August 1, 2021

Holy Communion will be celebrated.

Filled with God, we have strength, power, and love.

8:30 am Roebuck Chapel
In Person
Rev. Bud Reeves
Solo “Thee Will I Love”
Mercy Trahan, Soloist
Nancy W. Vernon, Organist
9:00 am Connexion
In Person, Facebook Live and YouTube
Rev. Bud Reeves
“Trust In You”
“Spirit Of the Living God”
“How Deep the Father’s Love For Us”
“Your Love Is Extravagant”
11:10 am Sanctuary
In Person, Facebook Live, YouTube, and FM 103.5
Rev. Bud Reeves
Anthem “To Christ Be Glory ”  
Anthem “Thee Will I Love ” 
Chancel Choir
Gaye Mings, Choir Director
Nancy W. Vernon, Organist
Sunday, August 1
8:30 am Chapel Service
9:00 am Connexion Worship, In Person, Facebook Live and YouTube
10:10 am Sunday Small Groups
11:10 am Sanctuary Worship, In Person, Facebook Live, YouTube & FM 103.5
5:00 pm Finance Committee
Tuesday, August 3
6:00 pm Serving from the Heart, Fireside Room
Wednesday, August 4
10:00 am Casserole Group, Aldersgate
12:00 pm WDS Board Meeting, Fireside Room
5:30 pm Way Out Wednesday, Fireside Room
5:30 pm Evening Prayer, In Person and Facebook Live
7:00 pm Choir Practice
Thursday, August 5
10:00 am Casserole Group, Aldersgate
10:00 am Knitters & Knotters, Fireside Room
7:00 pm Young Adult Ministry
Friday, August 6
10:00 am Pacesetters, Fireside Room
In Our Prayers
In Mercy Hospital:
  • Victoria Crowell
Loss of loved ones and friends:
  • Joel Gist - husband of Kerri Gist, son of Steve and Lucy Gist, brother of Jeff (Liz) Gist and John Gist and uncle of Sloan and Will Gist.
The Upper Room for July/August are available and can be found at entrances to the church or in the church office.

We will no longer be mailing these out. Notify the church office if you are unable to pick one up and still need to have it mailed to you.

Church office 479-782-5068
There’s a dance called the “Texas Two-Step.” Someone tried to teach me how to do it one time years ago; I have since forgotten how to do it. My recollection is that I learned quickly and did it gracefully, but that may be in my own mind!

There’s another dance that we often do in the church, and that involves steps forward and back. It’s a different kind of two-step. Sometimes it’s “one step forward, two steps back.” Hopefully we can make it “two steps forward, one step back”; at least then in the long run, we are making progress.

We thought we were making forward progress on the pandemic for a couple of months there. We re-opened worship and small groups; we ditched the masks for vaccinated people; our children and youth ministries were getting started back in person. Things were looking up!

Now we are dealing with another surge in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in our area. The Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus, which is now the predominant strain in the U. S., is more contagious and, according to most, more dangerous than previous iterations of the disease. The epidemiologists unanimously point to any of three vaccines as the key to stopping the virus, but our state and county are below the average for getting vaccinated. It’s no surprise that we are in a high-risk and highly vulnerable situation.

So last week we had to take a step back and ask everyone, vaccinated or not, to start wearing masks again in all indoor group settings at church. We are still having all our in-person activities, just with masks on. The reason we took this step should be obvious. There are people we love in our midst who are vulnerable. All our children under twelve are still unvaccinated. People over 65 have proven to be more susceptible to infection even if they are vaccinated. And anyone who attends in person who is not vaccinated is putting themselves and others at risk unless they wear a mask.

Our response to the surge in COVID is based on the most fundamental command of Jesus: “Love one another as I have loved you.” He loved us enough to sacrifice his life for us; it is a small thing for us to sacrifice some comfort for our church friends. We are also trying to follow John Wesley’s First General Rule for the Christian life: “Do no harm.”

You can also love one another by getting vaccinated if you have not done so already. There are a few who have medical reasons not to get vaccinated, but for most of us, it is the best way to stop transmission of the virus to the vulnerable people around us. It is also the best way to ease the burden on our medical heroes in the hospitals who have fought an exhausting battle against this pandemic for over a year.

I don’t like to take even one step backward, but I know in the end it is sometimes the best way eventually to move forward again. Sometimes you only see your progress in hindsight. Once we come out of this time of pandemic, I believe we will see just how far we have come--all we have learned, how our faith has deepened, how our church has changed--and we will thank God for it!

One of the most encouraging words of Scripture has come to mind so many times in the last year: “We also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

So let me encourage you today. Do not be anxious, fearful, or despondent. Keep on track. Keep coming to church activities; maybe we won’t have to wear the masks for long. Keep engaging with your church family in whatever way you can, in person or online. Keep supporting the church with your financial contributions; we still have so much to do! Keep loving your neighbor. Keep hoping in God.  Keep the faith, and keep on dancing!
Every once in awhile I love to, what I call, “treasure hunt.”
Meaning that I venture out to stroll through an antique mall or flea market, maybe a consignment store or two. Recently Emily and I took off to see what we could find. Considering we just moved into the parsonage, what better excuse than to find some new treasures for our new home?

I often wondered what the story is behind the items one finds in an antique mall. Each booth is filled with various plates, and glasses, cups and trinkets…sometimes pictures, and baskets, odds and ends that all have had a life somewhere else. Who’s home might these items have occupied, how many meals where shared over those plates, who are those people in the aged photograph in that re-purposed frame? If these things could talk, what tales we would hear!

As we neared the end of our aisle meandering, I spotted something of intrigue…something made with puzzle pieces. Once I took a closer look I discovered something so interesting and quite profound for a scrap piece of wood and a pile of puzzle pieces. I marveled at this creation, and then I turned it over and found some very profound words.

“Life is like a puzzle. We spend our youth moving pieces around, trying to make them fit. Sometimes we were so determined that we had found the right piece that we pushed and shoved, struggling to force a round piece into a square hole. Eventually we realized all that effort is a waste of time and energy. So we stop throwing the puzzle against a wall, slamming it on the floor…ahhh, maturity at last. We relax; accept that God has better discernment than we do. We learn to trust, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” (Proverbs 3:5)

Wow, all of that from a random item at an antique mall! Life is like a puzzle for sure. During this pandemic many of you have spent countless hours assembling puzzles. I’ve enjoyed seeing your pictures as you completed yet again another masterpiece with patience and persistence.
Puzzle pieces have always intrigued me, especially when I think about how those pieces are a lot like people…all a little different but yet a part of the big picture. In ministry we often compare our role of serving as being a part of the puzzle, how it takes all of us working together to make things work. Just as life is like a puzzle, so is ministry.

Slowly but surely the pieces fall into place, almost like magic. The missing piece finally appears. Perhaps it was there all along, maybe hidden in a pocket, in a drawer or under the rug…oh the lessons we learn while working on our puzzle…we learn that resting a while, taking a break, gives us a new perspective on puzzle solving.

Maybe that’s why we must learn to trust in the Lord. To find growth in our faith, we must trust, pick up different pieces along the way, and allow them to find the right place in our life to deepen thrust, bring peace, teach us grace, and show us love.

However your puzzle looks, know that it is perfect just as it is, regardless of what others think, or if it fits the world’s view of puzzles. You are perfect, your mind, body, and heart…enjoy the complete work of art as it is!
Back to School Resolutions
For families with children and teens, we have two “new years” opportunities. The first is the start of the actual new year on January 1, and the second is the start of school in the fall. Getting back to school offers families the chance to establish new rhythms and reorient our lives. How can we leverage this upcoming opportunity so that our families thrive this fall?
  1. Prioritize personally investing in your kids. Our kids may have great influences at school, church, and other activities, but at the end of the day, parents are the biggest influences in the lives of their children. As parents, the love and support we offer to our children is key to their ability to thrive in every season of their lives. One of the best ways we can invest in our kids is by giving them our time. This fall, prioritize personally investing in your kids by spending time together. Carve out time to share meals around the table, have fun together on the weekends, and to celebrate their successes. The influence of these simple, personal investments that you give to your children are immeasurable!
  2. Practice saying yes and no to the right things. This fall, there will be many things that you can fill your family calendar with. We all have a sense that it isn’t wise to completely fill our calendars, and yet, we often do everything in our power to avoid being bored or missing out. I want to challenge you to give yourself, and your family, some grace by humbly acknowledging our families cannot do everything. Trying to do everything and go everywhere will only exhaust your family and lead to burnout. This is no way to find happiness. If you have downtime in your weekly schedule, you might be tempted to feel ashamed because you could fill that time with something productive. Resist the sentiments of shame and know that unbusy and unhurried moments are sacred for you and your family. These moments set essential boundaries that we need for mental, spiritual, relational, and physical rest. As we come into the fall season, I pray that you will have the wisdom to know when to say “yes” to something, and when to say “no”.
  3. Lead your family to worship. As people of faith, we come to know the joy that is to be found in living lives that overflow with gratitude towards God. When our everyday choices reflect our thankfulness and reverence to our Saviour, our lives become worship. This definition of worship helps us to see that worship is more than singing songs on Sunday morning. There are endless ways to worship God. We can worship by doing good work, by following God’s guidance, by forgiving someone who has wronged us, or by playing games with our kids. This fall, you can lead your families to live lives of worship to God. This is where our true joy and purpose is found. When worship of God happens in our households and within our families, it is sure to happen in our church gatherings!

May God bless you to find holy rhythms of living this fall. Amen.
I’m very proud of this group of teens for using a part of their summer to love our community well and to join in the work that God is doing around us.
FIRST YOUTH Schedule, August 2021
SUNDAY SCHOOL - room 310, 10:10AM-11AM
(What I Really Want series on Temptation, week 2)
SUNDAY SCHOOL - room 310, 10:10AM-11AM
(What I Really Want series on Temptation, week 3)
     SUNDAY SCHOOL - room 310, 10:10AM-11AM
(Even If series on Change, week 1)
SUNDAY SCHOOL - room 310, 10:10AM-11AM
(Even If series on Change, week 2)
FY in the Loft - middle school 4:30pm—high school 6pm

SUNDAY SCHOOL - room 310, 10:10AM-11AM
(Even If series on Change, week 2)
FY in the Loft - middle school 4:30pm—high school 6pm
July is in the Books...
We had a wonderful turn out for our VBS Kick-off Party. There were snow cones, fellowship, and we can’t forget the waterslide! Our at home VBS went so well. I personally loved seeing the pictures of kids doing the crafts and participating in the songs. I can’t thank Brandi Garner, Kimberly Swaim, and Kelly DeSoto enough for their hard work. They put their blood, sweat, and tears into making sure VBS went off without a hitch! It wouldn’t have happened without them. A huge thanks to Trevor Hardcastle, as well, for editing all of our at home videos. He did a fantastic job!
My favorite part of July has been our Way Out Wednesdays. We have gathered together for two Wednesdays to have dinner, learn a Bible lesson, and do crafts and play games. We have two more Wednesdays left, August 4th and 11th, so it’s not too late to join us. Be sure to email me if you’re interested. 
There are so many exciting things to look forward to in August. We are doing something a little new paired with something we’ve done before. We are still collecting school supplies for our partner schools, but we are also wanting to further meet the needs of our community by having a Bless Fest.

At Bless Fest, students can receive a backpack full of school supplies, a lunch, a quick consult from a dentist, a free hair trim, and some advice from a nutritionist. We want to be a one-stop shop to help them get ready for school. Bless Fest will happen on August 14th from 10am-2pm. We need volunteers and donations! If you are a hair stylist, dentist, or nutritionist willing to donate your skills and time please contact me! If you’d like to help hand out backpacks or serve lunch, also reach out. We need all hands on deck to meet the needs of our community!

On August 15th, we will have Blessing of the Backpacks in our Connexion Service at 9am and our Classic Service at 11:10.
On August 29th we will have acolyte training. If you child is between 3rd-8th grade and is interested in acolyting contact me!

We serve an awesome God who continues to do amazing things through our kids. I have already been so blessed to see God working through these kids in the two short months I’ve been here. I can’t wait to see what more God can do!
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Why YOU Should Join a Small Group
We encourage you often to get involved in a small group. God created his people not just for relationship with him, but relationship with each other. It’s not good for us to be isolated from one another. Here are 3 Reasons why it is so important.
  1. Life is hard: God never promises his followers a life of ease. In fact, Jesus himself guarantees the exact opposite when he says, “In this world you will have trouble.” Small groups are safe places for us to process the challenges of this life. They are places where we can honestly share our insecurity, fear, and suffering.
  2. Meaningful relationships with others make life worth living: Loneliness was the first thing that God called “not good.” Before a serpent spoke, before our first parents rebelled, before sin even entered the world, we learn that God’s good gift of life together with others is part of God’s good design for those made in the image of a relational God. God the Son was in perfect relationship with the Father and the Spirit, but he also lived a life filled with human friendship. Small groups are a practical way to make friends and enjoy life together with others the way that God intended.
  3. Sunday mornings are important, but our faith was never meant to be confined to a worship service: In Colossians 3:17 we read “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Every part of our lives is meant to be an act of worship. Small groups help us to apply what we learn on a Sunday morning to our relationships with others. They help us to see the work God has given us to do in our office, on our homes, or in our classrooms as important to him. Small groups create an active learning environment where we can bring our questions, thoughts, and learn from and with others. They are places that we join together and serve in ways that are far more powerful than what we can do on our own!
We have many small groups available here at FUMC Fort Smith.  If you are not sure where you belong, let us help! Get plugged in. 
Northside, Darby, Tilles and Belle Point
NEEDED: Composition notebooks (no spiral notebooks please), pens, pencils, post-it notes, notecards, folders, 3 ring binders, loose leaf paper, colors, glue sticks, colored pencils, scissors, Kleenex and wipes.

School supplies will also be used for the
Bless Fest on August 14th from 10am-2pm.
NEW Access Code - KFJNPW 
Our August meeting will be August 12 @ Noon
in the Fireside Room of the Family Life Center.
The topic will be safety. Officer Shoptaw and Officer Arritt will be with us to discuss internet safety, home safety, phone safety and more.
Let us know if you have any questions you would like answered.
Nursery available upon request
Modern Widow Club with Carolyn Moor
Celebrate the launch of Ft. Smith Modern Widows Club
August 22nd 2:00-4:00pm in the Great Hall of FLC
A national nonprofit empowering widows to thrive through community, awareness, education, outreach, leadership and advocacy. Meet MWC Founder and Speaker Carolyn Moor. She will share their 10 year Impact Report and how supporting widows locally, nationally and globally is of great social, community and biblical significance. 
Ft. Smith was chosen as one of the 10 cities to be highlighted during her 10 city #MoorLuvTour celebrating their 10 year anniversary. All community businesses are welcome to learn more on the many ways Ft. Smith can serve to better empower widows together. 
In Memory of:
  • Peggy Udouj (Missions Fund) by
          Dr. Isaac A Le
          Glidewell Distributing
          Noelene Reynolds
          John & Cindy Robinson
  • Toka Beall by
          David, Carol & Gracie Wooten
  • Naomi Gregg (Bell Choir) by
          Fran Bateman
Gladys Whittenberg
Darlene Ray
Dale & Linda Lininger
Jack & Louanna Green
Frank & Lucy Werntz
Susan Chaney
Vivian Burton
Dorothy Garrett
Margo Thein
Lillian Porter
Don & Debbie Griffin
William & Lisa Whittenberg
Dr. Michael & Sandy Linemon
Thelma Carter
Robert & Alicia Gregg
Paul & Anna Marie Evans & Family
  • Thurman Jordan by
Jack & Louanna Green
  • Jim Hayes by
Lori Hardin
  • Bill Hanson by
Dick & Ann Appleton
  • Carroll West by
Wanderers Sunday School Class
Millard Jones
  • Betty Ivey
Disciples Sunday School Class
Nancy Baker
In Honor of:
  • Elizabeth Thames by
Wednesday Casserole Ladies
  • Rev. Dee Dee Autry by
Steve & Judy Hall
     We appreciate so much your continual support of our church ministries! Through the first half of the year, our contributions were running about $70,000 under expenses. It is not unusual for us to run somewhat behind through the summer, but we nevertheless want to encourage everyone to keep up or catch up with your giving, so we can continue to accomplish the mission God has for us in this place. Thanks again, and if you need any information about your personal record of giving, contact Jeannine Thomas in the church office.
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.