Fall at First UMC!

Dear Friends,
The Great Minnesota Get-Together begins this Thursday.
For me, the reality of this is always bittersweet. My family and I always attend the State Fair at least once and sometimes twice during it’s eleven day stretch. We look forward to the food, the entertainment, and yes, even the crowds. There’s just something I love about people-watching. There is such incredible diversity among God’s people that is something to celebrate and never more evident than at the State Fair.
I say it’s bittersweet for me because the beginning of the State Fair also means the end of Summer. It points out the reality that these three beautiful months of rest and relaxation in MN are abruptly coming to an end, school is beginning very soon, and shorter days and cooler temps are just around the corner.
Now as a lifelong Minnesotan I do enjoy, appreciate, and embrace all of our changing seasons, but there’s just something about the end of Summer that saddens me. However, in the midst of this harsh reality for me, every year as I lament the change of season I also look forward to a new program year in the church. Especially this year! Here are some of the reasons why I am especially excited about the new and upcoming program year at First UMC.
  • Rally Sunday, September 9, will include a hot breakfast (french toast, bacon, fruit, juice, coffee) prepared and served by Scott and Wendy Braski from 8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m., an outdoor worship service in the pavilion beginning at 10:00 a.m. with games and activities for the kids to follow. Note the time change for worship! We will also kick-off our Fall theme, Together: Created for Community this day!
  • Sunday School for grades Pre-K – 5 will begin on September 16. Speak with Sarah Clark or me if you would like to teach or help out in any way.
  • Confirmation for grades 6-8! I will lead confirmation classes for 6-8 graders on Wednesday evenings from 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. beginning on September 12. Friends are invited and encouraged to attend. There will be a confirmation orientation and registration meeting on Wednesday, September 5 at 7:00 p.m. All parents and youth interested in the program should plan to attend.
  • Wednesday Night Meals will continue again this year, served from 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. This is a great opportunity for families who can make it, to eat together. Activities will be provided for children, youth, and parents following the meal. Mark and Wendy Vanderwerf will coordinate the meal again this year. They are looking for volunteers to sign up to prepare and serve the meal. Contact them if you are interested.
  • New Member Orientation and Reception! I am excited that three families have already expressed their desire to formally join our community of faith at First UMC. If you or someone you know might be interested in joining or finding out more about our church, there will be a new member orientation on Wednesday, September 5 from 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. A new member reception will be during worship on Sunday, September 16. Spread the word! Contact the church office or Pr. Dale for more info.
  • Adult Education! Wednesday evening adult education will begin again at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 12. I will be leading a three-week book study on “Living Your Strengths”. It will explore how to discover your God-given strengths and ways you might use them or continue to use them, to inspire your community of faith. This study will also be offered on Sunday mornings beginning September 16 at 10:30 a.m. Find out more and order your copy of the book here.
  • Hootenanny! The HOOT is on! This will be the thirteenth hootenanny, this year on Saturday, September 15 at 6:00 p.m. This year the event will be scaled back, more in line with a true hootenanny. The meal will be just as good or better. There will be NO TICKETS and NO RESERVED SEATS. The cost to get in will be a free will offering at the door. You will notice a smaller stage set up which will allow for more dinner tables. The program this year allows for greater variety of talent. ANYONE can perform any way they want. Just limit it to 5 minutes and tell Terry Kopp your plan at least 2 weeks ahead of time. You will have a small stage, microphones and piano provided, the rest is up to you. I’m excited to see this! What a great opportunity for you to invite a friend to our church!
  • Club ROCK Kick-Off! On Friday, September 21 all 6-8 graders are invited to a meal and bonfire at the RempleEwert home as we kick off another year of Club ROCK. Talk to Cheryl Lecy or me for more information. As always, invite a friend to this fun event!
  • Choir Begins! This is the time of year to invite someone new to join the choir. They already sound terrific but it is always good for others to join and be a part of serving in this way. Rehearsals begin again on Wednesday, September 5 at 7:00 p.m. There will be a dinner before rehearsal that evening, beginning at 6:00 p.m., with a baked potato bar. Contact Kay Oien for more information. All are welcome!
This list is certainly not exhaustive as other groups will begin to meet again in September and following. Pay attention to the Sunday bulletin announcements, our newsletter, our website, and facebook page for updates. However, can you see why the changing of the seasons is bittersweet for me? Yes, I love Summer, and I love the State Fair. Yes, I’m sad to that Summer is coming to end, but I can’t wait for what is right around the corner – Fall worship, service, learning, and fellowship opportunities at First UMC. I already sense some great energy and excitement. This is a great time of year for you to invite – Friends, neighbors, co-workers, and sometimes even family members are looking for a community of faith like ours this time of year. Maybe our church is just the one they’re looking for? Invite them to come and see, and let the Spirit do the rest.
This Sunday we complete our exploration of John 6 (Bread of Life) as Jesus places before the disciples a choice – to follow or not. Peter, in all of his wisdom and impulsiveness, blurts out, “But Lord, to whom shall we go? You alone have the words of eternal life!”. Peter was right. When others abandoned Jesus because his teachings were too hard to understand and/or practice, Peter remained faithful and followed. Peter remained focused and trusted. Although we too, have a choice to follow Jesus, I continually pray that we all might realize that there is only one option for true life and freedom – found only in Jesus. We, like Peter, can acknowledge that there is no where else to turn for life and salvation. It is Jesus who provides the words of eternal life. It is Jesus who is the Bread of Life which comes from Heaven. To whom else can we go? Join us on Sunday in worship to explore further what it means for us to every day, choose discipleship.
See you in Church!
Pr. Dale