March 2023

   The Presbyletter

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

March 2023

Words from Pastor Chris

Soaring Above Ionia Teen Center 

It is hardly news to anyone that our nation’s young people are struggling with mental health problems at an alarming scale. A CDC report from 2011-2021 found that the number of teen girls who felt persistently sad and hopeless in 2021 grew by 60 percent since 2011. Earlier in February, the CDC released new data on mental health behavior and experiences of ninth through 12th graders. The picture remains grim. The mental health of all teens has worsened, while that of girls continues even farther on its downward spiral. Almost 60 percent of all teen girls experienced depressive symptoms in the past year, and one in three seriously considered suicide. This is an increase of over 60 percent in the last decade. 

We need to reach out to our teens! Thankfully, in recent years, a non-profit, faith-based agency has been making an impact on Ionia’s youth. We refer here to Soaring Above Ionia Teen Center. Founders Ken and Sally Baker have dedicated themselves to providing a safe and welcoming place for Ionia’s teens. At the center, teens can play pool, air hockey, board games, and foosball, as well as work out using exercise equipment. Adult volunteers provide homework support, job application assistance, advocacy in the juvenile court systems, and help in other probation programs. Most of all, they share God’s love in Christ by showing teens that there are adults who care about them–not to be taken for granted among teens today. 

To learn more about the center, including volunteer opportunities, contact Ken and Sally Baker at Soaring Above Ionia Teen Center, 318 S. Jefferson St., Ionia, MI 48846 ph. 616-523-4570. 

Lenten blessings to you, 

Pastor Chris

At A Glance

Sunday Worship
10:00 A.M.
in the sanctuary.


Join us on Facebook at
First Presbyterian Church
Ionia 10:00 A.M.

Session Meeting
March 21, 2023
2:00 P.M.

Women’s Lenten Study
7:00 PM

Holy Communion
First Sunday
of the month

Nursery Care Provided
Children are welcome
in the worship service





Please join us March 19 after our Sunday worship for a Mission Fundraiser with food and fellowship. We will be serving homemade soup and rolls, veggies and dessert. If you are able to provide a soup, it would be appreciated. You may sign up on the sheet provided in the Memorial Room or call Sue Thompson, 616-527-4657 (you can leave a message).

A silent “pound” auction will be our fundraiser. Items that weigh about a pound need to be disguised in a container or bag (be creative). Examples: candy, pennies, bandaids, etc. The weight of the container is not included. You will be bidding on something unknown. All money goes to the Friend of Jesus fund for community support.

Mission Committee wants this to be a FUN event. We all need fellowship and laughter these days. You do not have to bring an auction item or anything else. Please come. Consider inviting a friend, and enjoy this time for a good cause.


The items being collected this month for our grocery delivery are:

     Canned fruit
     Spaghetti sauce (with meat)
     Tuna (no store brand please)
     Toilet paper 

Thank you to those that contributed last month. While participation has been small, it is encouraging to know members of our church family support this project.


Registration for Camp Greenwood is underway. At the present time, it looks like we will have seven, possibly eight, of our youth attending camp this summer.

It’s still winter … but spring is near. It’s Lent … but we’re pointed toward Easter. Keep us hopeful, Lord.

Lenten Season


Join us for worship during Lent as we prepare to cerebrate the Lord’s resurrection on Easter Sunday. Each Sunday, families will receive a symbol to help them remember the path that led to Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection.


In connection with our celebration of this season, we will be having an Easter lily sale. You can order using the form, available at the church, or you may call in an order to the church office. Lilies can be designated in memory or in honor of loved ones. Orders must be received by April 2. The plants are $10 each and may be taken home on Easter Sunday.

Stop, listen, repent.
Let go rush and noise,
And wait patiently before God.
Let the busyness of your body rest.
Let the worries of your mind rest, 
Let the doubts of your heart rest.
Let us hear God’s call to holiness.
Open the deep places of our hearts,
And allow your Spirit to recreate,
Busyness into peace,
Worry into trust, 
Doubt into hope.
Lord in the stillness of this moment,
May we repent of ways that do not serve you,
And admit to tensions that tell us of where we need to change.
As we enter this season of reflection and refocus,
Let us walk the way of the Cross together,
And move forward without fear into God’s eternal purposes.

Worship Volunteers


March 5

March 12

March 19

March 26


Cindy Rozich

Marilyn McKay

Lee Hunsberger

Barb Klenk


Margaret Gregory and Norma Kilpatrick

Judi and Duane Emlinger

Lew and Carol Campbell

Cindy Rozich and Margaret Gregory

Communion Servers   –  Cindy Rozich & Kathy VanSyckle 
                    Communion Preparer    –  Lee Hunsberger


Terri DeBoer to Speak in Fellowship Hall

On Wednesday, April 12, 2023, Terri DeBoer (a morning meteorologist from WOOD-TV) will be presenting a short program on her most recent book, entitled Brighter Skies Ahead.  This program will be held in the Fellowship Hall in our church basement. We will have coffee and cookies available at 4:30, and the program will begin promptly at 5:00. There will be books available to purchase and have signed by the author.

This program is sponsored by the Sigma Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma. Carol Campbell and Laurie Sykes are both members of this organization. Members have been encouraged to invite guests, so we are hoping that many of the women in our congregation would like to join us for this program. If you are available and would like to attend, please R.S.V.P. Laurie by Saturday March 18th. You can call or leave a text message at 616-560-1695. If you have any questions about this event, please do not hesitate to call and ask! We hope to see you on Wednesday, April 12, 2023!


Beginning with the Lenten Season, we have started using an alternate tune to our traditional Doxology which we sing following the taking of the tithes and offerings while the collection plate is brought forward. The tune is written by Donald Marsh, a church musician, ordained Presbyterian Elder, and collaborator with the Reverend Richard Avery, a Presbyterian pastor. The two served together in a church in Port Jervis, New York and wrote many hymns and carols during the 1960’s and ’70’s for use in church worship services. This tune does appear in our hymnal at the back included with other service music. We hope those of you who attend worship either in the sanctuary or on Facebook will enjoy this new melody and change of pace!

The Worship Committee

Session Highlights, January 2023 Meeting  


~ Pastor Chris and Elder Cindy served in-home communion to three people in January. 
~ The annual statistical report (required by Presbytery) reveals that our congregation is      mostly elderly white women followed by fewer elderly white males. 
~ Pastor Chris noted a study which concluded that people have not given up their    religious identity even though they are not attending in person services. 
~ There was discussion about dedicating a beneficiary for each mission Sunday offering. Recently, all donations have gone to Friends of Jesus to help meet local emergencies.
~ Keryx ministries will use our facility the first week in May for training prison outreach volunteers. 
~ Our church will reach out to Zion Methodist to see if we can help them deal with the results of a fire. 
~ By acclamation, Margaret Gregory was re-elected clerk of session; Norma Kilpatrick and Barb Klenk were re-elected as Treasurers. 
~ Session approved the 2023 budget which projects a deficit of $19,805. That includes several thousand dollars owed to the pastor for 2022 due to an error updating the payroll system. 
~ Session approved resuming youth involvement in the Sunday service. The fourth Sunday of each month, youth will assist with greeting/ushering, announcements and presenting the offering. 
~ There was discussion about starting a membership class in the spring.
~ Mission committee will meet Thursday (January 19) to re-evaluate our local missions. ~ Our relationship with Head Start has changed and we do not have recent information about the homeless center. 
~ Session approved recommencing traditional communion with a member of the worship committee preparing the bread and juice. 
~ Session approved two requests from members to use the facility for non-church-related activities.

Vince Rosso                6
Rev. Bruce Mulder     23
Jacob VanSyskle        24
Lew Campbell             26

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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