|Lenten Fish Fries to Support Local Churches|
Orchard Park UMC (3700 N. Buffalo St., Orchard Park) will have Fish Dinners on Friday, March 4 & 18, from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m. The dinner includes fresh fried haddock, German & cold potato salad, coleslaw, bread & butter, dessert & beverage. Take-outs are available. Building is accessible to all. Adult meal is $11 and children are $6. The dinner is a joint venture with members of Seneca Street UMC and a portion of the proceeds will support their programs, which can be seen at www.senecastreet.org.
Pendleton Center UMC (6864 Campbell Blvd., N. Tonawanda) Lenten Fish Fry dinners begin Friday, February 12 and continue through March 25. Fried fish, baked fish, shrimp and chicken fingers are available with coleslaw or applesauce, fries or potato salad and rolls. Homemade desserts also available for purchase. Eat in or take out (716-625-8306). See menu and prices on www.pcumc.org under Connect and Fish Fry.
|Telling Our Story at WUMC|
Approximately 35 members of WUMC gathered Jan. 31 to begin telling the story of our congregation. Participants, who gathered in the parlor over coffee and light refreshments, started by pouring over more than six decades of photographs from the congregation’s collection and sharing stories about their memories from those years.
Pastor Rich then led discussion about five key markers in our recent history: significant transitions or changes in the congregation; challenges the congregation faced; significant ministries outside the congregation; what made me feel most spiritually alive; and what made me feel most connected with the congregation.
More than 120 responses have been catalogued under these headings, by decade (1960s, 70s, 80s, etc.). The largest number of responses were about “What made me feel most connected with the congregation.” To obtain a complete list of responses, send an email to Pastor Rich Neal at email@example.com.
|Ed Howard Develops Web Page to Carry the Message: Inviting New Neighbors to WUMC|
For the past few Sundays I have talked about a plan to send postcards to new area residents, inviting them to worship with us at WUMC. The idea is to provide a web page with information about our church, track how many people go to it and see if new residents actually come to WUMC.
Now I want to share progress to date and ask for your constructive comments. This is work-in-progress but it is far enough along for you to take a look and make suggestions.
To see the proposed postcard, go to gas-tec.com/page96.html. You will also find a link to my email address on the page to send comments.
If you click on the postcard you will go to the proposed website page or go to http://www.gas-tec.com/wumc.html . At the very bottom of the page you’ll find my email address for comments. Again, keep in mind that this is a draft, not the final page.
Please note that the URL on the postcard “williamsvilleumc.org/welcome” is not actually a working website yet – use the addresses on this message to get to these pages.
I look forward to hearing from you!
Ed Howard, firstname.lastname@example.org
|Richard Allen Stamp to Debut|
The U.S. Postal Service will formally unveil the Richard Allen Black Heritage Stamp on Feb. 2. Allen, who was born a slave, founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1816.
The ceremony is timed to kick off the A.M.E. church's bicentennial year and, by coincidence, comes less than two weeks before Allen's 256th birthday, Feb. 14.
Dignitaries, A.M.E. bishops, choirs, singers, and politicians will all attend, said Mother Bethel's pastor, the Rev. Mark Kelly Tyler. School groups from as far away as Ohio will be there and A.M.E. officials are coming in from around the country to the church at Sixth and Lombard Streets.
Read the full story at
|Looking to Filter Lead-Contaminated Waters in Flint Michigian|
(By Susan Kim, UMCOR) — When the water in Flint, Mich., became contaminated with lead, the community of 99,000 residents faced a crisis that left many vulnerable to health problems, stress, and financial strain. As the Federal Emergency Management Agency, state government, and National Guard respond, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is also assisting some of the most vulnerable people in Flint.
Supported with a $10,000 emergency grant from UMCOR, United Methodists are working with government agencies and relief groups to provide filtration pitchers, replacement filters, and bottled water to people in Flint.
Upper New York Conference’s Crossroads District first contacted UMCOR about the water situation in Flint in October 2015. “Together, we took a pro-active ecumenical approach to the crisis months before it became national news,” said Greg Forrester, who leads UMCOR’s U.S. Disaster Response work.
“We have eight United Methodist churches that serve Flint,” explained Peter Plum, emergency water crisis coordinator. Pastors of the churches met to discuss how to respond to the water crisis, and they agreed the best way to coordinate a church-wide response was to hire a coordinator. Now Plum is helping to reach some of the most vulnerable people in Flint. “The county and the city are offering everything that we are offering in terms of filters,” Plum explained, “so we decided to get involved with constituents and neighbors that don’t necessarily trust the government.”
Funds became tighter for both government and non-government organizations when the water filters lasted less than the expected time. “When this first happened, the water was so bad that a 90-day filter was lasting 30 days,” said Plum.
When will water in Flint be safe? It’s difficult to tell, agreed Plum and others. “We’re worried about long-term effects,” he said. The contamination began in April 2014, when the city discontinued purchasing water from Detroit. The new source was water drawn from the Flint River and treated in Flint. Several months after this conversion, unsafe contaminates and lead began to appear in the water.
In October 2015, Flint resumed its agreement to purchase water from Detroit, but there are still unsafe levels of contamination and risks of chemicals and lead in the water. Because of the corrosiveness of the water supplied from the Flint River for several months, there are outdated pipes throughout the water distribution system that are failing and releasing contaminates.
Plum is now working toward expanding the response by working with ecumenical partners, as well as looking into which churches in Flint could serve as “safe water stations” for the community. “We need both an ecumenical and a long-term strategy,” said Plum.
Your gift, designated Flint Response, Advance #901670, helps us participate through UMCOR with congregations nationally and world-wide to respond to this crisis immediately and over the long haul.
|New Fliers Describe Annual Discipleship Gathering|
New fliers are available on the literature rack in the church entry describing the many opportunities offered in Catch the Spirit – our annual district workshop day of training, worship, fellowship, and fun! – which will be held Saturday, Feb. 20, at Clarence UMC, 10205 Greiner Road.
Workshops include these subjects and more: dialogue with young adults about faith journeys; guided autobiography for spiritual growth; 12-step programs; the shape of the early church; the church and people with disabilities; older-adult ministries; lay leadership and vital congregations. A complete list of workshops can be obtained from the literature rack in the church entry or by contacting Pastor Rich.
New this year – there will be two sessions for “Stop Hunger Now” in the afternoon. This is a program where you pack up meals to be distributed to those in need – the same program that has been at our Annual Conference for the last couple of years. The cost of $20 includes a morning and afternoon workshop, worship and lunch (no discount if you only sign up for one workshop). If you want to come only for “Stop Hunger Now,” the cost is $10 (no lunch).
|Forum on Church’s Worldwide Nature|
The Connectional Table, a coordinating body in The United Methodist Church, is launching the newest topic in the #CTTalks online forum. The forum is a series of videos and social media conversations around key topics related to the 2016 General Conference, to be held May 10-20 in Portland, Ore. January features a month-long series on the worldwide nature of The United Methodist Church. The videos and the handout will be available on the Connectional Table website at www.umc.org/cttalks-worldwide-nature-theology .
|Bishop Decries Immigration Raids|
United Methodist Bishop Minerva Carcaño is decrying planned federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids against Central Americans who have crossed into the United States. Current immigration laws “discourage us from living out our faith imperative to love and help our neighbor,” she said.
|Inviting New Area Residents to WUMC|
Ed Howard is starting a project that will invite new area residents to worship with us at Williamsville UMC, and he needs your help! Using the real estate listings from The Buffalo News, Ed will send postcards to new residents inviting them to view a special WUMC website to learn more about our church (when are your services, where do I park, is WUMC handicapped accessible, and more). He would like to include a video montage of our members answering the question, “What do you like best about WUMC?” Ed needs people who are willing to be in the video – no names or other identification, just you saying what you like best in one or two sentences. If you are willing to help, Ed will be available after the 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. worship celebrations for the next two weeks. Please volunteer!
|$1,000 Incentive Offered to Establish Respite Program for the Memory Impared|
In her 13 years of employment with the Department of Senior Services, Lisa Rood all too often sees caregivers of loved ones with dementia who are burned out, exhausted, with their own health failing. She wanted to be able to give caregivers a chance to attend to their own needs and give them a much deserved break. In October 2009, she started Hamburg UMC’s “R Gang” respite program for the memory impaired as a ministry. It is volunteer based, open to all, there is never a charge to utilize it, and it has been very successful. There has been much interest in starting more of these programs as they have proven to be very successful and embraced by the volunteers, caregivers, and memory-impaired care receivers. Erie County Department of Senior Services will again offer $1,000 incentive funds to those who wish to establish a program in Erie County. If you are interested in starting a respite program and taking advantage of the $1,000 incentive funding, please contact Lisa Rood at
email@example.com or 716.941.5703. There is a deadline of February 1 to express interest, so please don’t delay.
|A Christmas Message From the District Superintendents of the Conference|
As echoes of the Christmas story and its carols and anthems fade for another year, a Christmas letter has been received from the district superintendents of the Upper New York Conference, written to all the congregations of the Conference:
“As followers of Jesus the Christ – from the manger to Galilee, from the cross to the Emmaus Road – we place our trust in the Prince of Peace who is the Hope of the World. As followers of Jesus, striving to become more and more like Him, we not only follow the Light of Christ, but by God’s grace we are to be the Light of Christ for the world!
“During this season of Christmas, we open our hearts and lives to welcome the newborn Christ. Even in a time when fear and distrust have gripped our nation – while many warn of the foreigner, the stranger, of people who are ‘different’ – we are called to open our hearts to share the love of Christ. When angry voices call for shutting out our Muslim neighbors, turning back refugees fleeing Syria, or suspecting people who are different from us, the message of the Christmas angels is clear. ‘Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy for all the people.’ For all the people. Their message calls us even today to seek to understand one another and cooperate in healthy ways; to stand up against acts of hatred and violence that threaten to diminish the acts of charity and gifts of love that are so much a part of this holy season.
“So how will we welcome Jesus in the new year? Confronted by the very simple story of Christ’s birth, how can we offer Christ’s Light in this particular time of fear and mistrust? We welcome Jesus as a baby, but we remember that the Babe of Bethlehem grew to be a man who challenged the powerful and lifted up the lowly – a Savior who calls His followers, even today, to walk in the way of courage and compassion, justice and love. That could mean speaking up with courage when we hear hate-based speech, whether in our workplace, with friends, on social media, or in our family. It may mean taking time to listen and understand a neighbor stopping harassing behavior rather than turning the other way, or using our voices to challenge violence as we proclaim the grace and love of God’s Hope and Peace for all. Above all, we are called to not just hear the story, but to respond to it.
“‘Joy to the World, the Lord is come!’ As we kneel at the manger this Christmas, let us pray it may be so.” v
|Racism Voted Top Story of 2015|
The continuing struggle against racism in the United States – which occupied United Methodists in protests, prayer and peacebuilding – was the biggest story in the denomination in 2015, according to a United Methodist News Service poll of communicators.
That struggle received 16 first-place votes out of 26 ballots cast by church communicators in the United States, Africa and Asia, along with news-service staff. The denomination’s response as hundreds of thousands of migrants continued to flee Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and various parts of Africa for Europe, was second, followed by the denominational debate over sexuality. The lingering Ebola epidemic in Africa was fourth and the rise of licensed local pastors in The United Methodist Church rounded out the top 5. For details, visit www.umc.org/news-and-media.
|Where Are the Music Stands?|
Several music stands used occasionally by our musicians on Sunday mornings have turned up missing. If you know where they are or have borrowed them, please leave a message at the church office (634-4800). We need them returned as soon as possible. Thanks for your help.
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