An inclusive, Christ-centered community making a difference.


060320 Change Happens1For Lent of 2019, I chose to take up instead of give up. I decided to train myself to use my non-dominant hand. I have been right-handed all of my life, that is what I know, that is where my brain goes—to the right hand for all essential tasks. Changing to my left hand was hard. I had to make myself consciously aware of what I was doing. Pouring a cup of coffee was no longer a simple, thought-free task. I had to change. I had to adjust. I had to adopt a different way. It was different and it took some getting used to. I could actually feel my brain shift as I worked on this. I am still working on using my left hand more, and I am glad to report that it took only about a year for me to notice that I automatically reached for something with my left hand instead of my right hand. Progress. Change happens.

We hope for our lives to be full of humdrum changes such as this one. The truth is, at this moment, the world is far from mundane and we need some comfort, we need some reassurance, we need some peace, and we need a change. Start with looking at the way the news of George Floyd’s tragic death spread. We were shown the brutality of a violent death. We close our eyes at night and see the images. What can we do to stop the heinous treatment of God’s beloved people? How can we change the world?

Some of us react to injustice with tears; some of us immediately pray; some of us put up our fists to fight. These are human reactions and responses to the pain and harshness we witness in the world. But there is more to the world, there is more in the world: there is love. The love of God which reaches a hand out to hold ours when we need it. The love of God which surrounds us when we are stricken with doubt and filled with fear. The love of God that fills our hearts to overflowing. The atrocious actions of the world are real, but love is the balm that will soothe our pain as we mourn.

When it is time to fight, for those warriors out there, the best way to fight is in love. IN love. Make love your baseline in all of your actions. This does not mean you love an action. It means that your response to it begins in love.

Remember love. Know that God loves everyone. We have the power to change this world with one word spoken in kindness, spoken in support, originating in love. If I can change my dominant hand from right to left, we can do this. Love does change the world.

—Rev. Kathy Theil, Minister of Congregational Care

Sunday, May 31, from 1:30 to 2:30 pm

This pandemic is a real struggle. And for folks who were already struggling, such as our guests at the Dining & Caring Center, the pandemic presents even harder times. Thanks to intrepid staff and volunteers, the D&CC continues to operate during these difficult times, but we need your help! As you do your own shopping in the next few days, please consider collecting items for donation that would be useful for the “grab-and-go” meals we’re serving now. If you can’t bring your goods to Asbury but want to donate, please call Maggie Tobin at (585) 944-6178, or Diana Louise Carter at (585) 732-7224 to make other arrangements.

DCC DriveThruFoodDrive map1Items Needed:


  • Granola bars
  • Single-serve yogurt
  • Fresh fruit
  • Single-serve dried fruit
  • Single-serve snacks
  • Hot chocolate packets


  • Eggs
  • Sausage
  • Bacon
  • Shredded cheese
  • Bread


  • Non-dairy creamer
  • Sugar
  • Coffee
  • To go cups


  • Lunch bags
  • Sandwich bags
  • Napkins
  • Paper towels
  • Garbage bags
  • Latex gloves
  • Toilet paper
  • Masks

Then bring your donations to the Asbury First campus during the Drive-Thru Food Drive. Because we’re still practicing precautionary social distancing, we ask that you observe these rules:

  • Place your items in a spot where a volunteer can lift them out of your car without direct contact. That might be your trunk or a back seat on the opposite side of the driver.
  • Wear a mask when you visit the campus. 
  • Enter the campus either from Granger Place or the Gleason Works parking lot on University Avenue. The driveway closest to 1010 East Ave will be our temporarily one-way exit. (See map for route) 
  • Stop your car near the stairs leading to the basement at 1010 but please don’t get out.  
  • Pop your trunk or door to allow the volunteer to take your donation. 
  • Then go on your way with our thanks! 

Devotional 051320 1And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

—1 John 5:14–15

Admittedly, it can be really difficult to figure out our role or our responsibility in these times. Sure, we wear our masks, we stay home, and we follow the guidelines set forth for helping to stop the spread. However, if you’re like me, you also wonder if there’s something more you could be doing to help or to respond to everything that is happening around us. And while I don’t think this is the only thing we’re called to do, I think it is helpful to remember that it is always our role and responsibility to pray.

Prayer presents us with an opportunity to commune and converse with God, to unload our burdens, and to “do” something that will always be needed. Yet, I also know that figuring out what to pray for can be daunting. One of the things I have been doing is taking one topic related to COVID-19 a day, and anytime I get a moment, whispering a prayer specific to that topic. I find that having a topic on which to center my prayer for the day, releases me from that extremely overwhelming feeling of knowing I need to pray, but not having a handle on how to say it. I invite you to consider doing the same. The following are seven prayer topics related to these times that you could consider praying about on rotation until the pandemic ends.

The beautiful thing about prayer, as 1 John 5:14–15 reminds us, is that God hears us. And because we know God hears us, we can actually rest assured that our requests have been made known, and we can release ourselves of the burden of worrying about what more we can do.

Prayers to Consider:

  • Prayers for all essential employees who continue to serve and put themselves at risk daily.
  • Prayers for all who have been furloughed and those trying to navigate life without employment.
  • Prayers for all who are trying to navigate their mental health in a time of increased stress and anxiety.
  • Prayers for all pastors who are doing their best to make decisions for their congregations in a time of such uncertainty.
  • Prayers for school leadership on every level who are navigating difficult decisions around what to do in the coming months.
  • Prayers for funeral home directors and medical examiners who are now faced with an overwhelming number of deaths each day.
  • Prayers for all who are enduring this pandemic alone.

And guess what? This list is not exhaustive. Here’s my challenge:

  1. Each month take a look at a calendar.
  2. Jot down a prayer topic for each day (Use these seven, but feel free to add more).
  3. When you wake up in the morning, take a look at the topic you’ve written down and whisper (or scream) a prayer for these times.
  4. Feel free to join me in posting on your Facebook status what you’re praying for each day.
  5. Consider doing this even after the pandemic ends.

I’m a firm believer that prayer changes things; if nothing else, I am confident that when we pray, God hears us, and for me, that is enough.


—Rev. Jacqueline Nelson, Minister of Outreach

050620 Devotion1 500pxWe continue to be in an unprecedented time. We hear that word a lot, or at least I do, and it has become our new normal: unprecedented, or what has never happened before. We live in this time, now, it is our present. But it is also our past and our future. What is happening now with COVID-19 is new and has forced us to live in ways we never imagined possible. But we have been in unimaginable times before. We know we can live without eating romaine lettuce—been there, done that. We know we can survive with less gasoline for our cars. How could we have ever thought we could live without being in physical presence with each other? And yet we are adapting to this weird state of the world.

We are using this time of physical isolation to reach out to friends, and make phone calls to family we haven’t spoken to in years. We are writing cards and letters. We are re-establishing our connections and strengthening our ties to others. Some of us are even attending Zoom gatherings online. While these are helpful and good, none of these ways of connecting are the same as being in person, looking someone in the eye, and sharing a hug.

And we are suffering because of it. We are fearful when we think about the future before us. We are shown and told about many scary predictions. But we don’t have to think about all of them at once. There are plenty of projections about the future that make us wary and wonder about what will happen in this world we love. Having a plan to move forward is important, but it does not mean we have to dwell on everything that has gone wrong, is going wrong, and might go wrong.

When I was in junior high school, I had a conversation with my mother’s best friend, and I told her that I was having a really bad year. As we talked, and as I shared both my current suffering and my future dreams, she gave me some advice: “Use the good years,” she said, “To make the bad years better.” Find the good in your life and use it to make your hard times less hard.

When you are feeling down, overwhelmed by life and your thoughts, frightened by the news, find a place in your life where there is no fear. Sit in that place for a bit and remember that joy lives in you; fear is only a visitor. Call a friend and chat about nothing. Or call a friend and express your angst. Talk about your feelings together. Remember a time you shared that makes you laugh. Reconnect with the joy of the love in your heart, the laughter in your life. Even if it is just a snippet of a memory, or a sliver of joy, as you acknowledge it each day, it will grow, and it will make the hard times easier.

We are in this together for a reason—to remind each other of the love in our hearts! To remind each other of the love of God reflected in that card, email, text, or phone call. We are here with each other to be the love of God! For our own selves, and for all of those we love. Joy abounds! It does feed your soul. Find your joy, reconnect with that which makes you smile, dance in the Light of the Love of God.

Love changes everything. Nothing changes love, not even fear. “Faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” Love is here, love is God, God is love, surrounding you now and always.

—Rev. Kathy Theil, Minister of Congregational Care

April 30, 2020

Dear Family & Friends,

As a healthcare provider at the forefront of regional efforts to “flatten the curve” and care for everyone in our community, many folks have asked me how they can help. My response to everyone is the same:

Stay informed

  • Educational resources: Choose one of the local public websites (links below)—read the content carefully, check frequently for updates, and contact your healthcare provider if you have questions.

  • COVID-19 symptoms: Familiarize yourself with symptoms that may represent COVID-19 illness—fever (100.0 F or above), new onset of cough or shortness of breath, loss of taste and/or smell, etc.—see websites for more details.

Follow the rules

  • Stay home: Shelter-in-place as instructed—no “cheating”. For those at especially high-risk (which includes nearly all of our oldest community members) if you really need something from the grocery store or pharmacy, for example, ask a lower-risk relative, friend, or neighbor to pick up the item for you. 

  • Masking: Always wear your mask as instructed; your mask needs to fully cover your nose and mouth.

  • Hand hygiene: Frequently practice hand hygiene (good handwashing) and do not touch your face.

These “rules” are for everyone—no exceptions. These rules are especially important to protect those of us at higher risk, including healthcare workers, first responders, older folks with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, chemotherapy, and other immunocompromised patients, dialysis patients, and many other high-risk populations. High-risk folks need to rigorously follow the rules to protect themselves. Everyone else (including all young people) needs to follow the rules, too. Even though you personally may be “low risk” if you don’t take all necessary precautions you could become infected with COVID-19 (without even developing any symptom)—and then spread your infection to high-risk loved ones—your friend on dialysis, your neighbor on chemotherapy, your grandmother with diabetes, etc.

Know what to do

  • Your healthcare provider: Know how to contact your primary care provider (PCP) or another regular healthcare provider(s); if you do not have a regular healthcare provider, follow the instructions on one of the two public websites to find a PCP.

  • Contact information: Write down the name and phone number of the healthcare provider you will call if you develop symptoms. Especially if you live alone, share this information with a relative or friend—if you develop symptoms and suddenly are not sure what to do next—call the person you have chosen and they can remind you what to do—or make the phone call for you.  

  • Thermometer: Best to have a thermometer, know how to use with and monitor your own temperature (even though you feel “normal”, taking your temperature several times each day is a good idea).

  • Symptoms: If you develop concerning symptoms, per public health guidance, call your healthcare provider before seeking treatment in person (an exception is 911 in a true healthcare emergency).

  • Provider Instructions: Carefully follow all self-isolation and other instructions; if you do not understand what you’re being asked to do, ask questions.

We are all in this together. Keep yourself and each other safe.

Dawn Riedy, MD

System Chair, Hospital Labs & Pathology

Rochester General Hospital, Chief, Pathology & Lab Medicine

Rochester Regional Health


MainstreamUMC TownHall1Mainstream UMC Town Hall: A Call for Grace
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YouTube Live:
May 5, 2020, at 3 pm Eastern Time

Join the Mainstream UMC for a YouTube live session as we pray for our nation and world during this terrible pandemic. Hear options for the UMC for the next year as General Conference has been rescheduled for August 2021. On this live stream, get an update on where we are as a church, listen to a call for grace, and ask questions live. General Conference 2020 was set to kick off at 3 pm Eastern Time on May 5th. Mainstream UMC is hosting this Livestream Town Hall: A Call for Grace at this exact time. We believe it is important to honor this time even as we grieve together the impact of the global pandemic we are all facing. Learn more at


SM BeStill bannerBe still and know that I am God.

We are all in a period of forced stillness. We cannot do all of the things we wish we could. Some are doing more than they ever thought they expected. We have lost a lot of what is important in our lives. For some of us, this is familiar territory. We know what it is like to be homebound, to be isolated from those we love, to crave human interaction. For others, this is new and we are at a loss.

We are afraid of even more loss, and our minds race at lightning speed toward scary possibilities. If this happens to you if you find fear taking over your mind, stop. Take a deep breath. Remember and accept this invitation from God: Be still and know that I am God. Take another deep breath. Practice this until you feel the comfort of God’s soothing love surround you.

Love is stronger than fear, and when we allow love to replace fear, we are stronger. Find God in what you love. God is here, always! God has been with us before our birth, and God is with us throughout our lives, and even after our death. Love is stronger than fear! Love feeds us, while fear eats us up. Love changes everything. Everything! And nothing changes love. Love is.

Be still. Be in the moment. God is in the moment with you. God loves you, wherever you are, however you are feeling, whatever you are thinking. In this forced stillness of our world, find a moment or two throughout the day to connect with God. Discover, embrace, deepen your relationship with God, through prayer, song, silence, lament. In the stillness, know that God is.

—Rev. Kathy Theil, Minister of Congregational Care

VisitoratHome 0402 TeaseA church is more than the building, and the members of Asbury First are proving this time and again. We aim to keep connected with an e-newsletter that will highlight the unique stories of our amazing community. Each week, we will share some of the incredible ways we are Better Together while being apart.

Share your stories of community with us! We are in this together, even while apart, so let us know what you are doing to spread love and kindness during these strange times. Email Sarah Brubaker at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

AsburyFirst ContemplativeService 250pxWednesdays, 6:15 pm, Zoom,

Rev. Kathy Thiel will be hosting a Contemplative Service of Worship (formerly known as Taize) Wednesday evenings from 6:15-7:00. It will be exactly the same as the services that were held in the sanctuary, but will have recorded music and group communion. A piece of bread or cracker and some liquid are all that a person needs if they want to participate in communion. For more information, contact Kathy at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Please click the image to download the guide to the service, or click here

VirtualFellowshipHour 300pxSundays, 12 pm, Zoom,

It has been wonderful seeing the thousands of people who are able to tune in to our live stream on Sunday mornings; but one thing we have missed is the fellowship hour—and I’m not just talking about the cookies and coffee. We have missed interacting with folks as we come and go from our various classes and services. In an effort to once again bring some of us around a table, we invite you on Sundays to our virtual Fellowship (Half) Hour. From 12–12:30 pm, you may log on to Zoom and we will randomly place you in groups of about six people. You may know these individuals and you may not. You are encouraged to spend the time together to get to know one another, and to share what is going on in your lives. What are you doing to pass the time and make the most of this new socially distant reality? What are some ideas you have for additional ways that we might come together? You can join us as an individual or as a family (pets included) as we continue to find new ways to be better together while being physically apart.