First United Methodist Church
Pastors Michael Lawson & Tara Keehn
2637 McCool Road, Portage, IN 46368
From Pastor Michael...
Wow… July 2019 will bring with it a lot of change and transformation. As I sit in my office today watching the cottonwood seeds swirl in the window knowing it is only 53 degrees outside I wonder, “Who could possibly have expected this one year ago?”
July 1st marks one year since I began my appointment at Portage First UMC. During that year attendance and giving have risen, we have new ministries starting to blossom, and we have countered and overcome many challenges. We have met our struggles with such creativity and wisdom that we have been granted many successes! We must continue to run the race set before us in faith. Now is the time for us to continue to press ahead and be a witness in our community.
July will also bring an end and a beginning. Kate Blakely, our Director of Spiritual Formation, will be leaving her position at our church and seeking new opportunities. Kate’s ministry among us has been fruitful and her passion and influence have left an indelible mark upon us all.
All of this comes as a result of a realignment of our staff. We will in some ways be recreating our entire system for discipleship in our church. Our new worship leader, Zachary Rudd, will also be responsible for our youth ministry. Pastor Tara and I will be overseeing education of children and adults. Our hope is to create a system that begins the moment someone comes to visit and helps sustain them throughout there entire Christian lives (and into eternity)!
All of this change has been both terribly painful and incredibly exciting. Even in the midst of the change, I know God is leading all of us to a place of deeper understanding and wonder. All this makes me think of “Hymn of Promise. Specifically, the third verse:
In our end is our beginning,
In our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing;
In our life, eternity.
In our death, a resurrection;
At the Last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season,
Something God alone can see.
I am thankful to Kate for her many years of service here at Portage First UMC. I am thankful for her friendship as well. As her relationship to our church changes, I know that new and powerful experiences await her and her family. I know all of you will join me in prayers of thanks for all that God has done through Kate, and the future that awaits her.
Pastor Michael Lawson
Note from Pastor Tara...
Hello! I'm writing this update having just finished attending annual conference and while attending my first of two weeks of class at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. The Indiana Annual Conference was very interesting. God is working through some very talented and passionate people. I'm not sure what lies ahead for our denomination, but be encouraged!
The United Methodists came into being as a denomination about 50 years ago. Before that, those considered "United Methodists" were two separate denominations, EUB and Methodist. EUB stood for "Evangelical United Brethren." That is also why the seminary I attend has "Evangelical" in the title, it combined with an EUB seminary at one point. Any predictions about what lies ahead for the United Methodists as a whole would be just pure speculation at this point. The main work of the Annual Conference that Pastor Michael, myself, Deb Massow, and Pat Hodgson just attended was to elect delegates for the next General Conference, to take place next year. The General Conference is where changes can be made to the Book of Discipline, because it contains representatives from the global church. So the next round of any potential major decisions or actions will take place at that General Conference in 2020. A big thank you to Deb Massow and Pat Hodgson for their time and votes at Annual Conference! It is not exactly "fun" to sit in business meetings for several days and vote. Thank you for your service on behalf of our church!
You may have noticed posters around the church advertising Lifeline Screenings. These screenings offer significant health savings for many. They will be taking place at our church on Monday, July 8th. See the posters for information on how to sign up and what screenings are taking place that day!
Congregational Care Ministry will be meeting Monday, July 8th at 7:00 PM. This is a chance for all of us to touch base and discuss needs and coordinate care.
Prison Ministry News...
I'm happy to announce that our prison team has a couple of interested guests! Linda Haggert and Dave Coffey will be visiting with us a couple of times on Wednesday nights, to see if they might want to join us long-term.
With summer upon us and vacations & all, we could sure use the extra help and back up to this fulfilling ministry. God is good and always provides!
If you would like to experience the love of Jesus behind ‘the wire,’ let Steve Massow, Wendy Smith, Brian Johnson, or Mike Matthew know and we'll be sure to get you the paperwork needed to be our guest on a Wednesday night of your choosing.
We still need shoes, but no boots. Preferably gym shoes sizes 8 through 13. The donations are for the Westville offenders that are released and will need shoes to wear. Thank you Portage First for your generosity and much needed love and prayers! These men tell us often how much your prayers and support mean to them. Through each of your donations and prayers collectively, they will experience God's love and ultimately a better life after incarceration. Thanks again, for all you do in Jesus name!
Portage First UMC Prison Team, PF Hope
It’s hard to believe that July is upon us. It has been such a very busy year for the trustees and our faithful volunteers.
Some of our June accomplishments included an effort to clean out the machinery barn. Several loads of scrapable items were taken to Metro Recycling and the Portage Street Department helped dispose of some non-recyclable items. We are now in need of a wood splitter and equipment to transfer the ground up asphalt into flooring for the machinery barn. We also need to replace missing roofing and repair of the west wall of the barn. There are also several ideas being discussed on how to better utilize this building.
In addition, a new faucet was installed the men’s bathroom off the fellowship hall and new plumbing was needed in the men’s bathroom in the education wing. First aid kits have been strategically located around the church. Several ceiling light covers have been replaced and bushes and shrubs have been trimmed around the church.
There is still a list of small projects that could use some attention so if anyone is looking for a volunteer opportunity, please do not hesitate to contact the trustees. Any help is greatly appreciated.
Two major “Dream” projects remain on our radar. They include a kitchen face lift and an electronic church sign.
Memorial Garden ...
Much time and effort has been put into cultivating three areas around our church property into memorial gardens. We hope you have noticed the many new perennials that have been planted, as well as the added figurines and concrete memorial plaques. The area near the main door entrance, the triangle near the pine tree, and the bell tower have been given close attention this spring season. The final step will be to create a plaque listing the names of those who helped fund some of the flower and tree purchases. It will be hung on the brick wall just right of the main door entrance. My many thanks to those who have help financially to create these memorial gardens.
Prevent Bullying ...
October is "National Bullying Prevention Month." On October 7th, blue hats will be worn to show support.
Hats should be handmade of blue yarn, any style, and of sizes appropriate for ages 5 - 18. They are blue to represent awareness, peace, and solidarity.
Susan Regnier works in a local middle school where she sees bullying daily. Her goal is to have 800 blue hats by mid-September for those students to wear on October 7th. She cannot make enough on her own, and needs our help. Let's give her a hand! Any hats at all that you or your friends in the local community are able to make would be greatly appreciated. There will be a box to collect the hats at church. Contact Susan Regnier at (219) 805-7571 if you need yarn or patterns. More information is online at hatnothate.org.
From the Finance Committee…
Portage First United Methodist Church Finance Update
May 2019 May 2019
Non Designated Giving $31,022.63
Operating Expenses $30,768.35
Debt Reduction Giving $2,793.00
Debt Reduction Expense $2,080.92
Apportionment Paid $2,508.40
Year to Date 2019 Year to Date 2019
Non Designated Giving $140,033.84
Operating Expenses $141,560.33
Net Year To Date ($1,526.49)
Debt Reduction Giving $12,028.00
Debt Reduction Expense $13,222.73
Net Debt Reduction $1,194.73
Overall Net Current & Debt ($2,721.22)
Apportionment Paid $16,467.83
What '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.
Missions and Outreach Committee ...
Community Meal — Come join us for an evening of food and music. Matt Chelich will be providing us with this evening’s entertainment. Dinner will be announced at a later date. Hope to see you there!
From the Staff / Parish Committee (SPRC) ...
The SPRC and Pastor Michael are realigning our staff positions here at Portage First. There are two positions to be combined: the second service worship leader and the director of youth ministry. After numerous applications were reviewed and interviews given, we are pleased to announce that we have hired Zachary Rudd.
Zach will begin his ministry at Portage First on August 11, 2019. He is a graduate of Portage High School and Olivet Nazarene University where he studied Youth Ministry and Music Ministry. His prior employment was with Real Life Community Church, where he has served as a worship leader and a youth mentor.
As a result of hiring Zach, a change in staff here at Portage First was necessary. It is important to stay within our budget and be good stewards with what God entrusts to us. Therefore, difficult decisions have to be made. It grieves us to announce that Kate Blakely will be ending her employment effective July 31, 2019.
For many years, Kate has served our church with faithfulness and dedication. She was a faithful volunteer prior to her employment with us in October of 2016. We are truly thankful for her ministry. We ask that you show Portage First love to Kate and make her final weeks as an employee some of the very best for her! Now is the time to express our appreciation to Kate as she prepares herself for new opportunities. We can show our love and appreciation with a “Love Offering” that will be displayed near the Connection Center on Sundays beginning June 30th.
Please pray for Kate and Zach during this period of transition. Also, please pray for our church leadership and committees that rely on God for discernment and guidance.
May God bless Kate, Zach, and each of you going forward – Opening Hearts, Opening Minds, and Opening Doors.
Steve Massow (SPRC Chair)
Green Team Tip ...
Did you know you cannot put soft plastic bags in your recycle bin? Most recycling facilities are set up to handle rigid materials, so soft plastics cannot go through their machine process. So, are plastic bags still recyclable? Why, I’m glad you asked, YES! Plastic bags are very much recyclable! But what can we do reduce plastic bag waste? Well, reusable bags are a great option! So are paper bags. Great ways to reduce plastic pollution with grocery bags. But realistically, people accumulate plastic grocery bags. How can we recycle these bags if they can’t go in my recycle bin? Many local stores have places to take bags. Here in Portage, Meijer, Walmart, Strack & Van Til, and Kohl’s all practice bag recycling! That’s great news. And you know what? Your residential GREEN TEAM can help too! We are going to accept these bags at Portage 1st UMC. That is very convenient! Thank you for wanting to find ways to respect all of God’s creation!
First Friday Fellowship
Friday, JULY 5, 2019 • 5:00 PM
Lake Park Restaurant • 7 E. Old Ridge Road • Hobart
Please RSVP to: Sandra Robinson at (219) 764-8433 no later than Thursday, July 4.
Volunteers needed for VBS
We are looking for volunteers! Please sign up at the Connection Center if you can help. We're also seeking donations of camping themed decorations if you see or have any. They can be placed in the tub labeled "VBS Donations" in classroom 8.
VBS—Camping with Christ
Open to K-5th
Registration Forms available at the connection center or Register online at portageumc.org
Please consider supporting our own
Cub Scout Pack 487 Fundraiser
SATURDAY, August 3
Church Parking Lot
FREE WILL DONATION
Cub Scout Pack 487 is accepting new scouts K-5th grade anytime this summer and fall. Scouts meet every Tuesday from 6:30 to 7:30 PM here at the church. We start back in the fall beginning August 20th. If you know Anyone interested starting this summer, please contact Chris and Kim Adkins at (219) 763-1301.
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 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.
Connection Center and Greeters Sign-Up...
If you are looking for a way to serve and have some time before services on Sunday, consider serving as a greeter or helping out at the Connection Center. It is a great opportunity to meet new people and see those you already know! Sign up on the schedule at the Connection Center!
Happy July Anniversary to…
04 Aaron & Andrea Massow 17 Dave & Jayne Mantz
08 Ray & Bridget Nadolski 19 Charles & Marvis Schroeder
10 Scott & Denisa Riley 22 Bill & Pat Hodgson
10 Keith & Janet Sharpe 25 Nick & Dee Nickerson
15 Rob & Lisa Hoover 27 Larry & Lerryn Darnell
15 Chris & Kim Adkins 31 Phil & Debbi Russum
Happy July Birthday to…
01 Leslie Marlatt 09 Scott Falk 19 Jordan Bailey
02 Judi Holtzman 11 Glenda Dixon 22 Richard Guth
02 Patti Coates 11 Bryson Welch 23 Debbi Russum
02 Leigh Romanov 12 Charles Blakely 24 Samantha Cooper
03 Bill Hodgson 12 Everett Brown 24 Heather Klaubo
03 Eleanor Tipton 15 Patti Coppess 24 Tyler Monahan
03 Joe Wray 15 Annaliese Medina 25 Philip Russum
04 Jef Halberstadt 15 Isabella Medina 26 Karen Mauer
04 Maverick Miller 16 Dean Cunningham 28 Max Keehn
05 Jonathan Bush 16 Kathleen Tatlock 28 Keven Kramer
05 Karen Syren 16 Scarlette McKiddy 28 Jacob Lenburg
06 Freda Black 17 Joe Reynolds 28 Robert Shone
06 Mike Matthew 17 Heather Buda 28 Deloris Yavor
06 Jackson Syren 19 Lina Graff 29 Ronald Cutler
09 Nick Andryuk 19 Cara Reeder 31 Helen Hameetman
09 Sylvia Moore 19 Heather Schulz