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ThanksgivingInGathering 2020 eblast header Untitled PageSaturday, November 21, 9 am - 3 pm, Sanctuary

The Thanksgiving season has historically been a time for members and friends of Asbury First to donate to some of our on-campus outreach ministries. Our annual Thanksgiving In-Gathering is an exciting time for us to bring our gifts to the altar, bless them, and offer them to our guests and friends in need. This year, we are hoping to still do the same, while honoring the need to socially distance and remain safe. As such, we invite you to bring any of the requested items to Asbury First UMC on Saturday, November 21 anytime between 9 am-3 pm, where you will have the opportunity to participate in a silent pilgrimage into the sanctuary, place your gift at the altar, offer a prayer over the use of these gifts, and return to your vehicles. Masks are required. We will have signs and volunteers present to help direct people/flow, and we will also have individuals on hand to offer a touch-less drop off for anyone interested in staying in their cars. As we do each year, you are also welcome to provide a monetary donation. Whatever you decide, we look forward to receiving your gift and keeping the tradition of our Thanksgiving In-Gathering alive. We will then collectively view and bless these gifts on Sunday, November 22 during worship via the live stream. For more information, please contact Rev. Jackie Nelson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
 
ITEMS NEEDED:
Dining and Caring Center
  • Hot chocolate packets
  • 10-ounce to-go cups 
  • Men’s winter gloves
  • Razors
  • Hand or body lotion
  • Sleeping bags
  • Backpacks
  • Granola bars
  • Toilet paper
  • Cans of fruit
  • Raisins
  • Monetary donations
Grocery Bag Ministry
  • Canned tuna 
  • Peanut butter (creamy) 
  • Jelly (strawberry, grape)
  • Soups (tomato, chicken noodle, typically Campbells or store brand)
  • Canned vegetables 
(corn, green beans, mixed)
  • Canned fruit (peaches, mixed), smaller (<16 oz) cans ideally
  • Boxes of mac-and-cheese
Storehouse 
  • Socks for babies and young children (up to size 5) 
  • New men’s underwear
  • Clean, gently used winter jackets 
(men, women, and children)
  • Clean, gently used blankets
  • Gift cards to Walmart or Target 
in any amount

21DayChallengeOctober 23 - November 20
Asbury First is proud to join with United Way Rochester in the 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge. Our congregation, along with thousands of individuals and organizations around Rochester, will commit to deepening our understanding of and willingness to confront racism, bias, and other social inequities. This is a powerful opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of how inequity and racism affect our lives and our community. Daily topics will include Understanding Bias, Levels of Racism, Housing Inequities, Building a Race Equity Culture, and more. You can also join the challenge as an individual and receive an email every weekday from October 23 to November 20 with links to recommended articles, videos, podcasts, reflections, and more. Learn more about this on United Way's website here.
 
Each Thursday from 5:15-6:00 pm Asbury First members are invited to come together on Zoom (click here for link) to talk about and debrief their experiences from the previous week.

PastorApprecitation SQSunday, October 11

We at Asbury First are truly blessed to have such amazing shepherds guiding us during a very difficult time. This October 11 is national Pastor Appreciation Sunday. Please take a moment to click here and add a greeting for our pastor's on our Kudoboard to thank them for all they do!


MovieNight sqSaturday, October 17, 7 pm

All are invited to join us for a drive-in movie night Saturday, October 17, at 7 pm in the church parking lot. Our first feature will be It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (runtime 25 minutes) followed by Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (runtime 1 hour, 30 minutes). Parking lot attendants will direct you where to park. Pre-packaged popcorn will be provided and we ask that you bring your own drinks, tune in to the radio and sit back, relax, and enjoy the show! For more information please contact Paula Dugan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


200th Celebration Day Poster


200 Mayor AsburyFirstUMC Congratulations


Like many of you, I awoke this morning to news of a mass shooting overnight near the Public Market. As of this writing, we have no details about the victims or the perpetrator(s), just the knowledge that two people are dead and eighteen injured. To be clear, one life lost to gun violence is too many and we mourn with all of those affected by this tragedy.

The truth is, we should all be affected. 

Over the last few years, we have grown rather numb to these moments. We hear the news, shake our heads, shed our tears, and then return to the apathy with which we have grown so accustomed. Let us pray that this time is different. 

As Christians, we proclaim the Prince of Peace. Which, among other things, means that so long as there is violence in the world, so long as injustice exists, so long as inhumanity is met with silence, we have work to do.

This incident occurred just two miles from Asbury First. As details emerge over the next few days, we will be looking for tangible ways that we can respond. In the meantime, I ask that you join me in prayer--for the victims, for the families, for the perpetrators, for the police, for the first responders, for the city, and for the courage to respond in love.

On this weekend of celebration for our congregation, may this unnecessary and horrific tragedy remind us of the work that is still in front of us. 

Grace and Peace,
Stephen

As Rochester continues to struggle with our turn in the racial justice spotlight, we at Asbury First are looking for ways to respond faithfully both in this moment and beyond. Many have asked what we can do right now as individuals and as a congregation to confront the realities of racism in our community. Below are just some of the ways, in addition to prayer, that we can participate in at this moment:
  1. STAY INFORMED: As details are constantly changing, we are creating a special Racial Justice page here with links to some of the organizations and community-led anti-racist efforts. While we recognize the list will not be exhaustive, our hope is to regularly update it with resources so that we can all stay informed and connected.
  2. SHOW UP: Whether virtually or in person, we encourage you to attend a peaceful protest, a town hall meeting, or one of the many interfaith prayer vigils. If you choose to attend in person, please use a face mask and do your best to maintain social distancing.
  3. STEP UP: Resist the temptation to tune this moment out. Nothing changes if nothing changes. This is a moment to listen, to engage in hard conversations, and to spend some honest time reflecting on our own behaviors and attitudes as it relates to race. As we get into the fall, we will be looking for ways that Asbury First can support formal conversations about racial justice. Look for more details soon. 
  4. READ UP: There are many fantastic books that can help us better understand this moment. In particular, we encourage you to read books by people of color that can help us all gain a new perspective.
  5. DONATE: We have created a specially designated fund called the Racial Justice Advocacy Fund to which any may contribute. These funds will be distributed to local organizations and community efforts that are committed to ending racism in Rochester. The use of this fund will be determined by the Racial Justice Advocacy Team in consultation with pastoral leadership. Click here to donate.
These are just some of the ways that we as Christians can respond to this moment. As others arise, we will share them. Thank you for your patience as we navigate these times together, and for your commitment to do more good in this community.

Like so many of you, I watched the video released yesterday of Daniel Prude's fatal mental health arrest in horror. Eerily similar to the other videos we have come to know so well over the last few months, this murder was different in one important way — it happened here. In Rochester. In the very same city where we live and breathe and worship.

In other words, this happened in our neighborhood.

To be clear, the lives of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, and the countless other human beings whose names we do not know, do not matter any less because they were not from this city. All Black Lives Matter. Yet, right or wrong, we feel this one more acutely. After all, we recognize that street. We've been there. We've driven by. Some of us have even stopped.

This happened in our neighborhood.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is fundamentally the call to love our neighbor as ourselves. When George Floyd's neck was kneeled upon for 8 minutes and 46 seconds by a police officer in Minneapolis, or Breonna Taylor awoke to police breaking down her door in Louisville, or Jacob Blake was shot in the back seven times by an officer in front of his three-, five-, and eight-year-old sons in Kenosha, we may have been able to convince ourselves that they were too far away to really be our neighbors.

This happened in our neighborhood.

So, how will we love our neighbors in this moment? Like so many of you, my first impulse is to do something. I also know that what we do matters, lest we cause more harm. Over the next few days and weeks, we will be listening as new details emerge and seeking ways that we, as a community of faith, can participate in the reforms that are so desperately needed. We are fortunate that the Racial Justice Advocacy group has already been formed and they have committed to putting concrete steps to support anti-racist policies in front of our congregation in the weeks ahead.

As individuals of faith, one of the places we can begin is with ourselves. If you have been avoiding having these conversations or putting off educating yourself on the realities of racism, this is yet another opportunity for engagement. As was our stated commitment earlier this summer, the staff both individually and together have been reading, discussing, and engaging in the difficult process of confronting our own racism and working on the daily task of becoming anti-racists. We invite you to join us.

Finally, because this happened in our neighborhood, you will likely be in more conversations about this murder than the others of this summer.Look for those moments when — in the face of fear, misinformation, or racism — you can personally offer a word of truth, love, or grace. Perhaps the most powerful tool we have to affect change is our own voice. Let us each commit to using it.

This happened in our neighborhood. By God's grace and through our love, let us work to make sure it never happens again.

Grace and Peace,

Stephen


"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." — Hebrews 11:1

A few weeks ago, the Asbury First Re-Opening Task Force released our "Stages of Re-Opening" plan. Since the beginning of July, we have been operating at Stage Two. With approved safety protocols in place, some of our long-term building occupants have returned to campus, our outreach programs have begun to re-open in modified forms, and the church staff has been welcomed back into the office building at less than 50% capacity. While much of this work is on-going (not all of our outreach programs have re-opened nor have all of our campus occupants returned), we believe we are ready for the next stage.

Stage Three will allow limited small groups to begin to meet on campus with safety protocols in place and upon specific approval by both the Re-Opening Task Force and that group's staff liaison. Outside groups are not yet allowed. Our strong recommendation is that groups continue to meet virtually. However, those groups that are ready to meet on-campus will be asked to put together a safety plan that includes, among other things, plans for social distancing, mask-wearing, and a strategy to include those who are not yet ready or able to meet in person.

Every individual will be asked to abide by a Covenant of Risk (forthcoming) that outlines personal responsibilities as well as commitments from Asbury First. Groups wanting to meet should be flexible in meeting time and location as we attempt to limit overlap and areas of potential contamination on campus. If your group is interested in meeting in-person, the first step is to contact your staff liaison.

As we have said from the beginning, our first priority is the health and safety of the entire congregation. This has been a hard time for so many, but we are finding our way together toward who God is calling us to be. I have been so proud of the ways in which Asbury First has continued to live out its mission and vision as a congregation during this strange moment.

We are all looking with hope toward that day when we can gather again fully for worship and fellowship. Until that day, let us continue to walk alongside one another in prayer, in support, and in love.

Grace and Peace,
Stephen