Monday, July 17, 2017

Update on Communications Practices at Brighton First

The Communications Task Force, formed as part of Brighton First’s strategic plan, has completed its work and submitted a report to the Administrative Board for approval in August. The Communications Team was tasked with reviewing  communication practices at Brighton First and creating  policy and guidelines.

Key recommendations from the Communications Task Force include:
  • Continue to use the current Brighton First logo in publications. After consulting with Mark Doyle, the director of communications for the Michigan Area United Methodist Church, the team determined that our current logo is most effective for our context. 
  • Completely update the website by November 2017. The communication goal is that the website be the primary source for information for both visitors and regular attenders at Brighton First. Over the last year, we have made improvements, providing more information. The website will be redesigned to reflect current trends and enhanced usability.
  • Change the format and frequency of Brighton First's newsletter. The newsletter in its current format will end in September, and we will send five mailings per year with an emphasis on our vision and mission as a church. The revised newsletter will accompany Christmas and Easter letters, as well as three giving statement mailings. Church members will continue to receive news of upcoming events through the worship bulletin, weekly e-news, Facebook and the website. For those who do not attend church and/or rely on the newsletter for information, we will mail bulletins (which contain letters from Pastor Sherry and news of upcoming events) monthly.
  • Provide a concise description of communications channels that church groups may use to get their news and announcements out. This information is included in the Policy and Guideline document that will be available on line by mid-August.

We are grateful for the work of Joanne Schmidt, Terry Keefe, Alyssa Tumolo and Rev. Sherry Parker-Lewis, who worked over several months to create the communications guidelines. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Pastor Sherry.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

180 Years of Methodism in Brighton

The City of Brighton celebrates its 150th anniversary on August 13. I took some time this week to read again about the history of First United Methodist Church of Brighton. We are fortunate to have members of the faith community who collected our church's history and wrote about it. 

Brighton First was already a thriving faith community 150 years ago. Methodist preachers started visiting Ore Creek (later to be named Brighton) in 1830. Not long after a Methodist class was formed in the town and Methodists began meeting in people’s homes. The group received its first pastor in 1843 and they worshipped in the school house on Grand River Avenue. In 1856, the Methodists built the first church on the same property as our current church building. Visitors to the new city of Brighton were greeted by the large brick Methodist-Episcopal church as they came from the east.

In 1867, the founding year for the City of Brighton, Rev. Thomas Nichols was pastor of the church. He reported earning $675 annually. The church building was valued at $3,000. The Ladies Aid Society, a forerunner of the United Methodist Women, was an important part of the church’s ministry.

Here are some fun facts about the history of Brighton First:
  • Traveling by horseback, Washington Jackson helped to found Methodist classes in 1836, including Brighton, Fowlerville, Fenton and Milford.
  • A Methodist evangelist came to town in the late 1830’s. He preached from a balcony of a blacksmith shop. People flocked to hear him. The building filled up and the balcony gave way. Several people were injured. A few days later, more people signed up for the Methodist class.
  • The first pastor appointed in Brighton was Rev. George King (1843). He was the junior preacher from Milford. In 1844, King’s 4-year-old daughter died and was the fourth person buried in the local cemetery. King was buried there 6 years later.
  • The first church built on this property (1856) cost $1,600.
  • In 1870, Rev. John Levington refused communion to Elia Withey, a member of the Brighton congregation because he was a Mason. The dispute went to the Annual Conference and Levington was forced to retire.
  • In 1873, Mrs. York, wife of the pastor, was granted a local preacher’s license. It was very unusual that a woman be given license to preach in the Methodist church at that time.
  • With plans to build a new church, the old church was torn down in 1904. This is what the Brighton Argus reported, “On account of the busy times, the ladies of the Methodist Episcopal Aid Society turned out Tuesday to help tear down the old church. It is said the brick flew like hailstones.”
  • The church closed from 1915 – 1920. The parsonage was rented and the church building was used by Boys’ Christian Association and the Red Cross.
  • The church reopened in 1920 after the Ladies Aid Society raised enough money to pay a pastor for one year.
    Methodists have been witnessing for Jesus Christ in the City of Brighton for over 180 years.
A picture of the four corners at Main St. and Grand River Ave. in Brighton.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Serving God Beyond the Church

Brighton First, in cooperation with many county churches, serves residents in emergency need. Churches are connected in ministry through Love INC. Members of Brighton First's congregation have many stories of reaching out to help others. The following article recently appeared in a Love INC news update. It is a story from a Brighton First congregation member:
A Bedding Ministry Volunteer recently shared the following story with us: A gentleman came to their church's ministry to pick up some bedding. At that time the volunteer offered to pray with the client before he left and the client declined.
A few weeks later the same volunteer saw the gentleman at the grocery store. He told her that when he had originally picked up the bedding items he wanted to say yes to prayer. When the volunteer heard this she asked if he would like prayer. He said yes and they ended up praying in the middle of the cereal aisle for him and his situation.
Praise God for the opportunity to give the gift of prayer wherever and whenever it is needed. And praise God for congregation members emboldened by the Holy Spirit to offer the gift!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Know More About Jesus

Each Sunday at Brighton First, as worshipers enter the sanctuary they receive a Connection Card. All are encouraged to complete the card providing the minimum of a name. The Connection Card allows members of our faith community to update contact information and sign up for ministries. For our first-time guests, the card is Brighton First's initial connection. We receive contact information and guests indicate their interests.

One great benefit of the Connection Cards is that regular attenders and those new to the church have the opportunity to indicate their interest in baptism, church membership and/or "knowing more about Jesus." Several baptisms in 2016 and 2017 were initiated through comments on the Connection Cards. The 15 invitations sent for Brighton First's summer membership class went to those who indicated an interest on their Connection Cards. The is true for membership classes last fall and this spring.

Since we began using the Connection Cards one year ago, I have been delighted to have the opportunity to sit with people, the majority new to Brighton First, and talk about Jesus. I am privileged to journey with people who are working to connect faith in Jesus Christ to their daily lives.

This last week I met at a coffee shop with a new attender and had the opportunity to hear how this person's life came to intersect with the faith community at Brighton. Why? Because the person worshipped at Brighton First and indicated on the Connection Card a desire to know more about Jesus.

It's surprising to think that a small act on Sunday morning, filling out a Connection Card, could be a step in bringing people into relationship with Jesus Christ.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Knowing Your Gifts

Pauline's Spiritual Gifts are Administration,
Leadership and Mercy
Recently, I was talking with Pauline. She is a member of our United Methodist Women (UMW) Group and she is leading a big project this fall. Our UMW is hosting a state-wide meeting of United Methodist Women at Brighton First. She will be leading a team from our church who will plan hospitality, meals and logistics. By the time of the event over 100 people will be serving to make this event an inspirational experience for over 400 attendees.

Pauline was telling me about preliminary planning when a comment she made caught my attention. She said that it is a good thing she has the spiritual gifts for this kind of work: administration, leadership and mercy.

I was struck by Pauline's personal spiritual insight. She is aware of her spiritual gifts and has found a way to use them in the service of Jesus Christ. At Brighton First, we have been emphasizing knowledge of our spiritual gifts for two years. Pauline, like other members of our faith community, has been encouraged to step out in ministries that match her gifts, skills and interest.

According to Scripture, God has given each of us gifts for service in the world. "We have different gifts according to the grace given to each of us." (Romans 12:6b) Various gifts are evident from one person to another, and that diversity of gifts allows for God's work to be done in diverse ways.

Not everyone has the gifts of teaching, helping, praying, offering mercy or sharing wisdom. The beauty of the Body of Christ, the Church, is that when people come together to use their God-given gifts remarkable things can happen in Jesus' name.

You are most likely aware of skills you have developed over the years. You may also be very clear about your interests and passions. Do you know your top spiritual gifts? If you have not had the opportunity to take a spiritual gift assessment, click here for an online option. (You will need to create a user name and password.) We also have spiritual gift assessment booklets available at Brighton First.