February 2022

   The Presbyletter

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

February 2022

Words from Pastor Chris

Words From Pastor Chris

Do You Read Your Bible?  

According to most estimates, Bible reading has been on the decline in our country in the last 50 years. Now, this does not necessarily suggest that Americans hold the Bible in low regard. Many, when asked, will affirm that the Bible is “sacred.” And Americans still own Bibles. Go into the home of a family in almost any American neighborhood and you will still find a Bible displayed conspicuously on a bookshelf somewhere. Some may even have a Bible podcast app on their phones, on which they can hear their favorite passages narrated with sound effects by a master storyteller.  

And yet there is still a lack of Bible reading in America. Why might this be? Several years ago, researchers at Barna Group sought an answer to this question and discovered four reasons why Americans do not read their Bible. First, Americans are too busy; second, they find the language too difficult; third, they find the content boring; and fourth, they have an insufficient grasp of the historical and cultural background.  

Can we relate to any or all of these reasons? It is safe to assume that they still apply to most of us today. Well, we are happy to announce that we are taking measures to address this lack here at church! Earlier this month, the Session approved the purchase of a video series called Understanding the New Testament, which we will be showing in the Memorial Room after our worship hour, beginning Sunday, February 6. The series consists of 24 lectures given by Dr. David Brakke, an award-winning Professor of History at Ohio State University. Brakke will guide us on a fascinating tour of the world out of which the 27 books of our New Testament come to us. I will be watching the videos with you, addressing afterward any questions to which the lectures may give rise in your minds. Please join us!  

Blessings to you,  

Pastor Chris

Events At A Glance

Sunday Worship
10:00 A.M.

Join us for worship:
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.

We ask that you sign in for contact tracing purposes.

Thank you!
Join us on Facebook at
First Presbyterian Church Ionia

Holy Communion
First Sunday of the Month

Sunday Morning Study
“Understanding the
New Testament”
immediately the following worship each week starting February 6


A Call for Help – Family Homeless Shelter

The following is a letter from Ron Bergin, Pastor of Ionia Church of the Nazarene.

We have started working on the Family Homeless Shelter/Interim Housing located at 346 Fourth St. This is a very big project for our community. We are excited to be leading this, but we need help. The goal is to transform the old building into 6 units to house families.

I know that Have Mercy has reached out to us for financial support, but there is also another way that we  can help. My company, Homes Transformed, are the ones leading the project. Part of our plan to save on the overall cost is to have volunteers help, and we are at a point where we can really use the help with demolition.

If you can share this with your congregations it would be appreciated. The hours are Monday – Thursday 8 am – 5 pm. If you have people who are wanting to help, we need to direct them to Have Mercy. They have the waiver forms that will need to be filled out. Their phone number is (616) 255-8055.

If you have any questions you can call me at (616) 755-5658. I will do my best to answer any of your questions.

Thank you. I look forward to working with you as we strive to help those in need and transform our community.

Ron Bergin
Pastor, Ionia Church of the Nazarene (616) 755-5658

Mission Projects

We provided hams to three of our church families for Christmas.

Groceries were delivered to two families this past month. We are currently planning to continue to serve those families in need.

Thank you to Jen Furman for her continued support. If you would like to make a donation to this project, it will be graciously accepted.

Dollar Tree collects toys every Christmas season for the children of military families in the Ionia area. This year the store instead divided the toys collected between our church and the church of one other store employee. Sara Hyland, church secretary, was able to locate children to whom to donate our share. Thank you not only to Dollar Tree but to Sara for her help.  

Mary Williams

New Study/Discussion/Fellowship Opportunity


 Following the worship service each Sunday starting February 6, we will be embarking on an exciting adventure as we explore the video series 

“Understanding the New Testament.”


(See Words from Pastor Chris)
The description of The Great Courses study calls the New Testament “a fascinating book – the canonical root of Christian history and theology.” 

At the same time, the New Testament is also a paradox in that it is comprised of 27 different books by more than a dozen authors, each of whom has a different perspective and is responding to a different set of historical circumstances and different audiences.

Come join us as we view, explore, ponder, and discuss under the guidance of Pastor Chris. Grab a cup of coffee and a snack and join this exciting learning opportunity! Hope to see you there!

Birthdays / Thank You

 2      Shannon Kohloff
 4      Don Wilcox
 6      Madalynn Sauers
 7      Bill Robinson
 8     Rick Steele
12    Sarah Sykes
25   Ella Hyland

Special Dates

African American History Month
Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2022
Presidents Day, February 21, 2022
Transfiguration of Our Lord, February 27, 2022

Dear Presbyterian Family,
     I want to thank you for remembering me at the time of my hip replacement surgery. The phone calls, cards, texts, food treats, visits, and concern for my well-being and recuperation process were so appreciated. Thank you again for your kindness and thoughtfulness.

God’s blessings, Carol Campbell

Thank You!

Jim and I have been so very blessed by our church family these past few months. The phone calls, texts, and cards have lifted our spirits. We are thankful for many meals that have been delivered to our home, the gift cards, the use of a walker and shower stool, and the hospital survival basket. Jim even received a cozy electric neck and shoulder heating pad, which he loves. Pastor Chris came to both the hospital and rehabilitation facility several times to visit, share scripture, and pray with us. We are grateful for your continued prayers. We are truly humbled by your care, kindness, support, and love. God is good.

Most sincerely, Jim and Kathy VanSyckle

“Love is the greatest force in the universe. It is the heart of the moral cosmos. He who loves is a participant in the being of God.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.

Session News

December Session Highlights 


* Pastor Chris signed a contract extending his stay with us for another year. 

* Our church participated in a City of Ionia project to decorate lamp posts for the holidays. A card attached to our garland said it was in memory of Sue Reglin and David Hanson.   

* Pastor Chris gave an extensive report on the Presbytery meeting of December 7 which he attended via Zoom. The Synod gave grants ranging from $2,400 to $5,000 to congregations dedicated to working on social issues affecting the poor, the hungry, the oppressed, and imprisoned. 

* The Presbytery is encouraging congregations to consider becoming a “Matthew 25” church, more focused on serving and reaching out to this population. 

* The local Friends of Jesus Fund has run out of money. The fund is administered by Adam Rewa at SS Peter and Paul. Our church contributed $430 in December.  

* The Chair of Budget and Finance presented a proposed budget for 2022 which projects a deficit of $17,210. Session approved the proposed budget. 

* Christmas gifts and food were purchased and delivered to the families the church has been helping. 

* Until the Covid numbers decrease significantly, session wants to decide whether or not an outside group can use the church building.

February Meditation

The first half of February seems dominated by pink and red, cards and candy. But people not in a loving romantic relationship can sometimes feel left out of the festivities. Of course, all people need love — and certainly love is not limited to the romantic kind. Author Leo Buscaglia, who became known as “Dr. Love” for writing about the topic, said, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

Jesus taught that loving one another is second only in importance to loving God (Matthew 22:37-40), and that when we love one another, God lives in us (1 John 4:12). There are so many ways to do that — beyond candy hearts and roses! But Valentine’s Day is as good a reminder as any.

Let us continue to be a loving congregation in thought, word, and deed.

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

*Session Members

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

First Presbyterian Staff

Rev. Dr. Chris Dorn
Sara Hyland
Steve Slaughter

Pastor Tel. 616-610-5982
Administrative Assistant

Newsletter, Calendar and more at 1stpreschurchionia.com
Email: [email protected]
Summer Church Office Hours-Tuesday 12-3; Wednesday 9-3
Ph# 616-527-2320 

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