First United Methodist Church

Hurricane Ian

Updated: September 30, 9:30am

Campus Update & Sunday Services

Our campuses will remain closed today, Friday, September 30, as we continue to assess damage from Hurricane Ian. 
 
We will be OPEN for both worship services and all activities on Sunday, October 2.

Relief Efforts

Our hearts go out to those affected by Hurricane Ian. Know that your church family is praying for you and our neighbors during this time. 

As we assess the resulting damage, we want to offer any aid we can. By selecting one of the options below, you will be helping us identify those needs and coordinate willing help.

Click the button below if you’re able to help. (ex: make check-in phone calls, help with minor clean-up, serve with community partners).

Click the button below if you need assistance.
Click the button below to give to our Relief Fund (use the drop-down arrow in the Fund section to select “Relief Fund”).

A Message from the Florida Conference

The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church is walking alongside our brothers & sisters devasted by Hurricane Ian. Your prayers and financial support are welcome to assist with our response to this disaster. All gifts will be used to support the mission of local churches most directly affected by the storm, and will be distributed by the cabinet under the supervision of the Conference Committee on Finance & Administration.

United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR)

UMCOR is the humanitarian relief and development arm of The United Methodist Church. Please prayerfully consider donating to UMCOR’s U.S. Disaster Response, where 100% of your gift goes directly to disaster relief.

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Devotion: Amos 8

Setting Priorities as a Church Family

Devotion: I Am Listening

Hello, Church Family, and Happy Fall!

Thank you for the prayers, presents, gift cards and words of love and encouragement over these last four weeks. Our little Elizabeth Pearl has been a blessing and our home is filled with a lot of snuggles, kisses and lots of joy. I have included a few pictures for you to see how much she has already grown. I can’t wait for you to meet her in person.

I wanted to take a few minutes to share what God has been teaching me on this Maternity Leave and I hope it will speak to your heart and where you find yourself today. Those that know me would not describe me as a person that “slows down” well. I have always been on the go. I run from one thing to the other, I fill our schedules with adventures and fun, I take our “big kids” to the park or a splash pad or the museum whenever possible and I don’t often sit and rest. I like being on the move, I like chasing the next big adventure and I don’t like sitting idle. I have often joked that multitasking is my middle name. I make lists of things to do constantly, and I often allow myself to feel guilty if I haven’t gotten enough done, even if it is a Saturday.

This is how I am wired, but it isn’t always life-giving.

Towards the end of this pregnancy, if you saw me, you could tell I was running out of steam. I was tired, had low energy, lost my patience more with my kids and I felt like there wasn’t enough time to get all of the last-minute things accomplished. I felt a sense of responsibility to finish everything on my plate as to not burden my Teammates.

But then something beautiful happened. I had a baby and was FORCED to slow down. Every one of you that has been in the presence of a newborn in your life knows what I am talking about. Babies run on a different time schedule and in fact, they don’t run at all. They sleep and eat and capture your devotion a whole lot, but they don’t run and they don’t rush. Ellie is no exception. She has been the beautiful reminder of slowing down, sitting, snuggling, eating slowly, staying in yoga pants all day and being present. She also doesn’t talk yet and asks me a million questions as our big kids do, so I spend a lot more time quiet and listening. I listen to her breathing, her little noises, the sound of the baby swing or the washing machine and the sound of my own soul slowing down.

What God is teaching me in this season of Maternity Leave is just to listen. To wait and anticipate how God might show up in the silence. How I might experience God’s love as I watch our older two love on their little sister, or how my husband tenderly holds her, or why she might be smiling while she sleeps and how peace is found when we give ourselves a longer list of gracious moments than a list of To-Dos. I am relearning what I have always known but haven’t always practiced which is that God is just as much in the stillness as in the chaos, but that we are more in touch with the life-giving peace when we quiet our minds and slow our roll.

It comes down to listening, deep listening. In one of the devotions I have been reading during this time, a contributor to this email wrote about a friend from Belarus who answers the phone not with the common greeting that we are used to, “Hello, who is this?” or “Hello, yes this is she.” But the friend from Belarus answers every phone call with the phrase, “I am listening.” And isn’t that refreshing? Prayer or a time of Contemplative Silence that I am engaging in on a much deeper level, is my being present to God by responding, “I am listening.”

I pray that as you walk through your daily routines, as you study Scripture, as you join with other followers of Jesus on this journey, that you are finding more ways to LISTEN. It looks different for everyone, but it is life-giving all the same.  I pray that you are opening a space, every day at least once to be present with God in a slowed down and open sort of way. I pray that you sit down at your couch, or drive in your car, or rest in your bed and open that line of communication back to the Almighty with the words, “I am LISTENING” and I pray that you will wait to hear God’s words of grace back to you.

Church, I look forward to being back with you and serving alongside of you again soon. Thank you for the love you have poured out on me and my family these last few months. Know that I pray for you and your families as well. May you find some time this week to turn off the TV, put down your phone, silence the radio and open yourself up to God’s stillness and boldly LISTEN to what God might be teaching you.

AMEN

Digital Media & Our Faith

How does digital media affect your faith practice? Check out this update from Pastor David to learn more about this impact.

Devotion: Amos 6

Devotion: History of the Israelites (Amos 5)

Reeves Center Update

Devotion: Amos 4

Devotion: Remember Who You Are

There are multiple scenes from “kid” movies that speak deep messages to me. One such scene is from the Lion King when grown Simba comes to face his past and remember his future. He is in a Wilderness space and encounters Rafiki who tells him that he will show him his Father, Mufasa who has been gone for many years. After following this ‘crazy baboon’ to the water’s edge, Simba realizes that it is only his own reflection in the pond. But then Mufasa appears in the night sky and tells Simba to “Remember who you are!” Simba asks a few questions that are soaked in guilt and mistrust and over and over again, his Father tells him to “Remember who you are!”

The story of Amos has now shifted from a divine judgment to a divine reckoning. God, through the prophet Amos, is shouting to the people of Israel… “Remember who you are!” What happened right before this chapter is that the people of Israel, God’s chosen people were reminded of the Covenant they had been blessed by and how they had broken that Covenant. Because of the broken covenant, they will now receive divine judgment and punishment for their lack of reverence for the Covenant. Now the people of Israel are being told through the prophet Amos, that it is high time to “remember who you are”.

Biblical Commentators call Amos 3:3-8 a classical example of an identity crisis. We speak of a person suffering from an “identity crisis” when that person has forgotten who he or she is. These verses in Amos 3:3-8 indicate that a whole people, the entire family of God has forgotten who they are and need to be reminded. This chapter can be read as a calling back to one’s true identity. Both Amos and the hearers are questioning their identity. The hearers (Israel) are saying things like, who gave you authority to speak like this to us and the rebuttal argument of Amos back to the people of God reminding them that they have forgotten their true selves.

Have you ever had an identity crisis? Have you ever entered a dark time in your life that left you fumbling over your identity, your self-worth, your belovedness and who you are deep down? I struggled for many years with my call story into the ministry. I wanted to pursue music in the church – I didn’t want to be a pastor. I had seen the struggles my aunt had walked through as a pastor and I didn’t want that for my story. I remember thinking, I must have heard God wrong. I must be mistaken. This is not the person God has called me to be. But at some point in my struggle, I had that ‘Mufasa’ moment when I decided to “Remember who I am” in Christ and in God’s family. I let go of my misunderstandings, my fears, and my assumptions of what God can and cannot do and I stopped fumbling with my identity.

I wonder if the people of Israel had struggled with their own identity and knew only in words that they were chosen, but it had not sunk in. I wonder if this Identity crisis had been coming on for a while ever since the splitting apart of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms and if the people of Israel had felt lost for a long time. There is something of course about conflict and division that leaves you fumbling for clarity. But it can also be an opportunity for each of us to decide who we are and remember where we come from. Amos asks seven rhetorical questions of the people in this chapter and if you aren’t careful, you may get lost in the metaphorical language. Instead, I hope you see it as a calling back to our natural selves. He uses animal imagery to say that animals never forget who they are and how they function, but somehow, humanity, created in God’s image forgets all the time. I hope that if you are struggling with your identity, if you have forgotten your worth or doubted your belovedness, I hope this devotion gives you hope again to remember who you are. And I hope you will reach out to someone in this church; a friend, a pastor, a leader and let us know how we can help you REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE.