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Welcome To Our Church!

Moscow First United Methodist Church is an exciting place to be. It is filled with the sound of choirs and congregants raising their voices in praise to God, with bells ringing and the historic clock chiming the hours. It is filled with children laughing, families working together, and seniors sharing their stories. Above all, however, it is filled with the people of God who are earnestly listening for the voice of God. I invite you to join with us in our many activities but mostly I invite you to join us as we encounter the God who comes into our midst as we gather together. Grace and Peace, 
Debbie Sperry, Pastor

Pastor-Debbie---May-14-2017

 

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Pastor Debbie's E-Spire - May 23, 2018

Two weeks ago I wrote to share about the Commission on the Way Forward and the decision of the Council of Bishops. I also mentioned that there had been other news about the Constitutional Amendments, but that it would require it's own email.

Today I am writing to that end. I will say it has been both emotional and confusing as people found out the vote on the amendments, responded to that vote and then found out there had been a change in language prior to the annual conference votes requiring that there would be a re-vote this year.

As I said in the last e-spire, the General Conference is the only body that is allowed to change church law. For changes to the constitution of the UMC, the General Conference must have 2/3 vote and then each individual annual conference has to have a 2/3 vote in order for the constitutional amendment to be ratified. In 2016, there were 5 constitutional amendments proposed and passed. In 2017, each annual conference was presented information on each amendment and then allowed to vote for or against the changes. Then, all of the vote tallies were compiled and the final data was delivered to the Council of Bishops at their meeting in early May of 2018.

Amendments 3, 4, and 5 passed. Amendments 1 and 2 did not. For a general article about the amendments, please click here.

Amendments 1 & 2 dealt with gender equality and their failure to pass was met with a lot of hurt and anxiety, especially by women about their role and value in the church as a whole. To read a response from the female bishops, please click here.

The female bishops summarize the amendments in this way:

Amendment #1, which added language that both men and women are made in the image of God and that we will confront and seek to eliminate discrimination against women and girls, received an aggregate vote of 66.5%, falling short of the necessary 2/3 majority by .2 % (less than 100 votes).

Amendment #2, which added this language, "... nor shall any member be denied access to an equal place in the life, worship, and governance of the Church because of race, color, gender, national origin, ability, age, marital status, or economic condition," received an aggregate vote of 61.3%, again falling short of a 2/3 vote.

The complete language is found in the Bishop's response. Since the release of the information there has been much discussion about why these amendments failed (especially in a denomination that has affirmed women since the beginning and has been ordaining women for over 60 years. When asked, some annual conferences shared that the amendments did not go far enough in changing the level of inclusion, and others shared that other pieces of the amendment were not agreeable. Through all of the discussions, it was discovered that the actual amendment language had been changed before it made it to the annual conferences, so there will be a re-vote this year at each annual conference. For more information on the specifics, please click here.

I offer this to you as information of what is happening in the denomination and for reference for what some of you may see or hear or read from Methodist friends or family.

At the end of it all I hope you will know these things:

1) Change in the church is possible, and often slow, but it is thorough and thoughtful.

2) I do affirm the place of women and girls in our church and around the globe and believe it is our job to ensure equality in treatment and opportunities regardless of gender.

3) As always, if you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.

 

In Christ

Pastor Debbie

 

p.s. after reading yesterday's e-spire, some asked for the original language of each of the amendments. To find that, you can click here.

Have a blessed day!

 

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Pastor Debie's E-Spire - May 9, 2018

This week, there has been a lot of news for the UMC. It has related to the decision/recommendation from the Council of Bishops, and the collective vote on constitutional amendments. Because of the breadth of each of those things, I will send the information about the constitutional amendments next week.

For some of us, it's been interesting, for others it's been painful, for others frustrating, and for still others, it hasn't even come across our screen. This e-spire will cover the basics of what's happened with links if you're interested in learning or reading more. As always, I'm happy to meet and talk about anything that concerns or interests you.

First, a few definitions:

The Council of Bishops: the name for the gathering of all Bishops of the global UMC. The Council of Bishops will regularly respond to national and global issues. Specifically, the General Conference of 2016 asked the Council to lead the church when the General Conference came to a stalemate on votes relating to LGBT inclusion. As a body, the bishops do not hold power to make legislative decisions that relate to the UMC.

General Conference: The quadrennial meeting of the UMC including clergy and laity from each annual conference. Numbers of delegates are decided much like the House of Representatives (more people = more representatives). The General Conference is the ONLY body of the UMC that can change our policy (Book of Discipline). In essence, they serve as the legislative branch of the UMC.

Annual Conference: The body and annual meeting of churches in a particular state/region/"conference". Our Annual Conference is The Pacific Northwest (PNW) and includes Washington and the pan handle of Idaho (with a couple of extra churches in Montana, Oregon, and Canada). Our annual conference meets in June and decides policy and response to issues that specifically relate to missions and ministry in our conference.

The Commission on the Way Forward: The group of 32, including 2 bishops, clergy, and laity, charged with creating options for how the UMC might move forward on issues that relate to LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questionning, intersex, asexual/allied) inclusion, marriage, and ordination. The commission has met various times since the 2016 General Conference and this year made a recommendation of 3 plans for moving forward.

This month, the Council of Bishops reviewed the recommendations and will allow all three recommendations from the Commission on the way Forward to come to the special called General Conference in 2019, with their recommendation being for the "One-Church Model". To see the UMC report on this action, please click here. To see what our bishop has said in regard to the Council of Bishops' decision, please click here.

In essence, the "One Church Model" would delete the exclusive language currently in the Book of Discipline and allow each local church to make their own decision about how they will respond/include LGBT congregants and requests for marriage.

Ultimately, the decision from the Council of Bishops is only a recommendation. It will be the General Conference who will ultimately decide which, if any, changes to make to the Book of Discipline. As with all decisions relating to our polity, no decision is forever. Our church laws are subject to change at every General Conference, assuming proper procedure, presentation, and voting on proposed changes.

What does all of this mean for us as a local church? Well, for some it is significant as it is deeply personal and we have much invested in the outcome of these votes. For others, it will likely mean business as usual--attending our ministries and participating in missions until something more is required of us as a congregation.

For any of the three recommendations from the Commission on the Way Forward, ultimately, it seems each church will need to clearly identify their stance on these issues and how we intend to be in ministry with the LGBT community. To do that effectively, we will need to create a stronger culture of conversation, respect and engagement on all types of issues where we may disagree, and become more clear about our mission and vision as a church.

For today, I would encourage you to pray for our church and our denomination as we seek God's will to be in ministry to all persons and reflect the love of God in how we live our faith.

In Christ,
Pastor Debbie

 

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Pastor Debbie's E-Devotion - May 5, 2018

Over the last several months I have been in conversation with Kim Malm from Gritman about developing a lay chaplaincy program. The purpose of the program would be to train lay people from different churches and faith communities throughout Moscow (and surrounding areas) to provide emotional and spiritual support to patients, families and staff at Gritman.

We know medical situations, particularly those that are critical and urgent, are often stressful. It can be scary to go through medical diagnosis and treatment alone. Often individuals feel isolated and need someone to talk to about what they are experiencing. Medical staff often need to be available to other patients and needs. We believe, and studies have shown, that having additional emotional and spiritual support while receiving care improves a patients attitude and recovery and that trained lay chaplains can provide this support.

We are pioneering this program here and so we have been doing a lot of "dancing" as we plan, dream, discuss, and work on logistics. We are ready to receive volunteer applications and work on training in the next couple of months. We see God at work in opening doors for this to happen and in bringing faithful volunteers who want to offer compassion and care.

I want to make you aware of it and offer the opportunity for you to explore this as a ministry for yourself. If you would like more information, please feel free to call or email me. If you would like to apply, you can get application paperwork from Kim at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In Christ,
Pastor Debbie

 

 

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Pastor Debbie's E-Devotion - April 23, 2018

A few weeks ago I was at a church conference at Cathedral of the Rockies in Boise. Brian McLaren was the keynote speaker. He said a lot of good things, but the one that keeps resonating was "If everyone comes to church expecting to be welcomed, everyone will be disappointed. But if everyone comes to church expecting to welcome someone, everyone will feel welcomed."

His statement felt very poignant for me. Hospitality and welcome is something that's been on my mind a lot in the last few months and has been a part of our discussions on the Igniting ministry team. How do we get people to church? And then once they're here, how do we help them feel welcome? All too often in our churches, we fall into a routine of what's comfortable and we forget that we should come to church not just to get something, but ready to work---to notice people, to welcome them, to reach out to those who may be having a tough time.

Brian's quote reminds me of our need to have clear expectations. If we come expecting to be welcomed, then we may very well be disappointed. But, if, instead, we come expecting to help others feel welcome, then it's likely they will feel welcome (and we won't be disappointed because we aren't expecting to receive something we may not receive).

How might you change your expectations for Sunday morning? Are you willing to take on the "job" of being an official "welcomer"?

 

Peace and grace,
Pastor Debbie

 

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Pastor Debbie's E-Devotion - March 21, 2018

Easter is just around the corner! I can hardly believe it's just a week away. We will begin our Holy Week activities this Sunday with worship that carries us "From Palms to Passion"--making our way from the triumphant entry into Jerusalem all the way to the cross. This is a beautiful service that draws us into Jesus' sacrifice. The kids will be involved in our Hosanna Parade carrying and sharing the palms at the start of the service.

On Thursday 3/29 we will share our Maundy Thursday service with First Presbyterian and the United Church at The United Church. We will share a simple Seder, more like snack supper, and holy communion all as part of our worship. This is a family friendly event and kids are welcome. If you would rather your kids are in childcare First Presbyterian has offered to care for our kids. If you want to take advantage of childcare please email me by Thursday night. We are bringing deviled eggs for the meal, if you would like to sign up, please contact the office: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

On Good Friday, we are not offering our own service, but have been invited to join St Mark's Episcopal Church:

· 7 am—Special liturgy for the day including the ancient solemn collects and opt. Holy Communion. Also, optional Veneration of the Cross.

· 8 am to 5 pm—Self-guided Stations of the Cross; liturgy booklet provided

· 7 pm—Special liturgy for the day including the ancient solemn collects and opt. Holy Communion (With music) (Optional Veneration of the Cross.

 

Or First Presbyterian Church:
· 7 pm Tenebrae Service

 

On Easter Sunday we will start the day with a hot breakfast (prepared and served by the youth). Breakfast is served from 8:00-10:15. This is a fundraiser for our youth who will attend CONVO in May (a conference-wide youth event). The suggested donation is $10

Our contemporary service will begin at 9:00 am featuring a variety of our musicians.

The Easter egg hunt begins at 10 and starts in the Parlor.

 

Our traditional service begins at 10:30 and features our Chancel and Bell choirs.

Both services will include Holy Communion.

As you think about and prepare for the Holy Week activities, will you also think about who you might invite? Easter is a wonderful time to share the Good News of Christ and there may be someone in your life who is simply waiting to be invited. Please pray about who God would have you invite. This week in the bulletin we'll have a special invitation card you can use to offer that invitation!

Also, Easter flowers are still available for order. Plants are $10. You can contact the office to order, fill out the order form in the bulletin this Sunday, or pay via online giving.

 

Peace and grace,
Pastor Debbie


 

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Pastor Debbie's E-Spire - March 8, 2018

In 2006 the transmission on my Ford Escape went out. I was out of town as a guest speaker and near my ministry mentor, who also happened to be a test driver, so I asked for his help (he actually diagnosed the issue for me). We dropped my car off for repairs and then went to breakfast. We sat and discussed my options and the fact that I should probably trade in my car before it devalued much more.

He suggested I buy a Nissan. To which I replied, "Well, but I'm a Honda girl" (Nevermind the fact that I owned a Ford...I drove the family Honda in HS and college). He told me the Nissan had the Honda engine "but I'm a Honda girl". He again tried to show me the options. He said Nissan was competing with Honda and was more affordable with more bells and whistles. Still, I protested--"I'm a Honda girl." Finally, he said, "then you should probably buy a Honda".

 

I let his logic sink in as my car sat in the shop for a week and shortly after returning home I bought the Nissan.

 

So what does that have to do with anything? Well, we deal a lot with changes in our lives and in the church. And sometimes we become convinced something has to be a certain way (because that's what we know and are comfortable with). But the reality is there are lots of options out there...some that are fun for a joy ride, some for the test drive, and others for the long haul. In each case, we have to be willing to try something new.

 

Where have you become overly comfortable? What change have you been resisting? How might you ask God to ready you to try something new?

 

 

In Christ,
Pastor Debbie

 

 

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  • Denominational History


    The United Methodist Church traces its roots back to the life and ministry of John and Charles Wesley, Anglican priests in 18th century England. Though neither left the Anglican Church, they began a movement to reform that church which eventually became its own denomination and spread to the United States where it split from the Anglican Church in their lifetime. Read more...

    For more information on the history of the denomination go to www.umc.org.

  • Pastor Debbie Sperry 

    Pastor Debbie was born and raised in Bishop California (a rural town at the foot of the Eastern Sierra mountains).

    She attended UCLA and earned a BA in Sociology with a minor in Spanish after she spent a year studying abroad in both Costa Rica and Spain. She attended Candler School of Theology at Emory University and earned her Master of Divinity. 

     

    Debbie has served for 10 years in Southern California at a variety of churches.  She and her husband, Rick, and their two children, Ruth and Steven, were delighted to be assigned to serve here in Moscow as they love being outdoors and exploring the local area. The size and culture of Moscow is reminiscent of their time in rural California and they enjoy the community connections.  Debbie is passionate about helping the stories of the Bible to come alive, relating it to every day life, and helping people to reach out to help and connect with others. 

     

  • Guidelines For Faith There are many things which guide our faith.  As United Methodists we look in particular at four things to help us understand God and grow in our relationship with God. 
    Scripture:  is the primary source of our faith.  The 66 books of the Old and New Testament contain all that is necessary for salvation.  We believe that Scripture is best interpreted in the believing community.
    Tradition:  the wisdom of those who have gone before us, though not 100% true for our day, is another useful guide in our faith.
    Experience:  our individual experiences of God ‘s grace and the cumulative experiences of our lives which give each person a unique and valued insight into faith.
    Reason:  God gave us minds and expects us to use them and to think through not only what the Bible tells us in light of the world in which we live but also how to live out that faith.  Read more...

  • Worship Gathering together with other Christians to pray, sing, and praise God is an important expression of our faith and avenue for growth.  At Moscow First United Methodist Church worship is both casual and informal, traditional and contemporary, reflective and passionate.  You will find people here in suits and dresses, and in t-shirts and jeans.  You will hear classical, gospel, jazz, and light rock music.  You will hear our pipe organ, the piano, and banjo and guitar.

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Get Directions

Sunday morning parking at the church is available in the high school parking lot on Third Street across from the church and in the city lots west of the church. These lots are available only on Sunday mornings. A small lot for handicapped parking is available just off of Adams Street on the north side of the church, with an accessible entrance directly into the sanctuary. A lift operates between the Fellowship Hall (3rd Street level) and the Sanctuary . William Sound System Receivers and Headsets are available to assist with hearing problems.

Church Mission

The First United Methodist Church of Moscow, Idaho takes as our mission to be the body of Jesus Christ, ministering to a community which draws strength from its diversity. Our mission centers on the worship of God, expressed through varied forms of prayer, preaching, music, and ritual.  See more...

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