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Ongoing Response to COVID-19

Weekday Email to Members and Friends – 2020-06-04

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Thursday June 4th 2020
A daily e-mailer from
Matt Matthews
 
To Members and Friends of 
First Presbyterian Church
Champaign, Illinois
 
Dear Friends,
 
Today let’s pray for our Presbyterian Woman. 
 
They meet for their annual gathering today. Our women have led us through discussions, mission emphasis, and service. Mae Chapin was one of the many saints in our flock that we lift up as having had a zeal for being a disciple. Somebody who knows her story better should write about her and we’ll include it in a future email.
 
My mother grew in faith through Presbyterian Women. When she was asked to be a circle leader, she said she couldn’t. She didn’t have the self-confidence or the gifts. Another woman said, “Yes you do.” Reluctantly, she agreed. And she worked hard. When she was asked to be a Circle Moderator, she declined, saying she couldn’t. She didn’t have the self-confidence or the gifts. Another woman said, “Yes, you do. Yes, you can.” Again, she rolled up her sleeves and served God through the ministries of PW. When she was asked to be moderator of PW, she said the job was way over her head. She couldn’t. She didn’t have the self-confidence or the gifts. Another woman said, “Yes you do. It’s not over your head. We need you.” When my mom was asked to be a Deacon she said she was not worthy. Somebody said, “Correct. You are not worthy, but God doesn’t call the worthy, God makes worthy the called.” When she was asked to be an Elder, she declined. She was not equipped. She was told that God does not call the equipped, God equips the called. 
 
Her service in the church began through Presbyterian Women. 
 
When she was asked to say a word about race, she spoke up. She was part of a team that called a gay pastor. She quietly made her stand for youth serving as leaders, for welcoming the homeless into our small church to sleep for the winter (NEST), for beginning a preschool, and for underwriting scholarships for seminarians. She made layettes for new moms. She cooked meals for ten and for hundreds; it wasn’t gourmet, but nobody left hungry. She stood up when she needed to stand up. Her knees knocked. She didn’t like speaking in public, and seldom did it. She wasn’t a natural leader, maybe. But she surrounded herself with great leaders, great speakers, great idea-people, energetic, spirit-filled people.  And my mom, who learned to be organized and thrifty from OJT in the SHK (on the job training at the School of Hard Knocks), did what needed to be done. 
 
She was seen has a reliable woman who listened, cared, inspired, and got things done.
 
It was through God’s persistent call through Presbyterian Woman that God equipped her to serve the wide church. 
 
I know dozens of kids who have heard God’s call through tight youth groups. They are teachers and graphic designers and engineers. They work line jobs in factories. They run departments of EMT. The hold political office. They teach. It was in youth group where they were challenged and invited to lead that they grew to be servants of the most high God.
 
I miss my mom. But when I look around our church, I see her face shining through the faces of others, even as I seen the image of God in each.
 
NEWS:
Prayer group on Wednesdays is an oasis. Come and see. Every Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. (The ZOOM link always appears in these mailers.)
 
PRESBYTERIAN WOMEN will gather TODAY.  For 150 years, the women of this church have faithfully served within the church and the community and world.  During the present need for “social distancing”, we’re missing meeting together for study and fellowship, but the ministries continue.  So a first step in moving forward is the annual installation of women in the variety of positions in Presbyterian Women.  Yes, we’ll Zoom forward, on June 4 at 1:00 p.m.  Every woman in the church is invited to log in to her email account and click on the link provided for PW officer installation, thereby joining in support and embracing all that is to come.
Email info@firstpres.church for the link.
— 
 
Good Word: Romans 5:1-5
 
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
 
Let us pray: 
 
GOD, you bring our days to an end
like a story that is told.
Help us to remember that 
at the end of our small day,
is the eternity of your love.
 
Amen.
 
(Reinhold Niebuhr)
 
PEACE,
 
Matt Matthews
Cell: 864.386.9138
Matt@FirstPres.Church


Weekday Email to Members and Friends – 2020-06-03

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Wednesday June 3rd  2020
A daily e-mailer from
Matt Matthews
 
To Members and Friends of 
First Presbyterian Church
Champaign, Illinois
 
Dear Friends,
How are you doing? 
I mean it.
How are you doing?
Let’s touch base tonight. Join us for our every-Wednesday Zoom at 7:00 tonight. Our program tonight is a service of evening prayer. Bring your concerns. You will be able to share them out loud. I will ask you tonight, “How are you doing?”
I’ll be listening. (God will be, also.)

Email info@firstpres.church for the link.

 
NEWS:
Good news for Richard Rossi, our church musician, is sad news for us. Read his resignation letter below. 
May 2020 
Matt Matthews, Pastor First Presbyterian Church 302 W. Church St. Champaign, IL 61820 
Dear Pastor Matt and the Congregation of First Presbyterian Church, 
This letter is my official notification to you and to the church community of First Presbyterian Church that my last day of employment will be on July 1, 2020. On that day I plan to resign from First Presbyterian Church and also retire from Eastern Illinois University. 
I have decided to take a position of Liturgical Music Director/Organist at St. Peter Cathedral in Erie, PA where I will be working for a former student/seminarian that I taught while I worked at the Abbey in the 1990’s in both the seminary and college at St. Vincent. Additionally, the bishop of the cathedral is also a good friend of mine with whom I also worked with when he was the Master of Ceremonies for several large liturgies that I played organ for at the abbey around the same time. I am also excited because there is so much opportunity for me in the area with five universities, two of which are Catholic and a minor seminary, along with five parochial elementary schools which I will be able to tap into as well as time progresses. This job literally fell in my lap unexpectedly and I do believe it is part of the journey I started a couple years ago when I had returned to the monastery. I believe this is the balance that will bring peace and happiness in my life at this time. (also volleyball league locally and I won’t need to drive an hour as I have been doing here)
I am excited about this new venture and my impending departure from First Presbyterian Church having been with them since 1998. I also wanted to take this opportunity to thank you and everyone at the church for all of the opportunities that I have experienced working at FPC and I will truly miss many people, especially working with Joe Grant and the choir. I have genuinely enjoyed my employment at FPC, but I believe God is directing me to move on to this new venture. 
Please let me know what I can do to help you with the transition and again, thank you for everything and all of the support you and many have provided me over the past couple of years as my discernment process continued to unfold. I wish you nothing but the best for the future. 
Sincerely in Christ, 
Dr. Richard Robert Rossi, organist  
 
* * *
Join us Thursday for…

Compassion, Peace & Justice at 11:15 am
Email info@firstpres.church for the link.
 

PRESBYTERIAN WOMEN will gather Thursday.  For 150 years, the women of this church have faithfully served within the church and the community and world.  During the present need for “social distancing”, we’re missing meeting together for study and fellowship, but the ministries continue.  So a first step in moving forward is the annual installation of women in the variety of positions in Presbyterian Women.  Yes, we’ll Zoom forward, on June 4 at 1:00 p.m.  Every woman in the church is invited to log in to her email account and click on the link provided for PW officer installation, thereby joining in support and embracing all that is to come.

Email info@firstpres.church for the link.
 

—  
 
Good Word: (Read this one again.)
 
Romans 12:9-21
 
Let love be genuine; 
hate what is evil, 
hold fast to what is good; 
love one another with mutual affection; 
outdo one another in showing honor. 
Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, 
            serve the Lord. 
Rejoice in hope, 
be patient in suffering, 
persevere in prayer. 
Contribute to the needs of the saints; 
extend hospitality to strangers.
Bless those who persecute you; 
bless and do not curse them. 
Rejoice with those who rejoice, 
weep with those who weep. 
Live in harmony with one another; 
do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; 
do not claim to be wiser than you are. 
Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought 
            for what is noble in the sight of all. 
If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, 
            live peaceably with all. 
Never avenge yourselves, but leave room 
            for the wrath of God; 
If your enemies are hungry, feed them;
if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; 
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome 
            evil with good.
 
Let us pray: 
 
O Christ 
of the poor and the yearning, 
kindle in my heart 
within a flame of love for my neighbor,
 for my foe and for my friend, 
for my kindred all. 
 
From the humblest thing that lives 
to the name that is highest of all. 
Kindle in my heart 
within a flame of love. 
 
Amen 
 
(Iona Community)
 
PEACE,
 
Matt Matthews
Cell: 864.386.9138
Matt@FirstPres.Church
 



Weekday Email to Members and Friends – 2020-06-02

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The Heart of Mission
June 2, 2020


 
 
In God hope holds us. Yet, this past week culminating in violence has been a terrible and chaotic time. As if the pandemic was not enough, violence descended upon our cities as protests erupted. Some of us are hearing the voices of people long silenced as if for the first time. Others of us are crying, “How long, O Lord?”
 
You might wonder why in a word about mission I bring this to light. The heart of mission is the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ. And, Love compels us to be prepared to follow God’s call to care for the least of these and then act when there is need. We are a Matthew 25 congregation. Our mission is not just to give a handout, it is to build congregation vitality, dismantle structural racism and eradicate systemic poverty. The violent protests show us that we have a long way to go in dismantling structural racism and eradicating systemic poverty. Prayer is all some of us can do but it is not enough. Those of us that can act must. 
 
I think some of you might like to know that in choosing the mission agencies First Presbyterian Champaign has chosen to support, we have been making a statement about dismantling structural racism and dismantling systemic poverty. We seek to support agencies that help allow the individual to have dignity and agency, balance racial power imbalances, care for the immigrant as well as give to the vulnerable – locally and globally. Get to know these agencies. Look for the ways this happens. Open yourself up to being called to choose an agency to adopt and make it your own. We have several people at First Presbyterian, not just our mission deacons, who have done this. They give financially and volunteer at one or more of these agencies even during this shelter in place time. We are all looking forward to when we can be back serving face to face.
 
Before I close, I want to thank you for your generosity in last Sunday’s Pentecost Offering. 40% went to DREAAM. Thank you for your generosity all during the time of this pandemic. We have helped countless people with groceries and rent who have lost jobs and income. We will continue to do so as we are able. We have several offerings during the year that go to help the least of these. The next one you will be hearing about is the Raindrop Project in July.

Peace,
Rachel Matthews, Temporary Mission Coordinator
First Presbyterian Church Champaign

ANNOUNCEMENTS
 
           Courage Connection: Donations needed! Courage Connection has been very active the last few months and has been a safe shelter for families who have suffered from domestic violence.  They are currently in need of full size shampoo and toiletries (full size), gift cards. They are still providing housing through June for their families. Bring toiletries to the mission deacon’s house, Michael Hogue, 1104 W Clark St. He will be delivering to Courage Connection.
            Salt and Light has grocery gift cards now so Community Mission Deacons encourages us to utilize this means of giving groceries to people. They continue to take clothing and houseware donations.
            Community Mission Deacons will be sending the University Y and CU Fair a one time gift of $1000 each to meet food and rent concerns among the immigrant communities, the  demand for which has risen in the last month.
            Presbyterian Women: For 150 years, the women of this church have faithfully served within the church and the community and world.  During the present need for “social distancing”, we’re missing meeting together for study and fellowship, but the ministries continue.  So a first step in moving forward is the annual installation of women in the variety of positions in Presbyterian Women.  Yes, we’ll Zoom forward, on June 4 at 1:00 p.m.  Every woman in the church is invited to log in to her email account and click on the link provided for PW officer installation, thereby joining in support and embracing all that is to come.
            Cuba Partners Network: Here is what Rev. Liudmila Hernandez, leader in the Cuban Presbyterian Church (IPRC) recently told the national Cuba Partner Network Steering Committee last week:
            “The pandemic has worsened the baseline situation of shortages. There are long lines to buy food, personal items and cleaning supplies. The government’s food ration books have become more important, but still, there is not enough food for the people. The Church continues social projects like Living Waters for the World, but it’s hard to get groceries for those we serve. Yet we see miracles every day. We see how people share what they have. “
            In light of this, the national Steering Committee is proposing a Network-wide challenge to raise $25,000 to send to the Synod to sustain the congregations in all three presbyteries as they face difficult economic times complicated by the hobbling impact of the pandemic, and the embargo.  To date $4,000 has been generously committed, and they believe that the remaining $21,000 can be quickly subscribed if we work together as a network of over 90 partnerships.  Our FPCC Cuba Steering Committee will be discussing our response in the next few weeks. Stay tuned.
            Frontera de Cristo – We have finished the fifth video coffee and conversation with our mission coworkers at Frontera de Cristo. with FDC Board Member Rosie Mendoza and Author Aaron Bobrow-Strain discussing The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez: A Border Story. What a powerful story of the life of a person on the border.
            June 4: 4th Anniversary Celebration of Cafe Justo y Mas
            June 11: Our PCUSA Mission Co-workers Miriam Maldonado and Mark Adams will be talking on Borders as Places of Encounter
            Our mission coworker in Indonesia, Farsijana, in a recent letter to Matt sends Pentecost greetings. She has been fasting as a spiritual discipline during this time of suffering. We keep her in our prayers. She said, I would like to greet you in my language, Bahasa Indonesia in the present of Pentecost.I am sending you my song titled “You are my refuge” taken from Psalm 71: 3, 17-18, 6-7. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05Hf5l5Fxlo)     
            I have used the reading from Psalm 71 as my reading from Bible every morning to begin my journey of fasting. Everyday I remember each year of God has given me my life since I was born to know. I thought a day of human is a year of God. I share the day with my families and people whom I have encountered. Then I will read other passages from Bible to close the days of fasting.
            Today is the end of my long fasting since the Ramadhan to this Pentecost. During the Ramadhan I woke up at 3.30 am to have my breakfast then will have the opening meal at 5.45 pm. The continued fasting was total of 37 days. Before the Ramadhan arrived I have started  my fasting on the Wednesday ash in February 26, then every Wednesday I had my fasting to arrive in Ramadhan. 
            On the day of Idul Fitri I did not fast, but the next morning I continued my fasting from 6 am to 6 pm. I feel like the freedom given my Christ has allowed me to fast in the regular time as the sunlight arrives to the sunset swollen into the earth. After this Pentecost, I will continue  5 more fasting on the Wednesday ash to make up for 55 days.
            Compassion Peace and Justice recently received this word on respectful conversations of which you, too, might be interested. Some of you will remember Matt Soerens co- author of Welcoming the Stranger which led to our small groups on immigration and then eventually to engaging the immigrant community.
http://evangelicalimmigrationtable.com/may-29-2020-prayer-partner-respectful-conversations-in-a-time-when-tensions-are-high/

Let us keep all our mission partners in our prayers, those who are waiting to go back to their place of ministry and those who are able to work where they are. Listen for God’s call to you in their ministry.
 
Our PC(USA) Mission CoWorkers:
Mark Adams and Miriam Maidonado Escobar (Mexico)
Farsijanna Adeney-Risakotta (Indonesia)
Jeff and Christi Boyd (Central Africa)
Jo Ella Holman (Carribean and Cuba)
Bob and Kristi Rice (South Sudan)
 
Our regional and global mission partners:
Kemmerer Village (and Camp Carew)
Lifeline Pilots
Marion Medical Mission
Mission Aviation Fellowship
Opportunity International
Friends of Presbyterian Education Board in Pakistan Presbyterian Cuba Partnership
Special Offerings of the PC(USA)
Theological Education Fund
Young Adult Volunteers
 
Here in Champaign – Urbana:
CU Better Together
CU at Home
CANAAN S.A.F.E. HOUSE
CANTEEN RUN
COURAGE CONNECTION
DREAAM
eMPTY TOMB, INC
FAITH IN ACTION
JESUS IS THE WAY PRISON MINISTRY
THE REFUGEE CENTER
RESTORATION URBAN MINISTRY
SALT & LIGHT
 
Here at First Presbyterian Church
FPCC Amateur Preachers
FPCC Environmental Committee working with Faith in Place
FPCC Presbyterian Women
FPCC ESL
FPCC Children, Youth and Families
FPCC Mission Possible/Go and Serve
 

 
 


  302 W. Church Street
  Champaign, IL 61820
  217-356-7238
  info@firstpres.church



Weekday Email to Members and Friends – 2020-06-01

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Monday June 1st 2020
A daily e-mailer from
Matt Matthews
 
To Members and Friends of 
First Presbyterian Church
Champaign, Illinois 
 
Holy God, 
 
I pray for all the people on the streets of our cities in our nation, and the people at home and work. Forgive us all, help us all, heal us all. 
 
As our nation laments and is aghast at what we have seen on television news, I pray for wholeness even as that lamentation and outrage have literally caught fire. Ease those mobs who rant and rave. Give us the gifts of the Spirit we all need to breathe.
 
For firefighters who run into fires while others run away;
 
For police whom we call when things go badly wrong;
 
For our National Guard who shovel sand into bags where the waters rise, and who stand in the streets attempting to keep crowds safe at times like this;
 
For the protesters who keep vigil;
 
For the rioters and looters whose actions I do not understand, but whose call for justice I do;
 
For the mothers and fathers who don’t know where their children are;
 
For all those who wait, and watch, and pray during these impatient hours; 
 
For neighbors and friends we love who are almost uncontrollably anxious;
 
For my flock of saints at First Presbyterian Church—wise people who have walked through many seasons of valleys and mountaintops. Help us to lean on one another in these days of physical distancing. Help us to learn from each other. Bless them to be a blessing.
May we cast our worry upon You, O God.
 
May we claim the responsibilities entrusted to our care.
 
Guide our walk as we follow the path you would have us trod. 
 
In a season of much rage, may you grant us the patience to listen.
 
And when we are given our moment to speak, might our few words bear your holy grace to all.
 
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
 
More Prayers:
 
Hippo Mbungu’s mom died in Congo last week. Hippo and his wife, Gladyle, have been in Easy English Fellowship. Alex is in our Sunday School and had been looking forward very much to VBS. We provide transportation for him. Alex has a younger brother, Ritchie. 
 
Rev. Michael Evanchack’s mom, Jackie Evanchak, died last week. Michael serves as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Taylorville and as the moderator of the presbytery’s Committee on Preparation for Ministry.
 
A childhood friend of Steve Gritten is in hospice. The family would appreciate prayer.
 
Nancy MacGregor writes this: Grieving for Minneapolis today – my grandfather’s last church was in the area where the young man was killed. The husband of Mac’s cousin served a Covenant church in that area for more than 20 years and was probably the only white man in a very violent time who could walk safely through the area because of the work he did.
 
Prayers for Chris, Helen, and Henry Hutchens whose Chicagoland neighborhood is shut down. 
 
Thank you to those who joined us in prayer last night for a quickly called service of prayer. Remember prayer is speaking. Prayer is our “sorry” prayers, our ‘praise’ prayers, our prayers for “ourselves” and for “others,” and prayers for “needs.” (SPOON). Prayer is also listening.
 
* * *
Join us via ZOOM…

Tuesday, Men’s Breakfast Study, 8 am 

* Email info@firstpres.church for the link.

Presbyterian Women will gather Thursday. Plan now. 
For 150 years, the women of this church have faithfully served within the church and the community and world.  During the present need for “social distancing”, we’re missing meeting together for study and fellowship, but the ministries continue.  So a first step in moving forward is the annual installation of women in the variety of positions in Presbyterian Women.  Yes, we’ll Zoom forward, on June 4 at 1:00 p.m.  Every woman in the church is invited to log in to her email account and click on the link provided for PW officer installation, thereby joining in support and embracing all that is to come.

* Email info@firstpres.church for the link.

— 
 
Good Word:
 
Romans 12:9-21
 
Let love be genuine; 
hate what is evil, 
hold fast to what is good; 
love one another with mutual affection; 
outdo one another in showing honor. 
Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, 
                  serve the Lord. 
Rejoice in hope, 
be patient in suffering, 
persevere in prayer. 
Contribute to the needs of the saints; 
extend hospitality to strangers.
Bless those who persecute you; 
bless and do not curse them. 
Rejoice with those who rejoice, 
weep with those who weep. 
Live in harmony with one another; 
do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; 
do not claim to be wiser than you are. 
Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought 
                  for what is noble in the sight of all. 
If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, 
                  live peaceably with all. 
Never avenge yourselves, but leave room 
                  for the wrath of God; 
If your enemies are hungry, feed them;
if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; 
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome 
                  evil with good.
 
 
Let us pray: 
 
Our Father, who art in heaven, 
hallowed be thy name, 
thy kingdom come, thy will be done, 
on earth as it is in heaven. 
Give us this day our daily bread; 
and forgive us our debts, 
as we forgive our debtors; 
and lead us not into temptation, 
but deliver us from evil. 
For thine is the kingdom, 
and the power, and the glory, forever.   
Amen.
 
PEACE,
 
Matt Matthews
Cell: 864.386.9138
Matt@FirstPres.Church



Weekday Email to Members and Friends – 2020-05-29

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Friday 29 May 2020
 
Members and Friends of 
First Presbyterian Church
Champaign, Illinois
 
Dear Friends, 
 
About the time you get this email, your Session’s Covid-19 Response Team will be meeting via Zoom. Please pray for that group, and thank Peter Yau for his role as our science advisor. 
 
* * *
 
On this Sunday, we have a special service of worship for you. It was fun to record. I’ll see you Sunday at 9:00 on Facebook, YouTube, and the Church website. Go to FirstPres.Live to find the links.
 
* * *
 
What happens every Wednesday at 7:00 p.m.?
 
* * *
 
Don’t forget to wear your masks when you go out. When you do, you are telling the world
·      you respect the power of this pandemic, 
·      you are using the brains God gave you, 
·      you care about your safety, 
·      you especially care for others’ safety, and 
·      you are taking your role as God’s steward of creation seriously. 
 
* * *
 
How are you sharing your violin/using God’s gifts to heal the world?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REwFf6tbue0
 
I’m reminded of the hymn “Lord of the Dance”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_AxMA_dE4Q
 
22-million views. Plus you. Turn it up.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOjHhS5MtvA
 
* * *
 
I’ll ‘see’ you on Sunday.
 
Turn on your “device” and find us at:   FirstPres.Live
 
Pay attention to God’s activity in the world around you.
            Be amazed.
                        Tell somebody.
 
PEACE,
 
Matt Matthews
864.386.9138
Matt@FirstPres.Church
 
 
* * *
 
New fun photo challenge! Each Friday the Nurture Committee is challenging us to read an assigned scripture about Jesus and come up with a representation of the story using whatever you already have around the house and share it in photo form.
CHALLENGE #7
RESURRECTION – Luke 24:1-12
Some may think that our story is done.
But they would be wrong, it has only begun!
For after 3 days, Jesus rose from the dead
To give us new life forever, just as He said!
 
Our greatest hope comes in knowing that we will get to spend all of eternity with Jesus and with all who follow him! We don’t have to be slaves to sin. Jesus can help us to live with joy and life now. That is what Easter is all about!
 
Take a picture of you celebrating. Maybe you have a Easter photo, past or present to share.
 
Post your photo to:
 
https://www.facebook.com/groups/firstpreschampaign/
 live@firstpres.church
 For Instagram @fpcchampaign
 
Example