From Our Pastor

Children's Sabbath

Posted 25 October, 2018 by Pastor Keith Ritchie

We celebrate the Children's Sabbath this Sunday! This means that at the 11am service, the children of First UMC will provide leadership as we worship during this service. They will do so as the First Hand Experience Children's Puppet Team offers its witness in worship. They will do so as the children's choirs, under the direction of Beth Chapman, sing in worship. The children will also offer the reading of scripture, leading in prayer, affirming faith, and sharing other music and spoken gifts.

As the children of the church offer their gifts in worship, I am reminded more powerfully each time they do so that the children are not "performing." Instead, the children are leading all within this community of faith in worship. Their leadership in worship is as authentic as the leadership of that of anyone else. In addition to the leadership of Beth Chapman, we are also grateful for the gifts of our Director of Music Ministries, Jill Gardner, Director of Children's and Program Ministries, Annette Huckfeldt, and our "choir moms," Sherri Bell and Elizabeth DeVault. They work very hard each week, and have worked especially diligently in preparation for this service; I pray they know your affirmation and support. (The 8:45am service will speak of "Where Heaven Meets Earth" as we share from Genesis 28:10-17, Jacob's dream at a place called Bethel.)

Thank you for your response to the Uptown Halloween event in which we will participate! We have received a gracious amount of candy for the trick or treat to take place on Wednesday. With one thousand - or more! - children expected, we can certainly use some more candy. Donations may be brought to the church office - thank you again! We will set up at the Church Street entrance to the church from 4pm - 6pm Wednesday, so please stop by to help or to say "hello!" I look forward to this time in which to reach out to and meet our neighbors! (Remember, as well, the Christmas parade to be held November 17th, and the opportunity to provide hot chocolate for our neighbors.)

As you read in the November newsletter, we concluded our study of "Living Faithfully: Human Sexuality and the United Methodist Church" this past week. This study was held as part our preparation for the called General Conference of the UMC to be held February 23-26 in St. Louis. As part of our preparation for this General Conference, I also pass along this counsel from Bishop Sharma Lewis: that we pray each day from 2:23 - 2:26 (the dates for Conference,) and that we take time each week to fast. I know the topic of "spiritual disciplines" is not a frequent topic for us - though it should be - I encourage us to practice these disciplines of prayer, believing now to be an especially appropriate time to embrace these disciplines.  To stay current with preparations for General Conference, you may find an abundance of related materials at

The coming week is our final week of preparation for the Martinsville Community Care Collaborative on November 3.  Please pray for this ministry as many details are to be tended to so as to provide medical and other services for the needy in this community and beyond on November 3 in the Uptown Ministry Center.