Pastors Michael Lawson & Tara Keehn
2637 McCool Road, Portage, IN 46368
Issue I January 2019
A note from Pastor Michael
Cash and Cooked Cabbage
In my family we have a longstanding tradition of a particular dinner on New Year’s Day. We are of Dutch and German heritage, so we obeyed the custom of serving cooked cabbage and pork chops for dinner on New Year’s Day. (Note: In my family we do not serve sauerkraut because… gross.) The cabbage represents money, the pork represents wealth and thus the tradition says by eating these foods on first day of the year you will have prosperity in the year ahead. Many people may share this or a similar tradition. I’m told in many places in the south people eat black eyed peas on New Year’s Day.
Years ago, in my grandmother’s childhood, they would place a coin in the cooked cabbage and whoever gets the coin will have an especially prosperous year. We continue this tradition too but have replaced the coin with an almond. The almond means riches beyond measure!
However, we never keep track of who gets the almond year to year. We have no empirical evidence to support the idea that the cabbage brings wealth. No scientific study has been done that tells us pork chops on January 1 mean you will be dripping diamonds. So, did it work? Year after year, are we wealthy? Yes. Decidedly so and frankly, so are you.
You see, what we often forget and what we need to think about after all the festivity of Christmas is that if you woke up in a house with heat, electricity, and in a bed without bugs you are wealthier than most of the world. If you add in the blessings of indoor plumbing, the literal years of public education offered to you, and just the availability of a hospital emergency room, then you have been offered more resources this morning than many people will ever see in their lives--ever.
Let’s think about this for a moment. Most of us, have perfectly drinkable, safe, clean water pumped into our homes available at all of our taps. (Note: Many of us have several taps for water as versus one well for our entire community.) We even use some of this water to contain our waste which we then flush away. Apparently though, this perfectly drinkable, safe, clean water is not drinkable enough for us. We must purchase bottles of water to drink from once and then throw the bottles away.
844 million people worldwide, (even some in the United States) don’t have access to safe drinking water and yet we ignore the miracle. I was speaking with the Rev. Dr. Joy Moore who this July began ministry in Flint, Michigan at the First United Methodist Church. We may have forgotten but, her congregation dispenses thousands of gallons of drinking water each week to the community. The subsidies have all timed out so her church is paying for the water for the community to drink. Think about that… three years without fresh water in their homes! Without her church, fresh water would not be available!
So am I wealthy! Are you? YES! Wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice! This recognition does not need to come with shame but instead thankfulness and calling. Thankful that even in the worst of time I have so much that I take for granted, and a calling to use these resources to love my neighbor. We are not superior to others in the world we have less, instead we are supposed to work together to improve the conditions of all. We are not to be saviors, but instead, fellow pilgrims being good stewards over all God has created.
Happy January Birthday to…
06 Jamieson Colby 14 Dan McCoy 26 Sarah Nadolski
07 Natalie Cawthra 14 Avaya Massow 30 Clara Harbart
09 Randy Wilkening 22 Victoria Pollacheck 30 Dawn Harbart
11 Nora Brown 24 Bridget Nadolski 31 Randy Wilkening Jr.
11 Marilyn Martus 25 Kathy Matthew
Happy January Anniversary to…
16 Nick & Sue Andryuk 21 Bill & Sue Miller
16 Chuck & Patti Coppess 22 Rob & Kate Blakely
19 Gregory & Shellie DePerio
Have you checked out the church web site??
The address is: http://portageumc.org
Sundays @ 10:00am Sunday School
Wednesdays @ 11:30am Brown Bag Bible Study
Thursdays @ 6:00am Breakfast at Schoops
Remember your church in your will.
1st Friday Fellowship will meet January 4th at 5:00 p.m. Dynasty Buffet (Chinese) 1805 Lincolnway in Valparaiso. Please RSVP to Sandra Robinson, 764-8433 no later than noon on January 4th.
It’s Community meal time!!!
Join us on January 18th at 6:00pm. We are going back to the 50’s with an old-fashioned sock hop! Get out your bobby socks and get ready to dance! See you there.
A new 2019 Church directory will be coming out very soon. I need any changes to address, phone number, email or family members you have a.s.a.p. This is not to be confused with a pictorial directory. You can submit changes on the Welcome Sheets during service, via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call the church office. Thank you.
Here is a convenient way to tithe! Try PushPay with your mobile device or online!
Have you ever come to worship and realized you left your offering envelope at home or learned of a worthwhile mission you want to support only to realize you did not bring your checkbook? Wouldn’t it be a blessing to be able to give back to God in a matter of seconds using your smartphone or tablet, laptop or desktop?
We have partnered with a company named Pushpay to help us move into the 21st Century with our financial stewardship. Fewer and fewer people write checks much less use cash, especially younger adults.
Pushpay will allow us to give one-time gifts, recurring gifts or special gifts using debit or credit cards or ACH transactions from our bank accounts.
It is quite easy to get started. Simply text ‘pfumc’ to 77977 and follow the instructions on your screen. As part of the process you will be able to download the Pushpay app for either iPhone or Android.
We will soon have a giving link through Pushpay on our new website www.portageumc.org and the company is working to create a custom app. The app will have many potential uses for information and communication. We might even be able to put the worship bulletins on there and save some trees.
More information will be available soon, but for now why not try Pushpay once?
It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.(Ephesians 1:11) I like this passage as it reminds me that we don't always knows the plans God has for us but if we just believe and truly trust in God we can do marvelous things never before dreamed of. This past year the trustees tackled some challenging projects and with the help from our congregation and community we accomplished some amazing things. Thanks to everyone from our church who stepped up to help with the ongoing maintenance, repair and enhancements of our church properties. Although the trustees are responsible for the church's property, equipment, investments and resources it takes all of member's help daily to provide a "well-groomed" and attractive facility that is welcoming, safe and hospitable. So, as we begin another New Year, the trustees will be hard at work to continue enhancing our church properties. Our dream list includes an electronic church sign, new double ovens for the kitchen, new kitchen flooring, paving and stripping the driveway, widening the chancel steps and installing portable handrails, ADA compliant toilets and envisioning a handicap door opener. It is an extremely big wish list and maybe a bit overwhelming financially but we must not stop envisioning great things for our church. All things are possible with some hard work, prayers and perseverance. The trustees could also use some additional help from members of our church or your friends and family who have some expertise in anyone of our dream list items. Please contact one of the trustees if you can help. In the meantime, please continue to support our ongoing trustee's capital campaign so that we can little by little tackle our dream list. Connie Ellefson, chairman
So, as we go into 2019, lets meet both the call to thankfulness for all that we have been given, and the call to know, to participate with our neighbors to make the world better. This fulfills our covenant with God to take care of all that he has created and entrusted us with.
News from Portage First UMC Endowment Committee
Our Endowment Committee is pleased to announce that $12,960 has been allocated for the 2019 Grant requests. This amount is slightly higher than the amount awarded in 2018. During 2018, examples of grants awarded included the purchase of chimes for our choir, scholarships for our local Scouts Troop, and replacement of PFUMC signs within our community.
To be considered for a grant award, several steps are necessary. A written request must be submitted to the Endowment Committee for review. This is accomplished by completing an Endowment Fund Grant Application. Copies of the application are available at the Connections Center or may be obtained through the church office. A copy of the Endowment Fund Grant Request Process is attached to the application and explains the steps necessary to complete the application. The deadline for consideration of funds available this year is April 30, 2019.
We ask that you prayerfully consider the ways in which these funds can spread the word of Jesus Christ when you complete an application. Potential uses to consider include (but are not limited by) Missions, Evangelism/Outreach, Education, Music, Worship and Arts. Feel free to think outside the box and be creative. Although the deadline is April 30, 2019, don’t let the lack of information we may require prevent you from submitting an application. If we need additional information, we will reach out to you after the application has been submitted.
We encourage everyone to complete an application according to the purposes in which our charter outlines (see below). We have tried to make this process as simple as possible. Each year we learn something new from the grant process. Last year there was some confusion regarding the role of the Endowment Committee. Our role is to receive and approve those applications that meet the criteria outlined within our charter. Once awarded, grant recipients are required to take ownership of their award from start to finish. Please contact any member of the Endowment Committee if you have any questions regarding this process prior to completing an application.
We realize that many of you do not know the purpose of our Endowment Fund. The following excerpts from our charter provide a glimpse that we wanted to share with you:
Portage First UMC Endowment Charter
The primary purpose of this Endowment Fund is to provide a means for members and friends of The Church to make gifts and bequests to provide a permanent endowment of financial support and living memorials.
Gifts to the Endowment Fund will be held in perpetuity, if not otherwise designated by the donor, with income to be used to further Christian ministry and mission. Income from the Endowment Fund shall be used to assist The Church in fulfilling its purposes in Christian ministry and mission.
This Endowment Fund and resulting income is intended for purposes that are not a part of the local Churches’ established programs, which are funded, or should be funded, through the annual operating budget of the church and the regular giving of those attending. It is not intended that Endowment Fund income provide for local Church general operating expenses.
2019 Red Bird Mission Trip
We are now in the planning stage to return to Red Bird this year for the 8th time. We would like to reserve the week of September 16-20, 2019. Anyone interested in going is asked to contact Chris Adkins as soon as possible to be added to the list. There will need to be a minimum of 10 people interested before a reservation is made. The cost is $375 per person. A non-refundable deposit of $50 per person will need to be paid once an application is submitted. More information to follow.
Note from Pastor Tara
Hello! We find ourselves in a new year. January 2019! New beginnings are exciting. This year I will be starting out with a Sunday school class called “Serving from The Heart: Finding your gifts and talents for service.” This is not just a class to find out where to serve in church, but to help identify your God-given strengths in work, family, and community situations. I think sometimes it’s difficult to see and value our own strengths because for many of us it is easier to identify what we lack. Part of the struggle is identifying our own gifts, and then the second struggle is knowing how and when to use it! There is a story about a General who goes to heaven and asks God who the greatest military leader of all time was. Could it be Patton? MacArthur? God says, “Philip Green.” The General says “But that man never entered the service! He worked in a factory!” God says, “Yes, but if he would have, he would have been the best.” My hope is to repeat this program outside of Sunday school several times over the next year. I also hope to begin to check in with families over the year. My hope is to help find every person a meaningful way of using their gifts. Not just in our church, although that is certainly one way to use them! But in volunteering in the community and in their place of work or in their family. I hope to help each person be able to identify what their God given gifts are, and that way they can recognize opportunities to use them!
Congregational Care Ministry Update
Our next Congregational Care Ministry meeting will be Monday, January 28th at 7:00 pm. I have had at least two people express interest in joining CCM for hospital visitation or communion visitation. If you think you might be interested in assisting in monthly communion visitation or in a rotation of hospital visitation, please contact Pastor Tara at 219-608-6150 by call or text. I am planning a training session for new CCM’s! I would ideally like to have about 5 people to do the training.
CCM time commitment: Initial training and then monthly meetings 1hour each. Keeping notes of visitation or phone calls, and as follows by team:
For communion visitation: Anywhere from 1-4 hours on communion Sunday (first Sunday of the month). Depends on how many people from your list are currently desiring communion or if they are currently able to make it to church. Communion visitations are done in groups of 2.
Hospital visitation Team: Visiting church members at whichever hospital you feel comfortable visiting (we have a team for St. Mary’s in Hobart and one for Porter Regional.) Those visits are generally for 20 minutes, as needed when people are in the hospital.
Prayer and card team: Once a week for an hour of prayer, plus an hour or so of writing cards to those in the community.
Shepherding Team: Looking for individuals willing to make phone calls to those who have not attended church in 3 weeks. You do not need to know all individuals, but can be given a script to help phone people and let them know we noticed they are missing. Time will vary by list length, and who hasn’t been called in a month or so.
January 5th Youth Escape Room for 6-12th Graders
4-6 pm, here at the church
January 27th, Regular meeting for both MPK & youth group
Save the Date!
The annual youth Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser will be on February 16th this year. Mark the date on your calendar and please plan to attend. This is our biggest fundraiser to help provide scholarships for camp.
Operation Christmas Child shoe box ministry 2019:
Happy New Year to everyone at Portage First. I am happy to report that our 365 stuffed boxes are well on their way to children around the world. This year's distributions centers processed over 11,000,000 shoe boxes for delivery to over 160 countries, including the USA. Congratulations to our church, family & friends and other community organizations that contributed to this outreach ministry in 2018. The good news is the missions committee has approved to include this ministry for 2019. Therefore, we all have an opportunity to collect fun toys, school supplies and hygiene items for the children ages 2 to 14. There will be a holiday decorated box in the narthex to collect your donations. We are going to try to provide more clothing this year we welcome new or lightly used t-shirts, shorts, underwear, socks and sundresses to our collection list. Please visit our table often with any child appropriate item that would fit in a shoe box. That being said, we will also start collecting larger size shoe boxes and pill bottles. A wish list of items will be posted near the collection box. Thanking you in advance for supporting this mission outreach ministry for the children who are affected by war, disease, natural disasters, poverty and famine. If you have any questions, please contact Connie Ellefson (219) 771-4025.
Royal Family Kids Camp:
Our annual Christmas program for the children who attended this year's summer camp was a blast. Thank you Portage First for your ongoing support of this summer and winter experience for children in foster care. The mission of Royal Family Kids Camp (RFKC) is to create positive, life changing moments for innocent children who have been victims of neglect, abuse and abandonment. Our camp provides a safe and fun haven for a week to children ages 7 to 12. The values of the camp are to treat people royally, keep moving forward and make moments matter. This year's camp will be the last full week of July, so it's never too early to begin collecting items for their backpacks which our church provides each child. The last Sunday in February we will host a breakfast to benefit RFKC. The cost for the breakfast will require a donation of one of these items: toothpaste, toothbrush, comb, brush, 3 in 1 shampoo/rinse/body wash (need 70, ages 6-10) and 15 individual shampoo, rinse and body wash (ages 12) or a lap blanket, and of course cash is always appreciated to offset the cost of backpacks. It is all about the 80+ kids who will come to camp this year. Any questions, please ask Connie Ellefson, Leigh Huminsky or Steve Massow.
SAVE THE DATE!
Shrek, The Musical is coming to the Memorial Opera House in Valparaiso. Family Promise of Porter County will be selling tickets for the performance that is on Sunday, February 17th at 2:00pm.
Tickets are $21 for adults & $18 for children up to the age of 12. 100% of the proceeds go to Family Promise of Porter County. A sign-up sheet will be at the connection center. You can also contact Amanda Jennings for more details. Ajennings21@hotmail.com or (219)-781-1924.
Family Promise of Porter County is an affiliate of a national non-profit organization that serves low-income children and their families in need, who are not in permanent housing. For more information, please see the Family Promise of Porter County Facebook page or visit the national website at www.familypromise.org.
UNITED METHODIST WOMEN
Friday, January 4th @ 9:30 am
Happy New Year!
Hope you will join us for the first meeting of 2019!
ALL women of ALL ages are welcome to join us for
fellowship, conversation and breakfast snacks.
Our speaker will be Sharon Sylvie from the
Dunes Dog Training Club program PETS FOR VETS.
Come and hear how a dog can change and save a veteran's life.
Hope to see you there!
News from United Methodist Men
Our United Methodist Men group exists to declare the centrality of Christ in men's life. Men's ministry leads to the growth of men and discipleship. Our purpose is served as men are called to model the servant leadership of Jesus Christ. Our mission statement is “To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the World”.
From “The Good Book” Men's Ministry by Tim Thornborough:
Men's ministry, as with any ministry, is about providing the environment in which Christians will grow. Central to this is understanding the Bible and applying its truth by the Holy Spirit to our everyday choices and thinking. The catalyst for change is the gospel taught and applied, and there are no short cuts in this process.
However, this disciplining process is not just about imparting knowledge. It is about providing a foundation and framework for the process of change and growth in Christ through teaching and modeling and encouraging one another in the gospel. At the same time, mere encouragement and exhortation will not suffice. Knowledge of God through the scriptures is the springboard from which change and growth come about. True knowledge of God, His grace and purposes, His character and person, will grow love and passion for Him that will spill out into a ready desire to serve and follow Him.
So, at the heart of any ministry among men is the teaching and application, the telling and living, of the Bible. The first place for this is of course Sunday-by-Sunday in the preaching and teaching ministry of the gathered church. This is vital to the growth of the church as a whole. In addition, there are other opportunities that can be programmed or created to reinforce this public proclamation and teaching and bring about growth.
This sharing and learning of the Bible is a part of all of our UMM meetings. Our bible study leader Ed Piontek has a wonderful knowledge of God's word and a passion to teach and share. But our short fall is that we only meet once a month. This is why it is stated above the need for us all to be involved in a weekly bible study of some kind. Our church has weekly Sunday School adult classes and other adult bible studies that meet different days and times of the week. All of us have opportunities to take part in a weekly study - which is so important for our personal spiritual growth and salvation, and for the growth and health of our church. MEN - if you are not already involved in a weekly bible study group of some kind - please pray about this and consider investing your time in one of the many study groups available.
Our next UMM breakfast meeting is Saturday-01/05/19 at 8:00 AM. Come join us for breakfast. Bring a friend, a neighbor, or a family member. You will have an opportunity to learn more about the different ministries our church's UMM group supports. Also, for this meeting our bible study lesson is “Living in Right Relationships”. The scripture is from Ephesians Chap. #5 vs. 21 – thru - Ephesian Chap. #6 vs. 9.
Come join us for some good food and great fellowship.
Because of Him,