An inclusive, Christ-centered community making a difference.


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We made the Upper New York Conference of the United Methodist Church Weekly Digest with coverage of our Hug Relay!!
Read all about it here:

Thank you, Shannon, for coming out to cover our event!

HugRelay Recap NewsThere are moments when this world feels hopeless. With each horrific headline, with every juvenile expression of political factionalism, it can feel like the division in our world is inevitable. Then comes a moment like last night.
We may not have set the world record for the longest hug relay, but despite the rain, despite the division, despite the inertia of isolation, we brought hundreds of people together to share a moment of genuine connection. I will never forget the laughter, the visceral sense of fun, or the authentic affection people shared with each hug. The gospel of Jesus Christ is grounded in the promise that when we love our neighbor as ourselves we find life-not at death, but right now. Last night, one hug at a time, we preached that sermon to this entire community.
These events can seem rather silly at first glance, but we live in a world with people dying for human connection. The good news is that we have it to offer and last night we did. We gave hundreds of people in this community (over 600 at last count) a story to tell and a chance to rehearse a better way of life. Some may never darken our doors on a Sunday morning and some might. Either way, we gave people a glimpse of what true community looks like. In short, we reminded people that there is always hope.
Thank you to all of the participants, the volunteers, the staff, the planning team, and sponsors who helped make this world better last night, one hug at a time.
Grace and Peace,


Check out what people are saying:

AsburyFirst HugRelay SocialPostWe are getting excited about the Hug Relay! We have so many wonderful groups from around the community joining in to spread the love One Hug at a Time. Check out all our sponsors here.

But, we need your help to spread the word! Please download this flyer to let others know about this incredible event.

Also, if you have a social media account, please share this image and the following quick blurb:

Join us and our partners at Asbury First UMC to break the world record for longest Hug Relay on August 8th! Everyone is invited and welcome—we're looking for 1300 people in order to break the world record! Come, stand in line, get a hug and give a hug, and enjoy music, food, and fun along the way. Please register online at #rocthehug

Don't forget the hashtags! #rocthehug #asburyfirstumc 

Thank you to all who have pledged to participate in this fun-filled event!


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Sunday, August 4, 11:30 am – 1:30 pm (or until sold out), Front Lawn under Tent

The Dining and Caring Center will hold a fundraising chicken barbecue again this year on Sunday, August 4 from 11:30 am–1:30 pm (or until sold out). Plan to pick up your meal after the 10 am service to eat at church or take home with you. We’ll eat under the tent in fellowship with guests of the Dining Center. You can purchase tickets at the pre-sale price of $10 each in the Welcome Hall after the 8:30 and 10 am services, or from the Church Office during the week. After that, tickets will be $12 on the day of the event. The meal will be one half a chicken, coleslaw, and salt potatoes. Church members may also sponsor a meal for a Dining and Caring Center guest or two for this event. For more information, contact Diana Carter at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at (585) 732-7224, or Rev. Jacqueline Nelson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (585) 271-1050 x104.

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Help represent Asbury First and get the word out about the Hug Relay event! Remember, to set the world record, we need 1,300 people! We need all the help we can get! Thankfully, we have the chance to sing God Bless America and promote the Hug Relay during the 7th inning stretch of the Red Wings versus Scranton RailRiders game on Wednesday, July 31 at 7:05 pm at Frontier Field.

We have reserved 50 seats at $8 per ticket, so we can all sit together. You don’t have to sing to join us at the game, but our hope is to have a good size group representing Asbury First! Our plan is to wear our Rainbow Asbury First T-Shirt, sing together, and then do a quick demonstration of the Hug Relay.

Enjoy a great game and help promote our incredible event! Interested? Please stay after the 10 am service on Sunday, July 28 to for a quick practice in the Sanctuary. To reserve your ticket, please RSVP with Paula Dugan at pdugan@asburyfirst. You can purchase your ticket by bringing cash/check to the practice on Sunday, July 28 or at the game on July 31.

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We hope you all have a safe and happy Independence Day! Please note that the church office will be closed July 4 and 5.
In addition, the following Outreach Ministries will be closed:
  • The UR Well Clinic will be closed for the Independence Day holiday on July 2 and 4. The clinic will open again on Tuesday, July 9 and Thursday, July 11 at 6 pm.
  • The Dining and Caring Center will be closed July 4-8 and will re-open on Tuesday, July 9. Other venues will be available to guests, such as St. Joe's, who runs an annual picnic on July 4th.
  • The Asbury Storehouse will also be closed to clients from July 1-7 and will re-open on Monday, July 8.

Last week, you should have received a letter in the mail, updating you on the status of our campus projects for 1040 East Avenue, the sanctuary building. This letter was written by our Senior Minister Rev. Dr. Stephen Cady, along with the chairs of our Capital Campaign Committee (Patrick Fulford and Paula Kuempel), the chair of our Building Committee (Chuck Hanrahan), and the chair of the Trustees (Anne Justus). If you didn’t receive this letter, you can read it by clicking here.


We are pleased to announce that, effective July 1, Dr. Carl Johengen will formally join the Asbury First team as the new Director of Music Ministry. Carl has been serving this year as the Interim Director of the Sanctuary Choir and was the unanimous choice of the search committee. His reputation for excellence, giftedness with people, and faithful spirit have already made a lasting impact on our community and we are excited to welcome him into this reinstated role at Asbury First.

This full-time position has been made possible through a restructuring of the current music staff and the generosity of several members. In May, our long-time Director of the Asbury Singers, Brian Bohrer, stepped down from his position in order to make it possible to hire a full-time Director. Brian made this decision because he believes the mission and ministry of Asbury First is best served by a return to a full-time director. We are deeply grateful to Brian for all of the ways he has led and served at Asbury First, and we look forward to seeing how his gifts will be used in the future.

We are grateful to the many members who have made gifts in order to fund this position for the rest of this year. We are thrilled to announce that one member has made an endowment gift to fund part of this position in perpetuity. When fully funded, The Helen Fultz Music Fund will help ensure our ongoing commitment to music at Asbury First. Dan Fultz, the creator of this fund, has graciously endowed this position in memory of Helen Fultz, his dear wife of 62 years, honoring our memory of her in this meaningful way. Look for more information about the Helen Fultz Music Fund, including an interview with Dan, and the opportunity to contribute to this fund, in the next issue of The Visitor.

Please join us in welcoming Carl in his new role and thanking all of those who helped make this position possible.

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Come and show your support of our LBGQIA+ siblings by dressing in the colors of the rainbow. J.J. Warren will be preaching at both services. J.J. just graduated from Sarah Lawrence College and will start at Boston University in the fall. He is a certified candidate for ministry in The United Methodist Church. He has worked as the Children’s Ministry Director at Ardsley UMC, and as the Spiritual Life Coordinator for Casowasco Camp and Retreat Center. J.J. has spent the past four years preaching at churches and youth events, founding a progressive Christian community on his campus, leading the Young Adult Ministries Team of the Upper NY Conference, and was a lay delegate to the special session of the General Conference in February where he made an impassioned speech for inclusion and unity.  J.J. has a free YouTube Bible study, “Called to Love,” which you can watch here: J.J. is excited to announce that this summer he will be preaching at churches across the U.S. Join us in extending our hospitality and showing that Asbury First is open to all.

Click here to view photos from our last Rainbow Sunday!

(Leawood, Kansas) -- More than 600 United Methodists, including our Senior Minister Rev. Dr. Stephen Cady, gathered in Kansas this week for UMCNext, a conversation in response to the adoption of The Traditional Plan by the 2019 Special General Conference. The participants depart today from an event that has been remarkable for many reasons.

"Every movement has a tipping point, a game changer, a watershed moment, this is one of them," said convening team member Rev. Junius Dotson. "In a moment none of us have experienced before and could never have fully anticipated, we have come together and held many important things in tension. We have managed ambiguity and cared for the waves of our own emotions and reactions. It has been intense, challenging, powerful, beautiful work we have engaged together."

The depth of the discussion is evidence of the strength of this movement and points toward an authentic new beginning. Participants from every U.S. annual conference took part in the gathering. The group found ways to work together, despite differences, and found many areas of common ground including four commitments.

Four Commitments of UMCNext
We believe these commitments are essential to a hope-filled future for the global Methodist movement as we make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world:

  1. We long to be passionate followers of Jesus Christ, committed to a Wesleyan vision of Christianity, anchored in scripture and informed by tradition, experience, and reason as we live a life of personal piety and social holiness.
  2. We commit to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in all forms and toward all people and build a church which affirms the full participation of all ages, nations, races, classes, cultures, gender identities, sexual orientations, and abilities.
  3. We reject the Traditional Plan approved at General Conference 2019 as inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ and will resist its implementation.
  4. We will work to eliminate discriminatory language and the restrictions and penalties in the Discipline regarding LGBTQ persons. We affirm the sacred worth of LGBTQ persons, celebrate their gifts, and commit to being in ministry together.

"What is clear as we depart this meeting is that we have a vision for a future filled with hope. We have not reached closure," said team member Rev. Ginger Gaines-Cirelli. "This is just the beginning. We remain open to the Holy Spirit and with convicted humility, we will follow where God leads us."

Noting that this is a gathering of leaders rather than a leadership team, the convening team will now begin to process pages of substantive work that were generated through table conversations over the next few days. Participants will go back to their annual conferences to organize and mobilize others in ways appropriate to their context.

“Resistance looks very different in Baxter Springs, Kansas than in Boston, Massachusetts,” said team member Rev. Adam Hamilton. “For some, resistance is putting up a banner saying all are welcome; and for others, it may mean participating in a same-gender wedding. The hundreds of participants are all thinking about what does resistance look like in their particular context.”

Just as the gathering began with worship, the event closed Wednesday with worship. UMCNext participants stand firmly on this promise: “God, by His mighty power at work within us, is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of – infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.” Ephesians 3:20

Please visit, for more information about the Four Commitments and to watch stories from the meeting or to learn more about the UMCNext Convening Team.