Pastor B.J.’s Update

July 30, 2021

Hi everyone:

It is now the end of July; it is time for our Neighborhood to begin to come back to life. Every church has its own rhythm. Because of the dominant influence of Syracuse University in our neighborhood, our rhythm reflects the University’s ebb and flow. Things get quiet after graduation, June and July are pretty slow, and then, as August rolls around and the students begin to return to the hill, our lives pick up a bit as well.

We are getting ready. Our “welcome back students” banner is going up this week. We are exploring new ways to reach out to the university population while looking for ways to support our partner church, Hope Korean. Hope’s Christian Student Fellowship is looking forward to resuming their on-campus Friday evening worship and fellowship – watch for ways to help.

Back to School stuff is already in the shops, and I suspect pumpkin spiced everything will not be far behind.

Thus is the rhythm. How is the rhythm of your journey? How is the rhythm of your soul?

Here is what is happening at Erwin First:

THANK YOU – to Brad Bowers and Rose Kingsbury for filling in as musician and guest preacher this past Sunday. Karen and I had a great week off and came back refreshed and renewed (as always!).

This Week we are looking at Ephesians 4:1-16. This is the passage that contains my job description (it contains the job description for every Christian pastor). I am here to “equip the saints for the work of ministry.” It has been my experience that every church I have served has flourished or floundered based on how well we equip the saints for the work of ministry.

We are here in person at 10:30 (everyone welcome).

WE are IN PERSON or via live stream. Here are the live stream links:

AUGUST 18 at 6:30, I am holding a meeting at Erwin First to explore the future of the United Methodist denomination and how Erwin First can continue to be in effective ministry and mission in the Westcott neighborhood.
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED, please email me and I will send you a document I have prepared that outlines how the denomination is going to separate (is already separated) the implications and what I think we can do.

CITY PICNIC is August 11 from 5-7 at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church on Valley Drive (just south of Webster Pond). Each church is bringing part of the dinner. ALL EVENTS ARE OUTSIDE.
Bring lawn chairs, your desire to fellowship, and make some new friends.
NOTE: Each church is bringing something (Erwin First is providing chips to go with the Hot Dogs).
NOTE 2: We need TWO (2) volunteers to help with set/up clean/up on the day of the event. Can you help? Contact APRIL.

The 2021 Disciple Bible Study is concluding its 34-session course on August 12. David , Ben , Lori , Mark , Jen have finished the course and are having a closing celebration meal and communion on the 12th. Well done!
They are exploring next steps. If there were 8 to 10 persons interested, I would be willing to begin a new Disciple I when I return from Uganda. Let me know at

I would like to invite everyone to Wednesday Morning prayer: Every Wednesday at 7:00 a.m. we gather for a zoom prayer meeting. It is open to everyone: come once, come every week, but you are invited to join us: zoom link:

Pray for those who are grieving: Evelyn (following the death of her ex-husband Thomas); Esther and family (following the death of her husband, Eddie).

Pray for those who are ill: Rebecca mother is in the hospital; Tony recovering from open heart surgery; April ; Bob ; Charlie and Nancy ; Pray for Eduardo .

Pray for our local, national, and global leaders. Pray for our Bishop, Mark Webb, Nola Anderson, our Superintendent. Pray for pastors and church leaders navigating Covid 19 and the aftereffects.

Pray for students at all levels and their teachers.

The Church Council is scheduled to meet this Wednesday at 6:30.

ANNUAL RUMMAGE SALE is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, August 27 and 28. We are collecting items for sale and set up will begin on the 15th.
Saleable items can be brought to the church (call us first)
We’ll need many hands for set up, pricing, and then staffing the sale on the 27th and 28th.
WATCH for More Information!

Through the Bible 2021
31. Psalm 54-56 and Romans 3
1. Psalm 57-59 and Romans 4
2. Psalm 60-62 and Romans 5
3. Psalm 63-65 and Romans 6
4. Psalm 66-67 and Romans 7
5. Psalm 68-69
6. Psalm 70-71 and Romans 8
7. Psalm 72-73 and Romans 9

Coming Soon
August 4 – Church Council
August 11 – SUMM City Wide Picnic (watch for more)
August 18 – Future of United Methodist Church
August 27 and 28 – RUMMAGE SALE
September 21-October 9 – BJ in Uganda
September 26 – Westcott Cultural Festival

UGANDA MISSION UPDATE – Nexus Seminary Uganda is a Seminary without buildings. We utilize Davis Matovu’s home near Kampala, Uganda, as our base of operations, but the training is taken to rural pastors by our trained tutors. These training sessions take a year to two years to complete, and the tutors work in borrowed churches and other locations. As Nexus has expanded north, we have encountered special difficulties.

This past week a piece of land near Dokolo, Uganda has been donated to Nexus Seminary. Dokolo is north of lake Kyoga. We intend to build a mission center on this land and use the center as a springboard further north, west, and east.

Our January team will spend a few days on site and do a little bricklaying and floor pouring while we are there.

UGANDA 2021 – I will be traveling in Uganda September 21 – October 9. 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.

January 24 – February 10, 2022, a team that includes Dan, Doug, Pastor Clair(Christ Community UMC), Pastor B.J. will travel to Uganda. They will be teaching, working with youth, inspecting, and repairing wells, and building new connections between our churches. And, as per above, doing a little work on the new Mission center.

Did you know . . .
. . . We are planning the annual Rummage Sale for August 27/28; do you have stuff to donate? Would you like to help? Contact the Church office.  ALL PROCEEDS GO TO SUPPORT OUR MISSION WORK.
. . . RESTART has new furniture for sale (at 25 to 35% of retail) all funds are being used to fund the Restart ministry – see April for list and photos . . .
. . . There is a city-wide picnic scheduled for August 11 at St. Paul’s
. . . I (Pastor BJ) have two side by side cemetery plots in the Greenlawn cemetery (173 in Warners, New York) for sale (never been used). They are $500 each.

Parting Thought
The Institutional Protestant Church in the USA is dying (United Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Congregational, American Baptist – and others). These institutional denominations for the most part grew up with the country and experienced unprecedented growth following the second World War. In 1968 there were nearly 14 million adult United Methodists in the USA (not counting baptized children who hadn’t become “members” yet). Today that number is closer to 7 million including the children.

Why are we dying? In a word: Focus. In the days of growth and relevance the UMC worked hard to make members and focused on the three “B’s” of Ministry (Buildings, Bucks and Butts in the seats). Sunday School focused on learning stories without application, ministry was the purview of a select few, mission was something only a handful of extraordinary people engaged in. With these foci, the spiritual depth of the organization became shallow, member centered, and progressively weak.

The answer is plainly given in the Bible. This week in Ephesians 4 we will see that the body of Christ is not built up by focusing on members. The body of Christ is built up when we raise up the Disciples of Jesus Christ. Every Pastor’s job is to “equip the saints for the work of ministry.” Our focus must be on discovering our gifts, developing our gifts, and deploying disciples in mission and ministry.

Let’s get back to who we are called to be!
Who are you called to be in Jesus Christ?
What are you called to do for Jesus Christ?
How can we help you?

I’ll see you when the community gathers,
BJ, lead servant, trainer of saints, missionary

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