Pastor B.J.’s Update

November 18, 2020

Hi Everyone:

I saw something yesterday that gave me pause. It said: “If you don’t find joy in snowfall there will be less joy in your life and the same amount of snowfall.” I have been pondering that ever since. Every life has difficulties. Every season has its challenges. And, while 2020 has been a year of unique challenges and difficulties, we should not be distracted from the truth that we choose our responses. I would look out at the cold grey morning I woke up to today and say it is cold and grey and so am I, OR I could look at the cold grey morning and revel in the beauty of the snow flakes and revel in the austere beauty of the now bare trees (or the evergreens if you want) and look with amazement at the huge flights of geese on the move and smile, and remember who I am and celebrate whose I am and find joy in the moment.

The Psalmist says “I lift up my eyes to the hills from where will my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” The act of lifting our eyes, of raising our heads, and looking up; encourage us to venture from what is to what could be and that, my friends, by definition, is Hope giving!

Here are some things to know at Erwin First:

This Sunday we have two worship opportunities:

SUNDAY MORNING at 10:30 – is part 11 of our 12-part series on life in community. Looking at James 2:1-11 we are reminded that the church makes room for everyone! Economics, Gender, Politics, Race, Age, Orientation: any of the things that divide humanity are not barriers to becoming part of an authentic Christian community. The sermon is titled: “We Welcome All.” Here are the live feeds for the morning:

You Tube:


SUNDAY EVENING at 6:00 – Syracuse United Methodist Ministries annual Thanksgiving Worship Celebration will be held at Bellevue Heights United Methodist Church.

There is limited seating due to Covid19 restrictions. If you want to attend in person please let me know ASAP.

Service features communion led by Pastor Jee Hae, special music with strings, brass, and piano and organ and a message from Pastor B.J. Norrix, “Why should I be Thankful?” based on Luke 17:11-19.

A special collection is being taken for the RESTART Ministry. Write checks to Syracuse United Methodist Ministries, put RESTART in the memo line and mail to SUMM, 1085 E. Genesee St, Syracuse, NY 13210. If you give through Tithely please send us an email indicating what your gift is designated for. Here is the live stream feed for Thanksgiving:

The Staff Parish Relations Team is pleased to announce the hiring of our new Administrative Assistant/Office Manager. Her name is April, and she comes to us with extensive experience working the Syracuse area. April will officially begin on December 1 (with a day or two of training just before Thanksgiving). We will introduce her to the congregation in a few weeks but welcome April!

Rose is retiring on November 30. Watch for a secret email from me with some things we are putting together to celebrate Rose’s time as our AA/Office Manager and to express our deepest appreciation to her for her over 15 years of service to Erwin First United Methodist Church!

November 29 marks the first Sunday of Advent, as season created to help us prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas. Watch for some special Advent adventures and ways to participate in our season of preparation for the coming King.

Disciple I Bible Study began Monday, November 9 at 5:30 p.m. via Zoom. Disciple I Bible Study is an in-depth survey of the entire Bible and utilizes personal reading, video teaching and small group experience who help participants encounter God’s word and to form community together. I have room for a few more – and you’ve only missed a week . . . want to join us? Call or email me!

Annual Church Conference is November 30. This annual meeting will meet via Zoom beginning at 6:30. The meeting will be restricted to essential business (approve pastoral compensation; election of trustees, lay speakers, candidates for ministry). It should go quickly. Zoom link will be available the week before the meeting.

IN PERSON WORSHIP AND ANNUAL CONFERENCE/NEW YORK STATE GUIDELINES – Syracuse is now in a Yellow Zone and while this does not directly impact our in-person worship numbers and structure it is a “heads up” that the situation is getting worse. Should the area become a “RED Zone” we will be instructed by our Bishop to suspend in-person worship until the infection rate drops again. No matter what happens we will continue to provide a quality live stream worship experience!

PEANUT BUTTER, JELLY, CEREAL – drive by drop is scheduled for December 12.

WE ARE COLLECTING – Peanut Butter (or non nut alternative), Jelly, Cereal. You can drop off your donation on Dorcas Rodríguez’ porch or at the church. Let us know when you are coming and we’ll tell you where to take it.

You Just Never Know . . . Last Sunday I mentioned the collection of Peanut Butter/Jelly (and forgot the Cereal) in our Sunday Worship Service. About 30 minutes after the service ended my dad got a text from his neighbor to tell him that there were two jars of peanut butter in his mailbox for our project. Dad’s neighbor, participating in worship with us via our online platform, heard the invitation and acted immediately to help meet the need! You just never know who is watching/listening and choosing to engage.


RESTART is collecting blankets. Here is an email related to a special gift given to Restart this week from Evelyn: “I have been talking with a lady named Mary Jean this week who got Restart’s info from the Samaritan Center in Syracuse. She has some items for us to pick up.

In our conversations she mentioned that she and her husband would like to donate some mattress sets to Restart and asked what we could use. I mentioned to her that mattress sets were the most requested items for Restart and whatever they wanted to donate would be wonderful and very much appreciated.

I just received an email from her, this afternoon, that she and her husband ordered 5 twin mattress sets and 5 double mattress sets for Restart. The man they ordered them from is going to also give one twin and double set as well to Restart and in addition will not charge for the delivery!”

UGANDA MISSION: Pastor BJ intends to travel to Uganda in April and intends to take a team to work there in October 2021. Watch for updates and more information. Interested? See BJ.

GUATEMALA: David reports they intend to continue their work in Guatemala in March 2021. Do you want to help? See David.

GIVING TREE – will support the Brown Memorial Christmas Store: HERE IS THE LIST FOR 2020: Email Pastor B.J. Norrix at or call Esther to coordinate your delivery at 849-6737.

The Deadline is December 13.


MEN small to 4XL: Slippers, socks, underwear/boxers, thermal underwear t-shirts, sweatshirts, PJ’s, sweatpants.

WOMEN small to 4XL: Slippers, socks, underwear/ boxers, shirts, sweatshirts, foodies, PJ’s, jeans, sweatpants.

BABY CLOTHES for babies 6 to 24 month.

KIDS/GIRLS sizes 2T to 18: T-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, PJ’s, sweatpants, underwear, coats or jackets.

KIDS/BOYS sizes 2T to 18: T-Shirts, hoodies, jeans, sweatshirts, PJ’s, sweatpants, underwear, coats or jackets.

TEENAGE GIRLS sizes 12 to 20: Slippers and Socks, Hoodies, sweatshirts, T-shirts, PJ’s, sweatpants, underwear.

TEENAGE BOYS Sizes 12 to 20: Socks, T-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, PJ’s, sweatpants, underwear.


YOUNG GIRLS toys for ages 6-12: dolls, Barbies, jewelry, art kits.

YOUNG BOYS toys for ages 6-12: trucks, cars, baseballs, basketballs, art kits.

TEENAGE GIRLS Make-up, nail polish, emery boards, jewelry or perfume kits, hair accessories, art supplies/drawing kits, headphones, MP3 players/ IPod.

TEENAGE BOYS Basketballs, footballs/soccer balls, handheld games, skateboards, MP3 Players, headphones.

GIFT SETS FOR MEN Tools, flashlights, work gloves, black electrical tape, shovels, shaving kits, razors, deodorant.

KITCHEN Coffee pots can openers, stew pots, large soup pots, pots and pans, dishes, silverware, baking pans, mixers, cooking utensils, blenders.

TOILETRIES Towels, washcloths, blankets, sheets, pillows, laundry soap, laundry baskets, shampoo, lotion, conditioner, dish soap, bar soap.

FAMILY GAMES Educational math, ELA games, Life game, UNO, Sorry, Skippo, Yahtzee, Lego, Monopoly, Phase 10, etc. and Jewelry kits for adults.

GIFT WRAP ITEMS Wrapping paper, tape, shirt boxes and gift bags & tissue paper.

Thank you for your support!

Coming soon:
November 22 –City wide Thanksgiving service at Bellevue Heights: 6:00 –
Live Streamed – link is posted in #1 above.
November 26 –Thanksgiving
November 29 –First Sunday in Advent
November 30 –Annual Church Conference
December 6 – Second Sunday in Advent
December 13 –Third Sunday in Advent
December 20 –Fourth Sunday in Advent
December 24 –Christmas Eve
December 25 –Christmas Day

Barnabas TEAM is being formed. Barnabas means son/daughter of encouragement. We are developing a ministry team at Erwin First who will be trained to come alongside people on the Spiritual journey. Using the inventory developed by our Intentional Discipleship Team and other tools, Barnabas will help folks sort out on the next steps in their journey. They will also be equipped with information on resources, problem solving, etc. Are you called alongside others to encourage and help? Let me know.

Parting Thought
Thanksgiving is but 8 days away and, since it is 2020, it is a little weird. Keeping family gatherings to Covid19 safe levels, paying attention to shopping restrictions (are we out of toilet paper again?), and generally navigating the holidays this year is going to be difficult, but manageable if we just remember the other in our planning. It is a season to be thankful. Are you? Am I?

Being thankful is about cultivating an attitude of gratitude. All good gifts come from God. Some gifts are large and unexpected, most gifts live in the background noise of our lives. I have a roof over my head, the furnace is working properly, I have clean potable water from any faucet in my home, I have food in the pantry and in my refrigerator (gosh, I have a refrigerator), I have people who love me, I have work that gives my life meaning, I have the ability to connect via long distance, I am Ridiculously blessed.

I have been places where they have nothing. I have walked with persons who struggle to make it through each day. I have seen the impact of grinding poverty on individuals and families.

I am thankful, grateful, blessed beyond imagination.

Every morning I rise and start each day with gratitude – LORD, thank you for another day! And I set out to try and make a difference.

You are blessed,

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).