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Asbury First is joining with other faith communities from around Rochester on Wednesday morning at 9am to pray for a peaceful inauguration day. This interfaith zoom will be an opportunity for us to pray for our country, our leaders, and the road ahead.

Also, check out the Facebook event for more information by clicking here.

 

As you are able, please consider joining us using the zoom link below:

Peter Stein is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Prayers for our Country Inauguration Day Event

Time: Jan 20, 2021 09:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84776010159?pwd=dVdMYndXOTR3QjlOS2pBRVc1bG5vUT09

Meeting ID: 847 7601 0159

Passcode: 415246

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RacialJustice Header MLKDear Asbury First Community,
 
Martin Luther King Jr. Day provides us with an opportunity to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King, while reflecting on his commitment to racial equality, and considering the work that still needs to be done. As we honor Dr. King today, let us also revisit our own commitment to racial justice, the progress made, and the work that lies ahead. And let us do so, while echoing his sentiment, that “we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
 
2020 was an interesting year, to say the least. In addition to the ways we have been personally and communally affected by the pandemic, we have also been forced to confront the realities of a race epidemic that has bruised our nation and our country. Over the last several months, we have had to confront the fact that issues of racism are not simply reminders of our distant past, but are sinful realities that stare us in the face, today.
 
On June 15, the Pastoral Staff of Asbury First wrote to you, first acknowledging the moment, but also taking the lead in lamenting the losses of life, livelihood and liberty; repenting of our own racism and silence; and committing to speak truth to power and work for a better world. We invited you to join us in our commitment and we promised to take tangible steps towards humbly engaging in the fight for racial justice. While we wish there was no longer a race epidemic to fight, we are happy to share that over the last six months, we have made some progress towards what we know will be a longer journey towards justice.
 
As a staff, we have continued to engage one another in conversations about racism and inequality, read together White Fragility, participated alongside many of you in the 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge coordinated by United Way of Rochester, and continue to read and educate ourselves individually.
 
As a church, we have successfully developed a Racial Justice Advocacy Group, which seeks to understand the racial justice work already happening within our community and provide direction to the church on where to best focus our efforts. This group meets monthly as a larger group, and several times a month in smaller work-groups to help direct our efforts. Our work-groups on Housing, Education, Policing & Criminal Justice Reform, Public Health & Healthcare, and Voting & Elections, are comprised of members of our congregation, who have volunteered their time to dig a little deeper into these subject areas, establish relationships with organizations throughout Rochester, and begin to help us as a congregation identify initiatives and advocacy work with which we can connect. While the last six months have been devoted to planning and initial conversations, we are happy to report that we are working and hope to have some initiatives for you to join in the first part of 2021.
 
In addition to the work of the staff and our racial justice advocacy group, we continue to update our website with different resources, guides, films, and more that can assist you on the journey toward racial justice. We have also created a specially designated fund called the Racial Justice Advocacy Fund to which any may contribute, as we look to distribute funds to local organizations, and to the racial justice group at Asbury First.
 
As we all continue to deepen our understanding of and willingness to confront racism, bias, and social inequity; we hope to continue to offer trainings, opportunities for group and individual reading, and other educational tools that might support us on this journey. If you are still interested in joining the Racial Justice Advocacy Group, we invite you to do so. We also invite you to continue to do what you can from where you are to confront the realities of racism, and help Asbury First become an anti-racist church.
 
With love,
—The Asbury First Staff

AnnualChurchConf 2021January 24 — After 11 am Service
 

This Sunday we will hold our Annual Church Conference at Asbury First during which time we will vote on candidates for ministry, our Annual Operating Plan (the 2021 budget), and the new slate of nominations. As we approved our new Governance model in December, we have put together a slate of nominees for the new Governing Board, the six committees of the Board, as well as well as many of the teams. Please stay on the live stream at www.asburyfirst.org/worship/live beginning shortly after 12 pm. 

The pertinent documents for our Annual Church Conference are to download by clicking the links below, including:

Voting and Meeting Instructions

The Church Conference meeting will continue to be broadcast through the normal Asbury First live stream. Whether you watch it on your computer or on your television or listen on your phone, you should plan to attend the meeting in the same way. (Click here to download a quick guide on how to use Slido.)
 

In order to vote, members are asked to:

  1. Visit www.slido.com on your computer, tablet, or mobile device. NOTE: If you have more than one voting member in your household, it is best to use separate devices or browsers.
  2. Enter the code: #Asbury (capitalization not necessary). NOTE: The poll will not be live until the actual meeting. If you’d like to get a feel for it now, you can enter the code #AsburyTrial and try it today.

To ask questions:

  1. Click on the "Q&A" tab at the top of your browser
  2. Enter your question in the box provided
  3. Click “Send.”
  4. Alternative: email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

To Vote:

  1. Click on the "Polls" tab at the top of your browser
  2. Follow the prompts and select your answers
  3. Click “Send.”
  4. Alternative: email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

While we recognize this is not an ideal means of meeting, we are grateful in advance for your patience as we do our best to make this work. Please stay tuned following the Church Conference for an update from our Better Together campaign.


PrayForPeace SqLike so many of you, I have spent the afternoon watching in horror the footage from our nation’s capital. As a people who proclaim the Prince of Peace, we condemn these acts of violence. This is not Christian. This is not patriotic. This is not normal.
 
On this day of Epiphany, the twelfth day of Christmas, we look again for the arrival of the light that shines in the darkness. Only we won’t find it in the manger any longer. Now, we must look in our mirrors. We are the body of Christ now.
 
Every Christmas, I close each service with a prayer from Howard Thurman called The Work of Christmas. It speaks about what Christmas asks of us as believers. More than ever before, two lines stand out: 
 
to rebuild the nations, 
to bring peace among neighbors.
 
Wherever you are, whenever you read this, I ask that you pause and pray. If you don’t have words, try asking God for peace. If that doesn’t work, the full text of The Work of Christmas is below:
 
When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among neighbors*,
to make music in the heart.
 
May it be so.
 
Grace and Peace,
Stephen
 
*the original poem said “brothers”

Book KeepMovingSundays in January, 9:45-10:45 am, Zoom, zoom.us/j/8347173468

New Year, New You! — Couldn't we all use a Spiritual Reboot?

What does 2021 hold for you? How can we continue to grow in our faith — even with the challenges that meet us each and every day?  How can we KEEP MOVING in the new year?

All are welcome to join us via Zoom on Sunday mornings in January from 9:45-10:45 as we read Maggie Smith's new book Keep Moving - Notes on Loss, Creativity and Change. Come experience a four week journey of fellowship and self-discovery as we grow with God and each other. You are encouraged to get a copy of Keep Moving prior to our first meeting January 3. This book can be purchased locally, or through Amazon by clicking here. If you need help getting a copy of the book, please contact Mike Mullin at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we can have one sent to you. For questions or more information about this class, contact Emily Cady at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Class WisdomofJesusStart off the new year contemplating some exciting and challenging perspectives on the teachings of Jesus. Rev. Kathy Thiel and I, Claude Adair, invite you to join us in an exploration that will use the book The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind—a New Perspective on Christ and His Message by Cynthia Bourgeault to spark new questions, inspire personal transformation, and deepen our appreciation for the teachings of Jesus.

This weekly, 90 minute session on Thursday evenings at 7 pm will run for 8 weeks starting January 14, 2021 via Zoom (click here for the Zoom link). The book is available to order on Amazon, and if you need a copy, please contact Kathy at (585) 271-1050 ext. 106, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please do your best to read the Introduction and the first two chapters for our first session.

Early in the first chapter of Wisdom Jesus Bourgeault — a modern day mystic, Episcopal priest, writer, and professor — lays out her approach:

"The angle of approach I will be using throughout this book is to see Jesus first and foremost as a wisdom teacher, a person who clearly emerges out of and works within an ancient tradition called 'wisdom,' sometimes known as sophia perennis, which is in fact at the headwaters of all the great religious traditions of the world today."

Our intention is to provide an opportunity to share, discuss, learn and grow that will make our time together around this book much more than a typical book study. Please contact Rev. Kathy Thiel at (585) 271-1050 ext 106 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any questions. We hope you will join us!


DynamicDisciple SQWe had over 200 participants join us in our 2020 Bicentennial Bible Challenge where we challenged individuals to read through the whole Bible. Many are now asking, what's next?

Well, it's one thing to read the Bible as a literary exercise, but it takes on new meaning when reading it dynamically as a disciple. In 2021, we are inviting everyone to join us in signing up for a Disciple class so that we can delve deeper into our faith and strive to become dynamic disciples. The Disciple Bible Study is a 34-week study with 17 weeks focused on the Old Testament and 17 weeks focused on the New Testament. There are Bible readings assigned each week, but they are much less intense than the reading schedule of the Bicentennial Bible Challenge—and you can take the summer off :).

Whether you have read the Bible or not, this is a great way to engage our scriptures in a community seeking to deepen their discipleship. If this sounds like something you might like to look forward to in 2021, we encourage you to click here to sign-up!

Disciple I Bible Studies:
Mondays, 4-5 pm led by Rev. Linda Clemow
Tuesdays, 3-4 pm led by Rev. Ruthellen Hoyle
Thursdays, 7-8 pm led by Ian Urriola
Fridays, 9:30-10:30 am led by Mike Mullin
 

Disciple II Bible Studies:
Thursdays, 1-2 pm led by Rev. Ted Anderson


JoyofChristmasGiving SQ2These past nine months have been challenging for us all. The COVID-19 pandemic has required us to make significant adjustments, which have impacted our personal lives and our church community. Our outreach ministries have certainly felt this. As news of the pandemic worsened, our dedicated volunteers made efficient and effective decisions to adjust programs, halt activities, and seek creative ways to serve our community, even if it meant doing so from home. We are grateful to all volunteers of the Dining & Caring Center, Storehouse, Grocery Bag Ministry and UR Well clinic for their flexibility and commitment to our on-campus programs.
 
One of the many ways we have been able to respond to our community and remain a church that prioritizes outreach is through our COVID relief fund. This fund, traditionally referred to as the Pastor’s Discretionary Fund, has allowed us to respond to needs surrounding back-rent, threats of eviction, and RG&E concerns from individuals who have experienced the pain of this pandemic in direct ways. From June to November, we served 55 individuals, and provided over $64,000 in COVID-relief support. We would not have been able to do that without the support of this congregation, grant funding dedicated to COVID-relief; and our dedicated volunteer social worker, Martha Neubert, who spends countless hours working with members of the community, referring individuals to other agencies for further support, and helping us respond to this growing need as a church. We’ve received countless “thank you” messages and affirmations of just how impactful this support has been to the individuals we served. 
 
As we head into the Christmas season, it is no surprise then that the needs steadily increase. With the holidays and deadlines for eviction notices approaching, we are averaging at least ten calls a week from our neighbors looking for assistance. In response, the Outreach Committee leaders have decided that this year, our Joy of Christmas Giving efforts should be focused on COVID-relief. To ensure that more of Rochester’s most vulnerable receive the support they need, we are inviting the congregation to consider donating to this fund, in lieu of donating to our individual Asbury First-afiliated outreach ministries. We’d like to be a part of mediating the current crisis around evictions, and believe we can do it with your help! Thank you in advance for helping to make someone else’s holiday a little better.
 
To donate please www.asburyfirst.org/give; and for further questions or concerns, please contact the Rev. Jacqueline Nelson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

WXXI BlueGold colorFriday, December 18, 6 pm
 
Asbury First's Sanctuary Choir will be among several local choirs featured in an upcoming broadcast on WXXI, a virtual "Holiday Prism Concert," on Friday, December 18 at 6 pm. Tune in to FM 91.5, or listen online at www.classical915.org. The program will include a recording from Christmas Eve 2019 of the Sanctuary Choir singing "Ding, Dong! Merrily on High" by Howard Helvey, with Duane Prill and Jeanne Strong, duo-pianists. Click here for more information.

This Sunday, December 13, following the 11 am service we will hold a special Church Conference to vote on the proposal from the Governance Task Force. Thank you to all who have attended the virtual Town Halls, read through the materials (www.asburyfirst.org/governance), and engaged in this process through your questions and conversation. In response to your excellent queries, we have put together a special Frequently Asked Questions document. Please download it here, or read below.

While we would much prefer this vote to take place in person, our hope is that this provides the simplest method of participation possible. If you have any challenges in the day or in the moment, you can simply send an email with your vote to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Similarly, if you need help thinking through how you might participate, please reach out and we will do our very best to help.

Thank you for your faithfulness in this process.

Voting and Meeting Instructions

The Church Conference meeting will continue to be broadcast through the normal Asbury First live stream. Whether you watch it on your computer or on your television or listen on your phone, you should plan to attend the meeting in the same way. (Click here to download a quick guide on how to use Slido.)

In order to vote, members are asked to:

  1. Visit www.slido.com on your computer, tablet, or mobile device.
    • NOTE: If you have more than one voting member in your household, it is best to use separate devices or browsers.
  2. Enter the code: #VoteAsbury (capitalization not necessary). 
    • NOTE: The poll will not be live until the actual meeting. If you’d like to get a feel for it now, you can enter the code #AsburyTrial and try it today.
  3. Select your choice.
  4. Click “Send”.

When you have cast your vote, you may want to keep your browser window open as the results will show up there and a new “Q&A” feature will be enabled during the “State of the Church” Update following the meeting.