Our Hunger for Meaning 

By Dr. Chris Dorn 

There is an old Chinese proverb: If you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other. The point here is clear. Human beings need beauty in their lives as badly as their daily bread. Those who have lived long enough will hardly dispute this. 

The truth expressed in the proverb recalls what Jesus affirmed during his forty days of temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark. 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13). Tempted by the devil to turn stones into bread, Jesus declared that “man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” It is always good for us bear this truth in mind—even better to bear both. But it seems especially urgent in our own times. Earlier this month Yakult UK released the results of a UK wide survey designed to meas- ure general life satisfaction among Brits. A startling 9 out of 10 of those between the ages of 16 and 29 claimed that they find no meaning and purpose in life. From the perspective of a Christian, it is a statistic that is both appalling and understandable. It is appalling because one can only imagine that for these young people those moments in life not otherwise occupied with the daily round of activity – or wild drinking binges – must give rise to real anguish. It is understandable because, according to a separate poll conducted in 2018, less than 2 percent of UK citizens in this age cohort are affiliated with the Church of England.

Our Hunger for Meaning (continued from page one) This is hardly a phenomenon confined to the UK; it a broader one that is observable today both here in the United States and throughout the West generally. Are we as Christians content to let young people wander aimlessly, leaving wreckage behind them in their futile quest to fill the emptiness of a life devoid of meaning and purpose? 

The psychologist and holocaust survivor Victor Frankl published a book that used to be standard reading in college freshmen Western civilization courses across the United States. In this book, titled Man’s Search for Meaning (1946), Frankl argues that one factor above all determined whether or not detainees in the Nazi death camps survived their ordeal. The book’s title already gives it away: meaning (and purpose). Those who clung tenaciously to the belief that they had, for example, an important project to accomplish, a child to raise, or a research agenda to complete before leaving this world had greater survival rates. On the other hand, those who relinquished this belief quickly lost their hold on life and perished in the camps. No doubt one of the reasons many professors assigned this fascinating book to their students was to give shape to those questions that young people tend to raise: Why am I here? What purpose does my life have? What kind of meaningful contribution can I make to the world in which I find myself? 

The Christian believes that the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it (Psalm 24). Nothing that exists is devoid of meaning and purpose, because all things come from a purposeful Creator. This includes human beings, who are precious in God’s sight. The Psalmist believed that this God could show him the purpose for his life. In Psalm 25: 4-5 are recorded his words: “Show me your ways, O Lord. Guide me in your truths and teach me, for my hope is in you all day long.” Later in the same psalm (7-8) he poses the question: “Who is the one who fears the Lord? The Lord will instruct him (and her) in the ways he has chosen for him.” Since he, together with all Israel, was the “work of God’s hands,” the Psalmist believed that God had a purpose for him that God would fulfill (cf. Psalm 138:8). The author of the Letter to the Ephesians wrote to the Christians in Ephesus that they are God’s “workmanship,” created in Christ Jesus for meaningful work, which God prepared in advance for them to do (2:10). The Apostle Paul was convinced that the God who began a good work in the Christians at Philippi would bring it to completion (1:6). 

Do you have a young person in your life? Is he or she wondering whether life has meaning and purpose? Have you encouraged him or her to explore what the Christian faith affirms and teaches in this regard? Because young people need it as much as their daily bread.

On the Calendar this month…

9/1 – 10:00 A.M. Worship with communion, Missions offering, Sunday School
11:00 A.M. Fellowship & Refreshments

9/2 – Office closed in observance of Labor day

9/4 – 9:30 A.M. Quilters

9/5 – 10:30 A.M. Presbyterians on the Go Having Lunch at Commission on Aging
1-3 P.M. Prayer Shawl Group

9/7 – 5:00 P.M. Fun-raiser in fellowship hall

9/8 – 10:00 A.M. Worship, Sunday School
11:00 A.M. Fellowship & Refreshments

9/11 – 9:30 A.M. Quilters

9/12 – 10:00 A.M. Membership Care meet
1-3 P.M. Prayer Shawl Group

9/15 – 10:00 A.M. Worship, Sunday School
11:00 A.M. Fellowship & Refreshments

9/16 – 7:00 P.M. Session Meeting

9/18 – 9:30 A. M. Quilters

9/19 – 1-3 P.M. Prayer Shawl Group

9/21 – 3:30 P.M. Fellowship Hall reserved for Duke Gray Volunteers In Service

9/22 – 10:00 A.M. Worship, Sunday School
11:00 A.M. Fellowship & Refreshments

9/25 – 9:30 A.M. Quilters

9/26 – 1-3 P.M. Prayer Shawl Group

9/29 – 10:00 A.M. Worship, Sunday School
11:00 A.M. Fellowship & Refreshments

September Birthdays

 9/5     Garrett Emlinger

9/12    Linda Steele, Margaret Gregory

9/12    Orion Parvin

9/16    Savannah Parvin

9/18    Mary Lou Hopkins

9/19    Alavia Hubbard

9/22    Perry Gregory, Keith Sterner

9/24    Ellaina Bowyer

9/27    Lena Cox

9/28 Deb Montgomery, Nadine Tiejema

9/29 Laurie Sykes 

Soup Kitchen

September 19, 2019 5:00 P.M.

Team #1 Captain,

Norma Kilpatrick


Saturday, September 21 on your calendars!

Church leadership expert, Duke Gray, from Volunteers in Service, will be leading us in a process of clarifying our vision for ministry in our community. The program will begin at 3:30 PM in the fellowship hall. A light supper will be served afterwards.


Saturday, September 7th  5 pm

Catered dinner at 6pm by Devin Dowsett, BYOB if desired. Live auction with Perry Gregory, auctioneer. Event also includes silent auction items and raffles. All proceeds will go to the church with our session to determine needs.

Only checks or cash are accepted. NO credit cards. We are sorry for the inconvenience however we are not set up for this type of transaction.

ALL ARE WELCOME to attend for a guaranteed evening of fun and entertainment.

Tickets are available from Perry Gregory, Norma Kilpatrick, Lee Hunsberger, or Sue Thompson. You may also contact the church office for information at 616-527-2320.

Thank you to everyone who made our 50th anniversary so special. We appreciate all of the cards, texts, and those who attended our open house. We had a wonderful day and are blessed to be able to spend it with our friends and family. 

Dave and Mary Williams 

Gas and Electrical Expenses for June

Gas  –  $140.00
Electric  –  $245.12

Income and Expense Report for July

Income $6,843.99
Expenses $4,918.33
Monthly budget needs $5,437.08

September Worship Stewards

September 1 – Liturgist: Keith Sterner; Communion Preparation: Lew and Carol Campbell; Communion Servers: Ami Cox, Bill Robinson, Jen Furman; Ushers/Greeters: Perry and Margaret Gregory, Norma Kilpatrick 

September 8 – Liturgist: Marilyn McKay; Children’s Message: Sue Thompson Ushers/Greeters: Jim and Kathy VanSyckle, Pat Gustafson 

September 15 – Liturgist: Sue Reglin; Children’s Message: Judi Emlinger Ushers/Greeters: Linda Steele, Lee Hunsberger and Barb Klenk 

September 22 – Liturgist: Jim VanSyckle; Children’s Message: Lee Hunsberger Ushers/Greeters: Shelly and Sue Reglin, Linda Hood 

September 29 – Liturgist: Robert Sykes, Jr.; Children’s Message: Sue Thompson Ushers/Greeters: Marilyn McKay, Warren and Sue Thompson

Please note

The Presbyterians on the Go will continue meeting the first Thursday of each month at 10:30 A.M. for a travelogue. Everyone is welcome to come, young or old. 

There will be no travelogue on September 5th, instead we will go to the Commission on Aging for lunch. 

2019 Meijer Fall Simply Give Campaign 

Please spread the word to friends, relative, neighbor, co-workers and partners to make a do- nation at Meijer’s in Ionia, between August 18 and September 28th. The double match days are on Friday, August 30 and Friday, September 13, only. 

To our Presbyterian friends,

Your faithfulness to feeding the hungry in our community is greatly appreciated. We cannot do our work without the help of our community partners. 

Thank you so much! Deb Hall, Zion Community Food Pantry

PSIC Aim 4 Life 

A trap shooting event will be held on Saturday, September 14, 2019 at 10:00 A.M.. Sign in time is 9:00 A.M. at Western Michigan Rifle and pistol club, 2116 W. Lincoln Ave., Ionia. Bring your own shotgun and ammunition, two boxes of shells—low brass or trap loads—#7 1/2’s or #8’s, eye and ear protection. The fee is $40.00 Adult / $25.00 Youth (1st) / $15 Youth (each additional in same family) Payable to PSIC, 330 Lovell St., PO Box 233, Ionia. To register or for more information, contact: Wanda Zenk 616-755-6077. 

The mission of PSIC is to compassionately provide practical, educational, emotional, and spiritual support to women, men, and children who face planned or unplanned pregnancy and any related issues. 

Please note that Rev. Jon Clifton has moved.

His new address is:

5785 Somerset Drive #B4
Bath, MI 48808

Can you please help Carter? 

Carter is a 14 year old boy who has autism and attends Saranac school. His grandmother is helping him by asking people to collect plastic caps/tops from bottles, laundry containers and any other item that has a plastic top. His goal is to obtain 250 pounds of these items to build a recycled bench by the time he graduates. He will begin the 8th grade soon and this is a class project. 

He is very excited about this and I have permission from his mother to ask our congregation to help him reach his goal. Could you save any plastic top and put them in our shopping cart? Carter thanks you for your help. 

Sue Thompson 


FPC will be collecting pennies (and other coins) for the next year. The money collected will help sponsor our children for Camp Greenwood in 2020. The cost in 2019 was $400 per child for 5 days and 4 children attended. The estimated value of one pound of pennies is $1.70. Let’s see how much money we can raise with our spare change. Our container is located in the Memorial Room. 

Thank you for your continued support to the Christian Education Committee for their fund- raising efforts on behalf of our young people.

 A minute for Session

During announcements at the August 11th worship service, I gave an update on the progress that has been made since the Pastor Nominating Committee accepted Dr. Dorn’s proposal to continue at 1st Pres as our pastor. As our pastor, I requested that he write an article for the June newsletter and told him it would be on the front page. His article was titled, “Beginning Anew with the Spirit”. He wrote about the transition from the past two years as pulpit supply to his role as our pastor, which has been a new beginning for him as well as our church. His article pointed out that it is God’s Spirit, who creates new beginnings. He tells us to watch and wait expectantly for these new beginnings. During the past 90 days, I have felt God’s Spirit as we progress toward Dr. Dorn’s ordination. While we watched and waited, we have not been idle. You are probably wondering why it is taking so long, which we as a committee have asked as well. When dealing with the polity of one denomination, it is challenging, and we are dealing with two-the Reformed Church of America and the Presbyterian Church (USA). Dr. Dorn has been busy meeting with the RCA people and completing their requirements as well as the PC (USA). We have been busy too. We updated and revised our half- time pastor job description, drafted his contract, which is a contract between the session and Dr. Dorn, and obtained the necessary signatures. We were informed that the contract would have to be approved by the Presbytery of Lake Michigan’s Committee on Ministry, and the committee would need to meet with Dr. Dorn. On July 23, he met in Holland with two members of the COM. The original contract was sent to our COM contact member, Steve Magennis. It was his responsibility to get COM’s approval. On August 5th, I received an email from Mr. Magennis that COM had approved the contract, and we were free to make the contract effective 8/15/19 or sooner. There are a couple insurance details to complete. Once completed, Dr. Dorn will be on the payroll as our pastor. The final step in this process is his ordination, which, hopefully, will be before the end of September. He has meetings scheduled for September 10th and September 24th with the RCA. Once his ordination date is set, the congregation will be informed. 

Margaret Gregory, Clerk of Session

Please note our new website address and email address!!

First Presbyterian Church
125 E. Main St.
P.O. Box 125
Ionia, MI 48846

Phone 527-2320

Email: ioniafpc@gmail.com

Church Office Hours – Monday through Thursday 9:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M.

Newsletters, Calendar and more at 1stpreschurchionia.com

 Sunday Services are at 10:00 A.M. 

Why Are Fire Trucks Red? 

Fire trucks have four wheels and eight firefighters, and four plus eight equals twelve. There are twelve inches in a foot. A foot is a ruler. Queen Elizabeth is a ruler, and the Queen 

Elizabeth is one of the largest ships on the seven seas. Seas have fish. Fish have fins. The Finns fought the Russians. The Russians are red. Fire trucks are always rushin’. There 

fore, fire trucks are usually red! 

If you think this is wild, you ought to hear some people trying to explain why they are not at- tending Sunday school and church on Sunday morning!