March newsletter

Lent 2019 – Pray * Fast * Give

What Is Lent? Lent is the 40 day season preceding Easter, not including Sundays. Lent is a season when we seek to walk with Jesus as he travels the way of the cross. It is a season of repentance (turning back to God), reflection, forgiveness, and penitence (saying “we are sorry” with our actions). Sundays are “in” Lent but not “of” Lent because they are always mini-Easters, days of joy and resurrection even in the midst of the more somber season of Lent.

What are the traditional practices of Lent? Prayer, Fasting, and Giving. In prayer, we seek to grow closer to God, to listen to God’s voice, to give thanks. We pray for direction, for others, for peace, for the world. We pray by making worship a priority, by reading the scriptures, by using a devotional guide like The Upper Room, by journaling, meditating, or spending time in silence talking to God!

In fasting, we seek to remove from our lives that keeps our minds off God. We fast by removing a meal, a particular food, or a type of food or drink from our diets for a period of time, taking a break from unnecessary spending, or turning off the TV, signing off Facebook, closing our browser.

            In giving, we seek to demonstrate love for God with our actions or to love others as God does through serving. We give by giving our time to God and neighbor, giving God and neighbor first place in our             lives, giving financial gifts to God and neighbor and giving our hearts to God and neighbor.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which falls on Wednesday, March 6th, 2019. We’ll meet in Brown Chapel at 7pm for a service that includes holy communion and the giving of ashes. Please join us and begin this holy season of Lent with a prayerful time of worship and reflection.

Each Wednesday following Ash W, we will have a Weekly Soup, Communion, & Study. We’ll focus on this year’s Lenten theme, “At the Table with Jesus.” Join us Wednesdays at 6pm, March 13th, 20th, 27th, April 3rd, and 10th.

Shepherd’s Fund

This month, our monthly offering envelope is to support the Shepherd’s Fund, which is the pastor’s discretionary fund. This fund is our way to respond to folks with emergency needs that stop by the church. We work in conjunction with the Neighborhood Center and other community resources to make sure that people are getting matched with the best help we can provide. This fund is currently nearly depleted. We have had a busy season for requests for help – with the extreme cold, lots of community members are facing challenges keeping up with heating costs. Our discretionary fund is funded by your thoughtful gifts. Thank you for your generosity! 

What Counts?

Did you know that every year, United Methodist Churches submit statistics to the denomination in a variety of different categories? We count people, programs, buildings and assets, giving, and income. Thanks to Tina Kingsley, our secretary, Vicky Reed, our treasurer, Andy Leonard, the Trustees treasure, and Laura Conklin from our UMW for helping compile the needed information. Our statistical figures can help us zoom in on areas of growth and areas where we’re being challenged. Here’s some things to note from our stats for 2018:

  • We said goodbye to eight church members who died during 2018.
  • We received five new members – four of them were our confirmands!
  • The number of youth involved in formation experiences at church grew from 6 in 2017 to 23 in 2018, thanks to the launch of our Youth Group.
  • We had about 25% more adults involved in formation/education groups this year than last year – a sign of spiritual growth.
  • Our worship attendance declined from 76 people a week to 64. Worship is the center point of our ministry!
  • Our giving increased by about $5000 last year – thank you for your generosity!

March Worship Calendar

3/3/19 – Transfiguration Sunday – Paul Sweet, a member at North Gouverneur UMC and a candidate for ministry will join us to lead worship. Sacrament of Holy Communion.

3/6/19 – Ash Wednesday – At the Table with Jesus: Fasting and Feasting, Luke 4:1-13. Sacrament of Holy Communion.

3/10/19 – First Sunday in Lent – At the Table with Jesus: Levi and the Tax Collectors, Luke 5:27-39.

3/17/19 – Second Sunday in Lent – At the Table with Jesus: At Simon’s House, Luke 7:36-50, Sacrament of Holy Communion.

3/24/19 – Third Sunday in Lent – At the Table with Jesus: Table Talk, Luke 14:1, 7-24.

3/31/19 – Fourth Sunday in Lent – We’ll be joined in worship by Woven and Spun, the liturgical dance group. We hope you join us for this special service!

Soup, Communion and Study

Each Wednesday during Lent, we will have a Weekly Soup, Communion, & Study. We’ll focus on this year’s Lenten theme, “At the Table with Jesus.” Join us Wednesdays at 6pm, March 13th, 20th, 27th, April 3rd, and 10th.

Pastor Beth’s Open Hours

Pastor Beth has some “office hours” out in the community each month. Drop by to chat any time, stop in for a word of prayer, or sit and stay for lunch. She’ll be at Oswegatchie Coffee on Wednesday, March 13th from 11am-2pm. Open Hours at Cambray Terrace will be on Wednesday, March 27th from 11am-2pm.Hope to see you there!

New Member Class

Join us after worship on Sunday, March 10th for a new member class. (We’ll meet in classroom 101, after you grab some coffee and snacks from fellowship time.) Come learn about what it means to join a church, and what it means to join First UMC in particular. You’ll hear about our discipleship plan: Meet Jesus, Follow Jesus, Serve Jesus, and learn about where you fit in. If you are interested in membership but can’t stay on 3/10, please speak to Pastor Beth. 

Camping Sunday

We will enjoy celebrating our involvement and support of Christian Summer camps on Sunday March 24th. Plan to join us after worship for a summer picnic potluck fellowship. Please bring your favorite picnic/camp dish to pass. This is a great time to invite a friend to join you.

Woven and Spun

Woven & Spun will join us on March 30 &31 for a weekend of liturgical dance. Special guests Woven & Spun will lead us in a workshop time on Saturday and in worship on Sunday. The workshop takes place on Saturday in the sanctuary from 10:30am-12:00pm all ages and skill-level dancers are welcome to attend the workshop. We have guests from other area churches also.  Join us for worship at 11am on Sunday, where Woven & Spun will lead us in praising God through music and dance. Invite someone new for this special service.

Easter Cantata

This year we will be coming together to present The Song Everlasting … to bring our community together and help prepare our hearts for Easter. The Song Everlasting is a sacred cantata based on early American songs.  We will be joined by a chamber orchestra (6 instruments) and a narrator, and will be accompanied on piano.  The concert will be on Palm Sunday April 14 at 4pm. Mark your calendars now. Please invite folks to come. Your reaching out to someone is what is most likely to encourage them to give it a try.  Spread the word to those in other churches or families or communities. 

Commission on a Way Forward

We do not know what to expect at the 2019 Special Session of General Conference taking place Feb. 23-26 in St. Louis, MO and this uncertainty can be uncomfortable. Whatever the outcome of Special Session is, our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world will continue. There may be a new reality that we will have to acclimate to so that we can continue to fulfill our mission as United Methodists. To that end, Upper New York Area Resident Bishop Mark J. Webb will host six regional gatherings to process the new reality.

Bishop Webb said, “The purpose of these gatherings is for us to gather together after the Special Session of General Conference to worship together, pray together, understand the decisions or actions of the Special Session, and remember our individual and collective call to ministry and mission in the name of Jesus Christ.”

The closest gathering open to both laity and clergy will take place on March 18 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Potsdam UMC. Please plan now to attend this gathering.

World Day of Prayer


This year the World Day of Prayer service will be held at the Oxbow Presbyterian Church on Friday, March 1st at noon with lunch to follow.

Fostering Futures

Fostering Futures will be hosting an informational session about becoming a foster parent on Tuesday, March 12th at 6:00pm. This event will be open to the public. For more information contact Marlene Pickering at (315) 229-3504.

Service Opportunity – Office

The office is open from 9-1 on weekdays. We are looking for volunteers to cover the office on days that Tina, our secretary, is out.  Your responsibilities would be to answer the phone, get the mail and greet any visitors while she is away. If this sounds like a way you would like to serve, please contact the office.

Service Opportunities – General

There are many ways you can volunteer around the church.  Often we think that we don’t have the time for a whole day or long term project. Maybe you think that you need special skills to be of any help.  The truth is some of the items may only take an hour or we have some that will just take a morning. We have opportunities for those who might just want to do some organizing or spring cleaning.  Contact the office to see what opportunities are available.

Thank you to those who have been providing coffee and treats for coffee fellowship. This a wonderful time to reconnect with fellow church members and catch up on all that has happened in the past week. It is also a wonderful way to meet our guests and find out a little bit more about each other.  The sign-up sheet is located on the wall in Fellowship Hall and still has a few opportunities in the month of March. Please consider signing up as a family or group of friends.

A Letter From The District

February 14, 2019

Dear Fellow Servants of the Living Christ,

I write to share three important items for your attention:

The first is a Committee Training Workshop we will be offering On Saturday, March 30th in three locations at the same time.  We will be offering SPPRC, Finance(including Treasurers and Financial Secretaries), and Trustee training.  In addition, we plan to offer a training in Leading Effective Meetings: Transforming Meetings into Ministry, for Chairs and members of Council, Boards, Leadership teams, and other committees and teams.  This workshop will dive deeper into the  L-3 process(Loving, Learning, and Leading) for transforming committees into ministry/disciple making teams. 

The time in each of the 3 host locations  is 9:30a.m. until 12: 15 p.m. on March 30th

The agenda for the training workshops will be:

  1. Opening worship: 9:30 – 9:55.
  2. A general training on the L-3 process for helping transform committees into ministry/disciple making teams: 10:05 to 10:45 am
  3. Breakout groups for training in SPPRC, Trustees, Finance, and Leading Effective Meetings 10:55 – 12:10 p.m.

Hosting Locations will be Centenary UMC in Malone.  Gouverneur First UMC in Gouverneur. And, Asbury United Methodist Church in Watertown.   Attend the one closest to or most convenient for you.  To minimize the travel and maximize the learning we will use technology to offer remote training from the same person for each respective workshop to each location at the same time.  This experiment in reaching across the District will include opportunity for live Q and A.  RSVP for registrations are due by Friday, March 23th.

Please promote this training to the persons involved in these areas in your congregation and congregations ASAP.   Our large group L-3 (Loving, Learning, and Leading) Process general training would be good for many persons.  It is a process we hope churches will implement to help turn meetings to ministry/discipleship gatherings even as they ‘do’ the business of the church. Second, I want you to remind you of both the Clergy Gathering on March 9 in Rochester and the Bishops Regional Gatherings in Potsdam (March 18) and Liverpool(March 20) .  I hope you are making plans to attend the Clergy Gathering.  I know it will make a long day for us.  We believe it is important for all the clergy of the Annual Conference to gather for worship, prayer, and together hear Bishop Webb’s explanation of decisions and actions that took place

at Special Session.  Also, please invite your lay persons and leaders to join you in attending the Regional Gathering closest to you.  Check out the No Flo District’s newsletter, The Current, for more information.   The Annual Conference Website has excellent resources for you and your congregation to help prepare.  (Under the Events link)

Third, you will be soon be hearing from Cadie about being a part of a breakfast or lunch group that will meet with me.  I am striving this year to meet over breakfast or Lunch with the Clergy, CLM’s, and Lay Servants leading worship on the District – hopefully 3 or 4 times a year.  This gathering will give us a chance to break bread together, discuss ministry in your settings, share District concerns, hear more from you on congregational responses to the Special Session of General Conference, and make some plans for future gatherings.  Where at all possible we will strive to hold these gathering with existing breakfast, lunch, lectionary, or supervisory groups while adding in 2 or 3 extra guests for the meeting with myself.   We anticipate 5 different groups.  Cadie will be contacting you with a set of dates for your area.   I would appreciate your cooperation in attending these gatherings.   We are looking at Aprilas a starting month for beginning these gatherings.

Please continue to join me in prayer for the Special Session of General Conference. 

This is both a challenging time and time of opportunity for ministry.  In this time of challenge and change the words of the 121st Psalm, vs 5 – 8 , comfort me:

The Lord is your protector; the Lord is your shade right beside you.
The sun won’t strike you during the day; neither will the moon at night.
The Lord will protect you from all evil; God will protect your very life.[

The Lord will protect you on your journeys—whether going or coming—
    from now until forever from now.

Through the challenges and opportunities before us, let us never lose sight of our highest calling: to help men and women, and boys and girls experience the transformational love of Jesus Christ!

I am deeply grateful for all you are and do as you provide leadership in your congregations and ministries.  I pray for you as I do our greater church.

Rev. Mike Weeden

Northern Flow District Superintendent

Northern Flow District

Upper New  York Annual Conference

PO Box 2018, 95 East Main Street

Gouverneur NY 13642


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