I have heard that some time in the past, before my arrival at Paris Presbyterian Church, there was some friendly banter (or not-so-friendly banter?) between members of our church and First United Methodist Church about which church was established first, making it the oldest church in town. Our official history book lists our founding date as November 6, 1824. Yes, November of next year will be our 200th birthday!
As readers of the Prairie Press know, First Methodist held its 200th birthday celebration on May 21, 2023. The article included some history on its earliest days.
I write this letter not to re-ignite a controversy about who was first, but to call attention to how similar our early histories were. From our history:
“In a meeting held at the school house in Paris, Illinois November 6, 1824, 12 people were by prayer solemnly constituted into a church, The Presbyterian Church of Paris . . . Until 1834 the church was without a building, worshipping in the court house, school house, in private homes, or in a grove of black walnuts. . . The first church building, a plain brick structure, was erected in 1834, on East Washington Street.”
And from the article on First Methodist history:
“The village of Paris in 1823 was small with only eight log cabins. Seven men gathered in one of those cabins, and formally organized the first Methodist Episcopal Church . . . For 14 years the church met in the homes of church members . . . The first church building, a small brick church, was erected in 1837, on East Wood Street.”
Two congregations with similar humble beginnings, which over the years grew into large congregations, serving their community with many forms of ministry for 200 years now! Let’s all, Presbyterians and Methodists, congratulate each other on that fine history.
The lovely Easter flowers were given in Memory or Honor of:
- In Memory of Reva & Harry Benefiel; George, Glenna, and
Rick, & Jim Veith from Steve and Debbie Benefiel
- In Memory of Mr. & Mrs. Donald R. Ewart; Sue Ann Ewart Peters; Mr. Glen Brower; & Mrs. Arthur Benson; and Mr. & Mrs. Dwight Parkinson from Jerry and Mabel Benson
- In Honor of ALL my family (parents, child, extended family, pets, and close friends)
from Lisa McCollough
- In Memory of Lloyd & Frances S. Lindsey, J. David Lindsey, and Elmer
& Alice Bergdolt and In Honor of Todd, Stephanie, Brae & Ethan Bergdolt, and Lisa & Mellie McCollough
from Barbara & Terry Bergdolt
- In Memory of our parents Charles & Gen Willis and Gloria & Bill Hebermehl from Tom and Joanna Hebermehl
- In Memory of Wayne & Lois Jones and Hugh & Lois Cross from Larry & Carol Jones
- In Honor of Jesus
from Kevin and Jeanette Levellie
- In Honor of church staff Susan Farris, Jeanette Levellie, and Dale Thomas
from Rev. Laurie Williams & Rev. Rodger Allen
- In Memory of our parents, Jim & Dona Baumann and Jack & Ruth Etta Howrey from Jani & Robert Howrey
- In Memory of Evelyn &. Kenneth Griffin, Orris & Marjorie Kimball , and Stephanie and Melany Kimball from Alvin & Juanita Kimball
- In Memory of our parents, Elizabeth & Donald Feutz and Bettie & John R. Blair, Jr.
from Jane & Steve Blair
- In Memory of Rev. Curtis & Laverne Eaker from Beth and Paul Ruff
- In Memory of Dr. Jim Acklin from Sally & Betsy Acklin
- In Memory of Lloyd & Frances S. Lindsey, David Lindsey, and Russell & Genevieve Gough
from Ken Gough Family
- In memory of Bill Anthony and Florence Piper From Tony & Debra Anthony and Ruth Anthony
THE CHRISTIAN CALENDAR
The seven-week season of Easter runs through May 27. May 28 will mark our return to the season of “ordinary time”:
May 28 – Pentecost. According to Acts 2, it was fifty days after Good Friday (or May 28 this year) that God gave the gift of the Holy Spirit to empower the witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection. This same Spirit is offered to all his disciples, giving us visions of hope, freeing us to serve our neighbors, setting us to love one another. Therefore, on the Day of Pentecost, we celebrate God’s gift of the Holy Spirit, which enables us to observe and proclaim all that God has done and is doing for us, and all people. The first Pentecost is sometimes called “the birthday of the Christian Church.” Some people celebrate by wearing red, symbolizing the tongues of fire mentioned in Acts 2. We will also celebrate the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper on May 28.
Trinity Sunday, June 4 – The Sunday after Pentecost each year is Trinity Sunday. It is an annual reminder of the threefold nature of God, so that we will not neglect any of the three persons – Father, Son, or Holy Spirit – or focus on one to the exclusion of the others.
SUNDAY, MAY 14:
We celebrated “Mother’s Day/Celebrate the Gifts of Women Sunday,” to express gratitude for all the gifts that mothers and all women bring to the church. We hope the women enjoyed the gift we had for each one in attendance.
SUNDAY, JUNE 18
We will expand the “Father’s Day” holiday a little, and also celebrate “Men of the Church Day,” expressing our appreciation for all the gifts that all men bring to the church.
SANCTUARY CHOIR NEWS
The choir enjoyed two vacation Sundays in May – surprise! On May 14 we enjoyed a performance by Chandler Dorjahn, oboist extraordinaire. On May 21, Barbara Dick sang a solo accompanied by Kathy Peel, who handled all the keyboard duties that day in Susan’s absence.
The choir will return to the loft on Pentecost Sunday, May 28, and will continue to sing through June – maybe through July 2 if we’re lucky.
We will do our part to make each service special in a musical way; we hope you will do your part to make each service special by coming, singing, listening, and worshiping. We know it’s vacation time; let’s consider our Sunday worship time our vacation from the rest of the week! –Susan
NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER
The National Day of Prayer is the first Thursday of every May. For this year’s observance, the Paris Ministerial Fellowship returned to the breakfast-and-prayer format of pre-covid times. Betty Jane’s Kitchen provided a bountiful hot breakfast buffet; and the organizers were very pleased with the over 70 people in attendance, from several churches and several local employers. Pastors Jack Hoffman, Nate Alexander, and Deborah McClarey spoke briefly or led in prayer. Jeanette and Kevin Levellie were the music leaders.
As described in “The Christian Calendar” article in this newsletter, May 28 is the day of Pentecost, often considered to be the “birthday of the Christian Church” because of Acts 2: 41-42.
May 28 will also be the main collection date for the Pentecost Offering, one of the four special offerings of the Presbyterian Church USA. This offering is divided between programs which help children and youth at risk (poverty, schools, medical concerns) and programs which provide Christian education to children and youth (church camps, regional youth gatherings). Each congregation is to retain 40% of its offering, to go to one of its ministries with children or youth.
This year “our” 40% will go to support Jeanette Levellie’s August mission trip to a Christian school in Uganda. Many of the students who attend are orphans.
2 Barbara Palmer
4 James Feutz
10 Jared Trogdon
11 Brianna Blair
12 Larry Jones
14 Mary Anna Ludington
15 Betty Piper
16 Sara McCrocklin
17 Adam Clawson
19 Sam Roberts
Jenni Trogdon McKay
24 Scott Lindsey
27 Ross Penczek
19 Ken & Liz Gough
25 Jeff & Sarah Penczek
29 Brian & Tami O’Bannon
2 Gareth Blair
4 Scott Blair
5 Tony Grimes, Jr.
7 Susan Farris
9 Sheryl Clark
10 Johnathon Franklin
11 Paul Koehler
14 Tom Ballard
17 Paul Ruff
19 Mabel Benson
21 Beth Ruff
23 Stephanie Benefiel
24 Krayton Trogdon
25 Steve Benefiel
26 Barbara Bergdolt
15 Tom & Joanna Hebermehl
18 Terry & Barbara Bergdolt
19 Alan & Christie Russell
Robert & Alice Sprague
23 Steve & Debbie Benefiel
Tom & Lou Ballard
28 Steve & Jane Blair
30 Brian & Jessica Blair
VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL
Planning is underway for the cooperative Paris Methodist and Presbyterian Churches Vacation Bible School. Dates have been set, for the evenings of July 16 through 20, and the location this year will be Otterbein Methodist Church. Please let your young friends know – age 3 through entering 6th grade. And we will be looking for volunteers to help with VBS. “Our night” to provide the dinner and lesson will be Tuesday, July 18.
The next planning meeting will be Thursday, June 15 at 5:30, at Otterbein, if you would like to attend.
CAN YOU HELP?
Our February election of officers left us with one opening on Session. It can be for a one, two, or three year term. If you can fill that for us, please contact Steve Benefiel, Carolyn Brown Hodge, or Rodger Allen.
CHURCH FAMILY OF THE WEEK
Our “Church Family of the Week” program gives us a chance to lift up a different family (group or individual) of our congregation each week, include them in our daily prayer for our families and friends, and to send cards or greetings or in some other way to let them know we are glad they are part of our church family. The “Church Family of the Week” is listed in our Sunday bulletins. If you missed one or more of those recent announcements, I’ll bet those families wouldn’t mind if you prayed for them this week. Those recently listed are:
Laurie Williams & Rodger Allen
105 Janice Ave., Paris
Tom & Joanna Hebermehl
119 Allenwood Dr., Paris
Lisa & Mellie McCollough
Lisa: 107 Forrest Ave., Paris
Mellie: 810 Commons Circle SW,
Unite 953, Mt. Vernon, IA
Carolyn & Jeff Hodge
72211 N. 1800th St., Paris
Excerpts from thank you notes received in the last couple months:
“Thank you for your continued support to those in need here in Edgar County. We are all blessed to have such kind and helping folks like all of you in
-Edgar County Salvation Army Board”
Card on bulletin board from Thursday morning Bible Study Fellowship, as they wrap up their “school year”: “Thank you all for allowing us to use your beautiful church!”
“Dear Presbyterian congregants,
Thank you for the opportunity to share the Word of God with you in the absence of your pastor (April 30). Your friendliness and receptivity to our ministry was appreciated, and it was good to speak to your congregation, many of whom we have known for as long as three decades.” – Jack and Jill Hoffman”
“The four churchwide PCUSA Special Offerings – One Great Hour of Sharing, Pentecost, Peace and Global Witness, and Christmas Joy – draw us together as a church, and place us in relationship with those who are hungry, thirsty, and imprisoned. Thank you for your tremendous generosity, and for your energy, intelligence, imagination, and love.”
“Please convey our appreciation to your Mission committee, pastor, session, and congregation for your faithful support of our PCUSA Mission personnel. We are blessed by your gifts to continue God’s work through us” (our gift was in honor of mission workers Jonathan and Emily Seitz)
NEWS FROM SESSION:
Business at the last meeting of the church Session included:
- Opening devotions as always (thank you this month to Carol J.) and closing prayer time
- Review of the monthly treasurer’s report (thank you, Susan F and Steve B): Giving through April is ahead of 2022, and expenses are in line with budget
- Consideration of opportunities to help a couple neighbors financially with projects
- News that the Ice Cream Social might return this summer!
- Setting the next meeting for June 15, 5:00- 6:00
One of this month’s thank you notes expressed appreciation for our participation in all four of the annual PCUSA special offerings. A separate mailing listed how much was given to each offering by all PCUSA congregations (the Pentecost and Peace Offerings only include the amount sent to the national church, not the amounts retained by congregations and presbyteries for local ministries):
Christmas Joy $2.64 million
One Great Hour of Sharing $7.11 million
Pentecost $760, 000
Peace & Global Witness $811,000
If you used the entrance to the church from the back alley to the offices in early May, you might have been “yelled at” by a robin who built a nest above our door. Three babies hatched on about May 10, and flew off to start their new lives on about May 16. A quote from Psalm 84, in praise of the Hebrew people’s church building: “Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts… Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise.”
Please remember to be in touch with the member and friends of Paris Presbyterian Church who are at least temporarily unable to join us for worship:
Bob and Alice Sprague
Horizon Health, Room 124
721 E. Court St., Paris
Mary (“Mike”) Craun
109 Janice Ave., Paris
Twin Lakes Rehab & Health Care
310 S. Eads Ave., Paris
Twin Lakes Rehab and Health Care
310 S. Eads Ave., Paris
Mary Anna Ludington
520 E. Madison Ave., Paris
18093 E. 400th Rd., Paris
On Super Bowl Sunday, we participated in the “Souper Bowl of Caring” and raised some funds for the Edgar County Food Pantry. An update in the national “Souper Bowl” statistics arrived this week: 2603 groups participated, raising over $3.85 million for 2566 food ministries.
FROM “OUR” MISSION FAMILY
The Spring newsletter from Jonathan and Emily Seitz, mission co-workers serving in Taiwan, is on the bulletin board. Excerpts:
Prayer is central to the Christian faith. It’s common to pray before meals and in worship, during times of adversity, in gratitude for what God has done, or when seeking guidance. In Taiwan there are several prayer-related groups, some international and some local. This year, Taiwan is the country being prayed for by the World Day of Prayer, a movement led by Christian lay women (worlddayofprayer.net).
“This semester, Jonathan is teaching two classes where prayer is a major focus. One is a world Christianity class where we talk about things like the growth of the charismatic movement, the relatively recent arrival of “open-mouthed prayer” in Taiwan – the type where a congregation will pray independently out loud together…
“It feels appropriate to end with a request for prayer: for students as they rush through the spring semester; for our work on our itinerary for summer church visits; for PCUSA World Mission and the Presbyterian Mission Agency. . . Amen. – Emily and Jonathan”