Ionia First Presbyterian Church125 East Main Street, Ionia, MI 48846
Words from Pastor Chris
Where We Are as a Church
Let us call attention to an uncomfortable fact that we must nevertheless face squarely: numbers at our Sunday worship continue to decline sharply.
Whether or how far this reflects on us and what we do (or don’t do), it is important nonetheless to see this disappointing state of affairs within a broader context. According to a recent study, 65 million adults in the United States who used to attend church regularly no longer do so. Gallop reports that US church membership is now below 50 per cent for the first time in almost 100 years. Lifeway research finds that most of these are young people, who give no indication that they ever plan to return.
Even before the pandemic, Barna and other research groups were reporting a steady decline in church attendance nationwide. A common observation is that while Covid accelerated this trend, it was not the catalyst. Cultural and demographic shifts, political polarization, and changing patterns of family formation, among others, were already singled out as factors accounting for fewer people in the pews.
Nevertheless, so much has changed since the pandemic. Some have gotten used to participating online and have not returned to in-person worship. Others have drifted away and not come back. As we look around at our small congregation, we undoubtedly miss some familiar faces. They may come to mind at random times, and we wonder, “Whatever happened to____?” We’re left with the “why?” question, but we are also wondering what to do.
While we wrestle with the bigger cultural questions, we ought to respond to the more pressing problem, namely, that members and friends have disengaged and drifted away from us. So how do we respond? Here are four suggestions.
First, let us try not to take it personally. This is easier said than done. But we should realize that we are not alone here. All of us in the churches in the Ionia square have been coping with this same problem. We should not let it weaken our resolve to carry out the ministries entrusted to us.
Second, let us care for the people we still have. To be sure, people have left, maybe never to return. Others are still with us, but not frequently. Sure, it’s hard to figure out just exactly what has happened. But we still have faithful attendees. We still have a core of committed members. There are still people giving, serving, praying and leading. Instead of focusing on the people we have lost and wondering what we can do to bring them back, we can care for the people who are right in front of us.
Third, let us check in on people. If someone comes to mind, call or text him or her. If you’re wondering why you haven’t seen someone in a while, it’s okay to ask. Even if people have left the church with no intention of coming back, it’s always good to encourage them to find a new community of fellow Christians at another church.
Fourth, let us begin asking about the long term. Where do we see our church in next five years, or even in the next two? If numbers continue to decline to the point where regular Sunday worship services are no longer feasible, how do we dispose of the church’s resources, including the building? Even now we should be asking these questions. For finding practical answers to them is also to show ourselves faithful to the ministries entrusted to us.
Pope Francis remarked recently: “We are not living in era of change, but a change of era.” Even if that is so, let us remain faithful through change, trusting in the God who does not change.
Blessings to you,
in the sanctuary.
If you are fully vaccinated,
feel free to be mask free!
If you are not fully vaccinated, please wear a mask for the safety of yourself and others.
Join us on Facebook at First Presbyterian Church Ionia
First Sunday of the Month
Vacation Bible School
at Restore Church
August 16, 2022
Thank You / Birthdays
A HUGE thank you to Dr. Warren Thompson and his daughter, Kristin, for setting up chairs and tables last week for the Jim Bosley funeral luncheon in the fellowship hall. Another huge thank you to Warren for taking them all down.
Thank you to Carol Campbell, Kathy VanSyckle, Susan Thompson, Marilyn McKay and Margaret Gregory for table arrangements and flowers.
Because Jim was part of our church family, we will indeed miss him.
5 Megan Ransom
5 Brand Bronsema
9 Susan Shaver
15 Thomas Cox Jr.
19 Fariya Hubbard
25 Warren Thompson
27 Lee Hunsberger
30 Sam Hyland
Have you noticed how beautiful the church grounds look this summer? Many folks keep everything looking ship shape around the building both inside and outside. Duane Emlinger is mowing the lawn. Perry Gregory has edged the sidewalks and sprayed for the weeds. Marilyn McKay sees to it that the flowers are watered. Warren Thompson takes care of the many other incidentals as well as working with Perry to get estimates for the roof leaks over the front entrance.
When you have the opportunity, please thank these folks for their efforts in keeping everything in good condition. We are truly grateful for all their efforts!
THANK YOU ONE AND ALL!
August 7, 2022 Carol Campbell
August 14, 2022 Cindy Rozich
August 21, 2022 Marilyn McKay
August 28, 2022 Lee Hunsberger
August 7, 2022 Margaret Gregory and Norma Kilpatrick
August 14, 2022 Lew and Carol Campbell
August 21, 2022 Duane and Judi Emlinger
August 28, 2022 Jen Furman and Cindy Rozich
From the June 21 Meeting
– Pastor Dorn and Elder Rozich took communion to members and friends who were unable to attend church.
– In his report to Session, Pastor Chris noted the decline in church attendance at our church and nationwide. Gallop reports membership below 50% for the first time in 100 years. The decline began before Covid and has continued. The challenge to our church is to continue our mission and “embrace our stewardship opportunities.”
– Requests for financial help from the Friends of Jesus fund continue to exceed available resources. Our church contributes mission donations to the fund.
– Vacation Bible School will be hosted by Restore Church August 1 through 4.
– Budget Report – May income exceeded expenses for a surplus of $2,064.
– Building and Grounds – Session approved a bid of $7475 to repair the parking lot.
– Session deferred a decision on a painting bid and requested more information.
– Dr. Warren Thompson will get bids for repairs needed to the roof above the narthex.
– Session thanked B&G members for their continuing work keeping the building and grounds beautiful and well-maintained.
– Thanks to a few members and friends, many light fixtures have been refurbished or replaced and the carillons have been fixed. The friends would not submit bills for their work; so, the church sent them gift certificates as thanks for their service.
-Christian Education- Sunday School is in recess for the summer so there are no organized activities for youth during the worship service. Session decided that an adult member must be with the youth downstairs; or, the youth must remain in the sanctuary.
-Memorials and Investments- $7,000 will be awarded to Kosbar scholars this year. There are three applicants.
-Mission Session supports the decision to focus mission giving on local needs, primarily through donations to the Friends of Jesus fund.
– Worship- Session approved changing communion from July 3 to July 10.
The Covid team will meet before the July session meeting to review Covid protocol.
Summer — Time to Stand and Stare
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
—“Leisure,” W.H. Davies
Session Members / Ministry Team Chairperson / Committee Member
Judi Emlinger* – Christian Education, Nominating
Perry Gregory – Building/Grounds
Lee Hunsberger* – Stewardship/Budget and Finance
Norma Kilpatrick* – Treasurer/Budget and Finance
Norma Kilpatrick – Memorials and Investments
Barb Klenk – Treasurer
Marilyn McKay* – Mission
Cindy Rozich – * Worship
Keith Sterner* – Personnel
Warren Thompson* – Building/Grounds
Mary Williams* – Christian Education
Margaret Gregory – Clerk of Session
Kathy VanSyckle* – Personnel
First Presbyterian Staff
Rev. Dr. Chris Dorn
Pastor Tel. 616-610-5982