March 2022

   The Presbyletter

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

March 2022

Words From Pastor Chris

All is Not as It Seems 

The pastor knew a hog farmer in the small rural town where they both lived. One day, he invited him to come to church. “No, pastor, I will not come. The people there are hypocrites.” A few weeks later, the pastor saw the hog farmer in town and invited him a second time. “Why don’t you come to church this Sunday?” “No, pastor, I will not come,” he replied, “the members of your church are hypocrites.” A little while later, the pastor approached the farmer a third time. Before he could speak, the man blurted out, “You’re wasting your time, pastor, I’ve already told you I will not come. I refuse to associate with hypocrites!” The pastor responded calmly. “No, friend, that is not why I have come to you today. I want to go out to your farm to see your stock. I am interested in buying a pig from you.” The man’s face brightened. “You want to buy a pig from me? By all means! Meet me at the farm this afternoon.” The pastor arrived, and the hog farmer led him out to the pens where he kept his prize hogs. They appeared sleek and healthy and well fed. But the pastor was not interested in any of them. Instead, he pointed out to the farmer a runt, and said, “That is the pig I want to buy. Go and have him prepared for me.” The farmer was perplexed. “Oh no, pastor, you don’t want that one. He is the weakest and the sickliest among all that you see before you.” The pastor replied, “Yes, I am going to buy him, and then I am going to let others know that he is the kind of pig that people can expect from your farm.”

This story illustrates how those outside the church often base their judgment of the church on its weakest members. Surely, not everyone in the pastor’s church was a hypocrite, and yet that is how the hog farmer chose to characterize his church. By singling out the runt on the farm, the pastor wanted to help the hog farmer see how unfair this characterization was. 

We cannot control how people outside the church view us. We can, however, seek to live lives worthy of our calling as followers of Christ, “in all humility and patience, bearing with one another in love” (Eph. 4:2). Our aim should be to live such good lives among those who don’t believe that, when they speak against us, they may be ashamed of their slander (1 Pet. 3:16). God’s intention for us as his children is that we may be without fault in a “crooked and perverse generation, shining like stars in the sky as we hold forth the word of life” (Phil. 2:15,16).  

As we approach this upcoming Lenten season, a very spiritually rich time in the Christian year, let us refocus our minds on the promises of the gospel, cleansing them of all that defiles, “perfecting holiness out of fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1). 

Lenten blessings to you all, 

Pastor Chris

Events At A Glance

Words from Pastor Chris

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 in the Memorial Room


Ash Wednesday Service

Lent begins on Wednesday, March 2.
A service will be held at 7:00 PM.
The imposition of ashes will be done with a Q-tip (a new one foe each person)
to honor our Covid safety protocols, which are still in place.
Please join us for this moving service.

Copies of Pastor’s book,
Following Jesus on the Way: Biblical Meditations on Lenten Themes,
are available for purchase at $10 each.

The Christian Education Committee is still collecting cans, bottles and exhausted ink cartridges to redeem for their deposits. We also are still collecting plastic caps for the young man, Carter, and his recycling project.

Pastor Chris will be on vacation from February 21 until March 1.
Steve Zeoli will serve as our guest minister on Sunday, February 27.

Study Group

On February 6, we began a study of the New Testament by means of a video lecture series produced by The Great Courses. The series is titled Understanding the New Testament.

We gather in the Memorial Room to watch a lecture in the series each Sunday after the worship hour. Following the video presentation time is allotted for questions and brief discussion led by Pastor Chris.
It is not necessary to commit to the entire series.

Join us when you can!

Grocery Mission

We furnished groceries to one family this month. This will be an ongoing project as long as funds are available. If you would like to contribute to this project, it would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you to Normal Kilpatrick for her donation.           Mary Williams

Head Start Book Drive

With spring right around the corner, we begin our annual book drive for the children in the Ionia Head Start. Our hope is to have one new or gently used book for each of the 60 children in the program.

You can leave your books in the shopping cart by the central entrance. If you are unable to shop for books but would like to help, the Mission offering for March will be used for this program. We will do the shopping for you! 

The congregation has always recognized the importance of a child’s having a book to read or read to him/her. The books will be delivered in April.

Worship Volunteers

Liturgist Usher/Greeter
March 6 Lew Campbell Margaret Gregory & Norma Kilpatrick
March 13 Cindy Rozich Judi & Duane Emilinger
March 20 Lee Hunsberger Lew & Carol Campbell
March 27 Marilynb McKay Lee Hunsberger & Barb Klenk

Birthdays / Special Days / Thank You

 Special Dates

Ash Wednesday — March 2, 2022
World Day of Prayer — March 4, 2022
Daylight-Saving Time begins — March 13, 2022
St. Patrick’s Day — March 17, 2022
First Day of Spring — March 20, 2022

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

Many Thanks

At the January session meeting, the session approved changing the internet and phone service from AT&T to Spectrum. When this change was completed on February 3rd, it was decided instead of renting the router for $7.99 per month we would purchase our own. A Linksys Atlas Pro 6 router with a Dual-Band Mesh WiFi that included two boosters was purchased and donated to the church by Dr. Keith and Lynn Sterner. The purpose of this change was to increase our WiFi throughout the church. One booster is in the sanctuary and the other one is in the conference room. We are grateful to Keith and Lynn for their generous donation. Next time you need the church WiFi on your devices, you will have it. If you need the WiFi password, Margaret Gregory can give it to you. When you see Keith and Lynn, please thank them. This purchase is greatly appreciated.

Session News

Session Highlights for January 18

~ There will be an Ash Wednesday service at the church on March 2 at 7 PM. 
~ The 2022 IRS mileage reimbursement rate is 58.5 cents a mile. We pay our visiting ministers mileage. 
~ Presbytery requires an annual indebtedness report. It was reported that we have no debt at this time.
~ Thank you to Kathy VanSyckle for serving the last year of David Hanson’s session term. 
~ The antiquated sound system has experienced problems in recent weeks during worship services. Session will form a subcommittee to ascertain what may be needed to have a technologically up-to-date integrated audio-visual system.
~ Margaret Gregory agreed to continue as clerk of session. Norma Kilpatrick and Barb Klenk agreed to continue as treasurers. Our prayers were answered. 
~ The Church of the Nazarene is looking for volunteers to help demolish some portions of the building slated to become the homeless shelter.
~ Session approved the 2022 communion schedule. In general, communion will be served the first Sunday of each month. 
~ The Budget and Finance Chair reported that the church ended 2021 with a surplus of $1,371 (prior to completion of the annual financial review which could change the bottom line). For 2022, the anticipated deficit is $17,210 which will be covered by the general fund. 
~ The church has a three-year contract with Home Experts to inspect and maintain the boiler, furnaces and air conditioning. 
~ We will hold our breath until the rains of spring; but right now, it appears the roof leak over the central entrance has been successfully repaired. 
~ Session approved purchasing “Great Courses: The New Testament.” The class will be held each Sunday following worship services beginning February 6.
~  Jen Furman and Linda Steele join Norma Kilpatrick in the session class of 2024. Session members serve three-year terms.
~ To lower monthly costs about $30, Session approved replacing AT&T with Spectrum as our internet and phone provider.

Session Members / Ministry Team Chairperson / Committee Member

Judi Emlinger*   –  Christian Education, Nominating
Jen Furman*
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*
Cindy Rozich    –    * Worship
Keith Sterner*   –  Personnel
Warren Thompson*  –  Building/Grounds
Mary Williams*  –  Christian Education
Margaret Gregory  –  Clerk of Session
Kathy VanSyckle*   –  Personnel

First Presbyterian Staff

Rev. Dr. Chris Dorn
Sara Hyland
Steve Slaughter

Pastor Tel. 616-610-5982
Administrative Assistant

Newsletter, Calendar and more at
Summer Church Office Hours-Tuesday 12-3; Wednesday 9-3; Thursday 9-1
Ph# 616-527-2320 

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