I recently learned a new word: “coddiwomple”. It is a verb meaning: “to travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination.” It seemed like a fitting way to describe 2018 in the life of First Church. While we as Christians know and are assured of our ultimate destination in Jesus Christ, the interim destinations along the way often feel rather “vague.” The question that has been on my heart this last year as I know on the hearts of our session is “where are we headed as a church” or “where is God leading us?”
Though the destination has seem less than clear, I do believe we are at least well on our way to coddiwompling in the sense of our traveling in a purposeful manner. While we aren’t as far along in a strategic planning process as I had hoped at the beginning of 2018, we are moving in a steady forward direction. In May and June, 69 of you completed the Congregational Assessment Tool (CAT) in order to offer us deeper insights to what is happening in our congregation. In October, our consultant came to help us interpret the results of the CAT. One of the things we learned is that we are a “Transformational Church”. We are a church with relatively high energy and high satisfaction. This is the best place to be in for what God will do with us next in our journey together.
A newly gathered Strategic Planning Committee has begun the work of taking what we worked on together at the October retreat and fleshing it out into a fuller strategic plan. A vision and four strategic initiatives have been defined already. The vision, as approved by session, is: Become a hub to care for the community better together than any of us could do alone.
This vision will continue to become a reality as we ground ourselves in what we do well and where we most feel God’s Spirit at work within us: in worship and in mission.
Worship is certainly a “participatory sport” at First Church with many hands needed to make it happen and all of us taking part. Worship is where we ground ourselves each week again in God’s love and God’s call to love others in the world. This year in worship, we all took part in sermon series, a choir cantata, singing out of our new hymnal, and risking trying new things and ways of worshipping. We baptized babies and an adult, confirmed 5 youth, and welcomed new members. It is our weekly “family gathering”- a time to check in with one another and God and be nourished for the week ahead.
We come together each week in part so we can go out (or stay in!) and serve our community. One of the highlights this year in mission was our deeper partnership with IONA (the Islamic Organization of North America) for two weeks of hosting the Warming Center. It was a very moving experience for all volunteers not only to serve our guests but also to work across religious identities. We had over 30 other organizations and businesses taking part in serving this week as well- inviting others to share their gifts with those in need.
The Inclusion Ministry program, which we highlighted on World Communion Sunday this past year, continues to grow. The relationships being built between high school youth and seniors at Warren Glenn is inspiring and nourishing. In 2018, the deacon Christmas basket program was directed towards the Sterling Heights youth who clean the church once a week. It was very successful and much appreciated by the youth. This program is a key example of our church becoming a “hub” of care for our community. Not only First Church members serving in mission, but inviting others to take part and share their gifts as well.
To support our vision, one of the things we need is an adequate, well-maintained facility. 2018 has been a year of a number of capital and building. After several years of work, we got a new electronic sign! We resealed the parking lot, got a new roof on fellowship hall, painted the hallway, and dealt with plumbing issues amongst other things our building and grounds committee (and friends!) helped to accomplish. More capital improvements will be needed in the coming year(s) and we will be asking for your support in that effort.
The vision will also continue to need dedicated staff and lay leaders. I am so grateful for the work of our staff this past year- Nancy, Trish, Marijo, June, Sharon, and Lauren. Since there are more of us now(!), we began having regular staff meetings this year which are helpful not only in checking in on calendars and church events, but checking in with one another and praying for one another personally.
The culture on session since I began here four years ago has always been one of grace, willingness to take (good) risks, and love and commitment for First Church. Two of our “core” members, Lynn Meuchel and Glenn McIntyre rotated off at the end of 2018 after six years of dedicated and faithful service. We give thanks for their ministry and look forward to the new elders coming on board. Our deacons have also been doing some amazing work this year and trying new ways to care for the congregation. I am grateful for their leadership in this.
As we begin 2019, I’m looking forward to see where our journey together is heading and maybe even more importantly, the stops and fun we’ll have along the way! And as we journey, may we pursue the same goal as the Apostle Paul: “the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).
Rev. Julie Delezenne
Studying the Bible in community is one of the most basic and fundamental Christian spiritual practices. It can also be one of the most challenging in our 21st century lives! While not a complete substitute for meeting in person, we’ll be offering an on-line Bible Study community that “meets” in a Facebook group starting mid-July. This is an experiment and we’ll be learning by trial and error as we go!
We’re keeping the rules simple:
We are also opening it right now just to those who are connected in some way in real life to First Church so that there is real-life accountability in being kind, participating, and listening well. I will serve as group moderator and start the discussion each week. We will be journeying through the Gospel of John, which happens to be what we are currently studying in the Sunday morning Bible Study group. All are welcome to come join us as well Sunday’s at 8:30 am ( no Bible study in July, however we will resume Bible study in August), though we may not be in the same place in John at the same time.
How to join:
Search “First Presbyterian Warren Bible Study” in Facebook. Click “join.” Answer the 3 easy questions. That’s it! Join anytime!
“See” you there! Pastor Julie
Dear First Church Family,
I’ve had a number of requests from members for information regarding what the
Presbyterian Church (USA) has said about the situation on the border and how
people might become involved.
Regarding the current situation, our Stated Clerk, J. Herbert Nelson, has made the following statement: https://www.pcusa.org/news/2018/6/16/stated-clerk-
There is also a Commissioner’s Resolution being discussed at General Assembly
in St. Louis this week: https://www.pc-biz.org/#/search/3000471
Presbyterians have been involved in immigration at the border and around the
country for decades.
Here are some of our policy statements: http://oga.pcusa.org/section/mid-council-
A postcard to send to congress about immigration reform:
Presbyterian Border Ministry: http://fronteradecristo.org/
And a local organization whose Executive Director is a PC(USA) minister and
also an immigration lawyer: http://www.detimmigrantcenter.com/
I recognize and celebrate the diversity of our congregation in terms of political
and theological views. During crises like this, conversation often becomes
difficult yet imperative across the spectrums, especially by people of faith. I hope
that in our own lives we might grow in our ability to speak and act in both loving
ways and ways that lift up the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. I also hope
that as Christians, we do not give into the despair of the world, but seek ways to
“do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.”
On Sunday, we read this section from A Brief Statement of Faith as our
Affirmation of Faith:
We trust in God,
whom Jesus called Abba, Father.
In sovereign love God created the world good
and makes everyone equally in God’s image
male and female, of every race and people,
to live as one community.
But we rebel against God; we hide from our Creator.
Ignoring God’s commandments,
we violate the image of God in others and ourselves,
accept lies as truth,
exploit neighbor and nature,
and threaten death to the planet entrusted to our care.
We deserve God’s condemnation.
Yet God acts with justice and mercy to redeem creation.
We talked about Genesis 3 and the pervasiveness of sin, the ways we are held
captive by it and our response to feeling captive. As in the Garden of Eden,
after eating the forbidden fruit, our response to our feeling the weight of our
individual and collective sin can be to hide in fear of judgment, point the blame on
others, or to lash out in violent words or actions. It is tempting to do this because
it feels like a quick fix, a temporal freedom from that weight that we feel.
But Jesus shows us a new way. A way of love, even love of those we might
perceive of as our “enemies.” On the cross, Jesus exposes the injustices of the
world and suffers the depths of human pain. In his resurrection, Jesus releases
all of us from our captivity to our brokenness and frees us for new life.
Each of us are worthy of love, each of us are worthy of someone empathizing
with our pain, and each of us are worthy of new life. Even in the midst of our
collective and individual brokenness, we are worthy. Each of us.
I hope you join with me in prayer for our congregation, for our country, for our
political leaders, and especially for children caught in our collective brokenness
who are also worthy of love, empathy, and new life.
It has been quite an eventful last year for First Presbyterian Church of Warren! As we have settled in and gotten to know one another more, we are now at a point where we need to be looking ahead as to how God is calling us next. How do we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit that is so alive and active in our community?
To that end, the session has agreed to move forward with Holy Cow! Consulting to help us in discerning our future. The first step is to conduct a congregational assessment. This assessment will provide a clear picture of who we are as a church and what directions are most important for our future. The tool we'll use is the Congregation Assessment Tool (CAT), which will provide key indicators of our congregational health along with areas of challenge and potential growth. It will help us to collect and understand the range of views that exist at First Church and the possibilities, willingness, capacity and energy for moving our ministry into the future.
We ask that all those who currently regularly participate in the life of the congregation take the assessment.
If you receive a weekly e-newsletter, you will receive a unique web link to complete the assessment online. That link will also be available if you call the office and request it and/or give us your email address.
If you would prefer to take the assessment using a paper copy, please stop by the office, and we will provide one for you along with a self-addressed stamped envelope. If you are able to do the on-line version, that is preferred. If you need computer time at church, please call the office and we can arrange a time when an office computer will be available.
NOTE: If there is only one email address for all members of your household, it may be tempting to have one person take the survey on behalf of the family. However, please be sure your spouse and all young adults/teens living in your home have an opportunity to complete the survey. INDIVIDUAL INPUT is key to our gaining insight into overall perceptions and experiences.
Please set aside enough time to answer all the questions. This will take about 30 minutes. All survey responses are strictly anonymous. The link to the CAT will be available May 20-June 10. Paper copies will be available May 20-June 3.
Thank you for your willingness to be a part of this congregational assessment and for helping to build First Presbyterian Church of Warren’s future.
If you have questions, please contact Pastor Julie or Elder Nina Wash at firstname.lastname@example.org, 586-751-1721, or in person!
When community comes together it really makes a difference! During the first 2 weeks of March (4th – 18th) the First Presbyterian Church of Warren partnered with the Islamic Organization of North America to house homeless guests from all over Macomb County with the Macomb County Warming Center. But the partnership was more than just the 2 religious organizations. Community restaurants, schools, grocery stores and markets volunteered food and more than 1,000 hours of time and over 2,500 meals we served during the 2 weeks. Our homeless guests came in every night at 7:00 pm, ate a hot dinner, and were given a warm place to sleep for the night. Then after a quick breakfast and by 7:00 am they are on their way.
Here are what some of our guests shared in our guest book:
“I have not been homeless for long, (3 months) but the hospitality that I have received by this church and all of the volunteers has been phenomenal to say the least. As hard as it has been for me dealing with my situation, I have, or shall I say, I am at peace of mind knowing that there are still people out there, that care about the homeless population and their welfare.”
“Due to no fault of my own, I unexpectedly became homeless. I had no family or friends who could take me in. I sat at bus stops at night, and slept at the library during the day before work. When winter came, I hesitantly sought out a warming center. I was terrified. Much to my surprise, I felt safe. The people were welcoming and kind. The food was delicious, and I was warm. If not for this place, I would have frozen to death at a bus stop. God bless this program!”
We are so grateful for the community that made this life-saving program possible! Here are a list of our partners:
Islamic Organization of North America
St. Louise de Marillac Catholic Church
Celtic Cross Presbyterian Church
American Islamic Community Center
Islamic Association of Greater Detroit
American Muslim Diversity Association
Bismillah Kabob N Curry Café
Fit Turf Lawn and Tree Care
Kroger Grocery Store
Lowes Home Improvement
Mike’s Kabob Grille
Mott High School
Mr. Miguel’s Mexican Cantina
NU New York Deli
Olive Garden Italian Restaurant
Penn Station East Coast Subs, Madison Heights and Sterling Heights
Royal Kabob Restaurant
Salvatore Pizza Burgers and More
I would like to take this opportunity to wish our congregation and all who may visit our site this year a very Happy New Year. Prayers for a very good year ahead for you and those you love - if you have not had a chance to visit us - you are welcome, we love to see new faces at First Presbyterian. We have a wonderful Pastor and a great Choir and as our Mission Statement says "We are a welcoming family of God following Christ's teaching and putting faith into action." Sincerely Gloria Stanley, Outreach Elder 2017
I wasn’t here last week, but I know Pastor Nancy faithfully addressed what happened in Charlottesville. As your pastor, I wanted to share just a few thoughts as well.
We’ve been sharing our histories with one another and talking about the importance of knowing our history. Of learning from the past in order to know who we are, who we have been, and who God might be calling us to be. This year, we celebrate what’s designated as the 500th year of the Protestant Reformation. In Wittenburg, Germany, on October 31, 1517, a young monk, Martin Luther, posted things that he saw that were going terribly wrong with the church, things that weren’t faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And through the help of the printing press, it went viral. Thoughts and actions that had been bubbling up here and there became a movement. A movement that sometimes not only required words but also bodies on the line to stand up for the Gospel.
This October, through our Stewardship season and beyond we’ll be talking about some of the words and thoughts that that movement inspired. We’re going to be looking at some of our more recent confessions from our Book of Confessions. One of those is the Barmen Declaration. (Here is the symbol for it.) It was written by Christians in Germany in the early 1930’s, soon after Hitler’s rise to power which included legitimating power given to him and his party by churches and church leaders. Other Christian leaders saw this for what it was, a corruption of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many were imprisoned and lost for their lives for what they said and how they lived the Gospel.
Here is some of what they wrote…”As members of Lutheran, Reformed, and United Churches, we may and must speak with one voice in this matter today. Precisely because we want to be and to remain faithful to our various Confessions, we may not keep silent, since we believe that we have been given a common message to utter in a time of common need and temptation.” Here’s the core of their message: “Jesus Christ, as he is attested for us in Holy Scirpture, is the one Word of God which we have to hear and which we have to trust and obey in life and in death….As Jesus Christ is God’s assurance of the forgiveness of all our sins, so in the same way and with the same seriousness is he also God’s mighty claim upon our whole life…. We reject the false doctrine, as through there were areas of our life in which we would not belong to Jesus Christ, but to other lords- areas in which we would not need justification and sanctification through him.”
This is the core of their message and the core of the Gospel- we belong, body and soul to Jesus Christ- and that is good news! We belong to Jesus Christ, our identity is in Jesus Christ over and far above all else- not our race or our gender or our economic status or our political party or the nation which we call home. We belong to Jesus Christ.
Jesus- the brown, Middle Eastern Jew, who put his body on the line to call out sin and announce the kingdom of God. Who was killed in the midst of power politics and occupation of land and oppression by European forces. The Jesus who was raised, renouncing evil even in death.
That’s the Jesus we belong to. Now…The good news is that I still belong to Jesus no matter how bad I mess up. No matter how much I have failed to speak and act as the Gospel requires me to. The sobering news is that belonging to Jesus and following that Jesus requires a lot and that I have failed and the Church as a whole has failed many times over to follow the way of the one to whom we belong. Failed to clearly renounce the sin of white supremacy. Failed to examine and exorcise our own racism. Failed to notice the ways we choose to belong to our race or political ideology or country over and above belonging to Jesus. Failed to put our words, actions, and even bodies on the line for the sake of the Gospel.
Clergy colleagues and so many others did just that in Charlottesville. And I confess, when I see their courage and their faithfulness, I know without a doubt, I have much work to do in my own heart. So, pray with me…
Holy God, we confess that too often we want following Jesus to be easy. But most of the time, what is easy is not always faithful. Give us courage in today’s world to be faithful to the Gospel. To proclaim the Gospel of belonging to you and to the way, truth, and life of Jesus. Help us to examine our own lives, dropping our defensive postures, learning to belong to you over our race, our political parties, or our citizenship. Give us the courage to listen to and to stand with those have been pushed down, told to be quiet, told to passively accept the violence done to them and their communities. Heal our hearts. Heal our country. Heal our world, O God.
We know that like Jacob, you often bless us in the midst of our struggles. As we struggle with our sin, as we struggle with how best to love our neighbors, as we struggle with how to be faithful to your gospel. Remind us of that promise that there is blessing in wrestling with these important things.
We pray now for blessings in the lives of others, known to us and known to you….
Hear our prayers O God. Give us courage and grace to live and work for your kingdom come, even as we pray now….
This week, on Tuesday morning Trish our new Office Administrator received a call from the White House, yes THE White House. Aaron had sent the White House the letter about our 60th anniversary. The caller told Trish that due to his schedule the President was unable to attend our Celebration. The fact that someone opened our letter and responded to it was just amazing. I guess we can never underestimate our little church in Warren, MI. Nor should we underestimate the Communications committee. We just figure that we will get one on three answers, yes, and no or maybe, so why not ask.
On July 31, we gathered for our second Family, Faith and Fun Night of the summer. The weather was iffy, but the highly-anticipated bounce houses got set up anyway. The rains came, but it didn't stop anyone from jumping in the house or giving the obstacle course a go. It became more slip and slide than anything else, but kids and adults enjoyed the playful night just the same. Dinner was delicious with hot dogs and covered dishes, topped off with freshly popped popcorn. Don't forget about the last FFF Night on August 28 at 5:30pm - Movie Night! Bring a pillow and blanket and find your spot in the sanctuary as we enjoy the flick together!
Our church hosted the Macomb County Warming Center March 10-17. It was a blessing to serve our neighbors with a warm place to sleep and hearty meals. This event was a first for the church, in opening up our building to folks in need of shelter. We served at least 100 guests during the week and offered 600 hours of mission service. We are grateful for our partners at the Warming Center who helped guide us through this week.
In April, we will sponsor a table at the Spring for the Homeless annual dinner to support the Warming Center's operations. We invite you to purchase tickets for this worthwhile event, too. Please see the flyer below for more information.
Hunger ministries have always been important to First Presbyterian Church. At Fellowship Hour today, we learned more about Gleaners from one of their Warren area volunteers. The organization collects 40 million pounds of food each year to feed people throughout metro Detroit. Last summer, many from our church helped pack food at Gleaners and we look forward to more volunteer opportunities there in 2013. On a weekly basis, we support St. Mark's Food Pantry with food donations. Today we learned that Gleaners is the main supplies of food for local pantries like St. Mark's. Supporting Gleaners is supporting folks in our local area, too! Christ calls us to help those who are hungry with our helping hands and with our financial support. We are grateful to be able to partner with Gleaners in serving our neighbors.
Mark Kausch ate lunch at the Bronx Deli in Farmington Hills last week and was surprised and excited to see First Presbyterian Church's former sanctuary pews re-purposed as booths in the deli!
During the Facility Enhancement Project in 2012, the church sold a number of pews on Craigslist to make space for our new choir chairs and redesign of the sanctuary. We were pleased to sell them to the owners of the Bronx Deli for their new location in Farmington Hills. We're glad to see that the restaurant is now open and ready to go, and that the pews are being put to good use by a local, small business.
Gloria Stanley, member of First Presbyterian Church, wrote this reflection for the Christmas season:
Pastor Emma’s sermon on Sunday made me sit back and reflect on the past 50 years of my life. I will be 70 on
January 2, and I cannot believe where the years went. I remember in 1963 I was about to celebrate my 20 th
birthday, the teen years would be no more and I was already anticipating being 21, the age at which I would be an
adult (able to Party) my Mom told me “you are going to 20, do not wish your life away, once you are 21 the years
will fly by.” She was right, they flew. I sit and remember this time of year during the past 50 years. When I was 20 it
was a wonderful time, shopping and gift giving and of course receiving. I would sit in front of the Christmas tree in
the living room just wondering what was under there for me. I would be excited for Mom and could not wait until
she saw what I got for her. Packages would come from my Sister and there again “what is in there”? I still have the
ladies electric shaver she gave me that year. Unfortunately we were not members of a Church back then, not sure
why, there was a Catholic church right down the street, a big Methodist Church on Woodward avenue but too far
away and no transportation.
What was going on in 1963; 50 years ago when I was 20? The biggest news of that year was the assassination of
John F. Kennedy on November 22nd. Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr was arrested, films included “The
Birds” “The Great Escape” and popular TV programs were “The Virginian” and “Lassie”. Ladies fashion included
fur boots and towering hair do’s. Beatlemania after the release of “I Want to Hold Your Hand/I Saw Her Standing
There” hit the air ways.
Yearly inflation rate in the USA was 1.24%
Year End Close Dow Jones Industrial Average 762
Average cost of a new home $12,650
Average Income per Year $5,807
Gas per Gallon .29 cents
Average cost of a new car $3,233
Loaf of Bread .22 cents
Bedroom Air Conditioner $149.95
Technology: AT&T introduces touch tone phones
The first prototype Learjet takes off
Zip Codes are implemented in the U.S.
Popular musicians were: The Beatles, Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly, The Drifters, and Jim Reeves
Popular Tv Programs were: The Andy Griffith Show
The Dick Van Dyke Show
Our Church celebrated its 50 years a few years ago, and several of our members celebrated 50 years as members
& I know that they have stories to tell about the past 50 years. As the 2012 Holiday season draws near, I am now
alone, Mom, my Sister and Brother are gone, the house is empty but the memories remain. I know how much they
loved Christmas, Mom singing in the Choir at First Church and playing Christmas music on her piano (Art Snook)
tuned it up for her. I would hear her playing as I entered the driveway coming home from work, she would have
the house all decorated, it felt so good.
When she passed I thought that I would not do Christmas anymore, but that thought changed as the holiday drew
near. I just had to decorate for her memory, and I thought perhaps I may not be here next year to decorate, so I do
a little, but enough to hold her memory, and I am not really alone; The Lord is with me always, I invite him into my
home each day of the year and on Christmas Eve after our Church service I come home to my little Dog Dexter, we
invite Jesus in to share the rest of the evening together, perhaps talk to a few friends on the phone and thank God
for what I have, thank him for the wonderful memories of family and friends who are no longer here. I just want to
hold Christmas for what it truly is and I am full of joy along with a little sadness this time of year remembering the
past 50 years of laughter and tears, joys and sorrows. I made it – Thanks Be to God – I made it this far.
What about your past 50 years, if you have that many?
Member, First Presbyterian Church
3 6oz bags semi sweet chocolate chips
14 oz can sweeten condensed milk
Dash of salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts - Walnuts
Melt chocolate & milk in glass dish in microwave 1 min at a time (do not over melt)
When that is melted add vanilla, salt & nuts
Put in wax paper lined 8X8 or 7X7 pan. Put in fridge for 1 hr. Cut and store in a tight container.
Variations: use different chips, toasted coconut, almond, peanuts
Cranberry Salsa with Lime
makes about 4 cups
1 12 oz pkg fresh cranberries – picked over and stemmed*
2 large ribs of celery – finely diced
1 small white onion finely diced
1 jalapeno pepper – seeded and minced
¼ cup chopped cilantro
½ tsp salt
¾ cup sugar
3 Tbs fresh limejuice (1 lime)
Process berries in food processor until coarsely & evenly ground
Transfer berries to a medium bowl & add rest of ingredients
Stir well to combine – cover & refrigerate
Salsa is best if made several hours ahead of serving, or up to one day
Tip: freeze fresh berries first & then let them thaw partially before using
Peanut Butter Balls
3 cups Rice Krispies
½ cup softened butter or margarine
1 pound powder sugar
28 oz Peanut Butter, Chunky
Lightly crumble Rice Krispies
Mix cereal, butter, sugar and peanut butter
Form into balls
Chill 2 hrs on cookie sheet.
Melt 2 8 oz Hersey bars, 12 oz chocolate chips and 2/3 stick of paraffin wax
Put tooth pick in center of each ball and drop in chocolate, place on wax paper till hardened
Store covered. Freezes well.
Though our allegiance is first to Jesus Christ, we believe our faith calls us to participate in the political process, particularly through exercising our right to vote. At First Presbyterian Church, we particularly marked this year's election with an Election Day Communion service after the polls closed on November 6. Knowing that campaigns and elections often have the power to divide us, we served one another at the table to remember that in Christ, we are ONE.
On November 6, President Obama was reelected to serve another term in office. The president carried the keys states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and won California’s 55 electoral votes to achieve the 270 electoral college votes needed to win his battle against Republican Mitt Romney.
Republicans retained control of the House of Representatives, while Democrats stayed in charge of the Senate and the White House in Washington, DC.
As the Lord leads, please pray: