Dear Friends of Jesus Christ,

I have four ministry matters to share with you.  First, the March 15th attack on the two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand has left, so far, 50 persons dead. The background and thought process of the murderer is unknown at this time, but I’d like to state that anyone’s attempt to use the Christian faith as justification for murdering innocent Muslims is a gross perversion of the gospel.  The Lord teaches us to, “love thy neighbor as thyself” (Mark 12:31).  Over the years, First UMC has put that principle into action, by hosting inter-faith events.  I’ve reached out to Muslim contacts we have made in the community, expressing our desire to host them again very soon for an inter-faith event.  Members of our church attended the prayer vigil held at Grace Lutheran on March 21st. 

Second, our Lenten worship this year will contain both new and familiar elements.  Regarding those things that are new, on Holy Thursday the events that occurred in the Upper Room will be proclaimed through a “spontaneous drama”.  Join us in The Gathering Place at 6:30pm for heavy hors d’oeuvres, a casual “snack supper” of finger food prior to worship.  Afterward, we’ll move to the sanctuary for a drama in which the actors have been selected in advance, but have neither seen a script, nor know which part they will be playing.  This should be a fresh worship experience for worshippers and actors alike!  On Good Friday join us at Wesley UMC at noon for a multi-church service focusing on the “Seven Last Words of Jesus”.  I’ll be participating and I hope to see you there.  For Easter Sunrise, join us at 6:30am to proclaim the resurrection at Mount Hebron Cemetery, Old Church Wall, for a service in which First UMC, Market St. UMC, and Braddock St. UMC, will gather, along with friends from Grace Lutheran and Christ Episcopal churches. Regarding our familiar events, children ages 2-10 will love the Easter Egg Hunt, held this year at our church’s Apple Pie Ridge Campus on Saturday, April 13, at 1pm.  We’ll process to the Old Court House on Palm Sunday, April 14.  “Breakfast in Between” will occur again on Easter morning.   Our Easter Offering this year will support apportionment giving through The United Methodist Church as we are in mission in 167 countries around the world beyond our local church.  We’ll also be collecting cans of carrots and potatoes for the Winchester Rescue Mission during Lent.  We’ll make Easter baskets for the kids living at the Budget Motel after the Holy Thursday service.  We’ll deliver these items on Easter Sunday, April 21st.

Third, there are many persons I’d like to thank for their recent service to the church.  The leaders of our Church Council, planned and implemented a “Ministry Fair” in The Gathering Place on March 10th and 17th that was well attended and received.  Thanks Council members for your response to God’s calling!  When the church’s insurance company raised our rates 400 percent not long ago, new member Mike Morris stepped in to negotiate a new contract through a new carrier.  Securing insurance for a sanctuary that is over 100 years old, primarily made of wood, and lacking a modern sprinkler system, without completely breaking the bank, is not easy.  Thanks Mike!

Fourth, looking ahead to the future, coming to the church in May is “Christian Believer”, a small group Bible study that helps people understand the doctrines of the church.  From June 10-14, Vacation Bible School will be held.  See pages 8 and 9 for additional details! 

I’d ask that you read this newsletter, watch the Sunday morning PowerPoint announcements, read church emails, and like First United Methodist Church of Winchester on Facebook, for timely information about these and many other opportunities through FUMC.  I hope to see you in the pews this Sunday! 

Grace and Peace,

Rev. Will White