From Our Pastor

A Visit to Bethany

Posted 31 March, 2017 by Pastor Keith Ritchie

Worship this Sunday will take to a place called Bethany, where Jesus raises his friend, Lazarus, from the dead, and to the table, where we meet the living Christ in the bread and the cup. As we share the gospel from John 11:17-44, I hope you give attention to the artwork produced by Maegan Mitchell as found in our Lenten Devotional. In this artwork, I believe Maegan captures very well the many emotions gathered within this story.

April 9th is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. At 4pm that afternoon, I hope you will attend the Chancel Choir's presentation of John Rutter's Requiem. The choir will be accompanied by a chamber ensemble from the Roanoke Orchestra. As we move deeper into Holy Week, we will remember Jesus' Last Supper at 7pm Maundy Thursday; we will share in a Good Friday Crosswalk at noon on April 14; we will have a 7pm Good Friday Service that evening. On Easter morning at 7am, we will host an Easter Sunrise service, followed by a light breakfast. I feel blessed to have these services before me, and look forward to sharing in such blessing with you.

On Tuesday, a steering committee of leaders from the Finance and Stewardship Committees will meet to follow up on and move forward with recent conversations regarding church finances and a plan to move from a $100,000 deficit budget to a balanced budget. As part of this conversation, we will further put into place committees to work on Communication, Cost Containment, and Increasing Revenue.

You may have heard by now the news that our Director of Music Ministries, Ken McDonald, has accepted an offer to lead the music ministries of Acton United Methodist Church in Granbury, Texas. Ken is to remain with us through April, with May 7th being his final Sunday at First UMC. 

Like you, I am saddened to be losing so gifted and so passionate a leader in music ministries. Ken and Marge have blessed us all in their time at First UMC and leave behind some wonderful memories and experiences of worship. While I am sad for us all at First Church, I am happy for Ken, knowing this move will bring him closer to family and to a new and exciting opportunity for ministry. I know that in the weeks to come, Ken will still provide wonderful leadership in music ministry and we all will share in inspired services of worship. Please keep Ken and Marge in your prayers as they prepare to move, and keep First UMC in your prayers as we seek new leadership for music ministries. The Staff-Parish Relations Committee of the church will meet on Monday evening to engage in the work of staffing the music ministries of the church.

I am reminded again, as I mentioned in last week's letter, that God is with us in all seasons of life, in all transitions of life. This season of Lent speaks to us this truth, as God is with us as we feel the weight of the cross, and as we anticipate the good news of resurrection.

As we continue toward Good Friday in the hope of Easter morning, I prayer, once we have completed this journey, we will be able to say we made this holy journey with the support of and in the good company of each other.