“Beginning Anew with the Spirit”

Dr. Chris Dorn

In early May I entered into a more “formal” relationship with First Presbyterian Church by assuming the role of pastor. This was preceded by the past two years during which I served on a more or less consistent basis as pulpit supply. My original aim was limited in scope: I was to ensure the continuity of the preaching ministry at the church. With the generous support and unstinting encouragement of the dear people at First, I came to relish this role, which gradually expanded to include duties that normally belong to a pastor. Thus the transition to my current role seemed natural.

Nevertheless, the transition signals for me as well as for the church a new be- ginning. New beginnings presuppose a past, to which we inevitably turn when- ever we launch out on a new adventure. Why do we do this? We feel compelled to reflect on the past to understand the train of events that led us to make the momentous decision to begin anew. We take stock of our lives. We figure out better who we are and where we should go when we know where we have been. But I want to use the occasion here to reflect on more fundamental beginnings, without which no movement from a new beginning into a new future is possible. I refer here to the new beginnings where the Holy Spirit is present.

In the very beginning, God’s Spirit hovers over the face of the deep (Genesis 1:2). Here the deep stands for all kinds of threats that can devastate the earth. Combined with the darkness of the waters, it is a menacing scene. But it is there that God creates, giving the world a generous and good face.

Later God’s Spirit is present at the ruins left by the destruction of Jerusalem and the depredation of the Promised Land. In the Prophet Ezekiel’s vision, the house of Israel lies scattered like bones over the desolate expanse of the desert floor. “Our bones are dried up; our hope has gone; we are cut off completely,” the people complain (37:11). But it is there that the Spirit of God creates, knitting bones together, forming flesh, and breathing new life into corpses, giving the promise to resettle them on their own soil.

In a new beginning, God’s Spirit hovers over the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:35). And in the one to whom she gives birth there is the promise of a new creation. In the Gospel accounts, however, Jesus meets a violent end at the hands of his enemies. He is buried in a tomb. But there too God acts to give new life. It is by the power of the Spirit that God raises this Jesus from the dead (Romans 8:11), enabling a new beginning into a new future.

In the Spirit, God continues to make new, to begin again. The nations dispersed over the face of the earth after attempting to form one people at Babel (Genesis 11:1-9) are brought together again at Jerusalem— this time finding a firmer basis for their unity in the one who was crucified and raised again. I refer here to Pentecost, that great founding event of the church which we have the privilege of celebrating together in June. Here too, it is the Spirit that makes this possible, having been poured out on Jesus’ followers there in fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy: “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh” (2:28 cf. Acts 2:17). This event anticipates the final fulfillment on that great day of the Lord’s manifestation in glory, accompanied, according to Revelation, by the announcement of the one who sits on the throne, “behold, I am making all things new” (21:5).

There is a deliberate ambiguity in the title of my essay, Beginning Anew with the Spirit. At first glance, it suggests that we are the agents. We begin anew. We celebrate new beginnings. We invoke the Spirit to give us the wisdom and the strength we need to realize God’s purposes for us, for our church, so that we may move into a productive future together. But it also suggests that it is the Spirit who begins; there are beginnings at which the Spirit presides. These beginnings are recounted throughout Scripture, as I have tried to show. They together form a pattern of God’s mysterious action in the history of God’s people.

When the possibilities for the future are obscured by an unfavorable present, when all our options are exhausted, when our projects fail and our plans meet with frustration, God’s Spirit, who creates new beginnings, is there. That is our hope in these difficult times for the church. But if this is how God works in the kind of world we live in, then the efforts that we make to keep the ministries of our church hanging by a thread appear in a strange light. Paradoxically, our efforts may mean to watch, to wait, to perceive, to dis- cover—activities we do not normally associate with the exertion of great effort. But then, these may in fact require even greater effort, because they mean following God’s leading, which we do not very often find so easy.

Let us then watch and wait expectantly for these new beginnings, hopeful in the Spirit of God who acts mysteriously in our lives, in our church, and in our world, to create them.



6/2    8:30 A.M.     Harkness Handbells practice

10:00 A.M. Worship with communion Missions offering, Sunday School

11:00 A.M. Fellowship and Refreshments

6/5     9:30 A.M. Quilters

          4:00 P.M. Children’s Choir

6/6    10:30 A.M. Presbyterians on the Go Travelogue

1-3 P.M. Prayer Shawl Group

6/7      10:00 A.M. Christian Ed at Aunt Stephanie’s

            10:00 A.M. Church Woman United meeting in Quilters room

6/9        8:30 A.M. Harkness Handbells practice

            10:00 A.M. Worship, Graduates honored, Sunday school

            11:00 A.M. Fellowship and Refreshments

6/12     9:30 A.M. Quilters

4:00 P.M. Children’s Choir

6/13     1-3 P.M. Prayer Shawl Group

6/16     Father’s Day

             8:30 A.M. Harkness Handbells practice

             10:00 A.M. Worship, Sunday School

             11:00 A.M. Fellowship and Refreshments

6/17       7:00 P.M. Session Meeting

6/19      9:30 A.M. Quilters

             4:00 P.M. Children’s Choir

6/20       1-3 P.M. Prayer Shawl Group

              5 P.M. Soup kitchen at Zion Methodist Team #2 Captain, Cindy Rozich

6/23      8:30 A.M. Harkness Handbells practice

             10:00 A.M. Worship, Sunday School 

             11:00 A.M. Fellowship and Refreshments

6/26       9:30 A.M. Quilters

              4:00 P.M. Children’s Choir

6/27       1-3 P.M. Prayer Shawl Group

6/30       8:30 A.M. Harkness Handbells practice

10:00 A.M. Worship, Sunday School

11:00 A.M. Fellowship and Refreshments


3 Barb Klenk

3 Eva Morris

6 Caitlin Rozich

18 Maxine Bosley



Soup Kitchen

June 20, 2019  5:00 P.M.

Team #2

Captain, Cindy Rozich

Prayer Shawl Group News
Just a reminder that blankets are available for all ages. Recipient does not need to
be a church member. If you know of someone who could use a blanket, please
contact Mary Williams or Evelyn Ransom.
Prayer Shawl Group

Please note:  The “Presbyterians on the Go” will continue meeting the first Thursday of each month at 10:30 A.M. for a travelogue. Everyone is welcome to come, young or old.

June Worship Stewards

June 2:      Liturgist: Keith Sterner; Communion Preparation: Jim and Kathy VanSyckle  Communion Servers: Lee Hunsberger, Marilyn McKay,
Norma Kilpatrick Ushers/Greeters: Lavonna and David Hoover, Linda Steele

June 9:      Liturgist: Kathy VanSyckle; Ushers/Greeters: Warren and Sue Thompson, Marilyn McKay; Children’s Message: Sue Thompson

June 16:    Liturgist: Perry Gregory; Ushers/Greeters: Keith and Lynn Sterner, Linda Hood; Children’s Message: Kathy VanSyckle

June 23     Liturgist: Robert Sykes; Ushers/Greeters: Duane and Judi Emlinger, Pat Gustafson; Children’s Message: Judi Emlinger

June 30     Liturgist: Shelly Reglin; Ushers/Greeters: Marcia and Ernie Ross, Bill Robinson; Children’s Message: Lee Hunsberger


Because of YOU, 600 children in Ionia & Montcalm counties were given 3rd meals at the end of each school day. Because of YOU, these children didn’t go to bed hungry & were given the opportunity to excel. Thank you for your donation of food!

IM Kids 3rd Meal Staff




To feel deeply blessed is a gift. To know you have also been a blessing to others is a treasure.

In giving to Living Waters for the World, we help change lives of people by providing clean water systems and maintaining those systems for generations to come. By sharing clean water and the love of Christ, no one has to know the perils of drinking contaminated water.

Mission envelopes will be provide in the bulletin on Sunday, June 2, 2019. All monies collected on the 2nd will be sent to Living Waters for the World which we support with offerings in January and June of each year.

There is hope of a future in which all God’s children will have clean water to drink with our support.



Meijer has made some changes to their Simply Give campaign and Zion Community Food Pantry is asking for our help with the campaign. Meijer’s Simply Give campaign runs from May 12th through June 22nd. However, Friday May 31st and Friday June 14th, will be double match days. Money given on the days that are not a double match day will no longer be matched. Only money given on the double match dates will be doubled in value. Example, for every $10 card you purchase on a double match day, Meijer will give $30 to the Zion community Food Pantry. If a $10 card is purchased on a non-double match day, $10 will be given to Zion Community Food Pantry.

Zion Community Food pantry serves about 150-200 families each month. The community soup kitchen, which our church provides volunteers, feeds about 25-60 people every week. The mobile pantry serves 50-80 families per month. These services cost $5,500-$7,000 per month, on top of the food donations that come in.


A total of 40 books and $206.75 was collected for the Headstart Spring Into Reading program. Thank you to the congregation for their support of this Mission project that gets books into the hands of these young readers.


Please note the Presbyterians on the Go will continue meeting the first Thursday of each month at 10:30 A.M. for a travelogue. Everyone is welcome t come, young or old.


Income and Expense Report for April Income $3,203.00 Expenses $5,723.18 Monthly budget needs $5,437.08



Definitions of the Church

The church is not a refrigerator for preserving perishable piety. It is a dynamo for changing human wills with power. The church is not a store to furnish hammocks for the lazy. It is an equipping house that offers well-fitted yokes for drawing life’s load. The church is not a place to doge life’s difficulties. It is a place that furnishes strength and courage to meet them.

What kind of man was Boaz before he met Ruth (Old Testament)
Answer: Ruthless!
What evidence is there in the Bible that Adam and Eve were noisy?
Answer: They raised Cain.
What do you get if you cross a praying mantis with a termite?
Answer: An insect that says grace as it eats your house. Newsletters, Calendar and more at www.1stPresChurchIonia.com
Email: Welcome@1stPresChurchIonia.com or ioniafpc@gmail.com
Church Office Hours – Monday through Thursday
9:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M.  Phone 527-2320

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