November 2023

   The Presbyletter

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

November 2023

Words from Pastor Chris

Help! Our Church is So Small!

(Part 2 of 2)

Last month we observed that the small church is the norm rather than the exception among Protestant denominations in North America.

This is a stark reality that confronts us personally and corporately each time we gather as a congregation for Sunday worship. For we are a small church! The challenges of maintaining a ministry as a small church are formidable, as we also observed. Those who insist on carrying this ministry forward into an uncertain future must make a good case for the decision to do so.

Can good reasons be cited in support of this case? The small church does in fact possess strengths that should not be ignored. The first and perhaps most obvious one is that it is a place where everyone knows your name. Relationships in a small church, if it is healthy, tend to be deep. Members participate personally in the lives of one another during all those special moments, especially weddings, births, and funerals. A true sense of community develops and thrives.

Second, because it has only enough resources to do one or two things, the small church can focus all its best thinking and planning on doing them as well as possible. This helps in clarifying the church’s identity and mission, maximizing its presence and impact in the community that Christ has called it to serve.

Third and finally, the small church is often locally rooted. For this reason, it can know its community well. Indeed, some members seem to know almost everyone! This makes it easier to understand needs, forge partnerships, and truly love its neighbors 

No doubt one can add to these another reason or two. In any event, if those committed to supporting the small church can capitalize on the strengths we have identified here, they will bless both their fellow members and their community.

Blessings to you,

Pastor Chris

Sunday Worship
10:00 A.M.
in the sanctuary

Fellowship Time
immediately following worship in
the Memorial Room


Join us on Facebook at
First Presbyterian Church Ionia 10:00 A.M.

Holy Communion
First Sunday of the Month

Session Meeting
November 14, 2023
2:00 p.m.

Women’s Bible Study
7:00 p.m.

Nursery Care Provided
Children are welcome
to remain in the
worship service

Handicap Accessible
via Elevator

Handicap Accessible
via Elevator


Deck the Halls

On November 26th, following the church service, we will be decorating the church for the Christmas season. Please join us as the hands of many make the work light. 

Christmas Eve Service

Our church will be hosting a multi-church Christmas Eve service. Please join us as we celebrate the birth of Christ on Sunday, December 24th at 6:00 pm. 

We will observe the fourth Sunday of Advent during our 10:00 am service on December 24th.

Grocery Mission
Grocery list for November…
Any personal care products such as shampoo,
 Deodorant, toothpaste, etc.

Thank You

Summer Flowers

A huge thank you to our flower angel, Marilyn McKay, who made sure the church flowerpots were planted and looked beautiful all spring, summer, and fall.  If you haven’t noticed, there are four new, lovely, hostas in the garden behind the Strachan bench.  Our flower angel planted them as well.  We are so blessed to have had such beautiful flowers.  Thanks so much Marilyn!!!!!

Thank you from Pastor Chris 

Thank you for your generous gift to me in recognition of Pastor Appreciation Month. You have shown your appreciation for me and my ministry among you since the first day I arrived here. I am grateful to God for you and all your support and encouragement. May God bless you richly.
Pastor Chris 

News from the Friends of Jesus Fund

In November 2016, the Ionia Ministerial Association, of which First Presbyterian Church is a member, opened a checking account for the Friends of Jesus Fund. This was in response to many individual churches maintaining their own help funds with little or no coordination among them, and the frustration that some people were getting help repeatedly while others were not getting helped at all. 

In the years since, the fund has been largely successful in assisting people with rent, utilities, water, and emergency shelter. So far this year, since July 1, the fund has helped 69 households with an average of $110, totaling $7,565. As you can see, the need is very great in this poor community. This will be especially felt during the winter months, when there will be calls for emergency housing. 

The Friends of Jesus fund does not and cannot address the root causes of poverty in our community. It can only help those in crisis. Thank you for your support of this fund. If you wish to make a personal donation, you may contact Pastor Chris or the church office. 

September 2023

                      Month             YTD
Income         $3,763           $68,027
Expenses      $6,493           $76,239
Summary    ($2,730)           ($8,212)

The church has a nest egg to cover the deficit, but each withdrawal from savings results in less interest income down the road. 
As of September 30, our church had savings of $196,195 in the general fund to pay operating expenses and $74,884 in memorial funds.


  • All Saints’ Sunday, November 5, 2023
  • Daylight saving time ends, November 5, 2023
  • Veterans Day, November 11, 2023
  • Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 2023
  • Christ the King Sunday, November 26, 2023


Budget and Financial News


Steve Slaughter                   2
Carol Campbell                 12
Judi Emlinger                    11
Bonnie Hadder                  17
Jason Agostini                   20
Linda Hood                       29
Sarah Jane Hanson            30

Session Highlights

These are highlights from the September Session meeting: 

  • Pastor Chris and Elder Cindy served in-home communion to three members who are unable to attend church. 
  • The clerk reported several changes in the book of order including the following: allowing electronic Session and congregational meetings; terms of call must include a minimum 12 weeks of family leave; and each church’s policies must include requirements for addressing sexual misconduct, periodic sexual abuse prevention training, and anti-racism. 
  • Pastor Chris conducted a funeral service for Marley Marrs on September 30. 
  • On October 8, our church will be on a tour sponsored by the Ionia Historical Society. 
  • Presbytery has unveiled a plan to establish a revolving fund to assist churches facing closure. The fund would come from the sale of existing properties. 
  • A new nursery attendant schedule will cover Sundays through the end of this year. 
  • Session passed a motion to contact other churches to explore a joint Christmas Eve service. 
  • A draft of an emergency preparedness plan was shared with Session.

Sunday Worship Volunteers


November 5

November 12

November 19

November 26


Margaret Gregory
Norma Kilpatrick

Lew Campbell
Carol Campbell

Cindy Rozich
Jen Furman

Judi Emlinger
Duane Emlinger


Marilyn McKay

Lee Hundberger

Barb Klenk

Cindy Rozich


Bounty Of Thanks

We thank thee, Lord, for the glory of the late days and the excellent face of thy sun. We thank thee for good news received. We thank thee for the pleasures we have enjoyed and for those we have been able to confer.

And now, when the clouds gather and the rain impends over the forest and our house, permit us not to be cast down; let us not lose the savor of past mercies and past pleasures; but, like the voice of a bird singing in the rain, let grateful memory survive in the hour of darkness. If there be in front of us any painful duty, strengthen us with the grace of courage; if any act of mercy, teach us tenderness and patience.

—Robert Louis Stevenson

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
Email: [email protected]
Church Office Hours – By appointment
Ph# 616-527-2320

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