June 6, 2021
“Called to Witness”
The Holy Spirit gives us power to speak the name of Jesus.
8:30 am Chapel (in person only)
9:00 am Connexion (in person and live-streamed)
10:10 am Sunday School (in person)
11:10 am Sanctuary (in person, live-streamed and radio)
8:30 am Chapel
In Person
Rev. Bud Reeves
“How Beautiful”  Eric Krigbaum, Soloist
Eric Krigbaum, Soloist
Nancy W. Vernon, Organist
9:00 am Connexion
In Person, Facebook Live and YouTube
Rev. Bud Reeves
“Break Every Chain”
“How Great Is Our God”
“Come and See”
“What A Beautiful Name”
11:10 am Sanctuary
In Person, Facebook Live, YouTube, and FM 96.7
Rev. Bud Reeves
Anthem: “Go Forth and Preach the Gospel
Anthem: “How Beautiful ”   Eric Krigbaum, Soloist
Chancel Choir
Eric Krigbaum, Soloist
Gaye Mings, Choir Director
Nancy W. Vernon, Organist
The experience of community is one of our basic human needs. We all need the support and affirmation of a social group. But oddly enough, this basic human need has been under attack for some time. The general trend of culture has been away from community and toward individualism. Technology has allowed us to retreat to our isolated spaces. Political, racial, and economic differences have caused divisions. The church has lost credibility and influence in our increasingly secularized society, and “organized religion” is avoided by people who claim to be “spiritual but not religious.” In the last year, the pandemic forced most churches to cancel services, ministries, and activities. Many people have long ago lost the habit of attendance at church and Sunday School, and our sense of community has suffered.
The question I have been hearing lately is, “How can we get our church back?” What people mean is, “How can we get our attendance back up to pre-COVID levels?” It’s the question on the mind of every pastor in America and many of our laity. If our church is still important, why aren’t people coming back, and how can we get them back? I have four answers to that question.
First, the church never left. Even though we suspended in-person gatherings for a while, the church never closed. All year long we were busy in ministry—doing church and small groups online, connecting with people by Zoom, text, email, and phone, doing more in community missions, especially to feed people, than we have ever done before, supporting the church financially with our gifts better than the year before the pandemic. The community of faith at FUMC was strong during the pandemic and will continue to be that way.
That being said, the post-pandemic church is going to be different than what came before. We will continue to have our worship services streamed online and available to watch anytime. Some classes will be done by Zoom, because you can be involved from wherever you are. My new class in the Old Testament has people from three states already signed up. The new church will not look like the old church.
So we need to do two things. Be patient. It’s going to take a while to build the church back up. Not everyone is comfortable yet coming back. People have lost the habit of coming to church. It will take a while to get back in the habit. And some won’t get back in the habit, but they will still be engaged with our church, through online options, mission opportunities, and financial support. We who like to count noses need to get used to that.
Finally and most importantly, we need to trust God. This is God’s church. The Holy Spirit is in our faith community as surely as the Spirit was in the church of Acts. If we follow Jesus and love people and tell the good news, we are going to be the church, and God is going to bless our ministry, no matter what it looks like. I don’t believe in any way that God sent the pandemic on the world, but I do believe God can use the pandemic to renew the church, to reset our ministry, to redefine our priorities, to reclaim our mission, and leave behind some of the old stuff that was holding us back. The wind of the Spirit is blowing strong in the church right now; we see “God things” happening almost daily that convince us the Holy Spirit is among us. Though we don’t have all the answers and can’t see all the future, I know we can trust God to be with us in this time of transition. That’s the nature of faith, isn’t it?
In this time of transition, let me encourage you to do three things. 
  • As soon as you’re comfortable (and most are), return to in-person worship, small groups, children and youth ministries--any way you can get involved. This will help you and help others.
  • If you know of a church friend who has been reluctant to return, make a personal contact and let them know they are missed. Nothing has the power like a personal invitation.
  • With your friends who are not members of FUMC, say a positive word about the church, its ministries, and its people. This is a great church with great people and a great Christ-centered ministry. We don’t want anyone to miss the opportunity to be a part of something so wonderful!
In Washington Regional Hospital:
  • Denise Jones
Loss of loved ones and friends:
  • Bonnie Manning - mother of Jena (Neil) Roberts and grandmother of Luke and Anna Claire Roberts.
  • Peggy Udouj - mother of John (Debbie) Udouj, Stan (Patty) Udouj, Debbie Lipsmeyer, Becky Melancon and Barbara Robbins and aunt of Henry (Melissa), Isabella, and Joseph Udouj
  • Marvin Matlock - father of Marvina Matlock (Victor) Hart and grandfather of Payton Matlock Hart
Sunday, June 6
8:30 am Chapel Service
9:00 am Connexion Worship, In Person, Facebook Live and YouTube
9:45 am Meet and Greet Ashley McNeal, Narthex
10:10 am Sunday Small Groups
11:10 am Sanctuary Worship, In Person, Facebook Live, YouTube & FM 103.5
5:00 pm Youth, Loft, in person
6:00 pm Trustees Meeting, In Person

Tuesday, June 8
12:00 am UMW Circle—Ruth, Hardscrabble Country Club
6:30 pm Introducing the Old Testament, Zoom
Wednesday, June 9
10:00 am Ladybells, Bayliss Hall
4:00 pm 10 Brave Christians, Rev DeeDee, Friends Classroom
5:30 pm Evening Prayer, In Person and Facebook Live
7:00 pm Choir Practice
Thursday, June 10
7:00 pm College Ministry, Zoom
We are thankful that you volunteered to be an usher/greeter in the past!
Thank you
As you know things have changed.
We now have “Guest Services” which serves all three services.
You may serve at any service and/or more than one.
There is time for you to go to Worship.
At this time Guest Services are signing people in, handing them a bulletin and greeting before and after each worship services.
We have a new schedule—
8:30—Roebuck Chapel
Volunteers will come at 8:00am and stay until 9:40am
Volunteers will come at 8:30am and stay until 10:15am.
Volunteers will come at 10:40 and stay until 12:25

We are in the process of making a schedule for the next several months and would love to schedule you if you still are available to volunteer.

Call Gail Oakes in the church office with any questions or to sign up @ 479.782.5068
In March Bishop Mueller appointed me to serve as Senior Pastor at Lakewood UMC in North Little Rock. Back then it seemed far, far away. But time has flown by, and my last day at FUMC is Sunday, June 13. While I am very excited to begin serving at Lakewood UMC, transitions are never easy, especially this one. I have truly experienced God’s blessings by being a part of FUMC and the Fort Smith community. 
Over the last two years, I have witnessed you living out your faith in amazing ways. I have witnessed you loving the least of these by feeding the hungry, caring for the homeless, loving children and caring for those who are sick, lonely or grieving. I have witnessed both lay people and staff grappling with being God’s people during the pandemic and during times of racial and political turmoil. I have seen you stand strong in your faith during the hardest of times, and I have been inspired by the ways you have found new and creative means to share the love of God with the world.
There are a few memories that are especially strong for me. We joyfully celebrated the confirmation of six young people during our first in-person worship service since the pandemic in August 2020. But, the pandemic came roaring back in the winter, and just before Christmas we returned to online worship only. I remember sobbing in the silence that followed the livestream of the 2020 Christmas Eve service. The grief of this holy night without the congregation singing Silent Night together was just too much to bear. But God was present nonetheless, and things got better. This past Sunday, we were blown away by the return of the Chancel Choir as the pandemic wanes and more and more people receive the Covid-19 vaccine and return to in-person worship.
I have also been amazed by the ways that the Holy Spirit has been active in the online community of FUMC. You all have embraced Facebook, Zoom and YouTube for the sake of continuing to learn and grow as disciples. I am thankful for being able to connect with old friends who had moved away and for making new friends in other states through online methods. It has been such a surprising experience to learn that real relationships can be formed even when we are not in the same room!
And finally, you have shown my family and me much love, including joking around with my husband who signed the attendance pads as various people including Les Miles and Elvis Presley. You celebrated alongside me when my son coached the Searcy Lions football team to a state championship. Basically, you have embraced us as part of the family. And for that, I am so thankful.
I know that you are going to be blessed and honored to have Rev. DeeDee Autry as your new Executive Associate Pastor. Her gifts, her experiences and her deep love for Christ will surely lead you to your own deeper relationship with Christ and renewed dedication to serving the world.
I love you all. I will miss you all. And you will always be a part of my ongoing journey as a disciple of Jesus Christ. May you experience the overwhelming grace and peace of God!
Gen Z: Reaching a Generation with Ambition
According to the Barna Research Group, 91% of young people in Gen Z (born 1999-2015) hope to achieve a great deal in the next 10 years. With that, we can say with confidence that our youth are ambitious. What does this ambition mean for young people? How can the multigenerational church help our youth to shape their ambitious desires into something holy and pleasing to God? 

We’ll start with the bad news first. With great ambition can come great pressure and anxiety. 31% of Gen Z feel internally pressured by the need to be successful and a desire to be perfect. Another 25% of Gen Z feel externally pressured by the judgement of others and the expectations of their parents. Living under this kind of pressure can sometimes produce a healthy stress (eustress), but it can also rob young people of their peace. 26% of Gen Z deals with anxiety. It seems that the gap between carefree adolescence and the stresses of adulthood is narrowing in Gen Z. 

Now for the good news. For 25% of Gen Z, their ambition has been met by a sense of empowerment. They feel well equipped by their parents, their schools, and their churches to be able to accomplish their goals. They feel prepared for everyday life, while also holding an optimistic view of the future. I have seen so many young people who take part in FIRST YOUTH find themselves in this empowerment category. Mission trips, leadership opportunities, and a community of caring friends and mentors contributes to a growing confidence for teens. 

With these things in mind, we can ask the following questions: how can the church help young people to not be crushed by the weight of their ambitions? How can we help young people find a steadfastness that will carry them through their adult lives? What is the church's role in cultivating and recalibrating the ambitions of Gen Z so that they can be on a trajectory towards healthy adulthood? 

Here’s what I suggest:
1. Preach, teach, and model vocational discipleship. It is vitally important that the church helps to instate a biblical worldview that helps teens to see God’s calling for their lives. The Methodist movement has a strong emphasis on the priesthood of all believers. That includes young believers! God’s calling reaches to every area, including work, school, friendships, and home life. Let us, as the multigenerational church, model a life that is fully integrated into the gospel!
2. Our highest ambitions are holy ambitions. When the Holy Spirit is at work within us, he has a way of transforming us into his image, even to the point of allowing us to desire what he desires. The best ambitions that we can have are rooted in God’s redemptive plan for the world that he so loves. Helping our teens to see this will lead to a world changing Spirit empowerment!
3. Get involved and stay involved! As a community of faith, we grow alongside one another to find confidence in Christ. We contribute to genuine support and love for our brothers and sisters. Together, we find peace in worship: knowing the ultimate work has been finished through Christ Jesus. Come to FIRST YOUTH and be a part of this good news!
Interested in helping out with FIRST YOUTH’s Sunday School program? Join our Sunday School teacher rotation! Resources, training, and everything else you need to succeed will be provided. Contact Michael for more information.
The saying goes…
“be careful what you say yes to”!
When Kelly Desoto said “yes” to serving as our Interim Children’s Director, never would she have thought it would involve navigating children’s ministry through a pandemic! But, WOW, what a tremendous job she has done. Kelly has gone above and beyond to stay in touch and provide creative ways to engage our children…and done it all with a smile on her face.
We are forever grateful for the service Kelly has given. So please, take a moment to express your appreciation to Kelly. Send her a card, take time to thank her…maybe even take her to lunch! She will still be around loving on our kids and helping Ashley McNeal transition as our new Children’s Director.
Kelly…we love you and there just aren’t enough words to express how deeply grateful we are. You have truly shown us love and service in action!
We will have an in-person VBS kickoff on Sunday, July 18th, where you can pick up your VBS Packet and T-shirt, along with tons of fun stuff for the kids to do! You won't want to miss out on this IN-PERSON event! 
Would you like to be a
Holy Grounds Cafe Volunteer?
At this time we are only having coffee and donuts and you will serve both. We will schedule two people like before and a custodian will be there to help you get started. You should have plenty of time to be ready if you come between 9:00am - 9:10am.
Call Gail Oakes in the church office with any questions or to sign up @ 479.782.5068 or at
This group creates mats out of plastic bags for children and adults, and they also create prayer shawls for those in need! We celebrate and thank this dedicated group for their work to share the love of Christ in the community. Pictured is an example of the adult mats, and Glenda Brown, who just completed adult mat number 400!
For information about serving contact Elizabeth Thames at  
The second of the core courses on the Bible.
Beginning Tuesday, June 8 on Zoom 6:30-8:00 pm

A 6-week overview of the development of the Old Testament Scriptures. It is not necessary to have had the first of the core courses in order to take the Old Testament portion. You will need to get a student book before the course begins.

More information coming the week before start.

Come join us for a great time of learning and discussion about the foundation of our faith!
FIRST UNITED METHODIST NEWS published weekly except the last week of the year by First United Methodist Church 200 North 15th Street, Fort Smith, Arkansas 72901.