Pastor Mark Dicken
2637 McCool Road, Portage, IN 46368
Issue II February 2016
Wow, it seems like we just stored away the Advent and Christmas decorations and we’re about to begin the Season of Lent!
Well, Easter does come early this year. This is due to lots of interesting historical facts involving the Jewish Passover, lunar calendar, full moons, etc. You can Google it. But for our purposes, the most important thing is that Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on February 10. We will, of course, mark this with a traditional service with imposition of ashes.
Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, which means "spring." The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry.
During Lent, our worship services will center around the concept of the wilderness, those periods and ways most, if not all of us experienced emotional, physical and spiritual wilderness or desert times.
I encourage our adult classes and small groups to use the DVD study series Pastor Deb can help you order. If you are not part of an adult class or small spiritual growth group, we encourage you to make a 40-day commitment to being part of one of the new groups she is forming.
Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection. In the early church, Lent was a time to prepare new converts for baptism. Today, Christians focus on their relationship with God, often choosing to give up something or to volunteer and give of themselves for others.
Sundays in Lent are not counted in the forty days because each Sunday represents a "mini-Easter" and the reverent spirit of Lent is tempered with joyful anticipation of the Resurrection.
See you in church!
Sundays @ 10:00am Sunday School
Wednesdays @ 11:30am Brown Bag Bible Study
Thursdays @ 6:00am Breakfast at Schoops
First Friday Fellowship will meet on Friday, February 5th at 5:00pm at Applebee’s, 6211 US Hwy 6, in Portage. RSVP to Sandra Robinson at 764-8433.
Ash Wednesday Service February 10th at 7:00pm
SUNDAY WORSHIP THEMES FOR FEBRUARY
We celebrate the Lord’s Supper and Scouting Ministries Sunday Celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Pastor Mark will conclude our series on The Ties That Bind with his message from Psalm 133 ANOINTED
We begin our Lenten message series “Wondering in the Wilderness” with Pastor Mark’s message A TIME TO LEARN from Mark 1:12-15.
Pastor Mark’s message will be A TIME TO BE CHALLENGED from 2 Corinthians 4:8-11.
Pastor Mark’s message from Hebrews 4:14-16 will be A TIME TO BE DEPENDENT.
SAME BOOK, SAME PAGE READINGS FOR FEBRUARY
We are challenging ourselves to read through the Bible this year. The page numbers refer to the paperback New Living Translation Bibles available at no cost at the church building. Here is the schedule for February.
February 1 Exodus 7-9 pages 38-40
February 2 Exodus 10-12 pages 40-42
February 3 Exodus 13-15 pages 42-44
February 4 Exodus 16-18 pages 44-46
February 5 Exodus 19-21 pages 46-48
February 6 Exodus 22-24 pages 48-50
February 7 Exodus 25-27 pages 50-51
February 8 Exodus 28-29 pages 52-53
February 9 Exodus 30-32 pages 53-55
February 10 Exodus 33-35 pages 55-57
February 11 Exodus 36-38 pages 57-59
February 12 Exodus 39-40 pages 59-61
February 13 Leviticus 1-4 pages 62-63
February 14 Leviticus 5-7 pages 63-65
February 15 Leviticus 8-10 pages 65-67
February 16 Leviticus 11-13 pages 67-70
February 17 Leviticus 14-15 pages 70-71
February 18 Leviticus 16-18 pages 71-73
February 19 Leviticus 19-21 pages 73-75
February 20 Leviticus 22-23 pages 75-77
February 21 Leviticus 24-25 pages 77-78
February 22 Leviticus 26-27 pages 79-80
February 23 Numbers 1-2 pages 81-82
February 24 Numbers 3-4 pages 82-84
February 25 Numbers 5-6 pages 84-85
February 26 Numbers 7 pages 85-87
February 27 Numbers 8-10 pages 87-89
February 28 Numbers 11-13 pages 89-90
February 29 Numbers 14-15, Psalm 90 pages 90-92, 356
Provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer “blanketeers.”
This is the stated mission of “Project Linus”. On Sunday, Feb. 28 at 1:00 pm you have the opportunity to work with others as we join together to make blankets. You will want to bring your own supplies. If you need ideas for making blankets go to www.projectlinus.org If the cost of supplies is prohibitive for you, we will have some yarn and crochet needles and hopefully some persons who can teach you how to use them.
Mission Possible Kids
Kids in kindergarten through 5th grade – you are needed as an agent for very special missions in our church, community and the world!! Next Mission Possible Kids gatherings will be:
Saturday, Feb. 6 help with the Valentine’s dinner Sign up at the Connection Center
Sunday, Feb. 28 make dinner for New Creations Men’s Shelter
and get ready for the St. Patty’s luncheon
ANNUAL SPAGHETTI DINNER February 6 4:30-8:00pm
SPONSORED BY OUR YOUTH AND PARENTS
PROVIDES HELP WITH COST OF CHURCH CAMP
Our kids work hard to provide a warm ‘romantic’ atmosphere as you are seated and served a complete meal. Reservations required and can be made at the Connection Center or by calling the church office. (Last seating at 7:30pm)
You will also have the opportunity to surprise your sweetie by purchasing a flower or a singing candy-gram.
Your tip is the cost of your meal. Your generosity may very well lead a child to a closer relationship with Jesus. What a great investment!
Wilderness barren and empty. At times life can bring us the point of barreness. This season of Lent will be a time to explore these feelings and how we get through them as we begin a sermon series/fish (fellowshipping in someone’s home). Please consider taking part in this 6 week study as you discuss the previous week’s sermon and what can be learned. In the near future there will be sign ups at the Connection Center.
Red Cross Blood Drive
Friday, February 5
1:30 – 6:30pm
Will you pray about this big need? We have a person in our church family who needs a kidney transplant. She is looking for persons who are willing to be tested to be a match for her. What I currently know: this would involve a DNA test and blood test to determine if you are a match. You need to be between 30 and 45 yrs of age. Transplant donor would be in the hospital for 2 ½ days and off work for 2 weeks. If you would like more information please contact me (Pastor Deb) and I will connect you with the person and the phone numbers for more information.
Food , Folks & Fun
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 26
DINNER served from 6:00-6:45
Pay what you can, if you can
Trivia Night from 7-8pm
Bring a team or join with others
Come for the food and stay for the fun
Bible 101 is an overview of the Bible designed to give you a foundation to build upon. It has gotten off to a slow start due to the weather, which we knew would be a factor anytime a study begins in January in Northwest Indiana. We will persevere and establish some perimeters for when we will not meet: we will not meet if the temperature is in the single digits or if there is a winter storm advisory for our area. When this is not the case, we will meet. You are encouraged to come as often as possible but don’t stay away because you haven’t been. The next few weeks we will be taking a look at the book of Genisis – it’s ‘in the beginning’ Sundays 4:00-5:30
A NOTE FROM PASTOR DEB
Have you ever had the feeling of being ‘overwhelmed’? Does a dog have fleas? We all have times in life when it seems like the more we do the more behinder we get. That’s when I know it is time to take a moment and look at what really matters. Those of you who remember Toby Bivens may have heard him say, when referring to one of life’s problem times, (holding his thumb and pointer finger just an 1/8th of an inch apart,) “In the big scheme of life, what’s happening now is only this much”. I’m not sure I gave his quote clearly enough for you to envision but the jest of it is that we need to keep life in perspective.
When I wake up in the morning I have a vague idea of what needs to be accomplished but am often unrealistic and find myself napping before dinner. I realize that when I make my ‘lists’ I am often unrealistic. I want to start at the top and work through them without prioritizing. I end up getting things done but too often not the things that most needed my attention. Please tell me I’m not the only person here in Portage who does this. (Thank you)
Let me share with you a good intention that will not come to fuition. I planned to write each person who sent me a card acknowledging my completion of Course of Study, and the gifts and Christmas cards – each person was to get a note. I stored all the cards in a shoe box which I kept next to my chair in the family room. I worked through them a few at a time. Then came the day when I found my cat sitting with her back end in the box and with a funny look on her face. I will leave out the details, but suffice it to say the cat went on antibiotics for a bladder infection. As much as I love and appreciate you all, I could not bring myself try to salvage the contents of the box. So, please know, if you didn’t get a handwritten note, the cat is responsible.
Life is like a box of cards – they bring great joy until something comes along and ‘rains’ on it.
When you feel overwhelmed, try to give yourself a break – God didn’t call many perfect people but God does use those who are willing in spite of their imperfections. Don’t let the fact that you can’t do everything cause you to not do anything.
When you feel overwhelmed, are you taking care of yourself? Are you prioritizing? Where does prayer and Bible rank? What place does growing in your faith take? Where is BUNCO or watching the Bachelor? Computer games and texting friends?
Let’s try our best to give God the number one spot. I think when we do we will be overwhelmed in a different way – in a good way – as we see all that life can be.
CONFIRMATION is open to persons who are ready to accept the grace God offers and promise to live as a person of faith. This is a very important step in our faith journey. Here at Portage First, persons (usually in grades 7 and up) take part in Confirmation classes facilitated by Deb Massow and Lisa Graff. Below is the schedule for 2016.
Confirmation Schedule 2016
*Classes meet on Sundays during Sunday school hour 10 am -11am
*All field trips require a permission slip from parents or guardians
*Jewish Synagogue field trip date TBA
Feb. 7th Regular season begins: Getting acquainted, introduction
Feb. 14th God: The three persons of the trinity
Feb.21st Jesus: What do you believe about Jesus?
Feb.28th Holy Spirit: God’s presence & guidance in daily life
Mar.6th Worship: Worship is central in the life of the congregation
Mar.13th The Bible: exploring God’s word
Mar.20th Spring Break- No confirmation Class
. ++++++++++ Holy Week: Please Attend All Services ++++++++
Mar.27th Easter Sunday- Saints& Gifts: People of all ages and times are called to be saints
April 3rd Ministry: We are called to be ministers
Apr. 10th Baptism: What is a Baptism?
Apr.17th Spiritual Life: Spiritual disciplines; a part of Christian faith
Apr.24th Death & Resurrection: Our faith in Christ speaks clearly to the issue of death, resurrection and our hope in Jesus Christ
May 1st Life in the church: Being part of the body of Christ
May 6th Field trip to the Passion of Christ walk and Catholic Service. (Subject to date change)
May 8th Mother’s day Your faith journey continues: Confirmation is the door to the future
May 15th & 22nd makeup dates for lessons that were not fully covered.
May 21st Overnight Retreat: Meet at Church by &7:00p.m. on Friday night.
May 29th CONFIRMATION SUNDAY
40 Days of Renewal
Soup & Bread lunch & Devotionals
Check the connection center for locations
UNITED METHODIST WOMEN (Morning)
Friday, February 5 @ 9:30 am
What does he do? How does he help our community?
We've heard of the Portage Township Trustee
Come learn the answers to these and other questions.
Join us for fellowship, breakfast snacks and speaker
Portage Township Trustee Brendan Clancy.
ALL women of ALL ages are welcome!
If you will need child care please call the church office
by Wednesday, February 3rd.
Thank you to Janine Buckner, Lisa Hoover, Leigh Huminski, Tara Keehn, Connie King, Denisa Riley, Rosemary Schest, Wendy Smith, and Martha Yerby. These are the ladies who serve up our Sunday morning drinks and pastries. Not only do they help us start our day but the profits from their sales allowed them to donate $1,890.41 to nine different missions and ministries during 2015.
GOLD CAN OFFERINGS
The first Sunday of each month your Gold Can Offering is dedicated to funding our members that travel on our Red Bird Mission to work on housing projects for disadvantaged persons in rural distressed areas.
The second Sunday donation is given to the Portage Food Pantry which provides assistance to families in crisis situations.
The third Sunday is for the Emergency Fund which provides help to our own members in dire financial situations.
The fourth Sunday is for our Scholarship Fund, providing financial assistance to our members’ families to further their education.
The fifth Sunday is for Youth Services, providing financial assistance for the religious education of our children.
CHURCH FINANCES - A NEW YEAR
Portage First’s 2016 church budget has been completed, approved by the Finance Committee and confirmed by the Church Council. I would like to thank the members of Finance (Tony Centracchio, Steve Davenport, Pat Jackson, Ron Mauer, Sue Miller, Pastor Mark, Vicki Evanatz, and Robin Wilkening) for all of their time and effort on this project. This budget (copies available from the church office) estimates a total of $373,359.00 will be needed in 2016 to perform the missions and ministries of our church. This number is not without challenges but is attainable based on expected levels of giving.
In case you haven’t noticed, the west and north parking lots have been paved and the east and south areas have new gravel to reduce standing water. Thanks go out to members Tony Centracchio, David Coffey, Scott Falk, Ed Piontek, and Nathan Welch for their work on this project. The final cost for this work was $125,122.00. We originally borrowed $28,686.00 from the United Methodist Church Savings and Loan Ministry to pay off the balance on the roadway loan. Then, by using $12,522.00 from our existing debt reduction account, we only had to borrow $112,600.00 to pay for the paving. This places our current loan balance at $141,286.00. I do want to mention that the contractor found several soft soil conditions and buried tree stumps as they did their work. Some they repaired but others may not become noticeable until after the spring thaw and require additional monies for repair work.
Remember, during our information meetings, we received your permission, and were approved by the lender, to borrow up to $200,000.00 for various church projects. So far, thanks in part to the volunteer labor and donations from some of our members, we are below our budgeted estimates.
This new loan is a 20 year financial obligation, but your past generosity on similar loans has allowed us to pay off comparable amounts in less than five years. I expect that I will have similar good news for you on that topic in future reports.
Finally, years ago funds for various projects within our church were borrowed from our own Endowment Fund. We are continuing to repay this loan at $1,000.00 a month and have reduced the current balance to approximately $129,000.00.
I will admit that it’s sometimes challenging, but we’re doing God’s work, paying our bills, our staff salaries, and accomplishing our missions and ministries. Can we do more? Yes we can! Will we do more? Yes we will!
Paul, the Finance Guy
ON Sunday, February 7th the United Methodist Men along with Cub Scout Pack 487 will be celebrating Scout Sunday here at the 10:00am service. There are several ways you could help support the boys that belong to our Pack.
1. Buying lunch – Soup & Grill cheese sandwiches will be available.
2. Bringing aluminum cans to church to be recycled. (an area will be marked for drop off in the main parking lot on Scout Sunday.)
3. Fill out and return the form located at the Connection Center to be contacted to have any large recyclable items picked up. (scrap steel/aluminum items like gas grills, stoves, lawn furniture, etc. Date & time weather & storage permitting. All proceeds will be split between our youth camp scholarships & Cub Pack 487.)
4. Make a monetary donation to Cub Scout Pack 487.
If you have any questions please contact Christ Akdins @ 763-1301.
Happy February Birthday to…
02 Cheryl Hamilton 10 Bob Romanov 21 Shannon Liesch
04 Andrea Massow 10 Sharon Kaiser 22 Amanda Highlands
05 Denise Pollachek 10 Bill Liesch 24 Jayne Mantz
05 Paul Peterson 15 Trudy Cunningham 24 Amanda Peterson
05 Nada Romanov 15 Ron Mauer 25 Leigh Coffey
06 Virginia Phillips 15 Lillian Harbart 25 Betty Evensen
06 Brooke Jackson 18 Kaitlyn Adkins 28 Allison Centracchio
07 Tod Blakely 19 Reese Welch 28 Mike Hopkins
07 Eddie Karsten 20 Tony Centracchio 28 Don Kremke
08 Fred Blakely 20 Allen Long 28 Henry Ryan
09 Annette McCarty 20 Mark Long
10 Madelyn Blakely 21 Lerryn Darnell
Happy February Anniversary to…
02 Terry & Sally Nohr 18 Chuck & Bert Fowler
06 Bob & Nada Romanov 29 James & Heather Miller
08 Jef & Robin Halberstadt
Have you checked out the church web site??
The address is: http://www.portageumc.org