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Through It All

Through it all, through it all, I've learned to trust in Jesus, I've learned to trust in God.
Through it all, through it all, I've learned to depend upon God's word.

Hymn #507 

As United Methodists, we believe we are stewards: of the earth, of our communities, and of our relationships. The giving of our financial resources, as we are able, is one way we live into our role as stewards of this community. 

2021 Commitment Card Form

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Please type in the amount of money you commit to giving to First Church in 2021, to 2 decimal points, for example 150.00 (one hundred fifty dollars and no cents).

Please indicate if you will give this amount Per Week, Month, or Year.

Dollar Amount ***Annual Ministry includes the following: Ministries: Children - Digital – Hope’s Home & Food Pantry – Music & Arts - Youth & Young Adults, AS WELL AS Expenses: Building - Operations – Salaries. IF you need more specific giving options, you may select those after submitting this form where you will be directed to our online giving page of our website OR you may use the paper form you received in the mail.

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Our Mission statement: We seek to embody grace and hospitality in the manner of Jesus, nurturing our diverse spiritual journeys and joining together as a servant community to help realize a more loving and just world.

2021 Stewardship Voices- What does First Church mean to me during the Covid pandemic?

December 3, from Jim Ostrander:

Rev. David Lyons once remarked that when meeting strangers, one can often tell within a short time that this person is a Methodist. I have never forgotten this because this was a sentiment that I also shared. I know David did not mean that Methodists were in any way superior to others, only that they reflect in their attitudes and manner something that is instilled in them that has its roots in the United Methodist Church.
I always feel comfortable around fellow Methodists because they share similar values and approach to life. I have made so many friends at First Church, many still with us, others who have passed on. Maintaining contact and sharing our COVID frustrations with each other has made the entire experience much more tolerable than it might have been. I cherish these friendships above all else and cannot imagine what life would be without them.

November 26, from Krista Tweed:

I found First Church when I moved to Madison in the fall of 1992 to attend grad school. After attending my first service, I asked the music director if I could join the choir; I started singing the following Sunday. I joined the church within a few months and have been a member ever since (minus the 18 months I lived elsewhere). When I was in grad school, First Church played a big part in Madison becoming home. Everyone was so welcoming and the choir really became my local family. When I moved back to Madison, Steve and I were married in the sanctuary and First Church became a church home for my stepkids as well. 

There are many things I love about First Church. I love the friendly, accepting spirit that flows strongly and freely through the congregation. Accepting each individual for who they are (All means ALL!) and nurturing and encouraging them wherever they may be on their faith journey. I grew up in the Bible Belt and a church accepting a wide variety of beliefs was an entirely new concept for me. I found it fascinating to sit in on the Tuesday morning “Science and Theology” group once a month and listen to the lively discussion. I appreciated how the youth group welcomed our kids and widened their world view beyond the Village of Marshall.

I love the strong commitment to mission in action. Jesus calls us to serve others and I see people living out that call every time I visit First Church. I served as a chaperone for many youth mission trips, both middle school trips and the ASP high school trips. What a wonderful experience to see youth’s eyes open to the difference they can make in the world. Those trips helped me grow also—stretched my comfort zones, challenged me to try new things, taught me how to work toward a common goal with all different types of people.

As I reflect on First Church in these COVID times, what impresses me the most is how little our Foundation has changed. The church clergy and staff are still providing inspiring worship with heartfelt music. The service content is clear that everyone is welcome and questions are encouraged. Hope’s Home has adapted services to continue serving our community, and those services are needed now more than ever. I am amazed as our staff keeps adapting and adjusting. And I am proud to be part of a congregation that is committed to living our faith in our community.

November 19, from Doug Knudson:

We moved to Madison from a Chicago suburb in the winter of 1970-71. After the first Sunday of attending FUMC (then FMC) our 5 year old son announced that he had made a friend in Sunday School. His desire to go again led us to become members.  In the following years we developed numerous friendships, many of which have continued over the following years. Both our children were confirmed at FUMC  and our daughter was married at FUMC. I was given much support by church members when my wife Lyn died in 2006. Because those friendships were solid before COVID, we have continued communicating during these difficult times. Thus, the church has given me a strong emotional support base to help with social isolation.

FUMC has provided organized ways for me to be involved in programs and causes which would be more difficult to accomplish on my own, e.g., Porchlight, MOM, Crop walk, Northcott House, Gay Pride parade, food pantry, the scholarships program and the Lyons Lecture, to name a few.  Although my physical involvement has been very curtailed by COVID due to my age and health issues, the e-newsletters keep me informed about activities.  I can look for those which allow me to participate even with my limitations.  Zoom meetings and classes provide meaningful ways to be involved with other members.  The live-streamed Sunday morning worship services are a wonderful source for relevant and sustaining messages and uplifting music.

I am very happy with our slogan “Downtown For Good” and how our staff and members have found ways to put that slogan into practice, especially during the pandemic.  It is so comforting to know that others share many of my social values.  That sense of togetherness is reinforced by the pastoral messages and the actions of our church leaders.  Although I deeply miss the in-person Sunday morning worship, classes and coffee fellowship, I am grateful for the role of FUMC in helping to keep us connected during this time of COVID. 

November 12, from Rafael Hastey:

In 2015, I was in Madison working while my then-fiancée Erin was studying in Chicago. Several weekends that year, Erin would take the Van Galder Coach Bus from Chicago to Madison for a weekend, and we would visit Madison churches to find one that felt like the right fit. While there are many wonderful congregations in Madison, First felt like a good fit. We were impressed by the warm welcome we received and the vigorous outreach ministries. After we got married and Erin moved to Madison, we joined the church and made friends through the Young Adult Group. We love that this is a congregation that makes space for diverse spiritual journeys as it commits to being a place of welcome and hospitality. While the pandemic has led to many changes in daily life, the faith and commitment that guide this church have remained the same. We have been amazed at the ability of the clergy, staff, and lay leadership to rapidly respond and adapt to make church happen. Our outreach and fellowship ministries have changed to balance needs for safety and connection. Megan Zuba, our Director for Youth and Young Adult Ministries, has been an inspiration in keeping our Young Adult Group together, and we are excited to be starting a new study with this group on the letter to the Galatians. We feel blessed to be able to help sustain and support our church’s essential work through the pandemic and beyond.  

November 5, from Lance Peterson:

My wife (LoAnn) and I moved to Madison from Illinois a little over one year ago and joined First Church shortly before the COVID pandemic sank into all our lives. About a year before moving here we began the process of retirement and were also searching for a new church that would give us a pathway to experience a faith that got us more involved in the lives of others. A church we visited had a banner in front of the worship one Sunday that read ‘Jesus has left the Sanctuary’. Intrigued by this I wondered what they meant – that day was a short service and after 30 minutes everyone went to the community room to pack meals for others over the next hour and a half. We appreciated how a congregation could get directly involved in sharing the blessings that Christ had provided. That place was our Church home for only a short time, but it prepared us for what we fell in love with here in the Madison downtown community.

The first day we walked into First Church we encountered a friendly greeting with a welcome package. The greeter asked our names, and invited us into the service. The next week when we returned, she said ‘welcome LoAnn and Lance, it is nice to have you back’. I think it took us two or three visits to remember her name (Carol), but she gave us a sense of belonging from the very beginning. I also remember immediately being struck by the sermons of senior pastor, Rev. Dr. Mark Fowler, who brought Jesus’ words from 2,000 years ago alive with meaning for our current life challenges, and teaching me what it means to care for one another. Learning about the outreach of the congregation to the downtown Madison neighborhood was reinforcing to what we had begun to experience in Illinois. This expanded both our visions of what could be done – intersecting many needs like feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, caring for the planet, and working for social justice.   

LoAnn and I are both retired physicians, so we have seen medical disease and suffering in the past. However, we never expected to experience a global pandemic at the start of our retirement. As an Infectious Diseases physician, I had often read about the 1918 influenza pandemic, prepared a hospital for SARS (the first coronavirus spreading out of Asia), and trained staff for dealing with Ebola virus. However, I never had considered something like COVID-19 that would be so widespread and last so long here in the USA. We were just beginning to learn more about First Church and getting to know members of the congregation when COVID-19 ended all the usual ways of doing things. However, the outreach of First Church never stopped. Worship services, Sunday School, and group meetings went virtual that helped us stay connected. The food pantry is now a meal and personal necessity delivery operation, housing opportunities for those without shelter transitioned to working with public officials to assure those needs are met, improving social justice involvement continues, as does helping to protect the planet where we all live. Importantly, effort is moving forward on finding ways we can safely get together to bolster the on-line, virtual ministry that supports the people in our congregation. 

First United Methodist Church of Madison has not slowed in its ministry or involvement in caring for our brothers and sisters. The support of the congregation for the many programs of the Church remains strong and committed. LoAnn and I share that commitment and feel truly blessed to have joined this wonderful Christian community caring for and about each other along with  those around us. As we were told when we first arrived, Welcome to this Church.

Blessings to you and your family!

October 29, from Tom Gobel:

When I think of my life and those that are a part of my life, I often think of a sailboat and its crew. So when I ask the question what does the church mean to me during this covid pandemic, I would like to draw an analogy to a sailboat.

We are definitely sailing through treacherous waters. The church has been that sailboat and the staff has been its crew. Their task has not been easy. They have been superb by catching the winds and managing the sails to take us in the right direction and getting us from port to port and when needed lowering the sails, dropping the anchor and checking in on all those who are aboard. They have supplied us with inspiration and hope as we sail in uncharted waters. They have welcomed aboard all additional passengers that may be in need of that inspiration and hope.
In another sense the church has been a welcoming safe harbor while sailing on rough seas. It has itself been an anchoring point for me. A place to find care and a connectedness when both are scarce as we stay in our homes and stay behind our masks. I am confident that if we keep the sailboat in good repair and help the crew as best we can, they will insure that we safely get to calmer waters.

Grace and Hospitality

Since 1837, First Church has been a presence for Good in downtown Madison, where we still share meaningful worship and music, study and sharing, fellowship and outreach – offering a prophetic voice and generous caring to a community seeking signs and experiences of grace. Looking to 2020, in a world of uncertainty we nurture what we’ve been given—opening our hearts, doors, and minds for God’s next new things. 

Diverse Spiritual Journeys

In a denomination and world where divisions are rife, we proudly and firmly pronounce that at First Church, All Still Means All. We seek to comfort the challenged while challenging the comfortable—from our annual Lyons Lecture, providing speakers and topics that push us to “Live the Questions”; to our status as a Reconciling Congregation, proclaiming that ALL are welcome and celebrated; to our Wednesday morning Come As You Are worship, where professionals worship alongside the home-less community. The future? We’re excited to see where God is leading!

We offer a prophetic voice and generous caring to a community seeking signs and experiences of grace.

A Servant Community

St. Francis reportedly said, "Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words." Our experience is that community grows stronger as we serve together – in the manner of Jesus. Our members reach out to others through our strong First Church Food Pantry; our youth mission trips rebuild homes and work on urban renewal; and when frigid weather or unexpected downtown challenges bring people to our doors, First Church knows how to provide welcome, shelter, meals, and helping hands. 

Creating a More Loving and Just World

We stand on the shoulders of generations of faithful First Church members whose generosity and commitment planted this congregation downtown and kept us here, offering ministries of love and witnessing for justice. Now it is our turn. OUR GIFTS, our vision and caring, will open minds, doors, and hearts for others seeking a future and a hope. 

Your Generosity Helps Create a Bright Future

On Stewardship Sunday, November 24th, in the 9:00 and 11:15am worship services, YOU ARE INVITED to make a pledge of your intention for your financial giving to First Church during 2020. 

Please pray and consider stretching to new faithfulness: if you already pledge, Thank You! Please consider growing your annual gift by an additional 1% (or more) of your income, aiming toward tithing. And if you haven’t made a pledge in the past, please consider taking that step.  

A pledge doesn’t lock you into anything (it can be changed just by notifying the church); but making a commitment often brings unexpected joy and deep peace. 

What are the stories of your faith and your life with First Church?

Use these questions to prompt your personal reflections on your faith and your stewardship: 

  • Who is the person who showed you how to be generous? Would you tell us about him or her? Who brought generosity into your life?
  • Think about where you have seen this church make a difference. How have you experienced that difference?
  • Giving is a response.  What inspires you, in the life of our church, to give/respond?
  •  If this church didn’t exist, what thing that you care about would be missing?
  • What is it about being part of this faith community that you value?
  • What do you find here that keeps you here?
  • What would you like our church to be doing that we’re not yet doing?If you could help create a future in this church, what would it be?

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A Guide to Proportional Giving 

We encourage each household to increase giving 1 percent per year. For a household earning $52,000 per year and contributing about $30 per week, the contribution is about 3 percent of income. This is a portion of what has been given by God to be managed and then is returned to do ministry. A 1 percent increase (from 3% to 4 %) would be about an additional $10 per week.