Ionia First Presbyterian Church125 East Main Street, Ionia, MI 48846
Words from Pastor Chris
Homelessness and Insecure Housing in Ionia
Last month I convened a meeting of the Ionia Ministerial Association (IMA) to address a problem that has been mounting since the pandemic. I refer here to the increase in numbers of people suffering from homelessness and insecure housing in Ionia and the surrounding area. Because this problem affects the broader community, I extended the invitation to include city and county officials.
The number of people who turned out for the meeting exceeded my expectations. Not only were pastors and concerned Christian lay people present, but also the city manager, as well as representatives from EightCap and United Way, Montcalm and Ionia Counties, among other community leaders.
At the meeting, I learned that United Way, Montcalm and Ionia Counties, conducted a survey of youths in 2021 to obtain an accurate picture of the scale of the problem. The 1,866 survey respondents (461 middle school, 1,311 high school and 94 older youth) provide insight into the need that exists.
The survey revealed that no less than one-third of the respondents live in insecure housing. This term embraces foster homes, tents, cars, motels, shelters, and detention centers. But the majority of this group reported that lack of secure housing reduced them to “couch surfing.” That is to say, these youths were forced into the undesirable and even unsafe role of an overnight guest of anyone willing to accommodate them.
Most of us probably have never known what it’s like to lack a roof over our heads. We have never suffered the toxic stress that accompanies the failure to secure basic survival needs. This stress poses substantial health risks, both in children and adults, raising health care costs and increasing the tax burden. Children who must endure these adverse situations perform lower on test scores and have high school graduation rates far below the national average. Substandard wage labor, unstable domestic arrangements, and lack of community engagement follow them into adulthood, and the cycle of poverty continues.
What can those of us who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ do? In the first place, we can visit the church’s website (1stpreschurchionia.com), click on the “community resources” tab and learn about the services in the community. Then we can call EightCap, United Way, Montcalm and Ionia Counties, or any of the other service providers, and ask how we can help. And we can support the Friends of Jesus Fund by calling Ss. Peter & Paul Church in Ionia and finding out how to make a financial contribution.
Our Gospel lessons in recent weeks have impressed on us that Jesus is decidedly on the side of the poor, the marginalized, and the overburdened. Refusing to share with them out of our abundance, as we have seen, will have grave consequences. The Scripture asks: “How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Let us then love not in word and speech, but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:17-18).
in the sanctuary.
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First Sunday of the Month
October 25, 2022
Sunday Morning Study
“Understanding the New Testament”
following worship each week in the Memorial Room
Pastor Chris will be in the office most Tuesdays 1-4. Pastor Chris and Sara will both be in the office Wednesdays 9-3.
We are in need of some hosts for our coffee fellowship. Please find the sign-up sheet in the Memorial Room and sign up when you can. Thanks!
Presbyterian Penny Project!
Please continue to deposit your coins into the water jug located in the Memorial Room. Contributions will go to the Friends of Jesus Fund, which helps Ionia area residents in times of emergency. Thank you!
Pastor Appreciation Month
World Communion Sunday,
October 2, 2022
October 30, 2022
October 31, 2022
Christian Education News
Sunday school has resumed. We are averaging six children which is double from last year.
We will once again be traveling to the Outdoor Discovery Center to attend Treats ‘n Trails. It is scheduled for Saturday, October 22. Everyone is invited, not just the youth. They have numerous activities as well as treats.
We are once again going to have a Family Night. Our young girls have been asking for one to be scheduled. They have gone as far as to plan the menu and activities. Watch the bulletin for more information.
We are no longer delivering groceries. Our families have advised us they feel they are in a position to be able to meet their needs. We have told them to keep us appraised of their situation and if anything changes, we will once again assist them. We still have some funds, though limited, and can resume assistance if needed.
On September 11, our church was able to host a funeral luncheon for Alice Fox, who was the mother of Lynn Ross and the mother-in-law of Jim Ross. We could not have accomplished this without the help of so many. We thank Marilyn McKay, Cindy Rozich, Carol Campbell, Lynn Sterner and Margaret Gregory for their delicious salads. Delicious desserts were provided by Jan Arnold, Mary Williams, Jen Furman, Linda Steele and Linda Hood. A huge thank you to Jan Arnold, Barb Klenk and Lee Hunsberger for their organization, food purchases, and working in the kitchen. Marilyn McKay, Jan Arnold, Jen Furman, Mary Williams, Carol Campbell, and Margaret Gregory also helped in the kitchen. We are all grateful to the Steele and Ross families for setting up tables and chairs.
Highlights from the August 16 session meeting.
~ Pastor Dorn and Elder McKay took communion to members and friends who were unable to attend church.
~ About 50 children participated in Vacation Bible School held at Restore Church this year.
~ Pastor Chris attended a meeting of the Ionia Ministerial Association called by Nancy Patera. There is hope the meetings will resume on a regular basis.
~ Our Administrative Assistant has accepted a job at the Right Door. She will continue to work for us on Wednesdays.
~ Budget reported that income and expenses are close to equal year-to-date as of July 31.
~ Christian Education
-Mary Williams purchased 15 back packs and supplies for children starting school (and preschool). Memorial funds and donations covered the cost.
-Volunteers are needed for teaching Sunday school.
– session supports the decision to focus mission giving on local needs, primarily through donations to the Friends of Jesus fund. We donated $600 in July.
– In addition, the church continues to provide food for two families.
~ Worship has located a possible recipient for the old silver communion set. Details to follow.
~ Rather than using the pew pads to record attendance, we will have one pew pad sheet at the sanctuary entrance.
~ Session approved a bid for $5,953 to paint both bathrooms and the central entrance.
No Lone-Ranger Christians
World Communion Sunday, celebrated this year on October 2, reminds us there’s no such thing as solitary Christianity. “As Christians, we’re called to belong, not just to believe,” writes Rick Warren. “We are not meant to live lone-ranger lives; instead, we are to belong to Christ’s family and be members of his body.”
After all, Christian fellowship can’t occur without fellow Christians. We can’t learn the intricacies of the Bible and theology without preachers and teachers. We don’t baptize ourselves. We don’t take Holy Communion alone; in fact, the sacrament’s very name refers to interaction with God and others.
The New Testament clearly states that one cannot be Christian all alone. We are members of Christ’s body (Ephesians 5:30). We belong to the family of believers (Galatians 6:10). We are “a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people” (1 Peter 2:9, NRSV). So don’t be a lone ranger or a stranger — to worship or to Holy Communion!
Sunday Worship Workers
Margaret Gregory and
Duane and Judi Emlinger
Marcia and Ernie Ross
Margaret Gregory and Norma Kilpatrick
2 Alexis Parvin
4 Ernie Ross
6 Jim VanSyckle
8 Nancy Satterlee
10 Rev. Dr. Christopher Dorn
12 Anna VanSyckle
20 Sue Thompson
29 Mike Fuhrman
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
Newsletter, Calendar and more at 1stpreschurchionia.com
Summer Church Office Hours – Wednesday 9-3