Worship with us this Sunday
8:45 AM & 10 AM | Classic Worship
in the Sanctuary at First Methodist
11:15 AM | Contemporary Worship
The Open Door at Buskirk-Chumley Theater
What’s your favorite fruit?
Strawberries and blueberries have always been favorites of mine, but this week I may have discovered a new favorite: Sumo Mandarins. I stopped by a local grocery store and started chatting with the produce manager. He picked up a Sumo Mandarin, peeled it for me, and handed me a slice.
“Here,” he said. “Have the whole thing. I think you’ll like it.”
It was amazing!
Jesus often used fruit-bearing trees and vines as a metaphor for our lives, and the life of the church. He said our willingness to bear fruit for God is a measure of our faith, our love, and our very “aliveness.” In John 15:5, Jesus says he is the vine and if we remain connected to him we will produce fruit.
What, do you suppose, is God’s favorite fruit?
What fruit do you see God producing in the world through the ministries and outreach of First Methodist?
More specifically, what fruit is God producing through you in the way you pray, speak, give, and serve? What changes can you make to bless others by the God-inspired fruit you bear?
Four years ago First Methodist began the Fruitful Congregation Journey (FCJ). The purpose of FCJ was to become a congregation more fully alive. We would have a clear mission, a compelling vision, ministry teams working together in healthy and loving ways, impacting the community and world as we share God’s love in Christ.
An FCJ Consultation Team reviewed scores of on-line surveys completed by our church members and staff. There were face-to-face interviews with members, leaders, and a variety of groups. The data was reviewed and then an FCJ Consultation Report was made to the congregation in the fall of 2015.
Several people have asked me what is happening with Fruitful Congregations Journey. So, I thought I would offer you a brief update.
A summary of our FCJ work
The recommendations of the FCJ Consultation Team were approved in a congregational vote in December of 2015. Since that time teams have:
- Affirmed our UMC mission to “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
- Developed a congregational vision statement
- Identified core values.
- Crafted a behavioral covenant that makes explicit the Christ-shaped way we will work with one another, deal with conflict, etc.
- Evaluated both internal and external communication for effectiveness and clarity.
- Worked to outline how we respond to guests and newcomers.
- Started an intentional discipleship pathway which focuses on the development of networks of small groups.
- Engaged an architectural firm to interview congregants and groups to develop a proposed master plan for facilities.
Where are we now?
Although FCJ has not been making a lot of noise these last few months, work continues to go on in these areas:
- Our First Forward Building Committee, under Dean Roller’s leadership, is developing a multi-phase facilities proposal that will soon be shared with the congregation.
- A Property Task Force, headed by Derek Fullerton, is moving forward with a plan for the use of the south lot (the old post office property).
- The Connections Team (intentional discipleship pathway and small groups), headed by Markus Dickinson and others, continues to meet and develop small group opportunities and a discipleship plan. A growing percentage of the worshipping congregation is now active in small groups.
- Communication efforts at First Methodist are now lead by a full-time staff person, Brandon Pfeiffer, who is putting together a team of communication volunteers.
- J.P. Rich, Catherine Elliott, and others continue to help us do ministry planning in a more thoughtful and strategic way. (Note: the evaluation of current ministries is a next step…so we can honestly and lovingly tell whether our efforts are bearing fruit for God.)
So the work of FCJ continues even if we haven’t been making a lot of noise about the “fruit business” for God we’re running here at the corner of Washington and 4th.
An ornamental fruit tree we are not…
There was an ornamental fruit tree outside the office where I once worked. It created a constant mess for our grounds staff, and never produced usable fruit. The blossoms in the spring were spectacular, but basically it was all show and no action.
All show and no action is not what we do at First Methodist.
We have more and more thriving small groups.
Guests at the Interfaith Shelter tell us how much they appreciate the love our church offers (especially the care and hospitality provided by our youth group).
A buddy of mine tells me how many days he has been clean and sober. The love and prayers of The Open Door have been a key part of his healing!
We’re seeing new young families who tell us how excited they are to be here. One of our veteran members talked with me last week saying, “I was sitting in church two weeks ago and noticed all the young families. When I began attending our church, we were an older congregation. But I see our church connecting with a younger generation, and I am so glad for that!”
The First Methodist pre-school will transition to a MCUM-operated pre-school, offering people of all income groups full-time childcare with food service. This will put outstanding downtown Bloomington childcare within the reach of all people, regardless of income level!
Is everything good and growing, right where we (and God) want it to be? No. We are in a transitional stage with our youth ministries and college outreach. Our building challenges and the work ahead will be significant.
God is bearing fruit through First Methodist, though. It’s like standing in an orchard where the trees are heavy with apples. God is bearing fruit here in Bloomington.
My experience this week with the Sumo Mandarin tells me to keep my eyes open for the new and unexpected things God will do in and through us!
Ash Wednesday – March 1, 2017 – 7pm
This week begins the Lenten season. We welcome you to join us on Ash Wednesday (March 1st) at 7pm for a family-friendly service featuring Taizé music and Imposition of Ashes in the Sanctuary at First United Methodist Church.
Welcome the Reverend Donna Goings
We are very pleased to announce the Reverend Donna Goings has joined our staff as our part-time Pastoral Care & Outreach Associate Pastor. Donna brings a wealth of experience in ministry to us. She will help us to provide outstanding and loving pastoral care to God’s people, as well as growing our outreach and mission efforts into the community and world.
I have been a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church since 2005 and have most recently served as the senior associate pastor of Anderson First UMC in Anderson, IN. I am a second-career pastor– my first career was in health care. I am excited to be coming on board here at First United Methodist Church and look forward to working with the staff and congregation to bring God’s love to the community of Bloomington!
Join us in welcoming Reverend Donna Goings to the First Methodist community!
Families of Hope Needed!
Families of Hope is a new approach to answering the challenge in James 1:27 to “care for the orphans.” With almost 600 children in Monroe County in foster care, we need to respond to the needs of the most vulnerable in our community. We need your help!
You and your family can get involved in 2 important ways:
- Beginning March 19th, we will have a 4-week foster parent training here at the church led by DCS trainers. Childcare will be provided, and the group of families who complete training together will be able to support and encourage each other as they provide care for the children entrusted to them. While parents are in training, professionally-led, age-appropriate training will also be provided to your children around important issues like empathy, how to be welcoming, when to tell an adult about issues, and how to say goodbye.
March 19th – 2:00-3:30 – Orientation – come learn about the process, ask questions, and meet other families who are considering foster parent licensure.
March 26th – 2:00-5:00 – DCS training
April 2nd – 2:00-5:00 – DCS training
April 9th – 2:00-5:00 – First Aid/CPR
- Join our supportive Families of Hope community! Not everyone can be a foster parent, but everyone can help out. Can you make a meal, shuttle a kid to basketball practice, have a play date, babysit, donate a bed, give clothes, pray? Of course, you can! Towards the end of the foster parent training, we will be asking those of you who are willing to respond to the needs of the families in our congregation who will be fostering to let us know how you can help.
More information can be found at fumcb.org or by contacting Erin Predmore at email@example.com. To register for childcare during training, please email Alex Lamb at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join us this Sunday at 8:45 or 10 in the Sanctuary or at 11:15 in the Buskirk-Chumley for The Open Door. Why Would I Want to Join a Group that Would Have Me as a Member? is the sermon title as we continue our series BEGINNINGS. The conversation will be inspiring and hopeful, the music will bless you, and you’ll discover the growing love of this fellowship!
We look forward to seeing you this Sunday!
Grace and peace,