September 2020 Newsletter

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

Words From Pastor Chris

The Importance of Place

We have all heard the saying: “The church is more than a building, it’s the people.” True enough, but the pandemic has taught us nothing if not the importance of place. The church is the people, but they need a place where they can assemble for worship and fellowship. Indeed, it’s in the very act of assembling in a place that impresses on them their identity as God’s people. That is why chronic absence from the church as a place poses a threat to the health of the church as God’s people. For this reason, the forced shutdown
of the churches because of this pandemic weighs on us pastors more than you may know.
It occurs to me that a parallel can be drawn between our current situation and that of ancient Israel at the time of the Babylonian exile. More than two and half millennia ago, a plague of foreign invaders infested her towns and cities and forced God’s people from their homes, as well as from all the places familiar to them. The most important among them was the temple, where their priests performed their sacrifices and offered up their prayers. In fact, the most devastating blow the invaders dealt God’s people was the
pillaging and burning of the temple, the place of worship.
For 70 long years, the exiles languished in a foreign land. They longed to return to the places they loved, above all to the temple mount, where they hoped to begin the repairs as soon as their God intervened to liberate them.
In the meanwhile, however, their captors, as you might imagine, were cruel to them. They mocked God’s people, even to the point of provoking them to sing to them songs of their homeland.
“By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors requested a song, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us a song of Zion.” How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?” (Psalms 137:1-4).
The coronavirus has infested our towns and cities, driving us from the places most familiar to us, including our church. And many of us, across this land, indeed, across this world, feel like those exiles. We are sitting and weeping by our own rivers of Babylon. We cannot sing those songs of the Lord as long as we are absent from our church, and we are frustrated and sad.
The question then arises: how should we then live while we languish in the land of exile? First, it’s okay to cry out to God in our pain and frustration. The Bible uses the language of “lament” for this activity. In fact, there is a whole book dedicated to it, called, appropriately enough, Lamentations. Second, it’s okay to hope. The prophet Jeremiah encouraged God’s people while they were still living in exile with these words: “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11). And third, and finally, it’s okay to bring our requests boldly to God. Let us pray that God sees fit to deliver us from the coronavirus sooner than later so that we can all return to that place most important to us, that is, our church. I am trying to do these three things, and I’m hoping that you will join me.
May God pour out blessings upon you abundantly
Words From Pastor Chris

Members Relocating

Due to life changes, our dear friends, David and Lavonna, are relocating.   Our sincere thanks go to Lavonna and David for all your many years of dedicated hard work and service to Ionia First Presbyterian. We will miss you more than you know. 

Due to Covid-19 we will not be able to gather together to send them off. However, let’s shower David and Lavonna with cards of good wishes!   Please send cards of good wishes to the address in the member directory.  

Announcements / Birthdays / Thank you

We continue to deliver food every two weeks to our church families. Last delivery little Aliya could not stop herself from giving me a hug. I was okay with that…they need the contact with us. A big thank you to Norma Kilpatrick, Carol Shier, and Marilyn McKay for their monetary donations.
Thanks too, to Keith and Lynn Sterner for the contribution of fresh vegetables from their garden. We are still accepting donations from anyone inclined to do so.
Also thank you to Marilyn and Sue for helping with the meal we delivered on August 5.
I, personally, cannot thank all of you enough.
God bless. Mary Williams

September Birthdays

5    Garrett Emlinger, Pat Gustafson
12   Linda Steele, Margaret Gregory, Orion Parvin
16   Savannah Parvin
18   Mary Lou Hopkins
19   Aliya Hubbard
21   Pam Rogers
22   Perry Gregory, Keith Sterner
24   Ellaina Bowyer,
27   Lena Cox,
28   Deb Montgomery, Nadine Tiejema,
29   Laurie Sykes

Blessing of the Backpacks

On Sunday, August 23, we gave every child in our church a backpack filled with school supplies. Pastor Chris did a blessing of the bags prior to their distribution. Again, your donations enabled us to make this distribution possible.
Thank you

First Presbyterian Session Meeting
Minutes July 21, 2020

1. This was our first in-person meeting since February 11, 2020. There were three elders who attended the meeting via “Zoom”.
2. Pastor Chris’ report addressed our church’s reopening, which is scheduled for August 2nd. He stressed that if there are members and friends that feel uncomfortable with meeting together at this time, it is all right for them to stay home. Virtual worship will continue. It is perfectly acceptable if only a few people venture out on August 2 to attend worship. It is symbolically important that the church keep “open doors” in a time when the need for care and compassion in communities disrupted by the pandemic is high, even if there are relatively few worshipers. We will continue to monitor the conditions on the ground weekly. The new members class will be launched as soon as conditions seem more favorable.
3. Perry Gregory, Co-Chair of the Building and Grounds Committee, was a guest at this meeting. Since Mr. Roof replaced the roof on our main church building in 2012, he explained in detail his involvement with the continued roof leaks. On numerous occasions, Chuck and Fred Belshaw, who were our Mr. Roof franchise contact employees, were contacted and made aware of the continuing leaks. Some areas were rectified and leaking abated; however, our church building has never been totally dry. During a recent rain a couple months ago, there was a new leak in the pastor’s office as well as the office of the administrative assistant. This new leak is not Mr. Roof related because in 2012 the Christian Education wing did not need a new roof. On the recommendation of Dr. Warren Thompson, Co-Chair of the committee, Perry contacted Spartan Commercial Roofing in Lansing. Jim Price of Spartan Roofing evaluated both roofs and made a recommendation and submitted two bids to fix the problems. The session approved a
motion to hire Spartan Commercial Roofing up to $3,800.00 as per bid to repair the leaking flat roof over the addition and the east entryway entry. The session also approved a motion to hire Spartan Commercial Roofing up to $10,348.00 as per bid to repair the leaks remaining after the recent roof replacement by Mr. Roof. The plan is to involve Mr. Roof for reimbursement since they warrantied the roof for life.
4. Lee Hunsberger, who volunteered to be the Crop Walk volunteer, will be collecting for the walk.
5. Lee Hunsberger, Co-Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, reported the bills are paid. The checking account is $1,200 less than a month ago. Our investment account continue to recover from the March and April beatings. Both Memorials and Investments are close to their value a year ago, still shy of our December high but much improved from our March low.
6. Dr. Warren Thompson reported the lawn is being cared for by volunteers of the committee with the exception of a lawn service, which was hired for $200 to apply four applications yearly of fertilizer and weed killer. This was less than the cost of us purchasing the chemicals and doing it ourselves. Something ate everything in the Girl Scouts Community Garden except the onions.
7. Judi Emlinger, Co-Chair of the Christian Education Committee, is looking for a replacement for her as co-chair of the committee. She is stepping down as co-chair; however, she will continue to help teach Sunday school. Pastor Chris is planning a new membership chair as soon as conditions with the virus are favorable.
8. 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. David Hansen, Warren Thompson and Cindy Rozich made financial contributions. Anyone wanting to assist financially can send their contribution to Mary Williams.
9. A motion was made and passed to add Lee Hunsberger and Norma Kilpatrick to the Edward Jones investment account. In consultation with the Marilyn McKay of the Mission Committee, Lee and Norma volunteered to work on some guidelines to use the memorials for what is needed.
10. Lee Hunsberger reported stewardship letters will be sent the end of September.
11. The reopening committee will meet July 30 to prepare the church for reopening August 2nd.
12. The session reviewed our church Sexual Misconduct and Child Protection Policies. No changes were necessary.
13. The next meeting is August 18, 2020 at 7:00PM in the church conference room and via Zoom.
Submitted by:  Margaret Gregory, Clerk of Session

September Greeters and Ushers

September 6…..Warren and Sue Thompson, Margaret Gregory

September 13…..   Judy Emlinger, Jen Fuhrman, Cindy Rozich

September 20…..Warren and Sue Thompson, Margaret Gregory

September 27…..   Judy Emlinger, Jen Fuhrman, Cindy Rozich

Leave Room for Jesus

When God Crosses Our Paths
Pastor and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions.” Last spring, the whole world had plans canceled, first by Covid-19 and then by God “sending us people with claims and petitions.” Some needed prayers for healing or for coping with grief. Medical staff, teachers, pastors and others serving long hours needed support: meals, check-in calls, “thinking of you” cards. Parents working remotely while helping kids with distance-learning needed encouragement. Crucial nonprofit work still required donations. Pre-pandemic, you may not have realized that staying home or wearing a face mask could be a ministry. Or that sending a card expresses love in Jesus’ name. Or that buying takeout from a
local restaurant can be a gift to the owners. When our calendars empty, God “crosses our paths” in new ways — both to be with us and to nudge us toward others (even if virtually, or 6 feet apart!)

To oppress the weak or the meek insults their Maker; to show
them mercy is sweet praise to your God.
-Attributed to King Solomon, Jerusalem, c.950 BC

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
Church Office Hours-Monday through Thursday
9:00 AM-12:00 PM, Ph# 616-527-2320 

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