Pastor B.J.’s Update

September 23, 2020

Hi Everyone:
Our parking lot fellowship went well this past Sunday. 25 or so of us gathered and fellowshipped, some had lunch, most of us just chatted and got caught up (socially distanced, of course). I got to see most of your faces and was greatly blessed to spend time with you again. We even got to see one of the new babies!! I’m going to suggest, weather permitting, that we make this a weekly event. After worship, I’ll make my way to the parking lot, put up a chair and look forward to visiting with whoever is available and can come by at 11:45 or so starting this week.

Here is what is happening at Erwin First:
Our online community is stable and growing. Thank you, everyone, for staying connected in this way. We are exploring ways to be able to interact during and following worship. We are exploring ways to more effectively do what we are doing. There were 18 in the worship space this week.

A word about finances: THANK YOU (Ok, that was two words). The Erwin First community has been nothing short of awesome these past six months in keeping up your support of our ministry. Many of you have stepped up to support our other projects (AV upgrade, etc.). Keep up the good work!

This Sunday is part three of our series on Community Covenant. First, we learned that we were created and called to be in community; second, we learned that a key to vital community is for each of us to be open to God working on our character and that it was important that I attend to that FIRST. This week’s key is to see the God given potential in every human being. There is a human tendency to marginalize those we don’t understand or who look different than us. When we allow God to open our eyes we begin to see that every human is precious to God and that every human is uniquely gifted to make a difference in the world. When I see others through God’s eyes, I see possibilities in everyone.

Pray for our leaders. Local, regional, national, international . . . we have had over 200,000 deaths to Covid19 in the US alone. That’s three airplanes a day crashing for six months. . . . We have to do better. Pray for the political season. May we find common ground that cares for the marginalized and creates opportunities for everyone.

RESTART Humbly Serves Others
One of the most humbling experiences we can have is to serve others. The RESTART ministry provides the opportunity to experience such service to people moving out of homelessness. This outreach ministry not only extends a helping hand to others, but it also allows volunteers to appreciate all that they have and what they can share with those in need.

As author Martha Begley Schade says, “You know, everyone needs a place they can call home! They need people and a place to go which is theirs, a safe haven. A place to feel protected, where you can be yourself and unwind. A place where you are accepted. A safe roof over your head.”

RESTART adds to that feeling by taking away the anxiety of having that place and roof without a comfortable bed with sheets and blankets, dishes and silverware for serving meals, pots and pans for preparing meals, and towels as well as shower curtains in order to bathe.

If you would like to donate items or volunteer, please contact our donation coordinator at 315-380-4407. Monetary donations are always welcome.

Erwin First is a church of small groups. Our Council, our Worship Team, our classes, groups, and fellowships exist to build community, to encourage each other, and to grow deeper in faith and wider in mission.

Here are some current groups that are open for new members:
Monday at 7:30 – Bible Study (via Zoom) reading the book of Acts
Wednesday at 7:30 – Small Group (via Zoom) in a book study
Saturday at 9:00 – Home Group (via Zoom) Sunday’s scriptures
Saturday at 11:00 – Bible Study (via Zoom) Sunday’s scriptures

The Monday at 5:30 Spiritual Disciplines group is wrapping up soon – if anyone would like to have this experience and study – let me know and I’ll start another group.

Thursday at 6:00 – there is a prayer group led by Lori
Thursday at 6:30 – Band resumes rehearsals this week!

A Covenant Group is forming. There are now 6 persons who are interested. A covenant group forms around intentional spiritual growth by building community. Typical Covenant Groups meet around three vital questions: How is it with your Soul? How is it with your relationships? How is it with your ministry? INTERESTED? – See BJ

All of the above groups are open to new participants . . . Please contact me at bjnorrix@gmail.com for more information and to get the Zoom link.

Are you good at promotion? Your church could use your help. We are looking for better ways to communicate with the Syracuse area the Community and Mission that is Erwin First Church. Interested? Let me know.

I have this great idea of putting the Erwin First web address on ping pong balls and, as I walk through the University frat and sorority houses along Euclid tossing our web address ping pong ball into the beer pong games in the front yard . . . probably not the best idea . . .

How do we connect the church to the wider community?

Coming Events:
October 2 – Ordination Service (by invitation only)
October 3 – Upper New York Annual Conference (virtual)
November 22 – City Thanksgiving Service (live from Bellevue Heights UMC) at 6:30

Celebration
Pastor Jee Hae will be commissioned as an Elder in the United Methodist Church on Friday October 3, 2020 at the Liverpool United Methodist Church. Here is the link to the live stream:

Commissioning begins the probationary period that precedes Ordination as an Elder in the United Methodist Church.

Congratulations, Pastor Jee Hae!

Activity is ramping up . . .

Erwin PreSchool has begun virtual teaching for 3 and 4 year olds and their families. We are expecting the resumption of regular in person classes on October 5.

Syracuse School of Dance has resumed classes (smaller classes, cleaning protocol and masks all in place) for fall of 2020.

 Hope Church has resumed Sunday worship at 12:30 – they are currently meeting in the lounge.

Be safe.

In person worship at Erwin First: Here is what we have done:
1. 50 chairs are socially distanced apart in the Sanctuary
2. No singing, except by the worship team
3. New cleaning protocols are now in place
4. New ventilation system is up and working (replaces the air in the room 6 to 8 times an hour).
5. Everyone wears masks (provided if you need one); please clean your hands with hand sanitizer when entering the building,
6. Finally, and obviously, if you are ill: we love you and would love to see you . . . BUT PLEASE STAY HOME (grin).

The bottom line is we have made the worship center as safe as we can in this season of pandemic. We would love to see you!

We are planning to have Holy Communion on the first Sunday in October (October 4).

In the worship center, we will provide individual, sealed, wafer and juice containers. At home, provide your own bread and juice, and we will celebrate the Lord’s Supper together on October 4.

Annual Conference, which was postponed from Late May, will be held on Saturday, October 3 in a virtual format. Bishop Webb has limited the conference to Essential business only (essential means only that business which only an Annual Conference can conduct and must conduct to keep with the provision of the Book of Discipline.

There will be a live stream of the event on Oct. 3 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. You will find the link on the Conference website on the homepage on Oct. 3. (unyumc.org)

Parting Thought
Six weeks left in another election season. I think the internet and the 24 hour news channels have been more disruptive than helpful through these past several cycles. Making an informed decision on national leadership is profoundly difficult: who will I believe? By what standard do I decide?

While most Americans seem to choose based on economics (especially their own) or less documentable reasons, as a Christ follower I am required to ask a different set of questions. In Jesus time the world was dominated by Kings/Queens and/or Emperors. The populace did not have much of a say in who would lead. We live under a different set of governing rules and have a voice in who leads. We get to vote.

So how do I decide who is best qualified to lead? While this is a much longer discussion (and a very in depth Bible study), there are a few characteristics of those identified as good leaders in the Bible. The key words are Justice and Righteousness – Justice is fair play economically, politically, educationally, socially for everyone – Righteousness has to do with following God’s way and living in right relationship with God, family and community.

The key behavior, when one is acting with Justice and Righteousness, is caring for the marginalized (in biblical times this was a list of three categories: widows, orphans, and sojourners – sojourners were foreign nationals living and working in Israel). The Old Testament world was a family and community based world that greatly depended on the head of the family (usually the Father) to be provider and protector. A widow or an orphan has lost their protection. A foreign national does not have family to protect them. A good king cares for the powerless and the marginalized and prevents their exploitation. In summary: the leader, biblically, must protect from exploitation (economic or otherwise) those who have no other protection.

I am not suggesting that Mr. Trump or Mr. Biden (or Mr. Katko or Ms. Balter) is the better choice to lead. I am simply pointing out what standard I have used.

What standard do you use?
Love you all,
BJ

Online giving is now available through our website

1. Click on this link:
http://erwinfirstchurch.org/giving/

2. Simply follow the instructions.

NOTE: there is a 1% cost for payments from the donor’s bank account and a 2.9% fee added to credit or debit card transactions. The fee is deducted from the donation: (American Express transactions are 3.5% + $0.30).