February 2014 Newsletter


This issue marks the one year anniversary of the new online newsletter.  Thank you all for your support, kind words and encouragement.  The newsletter each month is a collection of contributions from many people.  I hope it has been a way to share the news of the congregation.

I am enjoying my work on the newsletter; however, I am announcing my resignation as editor.  My last issue will be the January 2015 issue.  It was never my intention to become the permanent editor of the newsletter.  Last year, as Jim Caldwell, Will Wetzel and I planned the newsletter, we very carefully and deliberately set up the accounts so that they would be easily transferred to a new editor.

So, it’s time for someone new to take on the position for a while beginning in February 2015.  You have plenty of time to think about it, plan for it and learn about it.  Let us know if you are interested.

And, we still have a need for a print version of the newsletter.  Are there any volunteers who are willing to work on that project?  Let us know that as well.

Connie LaRue


First Presbyterian Church of Macomb

February 2014 Newsletter

Find a PDF version of this newsletter here:  February 2014 Newsletter


Please pray for the family and friends who mourn the death of H. P. “Hap” Miner who died on January 11, 2014.



At the January meeting, Session:

• approved the communion schedule for 2014

• adopted an Emergency Preparedness Plan

• acted to improve handicap-accessible locations in the sanctuary

• heard a report from Rob Lawrence about his maintenance activity



Presbytery of Great Rivers keeps “Per Capita” at same level for 2014

Here is good news!  Great Rivers Presbytery’s Administrative Council has announced that there will not be any increase in the Per Capita member contributions for this year.  It remains the same as last year:  $28 per member or $56 per couple. The announcement points out that over the last half decade Presbytery has not raised its portion of the per capita.  In turn, this means that Presbytery has actually lowered its own per capita when both the Synod of Lincoln Trails and the General Assembly have had to increase their fees.

Per Capita contributions are the way we share the expenses of the PC(USA) system of government.  The annual amount is a combined request from Presbytery, Synod and the General Assembly – of which each congregation is a part.  For those who are able to do so, it is a tremendous help to the church if each person pays his or her own Per Capita amount, otherwise it is paid monthly from our church’s budget. For more information about Per Capita go to the website: www.greatriverspby.org.



Who in our congregation was a Gold Medal Milk Baby and has a grandfather who was born in Amsterdam, The Netherlands?  The answer can be found at the end of this newsletter.



Recently, Session received the following letter from Connie Purdum with a $50,000 gift of an IRA qualified charitable distribution.

Dear Session Members,

Please find enclosed a gift from Connie Purdum. The church has played such an important role in our family’s life, and we hope that the enclosed can help secure the foundation of the First Presbyterian for future generations.

We humbly ask that it be directed to that fund within the Church where the corpus of this gift would be available to be spent on capital improvements, as you see fit, to help sustain the physical church and its mission. Any income from the investment of this asset, prior to being spent, may be used in the general fund.

Wishing you joy and happiness this Holiday Season.

Warm regards,

Connie Purdum and Family

We are all grateful for the generosity of the Purdum family.



from Pastor Mark

The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection and it became the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting. This season of Lent provided a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when those who, because of notorious sins, had been separated from the body of the faithful, were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to the fellowship of the Church. Thereby, the whole congregation was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set forth in the gospel, and the need which all Christians continually have to renew their repentance and faith.

When Ash Wednesday was made the first day of Lent, the name given to it was “Caput Jejunii” or “head of the fast.” But years later it was called “Dies Cinerum” or the “Day of Ashes,” the name it is known by to this day.

From the seventh century, those who had committed notorious sins and were prepared to submit to public penance, self-examination, self-denial, fasting, repentance, prayer, and meditation upon God’s Holy Word, presented themselves in the Church. There, they were bare-footed and clothed in sackcloth. They then joined the clergy in the citation of the seven penitential psalms. Afterwards, they were sent to a monastery for their Lenten discipline and remained there until shortly before Easter. This practice was gradually replaced by the whole Church putting itself into penance during Lent.

Throughout the Old Testament, the practice of strewing ashes upon the head is found. In II Samuel 13:19, Esther 4:1, 3, and in the Book of Job, the reference is made several times, as well as in the later books of the prophets. Each time, the ashes are the outward sign of profound grief and mourning.

In 2014, the season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, March 5. We will gather for a service of ashes and communion that night.



Rob Lawrence, our new maintenance supervisor, grew up in Rockford, Illinois.  He served in the Marine Corps from 1996 until 2001.  Later, he moved to Macomb and attended WIU where he received a Bachelors degree in LEJA with a minor in Security.  Rob has two daughters, ages 10 and 2.  He was recently married.

Learning construction and carpentry skills from his father, Rob has always enjoyed building and improving things.

Rob says he has enjoyed meeting so many people at First Presbyterian Church already.  He asks, “Please don’t be offended if I don’t remember every name right away!”

Although Rob has only been with us just a couple of short weeks, he’s already responded to a large number of requests and is working diligently on the remainder of the growing projects list.

Welcome, Rob!



Eleanor Bannon

Eleanor is a Bachelor’s of General Studies Senior at Western Illinois University. She is originally from the Chicago Suburbs and will be graduating this May. Her duties are to streamline our volunteer recruitment process for Food for Thought. She will be with us this semester for 25 hours per week.  Welcome, Eleanor!




Baskets for the Valentine greetings to our church family’s Members to Remember are available on the table in the main floor hallway through Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014.  Look for copies of the list of names on the table across from the elevator and on the table by the Conference Room on the main floor.  Return your Members to Remember greetings to the baskets provided before the 10:30 service on Feb. 9, please.  Items for distribution will be delivered by Valentine’s Day weekend.

Note: You need not know the people personally to let them know that our congregation appreciates their contributions to the church in years past and/or share God’s love for them even when they cannot physically get to the church building.  Please SHARE the JOY with these long time members of First Presbyterian Church.  A little note, a bit of humor, a child’s drawing, etc. is welcomed.

The Board of Deacons and members you remember truly appreciate your generous participation in this event.



The Underground Church book some are reading suggests we celebrate communion in the manner of the early church.  They shared an actual meal, provided and served by the community.

Our version will be a very casual, light potluck in Fellowship Hall following 10:30 a.m. worship on the first Sunday of each month.  Those who are able are asked to bring a dish to share. We’re going to trust that we’ll be fine with whatever dishes appear.   Just as our communion table is open to all, this meal is open to all, so please invite a friend or a neighbor to join us.

As Robin Meyers, author of The Underground Church, says, “… people often bring their favorite dishes. The effect is that the potluck whole is much more than the sum of its parts. Grace hangs over the potluck because when we share, our best is made even better.”

Come enjoy some grace with us!  We’ll be sharing a meal on Sunday, February 2.



The church has a cleaning contract with Bridgeway. The cleaning crew is at the church on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday beginning at 5 p.m.  As you are at the church for a meeting, rehearsal, and/or event, especially on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, before you leave the building it would be appreciated if you would make sure lights are turned out, the floor is cleaned/vacuumed, if needed, and trash is taken outside.

Let’s all do our part to help keep the building clean.



If you enjoy singing and can read music, consider joining the Chancel Choir.

Rehearsal is Thursday at 5:30 until 6:30 p.m. with warm-up on Sunday mornings at 10:00.  All of us have obligations that keep us from singing EVERY Sunday but we read ahead at rehearsal and we are very adaptable!  Come try us on for size!  




On January 26, we were blessed with a special musical offering of three movements from Cantata 51, Exult in God in Every Land!  by Johann Sebastian Bach. Sharing their time and talents were Mary McMurtery, soprano, Bruce Briney, trumpet, Karen Martin, 1st violin, Alexandru Malaimare, 2nd violin, and Linda Andrews, organ.  Special thanks not only go to the musicians but also for a generous donation from the Wanda Perkins Memorial Fund.  First Church members, Nancy Chu and Felix Chu are Wanda’s daughter and son-in-law, respectively.


On Sunday, February 2nd, the 10:30 service will participate in communion accompanied by music from the Chancel Choir featuring soprano soloist, Nancy Colvin.

On Sunday, February 9th also at the 10:30 service, we will hear Sophie Walker play the piano, the Children’s Choir will sing, Westminster Bells will ring, and the Postlude will be a viola solo by Sophie accompanied by Tammie Walker.  What a morning of music! Plan to attend!



Members and Staff of First Presbyterian Church spent their Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. day as a day on, not a day off.  Eleven people, including five Youth Group members  joined 57 other people from  around the Presbytery on a Ski and Mission Trip to Rock Island, Illinois.

On Sunday, 60 youth and adults took to the slopes for an afternoon of skiing at Ski Snowstar in Andalusia. After skiing we all headed to the Broadway Presbyterian Church in Rock Island for an evening of fun activities, pizza, and ice breakers.

On Monday all 68 of us split into mission teams to accomplish different projects around Broadway Church and the surrounding neighborhood. Our projects ranged from helping sort the clothing donations that Broadway gives away every month to playing games with the elderly at a nursing home to helping a group homes deep clean their kitchens. Most importantly it gave the youth a chance to meet new people and break out of their comfort zone.  All in all, the trip was an absolute success and everyone had a great time.  See below for more information about the trip and pictures!



This summer will be one of Mission and Mission Trips. There are several ways for you to get involved with mission and outreach this summer.  We will be having a brief meeting about Mission Trip Opportunities after each service on Sunday, February 9, 2014. This year’s trips include:

June 7-15, 2014 – Intergenerational Mission Trip on a National Scale.

July 7-19, 2014 Intergenerational Multi-Presbytery Mission trip to Honduras.

TBA – Presbytery-Wide Local mission trip for youth in 6,7,8th grades.

If you need more information or you cannot attend on Feb 9th please call Will Wetzel at 309-255-3448.




As Illinois prepared for the “polar vortex” of frigid weather January 5 – 8, the Governor of our state asked communities to open centers for those who needed a warm place to stay. Our Session, in keeping with our vision of serving the Macomb community, agreed. A call for volunteers went out to Soup and More, PADS, and Loaves and Fishes for help with staffing, food donations, cleaning and cooking meals.  Nine churches were represented among those who responded from dinner on Friday Jan 5 through dinner on Jan 8.   We worked together to share our resources and God’s love for this community through an emergency warming center.

On the first night, the McDonough County sheriff’s department called the center seeking refuge for a family.  The great grandmother, great grandfather and three great grandchildren arrived on our doorstep courtesy of an ambulance owned by the Good Hope rescue squad.  The family had been coming from Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri and going home to Galesburg when their car slid off the road and landed in the ditch.  Fortunately, nobody was hurt. Great grandma had not had a break for a very long time and just needed one.  Our volunteers cooked and shared dinner and breakfast with the family. Fellowship Hall was filled with laughter as the little ones entertained the volunteers and created artwork.  Great grandma worked by phone with the sheriff’s department and tow truck drivers throughout the night to have their car towed to Macomb.

In addition to this family stranded by the storm, we served 16 other individuals who came for meals and or just to get warmed up before going on their way.  Volunteers connected to our congregation included Gene Miller, Linda Miller, Nancy Chu, Brooks Olds, John Nelson, Robin Bauerly, Judy Calhoun, Jim Calhoun, Will Wetzel, Rev. Mark Merrill, Kylie Davenport, Traci DeWitt, Brent Dewitt, Chase DeWitt, Grayson DeWitt, and Melissa Calhoun.

Addendum:  On January 26, with wind chills again predicted to be in the danger zone, the McDonough County sheriff’s department contacted First Pres about operating a warming center.  Volunteers remained on call through January 28.



At the January Session meeting, it was announced that The Macopolitan and Psychology Specialists will begin using office space in our church building.

The Macopolitan is a new print and web publication for Macomb and McDonough County and is a product of Western Illinois Culture and Education (WICE).

From The Macopolitan Facebook page:

The Macopolitan wishes to advance the idea that small-town living need not be boring, provincial, or predictable! Our content will focus on the local arts, cultural, education, recreation, and additional “quality of life” information that you care about. We’ll strive to bring you thorough and timely listings of community events in these categories, as well as creative editorial content by and about the people doing interesting things in our community—your friends and neighbors!”

The mission of Psychology Specialists is “to provide professional and confidential services to help individuals and families with conditions associated with both emotional and physical pain.  As one of the largest psychology practices in Illinois, we are able to offer neuropsychology, psychology and counseling services to many communities throughout Central Illinois.”  See the website for more information: http://www.psychologyspecialists.com/



See our complete calendar here.

Communion Preparation/Cleanup

10:30 a.m. service, February 2 – Janice Wayland and Donna Quesal

February Lector Schedule

Lector/Usher 8:00 a.m. Worship*

*Please note – Members are encouraged to signup for lector and usher duties.

February 2       ? / ?

February 9       ? / ?

February 16     ? / ?

February 23     ? / ?

Lector 10:30 a.m. Worship

February 2       Cathi Murphy

February 9       Gene Miller

February 16     Susan Rinehart

February 23     Linda Miller



The Jazz Worship services are held at the West Central Illinois Arts Center on the square from 6:30 until 7:30 p.m.  Our next Jazz Worship service will be on Sunday, February 16.  The theme is Mercy.

Plan to attend to hear some great jazz by WIU students and to ponder the theme in the context of the music.




SPRING 2014 – April 3 – 5

FALL 2014 – September 25 – 27

From our Moderator Nancy Chu

It’s time to bring your rummage for the PW spring rummage sale which will be held which will be held on April 3 – 5.   Volunteers will begin the sorting process soon.  Many types of volunteer opportunities are available in addition to sorting rummage too, and your efforts will be rewarded with good fellowship and a sense of accomplishment.

PW will be offering its support to the blood drive at WIU on February 17.  Volunteers from PW will provide cupcakes and assist donors.

Mark your calendars for the annual PW Spring Tea which will be held on Sunday, April 6, at 2 pm.  This will be a time for fellowship, reviewing the past year and remembering members whom we have lost in the past year. Join us for what promises to be an enjoyable afternoon.

The kitchen now contains some new equipment. New trays have been purchased with memorial funds given in memory of Elaine Walker.  Thanks to the efforts of the Morning Circle these funds have been used to further the mission of the church.

The coming months promise to be busy and productive.  All women are invited to join us for an enjoyable time.





Our next choice for the PW Discussion group is Surprises Around the Bend: 50 Adventurous Walkers.

In this unusual work, Richard A. Hasler, a Presbyterian minister, has assembled the brief inspirational biographies of 50 adventurous walkers including physicians and naturalists, poets and novelists, politicians and teachers, pilgrims and seekers, prophets and social reformers.

To the author, walking is a spiritual practice that renews the soul, connects us with the natural world, spurs problem solving, improves self-esteem, heightens alertness, and can be a rewarding aspect of friendship or a love relationship. Others use walking as an opportunity to commune with God or to pray for others.

Mindy Pheiffer will lead our discussion at a brown bag lunch at noon on Wednesday, February 26 in the conference room.  Come join us!

Copies of the book are available in our church library.




Thursday, February 27 at 9:30 a.m. at the church.  Judy Cramer is the hostess and Pat Sivill is the co-hostess.  Mary Lakie-Hermann will lead Lesson 5.


Thursday, February 27 at 2:00 p.m. in the church parlor.  Sylvia Hofer is the hostess and Ruth Asbell is co-hostess.  Verona Nelson will lead Lesson 5.


Wednesday, February 5 at 5:00 at church in Fellowship Hall.  Andrea Bowen is hostess and Sara Wood is co-hostess.  Mindy Pheiffer will lead the Food for Thought.


Sunday, February 2 at 9:00 a.m. at the church.  Deb McDaniel is hostess and Jennifer DeJong is co-hostess.





Among the keepsakes on our library shelves is a photo album from the 1980s.  The photos tell a story of First Pres teens and adults packing the van for a trip to snow-capped mountains. Among the youth are Frohnes, Nollens, Edwards, and Bishops. For most of these teens, Benton Harbor, Michigan was another destination in the ’80s.  Tucked safely away are memories of trips such as these.  Such trips often hold the brightest and best experiences of “doing church”, especially for teens.

The history alcove upstairs displays other commitments by First Pres to travel in service to others:  Sarah-Jayne Ashenhurst in Renosa, Mexico, Bob Bowen in Brazil, Dave and Lois Shane in Alaska, and Paul and Sheila Nollen in Malawi.  What memories of friendships forged on service trips and life-changing experiences do you hold?

Following in the footsteps of these time-honored traditions, Sophie, Ben, Chase, Shannon and Edy, along with adults from First Pres Macomb, joined 70 others from Great Rivers Presbytery on a service trip on January 19-20.  Sunday afternoon was sunny and warm and a great day on fun on the ski slopes near Andalusia.  Broadway Presbyterian Church in Rock Island hosted the group for dinner and an overnight.  Broadway arranged service activities in their building and in their community for Monday.

On behalf of the participants in the 2014 version of traveling and service in mission, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT of this way of “doing church”!

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Duct tape has many uses!  Ben’s group constructed hydroponic and aquaponic gardens.

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Members from the Wesley Methodist Church were in charge of the January 26 Soup and More meal.  Also attending were the WIU nursing students who talked with guests about health issues and gave blood pressure screenings.  And some members of the Western Illinois Traditional Music Association (WITMA) provided the lively music.  Volunteers are always welcome to help in the planning, preparation, serving and cleanup of this monthly meal.  The next meal will be Sunday, February 23 from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.  For more information, visit the Soup and More website:  http://www.soupandmore.org





The book study of The Underground Church continues on Sunday mornings in the conference room.  Thanks to Dorothea Jewell for her thoughtful facilitation of our discussions.  We enjoy her challenging questions!




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A variety of activities take place each Friday evening at Food for Thought.

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A number of volunteers assist including those who are about to graduate from WIU in May with degrees in dietetics.  Andrea, Megan and Danielle began their service to Food for Thought as a requirement for a class at WIU.  But even after their class requirement has been fulfilled, they continue to volunteer with the Food for Thought program.  And, this is Echo’s second year as a Food for Thought volunteer. She is a law enforcement major with plans to graduate next year.

Will Wetzel, Kylie Davenport, Melissa Calhoun, Donna Quesal and many others are also responsible for making Food for Thought a success!  Thanks to all!



The answer is Jeanne Stierman.



Share information from you, your group, or your committee.  Items for the March Newsletter should be emailed to news@firstpresmacomb.org BEFORE February 25.  Pictures are welcome!