The Presbyletter

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

September 2021

Words from Pastor Chris

One of Those Churchy Words  

We come to church and hear and recite words that we almost never use in our everyday conversation. If we’ve been coming to church long enough, we have a basic grasp of the meaning of those words, at least most of them. But if we’ve not been in church for very long, then not so much. And we won’t even mention how confusing it must be for the occasional visitor, whose experience in the church may be scant or totally lacking.  

We who speak about our faith need to be careful about the words we use. We want above all to communicate clearly with those to whom we are explaining our faith. This, of course, can be challenging, especially because certain “churchy” words are central to the message and therefore cannot be so easily avoided.  

One of those words is “righteousness.” It is an obscure, even archaic word, one that we do not use outside of church, but one that we cannot help but use within church. We first encounter the word in the Old Testament. In the original Hebrew it is tsedeq. If a person is tsedeq, then his or her ways are in keeping with God’s ways and commands. This is true so far as it goes, but it may still seem somewhat vague. We need an illustration that opens up for us the meaning of this important word.

Author Joseph Sittler tells of taking his car to a garage in Israel. When he went to pick it up, the mechanic came out to announce to him that his car was ready. It was tsedeq! By this word, the mechanic meant that the car was now properly aligned. When a car is out of alignment, its wheels are pointing in different directions. This in turn causes the car to pull to the right or the left. The car no longer runs true. It is not “righteous.”

Apart from Christ, we don’t run true. We “pull” to the right or the left, because we are not properly aligned. But the good news is that we no longer have to rely on our own tsedeq, which cannot fix the problem. We have the tsedeq of God, which God gives to us freely as a gift through faith in Christ. “For in the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith” (Romans 1:17).  

May we who have received this gift make sure that we communicate clearly what it is to those who also need to receive it.  


Pastor Chris

Events At A Glance

Sunday Worship
10:00 A.M.


Join us for worship:
If you are fully vaccinated, feel free to be mask free!

If you are NOT fully vaccinated, please wear a mask for the safety of yourself and others.
Thank you!

September 12

Fall Kickoff
with refreshments following the service

September 24, 25
7:30 p.m.
September 26
3:00 p.m.

The Ladies of Harmony
benefit play in the Fellowship Hall

Holy Communion
First Sunday of the Month

Session Meeting
Tuesday, September 21
2:00 PM

Mission / Youth News

We continue to deliver groceries each month to our church family. Also, we have taken the opportunity during the summer vacation to plan some special activities with our families. 
On July 30, twenty-nine members of our church family traveled to Holland and spent the day at the Outdoor Discovery Center. We not only got to get up close and personal with mammals, birds, and snakes, but we spent a great deal of time enjoying the grounds and having a picnic lunch. Everyone enjoyed the day, including the picnic lunch and free time to tour the grounds.
On August 17, I hosted six children at my home to make tags for the backpacks supplied by the church.  We also had lunch, which included making your own pizza and ice cream sundae.

Afterward, the girls made some cards to be sent to some of our senior members.
On August 22, Pastor Chris conducted a blessing of the backpacks during the worship service.


September Worship Information

September 5

Cindy Rozich
Judy Emlinger

September  12

Margaret Gregory
Norma Kilpatrick
     Lew Campbell

September 19

Lew and Carol
Kathy VanSyckle

September 26

Kathy and Jim
     Carol Campbell

October 3

Lee Hunsberger 
Barb Klenk
     Jim VanSyckle

The Ladies of Harmony Are Coming This Month!

Save one of these dates to laugh and enjoy the play coming to First Presbyterian Church – September 24 or 25 at 7:30 PM or September 26 at 3:00 PM. The Ladies of Harmony are six gossipy church ladies planning a small funeral dinner for a man they dislike, but when a large crowd arrives the next day, they endure a most embarrassing situation! 

This mission project is being planned along with First United Methodist Church and Lyons-Muir Church as a fundraiser for a homeless shelter coming to Ionia. It has become an ecumenical event with several churches represented by the director as well as the cast members.

We hope all of our members will plan to attend one of these performances, not only to experience a fun evening with several surprises in store but to support the fundraising effort. See ticket information below.

Mission Project Recipient

The recipient of the Ladies of Harmony project is Have Mercy, Michigan, the Director of which is Kim Cain. Their goal is to have a shelter for homeless families. They have a building located at 346 4th Street, Ionia. It was formerly a credit union and they will be turning it into 6 units of family transitional housing. The idea is to provide a temporary home for families for up to 90 days. Families will be connected with a case manager to help them get into permanent housing on their own.

Money is being raised through grant writing and other donations to rehab the building, the cost of which is approximately $180,000. At this writing, the only grant which they have received is $40,000 from Consumers Energy. Any proceeds from The Ladies of Harmony will go toward this goal.

Ladies of Harmony Tickets

Tickets for the play, The Ladies Of Harmony, will be available from Sara at the church office during regular office hours in September which are Tuesdays: 12-3, and Wednesdays: 9-3.
They will also be available on Sunday mornings following worship beginning September 5. Show times are September 24 and 25 at 7:30 PM and September 26 at 3:00 PM.

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

Fall Kickoff

Get ready to resume regular worship services on September 12! On that day we will return to our normal style of worship including ushers, greeters and liturgists. There will be a special reception with coffee and refreshments after the service to mark the occasion! Come and worship with friends and fellow Christian sisters and brothers as we rejoice getting back to normal after a long hiatus due to covid.

Budget and Finance News 

The pandemic has been a knockout blow for many small churches. Various articles predict that 20% may close permanently due to a drop in donations.
Our church has been spared this trial. Friends and members continue to donate faithfully. Year-to-date donations have covered more than 97% of our expenses. We still have savings to cover this modest deficit.

Bless those who continue to support God’s work through this church. Thank God.

Session News

July Session Highlights 

~ The Ladies of Harmony, a joint outreach effort with the United Methodist Church, will be presented September 24, 25 and 26. Pam Robinson is in the cast. Jody Rewa is the director. Pie will be served at intermission.

~ Four applications were received for the Kosbar  Scholarship. Final award amounts will be determined before the end of July and checks mailed in early August. 

~ Regular in-person worship will resume September 12 including Sunday school, greeters and liturgists. Fellowship hour will begin again if we have a volunteer. The number of people attending both in-person and live-streamed services has been down this summer. 

~Our administrative Assistant has been accepted to the Master of Social Work program at Spring Arbor College. She has a field placement with the church. 

~ Session discussed the need for an updated policy on use of the church by non-member groups. 

~ Both contractors who worked on the roof will be returning to investigate the source of a leak. Repairs will hopefully be covered by existing warranties.

~ Presbytery announced that some funds are available to focus on youth mental health, an area of growing concern during the pandemic.

Thank you, God, that I have lived
in this great world and known its many joys:
The song of birds, the strong, sweet scent of hay
and cooling breezes in the secret dusk,
the flaming sunsets at the close of day;
music at night, and moonlight on the sea,
and wild, white spray, flung high in ecstasy;
The faithful eyes of dogs, and treasured books,
the love of kin and fellowship of friends,
and all that makes life dear and beautiful.
I thank you, too, that there has come to me
a little sorrow and, sometimes defeat,
Dawn breaking after dreary hours of pain,
as morning light breaks through to me again.
Because of these and other blessings poured
unasked upon my wondering head,
because I know there is yet to come
an even richer and more glorious life,
and most of all because your only Son
once sacrificed life’s loveliness for me –
I thank you, God, that I have lived.

             Elizabeth, Countess of Craven, England, 1750-1828

Session Members / Ministry Team Chairperson / Committee Member

Judi Emlinger*   –  Christian Education, Nominating
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
Cindy Rozich    –    * Worship
Keith Sterner*   –  Personnel
Warren Thompson*  –  Building/Grounds
Mary Williams*  –  Christian Education
Margaret Gregory  –  Clerk of Session
Kathy VanSyckle*   –  Worship

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]
Summer Church Office Hours-Tuesday 12-3; Wednesday 9-3; Thursday 9-1 
Ph# 616-527-2320 

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