Ionia First Presbyterian Church125 East Main Street, Ionia, MI 48846
Words from Pastor Chris
Why Do We Go to Church?
In a recent sermon, I enumerated a list of reasons why people do not go to church. The church is too divisive, too compromised by scandal, too morally rigid, too unfriendly, too irrelevant to the concerns of real life, too…and you fill in the blank. There are myriad others, I’m sure, that I have not yet heard.
But out of the masses of people who would never step foot in a church, there have always been a faithful few who reserve Sunday mornings for public worship at a local church. But why do they go? Arguably, the question is an intriguing one today, especially when one considers that in recent years the tide of public opinion has shifted perceptibly against the church across much of the United States. I overheard a conversation occasioned by this question recently. One woman asked another why she chose, out of all the other churches in her town, the particular one to which she belongs. She replied: “I chose it, because it is home to me.”
To many of us church feels like extended family. This is consistent with who in fact we are. When God adopts us as his children in Christ, we become brothers and sisters to one another. Most of us desire to see family members at gatherings or reunions, especially if we have been separated for long periods of time. It is no different in church. The Sunday worship hour affords us the opportunity to reconnect with those whom we have to come to see as beloved members of our own families.
I once heard a man say: “I go to church, because, by the end of the week, my spiritual tank is dry.” This expresses another important reason why we go to church. In the Presbyterian tradition, we affirm that the Word of God in proclamation and sacrament nourishes and refreshes us. Our souls become famished and parched when we deprive them of the “real food” and “real drink” that Christ is and that he gives for the life of the world (cf. John 6:51-55). We may even say that when we go to church to hear the sermon and receive the sacrament, we are ensuring proper “soul care.”
These two reasons highlight the benefits we receive from going to church. But we should not neglect the benefits that we give to others when we gather together with them. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews urged his readers not to give up meeting together, as was the habit of some, but to encourage one another in the faith, “to spur one another toward love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24-25). The Christian life is hard. The world pressures us to conform to a lifestyle that runs opposite to that to which Christ has called us. Church is where we experience good “peer pressure,” the kind that keeps us on the narrow road that leads to life (Matthew 7:14).
I could go on to mention several more reasons why we go to church, but these will have to do for now. Let us strive to be the church that refutes “by love and good deeds” the reasons given by those people who do not go. Maybe one day they will reconsider.
At A Glance
in the sanctuary.
Join us on Facebook at
First Presbyterian Church Ionia 10:00 A.M.
May 16, 2023
Historic Church Tour
May 21, 2023
1:00 – 4 :00 P.M.
of the month
May 28, 2023
Nursery Care Provided
Children are welcome
A check with the FPC Grand Haven confirmed our youth are set for Camp Greenwood. They are all very excited for this summer adventure.
We continue to have Youth Sunday the fourth Sunday if each month. The youth are becoming more comfortable with participating, which is a positive thing.
On June 4, Christian Education will be hosting coffee hour in honor of T.J. Cox’s graduation. A card shower would be nice to show our gratitude for all T.J. has participated in and contributed to our church. It is our hope that the FPC Ionia family can be present to celebrate this special day with T.J. and his family.
Food collection has increased this past month which is a good thing. Two of our church families had a need for assistance this last month. We were able to provide the necessary assistance. We also provided Easter hams to two of our families.
The items being collected this month are…
Mac ‘n cheese
Deodorant – both men and women
Shampoo & conditioner
Your support in the collection of these items is greatly appreciated. God bless you all.
May 7 Margaret Gregory, Norma Kilpatrick
May 14 Jen Furman, Cindy Rozich
May 21 Judy and Duane Emlinger
May 28 Marcia and Ernie Ross
Kathy VanSyckle, Carol Campbell
National Day of Prayer, May 4, 2023
Mother’s Day, May 14, 2023
Ascension Day, May 18, 2023
Pentecost, May 28, 2023
Memorial Day, May 29, 2023
3 Amy Cox
6 Jeremiah Helsius
6 Harlem Renucci
9 James Bosley
16 Marsha Kohloff
18 Evelyn Ransom
19 Kathy VanSyckle
21 David Kohloff
21 Rebecca Speer
24 Wade Arnold
24 Marilyn McKay
25 Marcia Brown
25 Robert Sykes, Jr.
28 Laela Agostini
Our church is hosting volunteers from Keryx Ministries, who will be using the church basement during the first weekend in May as a base of operations for their outreach to inmates at the Ionia Correctional Facility. They will be staying three nights in the building, beginning Thursday, May 4. For more information about Keryx Ministries, go to www.keryx.org. If you have any questions or interest in serving with the volunteers at the prison, please contact Pastor Chris.
Member Spotlight: Margaret Gregory
1. What is your first memory of being at Ionia FPC?
Ionia FPC is my home church because it is where my parents were members, where I was baptized (June 9, 1946) and
where I became as member on April 4,1960. I remember, as a child, singing in the children’s choir and wearing short white
choir robes. We would all line up on the steps in the front of the sanctuary. I especially loved singing the Christmas hymns
in the Christmas pageant. Christmas was such a special time.
I think one of my earliest memories is youth fellowship under the guidance of Mary Esther Helms Daddazio. She was the
church organist, a Sunday school teacher, and our youth fellowship leader. I don’t remember where she took us, but the
back car doors of her car opened to the front of the car. We would all pile into the back seat, which seemed so large. No
one worried about seat belts. She was such a wonderful influence, so energetic and full of life. She loved us kids so
2. What in the church influenced you the most in the development of your faith during your growing up years? As
My parent’s faith and involvement in the mission and work of the church was how I developed my faith in God and the
need to be actively a part of the church. Both of my parents were on committees, and my mother was a Sunday school
teacher for many years as well as being involved in the women’s circles. For one of the local bank’s monthly board
meetings, our church, as a fund raiser, would prepare their dinner meal and deliver it to the bank. My mother was a big part
The first pastor I remember was Rev. George Rentschler. He had a deep and commanding voice especially when
preaching. His wife, Sara, was the epitome of a minister’s wife, so loving and caring. Before her marriage, she was an
elementary school teacher, and at Ionia FPC, she taught Sunday school among other things. Their daughter, Ruth, who
became a Presbyterian minister, was my age and their daughter, Ann, who became a nurse, was a couple years younger.
My dad and George were golf partners. I can remember my dad saying they would never swear on the golf course. Instead,
George would say “Hoover” because it was the biggest damn he knew. My parents developed a long and lasting
relationship with them, which kept us in contact even when they eventually retired. In their retirement, they would visit
Ionia and stay with my parents.
As an adult, being a part of our church family is very important to me.
3. Were you married in the church?
My first husband and I were married by Rev. Robert McComb in the church in 1969. When I moved to Grand Ledge in
1972, I began looking for a Presbyterian church. There wasn’t one in Grand Ledge. However, Rev. Dr. Fred Graham was
the organizing minister of a new church on Lansing’s west side. I was a charter member of Delta Presbyterian Church.
Perry and I were married at Delta Presbyterian 1986.
4. You have been Clerk of Session for many years. While this is a big job, what are the most interesting and
fulfilling aspects of the tasks?
Yes, it is a big responsibility, which I take very seriously. However, I consider the tasks a labor of love. Since I retired in
2002, besides my husband and family, my purpose in life is my faith in God and our church. It is important to me to
maintain the church records as accurately as I can, which include the Session minutes, the church official register book,
membership records and the work of the committees. Prior to COVID, I enjoyed meeting in the spring with the other
clerks of our region of the Presbytery to review the Session minutes and the official church register. I always learned
something new. We are now getting back to meeting in person, which is scheduled for May 6 at Parkwood Presbyterian in
Jension. I find it interesting and fulfilling to be a part of our wonderful, loving church family.
5. Besides your responsibilities as clerk, what keeps you coming back to church after being unable to attend during
As we all know, March 2020 was the beginning of the pandemic, and COVID was a disheartening experience. I need
social interaction with people as much as all of us do. Having to isolate just seemed so abnormal. Thankfully, Pastor Chris
provided a virtual worship service. However, I missed our church sanctuary, our church family and Pastor Chris. It just
wasn’t the same. I couldn’t wait to get back together. I pray we never have to suspend in person worship again!!
~ Pastor Chris and Elder Cindy served communion to three members who are unable to attend church.
~ Our phone and internet bills will increase because our first year discounts have expired.
~ Plans are in process for a Maundy Thursday services with other churches on the square.
The budget chair outlined issues affecting Church Windows payroll which will necessitate a payroll adjustment once the software is fixed.
~ Eight campers will attend Camp Greenwood this year.
~ We will celebrate one high school graduate this year.
~ Membership and Care recommends placing an ad in the worship section of l local newspaper. Session concurs.
~ There was discussion about moving the nursery location due to the cost of heating the current area which includes the fellowship hall and kitchen.
~ After discussion, Session voted to change the Kosbar Trust from a managed account to a flex account so that funds can be put in a certificate of deposit.
~ Souper Bowl of Caring Sunday raised $324.25 for the Friends of Jesus Fund.
~ Mission will deliver books to Head Start in April.
~ Session was reminded that we have a small food and necessities pantry in the basement.
~ A Strawberry Fest will be held Sunday June 25 after the service.
(T.J.) Thomas Allen Cox, Jr. 2023 Ionia High School Graduate. Congratulations!
T.J.’s school career started at the Marge Melcher Preschool Program; from there T.J. went to Haynor School from K-5th grade. In the 6th grade he joined the Jr. High band playing the trombone. This is where his love for the trombone began. He was in the 7th and 8th grade jazz band. He joined the Ionia High School jazz band his freshman year, when he began playing the bass trombone. T.J. has earned his varsity letter in jazz and will earn a varsity letter in band this year. He plays the bass trombone in the concert and symphonic bands; he plays the tenor trombone in the marching band.
T.J. joined the Portland trap team when he was in 8th grade. Ionia has now started a team, and he has earned his varsity letter in trap. He attended the state and national trap tournaments. Last year T.J. finished 314th at the national trap championship, out of 1800 high school shooter’s. He is planning on going to the state and national tournaments again this year.
During T.J.’s freshman year he also joined the IHS bowling team. T.J. earned his varsity letter in bowling that year. T.J. helped his bowling team tie with DeWitt for the conference championship. This year he earned all conference for bowling. T.J. prides himself for his perfect attendance. He started working at the Ionia Bowling alley last year; he enjoys helping others and making sure they have what they need for bowling. T.J. is a hard worker and is always willing to help. He is not 100% sure what he wants to do next year; he likes working with his hands and making things. He is thinking about going into one of the trades, becoming an electrician or plumber. His possibilities are endless. His amazing work ethic will take him vary far. Congratulations!
Why Do You Come To Church?
Here are some reasons members of Ionia FPC come…
“I enjoy gathering with people who, like me, feel they need God’s guidance.”
“Fellowship is probably my #1 reason; 2. It is comforting to me when my head/heart is troubled by something; 3. I enjoy the lessons and music especially at Christmas.”
“I go to worship, hear scripture, sing, pray, listen to the message to carry me through the week. I love playing in the bell choir. The fellowship after church is a chance to visit and get caught up with everyone.”
“I go because it’s a source of fellowship and community with a group of like believers in the risen Lord.”
“My Sunday seems empty without it. I need to go to church to learn, grow in my faith, and and be reminded that I am a child of God dearly loved by him.”
“I know I need to be forgiven each week for my shortcomings and failures. At church I know I can confess and God will understand and forgive me.”
“I go to church to strengthen my faith and to be with other Christian families.”
“I like our church because it feels like home and has fond memories (for me).”
“I go to celebrate the Lord with fellow Christians.”
“We go to church to share our God-given gifts, to experience the church family support system, and finally to inspire us to spread the love and teachings of Jesus with our community and beyond.”
“I have been a Presbyterian my entire life, having been baptized in the church as an infant. Upon moving to Ionia, it was an easy decision to visit First Presbyterian Ionia. My first Sunday happened to be Palm Sunday. I was amazed by the acceptance and friendliness of the congregation. I was pleasantly surprised when during the time of joys and concerns, Mary Esther whom I met upon entering the church, introduced me and expressed my attendance as a joy. The decision to continue attending was an easy one for me.”
“It’s my weekly refresher.”
A minister once told this story about a fellow to whom he was introduced. When the gentleman found that he was a Christian pastor, the man said, “Oh, I don’t go to church because all the people there are a bunch of hypocrites and sinners.” The minister replied, “That we are; and there’s always room for one more. Why don’t you come and join us.”
It has been said that the church is not a museum for saints, but instead a hospital for sinners. Indeed it is! Those of us who attend regularly rejoice in that fact!
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
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
Pastor Tel. 616-610-5982