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Growing an Engaged Church
I celebrated six months of ministry with you earlier this month. I praise God for the opportunity to worship and serve alongside of you in this servant leader position. Thank you for your prayers. Part of the pastoral transition process for the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church includes “checking-in” conversations with the pastor and SPRC. There are more than a dozen evaluative areas on the report we send back to the conference once a quarter for the next 18 months. I want to share a copy of the report with you (click here). I would love your feedback on any of the evaluative areas. I haven’t mentioned it in a while, but you’re always invited to schedule a meeting with me. Just e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, a link to my calendar will be sent to you via automatic reply. You’re also invited to share conversation with the 2019 SPRC team: Traci Basaman, Peter Pantalena, Randy Greasham, Joann Couture, Cheryl Klimek, Mark Froehlich, Ben Lohmann, Joann Huber, Joy Kalata, and Ray Barber. As we grow an engaged church, my greater expectations for our ministry together is to have consistent communication.
Praise God! Average worship attendance is up year over year. If you aren’t a regular attendee to weekly worship, I ask that you reconsider. The vitality of our church depends on all of us.
The season of Advent serves as the beginning of the Christian calendar, remembers the actions leading up to the birth of Jesus, and reminds us to live as those who are prepared for the second coming of Jesus. It’s through these meanings of the season that we find relevance for us today, and if we allow it, greater expectations for our lives.
During the month of December, we are often lured into higher acts of consumerism, to believe that our relationships are validated through indulgence, and onto faux pathways that promise a better you. We don’t always realize the greater expectations until we’ve already given into the lure of society’s great expectations.Greater Expectations is about realizing God’s plan for living your life. As we enter a new Christian year and end a calendar year, I invite you to reflect on these questions that will shed light on God’s plan for living your life:
- Sunday, December 16th: Can you take small steps in the midst of life changing decisions? Why or why not? Click here to view the video for this Sunday’s worship theme.
- Sunday, December 23rd: How can you give gifts that keep on giving?
- Monday, December 24th: Where is your treasurer?
- Sunday, December 30th: What really matters the most?
As always, the house of the Lord is open daily if you need inspiration and rejuvenation in the journey. See you soon.
~ Rev. Williams
Current Sermon Series
Advent: Greater Expectations – God’s Plan For Your Living
- Step 1 – Get Motivated for Change (Dec. 2nd)
- Step 2 – Get Outside Your Comfort Zone (Dec. 9th)
- Step 3 – Always Be In Awe (Dec. 16th) In preparation, listen to the lyrics of this video.
- Step 4 – Impact Others (Dec 23rd)
- Step 5 – Enjoy The Moment (Dec. 24th)
- Step 6 – Remember What Really Matters (Dec. 30th)
Holy Communion each Sunday
Upcoming Worship Series
January: From Expectations to Reality.
Christmas in Westfield
The website www.ChristmasInWestield.com is live. Visit and share.
Christmas Season Experiences
- Christmas Carols each Sunday beginning 10 minutes before worship.
- December 16th – Christmas Pageant (in worship) along with creation of luminaries for Blue Christmas
- December 16th – Rev. Williams will preach at the UECF Worship Service at 6:30 pm
- December 21st – Blue Christmas Worship Service (candle lighting available at 4:00 pm, service 6:30-7:00)
- December 22nd – Brass & Carols Outside Worship Service at PNC Plaza (across from the church) 11:00 am
- Christmas Eve Services (free advance tickets suggested, more information to come***):
- *New* 10:00 am – Contemporary with Holy Communion *New*
- 5:00 pm – Family services with Birthday Cake for Jesus
- 7:00 pm – Traditional with Holy Communion & Candlelight Service
- 11:00 pm – Traditional with Candle Light Service
- ***Even though it’s free, why do I need advanced tickets? True. We are trying something new. We want to ensure there is enough seats for everyone to enjoy Christmas Eve worship as a family. We would appreciate you taking advantage of the Eventbrite option, which is available through our specialized Community Christmas websiteChristmasInWestfield. However, tickets will also be available at the door, after worship on Sundays in December, and in the office for pickup.
- December 30th – Blessing of the Gifts. Adult and children alike, bring a gift you received from Christmas into worship as a sign of God’s blessings upon all of God’s gifts. Our 5th Sunday children’s worship team will lead worship on this day
- Advent Chain. For the past two Sundays members and visitors have participated in a devotional activity for Advent by completing sentences on paper strips that have been connected together in a prayer chain expressing hopes for our families, neighbors, church and the world and lifting up our gratitude for the acts of love we show and see in our daily walk of life. The devotional activity is open to all each week and will be in place through Christmas Eve. The prayer chain is growing and will be on display in the sanctuary through Epiphany Sunday on January 6th.
This week, the prayer chain sentence to complete focuses upon JOY – “I find joy in …”
- Your Hands Are Needed. Last Sunday, we blessed the prayer shawl hats that were knitted by the prayer shawl team. FUMC will give these hats to Blue Christmas worshippers on Friday, December 21, 2018 at the 6:30 pm service. Thank you for participating in the blessing of the hats via liturgy and personal prayers. Now, we ask that you touch the hats with an added blessing. Healing touches are a critical act of our faith. These hats will be stationed in the lobby and fellowship room on this upcoming Sunday. Please touch the hats. No large grandiose act is needed, just a small simple touch and a desire in your heart that this small act of faith will heal someone else. Praise God & thank you!
- Blue Christmas Service. The Blue Christmas – A Service of Remembrance and Hope (December 21) is a recognition that the holiday season is not always bright and merry for all. Memories of grief, loss, and separation can overwhelm us. As such, we invite all who are able to join us for worship – those who are in need of support and those who are able to give support – to come and remember what we have lost in the context of hope for renewal and faith in Jesus Christ.
This is a ministry for our whole community. In worship on the 9th, we blessed hats made by the prayer shawl group to give to those who attend Blue Christmas service and in worship on the 16th we will make and bless luminary for use at the service and on Christmas Eve. A call has been issued for drivers to assist fellow congregants in need of transportation to attend the service; contact Margo Bradley to help.
There are a few additional helping hands needed the day of the service as prayer partners during the open prayer time (4-6pm), as ushers before, during and after the service (6-8pm). Opportunities to help range from 30 minute to 60 minute time commitments. If you are able to support the Blue Christmas worship ministry on December 21, please sign up at this link: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/9040C4AA5AC2CA75-blue
- Blue Christmas Service – Do you need a ride? – Can you give a ride? There will be a Blue Christmas worship service – a service of Remembrance and Hope, on Friday, December 21 at 6:30 PM. We want everyone who is interested to be able to attend. Do you need a ride? or Can you drive a fellow parishioner to the service? Please contact Margo Bradley at 706-587-2194 (I also have text) or at email@example.com. Thank You!
- Our Journey to the Strategic Plan Continues – Commitment Sunday is January 6, 2019
On Sunday, January 6, 2019, I invite you to make a commitment to joining one or two of the new strategic teams:
- Fun Team
- Kitchen/Hospitality Team
- Outreach Team
- Nurturing Team
- Social Justice Team
- Welcome Team
- Worship, Music, and Arts Team
By itself, these teams only provide a little towards the church’s overall growth. But we believe, when these teams are linked, build on each other, and create entry and exit pathways for church and community members to get involved, then a beautiful mosaic of church life is developed, and FUMC is a place where people want to be.
These teams are just words in an e-mail without you bringing life, creativity, and faithfulness to them; growing them into vital and productive teams. Beginning 2019, please consider committing to a team.
whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. ~ 2 Corinthians 9:6 (NIV)
We will be blessed by your thoughtfulness. Consider the next verse of the aforementioned 2 Corinthians chapter 9 bible passage. Read The Message version of verse 7,
I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give. That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting. God loves it when the giver delights in the giving.
During this season, please discern your role in implementing our Strategic Plan (3 options):
- Lead a team
- Serve on a team
- Make yourself available to help with a project when called upon by a team, but not be an official member of the team?
We don’t want to “sell” you on this plan but want you to earnestly believe in your heart that your gifts and talents are a necessary piece to our puzzle.
It will take all of us to sow generously seeds of prayers, time, witness, and finances for FUMC to reach these ambitious but achievable goals in our strategic plan.
We invite you to prayerfully consider joining one of our teams at FUMC Westfield. Click here to view the team descriptions, and click here fill out your commitment card electronically. Or pick up a green commitment card in church – placed in various locations around the church.
We appreciate your dedication to our church!
~ Strategic Planning Team: Dean, Elaine, Joann, Kirk, Kylie, Marcee, Rodney, and William
- FUMC’s newest Lay Servant
Elaine Pratt recently completed her Lay Servant courses. With my blessing, she is now FUMC’s newest Lay Servant. She has written our Advent devotionals on the back of each Sunday’s bulletin.
- Adult Faith Development
Are you ready for Advent? Are you in anticipation of the birth and rebirth of Jesus Christ in our lives? Let’s gather Sunday morning at 9 am to discuss the following Advent themes:
- Sunday December 16 (Advent Week 3) – Always Be in Awe
- Sunday December 23 (Advent Week 4) – Impact Others
Sponsored by the Adult Faith Development Team – Traci Basaman, Lynn Petrino, Bob Anderson, and Dean Pratt
- Youth News. This Sunday is our last Youth Group of 2018! Join us in the Loft from 5:30-7:30 PM for our Christmas Party! Christmas attire is greatly encouraged, please bring $3 for dinner.
For our summer mission trip, we will be serving with The Philadelphia Project June 23rd-29th! Click here to view the notes from our meeting on Sunday, and please contact Kylie Haskins at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about the trip or are interested in signing up!
- Rahway Prison Donation Needs. We will be collecting paperback religious/spirituality books (paperback only!!), Christmas cards for the men to send and any blank cards or birthday cards with envelopes. They do NOT need any calendars this year.
There will be a bin next to the elevator. No Christmas cards past 12/16 please. Contact Connie Palmer with questions.
- Just For Your Information: Rev. Williams is a Neighborhood Co-Captain in region 4 of Ward 1.
- UMCOR Flood Buckets.New Dover UMC in Edison is now the approved UMCOR Central New Jersey Hub for Hurricane Flood Bucket collection. Completed buckets or supplies can be dropped off at the church mornings, Monday through Friday. Please call the church office at 732-381-9478, or Rev. Chuck Coblentz at 609-937-4565, to ensure someone is available to receive the buckets/supplies, or to schedule a drop-off during off-hours. Click here
- Christmas Caroling to FUMC Homebound. Come join in spreading the Christmas Spirit by caroling to our FUMC Homebound on Saturday, December 15. We will leave the Church at 12:30PM and return in plenty of time for the 3:00PM rehearsal for those participating in the Christmas Show to be held at 4PM. All are welcome…adults, children, singers and non-singers. Please let Gloria Brodersen (908-322-2038)know if you are planning to participate so we can make transportation arrangements. Don’t miss out on the fun!
- Community Christmas Show at FUMC. Renew YOUR Holiday Spirit at the FUMC Community Christmas Show on Saturday, December 15th at 4 PM in the Sanctuary. Free Admission.
- Heifer Project International Market – December 15, 16 & 23.Can’t think of ideas for Christmas presents? Everybody have everything they need? If that’s the case, think about buying an animal from Heifer Project International. Share the gift of hope for hungry families across the globe. Perfect gifts for secretaries, bosses, aunts with too much money, for holiday hostesses and even your kids to show them how much you care about families around the world! Bonny Chopey and friends will be there to help you gift animals on Sundays, December 16 and 23 before and after worship, December 15th during the Christmas Concert in the waiting area outside the church office.
- Annual Cookie Walk—December 16. Our Annual Cookie Walk will take place on Sunday, December 16th in the Fellowship Room. Shoppers will purchase a container and have the opportunity to fill it with home-baked goodies. This is a great way to get a variety of cookies for the holiday! For more information or to donate cookies call Sue Gandy at 908-233-2389 or Mary-Lou Jackson at 908-233-4678. Proceeds from this year’s Cookie Walk will benefit Family Promise.
- Sanctuary Holiday Decorations. We look forward to the Holiday Season when we can worship and enjoy the special beauty of our decorated Sanctuary. We especially enjoy the traditional and colorful Poinsettias in the Altar area, which will be distributed to our shut-ins after December 25th. If you would like the opportunity to honor or remember loved ones with the purchase of Altar decorations and Poinsettias, please complete the form below and bring or mail it to our Church office enclosed with your donation by December 16th. (Checks may be made out to “FUMC, Holiday Decorations”). Plans are to list the names of those being honored or remembered in the Christmas Bulletin. Thank you.
Holiday Sanctuary Decorations Form
(For accuracy, please clearly print the following information)
In Honor of(Name):_____________________________________________
In Memory of (Deceased Name):__________________________________
Amount Enclosed $_________
Mark Your Calendar
- FUMC trip to a NJ Devils game! Are you looking for a gift for a hockey fan? Then come join us on February 9th @1PM as the NJ Devils play the Minnesota Wild at the Prudential Center! Tickets are $50 each. Contact Lauren Kolaya after services or via email/phone. email@example.com or 908-962-0186 (feel free to text!). Tickets will be on sale until January 13th.
Members and Friends
- Support the Meixner Family. Jeannie Dillon Meixner passed away on September 28, 2018 after a long, hard fight with cancer. A GoFundMe page has been set up in her honor, so please consider giving in support of the Meixner family. You can click here to go to the page.
Members & Friends is intended to communicate particular requests or needs of FUMC members or FUMC friends (e.g. transportation needs for medical appointments, worship, etc., wheelchair available for donation, need for a live-in caregiver, etc.). These postings should be concise and list a contact person. Please contact the church office 908-233-4211 or email firstname.lastname@example.org about your listing.