Worship Service begins at 10:30 AM
Third & Adams Street, PO Box 9774, Moscow, Idaho USA | (208) 882-3715

Pastor Debbie's E-Spire - September 18, 2019

We are the church! As I met with the stewardship team to talk about this worship series, we talked a lot about what we needed to share and emphasize in this chapter in the life of the church. We talked about what encourages us, what inspires us, and how we can encourage more of that. The overarching message that kept surfacing is “we are the church.” Not the building, but the people. You and I, all of us together, are the body of Christ—the church.


We talked about the saints who came before us—some 10 years ago, and some 80, 90, and 100 years ago. We’re here because of them. They taught the faith. They sang in and led worship. They built and maintained the buildings. They invited new folks and cared for each other in ways that were life-giving and meaningful—enough that people wanted to keep at it—to keep being the church. And here we are!


In the years since our church was founded, our denomination went from The Methodist Episcopal Church to the Methodist Church and then the United Methodist Church when we merged with the Evangelical United Brethren in 1968. We also saw new expressions of Methodism break off to form a variety of other denominations that are still vibrant and vital today including the Church of God and Christ and the Church of the Nazarene. Despite all of those changes, we are here today—still the church!


As a denomination, we were led by the Methodist women to advocate for the Prohibition. Our churches struggled with segregation and integration—sometimes in ways that reflected Christ and sometimes in ways that reinforced prejudice. The denomination argued for 40 years about whether or not to allow women to be ordained and in 1956 finally approved it.


Over the years we have fought for equal rights, built schools and universities, fought Apartheid in South Africa, opened clothes closets and soup kitchens, taught English as a second language, participated in relief efforts after natural disasters around the world through the United Methodist Committee on Relief, and been joined by the NBA to fight malaria throughout Africa.


As the church, we have a calling and a mission to use what God has given us and share the light, hope, and love of Christ in the world. Throughout the Fall, we explore what ministries we want to do in the coming year and how we will make those happen. We are seeking servants to be a part of committees and teams—making a commitment to help us brainstorm, create, reform, and execute our programs. We are looking for prayer partners who will uphold our ministries throughout the year with intentional time focus on our church during the week. We are looking for new ideas that will spark our imagination and faithfulness as we grow in our discipleship. We are planning our budget and soliciting financial pledges so we can be faithful stewards of the gifts being offered—trying to take the next best steps for our church without spending beyond our means. And, we are continuing to discern our way forward with our conference and our denomination in what has presented as a very tenuous and trying time for many in the church.


We take all of that seriously and hope to do our best in leading us, as a church, into the future so we can continue to be a voice of hope and encouragement proclaiming “We are the church!”

Pastor Debbie


Read more devotionals...

Pastor Debbie's E Spire - July 17, 2019

For the month of July, the Vision Team is encouraging us to think about hospitality. One of the things we discussed is how we as a church might be more hospitable. We want to think about the simple things and big changes we could make to help our guests feel welcome. We hosted coffee hour on the 7th(and are encouraging sign-ups for the coming weeks!), and have one of us as a greeter in the bell tower each Sunday this month. We’re preparing for our Love Your Neighbor event on July 27that East City Park, and now we’re thinking about other things that need our attention.


The following is a window into one of our discussions:


As we become comfortable in a place, we develop blindness---we stop seeing things. At home, it might be the box that was left in the living room that stays there for weeks, or the toys that are left out, or the appliance we grabbed from the garage that’s still sitting on the buffet waiting to get properly put away. We know it doesn’t belong there, but we’re not overly concerned about it and so it sits.


Similar things happen at church. Something (a box, a book, a decoration) comes in for something (an event, a meeting, or a service) and then it doesn’t get put away. If we weren’t the one to put it there, we’re likely not the one who’s going to try and put it back. But sometimes who is responsible is completely unknown…who should take care of it? And so it sits.


What makes us aware of the things that don’t quite fit? Irregularity or discomfort draws us back to cognition. It’s when we aren’t in our normal routine that we are finally able to notice the thing that’s irregular or out of place. We, as the vision team, want to make ourselves aware of what’s getting missed. What are we not seeing because we’re too comfortable? And not just us, but all of us….if we aren’t new, we may not even realize that “Epworth Hall” is a really foreign place, or that it’s not easy to find the nursery from the sanctuary, or not known how to use the lift.


So we’re asking you to help us see—for our sake and for those who will come next. To do that, we invite you to do things differently this Sunday. We want you to change your entrance (if you normally come in on third street, walk around to Adams). We want you to change where you sit. If you sit in the back, move to the front, if you sit on the organ side, move to the pulpit side. We want you to look for new things…pay attention to the details…how does that change our perspective and our experience? What would you want to know or see if you were here for the first time? What’s obvious and what’s confusing?


We invite you to respond to us by replying to this email or by using a notecard from the pew on Sunday.



Read more devotionals...

Pastor Debbie's E-Spire - June 27, 2019

Over the last few weeks, the Vision Team has been sharing our reflections on Why we need Jesus, why we need the church, and why we/people need Moscow FUMC specifically. We are grateful to each of you who have responded and shared your own thoughts. We still covet your feedback and invite you to respond to us by responding to this email.


The point of our reflections hasn’t just been to share with you. It has been part of our work in discovering our “why”. You’ve likely read that Church Council commissioned us to help our church think more about our long-term goals and priorities. Before we could define who we want to become or what we want to do as a church, we needed to have more clarity about our motivations, values, and purpose. We didn’t want to spitball our answers, so we started with “Five Practices of Faithful Congregations” by Bishop Schnase. His book gave us the questions we’ve been answering this month and focused our conversations for our time together reflecting on each of his chapters. Moving forward we will be sharing relating to the chapters, as well as encouraging other committees and teams to read particular parts of the book to help broaden their conversations, too.


In July, we’ll be focusing on hospitality—radical hospitality, according to Bishop Schnase, and what that might include for us as a church. We’ll kick off by hosting coffee fellowship on July 7th, as well as our missionary guests, and then preparing for our “Love Your Neighbor” Event, which is all about hospitality to our neighbors without any strings attached. We hope you continue to read and engage with us as we discuss together, pray together, and discern together where God is leading us as a congregation.

In Christ

Pastor Debbie


Read more devotionals...

Read more: Pastor Debbie's E-Spire - June 27, 2019

Pastor Debbie's E-Spire - June 13, 2019

Why Do People Need the Church?

Reflecting with the Vision Team


**We want to hear why YOU think people need the church! Reply to this email, and your response will be shared with the Vision Team!**

NOTE: The Moscow First UMC Vision Team is a task force initiated by Church Council, charged with exploring and guiding the congregation through the process of considering the congregation’s vision for the future. The members of the Vision Team are Blake Ballard, Connie Elliott, Rebecca Haley, Sonya Meyer, Debbie Sperry, and Crystal Tibbals.

Words from all members of the Vision Team; arranged by Rebecca Haley

As discussed in a previous article, over the next few weeks the Moscow First UMC Vision Team has been sharing and will continue to share our answers to three questions posed by Adam Hamilton in his book, Leading Beyond the Walls. We hope that our sharing will encourage you to consider your own answers to these questions and to dialogue with one another about them. It is your answers, not ours, which are an integral part of the process of figuring out who we are now, let alone where we want to go as a congregation in the future. Last week we explored the question, Why do people need Christ?

This week’s question from Adam Hamilton is Why do people need the Church?

We quickly discovered that in order to explore this question, we needed to consider other related questions, such as What is the church? What follows below are our sub-questions (in italics) and our answers (in plain type). Thank you for exploring with us!

~What is the church?


“I feel the church isn’t only a building. It is outdoors, it is the way we treat each other, it is how we are seen by others. We are the church when we help someone, smile to a stranger, pick up trash, and clean the park. We are the church any time we share God’s love.”

“I see the church as a place of community and connection. The church (as the body of Christ) should come around us when we struggle, encourage us to be better to ourselves and to others, and teach us how to give of ourselves. The church becomes the primary means of shaping us as followers of Jesus.”

“The church is an anchor that anchors us to Christ.”

~Do people need the church?


“Yes….and no.


I think that many people have a deep need for certain things that the Church can provide. That said, the Church can also not provide those things and sometimes even provide trauma, assault, shame, and toxicity as well. I also believe the Church is not the only place that can provide the good things that the Church provides.


My own personal observations (so no data here at all) suggest that people, by and large, are very much in need of the community. American culture in particular, in its prioritization of the individual and of the nuclear family, has led to many people living far from extended family and in many cases having only a very small circle of friends, many of whom may also live far away. American culture also tends to warehouse people by life stage, e.g., young adults only hang out with young adults, adults with young children only hang out with other people with young children, older adults hang out with mostly older adults, etc. It is not unusual for many people never to have witnessed either birth or death until members of their immediate family or they themselves experience these life transitions. What seems to result from the lack of extended social networks and a lack of social bonds with persons of varying life stages is (1) an extremely narrow perspective of the human experience, (2) an overwhelming sense of isolation and sometimes in helplessness during difficult circumstances, and (3) a severely compromised ability to handle life transitions with which one has no direct experience.


Good community provides opportunities to answer all these needs. The Church can be such a community. The Church can be a place where individuals or nuclear families can find others who can offer companionship and support much like an extended family. Ideally, the Church can also provide socialization with individuals and families from many different life stages and backgrounds. In the Church, we see and honor the start of new life with infant Baptism or dedications, and we see and honor death with funerals. We support those who need support during difficult times with meals, cards, and in-person visits. At its best, the Church becomes the family of God for each and every member.


But there is another thing which at its best, I believe the Church has the opportunity to provide. One thing that people in our society most desperately need. A sacred space in which to share and discuss the deepest realities of the human experience. A space where, in and through community, we pierce the veil of the every day and the mundane and cut to the heart of what it means to be alive. A place in which we share our deepest souls with one another.


The Church can be an antidote to the shallowness and fear-mongering of the world. It can be another voice, saying, here is water, and those who drink it will never be thirsty. This water will become in you a spring of water gushing up to eternal life! Here is bread, and if you eat it you will never be hungry again. For when we eat of this true feast, of really seeing and being seen by others, of sharing our deepest fears, hopes, loves, despairs, and joys, of really being with one another, in the stillness, well then, what need have we of shallowness, consumerism, and those who would use fear and anger to pit us against one another? The voices of the world say we need to look, act, or be a certain way in order to be loved. We as the Church should be drowning out those voices with God’s immeasurable love. Then we would be living into what I see as the deepest calling of the Church.


I actually don’t think the Church is the only place that people can find both community and deep, abiding meaning. I have found both within the Church, and I have found both in places outside the Church, some of which in so many ways do in actuality what the Church purports to do in theory. I am not really concerned with any loyalty to ‘the Church’ as an institution or to its continued survival. Rather, I am committed to helping people identify the deep longings within themselves for community and deep meaning and to help them find wellsprings of both wherever they may be.”

~Why you personally need the church? Why do you want the church?


“I think we can worship God on our own, but the Christian understanding of God is that God is, by nature, relational and we are invited into that relationship and show the depth of who God is in relationship.”

“People need a community and church provides a place for people to connect on a personal level as well as to impact the extended world. It can provide a family. A chance to be part of something bigger. This may include participation in small groups, missions, or committees.”

“Church is a gathering of people who share similar beliefs and values. If I miss out on the opportunity to spend time surrounded by those of like mind, my world tilts in an unsafe way. It is also my guaranteed way to connect with God. I cannot ignore His presence if I am with others singing His praises, studying His word, and lifting our prayers to Him.”

“I need the church because I want to live a life that allows me to share the love of Christ, no matter where I am.”

Stay tuned for our article next week, in which we explore our answers to Adam Hamilton’s third and final question: Why do people need this particular congregation?

In Christ
Pastor Debbie


Read more devotionals...

Pastor Debbie E-Spire - April 3, 2019

As a first year in college (UCLA was notorious for having "super seniors" in their 5th we didn't call ourselves "freshman" or "sophomore" or "senior" but instead first year, or second year, or third year), I was able to spend a good bit of time with my brother, who had recently been ordained and appointed to Santa Barbara First UMC. He was an associate pastor and one of his areas of ministry was youth. He'd had a great love of camping for years, so when the opportunity came for him to be a camp dean, he jumped at the chance. One of his duties was recruiting staff and he (naturally?) asked me. He was my big brother and I was eager to help so I quickly said "yes". And then I quickly started to back peddle. I hadn't really participated in youth ministry since Junior High and I hadn't been to summer camp since I was 10. I had no idea what a counselor would do or how to make it work. I had made a commitment, and I wanted to honor that. But, I was very anxious about what I could possibly offer to the campers.

I don't remember how it came to me, but it's a word from God that stuck that week and ever since. My mantra became, "It's not about me, it's about God." I had become consumed with what I had to offer and what I could do. But really had to be open to how God could work through me. Yes, I had talents and abilities I needed to be ready to employ, but most importantly, I had to let God work through me. I didn't have to have all the answers. I didn't have to know all the songs. I didn't have to have all the life experience. I simply had to be open to how God might use me at different times during the week.

That lesson of faithfulness and humility has been priceless in my life. Since then I've been placed in 100s of different situations that felt outside of my capabilities. Each time, I went back to that lesson from camp. It's not about me, it's about God (and what God can do through me).

As our "mess" often relates to our inadequacies, I think it's key that we remember ministry isn't all about us, but how we allow God to work through us. How have you allowed God to work through you? Do you find yourself being called/nudged/pulled to help in a certain area? Are you willing to say yes or are you holding back because you aren't sure you measure up? What would it mean to jump in with two feet and allow God to use you?

In Christ,
Pastor Debbie


p.s. My confession is that part of my mess as of late has been that I haven't been prepared to be writing these to you. There are plenty of topics to be covered, and yet I've struggled to find the right ones. I would rather not send you something, than litter your inbox. I hope you'll forgive my inconsistency. And...if there's a topic you'd like me to address, please let me know.



Read more devotionals...

Current Church News

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.

322 East Third Street
Moscow, ID 83843


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...

Our Latest News