September 2022

   The Presbyletter

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

September 2022

Words from Pastor Chris

The Four Parachutes 

The story is a familiar one. Five people went up together in a small personal aircraft, including the pilot. There was a surgeon, who saved many lives during his distinguished career. Then there was a physicist, who was exceptionally gifted intellectually. And finally, there was a pastor and a young child.   

The flight was smooth and the four passengers soon relaxed into pleasant conversation. Then disaster struck. The pilot lost consciousness and the others could not revive him. The small aircraft rolled, and began to lose altitude rapidly. The four passengers then discovered to their dismay that only three parachutes were on the plane.   

The surgeon determined that he had a good rationale for saving himself, and so grabbed a chute and bailed. The brilliant physicist reasoned that, because of the valuable contributions he would likely make to the world of science, he too should survive. And so he was the next one to snatch a parachute and jump. For his part, the pastor volunteered the last remaining chute to the young child, prepared to sacrifice his life for that of another, just as his faith taught him. But as he was reaching over for it, the youth said cheerfully, “We can both use this one, because that really smart guy just took off with my backpack.”  

The humor of the story draws our attention to a tension inherent in human life. I refer here to the tension between

self-interest and a genuine concern for others. Self-interest is morally complicated. We share with all living things a powerful instinct for self-preservation. In fact, without it, society would cease to function. But when this instinct goes into overdrive, there follow devastating inequalities and injustices in a world of finite resources.   

We confront this tension in myriad ways: “If I make a request of my employer for a pay raise, will it create financial hardship for the enterprise or for my co-workers if granted?” “If I eat this food, will it support an industry that has no regard for animal welfare?” “If I apply for this federally subsidized grant and it is awarded to me, will it disadvantage someone who really needs it?”    

 The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians at Philippi: “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4). Later Paul commends Timothy to them with these words: “I have no one else like him, who will genuinely care for your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:20-21).  

 May the same be said of us, lest we turn into that really smart guy who ends up being morally (and mortally) foolish in pursuit of his own interest.  

 Blessings to you,  

 Pastor Chris

Sunday Worship
10:00 A.M.
in the sanctuary.

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. 


Join us on Facebook at First Presbyterian Church Ionia
10:00 A.M.

Holy Communion
First Sunday of the Month

Session Meeting
August 16, 2022
11:00 a.m.

Sunday Morning Study 

“Understanding the New Testament”

resumes Sept. 11, at 11:15 following worship each week in the Memorial Room

Christian Education

With the beginning of the new school year, on Sunday, August 21, Pastor Chris blessed our students’ new backpacks, which the church provided. A HUGE thank you to Mary Williams for shopping for 16 backpacks as well as school supplies packed inside them. Our best to all our students for a successful and blessed school year. 


We continue to serve two of our church families with groceries each month. Due to price increases, it seems we are no  longer able to provide as much of a variety as we have been able to in the past. At this time we are providing just essentials, and we are always open to donations. Thank you. Mary Williams

Penny Jar

A recent count of the Penny Project jug revealed a total of $147.00. Thanks for all who have contributed and please continue to share your loose change.  The money goes to on going Mission projects of the Church.

Memorial Gifts

Recently, Dana Fuller, daughter of Diane Barnes, established a memorial fund to our church for her mother. At the time, an email was sent to our church members and friends.  Unfortunately, those of you that do not have email were not notified of this. Diane died December 19, 2021. It is not too late to contribute to Diane’s memorial. Anyone wishing to contribute may send a check made out to First Presbyterian Church, and mail it to PO Box 125 Ionia, MI 48846. Please write in the memo line it is for the Diane Barnes Memorial Fund. Thank you.

Session Highlights

Highlights from the July 21 session meeting: 

  • Pastor Chris and Elder Rozich took communion to members and friends who were unable to attend church. 
  • Pastor Chris officiated at the service for Jim Bosley at the church on July 20. Please comfort and pray for Maxine. Jim was interred at Sunset Memorial Gardens with full military honors; he served during the Korean conflict.
  • Vacation Bible School will be hosted by Restore Church August 1 through 4. Volunteers are still needed. Pastor Chris will be a volunteer. 
  • Budget Report – June expenses exceeded income for a deficit of $4,924. However, year-to-date there is a surplus of $4,669.
  • Building and Grounds
    Session asked for more information about the painting bid received from Jason Agostini. The bid will be revised and resubmitted.
    Parking lot repairs (although approved) have not been scheduled yet.
    The committee awaits a bid from Spartan Roofing to repair the leak in the belfry. The leak has caused the narthex ceiling to crack and buckle. 
  • Christian Education
    Six youths attended Camp Greenwood; the Shaver Children’s Fund helped cover the cost.
    Mary is planning to get backpacks for the youth. Pastor Chris will offer a blessing at the service when the backpacks are distributed.
    Mary, Judi, and Pastor Chris will discuss help with Sunday School/nursery since more youth are attending.  
  • Membership & Care
    More volunteers are needed for fellowship hour
    Birthday lists were reviewed
    There were no changes in the active members list (the church pays an annual charge to Presbytery for each active member) 
  • Mission
    Session supports the decision to focus mission giving on local needs, primarily through donations to the Friends of Jesus fund. In addition, the church continues to provide food for two families. 
  • Session voted to relax Covid requirements: the table in the central entrance is gone; the green “social distancing” masking tape has been removed.

Special Session Meeting Convened 

Session generally meets once a month.  For pressing issues, a special meeting is required if time is of the essence. When the roof is leaking and Session won’t meet until next month, time is of the essence.  

The belfry roof is leaking badly enough that the narthex ceiling is cracked and in danger of collapse. Fortunately, due to Covid policy, all who attend the Sunday service enter through the main entrance; the narthex entrance is locked.  

All Session members were alerted (according to the Book of Order) by the Clerk of Session as to the July 31 date and purpose of the special meeting. A quorum was then present. 

The Rev. Dorn moderated while the Session considered three bids from Spartan Roofing to fix the roof on the belfry and replace some flashing. Three separate jobs were bid. Cost of roof section A, the belfry, approximately 225 sq. ft. of roof, is $12,055;  cost of roof section B is $6,940; and repair of counter flashing and install two downspouts is $2,160. Total cost is $21,155. After guest (and member) Perry Gregory’s explanation which included helpful videos, all three bids were approved.  

The budget chair will instruct the administrative assistant to cut a check for Spartan Roofing for half the amount; the remainder is to be paid after the jobs are completed.  

 (Notes and comments after the meeting. The budget chair personally delivered a check to Spartan Roofing. While Session is charged with guiding the church, Session depends on the opinion of those with experience and the courage to climb a rickety ladder to the belfry roof. Thank you, Perry Gregory.)

Birthdays / Worship Volunteers


5 Pat Gustafson
8 Libby Hyland
12 Margaret Gregory
12 Linda Steele
18 Mary Lou Hopkins
19 Alyia Hubbard
21 Sara Hyland
21 Pam Rogers
22 Perry Gregory
22 Keith Sterner
24 Ellaina Bowyer
27 Lena Cox
28 Nadine Tiejema
29 Laurie Sykes

September 4, 2022 Pastor Chris
September 11, 2022 Cindy Rozich
September 18, 2022 Marilyn McKay
September 25, 2022 Lee Hunsberger

September 4, 2022 Marilyn McKay and Norma Kilpatrick
September 11, 2022 Margaret Gregory and Jen Furman
September 18, 2022 Duane and Judi Emlinger
September 25, 2022 Marcia and Ernie Ross

This and That

Bible Study Resumes

Last February, we began a study of the New Testament by means of a video lecture series titled “Understanding the New Testament.” During the summer months, we took a break from the twenty-four-part series at the suggestion of Pastor Chris and those attending to allow for vacation time. That study will resume this fall on September 11.

We will gather in the Memorial Room at approximately 11:15 to watch a video in the series each Sunday after the worship hour. Following the video presentation time there will be a brief discussion led by Pastor Chris. Grab a cup of coffee and join us for this enlightening study!

A Note From Secretary Sara Hyland

I have recently accepted the role as Parent Support Specialist at the Right Door. While I finish my MSW, I will be working 4 days a week there and cutting my office hours back to only Wednesdays 9-4. I will do a handful of things remotely, so I can always be reached by our church email. E-mails will work as a better way of communicating with me since I won’t be in a second day a week to check voicemails. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

Many Thanks

A big THANK YOU goes to Marcia and Ernie Ross who did a deep cleaning of the kitchenette which is used for coffee hour each week! It is much appreciated by those who provide refreshments for gatherings in the Memorial Room! 

Labor Day laughs
Take a break and enjoy this work-related humor!

*My first job was in an orange juice factory. I got canned because I couldn’t concentrate.
*I wasn’t suited to being a tailor.
*Working in the muffler factory was too exhausting.
*I was a banker … until I lost interest.
*Any way I sliced it, I couldn’t cut the mustard at the deli.
*I studied to become a doctor but had no patients.
*My job at the coffee shop was always the same old grind. 
*Finally, I got a job at a bakery; I kneaded dough!

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

*Session Members

 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
Sara Hyland
Steve Slaughter

Pastor Tel. 616-610-5982
Administrative Assistant

Newsletter, Calendar and more at
Email: [email protected]
Summer Church Office Hours – Wednesday 9-3
Ph# 616-527-2320 

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