The Council met this past Wednesday and we wanted to keep open communication with the congregation on many matters that were addressed. Thank you for your prayers for our congregation, our leaders, and staff during 2020. While COVID and Cory's resignation may be cause for some uncertainties and concerns, we want to voice our encouragement that First's Council is dedicated to moving our church forward--being led by the Spirit and the Word of God and in accordance with the doctrines of the Christian Reformed denomination, which have guided us for over 150 years. Council Updates: 1. Dave Baker has accepted the role of President of Council. The Council elected Tim McCastle to the position of Vice President of Council. 2. Dave Maki has resigned from his position as Chair of Deacons. His replacement will be named soon by the Deacons. 3. Tim McCastle was named by the Executive Team to chair a Transition Team. One of the first tasks of this team will be to search for a Specialized Transitional Minister (STM). Cory and Tim have already connected with the CRC Pastor Church Resources and we received the names of several pastors that specialize in STM, and contacts have already gone out to these individuals to help discover interest, availability, and to discern a potential fit. We will keep you informed about who the members of the team will be once they are named and how that process is going. Please keep this process and team in your prayers. 4. Cory has helped the Elders facilitate pulpit supply until the end of February as we work through the steps to name an interim pastor. 5. Council has approved a proposed budget for 2021. Due to COVID-related restrictions, concerns, and increased local cases, it was decided that the 2020 congregational meeting format will be modified. We are still working on the logistics, but the plan is to send the proposed budget, along with some explanations, in the mail to our members next week. There will also be a recorded presentation that will be shared with the congregation to give some general updates and some verbal discussion concerning the budget. Members will be able to vote on the budget electronically or paper ballot (details will be in the mailing and vote will be concluded on December 6). Members are encouraged to ask questions of their Elder, Deacon, or direct them to Dave Baker, Council President, or Jodi Deur, Chair of Finance. We do want to make it clear that our intent is to go back to in-person congregational meetings as we are able in 2021. 6. COVID updates: As you already know, cases in West Michigan are on the rise. We wish to thank the congregation for your commitment to each other as you faithfully follow the guidelines that have been set to reduce exposure. The Executive Team will continue to follow the advice of the health department as we make decisions about staying open or going back to an online format for a period of time. These are difficult decisions and we appreciate the support and prayers of our members as we weigh the risks and benefits of both options. 7. Thanksgiving Service: It has been decided that there will not be an in-person service this year for several reasons. The Worship Team is working on an online-only sermon that will be available for viewing at home. It will be available by noon on Wednesday, November 25th. Again, we thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement. Please reach out to your Elder/Deacon should you have questions or concerns. The following are some changes we are taking due to the increased number of COVID cases in our area: 1. Recycle, Garage Sale & Appliance Ministries are suspended through the end of the year. 2. Ignite and Elevate have suspended meeting until further notice. Children's Worship Resumes This Sunday, November 15th The CW Team has received the blessing of Exec to begin meeting again for CW this Sunday, 11/15. We are so looking forward to being able to resume this ministry with the kids. We have spent weeks cleaning and sanitizing everything, making a plan to meet safely, and praying for God to open the way. We are so grateful the answer is yes! We realize this is a very big step for many families and we want to make it together in a way that all involved feel safe and protected. If you have any questions or concerns, contact Joan Groenhout at 616-402-4238. College Care Packages It’s that time a year to send some “First Church love” to our college family members. We will be putting together the 8 care packages on Monday, November 23rd. A bin will be in the narthex for care package items and personal notes (these are a big hit and great encouragement). Some suggested items are gift certificates, hot chocolate, pens, candy, granola bars, baked goods, floss, fruit snacks, popcorn, snacks, lip balm, socks, etc. Any questions may be directed to Sue Poel at 616-510-0760. Our college family: Ian DeGram Ella DeWyn Lindsey Dick Matthew Dick Leah Hoffer Onika Langeland Sydney McCastle Josie Poel If you have a student in college and their name is no on the list, please contact the church office. PLEASE HAVE ITEMS TO CHURCH BY SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 22nd. Thank you! RECYCLE UPDATE FOR OCTOBER Time has slipped away, but below is a belated report on end-of-month totals for October. The flow of recyclable materials and interesting items for resale continue. In addition to online sales, we’ve been having informal garage sales out of the red shed behind the Colfax house about once a week. This has brought in a fair number of community shoppers, many of whom also appreciate time for conversation about the circumstances in their lives. We’re thankful for the opportunity to be a part of those conversations and pray for God’s blessings in all the ways the team is working in the recycle ministry. Recycle Totals October YTD
Metal Recycle $3,266.05 $18,529.32
Metal Pounds 34,689 215,815
Jeremy Helping Hands $146.00 $1,834.00
Jeremy HH Items 16 148
Online Garage Sale $1,953.25 $11,554.70
Returnables $124.90 $1,34.20
I would like to thank the congregation for your thoughtful gifts, cards, and kind sentiments for Pastor Appreciation. I will certainly miss all of you and your generous hearts. Pastor Cory Giving numbers from 11/8/20 and Venmo: Weekly giving: $2326 Weekly budget: $7612 Percent met: 30.5% YTD giving: $281,130.67 YTD budget: $342,540 Percent met: 82% Prayer Requests
For Jay & Kalyn DeBoer and Anthony Predko who have COVID. Pray for minimal symptoms and a speedy recovery.
The Abraham family: Rich, who continues to have extreme pain in his back.
Trudy for numerous COVID cases at work.
Rich & Trudy & family at the sudden passing this morning of Rich's sister Judy of unknown causes.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
We are doing pretty well as the fall has continued onward. The kids are doing pretty well in school, though online school has its blessings and challenges. They are still able to do their instrument lessons (both piano plus Abby cello and Mattias drums), but the local group activities still have not started yet, which they still miss. Judith and I are doing well, but are feeling very tired (physically, mentally, and emotionally). Pray for the Lord’s energizing us. As a newly forming team, we are very thankful after a great weekend in some very unreached areas of the region. We could pray through many neighborhoods and met face to face with one young man who requested a Bible. Pray for him as he desires knowledge and was told to also read the ’Incil, Tevrat, and Zebur’ (New Testament, first 5 books of OT and Psalms). We could sow some seeds and encourage his pursuit of knowledge in the Word. Pray the Lord will speak to him as he reads. One other man we were to meet could not because his apartment building is in lockdown due to Covid. We returned feeling encouraged and blessed to visit those places. One cool thing, we were able to visit Antioch of Pisidia and read Acts 13 in the old amphitheater. Such an amazing thing to read scripture close to where Paul would have spoken those words :)). One prayer request is for the city of Ismir where the earthquake happened. We are grateful nobody got hurt that we knew, but the neighborhood experiencing the most damage was where a number of our fellow co-workers live. One family has particularly been traumatized as they witnessed a lot of tragedy and their apartment building was deemed safe but has a very large crack going down the wall. They still have not felt comfortable to return. Eric (Judith, Abby and Mattias)