Pastors Michael Lawson & Tara Keehn
2637 McCool Road, Portage, IN 46368
Issue XII December 2018
Exit – Stage Left
I am part of an online group of clergy where they discuss their ministry, curriculum and preaching ideas, and trade tales of their churches. Last week one Pastor in Delaware asked this question: “What is the strangest reason someone told you they were leaving the church you pastor?” I saved this post immediately and began to scroll through the answers. Let me share a few of the responses with you:
“I announced my wife was pregnant with our first child. Two ladies came in horribly offended that I said `Pregnant’ in church. We should say `with child.’ They said they would never come back if I said ‘Pregnant’ again. I told them we were planning on having two more children so I would say it again. They Immediately left.” – B.G.
“One man came to me and asked why couldn’t we just serve the crackers and juice without all those words before we ate?” – S. J. B.
“In the same week I had one family leave because we were too liberal and another family leave because we were too conservative.” T.E.
“A man told me he was leaving the church because the same people were in leadership year after year. I reminded him that every year for the last three years we had nominated him for a position and that he’d always declined it.” – S.O.
“Too many kids attending the worship service. They dance and sing the hymns and run up to the front to see communion better.” – P. S.
“I read a letter from the bishop and a member was incensed—she insisted that there are no bishops in the United Methodist Church.” – J. L. K.
“Because I had a beard.” J.B.
“Cookies. If we were not going to provide a reception for he and his friends he had no reason to attend church.” – J.M.
“I turned a fan off so we could light the altar candles.” – M.H.
“At Christmas, to honor the Christ Child, I let children read the scriptures and youth did the children’s sermon. They insinuated I was not doing my job by letting others share in worship duties.” – G. M. G.
“Because I didn’t use the 1611 King James Version.” – H. H.
“A woman left because I helped her daughter and son-in-law save their marriage.” P.D.
The list goes on but the most regular reasons people gave for leaving the church were talking to much about Jesus, preaching from the Old Testament, the gender of the pastor,
Happy December Birthday to…
01 Ivy Parker 08 Rosemary Schest 20 Dick Samuelson
01 Connie King 09 Ray Nadolski 20 Jennifer Costello
01 Lynn Liesch 12 Marcie Jordan 21 Karen Helmecy
01 Aaron Massow 14 Darren Warne 23 Teresa McKiddy
02 Deb Massow 15 Bobbi McCoy 23 Abigail Seberger
05 Don Strohl 15 Bill Miller 28 David Coffey
06 Karen Bridges 16 Shirley Schaefer 29 Lillian Karsten
06 Pat Morris 16 Steve Davenport 30 Kathy Wilson
06 Andrew Brown
Happy December Anniversary to…
04 Nathan & Amber Welch 27 Dan & Bobbi McCoy
18 Mike & Connie King 28 Jim & Sue Nickerson
19 Bruce & Kathy Wilson 30 Ron & Melinda Metz
19 Pat & Jennifer Costello
Have you checked out the church web site??
The address is: http://www.portageumc.org
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Sundays @ 10:00am Sunday School
Wednesdays @ 11:30am Brown Bag Bible Study
Thursdays @ 6:00am Breakfast at Schoops
Remember your church in your will.
It’s time to order poinsettias!!! Check your bulletin or at the welcome center for order forms. All orders need to be turned into the office by Dec. 17th. The cost is $10. The poinsettias will help decorate our sanctuary for the Christmas season and will be yours to take home after Christmas.
END OF THE YEAR GIVING
If you wish to have your giving back to the Lord through our church recorded for tax purposes as charitable giving in 2018, please remember that your gift must be received by December 31 or postmarked no later than December 30 this year.
Children & Youth
MPK: Mission Portage Kids
All students grades Kindergarten -5th are invited to join us for Mission Possible Kids
Dec. 2 - 12:30-2, We will be wrapping our Angel Tree Gifts
Dec. 16 - 13:30-2, Annual Christmas Party
For all students in grades 6-12
Dec. 2 - 12:30-2, regular meeting
Dec. 16 - 12:30-2, Annual Christmas Party - if you have an ugly Christmas sweater please wear it!
Dec. 31 - 11:30-1:30, Noon Year’s Eve Party - Middle School & High School students are invited to join us to celebrate the new year at NOON with crafts, games, and snacks
On January 5th Pastor Michael will be putting on an escape room for us. Look for more details to come.
UNITED METHODIST WOMEN
Friday, December 7 @ 9:30 am
Do you know what organization occupies the building
that used to be Camelot Bowling Center, on Hwy 6?
Rebecca Reiner, Executive Director, from
Neighbors Educational Opportunities (NEO)
will be our speaker as you join us for fellowship, conversation
and breakfast snacks this December meeting.
ALL women of ALL ages are encouraged to join us!
Hope to see you there!
praying too much, and finally “Don’t tell me how to apply the Bible to my life, just tell me what it says.”
As your Pastor I want you to think about this. What values do these stories reveal? The reality is people come to church to meet many different needs and the church community is somehow supposed to miraculously meet them all. It is an impossible and thankless task!
Theologian Francis Chan once wrote his response to the oft repeated statement given by parishioners: “I didn’t get a lot out of worship today.” His response was to say: “That’s okay. We weren’t worshipping you.”
Jesus preaching reveals the importance he places upon the poor, children, society’s outcasts, and how little importance he places on the elite, the wealthy, and institutions of power. Jesus’ time is spent preaching his message of forgiveness and a radical abandonment of self. He spends his time gathering a community around him and despite the disciples and followers best efforts, make sure that all sought to serve one another rather than themselves.
These motivations should be what mark the Church people as true disciples of Jesus. Our love of Christ should compel us constantly seek to gather together, laying aside our own desires and seeking the wellness of the whole. Anything less than that… exit, stage left.
Pastor Michael Laswon
A Christmas Prayer for Portage First UMC
As we gather to celebrate again the solemnity of your birth, we remember how you took on flesh and became the embodiment of true and eternal love. As we wonder at the mystery of your incarnation, help us to also embody the truth of the Gospel. May our hands move from manager to cross as you did, offering through our words and actions the love and light of God. AMEN.
First Friday Fellowship
We will meet on Friday, December 7th, 5pm at Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant 8255 Georgia St. Merrillville, IN. Please R.S.V.P to Sandra Robinson at 764-8433 no later than December 6th at noon.
DIRECTIONS from Portage: Take Route 30 west. Turn left at Rhode Island Street (first stoplight west of the I-65 Rt 30 exit). Make a left turn once you are off of Route 30 and follow that road around until you come to Abuelo’s.
Come continue the advent celebration Sunday December 16th at the 9a.m. and 11:15a.m. for our Cantata.
Portage First United Methodist Church Finance Update
October 2018 Year to Date 2018
Non-Designated Giving $24,665.34 Non-Designated Giving $262,624.66
Operating Expenses $22,636.11 Operating Expenses $238,472.15
Debt Reduction Giving $1,742.00 Net Current $24,152.51
Debt Reduction Expense $2,080.92 Debt Reduction Giving $18,748.00
Apportionment Paid $3,501.42 Debt Reduction Expense $19,883.01
Net Debt Reduction ($1,135.01)
Outstanding Church Debt
Parking Lot Loan $130,891.74 Overall Net Current & Debt $23,017.50
Endowment Loan $94,674.52
Total Debt $225,566.26 Apportionment Paid $26,278.13
What is 'Apportionment'? From www.umc.org -
The main way we support the ministries of the church is through our apportioned funds,
a method of giving that proportionally allocates the churchwide budget to conferences and local churches.
For United Methodists this method of giving has become a strong, generous tradition.
Together, through our connected congregations, we accomplish what no single church, district or annual conference ever could hope to do alone.
In this way, each individual, each family, each congregation gives a fair share for the church's work. We combine our prayers, presence, gifts and service to make a significant difference in the lives of God's people.
The Indiana Annual Conference asks that each church provide 11% of the prior month's income as their apportionment, 10% to the conference and 1% to the district.
A gift for our Pastors
Hello Church, The SPRC is collecting a LOVE OFFERING for the holiday season for Pastor Michael and Pastor Tara. You can put your CASH offerings in the collection plate in an envelope clearly marked for the LOVE OFFERING or give your donation directly to Amber Welch, Wanda Samuelson, or Dave Coffey. If you feel led to give, please do so by December 23rd. Questions?!? See your favorite SPRC member!
From your Missions and Outreach Committee:
Church, you rock! It has been such a blessing to see all your participation in the various missions and outreach events this past year! In the past couple months alone, you've helped raise funds to support UMCOR disaster relief and the Upper Room Recovery Center, you've donated over 1200 pounds of food for those who are hungry, you've shown children in our community that we love them by providing a fun time through our Halo-ween event, and you've done even more. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!
What's next, you ask? In December, we're asking for donations of canned meat for the Portage Township Food Pantry. As always, donations can be placed in the grocery cart in the Fellowship Hall.
We'd also like to share the love of Christ with people who are working to keep our community running on Christmas eve. We are asking members of the congregation to bake Christmas Cookies (2 dozen +) and bring them to the church kitchen on Sunday, December 23. We will package them up for distribution, and ask for volunteers to take these plates of cookies to locations around the community after the Christmas eve church service! Not everyone gets to take Christmas eve off, and this will be a way to show people we appreciate them. We are thinking of places like the fire dept., police dept., hospital, etc. Think how their hearts will be warmed when they see your smile and receive a plate of cookies! (Please, no peanuts, and we ask that cookies with other potential allergens be labeled.) Thanks in advance for your help with this!
Mark your calendars: The next community meal will be January 18 and will feature a sock hop! Just think, you can burn off any excess holiday calories!
Blessings to you all from your Missions and Outreach Committee,
Annette McCarty, Kate Blakely, Steve Massow, James Jordan, Connie Ellefson, Lisa Hoover, Josh Hoover, Melissa Sullivan, and Wendy Smith
From the Nursery:
At PFUMC, our mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ who transform the world around them. We once again find ourselves in need of volunteers to help in the nursery to comply with our Safe Sanctuaries policy. When you sign up to help in the nursery, you are joining with God to love and nurture these children, expressing God's grace to them. And thanks to your service in the nursery, the parent of that child will be able to be fully present in weekly worship, helping them to grow and mature in their faith.
Nursery/child care is one of the top factors families with little children look for when considering a church. It is such an important demonstration of a church's radical hospitality and if found lacking rarely results in a second chance.
We need lay servants - men, women and youth - to step up and serve in this way during each of our worship services. All that is required is a loving heart and a servant's spirit and a limited background check that is pretty quick and painless.
You can choose your date and time to serve at the Connection Center or by calling Kate Blakely at the church office 762-3846 or emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are willing to be called upon when one of our Nursery staff is sick or unable to be here unexpectedly, or with little notice, please let Kate know as she works to assemble a list of people who can step in to fill those gaps.
December is here! The choir has been working very hard on this year's cantata. We can't wait to share the good news of Christ's birth with the congregation on December 16th at both services. This year we are going to explore how we can relate our lives in the 21st century to those in the 1st century through song and skit. If you would like your child to be part of this year's skit, please have them attend practice on Sunday, December 2nd and December 9th at 2:30. There is also a dress rehearsal on Saturday, December 15th at 9:00. The children will be creating the traditional manger scene - the more the merrier!
On behalf of the trustees, we want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Many exciting things were accomplished during the past year. We want to thank those members of our church (and friends) who supported the efforts of the trustees with their monetary donations to our capital campaign and for helping with the numerous never-ending fixer upper jobs like the sanctuary and pastor office painting, north door hand rail, getting the parsonage ready for our new pastor, driveway patching and sprucing up our church grounds and bell tower. We also thank the Endowment committee for approving some funds to help complete the purchase of a new stainless-steel refrigerator for the kitchen and for new fans in the sanctuary. We will soon we creating our "wish list" for 2019. We ask that you continue to support the trustee's capital campaign so that greater things can be accomplished next year. We welcome your suggestions and comments.
OH, BABY IT'S COLD OUTSIDE!!!!!
Westville correctional facility is in need of warm coats! Offenders, when they are released have only the clothes they were arrested in, 70 & 80 degree weather type clothes!
Many do not have a functional family that can provide transportation or even the proper seasonal clothes needed for them.
So, with a warm heart, you can provide the gift of warmth to the prisoner, whom will be released back into a society that doesn't always accept them with open arms.
We know Jesus would and we know we want to be more like Jesus!
Please look into your heart and your closets with a warm spirit to find warm coats and jackets that will be a warm gift to someone who can really warm up and be shown the love of God!!
No need to shop for anything new, just clean and warm will be sufficient.
Always accepting tennis shoes as well. Regular men's sizes. 9-13. (Yes, tennis shoes may not be all that warm, but that's all they are requesting.)
You can see any PF hope prison team member with your donation, or just drop them off where you would normally drop off rummage items, behind the fellowship hall. (Please clearly mark them "prison ministry")
Thank you in advance for your thoughtfulness. I believe you will be blessed with a heartwarming experience by doing this and very possibly a cleaner closet as well!
May God bless you all at Christmastime and throughout the new year!!
Your PFhope prison team
Note From Pastor Tara
Hello! This month I will be starting a new Sunday School class called “The Advent Conspiracy.” It will run all through December! Books will be available in the Sunday school class.
Monday December 3rd at 7 pm, we will have our last Congregational Care Minister meeting for the year! I have a few people interested in joining. If you would like to assist with any of the following in our church: Communion to shut-ins, hospital visitation, helping those experiencing depression or grief, or prayer ministry, please let me know via call or text at 219-608-6150 so I can set a date to start training new CCM’s! I have 2 so far, and would like to have about 5 total to have a new training.
December 21st, 7pm will be the Longest Night Service. We are aware that Christmas is not a happy time for everyone. Some people may be facing loss of a job, a loved one, or facing health issues. The Longest Night is a more low-key celebration of poetry and worship. There will be candles and a worship service to offer hope in the darkness. If you would like a friend or loved one to receive a personal invitation, please give me their name and address at email@example.com or by call or text 219-608-6150.
Finally, I want to say thank you to everyone for a wonderful year! We have successfully navigated a major staff change, made improvements to the building, and raised a lot of money for some very good causes. Thank you to all those who have headed committees and to all those who have accepted new positions for 2019. I know 2019 is going to be a great year together!
By: Bud Gray
The sound of Santa's voice,
The pounding of reindeer hooves
Fade with the light of day
Atop worldwide roofs.
His Christmas rounds complete,
Santa tumbles into bed
With thoughts of Baby Jesus' birth
Swirling through his head.
It's Christmas Day.
God so loved every nation,
He gave them Jesus, His only son
To guide then to salvation.
Rejoice! The birth of our Savior
On this most holy day
Is God's most sacred gift
To help us find our way.