August 2020 Newsletter
Ionia First Presbyterian Church, 125 East Main Street, Ionia, MI 48846
Words From Pastor Chris
Will We Build a House For God?
David was anointed by Samuel the prophet to be king over Israel. Between his anointing and his accession to the throne, however, there was a long interval. But at last God gave David rest from his enemies, and he began his reign in Jerusalem. He was content, and grateful to God. But then he noticed something. While he lived luxuriously in a palace, there was no place for his God to dwell. He then resolved to build a house for God.
Does God need us to build a house for him?
Today the world pressures us to embrace movements, promote causes, and advocate for groups. But seldom if ever does this bring us together, because there is always a segment of the population that resents the pressure and feels offended when their refusal to get on board is condemned as moral defectiveness. To be told you are not a good person does not endear you to the one who arrogates to himself the right to tell you this. Nevertheless, should the church resist this segment of the population and get on board? But then, is the church to allow the world to prescribe to it the world’s agenda? History teaches us that that has never been good—either for the church or for the world.
After hearing from God in prayer, the prophet Nathan went to David to give to him the following message: “This is what the Lord says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in” (2 Sam. 7:5)? No, it turns out that God neither needed nor wanted David to build a house for him. But God had an even greater plan: “Now then, you are to tell my servant David that this is what the Lord of Hosts says…The Lord declares that he himself will establish a house for you” (2 Sam. 7:8,11). By this God meant the divine guarantee of the royal line of succession that would ultimately culminate in Messiah, the Son of David, whom we know as Jesus Christ. He is the hope of all the nations, and his kingdom shall have no end.
Jesus Christ is the pledge of God’s unwavering commitment to us and to the world. For Jesus’ sake, God is actively involved in our world. If we seek his will, if we go to him in prayer, he will show us where he is working, and will open wide the doors of opportunity for us. God gives to his people the very great privilege of serving him as his vessels and instruments to accomplish his purposes in this world. Whether we work with children, young people, the underprivileged, refugees, or with local social or civic organizations, we will find that God has already gone ahead of us. God is waiting for us in the places where he has invited us to serve him, eager to show us around. I myself have had this experience, as I am sure many of you have. As I learned to get on board with God’s agenda, I enjoyed a satisfaction and a sense of purpose that it is God’s will to give to his people.
The Apostle Paul assured the church in Thessalonica that he was constantly praying for them, asking God to enable them to live a life worthy of the divine call. His prayer was that God give them the power to accomplish all the good things their faith prompted them to do (cf. 2 Thess. 1:11).
My prayer for you is the same.
Blessings to all,
Announcements / Thank you
The Penny Project jar from the memorial room was emptied and counted with $137.26 donated by the congregation. Portland Credit Union processed our coins at no charge. We thank them for this kindness.
These monies go to the camp fund. As it turns out, Camp Greenwood was closed in June due to the corona virus. So the money will be used next year. Thanks to all for contributing your coins!
Plastic Bottle Cap Project
Carter Wells, the young man who has been collecting bottle caps to build benches, would again appreciate our help. His project is continuing through Saranac Schools.He graduates in 2024!
When church services begin again please drop off your bottle caps, plastic only, in the shopping cart by the main floor restrooms. Thank you for contributing to this recycling project!
Help for Church Families
We continue to make a food delivery to our church families every 2 weeks. As always, they are extremely grateful. As I have said before, it is great to see the girls.
This month I am approaching this subject from another angle. If this assistance is going to continue, I am coming to you with an open hand. Any donation you feel comfortable contributing will be gratefully appreciated. One extension of this project I would like to make is helping the girls get ready for school…whatever that looks like, whether it is online or actually in the classroom. With all of the time I have spent with these families, I know any help will be appreciated. I, in turn, am asking for your help. Donations can be sent to or dropped off at 60 Northland Drive, Ionia.
God bless all of you. Mary Williams
Support One Another
The Women’s Bible Study group had an outdoor get-together recently to share with each other how we all have been faring during this strange time of social distancing and, for some of us, isolation except for family. It was so good to see a portion of our church family in person (although 6 feet apart), to catch up on news, to share, to laugh and just to be with each other after such an extended absence!
As our corona virus situation and resulting ramifications continue, let others of us try to support members of our church community by planning face to face encounters, especially while the weather allows. Small groups of ten or fewer could meet on porches, decks, or patios. Think about inviting a few folks who sit near you in the pews, or someone you would like to get to know better, to come for an hour or so to visit and compare notes as to how to pass the time as our situation dictates. We need to stay connected to one another and support one another as a Christian congregation.
JoAnn Furman 5
Megan Ransom 5
Brand Bronsema 5
Braxton Renucci 8
Susan Shaver 9
Thomas Cox, Jr 15
Faraiya Hubbard 19
Warren Thompson 25
Lee Hunsberger 27
Patrick J. Folaron 28
Sally Wilcox 28
Church Reopens for Worship
Announcing the Reopening of Sanctuary Worship at First Presbyterian Church, Beginning Sunday, August 2!
After more than four months of having to refrain from worshipping together in our sanctuary due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Session leaders made a prayerful and unanimous decision at their June 30 meeting to reopen our sanctuary for public worship, beginning August 2. While the corona virus remains at large, we believe current conditions can allow for public worship to be held safely once again, provided that certain precautions be taken.
~ We will resume our service schedule with worship at 10:00 AM.
~ No food and fellowship time will be offered following the service.
~ No children’s ministries or nursery will be provided.
This marks “phase 1” of a three-phase reopening. Other Sunday morning activities will resume at later phases.
For everyone’s safety, we are asking that all attendees follow these guidelines.
1. Refrain from all personal contact (hugs and handshakes)
2. Maintain social distancing (keep six feet apart from all but immediate family members)
3. Wear face masks made available or bring your own.
4. Refrain from singing.
5. Use hand sanitizer made available at the entrance and in the sanctuary.
Additionally, bibles and hymnbooks will be removed from the pews. An offering receptacle will be placed at the rear of the sanctuary. Seats in the pews will be designated. Some rows of pews will be closed to ensure proper social distancing. The worship service itself will be shortened.
Most importantly, we are asking any who are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms to please stay home. We also recognize that not everyone will be ready to return to public worship. No one should feel under any obligation to come to church at this time. We will continue to provide “virtual” worship services to minister to and support our members and friends who choose not to come.
If conditions deteriorate, we will exercise the option of suspending once again public worship until they improve. How will we determine objectively that the conditions have indeed deteriorated? An obvious criterion is a regression from stage 4 in the State of Michigan’s current plan to reengage the economy to stage 3, when stricter social distancing measures will once again be the order of the day. All this is to say is that pastor and session intend to remain flexible and responsive.
We realize that this will feel strange to us, but we are convinced that being together even under these restrictions is better than nothing at all. Things are not as we wish. But to be in each other’s presence and to reconnect after such a long hiatus will refresh our spirits. We thank you for your patience with us during these trying times. The precautions spelled out above are intended to ensure the safety of all who come. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
On behalf of the Session, Pastor Chris
These minutes are of the June 16, 2020 Zoom meeting.
- Jacob Dayringer, camp director at Camp Greenwood, announced May 18th there would be no in-person camp this summer.
- A thank you note was received from the Presbytery Financial Team of the Lake Michigan Presbytery thanking our church for paying our 2020 per capita obligation of $2,428.80.
- Pastor Chris’ report covered three topics-Committee on Reopening, Stated Presbytery meeting and Black Lives Matter. Our Committee on Reopening met June 11th via Zoom to formulate an approach to the reopening of our church building for public worship and other uses. A consensus approach was adopted, which was to survey the congregants and friends to see if they are ready to return to the sanctuary for worship. Once results are received, a special session meeting will be called by Pastor Chris. The Stated Presbytery Meeting was held via Zoom June 9th. Delegates to the General Assembly, which will be held via Zoom, were appointed; Dr. Charles Hardwick was appointed Transitional Synod Executive of the Synod of the Covenant; a proposal to review the staffing structure of the Presbytery was presented; the Budget and Finance Committee reported its reception of a $50,000 grant for the Vital Congregations Initiative; and the motion carried to dissolve the Great Lakes Michigan Foundation. Congregations are hanging tough despite the economic hardship due to the pandemic, and Presbytery is pleased to announce that there is relative financial stability owning to the positive per capita response from congregations. There was also an extended discussion of the Presbytery’s current Conflict of Interest Policy.
- Lee Hunsberger, Co-Chairperson of Budget and Finance, submitted a written report. Since mid-March, the church office has been closed. Lee has collected the mail and issued checks twice a month, which treasurer, Barb Klenk, has signed. Expenses are down. The twelve-month rolling report is still in the black at the end of May but only by $902. The readily available assets as of June 11 are down less than $2,000 from 12/31/19. Gains were realized in the general fund CDs, memorial checking and PayPal. The general fund checking, which has about $17,000, is more than $4,000 lower than the end of 2019. It is still anticipated there will be a need to use some money from the smaller general fund CD (maturing in August) to cover general fund expenses through the end of 2020. While the capital building fund gained, memorial investments dipped about 15% in February through March but are down only $6,000 at the end of May. The Kosbar Scholarship fund is $7,000 below the 12/31/19 value, which is still below the principal value.
- Judi Emlinger, Chairperson of Christian Education Committee, reports the search is on- going for a replacement to co-chair the committee and teach Sunday school.
- Lee Hunsberger volunteered to be the Crop Walk volunteer from our church. The next meeting is August 4th.
- Mary Williams continues to organize food boxes for the kid’s families, which are delivered every two weeks. All the families are grateful for the church’s help. Dave and Sarah Jane Hanson made another monetary contribution to this cause.
- On June 18th Jan Arnold, Margaret Gregory, Lee Hunsberger, and Barb Klenk organized and worked at a Celebration of Life luncheon at Applewood Farms for David Furman, who died June 1st. Pastor Chris officiated. The committee provided sandwiches, drinks, fruit and vegetable trays. Members and friends provided salads and desserts.
- Lee Hunsberger, a member of the memorial committee, reported due to the coronavirus the Kosbar Scholarship Fund lost all the interest gained from April 1, 2019 through March 31, 2020. There is no interest to award any scholarships this year.
- A special church reopening committee was developed. Pastor Chris will chair the committee. Serving on the committee will be Cindy Rozich, Lee Hunsberger and Norma Kilpatrick.
- A motion was passed to reopen the church office June 22 for administrative assistant, Deb Montgomery, to return to work, working the same hours as long as there is work and limiting people visiting her to Lee Hunsberger and Pastor Chris.
- A motion passed that the church building will be reopened July 1 for members only for use at their own risk.
- The next meeting is July 21, 2020 at 7:00PM in the church fellowship hall and via Zoom.
Submitted by: Margaret Gregory, Clerk of Session
- Jacob Dayringer, camp director at Camp Greenwood, announced May 18th there would be no in-person camp this summer.
God our Savior, as we meet together on the first day of the week, reprogram us with your wisdom. Give us the capacity to work boldly and humbly with the risks and opportunities which confront us,knowing that nothing is ahead of your foresight nor outside of your strength. Through Jesus Christ our brother and Lord. Amen.
Bruce D. Prewer 1931-2018
First Presbyterian Staff
Rev. Dr. Chris Dorn Pastor Tel. 616-610-5982
Deb Montgomery Secretary
Steve Slaughter Custodian
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