First Things First!
A weekly E-newsletter from
The First Church in Oberlin, United Church of Christ
An open and affirming, Just Peace, Green Justice, Global Mission Congregation

No matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here!

Flooring work will begin at First Church on Wednesday, September 16th. Work done will include stripping, removal of tiles, asbestos work and more. 

The church building will NOT BE ACCESSIBLE to anyone but staff. Staff will be available via email and phone. Staff will also be able to work some days in the building, however, there will be days when we must work remote during this project. 

The project will begin on Wednesday, September 16th and the bulk of the work will possibly continue THROUGH THE END OF THE MONTH. 

We realize this may be an inconvenience for folks at this time. 
The Facilities Committee and volunteers have worked extremely hard to coordinate building projects and we appreciate all their time and effort. 

We can all look forward to a date in the near future when all the work is finally completed - there will be new spaces to enjoy for the benefit of all First Church members, staff and the community. 

Thank you. 

David T. Hill

Jen Bertoni, Director of Faith Formation

Diana Pierson, Office Manager

Office Phone: (440) 775-1711
Worship Resources
Worship with Us!
Sundays at 10am
via Facebook

No matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome in this United Church of Christ congregation. We invite you to become a part of our community of faith, to grow spiritually, to encounter God’s inclusive and effusive grace in worship and fellowship, and to work and witness for greater justice and peace in our world.
Holy Communion is celebrated on the first Sunday of each month.
Thank you for your faithful and ongoing fulfillment of pledges, special gifts, and generous donations to First Church. We are truly appreciative of your steadfast support. 
Announcements and Events
The Church Office will be closed on FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 18th.
Sunday School Started September 13th!
You can still get involved!

  • Kids in grades K-4 will meet Sundays at 9 am via Zoom.

  • Kids in grades 6-12 will meet Sundays at 7 pm via Zoom ("Hot Topic" current event discussions for the older youth will still happen on the 4th Sunday in this time slot.)

  • Students in 5th grade may attend either class - or both!

Classes will last about a half-hour and will be recorded if only one adult is present on the Zoom meeting. Families should have received a box with supplies needed for the month of September, plus a few surprises to celebrate the beginning of the school year. 

If you would like your child(ren) involved in Sunday School, please email Jen Bertoni, Director of Faith Formation, for the Zoom invitations and links.

Our Sunday School teachers this year are: Rebecca Bandy, Marleen Caldwell, Kris Carter, Jessica Dakos, and Val Kepner. Thanks so much for your commitment to our youth! 
Adult Education Starts September 24th
For Adult Education this fall, we'll be reading Ibram X. Kendi's book, How to be an Anti-Racist. Kendi interweaves the history of racism with his own personal history to create an informative, engaging, and deeply moving book. We hope you will join us in our study of the book.
We will be meeting weekly on Thursdays at 10am via Zoom. Click on the link below to get connected! You will need to register for the class the first time you attend via zoom. Please email Jen Bertoni, Director of Faith Formation with any questions.  
Youth Hangout
Friday, September 25th at 7pm
via ZOOM
Call the office at (440) 775-1711 or Jen's cell at (440) 370-2476 and we'll make sure you get the link! 
Story Time
Wednesday, September 16th
at noon via ZOOM

Gather your kids (adults also welcome) and join the adventure!

Call the office at (440) 775-1711 or Jen's cell at (440) 370-2476 for the Zoom ID.
The Outreach and Service Committee is looking for one more volunteer to serve!

The responsibilities of the committee are as follows:

The Outreach and Service Committee shall be responsible for challenging the Congregation to act to meet the needs of persons in our community and society at large. The Outreach and Service Committee shall inform the Congregation of needs, opportunities, and developments in the broader community, including denominational issues and matters of world concern. The Outreach and Service Committee shall promote peace and justice locally and globally through social action and benevolence.

If you would like to volunteer, please be in contact with Karla Sanderson, Nominating Chair, via EMAIL.
First Church Book Group
First Church's Book Group is also reading Kendi's book, How to Be an Anti-Racist, and invites any and all who are interested to join their discussions via Zoom. The discussions for Kendi's book will begin on Tuesday, September 22.
Book Group meets on each Tuesdays at 4pm. For Tuesday, September 15th, we will be continuing our discussion of recapping an event from the summer that inspired us.

Please call Marci Peterson at (440) 774-3118 to receive the Zoom invitation or if you have questions.

All are welcome.

Dear Friends, 

The Immigration Task Force of Forest Hill Church Presbyterian is offering an Education Forum on Immigration: History and Current Issues on Tuesday, September 29. 7-8:30 pm. 

Brian J. Hoffman, Esq., Executive Director of OCSILiO: The Center for Strategic Immigration Litigation & Outreach will speak on current immigration issues, and John Flores, PhD. immigration historian and author of 'The Mexican Revolution in Chicago' University of Illinois Press, 2018, will join him, speaking on the history of immigration in the U.S. 

Both Brian Hoffman and John Flores have extensive experience in their respective areas and are known to be engaging speakers on these topics.  

Register by Sunday, September 27.

Sharon Shumaker, FHC Immigration Task Force
Dear First Church Family and Friends,

Last week we shared with everyone the news that we need to raise $65,000 to cover the costs associated with three unexpected facility projects: replacing the steam line that connects First Church facilities to the Oberlin College underground steam pipes, repairing the Bell Choir Steps entrance to the Meeting House, and installing a new roof on the James Brandt House.

You may also recall we've raised $5,000 toward this project, along with a commitment from another donor to give $30,000 toward these costs, provided that First Church members can raise a matching amount.

By now you should have received a mailing from the Finance Committee and Campaign Committee that includes a printed brochure describing the many infrastructure changes that have been completed at First Church over the past year. The brochure also talks about this new matching gift campaign and lays out the various options for people who want to participate in this effort. If you have not received this mailing yet, please contact the First Church office by phone or email and we'll be sure to get a packet to you right away. Our goal is to complete the match with new gifts and pledges by the end of September.

Because most people have just received this information in their mail boxes, we don't have a report to share on any gifts/pledges received so far, but we will provide that information to you in the very near future.

Many thanks to everyone for considering this request. Again, please contact the church office if you have any questions and someone will get back to you shortly.

Bill Barlow, Co-Chair
Capital Campaign Committee
The Neighbors in Need Offering will take place on Sunday, October 4th.

If you donate through Vanco or the online giving portal, please use the section for Special Offerings - Neighbors in Need. If you mail a check to the church, please memo the check for NIN, or Neighbors in Need.

Thank you.
The Outreach and Service Committee
Neighbors in Need Offering
Neighbors in Need is  a special mission offering of the UCC that supports ministries of justice and compassion throughout the United States.

One-third of NIN funds support the Council for American Indian Ministry. Two-thirds of this offering is used by the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries to support a variety of justice initiatives, advocacy efforts, and direct service projects through grants.

Neighbors in Need grants are awarded to UCC churches and organizations doing justice work in their communities.

Click on the button below for more information and UCC resources regarding NIN.
Additional Links and Information
First Church Reopening Timeline

At its August 24 meeting the Executive Council had a thorough discussion about use of the First Church facility for worship and church programming as well as community, college, and conservatory activities. The Council decided, given what we know at this time that we will not return to in person worship prior to January 1, 2021. The Council then weighed the possibility of others using the building before that time and determined that there cannot be any use of the facility for any purpose prior to November 1, 2020. This decision was primarily based upon three factors:

  • It is difficult to justify opening the church facility up to the wider community when we are currently denying use of the facility to the congregation who envisioned, underwrote, and at times physically assisted with the recent renovations.

  • Construction is still underway in the building including replacing floor coverings in all hallways and new roofing for the James Brand House (building between the historic Meeting House and the Fellowship Hall). The flooring work involves some asbestos abatement and until flooring and roofing work is completed we are trying to minimize tracking of debris into newly renovated spaces.

  • Perhaps most importantly, we are concerned about the spread of COVID-19 and feel that at this time the First Church facility needs to remain closed to all but essential workers (office staff, construction workers) for both the safety of those who work within First Church as well as the wider community.

Once the flooring and roofing projects are completed (approx. Nov. 1) we will notify the congregation so that individuals and households can schedule time to tour the building and reconnect with the congregation’s sacred space.

Extending the time of building closure was a challenging decision for the Executive Council particularly given the recent renovations which were intentionally designed to address both First Church specific needs as well use of our facility by the wider community. We all miss gathering together as a congregation for worship and fellowship and are anxious to return to spaces that nourish our faith and draw us closer to God and to one another. 

Of course, should there be a significant diminishment in the danger of COVID-19 transmission the Executive Council may revisit its decision. We deeply lament the need to severely limit access to First Church but look forward to a day when we can once again open our doors to the congregation as well as the wider community and extend a warm welcome to all into our newly renovated facility.

Mike Schmid, Moderator & David Hill, Pastor

Are you interested in agriculture and improving access to local food? Curious about proper harvesting technique? Where your fresh food comes from? Do you just want to get out of the house before winter sets in? 

The Farm Field Food Rescue Program is looking for volunteers! Join our Food Rescue Associate Leah as she rescues produce that would otherwise go to waste for our Drive-Up Food Distribution. 

If you are interested in volunteering on harvest days, EMAIL us, or call our office at (440) 774-6579. Volunteers MUST contact in advance to fill out a volunteer application and coordinate times. 

For more information about the Food Rescue Program and sustainability efforts at OCS, visit our website by clicking below.
Near East School of Theology

The Near East School of Theology (NEST) is an interdenominational Protestant theological seminary serving the Evangelical churches of the Middle East and African churches. It is located in Beirut, Lebanon, a few miles from the port where the explosion took place.

NEST reports that no one was injured at the school because of the huge explosion, and while there were not many individuals in the building, those who were inside were able to escape unharmed. The damage to the building, however, is extensive. All eight floors above ground and two basements were struck by the blast. Glass windows, glass doors, glass panels inside the building, as well as many internal wood doors are now shattered.

UCC/Disciples Global Ministries can receive contributions. It is very challenging to get money to Lebanon, so donating through the UCC itself is very convenient. You may donate on-line by using the donate button on the UCC website and designating the gift for NEST Recovery in the Memo line.
First, THANK YOU for scrolling down all the way to the bottom of the weekly enews! This was a long one today but filled with great information!
First Church Trivia (Part 1)
Now for some fun! See how many trivia questions you can answer BEFORE peeking at the answers!

  1. In what year was First Church founded?
  2. What year does the capstone over the front steps read?
  3. What is the phone number to the church?
  4. On which Sunday of the month do we take communion?
  5. When was the present organ installed and who built it?

For everyone's safety and well-being:
  • Worship, meetings and events are being held virtually.
  • The church building is currently closed to the general public.
  • Face masks are required in the building.
  • Office hours are Monday - Friday, 9am - noon, and 1pm - 4pm.
  • Please call during these hours to arrange access to the building.
If you are searching for ways to become more fully engaged in the life of the church, please contact Rev. David T. Hill by calling the church office at (440) 775-1711 or sending an email the church office.
Submission information: Deadline for articles and information is Thursday at 10am. Thank you.