on Tuesday evening, November 15, in Parmerter Chapel to hear the Finance Committee outline Pearce’s financial situation and the possible cut-backs that may be in our near future.
As always, I am grateful for the wonderful generosity of so many of you. Thank you for your faithful and regular financial support of our ministry!
In last week’s Dangling, I mentioned that Jared and Tracy Bush were bringing their daughter, Emelyn Joy, in dedication at the Saturday worship service. I thought I should follow up this week with a photo of the Bush family. You must admit, Emelyn is too cute!
Paul on Paul
One of the many blessings of Pearce is its abundance of gifted teachers of God’s Word. Dr. Paul Livermore is one of those teachers. Paul has graciously agreed to participate in our fall sermon series, “The Fabric of Christian Community.” His message this weekend is based on Romans 12:9-21 and is titled “Behaving as a Christian Should Is a Learned Skill.”
When I was a seminarian at Asbury, someone referred to Dr. Robert Traina, a gifted Bible professor, with this comment, “He’s forgotten more than I’ll ever know!” I feel that way about Dr. Livermore. I encourage you to come and join us this weekend and learn more about Christian community and the life of discipleship.
My Election Quandary
Last evening, my wife mentioned to me that she felt like we were living in the time of the Old Testament prophets. She had been reading Ezekiel and, with a sigh, expressed her frustration at the behavior of the major party candidates in this year’s presidential election. I share her exasperation. Perhaps you do as well.
I offer, in light of these times, a few brief thoughts:
- Let’s remind ourselves where our true citizenship lies. We are people of another Kingdom and we need to keep our eyes on the city whose architect and builder is God. I don’t say that lightly, nor to evade our responsibility to be salt and light in this troubling hour. But we need to keep in perspective the big picture and the reality that God remains on his throne. The words of Isaiah have run through my mind often recently: “Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket….Before [God] all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing” (Isaiah 40:15-17). Kind of puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?
- We must be gracious to those who advocate for a candidate of whom we do not approve. I remind you that Pearce is not a congregation of Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals. We are made up of a diversity of political affiliations and convictions. We must show respect to those with whom we may disagree.
- Keep reading valued, wise, and informed voices on this subject. Permit me to suggest our own Bishop Kendall’s recent blog “Political Questions—Does Character Really Matter?” You can find this at fmcusa.org/davidkendall/2016/09/20/political-questions-does-character-really-matter/
Pearce’s treasurer, Mike Vannest, sent me this graph which provides a financial snapshot at this point in the year. With nearly 79% of the year behind us, we are under projections in our three main areas of giving: Operations (which provides for the day-to-day operations of the church), Building (which is our payment on the debt incurred in the building of the 2001 expansion) and Missions. These percentages translate into the following gaps: $55,000 in Operations; $15,000 in Building; and $4,000 in Missions. I encourage you to consider helping us stay financially strong through your faithful and generous support of Pearce Church.
International Child Moments
It was a pleasure to have Nancy, Anupam, and Ravi join me for Children’s Moments this past Sunday. These three graduate students from India are presently working on their MBA degrees at Immanuel University in Hydrabad, India. They are staying in our mission house for several days as part of their tour of Free Methodist colleges and universities in the United States. We ask God’s blessing on them as they experience a global context to their studies.
Don’t forget, this Sunday, October 16, last summer’s Nzige team will be sharing about their experience spending several days at the school in Rwanda. Come hear them at 9am in Room 134 of Pearce’s education wing.
Also, we still have packets for child sponsorship in the Pearce office. If you are interested in helping to change the life of a child in Nzige, contact Kim Brittin at 594-9488 to obtain a packet.
This weekend, Pearce will join with other churches to observe “Children’s Sabbath:” a national observance of churches across America. The purpose of this observance is to remind us of our moral responsibility to care, protect, and advocate for children.
I asked Lydia Monroe, our Pearce 4 Kids director, to write about the importance of government subsidies in helping make child care accessible to families who might not otherwise have the means. Here’s what she wrote:
Pearce Church began providing care for children in our community through Pearce 4 Kids in 1987. This was in response to a tangible need in our community.
We strive for the highest standard of excellence in our staff and our classrooms. But day care is not inexpensive. Day care centers are required to be licensed by the state of NY, which imposes many regulatory laws upon us. Having 250 children in and out of the building each week puts wear and tear on carpets, toys, and equipment. P4K is responsible to cover these costs as well as everyday things like lights, toilet paper, custodial support, and food service.
All day cares have these financial demands, along with the rising cost of minimum wage. So day care is not cheap. I often hear news stories with the headline, “Soaring Child Care Costs Squeeze Families!”
This is why having day care subsidies is imperative for some families. Whether it’s due to a short-term family crisis or a long-term financial struggle, families often need help with the cost of child care.
While it is not mandated that day care centers serve families on state subsidies, we at P4K feel it is our responsibility and privilege to do so. Our hope is that we can provide care for all children and their families, showing them the love of Jesus as we care for their children.
Thanks for joining with Lydia in advocating for government policies that help nurture our children. Find out more about how you can advocate by stopping by the table in the atrium at Pearce this weekend.
The Fabric of Community
This weekend, we’ll look at Romans 12:3-8 as we continue our series of messages on Christian community. “No Solitary Threats” is the title of my message and it reflects Paul’s concern with those who choose to go alone as believers. This text is especially important for us to hear as people living in an age focused on the individual, to the exclusion of the community.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in his classic book, Living Together, “It is easily forgotten that the fellowship of Christian brethren is a gift of grace, a gift of the Kingdom of God that any day may be taken from us, that the time that still separates us from utter loneliness may be brief indeed. Therefore, let him who until now has had the privilege of living a common Christian life with other Christians, praise God’s grace from the bottom of his heart. Let him thank God on his knees and declare: It is grace, nothing but grace, that we are allowed to live in community with Christian brethren.”
Thanks for being a part of a community of faith with me. Your presence enriches my life!
Moments with Pastor Tim and Friends
A highlight for me last weekend was Pastor Tim’s first “Children’s Moment’s” at Pearce. He did a great job as he sang “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” with the children. Then he invited Jorge Tamayo to come and sit on the platform with him. Jorge, who immigrated from Cuba 10 years ago, sang a song in Spanish. Then Pastor Tim invited Vivek Christy, an RWC freshman, to sing in one of the languages of India, his homeland. Finally, to everyone’s surprise and joy, Ephaste, the director of International Child Care in Rwanda, joined us with a recorded Skype video to sing in the Kinyaranda language. What a wonderful way to remind ourselves of the worldwide Body of Christ.
Heart & Soul Is All Wet
Or, at least some of those at Heart & Soul will soon be all wet! Thanks to your generosity this past weekend, Pearce is sending a check for $2,651.49 to enable Heart & Soul, a congregation on North Clinton Street, to purchase a portable baptismal pool. This will enable them to buy the baptismal, as well have some funds left over to utilize in their ministry to the people of the city of Rochester.
What a delight it was to have Pastor Louis Colon and his children in our services this past weekend. And thanks for “dipping” into your pockets to help our sister congregation! (Sorry, bad baptismal pun!)
How Are John & Elizabeth Doing?
You may recall, John and Elizabeth Gay headed out earlier this year for a term of service at a hospital compound in the Congo. I’ve had copies of their newsletter placed at the Welcome Center for those of you interested in their work.
Elizabeth included the picture shown above of John holding a little boy in the town of Dongou. She writes this about their visit:
Once in Dangou, we visited with a few families. I even had a previous patient of mine who recognized me and came to see me. We had not eaten and saw a small hut with a cooler. On a hot day, having a hankerin’ for a cold Coke, we treated ourselves. I think the cooler was really a cardboard box painted white. You got it, the Coke was not cold. Refrigeration here is a rare thing—even for the missionaries.”
Thanks for keeping the Gays in your prayers!
Join the Conspiracy
You are invited to join with others at Pearce in being a part of the Advent Conspiracy. This is a movement of Christians across the United States to place an emphasis on “presence” over “presents” during the Christmas season.
Rather than invest in gifts, many of which are not really needed, we are asking people to invest in sharing their time with friends and loved ones. The money that normally would be spent on gifts can then be invested in helping to provide clean drinking water somewhere in the world.
Over the past five years alone, our congregation has contributed a total of $61,291.56 at Christmas time to Clear Blue Global Water to fund the digging of wells. I think that is an amazing amount of money!
I spoke recently with Pastor Brenda of Clear Blue and she expressed her deep appreciation for Pearce’s continuing support. In the next couple of months, Clear Blue is raising funds to dig a series of wells in Nigeria, among the Fulani tribe. (A couple of Fulani children are in the photo above.)
I hope you’ll join with me in finding ways this Christmas to enrich the lives of our loved ones, as well as fund these much needed wells in Nigeria. To support this provision of clean water, simply mark your gifts in the coming weeks with “Advent Conspiracy” or “Clear Blue Global Water.”
There are only 79 days till Christmas! Let’s walk through these next two months with the joy of our Lord and a heart for others.
Carol Stevenson, who has been leading our efforts to provide teacher training for the staff at the school in Nzige, shared an email she received from Niyigena Ephaste, the director of ICCM in Rwanda. In the email, Ephaste made this statement: “The good news is that there are other teachers from other schools who came to learn from Nzige teachers. You can see how it is amazing that you trained trainers.”
Do you catch what Ephaste is saying? Pearce sent two teams of teachers this year to help improve the skills of the Nzige school staff. Now other schools in the area are sending their teachers to learn from the Nzige staff. How wonderful!
I had to chuckle this past Saturday evening when Joyce Wagner arrived for the Saturday worship service. Each year, Joyce observes “Pastor Appreciation Month” by presenting me with a memorable gift. One year it was a stapler that looks like a fish. Another year it was an inflatable turkey. Once, it was an ugly clock; it still sits on a shelf in my office at Pearce.
This year, Joyce presented me with a beautifully wrapped box that contained the phone pictured above. Yes, that phone now sits on the desk in my study at home. So if I pause before I answer, know it’s because I’m not quite sure how to approach my phone!
Thanks, Joyce! It’s what I’ve always wanted. Really!
The Wisdom of the Generations
Following this past Sunday’s worship service, Sam Hunt pulled me aside with a request. Opening the cover of a new leather journal, he asked, “Pastor Wally, would you be the first to write in my Book of Wisdom?”
Sam went on to tell me that he considers Pearce a place where there are many people from whom he could learn. So he put together a list of questions on the journal’s endpaper. Questions like: “What is one thing you wish you were told earlier in life?” and “What’s your answer to ‘What’s the meaning of life?’”
“I’m going to have people write their answers in my journal,” Sam explained, “and I’d like you to be the first!” Needless to say, I feel quite honored to inaugurate this project for Sam. I’m not sure how wise I am, but I’ll give it my best shot. Don’t be surprised if Sam approaches you for additional wisdom!
The Fabric of Christian Community
This week, I’ll begin a six-week series of messages from Paul’s letter to the church at Rome. This series, focusing on Romans 12 and 13, is titled “The Fabric of Christian Community.” My hope is these messages will make us aware of both the privileges and challenges of living in community with other Christians.
This week’s message, “Woven with Diversity,” takes Romans 12:1-2 as its text. As you consider those verses and their implications for a local congregation, I invite you to consider these questions:
“What are my expectations for community at Pearce?”
“How have my past church experiences impacted me?”
“What am I asking God to do at Pearce Church?”
“What does God need to do in my life today?”
As a part of this weekend’s worship, we’ll be celebrating the Lord’s Supper. Rev. Louis Colon, pastor of Heart & Soul Community Church, will be co-officiating at the Communion table. This weekend’s Exit Offering will help enable Heart & Soul to purchase a portable baptistery for use in their worship services.
A Classic Book on Christian Community
For this month’s “Pearce Reads,” I’ve chosen one of my favorite books on Christian community—Life Together, a classic by German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer. First published in 1938, it was written while Bonhoeffer taught in an underground seminary in Nazi Germany. This powerful book will challenge you and encourage you to live with others as Christ desires us to live! Copies are available for a $10 donation on the book rack in Pearce’s lobby.
One of the book’s many gems is this quote: “The first service one owes to others in the fellowship consists of listening to them. Just as love of God begins with listening to his word, so the beginning of love for our brothers and sisters is learning to listen to them.”
Dedication of Elaina
This Saturday evening, Jon and Emily Lapp will be dedicating their daughter, Elaina, to the Lord. The Lapps are new to Pearce, having enrolled Elaina’s older sister, Adelyn, at P4K at the start of this school year. We welcome the Lapps and celebrate the gift of 10-month-old Elaina.
Debating the Debate
If you watched this past week’s Presidential debate, you may find yourself still wondering, “Who am I going to vote for this year?” The October issue of Christianity Today has a nice series of articles on the election that you may find helpful. Ron Sider writes “Why I’m Voting for Hillary Clinton,” James Dobson on “Why I’m Voting for Donald Trump,” and, finally, Sho Baraka on “Why I’m Voting for Neither Candidate.” Each of those writing his opinion is a deeply committed Christian. Their articles remind us that there is a wide range of opinion within the evangelical community as to who can best lead our nation. So I hope you are gracious to those of differing political opinions! Copies of these articles are available at the atrium Welcome Kiosk, or you can find them online at christianitytoday.com.
Getting My Facts Straight
This past weekend, I gave some statistics regarding slavery in the United States. Referring to an entry in B. T. Roberts’ journal, I said, “In 1856, there were 347,325 slaves out of a population of 3,204,313.” I was wrong! I should have said, “In 1856 there were 347,325 slave holders in the U.S. and 3,204,313 slaves.” Checking the census data for 1850, there were 23,191,876 residents in the U.S. Thanks to Brian Lavell for catching my error and helping set the record straight!
A 62-Year-Old Witness
Bill Roushey, a valued member of our facility team at Pearce, recently brought me a letter his dad wrote to Bill’s mom in October 1954. At that time, Bill’s parents were dating. His dad was a student at Roberts and his mom was living at her family’s home in Maplecrest, New York.
Here’s some of what Bill’s dad wrote:
“Tonight I’ve a peace in my heart that the world cannot give, a peace it cannot take away. Bro. Warren preached on complete consecration to God. I felt I wanted to really have the victory. As Bro. Traver sang …[the] invitation song I felt I just had to have peace and real victory in my heart. So I went up to the altar and three other people followed.”
Enclosed with the letter was a flyer advertising a special service at Pearce held on the previous Sunday afternoon.
What a wonderful witness for Bill to read his father’s words, written more than sixty years ago! Reading this letter makes me more determined than ever to leave a legacy of commitment to Christ, to my family, and friends! Don’t you feel the same?
A Lasting Partnership
This Sunday, our congregation will gather with the Roberts community in celebrating their 150th anniversary. I’ve asked President Porterfield to join me in Sunday’s worship service and “tag team” the sermon with me. She graciously accepted this rather risky invitation! (I wonder if she has regretted that decision!)
Prior to the Sunday worship service, Dr. Doug Cullum will join me in Parmerter Chapel for a special interview. Dr. Cullum, the Dean of Northeastern Seminary, will share about his life, ministry, and years of service to the RWC and NES community. You’ll find his remarks to be engaging and insightful. This special interview will begin at 9am in Parmerter.
(RWC trivia: Did you know that Parmerter Chapel is named for a former pastor of our church, Rev. Wesley J. Parmerter; and that his daughter, Jean, grew up to marry Dr. Paul Adams, former president of the college?)
Lifetree Café Winding Down
Recently, the decision was made to end our sponsorship of Lifetree Café, as of Thursday, September 29. Pearce began serving as a host site for this Colorado-based ministry in the fall of 2014. Over the past two years, a wide variety of issues has been presented in a welcoming and non-judgmental environment. A wonderful team of individuals, under the leadership of Sid Barefoot and Erin Bennett, hosted the café and worked hard to make it a safe, grace-filled environment.
The reason for ending the Lifetree Café is that it was never utilized as originally hoped. Geared to provide a place for Christians to invite friends who are spiritually searching, it instead became a small group gathering of committed believers. (There’s nothing wrong, of course, with believers gathering together, but that was not the mission of Lifetree Café!) Recognizing this reality, those who have faithfully served at the café over the past two years recommended its closure.
In evaluating the past two years, I celebrate the ways in which the café did minister to people and am grateful for this church’s willingness to give it a try!
Spoiled to Have This Mother-in-Law
On a personal note, I thought I should share with the Pearce family that my mother-in-law, Elaine, will be moving into our house this weekend. A vigorous and lively 92-year-old, Elaine has lived on her own since her husband passed away more than twenty years ago. Both Mary and I feel blessed to have her join us in our home. (What better place to live than in Ogden?) I felt it was important to reveal this transition as you may otherwise wonder why I’ve become so well-behaved all of a sudden! (Mary will now have major support in her quest to help me be a “nice” person!)
When I looked for a photo of Elaine to accompany this article, I immediately thought of this one from June. It shows this wonderful lady sitting on the grass in our backyard, playing with a two-year-old. Ninety years between them, but my mother-in-law can bridge the gap! That’s the kind of person she is!
Grateful for the Partnership
I have often thanked the Lord for the privilege of pastoring a congregation adjacent to a thriving Christian college campus. Pearce has been blessed by its partnership with Roberts Wesleyan over the college’s 150-year history. That partnership has been expressed in many ways over the decades; a new expression of it will begin in May 2017. At the conclusion of the spring semester, Roberts will no longer be renting classroom space from Pearce. This has several implications, two of which I want to highlight here.
First, this will significantly impact the hours of operation for our Common Grounds Café. Since its inception, the café has been open on weekdays to service the students attending classes in our education wing. Although the café’s hours next September are unclear, I anticipate they will be reduced.
Second, our church’s budget will be impacted as well. The rental revenue from the college has funded nearly 10% of our Operational Budget for the past several years. It is my hope that the Pearce family, by their generous support, will help offset the loss of this rental income.
I realize this was not an easy decision for the college to make; and I appreciate their expressions of concern for us when they relayed the news. I ask for your prayers as we navigate this new stretch of our congregation’s journey. I pray that the college will experience such growth in the coming years that they will, once again, be asking for classroom space at Pearce!
Our administrator, Honna Curtis, summarized her email informing Pearce’s finance committee of this development with these thoughts:
The Lord will get Pearce through this and He will provide. It will take prayer, discretion, stewardship, and humility on our part to strive for the things the Lord would have us do, even if it means pushing our ‘druthers’ aside. Let’s not turn to fear and trembling, but in all things and in all circumstance, praise and thank the Lord for his continual and abundant goodness to us!
As you may already be aware, Pearce has recently completed its annual payments to Roberts Wesleyan College for the properties at 65 & 67 Orchard Street. The Official Board spent much of its 2016 Board Retreat in discussion about the two properties and what Pearce should do with them once they would come under Pearce ownership.
After much listening, prayer, and dialogue, the Board determined that the properties will be an asset to Pearce, but the structures themselves do not fit Pearce’s ministry purposes. We do own other buildings, which would be available for future use if we experience a new or growing ministry which could benefit from a separate building. In addition, keeping the buildings will be more costly; and without a clear vision for them, Pearce cannot justify the estimated expenses. The current ideas for 65 & 67 Orchard Street include additional green space and/or a potential parking lot expansion, if viable and necessary in the future.
So the houses will be coming down. The abatement process is under way right now, as there were small amounts of asbestos found in both buildings. Once that is completed, air monitoring reports must come back clean so that demolition permits may be obtained. The sewer line must be disconnected by the County, which may take 6 weeks; but we are hoping and encouraging this piece to move more swiftly, as it must be completed prior to demolition. Pearce Director of Facilities, Bob Antes, and the entire Property Committee have been invaluable in the process of obtaining many quotes, determining best steps forward, and learning about each piece which must be addressed along the way.
We are expecting the houses to be demolished by the end of October, given the potential holdup in regard to the sewer line disconnect. Be prepared for a much clearer and more open view across Orchard Street!
Pearce’s Newest Board Member
At last week’s gathering of Pearce’s Official Board, a new face was at the table in our church’s conference room. Ardis Tucker assumed the unexpired term of Nicole Berg, who reluctantly submitted her resignation due to scheduling conflicts.
Ardis was one of the nominees presented at last February’s Annual Meeting and is well qualified to serve in this capacity. Many years ago, I had the privilege of serving on the conference’s Ministerial Education and Guidance Board with Ardis and quickly grew to appreciate her leadership gifts and her heart for serving Christ and His Church.
I am grateful to Nicole for her year and a half of service on the Official Board. When you see Nicole, please express your thanks to her.
An Honor to Represent Pearce
This past Tuesday evening, I had the privilege of leading the Monroe County Legislature in a time of prayer at the opening of their evening session. At the invitation of Tracy DiFlorio, I made my way to the beautiful Monroe County Office Building in the heart of Rochester and was warmly welcomed by Tracy and given a brief tour of legislature’s offices.
Tracy and her family are an active part of our Pearce family. I am grateful for Tracy’s service to our county as she represents the town of Chili as a legislator. I am sure she would appreciate your prayers on her behalf as she serves in this key position of leadership in our area.
Picking Up the Conversation
It’s good to be back! I would be amiss if I didn’t thank the pastoral team, the entire Pearce staff, and the congregation for holding the fort in my absence during the past three months while I was on sabbatical. What a great job all of you did!
Also, my thanks to the many guest preachers who graciously gave of their time and shared their Spirit-led insights in God’s Word.
Special thanks to Pastor Jeremy for picking up this weekly conversation and keeping it from dangling too long!
Third Time is a Charm
Actually, every time this year has been a charm for our church! I’m referring to the number of times we’ve been privileged as a congregation to host one of the bishops of our denomination. Bishop Samuel, the overseer of the Free Methodist Church in Rwanda was with us in early May. In July, Bishop David Kendall preached in our weekend services. Now, as we start a new church year, we are privileged to have Bishop David Roller in Pearce’s pulpit this weekend (September 10 & 11).
Bishop Roller is charged with the responsibility to oversee Free Methodist congregations in the eastern United States, as well as in the United Kingdom and Latin America. He and his wife, Yvonne, have been guests at our church on several occasions over the years he has served as bishop. (He was elected in 2007.)
(By the way, Pearce has been blessed by many a bishop’s visit over the years. Last week, I came across this sign pictured above in Parmerter Chapel’s attic advertising Bishop Ellis’ visit in 1975.)
The theme for our “kick-off” this fall is “Our Roots Run Deep!” and we have selected a verse from Paul’s letter to the Colossians as our focus: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:6-7)
I hope you’ll join us this coming Saturday or Sunday. If you join us on Sunday, be sure to stay after the 10:30am worship service for a reception.
On Top of the Roof!
Upon my return from sabbatical, I was grateful to receive word that the new roof on Parmerter has been fully funded. Thank you for your generosity in funding this $161,000 project! (In the photo above, Bob Antes, our director of facilities, is seen checking out the new roof.)
Over the past four years, we have contracted with the Elmer Davis Company, a local roofing contractor, for three significant and ambitious projects. In June of 2012, Elmer Davis restored the bell tower atop Parmerter at a cost of $41,500; in May of 2014 they put a new roof on our sanctuary ($173,000 project); and now, this past summer, they installed a new roof on Parmerter Chapel at a cost of $161,200.
This means that over the past four years, you have funded three significant projects totaling $375,700. As all of this giving was beyond that needed to fund our operational expenses, I want to express my deep appreciation for your generosity.
Any funds that come in for the roof project, in excess of what is needed to foot the bill, will be applied to help us cover a shortfall in our mortgage payments on our 2001 addition. Although we have kept current on our payments, we have had to dip into operational funds to cover any shortfall. Thanks, too, for those of you who regularly support our “building fund” and assist us in chipping away at the indebtedness on our facility.
A Beautiful Witness
Last spring, many of our congregation attended an excellent series of lectures on Islam, presented by staff from the Lilias Trotter Center at Houghton College. We’ve invited them to return to Pearce next Wednesday, September 14, to present a screening of Many Beautiful Things, a film on the life of Lilias Trotter. Trotter made the bold decision to journey to French Algeria in the late 1800s to pioneer missions to the Muslim community. This movie will be shown in the Friendship Center at 6:30pm.
The Return of Pastor Wally
Pastor Wally recently sent me the following note to include in this week’s Dangling Conversation. I thought you’d enjoy hearing from him!
Pastor Jeremy, I’m sorry to inform you that your quiet office environment is about to be broken as I return next Wednesday and once again take up residence next door to you. Soon the peaceful and calm days of summer will be a distant memory, as you once again find your deep thoughts interrupted by the commotion from my office. I will try to ease you into this time of transition, but I realize it may not be easy. Rest assured, I will do my best to be sensitive to the tranquil atmosphere, at least in connection with my office, that has enveloped you these past three months!
Sincerely, thank you my friend, and the entire pastoral team, for your fine leadership during my sabbatical. You all have done well and the few comments I have heard this summer have all been quite positive and affirming of you, the team, and the entire Pearce staff. I look forward to returning and getting back to work as part of one of the finest pastoral teams I know. I have missed you, the staff, and the Pearce congregation and look forward to once again engaging our time in God’s timeless Story!
P.S. As you have opportunity, be sure to extend my thanks to the Pearce family for the gift of my sabbatical. It has truly been a blessing to both me and Mary. Isn’t it a privilege to be a part of such a generous congregation?
Blessings, my friend!
It’s Been a Great Summer!
My answer to Pastor Wally’s rhetorical question at the end of his note is an enthusiastic, “Yes!” Our congregation is generous; and it is, indeed, a blessing and an honor to be a part of this church family!
From my point of view, the summer has gone by rather quickly and smoothly. It has been wonderful walking through the book of Acts together in our worship services, beginning with Dr. Jeff Altman in June and just ending with the incredible speaker, Kaleigh Shumske. Wasn’t her message awesome? Several of you have commented to me how challenging and edifying this summer series has been and I would certainly agree with you.
I would like to extend my gratitude to Pearce for your support and encouragement for me and the rest of the pastoral team over the past three months. It has meant a lot to me and my family. I have received gracious cards, generous emails, and sincere words of kindness. Thank you! Isn’t it wonderful being in a faith community together?
I have enjoyed my tailored role over the summer as interim lead pastor. I have learned more about myself, have become increasingly proud of Pearce, and look forward to what the Lord has in store for all of us. He continues to do His transforming work in you and me daily, through the goodness of His Holy Spirit.
I also look forward to Pastor Wally’s return. If you have ever wondered what it is like to work in an office next to Pastor Wally, let me give you some insight. It is a joy! My days are filled with whistled tunes from Moody Blues to Charles Wesley’s classics hymns. Does that surprise you? It is also doused with jolly and full laughter that pours from his office and brings a smile to everyone’s face. (I must admit, however, that it is a little challenging hearing him burst forth with energy before I have even had my morning coffee. How does he do it? Ah, he must have lattes streamed to him intravenously throughout the night!)
Most importantly, he loves Jesus and his presence makes me a better pastor and a better Christian. So it is with great joy that I look forward to his return and to giving him back all his responsibilities! And if I have destroyed anything in his absence, I think this article praising his leadership should cover it. (I write this tongue-in-cheek, because the praise comes from a very sincere place.) We are blessed to have him as our lead pastor and will be blessed by his return!
This coming week, I will be going on vacation with my family before Emma and Joshua start back to school. Can you believe that we are already at this part of the year? The fish of Keuka Lake are calling my name and I need more sermon material!
As I leave for vacation, Pastor Wally will be returning a few days after. Pastor Mike will be overseeing things here at the church this weekend. There will be no Dangling next week, but Pastor Wally will resume the conversation on September 8. I look forward to reading his reflections once again. Thank you for sharing your time with me as you have read my thoughts this summer! I hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them!
The Joy of Serving Others
Early on Saturday morning, August 13, the Family Life Center was bustling with energy as Pearce Church hosted another successful Mobile Food Pantry. Volunteers hustled to neatly lay out the food on large tables—from bread and bacon to vegetables and juice—as the Foodlink truck driver brought in full skids of food to help our community.
I hope that someday you will take the opportunity to volunteer at one of these quarterly events. It is great to be a part of the excitement and enthusiasm in the air, while hearing voices all around in rich conversation and laughter. With the incredible leadership of Sue Smout, and faithful volunteers, these events are turning into communal moments and times of fellowship with many in our community. At the end of the day, this ministry is about far more than food—it is about relationships.
This last Mobile Food Pantry served 186 households (that number represents almost 700 people in our neighborhood). That is the highest turnout we have had yet, and this ministry continues to grow! I am excited to see what the Lord has in store; and I continue to be in awe of how He leads Pearce to be part of a positive impact in the lives of our friends in the Rochester area.
The Women’s Retreat
While many volunteers assisted at the Mobile Food Pantry on Saturday, 26 women from Pearce began to gather at Lighthouse Christian Camp for an enriching women’s retreat. When I asked Pastor Kathy how the day went, she said:
“Despite the high humidity, we had a great time! Colleen Dick started off the day with a wonderful meditation and teaching called “Awaken My Soul”. In the afternoon, Gina Spears spoke, inviting everyone into private conversations with God using challenging questions. Space was also created for the ladies to spend time in meaningful reflection, time to journal, fellowship, a lovely lunch, and a group walk. Our day ended with Colleen giving opportunities for the women to share what they were taking away from the day.”
Colleen Dick also highlighted that, “The women’s retreat was a wonderful time of refreshing, reflecting, and recalibrating. The cry of our hearts was for God to “Awaken our Souls” (Psalm 108:1). He responded to our cry with challenging and life-transforming questions that are found within His Word. I believe that many of the women walked away feeling loved by God and inspired to go deeper with Him.”
Praise the Lord for the many ways He works in our lives!
Reflection on the Algonquin Trip
At the beginning of August Pastor Mike led several of his teens into the wilderness of Algonquin for a time of retreat and spiritual formation. I asked Pastor Mike if he would offer a few highlights of that week of renewal. Here is what he shared:
“One of the highlights of the Pearce Teen year is our annual trip to the Algonquin Wilderness and this summer’s trip was no exception. This year, we took 19 people to spend a week on the water and in the Word. It was an unusual trip in that we had no teen girls, however Karen Hopkins and Duane Eich led our graduates on their final “official” trip. This group had a special treat in that Karen provided gourmet food for them all week. I think they were actually disappointed to have to come out and go to Dairy Queen at the end of the week. The other two groups also had excellent weeks, they just didn’t eat quite as fancy. In nine trips to Algonquin, I have never experienced such fantastic weather. It was sunny and hot the entire week. We spent a lot of time swimming, jumping off rocks, and basking in the warmth. The weather was a gift and reminder for all of us. While we were there to canoe and experience God’s great creation, we were truly there to grow closer to our Lord. The weather, the stars, and the warm water were all reminders of what it is to fully surrender to our creator God and to fully experience His love and grace. My hope is that as the students journey through their year, this trip will act as a touch-point for them. That they will remember the thrill of taking the risk and jumping off the cliff each time God asks them to take a risk. That when they are discouraged, they will remember the warmth of God’s sun as they lay on the rocks overlooking the lakes, or the enormous star-filled skies. My hope is that when our students wrestle with sin this year, they feel the grace and forgiveness of God washing over them like the warm waters of the lakes. It was truly a God-filled and God-blessed week. Thanks for all your prayers!”
From extraterrestrial beings to creatures like Big Foot or the Loch Ness Monster, we often hear accounts of someone, somewhere, seeing something out of this world! But why can they never get a good picture? Apparently, mysterious creatures only appear to people with horrendous cameras or with a cell phone lens with worse focus than me without my contact lenses! Either way, I am happy to share that the pastoral team caught a rare glimpse of a fascinating creature indigenous to Ogden.
In its natural habitat, this flaxen-haired creature feasts mainly on lattés and Caramel Macchiatos. However, at times, this fun-loving predator will explore terrain beyond its borders in search of its most sought after prey—LuGia’s ice cream. Have you figured out the species I am referring to? That’s right folks! We saw Pastor Wally in two rare summer sightings this week! The pastoral team joined him for lunch at his home this past Tuesday and then he was kind enough to join the Pearce staff outing for ice cream the next day. It was a joy to see him once again!
If you know Pastor Wally, then you know he always has a camera nearby to take a great photo. These clear pictures were both captured by him. So the next time you have a rare sighting of something unusual, don’t settle for your blurry cell phone. Instead, ask Big Foot or E.T. if you can borrow theirs!
Operation: Painting Project
Have you ever seen a young person walking around in jeans with holes in them? You know, the kind of holes your mom used to yell at you for because they were supposed to be your church pants or school clothes? Well, I regret if I’m the one to tell you, but they actually sell them like that now. That’s right—pants that are pre-worn and pre-torn for your convenience. You can now buy them brand new.
Now, the worn look may be cool as clothing but there are some things that are not too impressive “pre-worn.” For example, no one goes to a car dealership looking for a vehicle with pre-rusted frames or worn wheel bearings. Nor do you set out to find an engagement ring with a diamond already missing, or a book with mayonnaise spots from a turkey sandwich. Likewise, we often put work into our homes because the chipping paint look is not very fashionable. It is also not good for the structure.
I hope you get a chance, as you are driving down Orchard Street, to observe and offer up a prayer of thanksgiving for the Mission House. We have the wonderful blessing of owning that property and using it as a ministry to missionaries that visit, or return for respite, from their various appointments around the world. The upkeep of this home requires work and faithful stewardship, which volunteers from Pearce help with throughout the year. And, in the next several weeks, you will see professional painters stripping and repainting that beautiful home. I look forward to the finished product and I am thankful for the generosity of our Pearce family that makes projects like this possible.