December 2022

   The Presbyletter

Ionia First Presbyterian Church125 East Main Street, Ionia, MI 48846

December 2022

Words from Pastor Chris

Holiday Blues

Recently, licensed therapist Jinah Yoon posted a video on the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church USA YouTube channel. She addresses what is a rather common affliction among us during this season of the year. And I am not referring to those cold and flu bugs that have been going around. No, the affliction that she diagnoses is the “holiday blues.” 

It seems a paradox. We are entering into that “most wonderful time of the year,” to borrow a line from that Andy Williams Christmas hit more than half a century ago. There are family gatherings, school programs, musical performances, candlelight services, and Christmas parties to spread the yuletide cheer. The “holiday blues” should be the farthest thought from our minds amid all the joyous festivities. 

But this is precisely the point. At no other time than during the holidays are we faced as a culture with the “disparity between our hopes and expectations and our realities,” according to Yoon. We see all the Christmas Hallmark movies that depict those beautiful couples and happy families together, “loving, connected, and laughing,” while we are faced with the “pain and conflicts” in our own families. We see those same couples and families luxuriating in wealth, while “we struggle to make ends meet.”

Then, how do we cope with the “holiday blues”? Yoon suggests that first we “normalize our feelings.” It is okay to be sad, because there are many who are sad with you during this season. Second, we should avoid “overloading our schedules.” There are more demands on our time during the holidays than at any other time of the year. We should be “intentional” about those things we agree to do. And third, we should draw on our faith. Yoon here makes the profound observation that our unsatisfied longings are an “aperture” to God. These longings, if we do not deny or suppress them, lay bare our deepest selves. And it is precisely there that God often meets us in meaningful ways. “Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls,” as the Psalmist expresses it (Ps. 42:7). 

We should bear in mind, especially during this season, that we worship a God who knows our pain and disappointments because he made them his own in the person of his Son, who was born into this world in a stable outside the little town of Bethlehem. And that should give us cause to sing even if we are suffering from a bout of those “holiday blues.”  

Advent and Christmas blessings to you and your families, 

Pastor Chris


No Christmas Eve Service

Session voted to not have A Christmas Eve service this since Christmas falls on Sunday.

The Christmas Service will be celebrated Christmas morning, at 10 A.M. December 25.

Join us to praise God by worshiping with us!

Annual Meeting

At the November 22, 2022 Session meeting, Session scheduled the Annual Meeting for January 29th immediately following the worship service. The deadline for committee reports is January 16th.  Committee chairs can email their committee reports as an attachment to the church office or provide a written copy to the church office. 

The session is not meeting in December.  The next regular session meeting is January 17th at 2 PM in the conference room.

Christian Education

On November 9, we had our first Family Night in almost three years. There were 27 people in attendance. Dinner was pizza, veggies, wings, bread sticks and dessert. No one went away hungry! Dinner was followed with a variety of games.

Thanksgiving turkeys were delivered to three of our church families. We offered an opportunity for church members to sponsor a family this year by donating a turkey. Thank you to those members who chose to do so.

Ionia Head Start Fall News

Ionia Head Start Families received 81 pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving. Walmart of Ionia donated 50 and the FPC Mission Committee donated the remaining 31 pies. Thank you to the Walmart bakery for their community support again this year. FPC Mission Committee members delivered the pies to the Head Start location.

Our church delivery to the school included 14 gently used coats and snow pants. They arrived just in time for our first big snowfall. Pam Newville, a church friend, knitted and donated numerous beautiful hats, mittens etc. She is extremely talented and generous. The kids love the special hats! Thanks Pam.

Thank you to the Head Start staff for their help and dedication to the students. They play a supportive role for the children and families.

Session Highlights

Here are highlights from the October 25 session meeting. 

~ Pastor Dorn and Elder Gregory took communion to members and friends who were unable to attend church. 

~ The Ionia Extension Office sent an email asking if our church would make space available for local 4H clubs to meet. Discussion was deferred until a formal request is received. 

~ Pastor Chris summarized a request to house a number of pastors for an outreach weekend at Ionia Correctional facility in the spring of 2023. Session will decide at the November meeting.  

~ Budget and Finance reported that a fund transfer was necessary to cover the cost of repairing the parking lot and the bell tower roof. The capital building fund will cover a portion of the cost; the remainder will be charged to the Coe memorial. 

~ Building and Grounds volunteers have been busy mowing, fertilizing, and removing raised beds that are no longer used. Great Lakes Paving repaired the parking lot. Spartan Roofing replaced the bell tower roof. Session approved drywall repairs and interior painting.   

~ Christian Education: Session approved recommencing family night. Youth are planning the November 9 family night. 

~ Mission: Our church will provide pumpkin pies for each Head Start family; Walmart donated fifty pies; mission committee will pay for the rest. 

~ Nominating: All the session members of the 2022 class are eligible for a second term. Elders McKay and Rozich indicated they are willing to serve a second term. 

~ Personnel: Annual reviews for our three employees were completed in October. Pastor Chris has been offered a contract for 2023. Hopefully, it will be signed at the November session meeting. 

~ Stewardship: Lee Hunsberger indicated the stewardship letter would be mailed by the end of October. 

~ Session voted to pay per capita to the Presbytery the first week of January. Per capita for 2023 is $2,189.60. Session also voted to send $280 to the Presbytery for shared mission.


Pam Robinson              6
Marcia Ross                  9
Max Hyland                24 
David Hoover             29


Weather-related cancellations of church services will be posted on WOOD TV8. Margaret Gregory, Clerk, will also send an email confirming the closing. If you have not given your email to the church and would like to receive these emails, please call the church office or leave a note in the office.


Second Sunday of Advent, December 4, 2022
Third Sunday of Advent, December 11, 2022
Fourth Sunday of Advent, December 18, 2022
First day of winter, December 21, 2022
Christmas Eve, December 24, 2022
Christmas Day, December 25, 2022
New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2022


December  4            Usher/Greeter:  Lew and Carol Campbell                              Liturgist:   Cindy Rozich

December 11           Usher/Greeter:   Jen Furman and Cindy Rozich                     Liturgist   Marilyn McKay

December 18           Usher/Greeter:   Margaret Gregory and Norma Kilpatrick     Liturgist   Barb Klenk

December 25           Usher/Greeter Marcia and Ernie Ross                                     Liturgist    Lee Hunsberger

Parable of the Birds

Once upon a time, there was a man who looked upon Christmas as a lot of humbugs.
He wasn’t a Scrooge. He was a very kind and decent person, generous to his family, and upright in all of his dealings with other men. But he didn’t believe all that stuff about an Incarnation which churches proclaim at Christmas. And he was too honest to pretend that he did.
“I am truly sorry to distress you,” he told his wife, who was a faithful churchgoer. “But I simply cannot understand this claim that God became man. It doesn’t make any sense to me.”
On Christmas Eve, his wife and children went to church for the midnight service. He declined to go with them.
“I’d feel like a hypocrite,” he explained, “I’d much rather stay at home. But I’ll wait up for you.”
Shortly after his family drove away in the family car, snow began to fall. He went to the window and watched the flurries getting heavier and heavier.
If we must have Christmas,” he reflected, “it’s nice to have a white one.” He went back to his chair by the fireside and began to read his newspaper.
A few minutes later, he was startled by a thudding sound. It was quickly followed by another, then another. He thought that someone must be throwing snowballs at his living-room window.
When he went to the front door to investigate, he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They had been caught in the storm and in a desperate search for shelter had tried to fly through his window.
“I can’t let these poor creatures lie there and freeze,” he thought. “But how can I help them?”
Then he remembered the barn where the children’s pony was stabled. It would provide a warm shelter.
He quickly put on his coat and galoshes and tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on a light. But the birds didn’t come in.
“Food will bring them in,” he thought. So he hurried back to the house for bread crumbs, which he sprinkled on the snow to make a trail into the barn. To his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs and continued to flop around helplessly in the snow.
He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around and waving his arms. They scattered in every direction-except into the warm, lighted barn.
“They find me a strange and terrifying creature,” he said to himself, “and I can’t seem to think of any way to let them know they can trust me. “If only I could be a bird myself for a few minutes, perhaps I could lead them to safety.”
Just at that moment, the church bells began to ring. He stood silently for a while, listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas.
Then he sank to his knees in the snow. “Now I do understand,” he whispered. “Now I see why You had to do it.”

Session Members / Ministry Team Chairperson / Committee Member

Judi Emlinger*   –  Christian Education, Nominating
Jen Furman*  –  Membership and Care
Perry Gregory   –  Building/Grounds
Lee Hunsberger*  –   Stewardship/Budget and Finance
Norma Kilpatrick*  –  Treasurer/Budget and Finance
Norma Kilpatrick   –  Memorials and Investments
Barb Klenk  –  Treasurer

*Session Members

 Marilyn McKay*   –  Mission
Linda Steele* – Memorial / Investment
Cindy Rozich*    –  Worship
Warren Thompson*  –  Building/Grounds
Mary Williams*  –  Christian Education
Margaret Gregory  –  Clerk of Session
Keith Sterner*   –  Personnel

First Presbyterian Staff

Rev. Dr. Chris Dorn
Sara Hyland
Steve Slaughter

Pastor Tel. 616-610-5982
Administrative Assistant

Newsletter, Calendar and more at
Email: [email protected]
Summer Church Office Hours – Wednesday 9-3
Ph# 616-527-2320 

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