We’ve moved our clocks ahead to Daylight Savings Time. The Spring Equinox has come and gone. Even spring break for students, teachers and their families is over. Now we turn the calendar page to a new month – the holiest month in the Christian year.
Our children and the temples of retail often appear to believe that December is the most important month, but they’re wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Advent and Christmas season a lot, but interestingly the Scriptures never report Jesus exhorting us to remember and celebrate his birthday.
The Scriptures are full of Jesus’ and Paul’s teachings and encouragements to remember and celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection.
So, I hope you will join us for worship every Sunday this month, especially for Holy Week and Easter services.
April 9 is Palm Sunday. In addition to the traditional waving and processing of palm branches during our worship services, we encourage you to check your closets for gently used coats that you may no longer need or your children have outgrown. Remembering how the crowds placed their cloaks on the path as Jesus rode down the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem, we’ll place them before the altar table and then deliver them to a local clothes closet. Last year we delivered over 70 coats to help keep people who need them warm. I barely was able to fit them all in my Jeep. Maybe this year I’ll have to hitch up the church trailer to make the delivery.
Thursday, April 13 at 7:00 PM we will have a Maundy Thursday Communion Service remembering Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples.
Friday, April 14 at 7:00 PM we will have a Good Friday Service as we recall the Lord’s crucifixion.
Our services on Easter, April 16 will be a joyous celebration of the holiest day of the year for Christians, the Resurrection of Jesus and the resurrection of hope and eternal salvation for all Christ-followers. Easter has historically been a day when the Church celebrated baptisms and received new members. If you have not been baptized and wish to make a profession of faith and join the church or if you wish to have your child baptized, please let me know as soon as possible. You can reach me at the church office or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Sunday, April 23 we will continue to observe the Easter Season in the church year, start a new sermon series and we will announce the changes we will be making in what we do, how and when we do it on Sunday mornings in our Summer Experiment beginning after Memorial Day through Labor Day.
See you in church!
In Christ and in hope,
Happy April Birthday to…
01 Lisa Hoover 11 Alice Kurth 18 Stephen Miller
01 Sophia Dearing 11 Jeff Kaiser 18 Kim Coates
02 Melissa Medina 11 Vicki Mason 21 Sydney Wasz
03 Jill Ryan 12 Mike Liesch 24 Hannah Medina
03 Kyle Adkins 12 Laura Piontek 26 Joy Azad
07 Carlella Rogers 13 Sherry Pinarski 27 Kris Bailey
07 Mark Long 14 Bob Kellams 28 Amber Welch
07 Ann Packard 15 Melvin Owens 30 Chuck Mason
08 Ron Hall 15 Kathy Manteuffel 30 Wendy Smith
09 Virginia Lockenvitz 15 Pauline Brown 30 Gabrielle Sullivan
10 Erica Bush 16 Danah Peterson
10 Lily Hamilton 16 Lorri Davenport
Happy April Anniversary to…
26 James & Karen Helmecy
26 Art & Alice Kurth
Sundays @ 10:00am Sunday School
Wednesdays @ 11:30am Brown Bag Bible Study
Thursdays @ 6:00am Breakfast at Schoops
Time to Order Easter Flowers
Easter is coming and it’s time to order Spring Flowers to brighten our sanctuary as we prepare for the resurrection of our Lord! This year you will be able to order one or more of the following: Lilies, Mums, Tulips or Hyacinths for $10 each. Your flowers will be available to pick-up after the 11:30am service. Please watch your bulletins for order forms. Payment is due with order.
First Friday Fellowship will meet Friday, April 7, at 5pm at:
Santiago’s Mexican Restaurant
127 Lincoln St.
R.S.V.P to Sandra Robinson at 764-8433.
Calling all MEN!
The “UMM” United Methodist Men of Portage UMC meet the 1st Saturday morning of each month for breakfast and fellowship. Our meetings are from 8 – 10 AM. The next meetings are scheduled for April 1st and May 6th. With our breakfast and fellowship we discuss several of our on-going ministries that our Men’s group support and we always close our fellowship with a time of Bible Study sharing. We are currently studying the “Fruit of the Spirit”. Ed Piontek our Bible Study leader does a great job in sharing and leading these lessons. Please don’t feel you need to be a bible scholar to participate, but you will come away greatly enriched by your participation.
We have (2) big projects coming up that we could certainly use your help in doing.
UMW Rummage Sale – Week: Sun-04/23 through Fri-04/28. The UMM help in many ways before the (2) sale days Thur-04/27 and Fri-04/28, and especially on these days. It is great fellowship with one-another and especially with our community that comes in to support us.
Mother’s Day Breakfast – Sun-05/14. We will be looking for food donations, but more specifically we will be looking for men to help 1) set-up, 2) cook, 3) serve/waiter, and 4) clean-up on this day - as we honor and treat our church moms, family and friends to a wonderful breakfast. Your help will be greatly appreciated.
I want to challenge the men of our church to come and be a part of this ministry. I also encourage you to think about bringing another man friend (son, father, neighbor, or friend). We need your input and I feel you will be glad for your commitment and investment of your time.
Because of Him – Mike Matthew
UNITED METHODIST WOMEN
Friday, April 7th @ 9:30 am
ALL women of ALL ages are invited to join us
for fellowship, breakfast snacks and our speaker!
Our speaker for April will be Detective Brian Dziedzinski
from Project Lifesaver International, a public safety program
designed to protect and locate missing persons due to wandering.
Alzheimer's, Down Syndrome, Autism, Developmental Disorders, etc.
Child Care will be provided, if needed. Please call the church office
(762-3846) by Wednesday, April 5.
2017 Red Bird Mission Trip Meeting
Monday, April 10th at 7pm
Church Education Room #1
Anyone interested in going this year or would like to know more about Red Bird Mission Trip is asked to attend this planning meeting. This year we will be leaving on Sunday, September 10th and returning on Saturday, September 16th. I have reserved room for 12 people. A $150 deposit is due a.s.a.p. We will be discussing trip details, fund raising plans and answering any questions.
Please contact Chris Adkins if interested but unable to attend.
WHAT IS FCJ AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Since September 2016 our church has been involved in a program called the “Fruitful Congregation Journey” or “FCJ” for short. “FCJ” is a church renewal program and has been around for a number of years within our United Methodist Church. Early in 2016 Pastor Mark and Pastor Deb were reviewing this program through our district and conference. Portage 1st UMC was asked to participate in this church renewal process.
So earlier in 2016 Pastor Mark was soliciting members of our church to consider being a part of the program. This church renewal program has been very initially informative and extremely enlightening in making us realize what we as a church body have at stake. Besides Pastor Mark and Pastor Tara there are (7) other members of our church family who are currently participating. They are Nick Andryuk, Vicki Evanatz, myself Mike Matthew, Dan McCoy, Cara Reeder, Todd Warne, and Robin Wilkening. Portage 1st UMC and (2) other churches – Hammond 1st UMC and Knox 1st UMC are all going through this program together.
All (3) churches have been meeting every month since September 2016 here at Portage 1st where we are led by our “FCJ” facilitator Sheila who has been guiding and encouraging us to delve deeper into our church’s health and to determine if we want to continue this process to help turn our churches around and make them more vibrant and healthy in our daily operations and for the well-being of our churches and our communities. Pastor Mark and Pastor Tara also have been going to monthly “FCJ” pastor meetings where they discuss and review similarly the same material and topics that we other (7) do in our meeting. We have been assigned books to read in between just about every monthly meeting. Some of these books have been: Renovate or Die, Bearing Fruit, Direct Hit, Simple Church, and The Externally Focused Church. Copies of these books are available on our church library bookshelves.
In between our monthly meetings we and the pastors get together to review what we have each experienced in each of our meetings and to hi-lite topics of importance to us both. We were informed that the “FCJ” is a 3-year process and requires our whole church to buy into and accept the necessary challenges that are ahead of us to make this transformation a reality.
The Pastors and leadership of this church cannot make this happen by themselves. It requires everyone within our church to make this happen. We as the “FCJ” team will endeavor to communicate and convince the rest of our congregation of the necessity and urgency of this process. Portage 1st UMC and who we are is not just about this building, or its pastors, nor even its people. Portage 1st UMC is about who God called us (collectively) to be. Why are we here? What has God called us to be about? What does He want you and me to be doing? The focus cannot always be inward or we as the church will die. God wants us to reach out and be at work in our community and in our world – that we might transform others (and ourselves) to the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
The programs and things we do here at Portage 1st UMC are almost always wonderful. But they must be about more than just for ourselves, others, and our church. God’s church extends beyond these 4-walls and this little piece of property here at 2637 McCool Road. God’s plan is for “all” peoples to come to the understanding of His saving grace in Jesus Christ our Lord. We can do this by agreeing to take a chance and to take a stand in our daily lives to commit and give of ourselves for His kingdom here on earth.
The “FCJ” process is a lengthy process because it requires of us a lot of prayer, discernment, and visionary planning – not by just a few within our church, but by our whole church. We must discern the direction that God is leading us in – in this renewal process. Then as a church we must together agree on this process and all accept in the required steps necessary to bring God’s renewal for our church to fruition. I like Joshua and Caleb who spied out the promised land for the Israelite community – believe that it is possible to conquer this new territory for our church and for God’s kingdom (Deuteronomy 1: vs. 19 – 40). We need to all be on board and in agreement of God’s plan before us – so that we as His church can fully support His plan. I am excited for what lays before us!
CHURCH COUNCIL ADOPTS CONFLICT RESOLUTION POLICY
It probably does not come as a surprise that church folks do not always agree and sometimes actually have conflict with other members of the church. The key is how we deal with it. At the encouragement of District Superintendent, Rev. Larry Whitehead our Church Council has adopted the following policy to encourage us to resolve our conflicts in a Christian manner with the ultimate goal of reconciliation.
This policy was adopted by the Church Council on March 20, 2017, demonstrating our commitment to resolving differences in a Christ-like manner.
Portage First UM Church Conflict Resolution Policy
It is our prayer that all members and attenders of Portage First United Methodist Church will follow the example of our head, Jesus Christ, in treating each other with love and respect. Recognizing that differences of opinion and conflicts are inevitable in any human endeavor, however, our church desires to establish a conflict resolution policy that we call on members and attenders to follow, so that when conflict does occur, Jesus will be honored by our efforts to resolve our differences in love and maintain the unity of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:2-3).
Our goal is that the people of Portage First United Methodist Church will not walk away from the church because of conflict but will work together to overcome differences and find the common ground we share in Christ. Such an approach is biblically mandated and serves as an example to the non-Christian world that we are indeed disciples of Christ (John 13:34-35).
Conflict may be as simple as a difference of opinion, or it may involve a disagreement over church doctrine, or dissatisfaction with one or more of the church’s leadership, or an argument involving two or more parties concerning the policies and direction of the church.
Therefore, we expect that:
In all interactions with each other, the people of Portage First United Methodist Church will respect different ideas and views and will express disagreement with civility and Christian love, which means acting in the best interest of those we disagree with (1 Peter 4:8, 1 John 3:18).
1. Gossip is strongly discouraged as dishonoring to our Lord Jesus Christ (James 4:11-12).
2. Disagreements and conflicts should be addressed as soon as possible; the longer conflict is unresolved, the harder it is to bridge the differences (Matthew 5:23-24).
3. If two parties have a disagreement, the ideal response is for them to meet together, face to face, to discuss the matter and seek common ground (Matthew 18:15).
4. If any person in the church has a concern or a complaint about a leader of the church, whether the pastor or lay official, the concerned person is strongly encouraged to discuss the matter directly with the leader involved (Matthew 18:15).
5. If for any reason it is not possible to meet one-on-one, parties with a conflict or disagreement should seek the mediation of a church leader. Preferred mediators are the lay leader or assistant lay leader, chairperson of the Staff-Parish Relations Committee, Church Council chairperson, the pastor or associate pastor. Church leaders may recommend another party as mediator, possibly someone from outside the congregation or conference-related mediation resources (Matthew 18:16).
6. Depending on the situation, a team of mediators may be required to intervene in a conflict (Matthew 18:16).
7. If mediation is unsuccessful in resolving a conflict, one or both of the parties may bring the matter to the Church Council. Conflicts involving the pastor or staff members should be addressed first to the Staff-Parish Relations Committee. Other conflicts should be addressed to the Church Council. The Church Council shall be the final arbiter of conflicts unresolved through SPRC (Matthew 18:17).
8. Only after all these avenues have been exhausted should parties contact the North District Superintendent or Bishop of the Indiana Conference.
9. Concerns involving sexual misconduct of church leadership should be directed first to a member of the Staff Parish Relations Committee, which is tasked with handling such matters.
10. All allegations involving child abuse must be handled as directed in the church’s Safe Sanctuaries policy.
11. Mediators and committees asked to intervene in conflict shall strive to propose resolutions to conflict.
12. Resolution shall be defined as mutual agreement or understanding among all the parties in a conflict.
13. In all circumstances, confidentiality shall be respected.
14. If all efforts at resolution fail, and parties believe they are not able to stay in community in peace, any party wishing to leave Portage First UMC’s fellowship is asked to do so lovingly, without rancor or bitterness on the part of the one leaving or on the parts of those staying at this church, so that we may not bring disgrace on the name of Jesus (1 John 2:10).
15. Anyone who believes they are in a conflict situation and is unsure of how to proceed should first contact the pastor for counsel or, if the conflict involves the pastor, either the lay leader or the Church Council chairperson.
Matthew 18:15-20-New International Version (NIV)
Dealing With Sin in the Church
15 “If your brother or sister[a] sins, [b] go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[c] 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be[d] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[e] loosed in heaven.
19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
Youth Mission Trip
June 29-July 2
Summer of Service is a collaborative effort between area churches and community partnerships to impact Michiana with the love of Jesus through various kindness activities. PFUMC Missions team has pledged money to offset the costs for students; the total cost will be $25. Registration & payment due to the office by May 5. See Kate for more information or to get a packet.
Camp Dates this year are June 11-16. There are other dates available but this is the week the majority of Portage First kids are going. Early Bird registration ends April 17, sign up by then or the prices go up! Scholarships are available from both the INUMC and PFUMC.
*Please note that starting this year INUMC is only able to offer a standard 33% Scholarship, and all scholarships are still need based.
For more information please see Kate Blakely
Summer Sunday School Teachers Needed!
During the summer we usually like to give our regular Sunday School teachers a break after all their hard work during the school year. This summer we’ll be trying a new format for Children’s Sunday School with grades K-5 combined into one room and we need some volunteers willing to help. We’ll do all the preparation for you, you just need to show up be willing to discuss with the kids. Even if you’re only able to come once a month, you don’t have to be available every single week just let us know what weeks you’re available and we’ll put you on the schedule. Please see Kate Blakely with any questions or to volunteer.
Youth & Children dates to know
April 2 - Trip to St. John Indiana to go through the Stations of the Cross, meet at the church at 2 pm
April 7 - Movie Day - we’ll be going to see The Case for Christ, we’ll meet at the church at 3:45
April 9 - Pancake & Sausage breakfast fundraiser. Free will offering, all proceeds go towards camp scholarships
April 23, Help with Rummage Sale setup
April 29 - Nerf Wars 1-4pm
Pancake & sausage fundraiser April 9
April 23 - Sign in at MPK Headquarters, and then we’ll walk over to Crossroads to enjoy a picnic and make a birdfeeder
Thanks to all who enjoyed our Corned Beef & Cabbage Luncheon. Special thanks to Kris Bailey who donated the cost of the food in memory of her late husband Jim Bailey, who loved corned beef & cabbage
WORSHIP THEMES FOR APRIL
April 2 Fifth Sunday of Lent
Celebration of the Lord’s Supper
HOW BIG IS YOUR GOD?
April 9 Palm Sunday
Procession of Palms and Coats
In addition to the traditional waving of palm branches, remembering that the people in
Jerusalem lined the way for Jesus with their cloaks; we encourage you to bring any coats you
no longer need to be given to those in need in our community.
WHICH PARADE FOR YOU?
April 13 Maundy Thursday
Celebration of the Lord’s Supper
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
REMEMBER THIS & NEVER FORGET
April 14 Good Friday Tenebrae Service
THERE WAS NO OTHER WAY
April 16 Easter
GOD’S TA-DAH! & OUR AH-HAH!
April 23 WHY WOULD YOU EVEN ASK THE QUESTION?
John 21:15-19 & John 5:1-10
April 30 We begin a new sermon series exploring the questions
skeptics, doubters, the burned-out and turned-off are asking. Invite your friends
and family members who may be among them to join you.
Ask: Faith Questions for Skeptics Pastor Mark
HOW CAN CHRISTIANITY BE THE ONLY TRUE FAITH?