From Our Pastor

A New Teaching

Posted 25 January, 2018 by Pastor Keith Ritchie

As I mentioned in worship last Sunday, we will be spending much time with the gospel of Mark this year. (We follow a three year cycle of reading scripture, with a year assigned each to Matthew, Mark, and Luke - the portions of the gospel of John are read in each of these three years.)

This Sunday, still in the first chapter of Mark, we encounter Jesus casting an unclean spirit out of a man. Witnesses to this miracle declare this to be "a new teaching!" It is obvious, according to Mark, something new, something never experienced before, is taking place in the ministry of Jesus.

We in the church are called to remember we worship and serve a God who makes all things new, a God of new creation. With this fundamental truth of the faith before us, I am excited to take part in the meeting of our Church Council tonight, the first such meeting of 2018.

As we meet tonight, we carry into this meeting observations from a recent staff retreat. We also will commit together to the reading of "The New Adapters: Shaping Ideas to Fit Your Congregation," by United Methodist pastor, Jacob Armstrong. With discussion born of the staff retreat and this material providing faithful insight and ideas regarding the ministries of the church, it is my belief we will speak to the ways we can get "stuck" in ministry and claim the ministries God entrusts to the church. (I encourage you to read "The New Adapters" as well, available at Let me know if you're interested!) As we have, in recent years, spoken of financial challenges before First UMC, there will also be an update on where we now stand at the Council meeting. I look forward to our Finance Chair, Ray Harm, speaking to the financial ministries of the church.

A week from Sunday, the youth of First UMC will host the "Souper Bowl" in the Uptown Ministry Center following the 11am service. A wonderful abundance of soups will be offered and your financial contributions will support local missions. The annual "Birthday Bash" is also part of the Souper Bowl, so you have the great opportunity to enjoy soup and dessert before going home to watch the Super Bowl commercials.

Last fall several members of First Church met with Bonnylee Witt, chaplain of the local hospital, regarding connecting with members of this community of faith who have, for whatever reason, become disconnected from this community of faith. We will meet again with Bonnylee next week as a final step of preparation before contacting those whom we miss and would love to see re-connect with the church. I am grateful for this ministry and ask for your prayers as we move forward.

With the season of Lent approaching, I hope you will take part in the Ash Wednesday services of worship of February 14; I hope you will also take part of small group studies offered each Tuesday during Lent. A women's study on women of the Bible will take place at noon each Tuesday in the Ministry Center; a church-wide study will take place in the fellowship hall each Tuesday at 6:45pm. This study will focus on scripture assigned to the season of Lent.