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Advent season begins December 2 and an Advent devotional is available for you as you prepare for Jesus' Coming. Each day of Advent, you will find a personal devotion written by members of our community. 


Chris Wilson Flyer Cards Final for web 3For a family event to start the holiday season, come to Asbury First for Chris Wilson: An Advent Concert, at 7 pm on Saturday, November 24. The vocalist and acoustic guitar player will present a heartwarming and inspirational program of spiritual and Christmas music in the sanctuary.

The concert will raise money for the Dining and Caring Center, which provides more than 35,000 meals a year.

Tickets are $20 each and are available at the door, in the church office, or in the Welcome Hall. Your attendance will help Asbury First continue to feed those in need!


Storehouse Christmas Craft Sale 2018 PosterThe annual Storehouse Christmas Treasures Sale (formerly the Christmas Craft Sale) will take place this year on Saturday and Sunday, December 1 and 2. Visit the many fine craftspeople and artisans for a wonderful variety of one-of-a-kind gifts and treasures! Items include fine art, jewelry, photographic cards and prints, pottery, Christmas ornaments, and much more!

Hours are:
Saturday, December 1
10 am–4 pm 

Sunday, December 2
9 am–2 pm.

Get some Christmas shopping done while benefiting the important work of the Storehouse!

For more information about the Storehouse, click here!


gatheringbwThe Gathering: From October 15-18, 2018, Asbury First hosted “The Gathering,” an informal assembly of United Methodist ministers from large congregations and historic pulpits for fellowship and connection. Though the faces have changed, the group has been meeting together for over 40 years and has been the genesis of lifelong friendships and faithful support. Each year, The Gathering moves between host churches and, this year, Asbury First is honored to host ten ministers from around the denomination. It is the first time in many years that the group met north of the Mason Dixon line. That’s why Asbury First’s Dr. Rev. Stephen Cady (pictured center) gave a welcoming homily to introduce these ministers to Rochester—and speak about the winds of change that are coming within our denomination...and all of Christianity. Read the homily below.

Homily: Something New

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.

Friends, welcome to Rochester. The flower city. On the shore of Lake Ontario and the Genesee River. A stop on the Erie Canal.

That’s right, you’ve come to upstate—to western NY, what was known 200 years ago as the burned over district, a name given by Charles Finney after decades of revivals and camp meetings meant that there seemed to be no one left to convert, the fuel had already been burned over. Let’s just say, that’s not our problem today.

It’s the land where Frederick Douglass published his North Star, where Harriet Tubman called home, where Susan B Anthony asserted her right to vote, where Elizabeth Cady Stanton gathered a group in a little Methodist hall to hold the first Women’s conference.

It’s the land where Joseph Smith had his vision that launched the Mormon movement and where William Miller unsuccessfully predicted the second coming leading to both the great disappointment and the advent of the Adventist movement.

This is the town where Walter Rauschenbusch, Howard Thurman, and Marjorie Matthews went to seminary.

It’s the birthplace of Bausch and Lomb, the Xerox corporation, and the garbage plate.

It’s the hometown of Wegmans grocers, a grocery chain so beloved by locals that they know where every store exists outside of this region and have been known make holy pilgrimage to pay homage.

But all of that aside, the thing Rochester is perhaps known best for, the thing that over the last hundred years has been both the cause of our greatest pride and, at times, the source of our deepest shame, is, of course, Kodak.

This was the place, after all, that launched the snapshot camera. “You press the button, we do the rest.”

Where George Eastman figured out the formula for getting a camera into the hands of the world and the process for producing the moments they captured.

Kodak was at one time one of the most powerful and profitable companies in the world.

Fifty years ago, at the height of its success, Eastman Kodak, headquartered a couple miles from where we now sit, employed close to 130,000 people worldwide with over 70k here in Rochester.

They existed to help people capture those moments of life worth sharing, those Kodak moments, and their tag line was simple, “share memories, share life.”

But as sometimes happens to those of us called to help others share life, Kodak got used to sharing it one way...and the world changed around them.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.”

Today Kodak employs 6,000 people and is a shell of its former self—a casualty, some would say, of the digital revolution.

The irony, of course, is that in some ways they started the digital revolution. They were, after all, the ones who in 1975 had the first prototype of a digital camera...as big as a toaster, it took 20 seconds to take an image and had to be hooked up through a complicated series of connections to a television in order to view the grainy image, but it had potential.

Only they were a film company...and it meant a change. And as the now infamous story goes, the executive who first saw the camera was reported to say, “That’s cute, but don’t tell anyone about it.”

If we’re honest, we know what this is like.

After all, there are moments when we can see the new heaven and new earth coming, but aren’t quite sure whether to embrace it or run the other way...used to the way it’s always been.

Perhaps this is one of those moments for the people called United Methodist. Or maybe at this point, it’s better to just say, Methodist.

As we anxiously await the results of February’s Special General Conference, we wonder as we wander toward that new thing in front of us, unsure what it will fully look like.

What we do know, of course, is that, for better or worse, regardless of what happens, we as a people called Methodist will not be the same after that Conference as we are now.

“Some will win, some will lose, some were born to sing the blues.”

And yet, here we are, gathered again, from churches across the connection, each with different histories, stances, hopes and dreams for what comes next.

Here we are, committed, as this group has for over forty years, to walk alongside one another for a couple days on the journey of ministry and to remind each other of that which never changes—The grace of God made known in Jesus Christ and the call we have to share life—in any way we can.

Which means, of course, that while we might not know what that new heaven and new earth will look like—at least we know we won’t have to face it alone.

And who knows, maybe 50 or 100 or 200 years from now, someone will stand in a space like this rehearsing the most important moments in Western NY history, in the history of the people called Methodist, and will celebrate this Gathering on the eve of change in the denomination as that brave group who faced the unknown in the only way they knew how...together.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.”

Amen.



micah headshot brokenbanjo 013 2 custom 5c6614683b11ab3b2f808e3ffd49cac267cf563c s800 c85Micah White, PhD, of Occupy Wall Street, at Asbury First on October 2 at 7 pm

Micah White is the lifelong activist who co-created Occupy Wall Street, a global social movement that spread to 82 countries, while an editor of "Adbusters" magazine. He has a 20-year record of innovative activism, including conceiving the debt forgiveness tactic used b the Rolling Jubilee and RIP Medical Debt, popularizing the critique of clicktivism and identifying the emerging trend of "social movement warfare."

Widely recognized as a pioneer of social movement creation, White has been profiled by NPR's "Morning Edition," "The New Yorker," and "The Guardian." In recognition of his contributions, "Esquire" has named him one of the most influential young thinkers alive today. Micah has received numerous awards, including the Roddenberry Fellowship and a Voqal Fellowship to create the Activist Graduate School He was also named the National Endowment for the Humanities/Hannah Arendt Center Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Bard College where he is co-teaching a seminar on social activism.

This event is free and open to the public! Join us at 1040 East Avenue in the Gathering Center of Asbury First United Methodist Church at 7 pm.

This event is part of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School's Fall Lecture Week. For more information, please visit http://www.crcds.edu/fall-lecture-week/


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God is doing great things at Asbury First. With a renewed sense of mission, we have witnessed growth in nearly every aspect of our programmatic ministry in the last year. We are a year into our Dreamscape (our strategic plan) and already we have experienced the fruit of our labor in attendance, communications, outreach, and much more. Plus, we have seen the first step of our Better Together campaign come to fruition (check out the new front steps here).

In 2019, we plan to continue making progress on our goals, which means moving forward with the staffing enhancements you requested. In addition to maintaining our current level of staffing (including security), next year we hope to:

1. Return to a full-time Director of Music. The retirement of Dr. William Weinert and the transition of David Strong to the Church Administrator position provides an opportunity to return to a full-time Director of Music to oversee and coordinate all music ministries as outlined in the worship and arts strategic plan.

2. Return to a part-time volunteer coordinator (called the Director of Connections). The Dreamscape envisioned a return to a position that connects people to opportunities for service, discipleship, and care.

3. Add a part-time financial assistant. This repeated recommendation from our auditors and request from Dick Moncrief would provide another person to ensure our financial processes continue to run smoothly and that we have redundancy in our financial protocols.

All of these efforts are only possible through the generosity of our community. In order to add these positions and maintain our current staffing levels (with cost-of-living and healthcare increases), we will need to increase our budget by approximately $149,675.

Every year, we ask members of our community to estimate their giving for the year ahead and make a pledge. To be clear, we recognize that things happen throughout the course of a year which can change people’s ability to give for better or worse, but without an estimate of what will come in during the year ahead, we aren’t able to budget for new initiatives or confidently fund current ones. To that end, we would ask you to prayerfully consider making a pledge in the year ahead.

Ultimately, our goal is tithing—giving 10% of our income, but we recognize that everyone’s circumstance is different and believe that every gift matters. You may make a pledge here. We hope to have all of the pledges turned in by Sunday, October 28 when we will consecrate them in worship.

Finally, we ask that you consider giving through a regularly scheduled electronic funds transfer (EFT). Not only does this make the process of giving easier for you, it saves the church precious time and resources currently devoted to inputting and processing checks. Click here for a form and instructions.

If you have questions about your pledge or giving to Asbury First, please contact the Rev. Dr. Stephen Cady at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Learn More About Better Together Here


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“But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.” -Luke 14:13

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Dining In For Outreach supports our efforts to offer food, clothing, health care, and shelter to those who need it. Thanks to the passion of many, we are able to serve God’s children near and far.Through our ministries, we are following Jesus’s command to love our neighbors as ourselves.

All are welcome to join a Dining In For Outreach table so that we can serve more of those in need. 

Asbury First members host dinners in their homes. Their guests enjoy a great dinner and each other’s company and also donate money in support of our many ministries. The event benefits not only the Asbury First Dining & Caring

Center, but also our many other ministries.

This is an opportunity to serve. Host a dinner. Attend a dinner. Sponsor the event. Your help is essential. For further information or to volunteer, please contact this year’s Dining In For Outreach chairpersons: Adelaide Svoboda at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Bob Castle at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Additionally, on Sundays in September, you can look for us before and after worship services to sign up or ask for details.


IMG 2340UP“Reaching In” to Diverse City Neighborhoods:
Asbury First’s Grocery Bag Ministry Outreach Program, Alleviating Hunger for Almost a Decade by Serving Through Our Valued Partners on the Front Lines of Hunger!

Addressing a group of young students, the world-renowned humanitarian Dr. Albert Schweitzer once said, “I don’t know what your destiny is or will be, but one thing I do know is the ones among you who will be really happy, are those who have found a way to serve.”

Hunger is closer than you think. One in six Americans struggles with hunger. Asbury First’s Grocery Bag Ministry (GBM) has been in service for more than nine years and has distributed thousands of grocery bags of food from the caring Asbury First community by “reaching in" to our partner churches and refugees filling real needs!

We thought we would ask the leaders of our partner churches and refugees, the distributors and recipients of Asbury First’s caring outreach, in their own words, what our ministry means to their flocks. Their thoughts reflect the true result of the GBM’s nine years of “reaching in” deep into challenged neighborhoods through these lighthouses of hope, our valued and respected partners.

From Bishop David J. Singleton and the Ark of Jesus Ministries (506 Jay St. Rochester, NY 14603):

“Dear Rev. Dr. Stephen Cady  II and Asbury First United Methodist Church Congregation.

The members of Ark of Jesus Ministries greatly appreciate your Grocery Bag Ministry. It has not only been a blessing, but it has also been the answer to some people’s prayers. So for that, we are thankful and grateful to God for your ministry. Only the Lord knows the depths to which your acts of kindness have reached. Now, may the kindness you have shown be returned to you again and again in our prayers.
In service to the King of Kings,
Bishop David J. Singleton and Ark of Jesus Ministries.”

 

Another one of our valued partners on the front lines of hunger, Baber African Methodist Episcopal Church (550 Meigs St. Rochester, NY 14607) led by the Rev. James C. Simmons, Pastor, has Betty Crews, the Missionary President saying in part:

“Our church is very proud to be part of this ministry. The recipients that receive the grocery bags from Asbury First United Methodist Church are very grateful for the bags. They always express how much the bags help them through the month and especially over the years. We at Baber thank Asbury First for your dedicated service to our community.”


Our friends at PowerHouse Church of God in Christ (48 Clifton St. Rochester, NY 14608), led by Bishop Jeffery L. Melvin, Pastor, has Reverend Fannie Ethridge-Reeves, Outreach Minister, saying from their hearts:

“On behalf of PowerHouse Church of God in Christ, we would like to thank the Asbury First United Methodist Church’s Grocery Bag Ministry for supporting our Outreach Ministry. Over the years, your group has supported us by providing grocery bags to our congregation. Your donations make it possible for us to provide food to needy families in our congregation and the surrounding neighborhood.

Since the beginning of our relationship, Asbury First not only provided physical food but has provided spiritual enrichment through prayer and fellowship. We especially enjoyed the time that we participated in your Sunday worship service. We look forward to continuing our connection and welcome you to join us at PowerHouse for a Sunday worship service. Once again, thank you for your generous support. We are grateful for the fellowship and the food contributions you provide for our families, friends, and neighbors.
In God’s service, I remain,
Reverend Fannie”

 

Another point of light GBM partner  is Light of the World Church (200 Child St. Rochester, NY 14611), led by Senior Pastor Ruben Serrano, and these kind words from Outreach Pastor Zenaida Sosa:

“Light of the World Church is a multicultural congregation located in the northwest quadrant of the City in the 10th Ward. We would like to express our gratitude to Asbury First for the food donations we have been receiving. Families have been blessed with this gesture of love and compassion meeting their needs. Thanks very much for your love, dedication, and your time.
May the Lord bestow and multiply abundant blessing to Asbury First and all who are involved in this ministry.
Thanks again, and we are very grateful, praying for one another,
Pastor Zenaida Sosa”

 

Our recent refugees and Cindy Malone, Refugees Coordinator for No One Left Behind, have these words to say in part about their connection to Asbury First’s GBM

“The Rochester, NY Chapter of No One Left Behind (NOLB) is dedicated to ensuring that Afghan and Iraqi interpreters and support personnel who worked side by side with our American troops and are now targets of the Taliban and ISIL in their own country are able to safely resettle in the Western NY region.

One thing that many families struggle with is having enough money to put food on their tables. With the help of the Asbury First GBM, NOLB is able to supply food to new families that have just arrived, and whose food benefits haven’t yet started.
These supplemental groceries provided by Asbury First GBM make a meaningful and substantial difference in the lives of the families that I encounter. The children always greet me with big smiles as Asbury First almost always includes either cookies or pretzels for their enjoyment. But what is most telling is that as I approach these homes carrying onions, potatoes, and other items that can offer some supplemental nutritional substance, I can see the look of relief on the parents faces. They know that their children will not go to bed hungry, and that feeling of relief is a direct result of the impact that Asbury First’s GBM has made in their lives. With the support of the GBM, we are better equipped to help circumvent some of the challenges that these brave families face as they begin their new lives in our community.”

 

Cindy Malone wants you to know that NOLB is a non-profit 501(c)(3)organization. All donations are tax deductible and go directly toward helping the interpreters in our region.

One of our beloved long-time stewards working with GBM is Edna Craven, Outreach Coordinator for Antioch Baptist Church (304 Joseph Ave. Rochester, NY 14605), led by Senior Pastor Reverend James L. Cherry Jr., and Edna  says in part:

“The GBM serves the senior citizens, and we thank you for your dedication to serving individuals less fortunate than yourself. The food bags are greatly appreciated. The recipients of the bags would like to thank Bill Lisi and Asbury First at large for their kindness. Without your generosity and kindness, these blessings would not happen. May God continue to bless you and your ministry.”

 

Pastor Mary Lee Robinson of the Miracle Outreach Church of God, in the Otis Street area, a long-time partner with Asbury First’s GBM says:

“Dear Asbury First,
On behalf of all of us at Miracle Outreach Church of God, thank you for your generous food donations. The food you donated has made a positive difference in the Rochester, NY area. The donations have helped eliminate food insecurity for families in crisis and we are so grateful for your support.
Thank you again for your commitment to our community. We have been receiving assistance from Asbury First’s GBM since 2009.”

 

Thanks to the faithful coordination of Mother Hughes over the years, Asbury First has formed a lasting and continuing partnership with Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church,  (250 Dr. Samuel McCree Way, Rochester, NY 14611), led by Rev. Dr. Richard Douglass. Mother Hughes has recently turned over her responsibilities to Sister Charlaine Anderson, Food Pantry Coordinator, who says:

“A partnership between Asbury First and Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church is committed to connecting families to Christ through Fellowship, Leadership, Outreach, and Worship.
The Food Pantry is one of our outreach ministries. The Zion Hill Food Pantry is free and open to the community and surrounding area 12 months out of the year.
Our partnership with Asbury First helps us to serve over 200 families per month through their generous food donations.
Asbury First donates grocery bags of wholesome foods for families who sign up on a first-come-first-serve basis. These bags are a welcome blessing to our feeding the hungry efforts because there is a growing need among senior citizens, single parents, and college students in our community. In addition, there has been an influx of persons from Puerto Rico due to the last hurricane, who frequent our pantry. The smiles and appreciation we see upon receipt of the food is truly rewarding.
The food donations from the GBM is a Godsend in helping us to serve our community members in a time of great need. We are forever grateful and look forward to a continued partnership.”

 

West Ave Methodist Church, which the GBM has served for its entire nine years, through Thelma Brown, Outreach Coordinator, expresses her appreciation of Asbury First’s support. We would be delivering grocery bags through the church’s doors on West Ave while numerous recipients would be waiting outside on the Chili Ave. doors of the church. Need and hunger, up close and personal.

Service, Partnership, Filling Great Need: Asbury First’s Grocery Bag Ministry “Reaching In” to Help!

Your food donations and funding for continuing the GBM are always a big challenge and you and the Asbury First community can always be part of our efforts at “reaching in” to our partner churches and refugees. A sincere thank you to all who have donated food items and funds over the past decade. You have sustained our efforts in service!

A food donation is always appreciated! You may leave your gift in the outreach box in the Welcome Hall near the coat racks. No matter how small the donation is, it has a great impact on our recipients as you can see from the comments included above.

Tuna, jams, peanut butter, pasta, pasta sauce, canned fruits, canned vegetables, rice, soups, and donations of your time as a volunteer are wonderful gifts to help us fulfill our continuing mission of “reaching in.” We also include in each donated grocery bag a dozen eggs and a fresh loaf of bread.

On a personal note, as my beloved Maxine and myself have recently faced some challenges of aging, I offer a great big “thank you” to all Asbury First Grocery Bag Ministry volunteers over the past decade. I also want to especially thank your current loyal volunteers who have, in my absence, persevered and stepped up to faithfully carry forward the GBM as we head toward our second decade of service.

Joe and Janice Cygan have taken a leadership role, ably supported by Jim Reed, Jim Carter, Cindy Malone, Pat Schwar, George Albright, and Bob Castle, behind the scenes, ensuring the GBM is ready to perform our mission every third Saturday morning of each month.

Our invaluable  GBM “baggers” are equally important in completing each and every full grocery bag that goes out the Asbury First doors to our partners, who are points of hope and light in City neighborhoods facing many, many challenges. Thank you to Betty Stewart, Richard Irvin, Gene and June Walters, Beth Woolover, Mason Fitch, Eugene Fisher, Edie Reinhard, Bob and Bev Schuman, Bill Masters, Ling Xiang, Jeanne Rowe, Don and Jan Anderson, Fred and Carolyn Hamil, and Tiayi (Emily) Yuan.

Through the GBM and all the caring Asbury First Outreach Programs, we have all been “reaching in" deep, to our sisters and brothers in areas of our City most in need of our caring and compassion.

A mountaintop experience is found in a heart given over to the service of God to fellow human beings.

Blessings to all,
Bill Lisi


Image Credit: Artsy

Submit a Hidden Figure

This year, once a month, we are trying to highlight the “hidden figures” of our world—those who made a difference, but did not necessarily get the spotlight. They could be historical figures or political figures or community figures or personal figures. They could have been known in their day, but forgotten now. They could have lived here in Rochester or on the other side of the world. All submissions are welcome. We are looking for people who have lived the ideals of our faith, even if they never expressed them in that way. If you have a person that you would like to lift up, please send it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and tell us why you think they would be good and where we might find out something else about them. While we cannot use every submission in a sermon, we will look for other ways of sharing these important stories.

(Image Credit: Artsy)