Edmond CROP Walk


November 5|  1:00 p.m.  |  Mitch Park

CROP Hunger Walks are community-wide events sponsored by Church World Service and organized by local congregations, raising funds and awareness to combat HUNGER at home and around the world.  25% of the money raised at our CROP Walk stays in Edmond to support 5 local charities:  
The Hope Center, Breakfast on Blvd., Mobile Meals, Samaritan House and Project 66 Food Pantry

Walkers can be any age.  You may walk, run, push a stroller, or walk your dog.  It is not a race.  You may go the distance right for you.  Each walker is asked to raise money by asking friends to sponsor them.  Walkers who raise at least $100 earn a free CROP Walk t-shirt.

We need many volunteers for the 2017 Edmond CROP Walk.  Packets are available in the church foyer for the next two Sundays and should be turned in by the day of the walk.

We hope you will join us this year!

Music Ministry Update

Music Ministry Update
Andrew Schaeffer, Director of Music Ministries

Though the colder weather is just now descending upon Oklahoma, your musical ensembles are already hard at work learning music for Advent and Christmas!  While you’ll receive a full schedule for the month of December soon, I want to highlight three special musical events that I know you’ll want to put on your calendar:

Sunday, December 10 |  8:30, 9:45 & 11:00 services
The Chancel Choir and brass quintet will present the cantata “Come Rejoicing” by Jonathan Willcocks.  This jubilant piece of music interweaves traditional scripture readings with familiar carol texts - some set to new, original music.

Sunday, December 17 at 3:00 pm
Our handbell choir will present their annual Christmas concert of familiar tunes of the season.  A reception will follow.

Wednesday, December 10
We’re trying something new in regards to our Christmas caroling.  Instead of holding it on Sunday after the handbell choir concert, we’ll gather on the Wednesday after for dinner in the CAC and head out to bring Christmas cheer to one of the nursing homes in the area.  We hope that this arrangement will allow for more participation and will give you something to do if you have antsy kids at home ready to expel Christmas energy! 

Music Ministry Update

Music Ministry Update
Andrew Schaeffer, Director of Music Ministries

Christ, He requires still, whereso’er He comes,
To feed, or lodge, to have the best of rooms:
Give Him the choice; grant Him the nobler part
Of all the house: the best of all’s the heart.
--- Robert Herrick (1647)

I offer the above text as a concise summary of our commitment to stewardship here at Edmond First. In a very literal sense, we’ve given Christ the “best of rooms” by funding and building the new $3,000,000 facility we have been utilizing for nearly two years now – a facility which has greatly expanded our worship, education and service. But, as the poem states, the best of all’s the heart. How true that is for our church. Our building, though historic, graceful and functional, would mean nothing without the heart of our church – the people. The people who teach classes, sing in choirs, support our children & youth as well as the people who take our church outside our doors through a myriad of compassion and outreach ministries.

This Sunday at the 8:30 & 11:00 services, the adult choir will sing a famous setting of this text by the American composer Randall Thompson. I invite you to listen and strive to continue to give Christ the choice – to grant Him the nobler part and give Him the best of rooms.

Save the date!

Be sure to join us for worship on Sunday, December 10 as the Adult Choir will present the cantata “Come Rejoicing” at the 8:30, 9:45 & 11:00 services!

The Presence of God in the Midst of Suffering


The Presence of God in the Midst of Suffering
     I am one who has seen affliction
        under the rod of God’s wrath;
    he has driven and brought me
        into darkness without any light;
    against me alone he turns his hand,
        again and again, all day long.
                                     Lamentations 3:1-3 (NRSV)

This word from Lamentations speaks not of how we imagine the character of God but of the despair that human beings sometimes feel.  Jeremiah or a prophet close to him speaks of the emotional and spiritual void following the destruction of the capital city of Jerusalem and God’s Temple which resided there.  These are words which most human beings unfortunately experience in some form or fashion as none of us escape suffering unless we refuse to love.

I suppose that people who have been hurt may refuse to love others for fear of being hurt again.  Ultimately, our loved ones will leave us as we pass from this life to the next.  It is painful and inevitable.

But when tragedies strike, such as the recent hurricanes or earthquake, we are left reeling knowing that we could have been dealt this tragic blow but somehow escaped.  The recent mass murder in Las Vegas is an unfortunate punctuation of suffering for an already hurting world.

One of the common threads of inquiry surrounding the Vegas shooting is the search for meaning.  Right after it occurred, even though the shooter likely took his own life, we begin to seek out some kind of rationale.  Was he connected with terrorist activity?  Was he a violent person?  Did he have a history of mental illness?  What was his motive?

What we are trying to do is to solve the “why” behind this tragedy.  Human beings like order and when someone acts irrationally, it disturbs us in profound ways.  If a grudge against country music fans were somehow determined, it wouldn’t change the horrible act but it would allow our brains to cope with it more easily.

As we seek to cope with all this recent tragedy, one of the ways that is common is to disengage.  We try to ignore it and hopefully it won’t touch us.  When we do this, we become more akin to the priest or the Levite in Jesus’ parable than to the good Samaritan.  Rather, the Christian call is to compassion.  We seek to offer a helping hand to those in need - even if it is just a shoulder to cry on. This is exhausting but we do so because it is needed in a hurting world.  We realize that it could just as easily be us weeping.

As we continue to pray for those suffering - as we continue to give toward those seeking recovery from natural disasters - we become a part of the resurrection story with which we view the world.  We may not understand why tragedies happen but we can understand our response.

Our narrative fits with the author of Lamentations who moves from despair to hope later in the chapter:

    I called on your name, O Lord,
        from the depths of the pit;
    you heard my plea, “Do not close your ear
        to my cry for help, but give me relief!”
    You came near when I called on you;
        you said, “Do not fear!”
    You have taken up my cause, O Lord,
        you have redeemed my life.
                                       Lamentations 3:55-58 (NRSV)

In Christ,

Check out Sam’s Blog here:  http://precedinggrace.blogspot.com.

Music Ministry Update

Music Ministry Update
Andrew Schaeffer, Director of Music Ministries

The arrival of fall means that our long liturgical season of “ordinary time” is ending and we will increasingly be celebrating special Sundays from now until the end of the year. The first on our fall schedule, World Communion Sunday, will occur this Sunday. At the three traditional services, we will celebrate with hymns and choral music that, while not necessarily multi-ethnic in nature, will stress the unity, resolve, and love we share with Christians across the globe through the mysterious yet palpable gift of Holy Communion. We’ll also mark this special day by learning a new musical setting of the Communion liturgy that we’ll use over the next year.

New Adult Choir Forming!
Our Chancel Choir works tirelessly to learn anthems for presentation at services nearly every Sunday. While fun and rewarding, it can be a steep commitment for some who either don’t have the time, or feel as though their musical background is lacking. We now have three choirs geared towards children, so why not another adult choir? I feel as though it’s time to provide our growing congregation with another option to engage in musical leadership – that’s why I’m looking to launch a choir aimed at “seasoned” voices.

This group, which will meet weekly on either Tuesday or Thursday mornings, will place a big emphasis on growing as musicians and disciples through fun and fellowship in a low-pressure environment. The repertoire will consist of many popular Gospel & Spiritual hymns, in addition to some modern-day, simple anthems. Ideally, this group will not only provide musical leadership at the 8:30 service approximately twice a quarter, but will serve as an outreach of the congregation, such as visiting nursing homes.

If you are interested in hearing more about it, please contact me at either 405.341.0107 ext. 116 or andrew@fumcedmond.org

World Wide Worship

World Wide Worship  
This summer while traveling, our family worshiped at Southminster United Church of Canada in Niagara Falls, Ontario.  It was not the largest congregation we’ve ever attended.  In fact, we were 4 of the 34 in worship that morning.

My interest in this particular congregation was our common ties to Methodism and Wesleyan heritage.  The United Church of Canada was formed by merging four Protestant denominations in 1925, one of them being the Methodist Church in Canada. In fact, the United Church of Canada remains a member of the World Methodist Council. Since I am serving on this council in the present quinquennium (and since there are no United Methodist Churches in Canada), I thought it would be helpful to worship there.

It was a nice experience but not so different from small United Methodist churches that I’ve attended. To be fair, I didn’t anticipate the Canadian worship to be drastically altered from what we do in Oklahoma.

A more varied experience was when Kyla and I stopped in to a Methodist Church on St. John’s Island back in 2015.  They handed us percussion instruments along with the bulletins when we entered the sanctuary.  We had a good time of island style gospel singing to open worship!  Later in the service, the pastor asked if there were any other clergy in the congregation.  I was one of three present that day and he called us all forward.  I was invited to pray for people in the congregation as was happy to do so. Then I helped him serve Communion to the congregation which was one of my highlights of the trip (yes, but I am called to do this!).

This was not my first experience in praying for people of another congregation.  I have done so in Methodist Churches in South Africa and Mexico.  I can tell you that while our cultures may differ in a lot of ways, our needs in prayer are very similar.

Part of the South African experience involved a hike to see The Pinnacle Rock in Graskop, South Africa.  While we were there, some of the local women found out that Bishop Hayes was an episcopal leader and an impromptu prayer service broke out!  Bishop Hayes was glad to pray for them as requested and I took a quick photo.  I think their trip to the mountain top included unexpected blessings!

All of this reminiscing is to remind us that we will be celebrating World Communion Sunday on October 1st.  This is especially moving to me as I imagine Christians all around the globe gathering for this holy meal.  Not all of us get along theologically but we are brothers and sisters nonetheless.  Even though we may have differences, we have far more in common than we would consider at first glance.  This Sunday recognizes our common heritage and faith.  It is rather impressive to kneel at the altar rails while realizing that people are praying in the same way in different languages in a wide variety of settings all over the earth.  Some of the prayers may be of a very different style but the basic content remains surprisingly similar.

I hope you’ll find a place to worship and receive this Sunday and remember your brothers and sisters around the world!

In Christ,

Check out Sam’s Blog here:  http://precedinggrace.blogspot.com


FUMC Shirts now available for order!

Our mission at Edmond First is to connect people with God and neighbors.  We connect with God and neighbor through worship, service, and fellowship, and one of the ways we are highlighting these connections is by raising our visibility and pride in the life of the church.  It is with this in mind that we are getting new church shirts!

I know, in the grand scheme of things, church shirts seem quaint at best and insignificant at worst.  But these shirts help spread the good news that our church is alive in worship, active in service, and attractive in fellowship.  It’s our hope that these shirts would be worn both in everyday life and specifically when you are representing our church in the community.

We are offering two options in shirts.  The first is a t-shirt for $10 with our mission statement on the front.  The second is a polo for $20 with our church logo embroidered on it.  We will be offering t-shirts in both children and adult sizes, with a special offer of buy 3, get the 4th free if you order on Sunday mornings at the welcome desk.  You can also order via our website. We will be taking orders until October 29th.



ICE Angels Update

Hello all!  I felt that it is time that I update the church body on what is happening with Ice Angels since I last wrote to you all.  

We have, I believe, had a tremendous response of individuals wanting to get involved with Ice Angels, a partnership between Mosaic UMC and Quail Springs UMC sponsored by Skyline Urban Ministry.  I have taken almost a dozen people down to SW 11th and Walker to feed and clothe the homeless over the last month.  We have had a UMW circle bake cookies to feed the homeless, and we’ve also had members donate money and clothes to this ministry, with many others looking to get involved at a later date.

In conversation with the leaders of Ice Angels and some of our supporting members, we have decided to take leadership in cooking the food provided by Skyline for the Wednesday of September 27th.  If you would like to help, we will need people to cook from 9-12, people to deliver and serve the food from 12-1, and people to clean the food pans from 1-2.  If this is something you are interested in participating in, please email me at trey@fumcedmond.org.

If the response is plentiful, Edmond First will make the commitment to prepare, serve, and clean up the meals once a month.  Ice Angels will still need other volunteers from 12:30-1 every Wednesday but the first of the month, so if you do not think you can commit to an entire day or on the Wednesday that we are sponsoring, feel empowered to show up at SW 11th and Walker at 12:30 with a willing spirit to do what is needed that day.

If you have any questions, please email me at trey@fumcedmond.org.


Boulevard Buddies seeks School Supplies

Boulevard Academy is made up of students from all three Edmond High Schools. Boulevard Buddies is a ministry of volunteers who “adopted” the school 10 years ago. The group has grown over the years from 6 to 68 current volunteers.  Boulevard Buddies provides support to the students and staff with regularly planned activities and addresses specific needs as they arise.
It was brought to our attention by the administration that only 2 students, of the 112 currently enrolled, brought school supplies for this academic year.  Boulevard Buddies is sponsoring an Emergency School Supplies Drive to aid the students and staff.  Our goal is to provide school supplies for 50 students.   Collection will begin UMW Sunday, September 24th. If you would like to make a donation of $40 to purchase all of the supplies on the list, or another amount and have the shopping done for you, just drop a check in the offering or bring it to the church office with Boulevard Buddies in the Memo.
If you are willing to provide the supplies for 1 or more students (see supply list below), or get involved on a regular basis please contact Ellen Lyons, 405-820-7729 or by email, lyonsden5@cox.net.
Boulevard Buddies School Supplies Project Student Supply List:
1 - 8” Scissors
5 - 3 Prong Pocket Folders
2 - boxes facial tissues
1 - 19 oz. Lysol Spray
1 - 75 count Disinfectant Wipes
1 - 12 count Colored Pencils
1 - 10 count Colored Markers
2 -  8-12 oz. Hand Sanitizer
2 - 175 count College Ruled Notebook Paper
3 -  1 inch black 3-ring binder
2 - 12 count # 2 Pencils
2 - 7.625 oz. Elmer’s Glue
1 - 12 count Glue Sticks
1 - 4 count Dry Erase Markers (core colors)

Music Ministry Update

Every Monday, I submit the upcoming music list to Beverly Turner for inclusion in the worship bulletin, and admittedly, the list for this upcoming Sunday was one of the longest in recent memory… and that’s a good thing! Our music ministry has expanded by leaps and bounds and if you were to come to all three traditional services on Sunday, you’d experience it acutely. At the 8:30 service, our Adult Choir will sing a lovely setting of “Take My Life” by John Ness Beck that will certainly reinforce the theme of service and witness that is a hallmark of UMW Sunday. At 9:45, our instrumental ensemble will premiere a rousing setting of “I’ve Got Peace Like A River” by our own Dennis Neff, and at the 11:00 service, one of our three children’s choirs will sing. I hope you can join us for worship, and bring a friend or family member – you’ll be blessed!

Our new 9:45 service has been warmly received with an average of 75 people attending the past few weeks. Those who have attended the service know that the instrumental ensemble enriches the worship in full and creative ways and this Sunday will be no exception! Our resident arranger, Dennis Neff has prepared a rousing setting of “I’ve Got Peace Like a River” that features the full ensemble complete with a banjo. It will surely arouse your spirit! If your schedule allows, we invite you to consider supporting this exciting new worship opportunity.

Frustrated by Grace

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Lectionary Reading: Matthew 20:1-16 (NRSV)

This may be my favorite parable of Jesus.  It has the surprise or twist ending that is so characteristic of his stories.  The parable hasn’t lost any of its difficulty when told to a 21st century audience either.

I still find it vexing.

Most people put think of themselves as having a good work ethic.  And so it is easy to imagine that we would be one of the first people picked on the owner’s first round-up.

As the parable progresses, we do not sympathize with the late arrivals but with the people tired from a hard day’s work.

When the less than full-timers are bestowed with equal pay, it is shocking because we can easily imagine how we would feel.  It would not be a happy feeling!

As we think about the story, we recognize that this would not be a sound business practice for a landowner to employ on a regular basis.  And so this story must have deeper meaning as it relates not to human practice but to God’s economy.

Grace doesn’t make sense in an environment where we measure ourselves by our productivity.

So how do we embrace this grace not only for ourselves but in order to give it away to others?

I’ll be exploring the idea that we can’t fully realize grace until we begin to see it available for others on Sunday as the final sermon in the series, “Full: Finding God’s Abundance in our Lives.”  I hope you’ll join us if you’re in the area - maybe we can be vexed together!

In Christ,

Check out Sam’s Blog here:  http://precedinggrace.blogspot.com
Photo by Bread for the World via Flicker.com.  Used under the Creative Commons license. 

United Methodist Women


The organized unit of United Methodist Women shall be a community of women whose purpose is: To know God and to experience freedom as whole persons through Jesus Christ. To develop a creative supportive fellowship. To expand concepts to mission through participation in the global ministries of the church.

Join us in the projects and events that our Local Circles are involved:
Reading program, Toole Tyme-Cookson Hills Center, Neighborhood Santa Operation/Neighborhood Services Org., Mission U Studies (Spiritual Growth, Children and Youth in the U.S.), Wesley Foundation Lunches, Workshops and training for spiritual growth and mission projects.  Including: support to Exodus House, New Day Camp, Hope Center, Project 66, Skyline Ministries.  Each Circle also supports a United Methodist Missionary.

Friendship Circle:  
   2nd Wednesday/mo. – 1:00 p.m.
Mary-Martha Circle:  
   1st Wednesday/mo. – 10:00 a.m.
Mom’s Growing Together:  
   Monday – 9:45 a.m. or 6:30 p.m.
Random Acts of Kindness:  
   1st Thursday/mo. – 6:00 p.m.
Seekers Circle:  
   4th Friday/mo. – 10:00 a.m.
Wesleyan Circle:  
   2nd Thursday/mo. – 1:00 p.m.

For more information, please contact:  Donna Alexander (Membership Chairman) at 405-348-0571.


Accountability versus Judgment

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Lectionary Reading: Romans 14:1-12 (NRSV)

“United Methodists lead with grace, not with judgment.”

This particular sentence was the first chapter in a series entitled, “What’s Different about The United Methodist Church?” by the former Oklahoma Conference bishop, Bruce Blake.  It came out twenty years ago in 1997 when I was still fairly new to pastoral ministry and many churches across our conference used it in preaching and teaching.

It is an idea with which I agree and would say effectively categorizes the identity of our denomination.  My early childhood years were spent in the Assemblies of God which emphasized holiness to a different degree than most current United Methodist churches. By holiness, I mean seeking right living (righteousness) as a part of being a follower of Jesus Christ.  This is different from self-righteousness which is a separate issue (but a danger or temptation to all who seek right living).  

The particular Assembly of God church where we attended was fairly judgmental in nature which was designed to keep people from sin.  I can remember various times from my childhood when I went home from church afraid for my salvation rather than assured. This is not the healthiest spiritual state for a five-year-old.  I’m not sure the fear increased my faith but it did increase my anxiety.  In comparison, the Assemblies have just as many problems with sin as United Methodists in my experience (or any other denomination for that matter).  Both of us have our share of stout disciples and our share of back-sliders.

I write this to let you know that sometimes my perspective may be reactive to my negative encounters of a judgmental church.  I often err on the side of grace.  I do this so that people may experience the welcome invitation that Jesus Christ offers for the journey of faith we all undertake.  

But one of the real problems of leaning so heavily on grace is oftentimes a lack of commitment.  If there are no real expectations or if the lack of commitment can be easily overlooked or forgiven without any consequences, then real problems begin to develop.

Sometimes the churches that emphasize grace turn Jesus into this nice man who just loves you and doesn’t really ask for much in return.  He’s going to pick you up and brush you off and offer an encouraging word.  There are many times I need this and you likely do as well.  But if there is no direction for our life of faith and if we place our commitment level somewhere beneath our other pursuits in life, it shouldn’t surprise us when people fall away from the church.  

Sometimes we remove all accountability to get away from being too judgmental. Conversely, sometimes we become too judgmental in the guise of accountability.  This becomes difficult as we seek to share God’s grace with others.  We want to meet people where they are.  But at the same time, we encourage people to put away their sins.

This Sunday, I’ll be discussing this particular tightrope as we continue the series, “Full: Finding God’s Abundance in our Lives.”  I hope you’ll join us if you don’t have something better to do (okay, that last line was sarcastically judgy)!

In Christ,

Check out Sam’s Blog here:  http://precedinggrace.blogspot.com
Photo by Wally Gobetz via Flickr.com.  Used under the Creative Commons license.

Sunset Elementary Tutors Needed

First United Methodist Church of Edmond is beginning our third year of service to children at Sunset Elementary, tutoring a child, one-on-one for 30 minutes each week in kindergarten through third grade. Tutors work with children during the school day at times specified by the school.  We provide materials and training for a structured time using strategies that impact growth.  

Tutor training will be on Tuesday, September 19, at 9:00 AM at Sunset Elementary’s new library. Tutoring will begin the week of September 25.  Follow-up training with specific strategies by grade level will be offered as the year progresses.

Come join in this rewarding ministry.  For questions, or to volunteer, please contact Sherri Brown at sherribrown56@me.com or 833-2583.  


The Difficulty of Grace


Lectionary reading: Romans 13:8-14 (NRSV)

Over the next three weeks, I will preach a series on the difficulties of God’s grace that I’ve entitled, Full: Finding God’s Abundance in Our Lives.

When we discover grace, we find that we have more than enough of the things that really matter.

Grace allows us to move past bitter hurts.

Grace allows us to forgive those who have done us wrong.

Grace allows us to love our enemies.

The difficulty comes when we encounter grace and feel as if we are undeserving.  Of course, this may be a necessary feeling so that we do not begin to take God’s gifts for granted.  A little humility is an important ingredient for seeing grace for what it truly is.

With apologies to Wayne and Garth, sometimes our response to the idea that “we’re not worthy” is to try to earn our way into God’s favor.  We end up incorporating a “works righteousness” theology that will always leave us lacking.

Rather than work to curry God’s love, we work in response to the love God has already bestowed upon us.  This may sound like semantics but it is crucial in how we understand the human-divine relationship.

Our work for Christ comes out of thanksgiving and gratitude rather than seeking to gain what we already have.

Gifts are often difficult for us to receive.  And as we look at the Romans passage, we see that we become part of the gift to the world when we seek to act out in love.  Love is not an easy thing or a simple thing.  My own capacity to love others is expanded when I seek God out in my life.

This Sunday will be the first of our new 9:45 am worship service in the sanctuary.  I will be preaching at 8:30, 9:45 and 11:00 am in the sanctuary and at 10:50 in Wesley Hall. Trey will be preaching at 7:00 pm in Wesley Hall as he and Matt finish up the series on the General Rules.  This gives a lot of opportunity for worship!  If you are in the area on Sunday, I hope you’ll join us!  If you can’t make it in person, you can always catch us on Facebook live or replay it later.

In Christ,

Check out Sam’s Blog here:  http://precedinggrace.blogspot.com
Photo by rumpleteaser via Flicker.com.  Used under the Creative Commons license.