February 2023

   The Presbyletter

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

February 2023

Words from Pastor Chris

Observing Lent

This year Lent begins on February 22. For as long as I have been your pastor, I have noticed that you regard Lent as a special season in the church’s calendar. And why shouldn’t you? Lent is a season of preparation for those events that are central to the Christian faith: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 



This year we will continue the tradition of Lenten observance so cherished by our congregation. In anticipation of Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent, our members and friends will receive in the mail a letter about the meaning of Ash Wednesday. Enclosed with the letter will be a small bag of ashes. These will serve to remind us of our mortality and of our need to turn from sin and respond to the gospel. “From dust you came and to dust you shall return. Repent therefore and believe the gospel!”  

In the five Sundays to follow, worshippers will receive a small object before entering into the sanctuary for morning worship. The object will serve as a symbol of the theme on which the service is based. For example, on the First Sunday of Lent, dedicated to the theme of Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness, each worshipper will receive a small stone, symbolizing the devil’s tempting of Jesus to use his power to turn stones into bread. The objects to be presented on subsequent Sundays are similarly meant to help us focus on the ministry and sufferings of Christ and on what it means to be his followers today.  

Our hope and prayer for you during this special season is that you will experience both spiritual renewal and growth in the grace and knowledge of God and of his Son Jesus Christ.  

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
February 21, 2023
2:00 P.M.
Ash Wednesday
February 22

Women’s Study Group
7:00 PM

Holy Communion
First Sunday
of the month

If you are fully vaccinated,
feel free to be mask free!
If you are not fully
vaccinated, please wear a
for the safety of
yourself and others.


Grocery Ministry 

We continue to accept monetary as well as food donations toward our grocery ministry. For the month of February, we are asking for donations of the following:

    Canned vegetables
    Pasta (any kind)

Please consider donating one or more of these items. Many thanks!

Mission Q & A 

What does the Mission Committee do?

With volunteers, mission staffs the Christian service center, a soup kitchen team and buys and delivers groceries. Each spring volunteers gather books for distribution to the local Head Start.

Where does Mission get the money? 

Mission relies on donations and fund raisers. The first Sunday of each month, there is a mission donation envelope. The Penny project is a mission fundraiser, every penny counts. Each Mission event includes a free will offering. At least one silent auction is planned this year. 

Where does the money go? 

Most of the money received by Mission in the last year was given to the Friends of Jesus Fund which is the primary source for help with gasoline, utilities, and emergency shelter. Mission helped one family prevent a utility shut-off. 

Food For Families provided groceries to three families on a regular basis in the last year.  

Some money is used for books for Spring Into Reading. Spring Into Reading provides at least one book to take home for every Head Start child at the Ionia center. 

What is planned for the future? 

March 19 will be Souperbowl Sunday after the worship service. Plan to try some of the best soup in town. Enter to win a trophy! Bid in the one-pound silent auction. 

The first two Sundays of April, we will collect books and donations for Spring Into Reading. 

June 25 mission will sponsor the Strawberry Fest. Come feast on fresh strawberries, biscuits and homemade ice cream

Souperbowl Sunday March 19 – Save the Date 
In the church fellowship hall, immediately following the service, the best soup challenge returns.

Best Soup Challenge: Any member or friend can enter. All diners get to vote for the best soup. The winner gets a real trophy; but, must reveal the winning recipe. Enter as soon as possible to get maximum hype.  Talk with Sue Thompson 

Silent Pound Auction: Any member or friend can donate an item for silent auction. The only rule is the item must weigh one pound (not counting packaging). Each accepted item will have a bidding sheet.  Who knows when bidding will start? But it will end at 1 PM on Souperbowl Sunday. See Lee Hunsberger about donating items. 

All donations and proceeds go to the mission committee.

Per Capita Dues

As in the past, the Budget and Finance Committee is always very appreciative of members paying their own per capita dollars to the Presbytery. Several members have already done so, but it is not too late!

If you are able to do so, please indicate your $39.10 per person is so designated on the memo line of your check. Thank you very much.

Christian Education

On February 26, we will be implementing Youth Sunday. Our older youth will be assisting with the worship service by filling the position of ushers. They are very excited to contribute to our worship service.

We have received a letter from First Presbyterian Church in Grand Haven informing us that they will once again be providing financial assistance to our young people planning to attend Camp Greenwood. FPC Ionia will be responsible for paying the registration fee for each of our campers, and the balance will be paid by FPC Grand Haven. This is truly a blessing for our church and our youth.

1    Katie Johnson
 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, 2023

Transfiguration Sunday, February 19, 2023

Presidents Day, February 20, 2023

Ash Wednesday, February 22, 2023


Worship Assistants


February 5

February 12

February 19

February 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 on February 5   –   Kathy VanSyckle and Norma Kilpatrick
                    Communion Preparer    –   Kathy VanSyckle     

Homeless Shelter Update

Homeless Shelter in Ionia 

In September 2021, FPC staged a play, “Ladies of Harmony,” to help raise funds for a shelter for homeless families in Ionia. Kim Cain, executive director at Have Mercy, Greenville, has been supervising the project. She has informed us that Phase One, which involved the purchase of the old Michigan One Credit Union building east of town on M-21, has been completed. Phase Two awaits further funding. Have Mercy has applied for grants and expects to hear more in late February. 


Women’s Bible Study

The Women’s Bible study which meets on Wednesday evenings from 7 – 8:30 PM soon will be starting a six-week Lenten series called “Entering the Passion of Jesus.” Please think about joining us for the next study if you have not been a part of the group previously. We enjoy the fellowship, light treats, and discussion which always is interesting and uplifting! Questions?

Contact Carol Campbell, 419-937-5754.

Holy God, today we pause from the hectic,
    and often arrogant, projects of this world
(which are here today and gone tomorrow)
    to take our bearings and repent.
In your holy and all-knowing presence
    we remember that we are all made of dust
    and to dust we shall surely return
yet Christ shall give us life eternal!

     Amen!     — Bruce D. Prewer 1931-2018

Session Highlights

These are highlights from the November session meeting; there was no meeting in December. 

– Pastor Chris and Elder Cindy served in-home communion to three members who are unable to attend church. 
– Session sponsored a Christmas garland from the city to wrap the light post in front of the church. 
– Our elevator is due for a comprehensive maintenance review required by the state every three years. Session voted to defer payment until the service is completed. 
– After much discussion, session voted to worship on Christmas day only, rather than having a service Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. 
– Pastor Chris and Session discussed the delicate question of combining resources with other downtown churches and worshipping together. Buildings are a stumbling block. 
– Donations in 2022 have exceeded expectations; there will be a small surplus in the general fund at year’s end.  Fortunately repairing the parking lot and bell tower roof could be covered by the capital building fund and memorials. 
– Necessary interior painting will be delayed until Spring 2023. 
– Eighty-one pumpkin pies were delivered to Head Start for Thanksgiving. Mission also delivered hats, coats and mittens. 
– Session reviewed the procedure for cancelling worship due to inclement weather. 
– January 29 will be the annual congregational meeting 
– Keryx Prison Ministry wants to use our church as a base of operations for one day while they minister in local prisons. They are considering our church for a training which would require a sleepover.  Session agreed to let them use the building.

Clerk of Session Honored by Congregation

Margaret Gregory, long time Clerk of the Session, was recognized at the January 29, 2023, annual congregational meeting for her service to the whole church. Besides acting as secretary to the church’s governing body, she manages countless duties quietly behind the scenes making sure everything is done in an accurate and timely fashion.

Do you have a question about what, when, where or how regarding church activities? Ask Margaret! If she doesn’t know the answer, she will find out and get back to you!

Margaret is pictured here with Pastor Dr. Chris Dorn.


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 1stpreschurchionia.com
Email: [email protected]
Summer Church Office Hours – Wednesday 9-3
Ph# 616-527-2320 

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