Ionia First Presbyterian Church125 East Main Street, Ionia, MI 48846
Words from Pastor Chris
The Meaning in the Waiting
Before long, Christmas will be here. I remember when I was a little boy during the Christmas season. I, my brother, and later my sister, were thrilled when our dad brought home the tree, retrieved the stand from a shelf in the basement, and set it up in a corner of the living room. We promptly hung the decorations, but only gradually did the presents begin to accumulate under the tree. This was the time of waiting. How we looked forward to the day when we would gather around the tree and tear open all the gifts we had been eagerly waiting for!
Christmas is a season of waiting—a reality certainly impressed on me as a little boy. But when I got older and learned to contemplate the “reason for the season,” I came to understand “waiting” in a deeper sense. For Christians, the waiting is for the One whom the prophets foretold: the Messiah, the Son of God, the Savior of God’s people. “Unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Christmas is about the coming, the “advent,” of the long-awaited Savior, Jesus Christ, into the world.
But Advent also makes sure we understand that this birth was no ordinary event, one that happened in the distant past, preserved only in the collective memory of an odd people still inspired by the charming story in this advanced technological age. It is only because this event opens a future for us, for the world, that it is worth remembering at all. It is only because the appearing of the Savior in our world in the past is a pledge of the second coming of the Savior in our world in the future that it is worth celebrating.
Let us then enter this season of waiting together. And as we do, let us not only look back, reliving with the prophets the anticipation of the birth of the Christ child; let us also look forward to the event still to come, the coming of Christ the King in the clouds of heaven. For he came first to bear the sins of many, and he will appear a second time, not to bear sins, but to bring salvation to those who are eagerly waiting for him (cf. Hebrews 9:28).
Advent Blessings to you,
in the sanctuary
immediately following worship in
the Memorial Room
Join us on Facebook at
First Presbyterian Church Ionia 10:00 A.M.
First Sunday of the Month
December 19, 2023
Joint Christmas Eve
December 24, 2023
Zion Community Food Pantry
During the past year, the Zion Community Food Pantry has seen a surge of new patrons due to inflation, which has caused food prices to spike. This increase in numbers, unfortunately, has coincided with a decline in support. Both Meijer’s Simply Give program and Feeding America of West Michigan, on which Zion has depended heavily in the past, now contribute less because of the rising demand from other pantries they support. This affects what Zion is able to give out and how much. Zion remains very grateful to their generous supporters, both those who give cash and in-kind donations. To make an online donation, go to zionumcionia.org/giving.
A Thanksgiving Dinner complete with turkey, all the trimmings including pumpkin pie, was delivered to three of our church families. A very big “thank you” to Marilyn McKay for her help.
The grocery items being collected during December are:
- Canned fruit
- Canned vegetables
- Toilet paper
Thank you to all who contributed to date. We have a good supply of a variety of things we can provide to our families.
Upcoming Events for December
On Sunday, December 10, during our fellowship time we will be having a cookie exchange. We are asking that you bring a dozen cookies and in turn you can take home a dozen assorted cookies which others have baked. If you are not a baker yourself, please feel free to purchase some for the exchange.
Since the exchange will be during our coffee hour, please bring an extra half dozen cookies to be enjoyed with your coffee or tea. Thank you in advance for your contribution!
If you have any questions, please contact Mary Williams at 269-838-6671.
December 24th at 10:00 a.m.
Fourth Sunday of Advent
During our morning service, we will celebrate the last Sunday of Advent
as we await the birth of the Christ Child.
December 24th at 6:00 p.m.
We will gather with fellow Christians from First Christian Church and Zion Methodist Church for a service in our sanctuary. With shepherds and angels, we will hear the story of Jesus’ birth. Christ has come, and we welcome him into our hearts and minds at this candlelight service.
On Sunday, December 17, at 3:30 p.m. The Lakewood Area Choral Society will present its December concert, The Music of Christmas.
This year the concert takes place at First Presbyterian Church of Hastings,
405 N.M-37, Hastings, Michigan
Four members of our congregation sing with this excellent chorus.
We hope many of you will make the trip to our sister church
for this musical event!
Sunday Worship Volunteers
Margaret Gregory, Norma Kilpatrick
Carol and Lew Campbell
Margaret Gregory, Cindy Rozich
Jen Furman, Norma Kilpartick
Judi and Duane Emlinger
Kathy VanSyckle, Judi Emlinger
Advent Wreath Lighting
Week 1: Carol and Lew Campbell
Week 2: Linda Hood and Jen Furman
Week 3: Margaret Gregory and Norma Kilpatrick
Week4: Sunny Pennington Fariya Hubbard
Budget and Financial News
This report covers income and expenses for October and Year-to-date (YTD) for the first ten months of 2023.
Income $5,736 $73,762
Expenses $8,019 $86,726
Summary ($2,284) ($12,964)
To continue to do business, an organization must have a break-even cash flow. It feels harsh to apply a business model to a spiritual endeavor.
In a viable organization, revenue pays the bills each month. When cash flow is negative, assets are liquidated to pay the bills.
To cover anticipated expenses in November and December, $10,000 was taken from the Edward Jones money market account and deposited in the church checking account.
These are highlights from the October session meeting:
- Pastor Chris and Elder Margaret Gregory served in-home communion to two members who are unable to attend church
- The clerk reported attending a webinar “Understanding the Legalities about Protecting Houses of Worship”
- The pastor intimated that making no decision is deciding to do nothing. This church is at a decision point. Do we continue to float or try to find a different course?
- We are exploring a shared Christmas service with whomever wants to join a community celebration of Christ’s birth.
- Presbytery will fund ministries that can show some hope, up to $5,000. Funding comes from sale of failing congregations; not failing from lack of faith; just not enough money to support a space and minister.
- A new nursery attendant schedule will cover through the end of this year. You must sign up if you want to supervise the nursery.
- First Sunday of Advent, December 3, 2023
- Second Sunday of Advent, December 10, 2023
- Third Sunday of Advent, December 17, 2023
- First day of winter, December 21, 2023
- Fourth Sunday of Advent, December 24, 2023
- Christmas Eve, December 24, 2023
- Christmas Day, December 25, 2023
- New Year’s Eve/Watch Night, December 31, 2023
Maranda Morris 2
Rev. Jean Mulder 2
Marcia Ross 9
Max Hyland 24
Joan Colter 27
David Hoover 29
Master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.
We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence.
We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.
To you we say, “Come Lord Jesus!” -Henri J.M. Nouwen 1932-1996
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
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
Pastor Tel. 616-610-5982