Pastor B.J.’s Update

May 12, 2021

Hi Everyone: 

I believe that all Christ followers are uniquely gifted to serve the mission and ministry of the Church. This gifting is the work of the Holy Spirit in every believer. I also believe that all Christ followers are called by God to serve in their gifting. This call is universally extended to every believer. The question the church should be asking is not: are you called? The question is, “to what and where are you called.”

Over the years I have worked to help Christ followers discover their gifts and help them discern their calling. I have helped Christ followers live out their faith as teachers and nurses, doctors and engineers, accountants, and caregivers, and a multitude of other options. We have discovered ministry through children and youth ministry, visitation, adult education, music, and administration; we have discovered mission though jail ministry, food pantries, emergency relief projects, flood buckets, education kits, and hands-on mission travel in the US and around the world. Everyone is gifted. Everyone is called.

Many times, in my 40 years of being a pastor I have been blessed to launch men and women in pastoral ministry. Roger, Linda, Katy Jo, Travis, Betsy, Mary, Clair, Ray, Mike, Lori, are some of their names.

Beginning on June 1, we celebrate Erwin First’s own David, who has been appointed to Camillus First United Methodist church. David has been in process toward pastoral ministry for some time and will be serving part time at Camillus First while he begins his Seminary education. You are gifted. You are called. Let’s get to it.

Here are some things happening at Erwin First:
We are beginning to return to in-person worship. There were 25 of us gathered this week. In-person guidelines are simple: Wear a mask, Social distance. If you do these two things you may sing, and we would love to see you.

One final thing. Vaccines are now readily available for anyone over 16. Get vaccinated.

This Sunday we discuss the power of waiting (Acts 1). Jesus tells his followers to go to Jerusalem and wait for “power from on high.” His followers go and they wait. In our action-oriented culture, we forget to wait upon the LORD and listen for God’s will in our lives. Sometimes the best advice is “don’t just do something, sit there!”

Here are the Links to this week’s worship for those who are unable to come in person:

Rachel is getting her Doctorate in Physical Therapy this weekend from the University of Buffalo. CONGRATULATIONS Rachel! Are there other graduations this year? Please let the Church office know so we can join in your celebrations!!

Wednesday 7:00 a.m. prayer gathering via zoom
The city pastors take turns leading; you can join us this week by following this zoom link:

IN OUR PRAYERS: Charles M. was recently hospitalized but is now home; Pray for Eduardo, now free from cancer but still recovering from Covid19;  Remember to pray for those who are ill, who are displaced, who are struggling as the pandemic winds down, Pray for global pandemic hotspots in India and Brazil, PRAY for an end to the violence in Palestine and Israel, Pray for our leaders and all those in authority. Pray for our City churches! Pray for our spiritual leaders: especially Nola, our District Superintendent and Mark, our Bishop.     

Through the Bible readings for this week:

12 – 2 Kings 15-16 and John 3
13 – 2 Kings 17-18
14 – 2 Kings 19-21
15 – 2 Kings 22-23 and John 4
16 – 2 Kings 24-25 and John 5
17 – 1 Chronicles 1-3
18 – 1 Chronicles 4-7
19 – 1 Chronicles 8-10
20 – 1 Chronicles 11-12 and John 6

On the Calendar – Coming Soon
May 12 – SUMM Council Meeting 6:00
May 23 – SU Graduation
June 17-19 – 2021 Upper New York Annual Conference Session –to be held virtually.
August 11 – SUMM city wide picnic

UGANDA 2021 – I will be traveling in Uganda September 20 – October 8, (alone and ticket has been purchased). The purpose of this trip is to assess the impact of Covid19 on our projects, to help shore up our projects and to prepare the way for our mission team in late January 2022. The January team has 4 members at this point.

UGANDA MISSION – The critical financial need at this stage is for the publishing fund. We have Five NEW editions we need to publish this year: A Luganda edition of Daniel; An English and Luganda edition of the study of Samson; and, finally, English and Luganda edition of “An Introduction and Commentary on The I Am Sayings of Jesus.” Daniel and Samson are works by Rev. Davis, the “I Am” commentary is written by me (edited by Joe). Each publication costs us about $2500. So, I need about $12K and have about $6000 (THANK YOU!) in hand. Do you know anyone who has deep pockets and would like to contribute to the theological education of our Ugandan brothers and sisters? Do you know anyone with shallower pockets – who can help? All help is appreciated. Please see me if you have any questions.

Leadership needs at Erwin First:
TRUSTEES are responsible for providing space for ministry. Therefore, they are responsible for all property related matters. Are you good at and interested in things like facilities, boilers, and the like?

Does this sound like you? See Pastor BJ.

MISSION TEAM – We are rebuilding our mission team. The Mission team provides support (planning, fund raising, strategy) for the local, national, and international mission work of the Erwin First UMC. Are you gifted and called to help lead Erwin First in strengthening and expanding our mission footprint?  See Pastor BJ

There is a need to strengthen our Church Council (new Chair is Dorcas) and our HR team (called Staff Parish Relations Team).

LOCAL MISSION Opportunities:
Brown Memorial food pantry needs extra hands and help (contact April for information)

RESTART always needs strong arms to move furniture and help get things set up. See Evelyn for more information.

The Carillon has a broken amplifier which is why the bells of Erwin First have not been ringing out over Westcott Nation. The New Amplifier is a little over $681 and we have the talent in house to install it ourselves. We are inviting our neighbors and friends in the Westcott area to help cover the cost of the new amplifier. If anyone asks: all donations appreciated: payable to Erwin First UMC with Carillon in the memo.

Parting Thought
Tomorrow is one of the long forgotten “Holy Days” on the Christian church’s calendar. 40 days after Easter (a long while later), the resurrected Jesus met with his followers on the Mount of Olives and, after a brief conversation, ascended to heaven. Ascension Day was considered the “capstone” of Jesus’ work of redemption. Remember the sequence of the Creed (suffered, crucified, died, buried, raised, and then, “he ascended into heaven . . .” Our faith is not completed until Jesus returns to his heavenly Father.

The physical presence of Jesus has not been available to us since that moment. Or, more accurately, through the indwelling Holy Spirit, we have become the physical presence of Jesus in the world since Ascension Day. It is kind of cool when you think about it. Jesus cannot send the Holy Spirit until he ascends. The Church cannot be born until the Holy Spirit falls. We can not live out our incarnational lives until that sequence is completed.

In John 12:32, Jesus says, “If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people unto me.” The Greek word translated “lifted” means both elevated (like on the cross) and ascended (like on Ascension Day).

So, it is a good day (is not every day?), to lift up Jesus in our hearts and our lives and to see the world drawn to him.

See you when the community gathers, 
BJ Norrix, lead servant, resident theologian, coach 

Online giving is now available through our website

1. Click on this link:

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).