An inclusive, Christ-centered community making a difference.


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)

fall programming header

Questions about fall programming? You can direct most questions to Rev. Mike Mullin at
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (585) 271-1050 x105
(several class descriptions include unique primary contact information)


United Methodism 101
September 19 to October 10
6-7 pm 
1040, Room 201

What’s up with the name “Methodist?” Why do our ministers move around so much? Why do we use grape juice during communion? Whether you’ve been a United Methodist all of your life, or have just heard of us, this class is for you! The Rev. Stephen Cady will lead this four-week discussion about the history, structure, beliefs, and challenges of The United Methodist Church.


Discipleship Kick-Off
Wednesday, September 19
6-7 pm  
1040, Room 203

Would you like the opportunity to get to know different members of the congregation? Do you want to talk about real issues facing our communities today while gaining a better understanding of differing viewpoints? Even if you have previously participated in a Discipleship small group, you are invited to this kick-off event to start a new series of conversations and to make new friends!


Financial Peace University
Wednesdays, Starting September 19
6 pm
Building 1040

What if you were following a plan for your money that you KNEW worked? With Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, you CAN take control of your money, get out of debt, and create a plan for your future. If you’re interested in learning more about the group, message Patty Crawford! Because of its popularity in recent years, we’re offering it at Asbury First once again—just for you—starting Wednesday, September 19 at 6 pm. You can sign up using this link If you have any questions please contact Patti at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Avengers, Theology, and Ethics
Wednesday, September 26 
6-7 pm
1040, Room 203

If you have seen the new movie, Avengers: Infinity War, then you probably have a few questions. Maybe your questions were more aimed at Marvel, and how they could leave us all hanging like that; or maybe you began to question who were really the “good guys” and who were the “bad guys.” Either way, we invite you to join us as we discuss and unpack this film.


Walk With Me: Stephen Ministry Workshop
Saturday, September 29 
8 am-1 pm
Building 1040

Are you interested in learning to care for people who are grieving and walk with those who are in need? Would you like to learn about ways you can be a Christ-centered companion to others in their time of need? If so, you may be interested in knowing more about Stephen Ministry. Asbury First will host a Stephen Ministry Introductory Workshop on September 29 from 8 am to 1 pm in Building 1040. This half-day workshop will be led by Pam Montgomery of the St. Louis Stephen Ministry office. Other local congregations will also be participating in this event. Members of Asbury First are invited to attend this workshop free of charge. If you would like to attend, please contact Melody Guadagnino at (585) 271-1050 x103 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We encourage you to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to learn more about how we care for each other through Stephen Ministry. For more information, please contact The Rev. Kathy Thiel at (585) 271-1050 x106 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Are You Getting What You Want Out of Life?
Wednesdays, October 3-24
6-7 pm
1040, Room 203

There are a couple of things in life that are certain, death and taxes—and we often avoid talking about both of them. This class series will spend some time considering our models of grief for life and death, and how we might prepare ourselves and our loved ones for our eventual death. The Rev. Susan Shafer will use the Bible and faith to help us confront these challenging questions.


Parents of Little Ones
Sundays, Starting September 30
9:45-10:45 am
1040, Room 102

Whether you are a first-time parent, or a seasoned veteran, those first few years of life are simultaneously exciting and exhausting. If you have a child that is age 2 or younger, we invite you to join this new group of moms, dads, and caregivers. We will together celebrate our joys, commiserate over our challenges, and through it all, support one another in faithful parenting!


Loving Our Neighbors
Sundays, Starting September 30
9:45-10:45 am
1010, 2nd Floor

In the Greatest Commandment, we hear Jesus’ call to “love God” and to “love our neighbors.” Part of loving our neighbors is taking the time to learn more about them. Join The Rev. Nadia Mullin, Interfaith Program Specialist at Nazareth College, to examine major world religious traditions and spiritual perspectives to help us know and love our neighbors in increasingly diverse communities.

On August 9, 2018, 664 jumpers and lots of supporters came together as friends, neighbors, and family to be together and do something amazing. On Thursday, August 9, 2018, we showed the world what community looks like. Plus, we broke a Guinness World Record! (We are still awaiting official approval and will make an announcement when we receive the notification.)

But we still need you! Next year, during Block Party on East, we want to do something else that brings people together by breaking another record...and we want to hear your ideas! In the coming days, weeks, and months, please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your suggestions for another record-breaking challenge that can help unite us as a community. We can't wait to see what you come up with!

Thursday Aug 2 47 pm Friday Aug 3 10 am4 pm Saturday August 4 10 am4 pm Sunday August 5 11 am3 pm 2

This August, we will celebrate the 51st Anniversary of The Storehouse Summer Sale in support of the Asbury First Storehouse. As we prepare to open our doors, we want to pause and remember the 50 years that precede this event and its history

Founded in 1965 by five women of our congregation, The Storehouse has served thousands of families in need. I wonder if our founding mothers could have imagined that in 2017 we would have 100 volunteers and serve 2,967 adults, 2,505 children, and receive referrals from 372 local agencies?

When founded, The Storehouse consisted of a few rooms and closets on the second floor of the building we call 1010. Now encompassing the entire lower level of 1050 (the building that houses the church offices), the need has continued and increased. While supported by the Annual Budget, the needs exceed what the budget alone can provide. Fundraisers for The Storehouse help us to purchase socks, underwear, blankets and at times, winter jackets. Our sale dates this year are August 2, 3, 4, and Sunday, August 5. Since we are run entirely by volunteers, and our church provides the lower level of 1050 for the operation, all monies go directly to supporting our clients' needs. Last year, 2017, the sale generated over $10,000. With the contribution of the Bake Sale (held in the Welcome Hall) the total exceeded $11,000. Donations for the sale from our generous and large population make the sale much more than a glorified garage sale. We have had furniture, household items, small appliances, vintage clothing, antiques and collectibles, jewelry, linens, framed artwork, accessories such as scarves and purses, and so much more. Items are set aside and priced throughout the year as we receive small donations that could be a part of the sale. The week before the sale opens, many hands work long hours to get the sale tables set up, boxes opened, and items unwrapped and priced. We are blessed with many volunteers who have years of experience and know how to merchandise the sale to make items appealing and attractive to buyers. Pricing is modest and great deals are to be found!


Thousands of Items
Costume jewelry, housewares, furniture, linens & quilts, crafts, fine china, glassware, lamps, pictures, and much more. Our boutique area features handbags, vintage clothes, and other unique items.

Days and Times
Thursday, August 2: 4-7 pm
Friday, August 3: 10 am-4 pm
Saturday, August 4: 10 am-4 pm
Sunday, August 5: 11 am-3 pm

Saturday Special
Half off from Noon-3 pm and $5 Bag Sale 3-4 pm.

Sunday Special
$5 Bag Sale all day. 

We accept credit cards!

The Asbury First Storehouse serves families in the greater Rochester area with clothing and household goods. All proceeds benefit the Storehouse.

ChickenBBQwebpicCome one, come all—and bring your appetite! Please join us for Asbury First’s Chicken BBQ on Sunday, August 5, 11:30 am–1:30 pm (or until we are sold out). All proceeds will benefit the Dining and Caring Center. Through July 29, you can purchase tickets at the pre-sale price of $10 each in the Welcoming Hall after the 8:30 and 10 am services, or from the Church Office during the week.After that, tickets will be available for $12 on the day of the event. The meal will be one half a chicken, coleslaw, salt potatoes, and bottled water. Church members may also sponsor a meal for a Dining and Caring Center guest or two for this event. Thank you!

Join Us August 7, 8, and 9 at 6 pm Daily for Block Party on East!

Love Tent Week? You won't want to miss Block Party on East!

Tent Week Postcards for News Page


Tuesday, August 7

Celebrate the 1960s and 1970s and dress up to show your knowledge of these decades. There will be costumes, record-breaking, and much more! One of the awesome events happening on Tuesday is Goat Yoga on the lawn at 6 pm and 7 pm with HikYoga of Rochester! It's a free event and open to everyone. Bring your water and yoga mats. The event will feature Ernest and Gertrude, two very friendly Nigeran Dwarf Goat kids. Click here to sign up for the 6 pm session and click here to sign up for the 7 pm session. They're filling up fast

Wednesday, August 8

Challenge yourself with a prison escape! We will have an escape room with 15 minutes to find your out! We will kick it up another few notches with more prizes,“big hair” of the 1980s and “grunge” of the 1990s, and more! Want to sign up to participate in the hair contest? Click here!

Thursday, August 9

After warming up with breaking smaller World Records, we will capstone this summer’s Vacation Bible School and Block Party on East with an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest number of people in one hopscotch game! And we’ll need 650 hoppers to break the record! If you plan on joining us for #hoptheroc, please sign up on Eventbrite at Food trucks and live music will also join us each night!

Interested in volunteering with us to help make #hoptheroc a success? Click here to sign up!


DSC 0079 copyOn Saturday, June 9 at 7:30 pm in the Asbury First sanctuary, flutist Annette Farrington and pianist Tony Caramia will present a recital entitled Impressions for a Summer Night. This program, their first collaboration, includes music ranging from the romantic Nocturne by Lili Boulanger to the jazzy and jaunty Bubble-Up Rag by Judith Lang Zaimont. More women composers are represented including Grace Williams and Ann Ronnell. Jazz influences abound in works by Richard Rodney Bennett, Billy Strayhorn, Mike Mower, and Eric Ewazen.

Annette's flute artistry is familiar to the AFUMC congregation. As a member for almost 20 years, she has played often in worship services, is a charter member of Asbury Singers and is director of the Asbury First Flute Choir. She is on the faculty of Nazareth College teaching applied flute and flute methods and runs a vibrant flute studio in her home.

Tony is Professor of Piano, Piano Pedagogy, and Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media at Eastman School of Music. He was a guest on Marian McPartland's acclaimed NPR radio program, Piano Jazz, in 2013 and her 1927 Steinway is now housed in his Eastman studio. Tony has lectured and performed at numerous conferences on jazz piano and piano pedagogy and performed at the prestigious Rochester International Jazz Festival. His multi-media themed recitals play to sold-out audiences.

This recital is presented to benefit the outreach ministries at Asbury First. A freewill offering with a suggested donation of $10 is appreciated.


Prom dresses and mother-of-the-bride/groom dresses, shoes, and more will be sold on Sunday, April 15, from 2-6 pm in Fellowship Hall!

Items are available at rock-bottom prices--please join us or spread the word to friends and family who may be planning a wedding or headed to prom in May!

All proceeds benefit the Storehouse for the purchase of blankets and children's underwear. The Storehouse provides clothing and household goods to more than 6,000 persons annually--and your purchases at this event help make this ministry even more effective in providing assistance to our community. We hope to see you there!

ASB Easter2017 WebBanner


6:30 pm* Sanctuary open for silent meditation 
7 pm* Living tableaus of scenes from the life of Christ 
7:30 pm* Worship, Holy Communion, and a reenactment of the passion of Christ
See the worship bulletin here


6 am Informal service of Holy Communion 
12 pm* Worship and reflection on art and music (music provided by Voices Chamber Choir) 
6-7:30 pm A come-when-you-wish child-friendly service with Holy Communion, a labyrinth walk, and prayer stations
See the worship bulletin here


6:30 am Sunrise Service Held at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, 1100 Goodman Street 
8:30 am* Traditional Worship | See the worship bulletin here
10 am* Brief service of Holy Communion (no sermon) | See the worship bulletin here
11 am* Traditional Worship | See the worship bulletin here

*Childcare is available