The Columns – February 2016

Kids
KidsPICS

In the real world of work, school, extracurricular activities, birthday parties, ballgames, travel, etc., etc., parents have a hard time finding one on one time with their kids. So, how are we managing to build a great relationships with our children? We try to find meaningful activities in which to participate and have quality conversations with them (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). We try to be good role models (Matthew 5:16). We try to encourage them (Hebrews 10:24-25).

What better way to do these things than attending church and church related activities together? It’s an opportunity to hear truth and life lessons. It’s an opportunity to worship together. It’s an opportunity to take away what you hear and discuss it at length and put it into your real life.

In kids’ ministry, we have an important job. We are here to support you and help you to pass on to your children the treasure of an ongoing relationship with the King of the Universe. Relationships are the primary reason families, kids and volunteers keep coming back week after week. When the same kids are in the same group each week, those relationships within the group can grow stronger and stronger. When kids are in the same group each week with the same leader, the relationship with that leader grows. Leaders offer a key partnership with parents as they are another voice of Biblical truth in every child’s life. Over time, we have seen that kids and leaders in consistent groups will want to come back week after week because the relationships they are forming are an important part of their lives!

We want to do whatever we can for you and your children to help you build relationships at home, church, and forever with our Savior. We love having you here with us and hope that you will join us for Sunday School, church and all of the other events that we have for your children and families.

STACI ZEAGLER • Elementary (K-4) • szeagler@fumcshreveport.orgwww.firstshreveport.org/kidsfacebook.com – 1st Kids

BILLIE TATE • Nursery & Preschool • btate@fumcshreveport.orgwww.firstshreveport.org/kidsfacebook.com – 1st Kids

CAROLINE WILKINSON • StepUp (5&6) • cwilkinson@fumcshreveport.orgwww.firstshreveport.org/kidsfacebook.com – 1st Kids

UPCOMING CHILDREN’S EVENTS
Pig Roast “Eggs”travaganza • March 13, 2016 • 11:00AM • Rice Family Farm
Palm Sunday Processional • March 20, 2016 • 8:30AM & 11:00AM • Children Process with palms during worship.
Flowering of the Cross • March 27, 2016 • 10:00AM • Children are invited to bring fresh flowers.

Stay Up To Date
on opportunities to connect, grow, serve & lead.

• View/Print this month’s events calendar.
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The Columns – February 2016

RecentEvents

RecentEvents_BPFJ
BIRTHDAY PARTY FOR JESUS – PRINCE OF PEACE
What a great way to begin the Advent season – families celebrating the birth of the “Prince of Peace!” The morning began with Christmas songs presented by Derek and Heather Gunter. Following the songs, families rotated according to the color of their wands. The stations included a nativity craft, Christmas games, and the highlight was a visit with Mary, the mother of Jesus, who was portrayed by our own Ms. Anne Wilson. The event ended in the traditional birthday celebration with cupcakes, fruit, cheese, and juice. Lights were dimmed, candles lit, “Silent Night” was sung in unison, and everyone left remembering that we are to let the light of Jesus shine through us each and everyday. Many thanks to the fabulous youth, nursery staff, and adult volunteers who made this an event to remember.

RecentEvents_KDO
KIDS DAY OUT
Nursery, Preschool and Elementary age kids had a fun-filled Christmas-inspired day out at the church on the Saturday before Christmas while Moms and Dads had some time to themselves. We hope that the kids enjoyed it and that their parents enjoyed their day off, too!

RecentEvents_GNO
YOUNG AT HEART GEMS
Even Santa was “busting a move” at the Young at Heart GEMs Christmas Party! Dinner, games, crafts, dance, and cake helped make this a fun evening for everyone on December 18, 2015. Bain Hall was decorated with penquins galore! A couple of new groups of friends were welcomed by lots of staff and volunteers. I might miss someone if I named all the volunteers, but each of them helped make the event a special Christmas party for everyone. Many thanks to Victor Crusan for being an awesome MC and to Shannon Nyswaner for keeping the music playing as our DJ.

RecentEvents_Maintenance
MAINTENANCE STAFF CHRISTMAS PARTY
Congratulations to Phyllis Davis celebrating 10 years and Joseph Collins celebrating 20 years of service with us.

Stay Up To Date
on opportunities to connect, grow, serve & lead.

• View/Print this month’s events calendar.
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The Columns – February 2016

Discipleship

Whether you dread Valentine’s Day or love it, this list is for you! February is a great time to remember what true love is: God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another (1 John 4:9-11). As we share our love and God’s love by serving others, our own lives are blessed. The love within us grows, bears fruit and transforms us more closely into the image of Christ. So, my friends, let us love by giving and serving so others may live abundantly.

10. Pray for our missionary team in Russia.
9. Write a note of encouragement to a foreign missionary.
8. Anonymously buy a meal for someone dining alone.
7. Give a box of chocolates to a stranger.
6. Call someone you haven’t spoken to in a long time.
5. Give valentines to residents of a Nursing Home.
4. Invite over or visit the loneliest person you know.
3. Forgive someone who was mean to you and send them flowers.
2. Commit to mentor a child at the Travis Street Lighthouse.
1. Adopt a grandparent to spend time with, listen to, and care about.

FEBRUARY GROW OPPORTUNITIES
Memorize
Mark 10:45 – “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Read
Mark – Commit to join your church family in reading through the Gospel of Mark this month. This can be done in solitude, with your family, with a reading partner or with a small group. Set aside time on a regular basis to read and reflect on God’s Word this month.

Study
A Place at the Table by Chris Seay on RightNow Media
In a culture built on consumption it is easy to forget the poor that Jesus cared so much about. Chris Seay invites readers on a journey of self-examination, discipline, and renewed focus on Jesus that will change their lives forever. The six-session series, shot in such locations as the Holy Land, Haiti, and Ecuador, will help small groups go on a passionate journey of radical faith, personal action, solidarity with the poor, and extravagant grace. If you do not have a RightNow Media account please email Stephanie Clark for an invitation (sclark@fumcshreveport.org).

Act
• Take the Discipleship Survey at members.firstdiscipleship.org. Take 10 minutes to reflect on your understanding of faith and pray about steps you will take to grow this month in wisdom. (Your answers are confidential and for your reflection only.)
• Serve as a tutor and mentor for a youth or child at the Travis Street Lighthouse. Contact Michelle Osborn at mosborn@fumcshreveport.org.

Lead
• Pray for the Russian mission trip (Feb. 13-23)

Stay Up To Date
on opportunities to connect, grow, serve & lead.

• View/Print this month’s events calendar.
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The Columns – February 2016

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THE MOST IMPORTANT BUILDING BLOCK OF HUMAN SOCIETY
Do you remember the game where you interlace your fingers together and say, “here is the church, here is the steeple, open the church and there are the people” and you wiggle your fingers around to show them moving, as if your fingers represent their aliveness? As a child I loved playing that game. It reminded me that I always belonged to the church because my little fingers were among the people.

Recently after the 8:30am worship service, I saw a man and his family standing outside the church operating a remote controlled device. Out of curiosity, I walked over to them, introduced myself and asked what they were looking at in the sky. He was there using a drone to fly over the church taking video footage of our campus from a bird’s eye view. This footage will be used for publicity and marketing purposes and I promise you all looked fabulous that day! It was bitterly cold that morning so I invited them to follow me over to Coffee Corner for warm cocoa, coffee and some snacks, did I mention they had children with them? I shared this story with our 5th and 6th grade Sunday school that morning and of course they were thrilled our church was using high grade technology however, one student said, “You took them to Coffee Corner, it sounds like this is your home and you invited them in.” I said, “Yes, that’s exactly what I did because it is…and it’s your home too.”

The physical family is the most important building block to human society; it should be nurtured, protected and loved. When God created humans, he designed us to live in families; family relationships therefore are important to God and that includes the church, the universal body of believers. These scriptures validate the belonging to God’s family.

– Romans 9:4 –
They are the people of Israel, chosen to be God’s adopted children. God revealed his glory to them. He made covenants with them and gave them his law. He gave them the privilege of worshiping him and receiving his wonderful promises.(NLT)
– Ephesians 1:5 –
God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. (NLT)
– Ephesians 2:19 –
So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. (NLT)

So what does it mean to be the family of God? I believe God created families where we learn to love up close, celebrate life around the meal table, pray through difficulties discovering that we are all children of God. I believe God sent Jesus so we could see the heights and depths of love, know that we have a second chance and discover that in loving service the world can become a better place. I believe God delights in our laughter, rejoices in our kindness and celebrates our faithfulness to Him and one another. Family isn’t an important thing…it’s EVERYTHING!

Together… we make a family here at First United Methodist.

Are you a member of God’s family? Would you like to know more about being a member of this faith family? Contact Rev. Caroline Wilkinson, Associate Pastor, Membership Development, she will guide you through the membership process.

Rev. Caroline Wilkinson • Associate Pastor • cwilkinson@fumcshreveport.orgwww.firstshreveport.orgfacebook.com/fumcshreveport

Stay Up To Date
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• RSVP for a Starting Point Luncheon April 3, June 5, or September 18
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The Columns – February 2016

PatsPerspectiveWHAT PASSIONATE JOURNEY DO YOU DESIRE?

The power of a truly inspired life is impossible to calculate. Practically every person can name one person who influenced and impacted his or her life in a powerful way. Someone who was passionate about achieving a particular goal or cause has made every major accomplishment in history. Each of these persons possessed a burning desire.

What is your burning desire? What do you really want out of life? Just wanting things and dreaming about them is not enough. There is a world of difference between wishing and having a burning desire. You can have what you want in life provided that you desire it strongly enough and are willing to seek it with all your heart.

When you get a burning desire to do something or to be something, you begin to discover one of life’s greatest adventures. One of the things that you will discover is that you will enjoy the journey as much as reaching the summit of your goals. When you have a burning desire, you will be inspired to go the extra mile.

A burning desire, a magnificent obsession will enable you to persevere and not give up. When you burn your bridges behind you and have absolutely no way to retreat, God will go before you, as he did the children of Israel, and make a way when there seems to be absolutely no way. Nothing is impossible if you develop a burning desire in order to realize your dream. Throw yourself totally into whatever you do. Don’t let anyone or anything keep you from doing what God has called you to do or be. That God-given burning desire will get you where you want to go in life.

A burning desire will compensate for little or limited talent. Ask yourself, “How badly do I really want it?” A burning desire is the ingredient that makes the difference between an average performer and a true winner or champion in life. A burning desire is often called heart of passion. One person with a burning desire is greater than a hundred who only have a casual interest in something. Research has shown that aptitude and ability are not necessarily the prime ingredients of outstanding achievement. The one quality that all successful persons have in common is passion. It is their drive, determination and the desire that distinguished them from the crowd.

When you get to the end of your life and look back over it you truly will affirm the climb meant every bit as much as reaching the summit. Life can either be very dull and boring or it can be a passionate journey that is full of inspiration and truly makes an impact on our world. It is my simple prayer that God will raise up inspired men and women who can transform our world by transforming our community.

See you Sunday in church!

Stay Up To Date
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• View/Print this month’s events calendar.
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The Columns – January

LocalMissionsHeader

Community Ministry Partner funding is provided for projects and missions that complement the mission and vision of First UMC. Your Local Missions Team identifies organizations and projects that reflect our goals of caring for people in a transformational way, especially those affected by poverty and those confronting crisis in their lives. We partner with organizations in our local area that need volunteers as well as financial assistance.
After much discussion, vetting, and review, First UMC is overjoyed to fund SIXTEEN partnerships in 2016 with grants totaling $112,900 – a 12.9% increase from last year’s program. These grants are in addition to agencies and services funded through our operating budget. Our church is abundantly blessed with physical, relational, and financial resources, and what a joy it is to share those gifts with local groups simply trying to serve God’s people by improving their lives!

RECIPIENTS INCLUDE:
Samaritan Counseling Center
Providing subsidized counseling for low-income individuals and those who fall in the gap. Our partnership goes toward their client care fund.

Food Bank of NWLA
Center of food distribution for deserving individuals and programs. Our partnership will purchase 200,000 pounds of fresh food which will serve 75,000 people.

CRI Allendale Friendship House
Serving the children and families of the Allendale community. Our partnership helps with afterschool programming for these at-risk students.

Martin Luther King Health Center
Offers free physician care, medication, and health education. Our partnership funds much of their testing and supplies for wellness care.

NWLA Interfaith Pharmacy
Provides ongoing, free medication to underinsured residents, with a focus on chronic disease. Our partnership will help them purchase much-needed software to run their program.

Gingerbread House
Provides investigation and support for children going through physical and sexual abuse cases. Our partnership helps fund interviews, investigations, and counseling.

The Hub
Outreach to homeless and poverty level individuals, serving around 500 a month. Our partnership helps funds their Springboard Housing program, which provides transitional housing to the homeless.

Hope Connections
Guides and fosters a comprehensive, coordinated homeless services system. Our partnership allows them to provide much needed ID’s and birth certificates as well as funding bus passes for those trying to get back to their families.

Renesting Project
Gathers household donations to help fully furnish and outfit homes of those moving out of homelessness. Our partnership helps them with warehouse and moving expenses.

Christian Service
Provides two meals a day, 364 days a year. Our partnership helps purchase food for around 75,000 meals per year.

Holy Angels
Cares for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Our partnership will help fund their Angel University, which trains their direct care workers.

VOA Travis Street Lighthouse
Provides high-risk students after-school care and tools to improve their lives. Our partnership will purchase iPads and accessories for students to use in tutoring services.

Common Ground
Works to build relationships and serve the people of the Cedar Grove Community. Our partnership will provide funding for their wildly successful basketball program and their afterschool programs.

Highland Center Ministries
Provides community services for the working poor of the Highland Community. Our partnership will provide new uniforms for school children and diapers and other needs for babies.

Providence House
Offers a temporary home for the homeless through their residential development center. Our partnership will help fund their Child Development Center, which provides daycare so resident parents can work while also providing growth for the children they serve.

Fuller Grocery
Provides the residents of Allendale and Lakeside with a source of fresh, healthy food, as well as job training and opportunities for those working at the store. Our partnership will help them purchase fresh fruit.

MICHELLE OSBORN • Director of Local Missions • mosborn@fumcshreveport.orgwww.firstserves.orgfacebook.com/fumclocal

Serving Opportunities & Upcoming Events
Goodwill Clothing Drive – Volunteer to man the drop-off location on the first Sunday of each month, only 9:30-10AM, or to bag and deliver clothes to Goodwill. Earned vouchers will be used to purchase coats each year. And please drop your clothes donations with us on those first Sundays! Look for the signs near the Motor Garage.

VOA Travis Street Lighthouse – Assist Staci Zeagler each Wednesday, 4:30-5:30, with her Wacky Wednesday program, or volunteer to tutor or mentor any time that works for you!

Common Ground – Participate in the Cedar Grove community dinner, served every Thursday evening through cooking, greeting, or working the clothes closet and pantry.

Fuller Center for Housing – We need volunteers to help finish the three homes sponsored by First UMC in this year’s Legacy Build.

Stay Up To Date
on opportunities to connect, grow, serve & lead.

• View/Print this month’s events calendar.
• View/Print this month’s connect, grow, serve & lead opportunity descriptions.
• Check out our online events calendar.

The Columns – January

GlobalMissionsHeader2

In 2010, First United Methodist Church committed to a covenant relationship with Darivager Orphanage. Currently there are 61 children under Pastor Mongerard and Neemy’s care, and the monthly support FUMC provides goes toward the purchase of food, maintaining the sleeping quarters, and educational expenses. FUMC sends additional $1000.00 per month to Dr. Osselin Junior, who oversees the medical care for not only the children at Darivager, but five other orphanages in Les Cayes. (Yes, the $1000.00 is Dr. Junior’s entire salary.)

In the spirit of transformational mission, our Global Mission ministry leaders met with Pastor Mongerard to review his five-year vision for raising the living standards for the children at Darivager Orphanage:

1. Rebuild the church located beside Darivager
a. This includes the building for the secondary school, which is six classes of children
b. Solar-power the church and school

2. Build a 3-classroom building to house K-3 students
DONE!

3. Build new latrines and showers (May 2016)

4. Project for the yard
a. Mango trees & flowers planted
b. Paved area for parking, with basketball goals at either end
c. Dedicated soccer field

5. Buy additional land for agriculture
a. The land now includes approximately 2 acres of corn, eggplant and other various vegetables.
b. One older man farms the land, & he is teaching the children to cultivate the crops.
c. A dedicated pin area for goats & pigs

6. Build a guest house for teams
a. Include shower and toilets
b. Pastor said he wanted our team, and others, to call this their second home.

7. Computer lab for the children
a. This could be a room in the new school…
b. Include 10-12 laptop computers.
c. Could be powered by solar panels; need to complete energy assessment

8. Purchase a truck
DONE!

9. Drill a new well and rewire existing solar power system to the
orphanage
(Jan/Feb 2016)

As you can see, we have been able to mark several things off our list, and we continue to prayerfully consider how God will use our resources to make Darivager self-sustaining. We thank God every day for Pastor Mongerard’s leadership and vision, and Neemy’s passion for community health. Together, they are transforming Haiti for our children.

ASHLEY GOAD • agoad@fumcshreveport.orgwww.firstserves.orgfacebook.com/fumcglobal@GlobalFUMCvimeo.com/firstshreveportGlobalFUMC on Instagram

Register Now for Costa Rica!

  • Who: Ages 10+; All Students under 18 must be accompanied by a parent
  • When: SPRING BREAK – March 26 – April 2, 2016
  • Where: San Isidro, Costa Rica
  • What: Construction
  • How much: $1200.00 ($200.00 due upon registration; $500.00 due by February 1; $500.00 due March 1.

2016 Global Missions & Events

  • RUSSIAN MISSION TRIP – February 13-23
  • COSTA RICA FAMILY MISSION TRIP – March 26 – April 2
  • LOCAL & GLOBAL MISSIONS EXTRAVAGANZA – Friday, April 22
  • HAITI MISSION TRIP – May 27 – June 3
  • RUSSIAN MISSION TRIP – June
  • COSTA RICA YOUTH MISSION TRIP – July 9-16
  • ROMANIA PARTNERSHIP DEVELOPMENT TRIP – September
  • HAITI MISSION TRIP – October
  • MISSIONS LAUNCH LUNCH – Sunday, November 13
  • ECUADOR MEDICAL MISSION TRIP – November 19-26
  • UGANDA MISSION TRIP – December 27-January 6

Stay Up To Date
on opportunities to connect, grow, serve & lead.

• View/Print this month’s events calendar.
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The Columns – January

MensMinistryHeader

So, how did you do on last year’s resolutions? Were you really committed for the first three days then gave up when your favorite dessert
was passed? Did you go to the gym a few times only to realize that you don’t like working out in a mass of sweaty bodies? Here are
some deeper more transformative resolutions you may take up in this new year. Drum roll, please…

TEN: Learn to Dance
“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal 5:26)
The early church fathers spoke of the inner life of the triune God as the divine dance of pouring themselves into one another. We are also called into that divine dance. This requires that we allow God to take the lead in our lives and be sensitive to the way He wants to move us to build up our families, encourage our colleagues, and strengthen our community.

NINE: Get a Grip on Your Life
“Add to your knowledge self-control” (2 Peter 1:6)
‘Time management’ is really selfmanagement. This year cultivate your power of choice to shape your future. Manage your time according to life-giving priorities. Make time for morning devotions. Make time for weekly date nights. Make time for family meals and games. Cultivating important relationships is a matter of ‘self-control’ so that the fullness of life doesn’t just dribble away.

EIGHT: Be Easy on People
“Let your gentleness be evident to all” (Phil 4:5)
One of my Philosophy professors at Wheaton once counseled me, ‘Remember that people are fragile.’ People have enough difficulties in life without us piling more on through insensitive or unforgiving words and attitudes. Just as we hope people will extend grace and understanding to us, so we should extend the same to others.

SEVEN: Be Faithful in the Small Things
“Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” (I Cor 4:2)
I remember my dad telling me when I was heading off to Scouts, ‘Jon, you are laying a good foundation.’ Everything we do opens or closes opportunities in the future. Every step of our careers and family life is about faithfulness. There is nothing in our lives too little to not do well. As we are faithful with little things, we will be trusted with greater things.

SIX: Prize Goodness
“Hate what is evil – cling to what is good” (Rom 12:9)
Our culture does just the opposite. It makes evil desirable and fascinating, while it makes good seem naïve and stupid. This year, get off the fence. When something is wrong, speak up. The way you verbally interpret what is going on in the world will help your children and grandchildren internalize a Christian understanding. If we are quiet, the world will be the dominate voice they listen to day in and day out.

FIVE: Be Kind
“Always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.” (I Thess 5:15)
Kindness is underrated these days, but how it smooths the way for peaceful relationships! Remember what your mama told you every time you left the house, ‘Be sweet!’ Show proper concern. Offer your help. Be generous with your time. Be Kind.

FOUR: Don’t Blow your Stack
“Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.” (Prov 16:32)
Being patient is like counting to 10 before you speak. It gives you time to make sure your filter is in place so you don’t say anything that you might regret, or that may make matters worse. Patience enables you to stand your ground while giving a fair hearing to the other person. Patience disarms an aggressor and keeps a situation from escalating.

THREE: Pursue Peace
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge.” (Rom 12:17-19)
Peace doesn’t just happen. It can be hard work. But it is always cheaper to work on a broken relationship sooner rather than later.

TWO: Be Joyful
“Shout with joy to God, all the earth!” (Psalm 66:1)
Count your blessings instead of disappointments and joy will come. Express gratitude over grumbling in a 3:1 ratio. 3:1 is the magic ratio that transforms the atmosphere from getting by to going forward with joy. When you choose joy, you will draw others into that joyful spirit.

ONE: Love
“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (I John 4:11)
This love is not the passionate erotic love that our culture is obsessed with. It is the agape love of God that our culture so desperately needs. Agape love means to be committed to another person’s good, wholeness, without expecting anything in return. Who can you help without any anticipation of return? Is there a neighborhood boy who needs a father figure? A student who needs tutoring? Poor who need feeding through your service at the Salvation Army or Rescue Mission?

There are so many resolutions we could make this year. Why not try a couple of these. The key is to be intentional. Think about what your resolution will actually look like, then do it! Who knows how God will use these to transform your life, your family, and your work!

Upcoming Events

  • Wednesday Business Lunch • Every Wednesday • Hunter 101 • Cost $7
  • Marriage Matters Seminar • February 20 • Led by Ross Githens MS,L. Please contact Tammy Hogg for more information
  • Pig Roast Eggstravaganza • March 13 • Rice Family Farm

Men’s Bible/Book Studies
Drop-ins are always welcome!

  • Tuesdays • Noon • Courtyard Kitchen • Cost $7 • Led by Geoff Westmoreland Contemporary topics of work, manhood, and community looked at through a Biblical lens.
  • Wednesdays • 6:45AM • Courtyard Kitchen • This Men’s Study is starting the study of Surprised by Scripture by N. T. Wright. Call Jonathan Beck at 424-7771 to let him know your interest.
  • Thursdays • Noon • Courtyard Kitchen • Bible Study is presently focusing on The Pastoral Letters: I Timothy, II Timothy, and Titus by N. T. Wright. Call Jonathan Beck at 424-7771 to get a book.
  • Fridays • Noon • Progressive Bank on Fern Ave. • Led by Chris Rea – Bible Study is presently focusing on Acts. Call church office for more information at 424-7771.

Dr. Jonathan Beck • Executive Pastor • jbeck@fumcshreveport.orgfirstshreveport.org/mens-ministry@jonathanbeck • 318.424.7771

Stay Up To Date
on opportunities to connect, grow, serve & lead.

• View/Print this month’s events calendar.
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The Columns – January

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The Epic of Eden
Join us beginning January 19th and 20th, 2016 for a 12-session study, THE EPIC OF EDEN, by Sandra Richter. This study shows us how Old Testament understanding leads to fresh depths of New Testament faith for everyday life in the real world. Old Testament can sometimes feel like a puzzle we’ve tried to put together but wind up putting back in the box because its too complicated. You will find this study to be a great adventure as we explore stories, characters and events (beginning with Eden!) and how they connect with the New Testament lives we live today. Call the church office or email dmitchell@fumcshreveport.org to register!

Upcoming Events
UMW Fiesta! • Saturday, January 23 • 9:30AM • Storer Activity Center, First UMC
We welcome all women from FUMC, including all current UMW Circles, to come together to learn more about United Methodist Women and what they can accomplish if they work together.
UMW’s official purpose is to know God and experience freedom as whole persons through Jesus Christ; to develop a creative and supportive fellowship of women; and to expand concepts of mission through participation in the global ministries of the church.
Membership in this dedicated and far-reaching group is open to any woman with a desire to participate in the global mission of the church. We have fun because we believe in our goals and have faith we are supporting God’s mission in the world.
Consider this an open invitation! Hope to see you soon!
Sheila Berry, President
FUMC United Methodist Women

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL THE WOMEN OF FUMC!!
2016 will be a great year for Women’s Ministry! Our planning team will be led by Cindy Paul and Rene McGee. Other participants include Graceanne Byrd, Elizabeth Harrel, Joyce Hooper, Kay Olson, Lindsay Smith, Sonya Toms and Mary Beth Wilhite. The UMW co-leaders are Sheila Berry and Clara Hemmings. If you have questions, suggestions, ideas to share or want to volunteer in ministry, give us a call at 424-7771, ext. 131.

Ways to Lead with Women’s Ministry
Contact Deana Mitchell today if you would like to help lead the women of First UMC!

  • Women’s Leadership
  • Women’s Special Events
  • Women’s Education
  • UMW Leader

DEANA MITCHELL • dmitchell@fumcshreveport.orgfirstshreveport.org/womens-ministryfacebook.com/firstshreveportwomen

Stay Up To Date
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• View/Print this month’s events calendar.
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The Columns – January

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Let’s just see where God takes this”… These were my husband’s words once we made the decision to begin a connect group. We prayerfully considered our focus and how it should be formed, and decided to simply list it in the church publications. To be honest, I worried about the group before it even took shape. Would everyone get along? Would we have enough in common? Will this be a draining and time-consuming endeavor on top of my already busy life? I had friends that were already in connect groups who praised the difference their group was making in their lives. One went so far as to say that his experience re-defined what it meant to be a part of a church family. I reflected on one of my favorite passages of scripture, Philippians 4:5–9 which addresses our anxieties by reminding us to pray and surrender our fears to God.

About six weeks later, we had our first meeting of four couples and four single adults. Some of the members I knew – others were relative strangers. What became clear from the beginning was that this was a group of eleven individuals with a desire for Christian connection above all else. And it was that desire and willingness that quickly eclipsed my earlier fears. We have different careers, life experiences, family circumstances and faith traditions, yet we find genuine commonalities and are developing lasting relationships. At our meetings we don’t always have a set agenda, but discuss current events or other similar topics through a Christian lens. I don’t feel the pressure of having to plan for our time together – all of our members are equally vested in the group and therefore discussion ideas just seem to come. Sometimes, we just chat.

One of our members, Becky, said it best; “I’ve been thinking about our connect group and my experience so far. First off, I couldn’t have prayed for a better group of folks! God just knew exactly where I needed to be. . .amazing! I was a bit apprehensive at first but after attending my first gathering, I knew I had found a place to belong. I was so blown away with how sincere, genuine, compassionate, caring, welcoming, friendly…and the list could go on forever…that each and everyone in the group was. I left my first connect group gathering on a “high”…this wonderful blessed feeling. I told everyone I could that I met the most awesome group of folks and that I had never met more genuine and sincere folks ever. You all just amaze me! You are all so filled with Christian love and the Spirit. I am truly blessed to be a part.”

Our church had challenged us to “connect-grow-serve-lead” and our connect group is heeding this call. I encourage every member of our congregation to consider being a part of a connect group regardless of where you are in your life. Connect groups come in all shapes and sizes, and there is a place for every person who desires to experience God in this way. Make the time – YOU will be blessed as well.

Looking for a Connect Group?!

• Hey FUMC!!! We would love you to join Melissa and me in our new connect group, two evenings a month to just have dinner and talk about how Christ can be injected more into our daily lives. If you’re interested, contact me, Victor Crusan, at vecmgc@msn.com.

• I’m looking to start a connect group for those living in the Long Lake/Southern Trace area. Membership at FUMC is so valuable to me and I see this as an opportunity to make it even better. If you’d like to join in that journey with me, please give me a call, Robert Mills, 318-469-1191.

ERIK RASMUSSEN • Director of Connect Groups/Singles/Counseling • erasmussen@fumcshreveport.org • 318.424.7771

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