Category Archives: Local Church

Welcoming New Members

I’m a bit late with this, but two Sundays ago (June 9, 2023), we transferred eight people into membership. The new members are Jane Schloot and the Weyeneth family (Isaac, Whitney, Joshua, Micah, David, Hadassah, and Hannah). Please let them know how happy we are to have them as College Avenue United Methodist Church members.

Toward A More Welcoming Church

College Avenue UMC is working toward being a congregation that more fully welcomes LGBTQ+ people and those who love them. At its May 21, 2023, meeting the church council approved these actions:

1. The establishment of an LGBTQ+ Inclusion working group tasked with recommending actions aligned with our guiding values and inclusion statement to ensure College Avenue UMC is a welcoming and affirming place for LGBTQ+ individuals and their families. 

2. An LGBTQ+ inclusion book study series. (The first discussion will be on God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines on July 6, 2023.) 

3. Adding pronouns to name tags for those who want them. (Contact the church office at or 785-539-4191 to have your pronouns added to your name tag.)

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!