WELCOME TO FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH WINNSBORO!

All are welcome at Winnsboro’s First Church so dive on in! We are a warm and welcoming congregation where you can meet people, celebrate life, grow deeper, stronger in your faith and turn energy into action that transforms the world. EVERYONE is invited and if you’d like us to meet you at the door, email us HERE and we’ll be there! 
 
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10:50 a.m.

 
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10-13-20 FUMC Update

DEVOTIONAL:  Does Faith matter in the Supreme Court Hearings?

Confirmation hearings began yesterday for Amy Coney Barrett who has been chosen by President Donald Trump to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. Barrett has been described as a Constitutional ORIGINALIST which favors the interpretation of the Constitution through the original understanding of the authors. This is preferred by many on the right but feared by many on the left who predict that she will vote to modify or reverse some laws, including the Roe v. Wade, the decision that created a constitutional right to abortion, and Obamacare.  

Barrett is a Catholic and has been under scrutiny for being connected with People of Praise, an ecumenical charismatic Christian group. On their website, they say: “We admire the first Christians who were led by the Holy Spirit to form a community. Those early believers put their lives and their possessions in common, and ‘there were no needy persons among them.’ Jesus desires unity for all people. We live out this unity the best we can, in spite of the divisions within Christianity. We are Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Methodists, Pentecostals, Presbyterians and other denominational and nondenominational Christians. Despite our differences, we are bound together by our Christian baptism. Despite our differences, we worship together. While remaining faithful members of our own churches, we have found a way to live our daily lives together.”

How Barrett’s religious beliefs might influence her legal views became a focus for some Democrats during her 2017 confirmation hearings for her nomination to become a judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. Today, Republicans fear that imposing a “religious test” on Barrett’s fitness for the position will become controversial but let’s not forget … there are five current justices on the Supreme Court who are Catholic. And let’s not forget, Joe Biden, one of the nominees for PRESIDENT this year is Catholic too!

Early in her career, Judge Barrett often included God in articles and speeches, and in a 2006 address she urged graduating law students at Notre Dame to see their careers as part of “building the kingdom of God.” While not everyone agrees with some of her  opinions about marriage and abortion, she has said “It’s never appropriate for a judge to impose that judge’s personal convictions — whether they derive from faith or anywhere else — on the law.”

In our God, Church & Politics recent worship series I spoke quite a bit about how we must put GOD FIRST in the ballot box because no matter who is elected, if they don’t rely on direction from the Lord Himself, how could we trust any man or woman to make such important decisions!

A lifetime appointment to Supreme Court is a huge responsibility. There have only been 113 who have served an average of 16 years. The Supreme Court website says: “As the final arbiter of the law, the Court is charged with ensuring the American people the promise of equal justice under law and, thereby, also functions as guardian and interpreter of the Constitution.” We need laws in our country and how those laws are interpreted is what the Supreme Court does, and faith DOES matter!

What does this mean to us as Christians? At the beginning of Deuteronomy 6, we learn that decrees and commandments are given for our benefit, to structure our lives in life-giving ways. A game of football would be chaotic without umpires, defined lines on the field, and rules. Our lives, too, would become chaotic without the ordering of God’s laws. Commandments are meant to be helpful to us, not oppressive.

Moses spoke of a commandment that began with reviewing God’s goodness, urging  people to behave like God’s chosen people, keeping all of His commandments so that their “days may be long.” If the people DO observe the commandments diligently, it will “go well” with them, and they will multiply greatly. Next in the text comes the commandment to “love the LORD your God” (Dt. 6: 5) which introduced here for the first time. This bold new command went on to become central to both Judaism and Christianity, one that Jesus later referenced in His Great Commandment!

As you think about whether a Supreme Court justice should be influenced by his or her faith, does it matter to you what the faith of that justice is? Why or why not? How would you feel about a new justice being a committed Jew, like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or a Hindu or Muslim, as opposed to a Catholic? How would you feel about a Justice being a progressive Christian while you are a conservative Christian — or vice versa?  Just remember – whatever happens, GOD IS WORKING FOR GOOD  (You can watch the devotional on Facebook or listen to it on the website also.)

SHORT NOTICE BUT IMPORTANT ~ As you may know, the Library Memorial Fund for KATIE PARK raised over $10,000 Deonna Bishopp, library Director, just told me that the City Council will vote on this tonight! The details are on Facebook also, please share on your page so we spread the word. You can call in tonight or email the City!

THANK-YOU, THANK-YOU, THANK-YOU! It will be three years on November 1 that I have served you as the Pastor of this incredible Church and community and I cannot begin to tell you how richly and deeply blessed I am that God sent me here! I wake up every morning with GRATITUDE at the droplets of grace God pours out all around me! I was surprised and so wonderfully humbled on Sunday to receive your recognition for Pastor Appreciation Sunday! Wow, what a blessing you are! I will enjoy sitting on the outside patio overlooking the beautiful vineyards of Los Pino having my FAVORITE hamburger, a brie burger with caramelized onions, and today and tomorrow are PRIME days on Amazon so the gift card is perfect timing! I cannot begin to thank you for thinking of me!

IF GOD CAN TALK ABOUT BATHROOMS, SO CAN WE! I must admit, talking about a $13,000 mini-capital campaign to build a bathroom during a pandemic was a bit daunting, but one again the Holy Spirit has OVERWHELMED me with JOY! During this time, the church has been faced with all kinds of challenges, the most important of which is doing no harm. But when someone came to me with a $5,000 check toward constructing a much needed accessible bathroom, I KNEW God would provide! If you missed the service yesterday, you can watch it on FACEBOOK, and I thank those of you who have told me how important it is to have a facility that families can take their children to or change their baby’s diaper in, a facility where people with wheelchairs or walkers can get to easily without traveling past Asbury, through the courtyard and over to Wesley Hall to go to the bathroom! Sacrificial giving, in addition to general fund giving, has an extra feeling of JOY and I hope you feel that JOY as I do! If you want to send a check, mark BATHROOM in the memo, or, you can give online on our website and when you click any of the giving links, you will see a Bathroom account. Just go HERE. Many thanks!

UNITED METHODIST WOMEN ARE MAKING COOKING EASY and SHOPPING EVEN EASIER! Attached is a great letter from Janat Erwin explaining why UMW chooses RADA as their fundraising partner for MISSIONS. With RADA, you’re not only get great products at reasonable prices, but you’re also benefiting others! Catalogs will be in church on Sunday or in the red bin by our office door, but you can browse a catalog, shop and ship online HERE! If you don’t want to order online you can email Janat your order and she’ll take care of you.

THANK YOU COFFEE AND CONVERSATION SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASS! Today they delivered 60 SNACK PACKS to all the adults, teachers, custodians, aides, admins, etc. at the elementary school! How GREAT to see our church serving the community! Maybe some other classes would like to help us finish the rest of the schools!!??

“SEE” YOU SUNDAY EVERYONE ~ We’ll be looking at how SEEING God’s droplets of grace can be life-changing!! Isaiah 6

Grace and peace,

Pastor Debbie


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10-08-20 FUMC Update

I read a remarkable story this week about a young boy in Nigeria. This August, a Sharia court in Kano, Nigeria’s second-largest city, (located in the predominantly Muslim northern region), sentenced 13-year-old Omar Farouq to 10 years forced hard labor in prison for the crime of blasphemy, “publicly insulting” Allah. Allegedly he committed this crime during a dispute with a friend. Farouq’s lawyer appealed the sentence, and naturally human rights advocates around the world have also condemned the Sharia court decision.  

Piotr Cywinski, the director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial in Poland wrote an open letter asking Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to pardon Farouq but if nothing less, he  wrote, “I suggest that in place of the child, 120 adult volunteers from all over the world, gathered by us — myself personally among them — should each serve a month in a Nigerian prison.” (CLICK HERE to read more.)

WOW! Here’s what’s amazing. More than 120 people immediately volunteered to go to prison in place of Farouq so he might be forgiven and freed! THIS is the good in humanity. THIS is what we need to see more of in our world! And we have seen the idea of an innocent person volunteering to take the place of someone convicted of a crime in the Bible! Here’s one example, the story of Joseph in Genesis 44.

This chapter records Joseph’s encounter with his 11 brothers many years after they sold him into slavery. Since then, God had raised him to a position of great power in Egypt so that he was second only to Pharaoh in authority. But so much time had passed, and Joseph looked so different, that when his brothers came to Egypt begging for food after a famine in their land, they didn’t recognize him. Joseph chose NOT to reveal his identity and instead, he launched a plan that would show whether his brothers had any remorse over the way they had abused him.

Joseph had his silver cup put in his youngest brother, Benjamin’s, sack of grain, so that it would appear that Benjamin had stolen it. After the brothers were given grain for their families, they left Egypt and Joseph sent his servant after them to apprehend and accuse them of theft. They denied it, of course, but after conducting a search, the servant found the silver cup in Benjamin’s sack so the brothers returned to answer the charges.

Judah spoke for the brothers and knowing they could not clear their name he offered that they all become Joseph’s slaves. Joseph declined the offer seeing it as unfair to punish those who had not been caught with so-called stolen goods. Judah then told Joseph that they had had another brother, but he was dead (which must have amused Joseph, considering he was still very much alive!) Judah explained that he had only persuaded their father to allow Benjamin to go with them to Egypt by promising that if he did not bring Benjamin back, his father could blame him:

[Judah said to Joseph,] “Now therefore, please let your servant remain as a slave to my lord in place of the boy; and let the boy go back with his brothers. For how can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? I fear to see the suffering that would come upon my father.” Genesis 44:33-34

While neither Judah nor Benjamin was guilty of theft, Judah did not know for sure that Benjamin was innocent. But still, out of love for his brother and father, Judah offered to take his brother’s place as a slave in Egypt! 

This is a little bit like what Jesus did for us! It’s MUCH more than throwing a  lifeline to a drowning person or merely risking His life to save the world. Jesus LITERALLY sacrificed His life in order to take upon himself our guilt and shame so we could be forgiven and have eternal life!

I have flooded myself with questions about this story. What motivated so many people to volunteer to sacrifice so much to share Farouq’s sentence? How must members of the court who sentenced this boy be feeling about all this? How can ANYONE think this Sharia law is fair and just? I genuinely believe that while our criminal justice system is NOT perfect, it’s pretty darn good! But I also accept that even the best human criminal justice systems cannot and DO not replicate God’s perfect justice here “on earth, as it is in heaven!” As of today, I have not found an updated response from the Nigerian government but oh, how I pray!

HOW WONDERFUL TO SEE SO MANY PEOPLE, and NEW PEOPLE, IN CHURCH LAST WEEK! I loved the energy in church on Sunday, WOW!!  I do want to remind everyone that we are working hard to keep everyone protected so we will have overflow seating in Wesley Hall if and when we need it! If you would be willing to volunteer to watch the LIVE FEED with others in Wesley Hall if we get crowded, please let Shiela Haynes know so we have plenty of room for our visitors and guests.

Here’s a reminder of our occupancy from 9/20

–          Sanctuary: seating must be separated by ONE pew

–          Main floor pews: ONE couple and ONE single, TWO couples, THREE singles or ONE family of 3+ per pew) 

–          Balcony: FOUR short sides pews (ONE couple or ONE family up to FOUR per pew); ONE long per (THREE singles, TWO couples, or ONE larger family)

–          Choir: if couples sit together, TWP couples seated every alternative pew (Couples & TWO singles or FIVE singles)

 

WE’RE LOOKING TO START OUR NURSERY AGAIN! While we were planning to do this in the new year, we’ve determined a safe strategy to be able to move forward sooner and we’re looking for 2-3 AWESOME childcare givers! We are a Ministry Safe church, so we always have two adults working together who have had background checks and taken a very thorough, and enlightening, Ministry Safe training. The nursery will be available on Sundays from 10:30 – NOON. If there are no children, they will assist Paige in our Children’s Church so our volunteers can go to worship. If you know anyone, please have them contact CYNDIE EWERT.

UNITED METHODIST WOMEN HAVE A RADA CATALOG FOR YOU! This wonderful group of women exists not only to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ and be in supportive fellowship with each other but to contribute to missions in the global ministries of the UMC church. And guess what, with Christmas just 11 weeks away (YIKES!) you can help just by SHOPPING the Rada kitchen products! Rada is MUCH more than a KNIFE company, they have an entire line of great kitchen products and with so many more people cooking at HOME these days, having the right tool for the job makes all the difference! If you plan to buy something, this Sunday there will be a Rada catalog for you to take home and begin making your wish list – we’ll be providing details next week on HOW to order.

ARE YOU TAKING PICTURES? If you have special events and wonderful happy moments to share, please email or text me a picture to share on Sunday morning!

ALL SAINTS DAY: Sunday, November 8, 10:50 am ~ Once a year we celebrate the communion of saints as we remember those who have died during our current year, both in our local congregations and throughout the Church universal. On November 8, we’ll light candles for members of our church family who have gone to heaven this year: Bobbie Henson, Mary Sharrai, Tillman Turner and Katie Park, but we will also include immediate members of YOUR family if you would please get us their names. Thank you for helping us plan ahead!

THIS SUNDAY we start a new series called DROPLETS of GRACE ~ I’ll be asking where you HEAR God, SEE God and FEEL God’s presence around you, especially in difficult times! If you have a story to share please let me know! For this Sunday you might want to read the story of Samuel, 1 Samuel 3:1-20, so you can answer God’s question, “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW.

Stay safe, see God’s droplets of grace all around you!

Pastor Debbie


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9-24-20 FUMC Update

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died this week after battling pancreatic cancer at age 87. The second woman and the first Jewish woman ever appointed to the high court, Ginsburg was a strong liberal voice for gender equality, separation of church and state, and the rights of workers, voters, immigrants, persons with disabilities, and minorities. Tributes to “RBG,” whom Chief Justice John Roberts called “a justice of historic stature, … a tireless and resolute champion of justice,” have been piling up on the steps of the Supreme Court and she is now the first woman to be given the honor to lie in state at the Capitol.

In more recent years, Ginsburg found herself more often in the minority on the court, but in the tradition of Jewish prophets, who she was named after, she embraced the value of dissent, using her prophetic voice to point out what she thought was incorrect about the majority opinions.

As in our current worship series on GOD, POLITICS, and the CHURCH, I won’t comment on the political battle over how and when her seat on the Supreme Court will be filled, but I have been thinking about the role of our justices, in their advocacy and dissent, as they function in the life of God’s people. We seem to have lost the ability to “agree to disagree” in a diplomatic way so you might ponder these questions with me:

– Is it possible to voice dissent without becoming disagreeable or discouraging? If so, how might dissenters present their positions in a constructive way that draws people to listen?

– Who has spoken words of dissent into your life? Who has been an advocate? How did they impact you?

–  How have you seen people of faith function effectively as dissenters? As advocates? How can voicing dissent further God’s work? How can advocacy build up the community of faith?

– How should Christians determine what issues are important enough to warrant dissent to popular opinions? Where can we find the courage to dissent when it seems as though everyone disagrees with us, and when dissent could cost us dearly?

The messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, “Look, the words of the prophets with one accord are favorable to the king; let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably.” But Micaiah said, “As the Lord lives, whatever my God says, that I will speak.” … [Then Micaiah said to King Ahab,] “So you see, the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of these your prophets; the LORD has decreed disaster for you.” 2 Chronicles 18:12-13, 22

CHILDREN’S CHURCH IS BACK! We’re so excited that Paige Baber is back to engage the kids in learning more about the love of Jesus Christ! In order to make enough SAFE SPACE, they will be meeting in the Family Life Center from 10:50 am until the sanctuary service ends.  Parents, please drop your children off the FLC at about 10:40 am and then scurry over to pick them up when the sanctuary service is over. We’ve explained to the children that IF IT’S OK WITH THEIR PARENTS, they can take their masks off when they are seated APART from others, but if they’re standing or walking around, they should keep their masks on. Paige is doing her student teaching at Winnsboro Elementary School this semester so she’s tuned into safety protocols – thank you Paige!

I also want to say a HUGE, GIGANTIC thank you to our wonderful volunteers who make ministry SAFE for our kids! Thank you, SANDRA STRICKLAND, DON BEATY, and ED PAGE who assist Paige, in this important ministry. We are a Ministry Safe certified church so all our adult volunteers are Ministry Safe trained and work in teams of two. Teamwork is so important so please thank them ALL!

CARTER BLOOD CARE COMING TO WINNSBORO, Tuesday, September 29, 7 a.m. ~ 1 p.m. ~ This Tuesday morning there is a blood drive in Winnsboro at USA Harness on Coke Road. Our blood banks are exceptionally low and with surgeries starting up again Carter Blood Care really needs our help. You can go to https://www.carterbloodcare.org/donate-blood/

SUNDAY HAPPY MOMENTS ~ Please, please, please take out your cameras and capture the HAPPY MOMENTS where you see God working in your life or things that make you SMILE! I would love to share everyone’s pictures of their grandbabies (mine would be first, haha!) but let’s look beyond. I’d like to see pictures of the kids back in CHILDREN’S CHURCH, or our Sunday schools doing something special, or YOU doing something to serve someone else or a special accomplishment of your children! I’d like to show a few on Sunday but I can put LOTS of Facebook so please send me your pictures!

I look forward to continuing our political conversation this Sunday and I’ll be talking about Isaiah who warns the people NOT to put their trust in other countries because they have the most chariots and horses who could protect them … they should only put their trust in GOD!  (Isaiah 30:1-8)

In Christ Alone,

Pastor Debbie


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9-18-20 FUMC Update

Fall is in the air, and I want to thank Julie and Elaina for our beautiful altarscapes and flowers that bring such an autumn spiritual JOY to the church! This is the beginning of my favorite season of the year, and I think I feel particularly joyful because I sense there is LIGHT at the end of the COVID tunnel! Numbers in our area continue to go down. We have not had a lot of cases within our schools, more people are feeling safe enough to get out, talk of a vaccine seems to be getting stronger. Ahhhh, let us continue to pray for the light to get brighter and brighter!

What a nice problem we have trying to figure out where groups can meet who want to return! Because of social distancing, we have to allow six feet of space between families, so I can’t THANK everyone enough for being flexible! Coffee and Conversation has moved rooms, Family Ties has moved rooms. And now, in order to accommodate all our kids who have committed to coming back, Families Ties will be moving again so the kids can come back for Children’s Church in the FLC and Pot Luck can return to Asbury. Whew, thanks to Danny Moss for being diligent with our occupancy numbers (see attached) and THANKS TO EVERYONE for being flexible during this crazy time!

WELCOME BACK POT LUCK and CHILDREN’S CHURCH! We’re so excited to see things safely and slowly taking steps forward! Thanks to everyone as we continue to reopen a little bit at a time. Remember to always wear a mask if you’re walking around (you can take it off when seated) and disinfect your hands coming and going. Class leaders (or volunteers) will always disinfect the surfaces and chair handles as they leave their respective rooms. Attached are the updated reopening plans – please look them over!

Pot Luck Class returns to Asbury Hall this Sunday 

Children’s Church returns this Sunday to the Family Life Center! Children’s Church will be a bit different this Sunday. Kids in 2nd through 6th grades will NOT come to the sanctuary. Parents, please take them to the FAMILY LIFE CENTER at 10:40. (Please don’t come too early or Paige may not be ready!) Paige and another adult will meet you there so you have plenty of time to get back to the sanctuary for church at 10:50. At the end of the church, the balcony will be dismissed first so please leave promptly to get your kids so you can hear all about their exciting worship time together!

2020 ALL CHURCH CHARGE CONFERENCE, Wednesday, November 9, 4-5 p.m. ~ Every fall we gather as a church to review the past year and look forward to the new year ahead. This year, as in so many other things that are different because of COVID, our conference will be different. It will be on ZOOM. Don’t worry, it’s not as hard as you think! If you have not experienced a Zoom meeting or webinar yet, there are “HOW TO” videos and instruction documents available at https://ntcumc.org/annual-conference-2020/resources.  I encourage everyone to review these so you can join us!

This Sunday we begin a new worship on series on GOD, POLITICS, and the CHURCH. Don’t worry, there will be NO political endorsements, but I will ask the question: Where IS God in your politics?

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!  Psalm 33:12

GRACE and PEACE,

Pastor Debbie


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8-31-20 FUMC Update

My, oh my, it’s SEPTEMBER! Is it just me or does it seem like it was spring break just yesterday, and then COVID came and the last six months have been a blur! I don’t know about you, but I am sooooo ready for fall! 
 
We had our last drive through today and I have absolutely LOVED spending time with all of you who haven’t yet been back to church or have just wanted to visit! Thank you for blessing ME!! 
 
Ted Haynes and I have been frantically reading books and watching training videos to prepare for a workshop we’ve been invited to attend this week. We have been asked to become certified coaches in Simplified Accountable Structure, a vision-focused church leadership ministry. We are honored to learn directly from the national authors and trainers who see the true value in supporting the mission of Jesus Christ so pray for us, and the other eight people, who have been invited to be part of this from North Texas! 
 
NO ZOOM THIS WEDNESDAY MORNING ~ I will be in a training class this week so I’ll miss you all on September 2 but we’ll be diving into MATTHEW 7 next Wednesday, September 9, at 10 am.
 
COMMUNION FOR ALL THIS SUNDAY, September 6 ~ This Sunday our message will focus on the challenging parable, the LABORERS IN THE VINEYARD (Matthew 20:1-13) and it will also be communion Sunday. And yes, we have a VERY special way to share in the Lord’s supper together here in the sanctuary. But here’s great news. We have received special dispensation to include our online worshippers too, praise God! If you will be at home and you don’t yet have a sacred worship space set up, please prepare your space before the service, along with your simple elements, (any kind of juice or water, and crackers or bread), so we can have communion TOGETHER this Sunday. If you will be attending church in the sanctuary, you will pick up an individual baggie with your individual communion cup inside and we will all consecrate the elements together!
 
THANKS TO OUR SONG LEADERS ~ Thanks to Judy Beaty and Mike Ewert who has led our singing these last four weeks! Great job!  This week J.A. Newton will be leading us in two of my FAVORITE songs! If God is leading YOU to come and lead our Sunday singing, please let me know! 
 
OUR COLLEGE KIDS ARE STARTING NEW CHAPTERS ~ Carissa and Cason are starting year TWO, and Landry and Grant are starting year ONE.  Julian is enrolled in the EMT program at TJC. Please keep our kids in your prayers!
 
LAST CHANCE TO GET ON CARLA’S HOME COOKED MEAL LIST ~ Carla has answered the call to make some home-cooked meals, COMFORT FOODS, about every two weeks. And after today, if you want to know what’s coming so you can plan and order, you can get on her email list in the future! This Wednesday, September 4, she will be making Mexican Tater Tot Casserole, a ground beef dish. She will deliver between 11am – 1pm on Friday ($8) and she needs a count by Wednesday at NOON. Call Carla 903-347-6012. (I ordered TWO of her last week King Ranch Chicken and it was delicious, can’t wait to taste this week’s recipe!)
 
Many blessings to you all,
Pastor Debbie
 

 


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