Pastor B.J.’s Update

February 24, 2021

Hi Everyone:

My parents were married for 68.5 years. They met in January of 1952. Dad was in the Air Force stationed at Harmon Air base in Stephenville, Newfoundland, Canada, and mom was a resident of Stephenville. 8 months after they met, they were married, on August 11, 1952. Their first child (Shaun) arrived at the end of April 1953. Shaun was born on the Air Base in Newfoundland. They left the Air Force and purchased a home in dad’s hometown (Flat Rock, Michigan). Cheryl arrived in May of 1955, BJ in September of 1956, and Daryl in October of 1960.

Bob and Lorna made a home. Raised a family. Participated in civic organizations and local government. Were faithful church goers. As a child, I did not know how unusual their love story was. Growing up, we would frequently catch them smooching in the kitchen when we came in from playing outside. They held hands as they walked. They sparred with each other and sometimes the debate got a bit fierce – as was to be expected with an extroverted Michigander and a hot blooded French Canadian. But they always made up, never went to bed angry, always worked it out. They were the finest relationship role model I could possibly have hoped for. They took care of one another and always worked things out – it wasn’t always smooth or comfortable, but they always found a way.

Dad was determined to care for his beloved to the very end. At the end he needed us to help and always apologized for “bothering us.” We, following their example, gave freely. Mom died on February 6, dad holding her hand and the rest of us standing around. We held her memorial at the family home on February 12. At the end of the service, and everyone was finishing lunch, Dad said “There, that’s done.” Little did we know that having completed his love commitment he would soon follow. 13 days after mom’s passing, dad breathed his last at St. Joseph’s hospital, my sister Cheryl and I at his side.

I think there is a symbiosis in long term love stories – an intermingling, a holy entanglement. When one side of the equation is gone the second quickly collapses and, again, they are reunited.

A memorial service for my parents will be held on March 21 at 1:00 in Lakeland, Florida at the Pavilion at Beacon Terrace.

A memorial service for my dad will be held on Saturday, March 27 at 11:00 at Erwin First UMC. More information will be coming in the next couple of weeks.

I have hundreds of people to thank – and I am sure I will miss most of you. Dinners started showing up at our home this week – whoever put that together THANK YOU and thank you to all the chefs and cooks.

I am overwhelmed with cards, emails, phone calls, letters, facebook posts, texts – and I have appreciated every single one of them.

Aaron Bouwens and the Erwin First worship team, tech team, Martani’s children’s moments – made worship happen these past two weeks.

Donations have been made in memory of my mother, my father and a few of you in memory of both (THANK YOU!).

It has been a long February . . . but I am aware that God’s love carries me, and I am surrounded by an amazing, awesome, Network of Disciples of Jesus Christ! (THANK YOU, Church).

Here are few things headed into this week:
Thank you Rev. Dr. Aaron Bouwens for preaching this past Sunday. He gave us a great message about facing the hard times. We were over 200 on our three platforms this week.

This Sunday I am preaching from Mark 8 about the implications of being a Disciple of Jesus. Jesus teaches us that if we try to preserve our lives, we will lose them but if we give our lives for the sake of Jesus and the Gospel, we will gain them. Living is Giving. Giving is Living.

Here are this week’s links:
https://www.facebook.com/events/150045296944404/
https://youtu.be/cKtzMPi4C3k

EASTER FLOWERS: Order forms are now available at church, or flowers can be ordered through the church office (contact April).

In our Prayers:  Weekly Prayer Gathering 7:00 a.m. EVERY Wednesday via Zoom

The city pastors take turns leading and you can join us this week by following this zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88280726712

In our prayers: Mac (acute Leukemia at Strong in Rochester); Lori; Barb; Jon recovering from Covid19; Bob and family, John, Jen’s brother; Eduardo is now home and recovering; Milka ; Barbara ; Mike. Families in transition; those looking for work. Please pray for our nation. Please pray for our world (nearly 2.5 million Covid19 deaths – we are over 500,000 in the USA alone). Pray for all who are under unusual stress and are weary, exhausted, and discouraged. Pray for Caregivers. Pray for our local, state-wide, national, and global leaders. Pray for your pastors and other church leaders (Especially Pastor’s Jee Hae, Alicia, and Andy). Pray for Superintendent Nola and Bishop Mark.

Through the Bible readings this week:
FEBRUARY
24 – Numbers 7-8
25 – Numbers 9-11
26 – Numbers 12-14 and Mark 5
27 – Numbers 15-16 and Mark 6
28 – Numbers 17-19
MARCH
1 – Numbers 20-22
2 – Numbers 23-25 and Mark 7
3 – Numbers 26-28 and Mark 8
4 – Numbers 29-31 and Mark 9

RESTART HELP
Here is another way to help our RESTART MINISTRY

The team has set up a wishlist on Amazon.com.

https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/58UCDNWUEXHH?ref_=wl_share

Click on the above link, you should be able to view a list of needed items and choose what you would like to donate by adding items to your cart. When done shopping go to checkout for payment. Be sure to select “Restart Ministries c/o Evelyn D.” for the mailing address. The items will be shipped direct to Restart.

Restart is also looking for blankets.

UGANDA 2021 – I am planning to return to Uganda in September 2021 (alone) to help shore up our projects and to prepare the way for our mission team in January 2022.

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 Matovu, the “I Am” commentary is written by me. Each publication costs us about $2500. So, I need about $12K and have about $2500 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.

On the Calendar – Coming Soon
February 25 (and every Thursday) Worship team 6:30
March 3 – Erwin First Council
March 5-6 – Arbinger Training
March 10 – SUMM Council
April 1 – Holy Thursday – SUMM Service on “Seven Last Words” to be held at St. Paul’s UMC and live streamed. Service at 7:00.
April 2 – Good Friday
April 4 – EASTER
June 17-19 – 2021 Upper New York Annual Conference Session – to be held virtually.

Parting Thought
I don’t have much else to say . . . I am a bit undone and my heart is failing to register much at all. I’ll be OK. But I am taking it slow for the next few weeks. I’m here if you need me and I have carved out a lot of open space on my calendar for conversations. I have also begun the process of settling my parent’s estate. BTW – anyone with recent experience settling an estate (as executor), I would love to chat with you. Call me.

Blessings,
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).