October 2020 Newsletter

Ionia First Presbyterian Church, 125 East Main Street, Ionia, MI 48846

Words From Pastor Chris

The Church and Substance Abuse

Last month Miranda Tase, a substance abuse counselor working in Lowell, addressed our small gathering to raise awareness of a widespread problem in our community. We refer here to addiction to dangerous substances, with which Miranda herself has personal— and painful—experience.
This has always been a problem for as long as I can remember, but it has become again a more serious one due to the protracted isolation and despair from which so many are suffering during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. What people do in the face of these negative experiences is to turn to whatever coping strategy that they have at their disposal—including substances so dangerous they can be fatal.
Supporting those who are prone to rely on these destructive strategies is critical. But what can we do?
None of us, so far as I am aware, presumes to have the professional expertise to be able to treat people with addictions to substances. But each one of us can show people love by attentive listening. Author Susana Ferreira writes that a person’s “unhealthy relationship with drugs often points to frayed relationships with loved ones, with the world around them, and with themselves.” That is to say, the root problem is seldom substance abuse. It is disconnection, loneliness, and heartache. Rafael Rodriguez, former heroin addict and now director at Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community in Holyoke, confirms the need substance abusers have for a listening ear. Helping those in pain, he says, isn’t about knowing the right thing to say. It’s about “the sheer power of just being with someone in the moment…being able to validate and make sure they know they’re being heard.”

During Lent earlier this year, we had occasion to reflect on the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-42). The fact that this encounter happened in midday already tells us much about her. In the desert, the village women did not go to the well in the heat of the day; they went early morning or later evening. They would have brought their children, shared in conversation, and helped each other. But they did not include her. Rather, they shunned her.

Is it because she’s had five husbands? We don’t know the circumstances surrounding these failed marriages, but we do know that in her society it was the man who initiated divorce. Now she is living with someone. After all this pain and rejection, has she given up on community, on herself?

Jesus breaks into her isolation by asking her for some water. He listens to her spiritual questions. He challenges her with his own insights. Her heart comes alive again and she goes back to her village to tell the people: “Come see a man who told me everything I ever did” (John 4:29).
Jesus could not have told the Samaritan woman everything she ever did if he had never bothered to get to know her. And in her encounter with Jesus she felt validated, really heard. She felt recognized and valued and affirmed. And above all she felt loved.

In his fine devotional Journey to Jerusalem: Steps on the Road to Your Soul, author Mark A. Villano insightfully points out that the story about the Samaritan woman at the well is our story, on both ends of the conversation. How many simple conversations have we begun with a person who is alone? What thirsts, hopes, and needs do we see in people around us? Jesus tells us, his followers, that those who believe in him will have rivers of living water flowing from within them (John 7:38). His own Spirit comes to dwell within us to satisfy our own thirst and then flows over from us to those who thirst. 
May God bless you abundantly!
Pastor Chris

Session Higlights

These minutes are of the August 18, 2020 meeting in the conference room and Zoom electronic
1.  For our devotional time, Pastor Chris read Matthew 19 verses 13-14, which states, “Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said to them, ‘Let the children come to me and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.’” In our society today the trend of the nuclear family has changed. God hears the distress of the grandmothers and mothers. To Jesus, the children were important and like Jesus, we are caring for their children.
2.  Using prepackaged cups and wafers, communion was served August 2, 2020.
3.  In his report, Pastor Chris stated after a hiatus lasting longer than four months, we re-opened the church doors August 2 for public worship. Our priority remains to keep people as safe as humanly possible. More sympathetic we cannot be for those who choose to stay home because of the on-
going pandemic. Through virtual means, they can continue to participate in the life of the church. The covid team is responsible for sanitizing the space. Precautions have been added, and anyone entering the building needs to comply-filling out the health form, sanitizing hands and masks
must be worn.
4.  Lee Hunsberger, Co-Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, reported that until critical data can be entered in QuickBooks, an accurate picture of income and expenses cannot be determined. Since July 28, Deb Montgomery has been back in the office and all deposits have been entered. Our bills are paid, and there is $21,448 in the checking account; however, there is a $7,000 outstanding check for roof repair. A general fund CD valued at $51,280 matures August 17 th. It may be necessary to use some of this money to pay bills until the end of the year. A motion was
made and passed to move the CD money and the Capital Building Fund CD money into the general fund checking account and decide later what to do with the remaining money.
5. Dr. Warren Thompson, Co-Chair of the Building and Grounds Committee, reported Jim Price from Spartan Roofing would be coming this week to inspect the Christian Education wing roof. They plan to do the work next week and the main roof in September or October.
6. Lavonna Hoover, Chairperson of the Memorial and Investment Committee, sent a letter to Pastor Chris, Margaret Gregory, and the session explaining that due to health problems she and David are moving in mid-September to a retirement community in Brooklyn Michigan near Jackson.
Her letter stated it was necessary for her to resign all committee duties with the church. They are both thanked for their many years of service to our church. They will be greatly missed. Norma Kilpatrick agreed to chair this committee.
7. Every two weeks through donations, Mary Williams continues to coordinate and purchase the majority of the food and other necessities for the families of our children. One family has indicated they no longer need the help. Anyone wanting to assist financially can send their contribution to Mary Williams.
8. Dr. Keith Sterner, Personnel Committee chairperson, reported Pastor Chris has indicated he is willing to be our ½ pastor for the next year. He would like to explore ways to supplement his income through several possible mechanisms, not limited to but including Presbytery funds for
distressed churches, grants (we would need to provide matching funds), and additional pastoral preaching in the area. The committee, Pastor Chris and our Presbytery liaison, Rev. Linda Male, will be completing his contract.
9. Cindy Rozich, Worship Committee chairperson, reported the following is a list of the recommendations made to provide safe entry into the church for groups, business and worship. There are check-in stations at the east and northeast doors which include Clorox wipes, a non-contact thermometer, Kleenex, hand sanitizer, pens, and health survey forms (the northeast entrance also has a joys and concerns basket). The sitting areas in the sanctuary are specified using painter’s tape, and there is a Plexiglas shield in the choir loft for Mary to stand behind as she sings. Signs have been placed around the church giving instructions for use of the area. The quilter’s room and the fellowship hall have been designated as small group meeting areas with Session Highlights instructions and material for cleaning. A list of responsibilities has been made for the reopening committee to use at each service. Committee members are present at each service to greet people, and help with surveys and procedures. There is a continuing need for supplies. More people are needed to help on Sundays as it works best to have three people.
10. Lee Hunsberger has purchased a camcorder to record the worship services for online viewing. Volunteers are needed to learn how to use the camcorder and record the service.
11. The church By-Laws need to be amended to allow for electronic Zoom meeting technology for session, congregational and committee meetings.
12. Lee Hunsberger, Norma Kilpatrick, Marilyn McKay and Pastor Chris will meet to develop guidelines for spending memorial funds.
13. At this time due to the pandemic, a motion was made and passed that our church building and property be unavailable to outside groups.
14. The next meeting is September 15, 2020 at 7:00PM in the church conference room and via Zoom.
Submitted by: Margaret Gregory, Clerk of Session

Announcements / Thank You / Birthdays

Changes to Online Church Services 


Please note the changes in our online offerings since implementing the session’s decision to video record our in-person worship services beginning September 13. We will no longer be featuring pre-recorded  YouTube videos on Facebook at 10 a.m. on Sunday mornings. Instead, we will be uploading the video recordings of our in-person worship onto the church’s website (1stpreschurchionia.com) as soon after the service as possible, so as to ensure that those who need to avoid public gatherings because of disease risk can still participate with us “virtually” later Sunday mornings.  

We are currently in the process of determining how we can best realize this aim. We anticipate that the services from September 13 and September 20 will soon be archived on the website, where our members and friends can readily access them. In the meanwhile, we humbly ask for your patience with us as we continue to adjust to the challenges with which the Covid-19 pandemic has confronted us.


A huge thank you goes out to Cindy Rozich, the  Worship Committee, and the Reopening Task Force for their hard work on policy and procedures needed to reopen the church for in-person worship.  They have taken the utmost care to assure the safety of the worshipers as well as the participants of the services. Folks who choose to attend can be confident that every precaution has been considered and will be taken each week.

October Birthdays

Alexis Parvin 2
Ernie Ross 4
Jim VanSyckle 6
Nancy Satterlee 8
Pastor Chris Dorn 10 
Anna VanSyckle 12
Sue Thompson 20
Mike Fuhrman 29

Happy, happy!

October Ushers

October 4

October 11

October 18

October 25

November 1

Warren and Sue Thompson, Margaret  Gregory 

Judi Emlinger, Jen Furman, Cindy Rozich 

Warren and Sue Thompson, Margaret  Gregory 

Judi Emlinger, Jen Furman, Cindy Rozich 

Warren and Sue Thompson, Margaret  Gregory 

 I would like to thank everyone in the church family for the cards, phone calls, prayers, and well wishes during my recent hip surgery. Thanks especially to Margaret and Perry Gregory for the delicious meal they provided one evening. And a huge thank you to  Kathy and Jim VanSyckle for their help with transportation, meals, and physical  assistance once I came home from the hospital. It is very much appreciated!  God bless you. Carol Campbell
Special dates
• Pastor Appreciation Month
• World Communion Sunday, October 4, 2020
• Reformation Sunday, October 25, 2020
• Reformation Day, October 31, 2020


A Lesson in Appreciation

During a church anniversary celebration, a pastor overheard a group discussing various congregational leaders over the years. Her ears perked up when an older member said, “Whenever someone asks which of our pastors I liked best, my answer is always, ‘The one we have at any given time is my favorite.’”
What a relief for the pastor to hear — and what a great lesson for Pastor Appreciation Month. God sends each shepherd to us with a specific set of spiritual gifts and then works through those gifts to bless us.

Session Members / Ministry Team Chairperson / Committee Member

Judi Emlinger*   –  Christian Education
 Perry Gregory   –  Building/Grounds
David Hanson*  –   Nominating
Lee Hunsberger*  –   Stewardship/Budget and Finance
Norma Kilpatrick*  –  Treasurer/Budget and Finance
Norma Kilpatrick   –  Memorials and Investments
 Barb Klenk  –  Treasurer

 Marilyn McKay*   –  Mission
Cindy  –   Rozich* Worship
Keith Sterner*   –  Personnel
Warren Thompson*  –  Building/Grounds
Mary Williams*  –  Christian Education
Margaret Gregory  –  Clerk of Session
Session Members *

First Presbyterian Staff

Rev. Dr. Chris Dorn
Deb Montgomery    
Steve Slaughter       

Pastor Tel. 616-610-5982

Newsletter, Calendar and more at 1stpreschurchionia.com
Email: ioniafpc@gmail.com
Church Office Hours-Monday through Thursday
9:00 AM-12:00 PM, Ph# 616-527-2320 

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