The Presbyletter

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

November 2021

Words from Pastor Chris

Why Do We Presbyterians Worship the Way We Do?
(This is the first of a three-part series) 

Recently a couple asked me about our church. I began to tell them that it’s the Presbyterian church on East Main in Ionia. Before I could say anything more, the woman interjected: “Oh, that’s the church that sings traditional hymns and has a very formal worship style.” I nodded without saying a word because I was unsure how to give her a concise explanation of the principles of Presbyterian worship. After an awkward pause, we went on to discuss other things.   

The woman’s observation reflects a popular perception of worship in churches such as ours. Worship is classified as either “traditional” or “contemporary.” The first features traditional hymn singing accompanied by organ or piano, while the second popular praise medleys are led by a praise band, usually consisting of singers, guitarists, and a drummer. The worship in our church obviously belongs to the first. 

At first glance, this division into two distinct styles seems to suffice in characterizing Christian worship. But actually, it does very little in bringing clarity to the principles of Presbyterian worship. The fact is that our order of worship is determined not by the music we sing, but rather by the true and living God who calls us into his presence each Sunday.  

Our God is the creator of heaven and earth. Do we ever really stop to think about this? Consider that a mere one hundred years ago astronomers believed that the extent of the universe is the edge of our own Milky Way galaxy. The subsequent invention of the space telescope has compelled them to revise this view. This new technology has revealed that the universe is far greater than we had ever imagined. Today conservative estimates put the total number of galaxies at 2 trillion! Now, our own galaxy contains about 100 billion stars. When we multiply this figure by the former, we arrive at a number that’s so big that it’s really impossible for our finite minds to comprehend. If we had enough 8-ounce dixie cups to empty out the world’s oceans one cup at a time, we would still need to multiply that number by 10 to arrive at the approximate number of stars in the known universe! 

God’s power is unfathomable. The Bible affirms that God brings out the starry host one by one, calling each of them by name. Because of his strength, not one of them is missing (Isaiah 40:26). But the God of the very big spaces is powerful enough to be the God of the very small spaces. In this regard, the Bible teaches that not a sparrow can fall to the ground apart from God’s knowledge. Indeed, each one of the hairs on our heads is numbered by God (Matthew 10:29-30).  

When God calls us to worship, the most appropriate response is one of reverence, wonder and awe. That is why after the Call to Worship, we respond with a hymn of praise. We sing of God’s eternal power and majesty, of his wonderful works everywhere on display. When we are thus drawn into the divine presence, we come to realize that not only is God infinite in power, but also in goodness, justice, and holiness. That awareness leads us to the next part of our worship, the Prayer of Confession. We will say more about this next month. In the meanwhile, may you bask in the priceless privilege of knowing and worshiping our great God.   

Pastor Chris

Events At A Glance

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.
Thank you!


Join us on Facebook at
First Presbyterian Church Ionia

Holy Communion
First Sunday of the Month

All Saints’ Day celebrated during worship
November 7

Session Meeting
Tuesday, November 23
2:00 PM


News from Worship Committee

It has been a gift to be able to worship and visit during our fellowship time after the service each week. For those who are unable to attend, we hope you are joining us on our Facebook page as the service is live streamed and recorded for later viewing. 

All Saints Day will be celebrated on November 7th. Please join us as we honor those who have died, and joined our father in Heaven. You will have the opportunity to light a candle in memory of a person you wish to remember. If you are unable to attend the service, but would like a candle lit, please send a message to Cindy Rozich and she will light a candle for you. You can text or call her at 616-902-3068, or email her at [email protected]

The Harkness Hand Bell Choir



After a 16 month break, the Harkness Hand Bell Choir is back! We are preparing pieces for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We look forward to celebrating the holidays with you. Our choir is filled with the dedication of Jan Arnold, Carol Campbell, Barb Klenk, Norma Kilpatrick, Kathy VanSyckle, Lee Hunsberger, T.J. Cox, Lena Cox, Ami Cox, and Cindy Rozich.

From the October 19, 2021 edition of the Sentinel-Standard. This photo appeared in the Ionia Sentinel-Standard with the caption:
First Presbyterian Church, Ionia; Ionia First United Methodist Church and Lyons-Muir Church put on “The Ladies of Harmony” from September 24-26, raising $3,145 for Have Mercy’s homeless shelter that is coming to Ionia Township. From left Carol Campbell, chairwoman of the Steering Committee and member of First Presbyterian Church, Ionia; Pastor Christopher Christopher Dorn of First Presbyterian Church; and Sue Manciu, member of Ionia First United Methodist Church and the Steering Committee. Contributed / Amanda Lee. Read the full article here…

Budget and Finance Report
This report covers church finances through September 30, 2021. 
Operating income in the quarter ending September 30 was $28,268; expenses were $23,210  for a surplus of $5,058. 

Year to Date income is $64,507; expenses are $60,000 for a surplus of $4,507.

News from Session

Here are session highlights from the September 21 meeting:

~  In-home communion was served to three members and friends who are unable to attend in-person worship.

~  Diane Barnes (a former member of our church) is now living at Greenville Spectrum United long-term-care facility following a stroke.

~  Efforts to draw people back to in-person worship have had little impact.

~  Presbytery has outlined recommendations for churches resuming in-person worship.

~  Presbytery has increased per capita by $1.50 per year. Over half of the churches in the Presbytery paid their full per capita. The remaining churches paid half or less. 

~  One or two children have been attending Sunday School each week. Due to a shortage of volunteer instructors, session voted to suspend Sunday school until further notice. 

~  Pastor Chris will be gone on October 31. Steve Zeoli will be filling the pulpit. The four recipients of the Kosbar Scholarship have been asked to write articles explaining their educational progress and future plans. (Their letters were published in the October Newsletter- Ed.)

~  Pastor Chris has committed to serving this congregation for another year. 

~  The bell choir is resuming practice in October. 

~  Our penny project will go to the Have Mercy homeless shelter for families. 

1 Allison McKay
2 Steve Slaughter
9 John McKay
12 Carol Campbell
13 Judi Emlinger
17 Bonnie Hadder
29 Linda Hood
30 Sarah Jane Hanson

Special Dates

All Saints’ Day, November 1, 2021
Daylight-Saving Time ends, November 7, 2021
Veterans Day, November 11, 2021
Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 2021
First Sunday of Advent, November 28, 2021

Church Activities

We continue to deliver groceries to families associated with our church.  In October we delivered to two families.  They are always so thankful for our help.  If you would like to make a donation to this program, it will be graciously appreciated.


On Saturday, October 23, 15 people participated in the Treats and Trails event at the Outdoor Discovery Center in Holland.  Even though it was a little wet, everyone had a great time.


After a very lengthy respite, the quilters put a cover on their frame last week. It is a lovely Dresden Plate with an ice-cream cone edge.  The three remaining quilters (Norma, Mary Lou and Barb) are pretty excited to be quilting again. The quilters meet Wednesday from 10 AM to noon in “the quilters room”. Everyone is welcome. Even if you have never held a needle, feel free to visit and learn about quilting. 

After a very lengthy respite, the quilters put a cover on their frame last week. It is a lovely Dresden Plate with an ice-cream cone edge.  The three remaining quilters (Norma, Mary Lou and Barb) are pretty excited to be quilting again. The quilters meet Wednesday from 10 AM to noon in “the quilters room”. Everyone is welcome. Even if you have never held a needle, feel free to visit and learn about quilting. 

Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.
Maya Angelou

Session Members / Ministry Team Chairperson / Committee Member

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

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-Tuesday 12-3; Wednesday 9-3; Thursday 9-1 
Ph# 616-527-2320 

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