Category Archives: Local Church

Meal Plan Coordinator Wanted

Plans are underway to bring back Wednesday Night activities. The first task is finding someone to take on the (paid) role of meal coordinator. Are you interested? Do you know someone who might be interested? Give the church office a call at 785-539-4191 or email

Of Family Reunions and Churches

Yesterday, Jenny, Liz, and I went down to Council Grove for the Taylor Cousin reunion. (Taylor being the last name of my great-grandparents on my Mom’s side.) I had even more fun than expected hanging out with people I often had very little in common with aside from those two common ancestors. It got me thinking about individual congregations—or as we often rightly call them, church families. We don’t need to have a lot in common for God to bind us together into a joyful community. I’m fortunate to have been born into the Taylor clan. I’m happy and honored to be part of the College Avenue UMC community.

The Little Free Pantry is Almost Bare

The little free pantry is almost empty. We especially need Energy/Snack/Granola bars, peanut butter and jelly, pancake, toilet paper, macaroni, canned meat/fish, individual cereal packets, pasta, spaghetti sauce, fruit snacks, snack bars and canned fruit. Lisa Divel suggests thinking of things you would like to eat in the heat.

The best option for goods is probably to leave them on the Divel’s front porch (the two story pink house on Cedar street across from the church—you can’t miss it) or simply keep them in the car and restock the little free pantry when you drive by. If you do the latter, please send me an email or text so we can keep track of how many times it is refilled.

All Means All

Yesterday the Church Council met and approved the following statement welcoming everyone, which has been posted on the church’s website:

Aligning ourselves with the biblical witness, First United Methodist Church affirms Jesus’ example of inviting all people into God’s loving embrace. We believe that the diversity of our community enriches our journey together in faith. All people are welcome to join in our life together as we strive to live as a profoundly Christ-like church of open hearts, open mind, and open doors and work for the coming kingdom of God. And all means all.

Feel free to drop me a line a let me know what you’re thinking.

Family, Friends, and Allies Statement

There is a Church Council Meeting scheduled for Sunday, February 3, 2019 at 3:00 p.m. Family, Friends, and Allies will be bringing the following statement for approval as an official stance of our local church:

Aligning ourselves with the biblical witness, First United Methodist Church affirms Jesus’ example of inviting all people into God’s loving embrace. We believe that the diversity of our community enriches our journey together in faith. We welcome all people regardless of differences in the human condition including (but not limited to): race, sex, age, ethnicity, culture, marital status, physical and mental ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, educational level, and economic status. All people are welcome to join in our life together as we strive to live as a profoundly Christ-like church of open hearts, open minds, and open doors and work for the coming kingdom of God.

This action is not meant to be a controversial move in a new direction, but instead an explicit statement of something that has long been true in our church. Even non-LGBTQ-affirming members of our congregation have stated that they want to welcome all people, including LGBTQ folk, to First UMC. Furthermore this action in no way changes the denominational-wide stance of the UMC prohibiting LGBTQ ordination and marriage.* Please feel free to let me know what you think, but in the words of John Wesley, smite me gently.

*That’s regrettable in my opinion, but I’m aware that opinions vary.

Anxious About the Election?

Are you anxious about the election? This post is a reminder that the UMW has your back … with comfort food. Namely, cinnamon rolls and Lasagna (not at the same time). The annual election day bazaar will be open tomorrow (November 8, 2016) from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. with cinnamon rolls and coffee. Tea towels, baked goods, and other items will be for sale. The bazaar will then open again from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. for the evening lasagna dinner. Lasagna dinner prices are $7.00 for those ages 13 and up, $5.00 for those 6-12, and free for those 5 and under.  Come support our UMW!

Voice of the Day: There Is Wisdom in Church

I’ve long appreciated the insights of Rev. Dan Dick. He has a heart-breaking and heart-warming account of day six of General Conference. He ends with the following two sentences:

There is a wisdom in group process — therefore, there is a wisdom in “church.”  When we gather as baptized community and are open to the Holy Spirit, some pretty amazing things happen. — Dan Dick.

The above insight is true not only of what can happen at General Conference, but of what can happen in local churches. I’ve seen it before here in Abilene First UMC and, by the grace of God, I trust I will see it again.


Bishop Jones, Syrian Refugees and Abilene First UMC

Bishop Scott Jones has written a thoughtful, carefully considered article on the Syrian Refuge Crisis titled “We Must Recognize We Are Engaged in Cultural War.” I encourage you to read it all. He makes the scriptural argument for welcoming Syrian refugees, and then he says the following:

“When Western countries mistreat and reject Muslims, it becomes a recruiting tool and propaganda weapon for our enemies. I am deeply disappointed that so many governors (including those of Kansas and Nebraska where I serve) have rejected the idea of receiving refugees. They are pandering to our worst fears and failing to lead us to be our best selves as a nation. They are making a strategic mistake and giving aid to our enemies. This culture war will be won by the Christian values of love, tolerance, mutual respect and hospitality. As a nation and as states, we need to welcome the stranger among us.” — Bishop Scott Jones.

Syrian refugees fleeing their homeland are the strongest possible rebuke to ISIS propaganda. I understand the (not unreasonable) fear that many have about welcoming refugees into our communities, but to turn them away is turn our backs on the clear witness of scripture and to do exactly what ISIS would like us to do.

I read the Bishop’s article yesterday and resolved to write the above blog post linking to it today. Then I was confronted with the opportunity to put my money where my mouth was. The District Superintendent called and said they were looking for United Methodist Churches willing to support and sponsor Syrian refugees. She wondered if Abilene First might be one of those churches. After consulting with the lay leader, the chair of the church council, and both lay delegates to Annual Conference, Jenny and I have decided to call a congregational meeting after worship this coming Sunday. Recently we, as a congregation, have practiced holy conferencing around the issues of homosexuality and the separation of church and state. My hope is that we can do the same around this issue.



UMW Fall Bazaar Tomorrow

The UMW Fall Bazaar will be Tuesday, November 3, 2015 from 9 am to 7 pm in Wright Fellowship Hall.  Cinnamon rolls and coffee will be served from 9 to 11 am.  Beginning at 4 pm, ham and cheese sandwiches, ham salad sandwiches, chili or vegetable soup will be served.  There will be lots of homemade pies, cookies and other “goodies” which can be purchased throughout the day, along with a wide assortment of handmade items.  The winner of the hand crafted quilt will be announced at 6:30 pm.  Please come join the fun of this annual event and stock up on all your sweets for the upcoming holidays!

Membership Vows Sermon

orange crossLast Sunday, seven confirmands vowed that they would support Abilene First United Methodist Church with their prayers, their presence, their gifts, their service, and their witness. Last Sunday, I announced that I would be preaching on what these vows mean this coming Sunday, May 10, 2015.

I wish that I had made it clear that I intend to talk about how fulfilling these vows helps us to grow in our faith and in our relationship to God in this particular time and this particular place. Fulfilling these vows won’t make you a Christian, but it will help make you a better one. This sermon will be applicable to four groups of people: those who are considering membership; those who have never given a thought to membership; those who want to avoid membership (after all, you can fulfill the vows without taking them); and those who are already members alike.

UMW Fall Bazaar

Megaphone on white with pathToday is election day. After you vote be sure and stop by Wright Fellowship Hall to visit the UMW (United Methodist Women) Fall Bazaar. They’ve already started serving cinnamon rolls for breakfast (or brunch, or lunch, or an early afternoon snack), and supper will be served beginning at 4 pm. They also have pies, baked goods, and crafts for sale. All proceeds go to support mission projects and scholarships. I hope you can make it.

Pastors' Report 2013

The following is our report from Church Conference:

We first want to thank you for the warm welcome we have received at Abilene First United Methodist Church. We are now five months into our appointment as your pastors here, and we feel very much at home here. We are excited about the ministries in this congregation and we are spending much of our time this first year simply getting to know people, focusing on worship and pastoral care, and being a part of the ongoing ministries of the church.

One way we enjoy getting to know people better is through the practice of going out to eat with different folks from the congregation each Sunday after the 10:30 am worship service. We have also met people for a meal or a visit during the week when that works better. 

This fall, Annie Ricker, who was on staff as the Director of Caregiving Ministries, became a certified candidate for ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church. She also received an assignment to serve as the associate pastor as Hays First UMC. With her move, the responsibilities of the caregiving ministry were moved to the pastoral staff, with Pastor Jenny taking on these responsibilities and thus moving her from 1/4 time to 1/2 time.

We have been working with the Worship Design Team to incorporate worship elements that are important to the congregation as well as those that we have found meaningful throughout the years. Worship Design, as well as Staff Parish Relations Committee, have been valuable in giving us feedback as we work to create meaningful worship for persons of all ages.

During the past several months, we have enjoyed being a part of the many ongoing ministries of this church. Vacation Bible School was held with Emmanuel UMC and Trinity Lutheran Church at Emmanuel UMC. The youth have been busy writing their own creed, taking fun out-of-town trips, putting on a Christmas Pageant, and selling wreaths. Power and Light, the after school program for elementary-aged children, provides Christian education in a rotation format in which each child has the opportunity to learn the lesson through Bible story, craft, cooking, and science.   Wednesday evenings are a chance for folks to eat a meal together at our Wednesday evening meal. Several dedicated volunteers cook and clean up after the meal each week. One Friday a month, volunteers from the church help prepare and serve a meal at the Salina Rescue Mission. The United Methodist Women put on their annual bazaar this fall. The music ministry at the church is going strong, with the addition of a praise band, Generations of Praise, which enhances worship along with the Chancel Choir and the John Wesley Bell Choir. There is a weekly prayer vigil in the chapel. These are just some of the many ministries of the church.

We look forward to our on going ministry with you as we seek to make disciples of Jesus Christ. May we continue to live out the phrase that this church has embodied so well as we seek to have: Open Hearts, Open Minds, and Open Doors.