Pastor's Note

Results filtered by “Chris Abel”

January 23, 2021

It’s already 2021. Can you believe it? I'm still getting used to it. SO MUCH has happened this last year! I’ve been thinking about how different my life looks compared to this time a year ago and while there were some tough times, there were a lot of good times, too. Here are just a few of my personal memories.
  • Someone actually married me! And my crazy plan to have our wedding in Beth’s parents’ back yard actually worked!
  • We got a second miniature dachshund and named her Winnie. She’s already bigger than our little man, Reeses. (I guess “miniature” is relative?) 
  • I bought a 1969 trailer, tore it apart, and am rebuilding it. Definitely a story to tell the kids someday.
2020 was also an important year for our church… even in a pandemic. When I came to First UMC a year and a half ago, I prayed God would use us for something bigger than ourselves. And even though it’s had more challenges than I ever could have imagined, here are a few things God did this past year.
  • We took a leap to provide a free Drive-thru Christmas Nativity… in the middle of a pandemic… in the freezing cold… and 1600 people came to hear the Christmas story! (That’s almost double our Christmas Eve service last year!)
  • We restructured our staff in order to bring on two key leaders who will help us take our next step as a church: Our Next Gen Director, Mona Candea, and our Associate Pastor, Andrew Nelson.
  • We made hundreds of masks for first responders, wrote letters of encouragement to local teachers, provided hundreds of donuts for hospital workers, and provided Easter baskets for the local fire stations.
  • We gave our biggest Christmas Eve offering EVER—$41,000—that will provide mobile health clinics to make a difference in people’s lives through the Mozambique Initiative. 
  • New people from around the country have begun worshipping with us online. Wow.
And these are only a snapshot of the way God has been faithful to our church this last year! People are being impacted by your involvement and generosity, even in a year with obstacles and challenges like we’ve never seen. And God isn't done with us yet!
If you’ve given in the past, or are a member of the church, you hopefully received a letter and “estimated giving” card this week. We can’t see the ways God will continue to work through our church this coming year, but your planned generosity allows us to plan for what could happen this year! If you didn’t receive a card or would like to join our faithful crew of financial supporters, just comment or respond to this e-mail and we’ll make sure you receive a card (or visit to submit one digitally). I am so grateful for the way God has moved through you, and so glad we get to do this together. 
Posted by Chris Abel

November 6

As I’m writing this, we’re still waiting to hear the final results of the election and it feels like people have been on pins and needles for days. (Or years!) The increased anxiety I see in my friends and society at large has made my heart heavy. And not just from the election. I’ve been thinking of those who have suffered through (necessary) restrictions and isolation these last six months, and how far from “healthy” we all seem. It’s just been a long year. 
So when we were planning our upcoming sermon series for the rest of November, I posed the question, “What will help people the most?” 
Our answer?
Helping people. 
You might be thinking, “yeah, Chris, you just said that. You want to help people.” But what I mean is this: We want to help people by helping people help people. 
You might be skeptical… but this actually works. And not only is it a religious concept… it’s one that’s backed by science. According to the Templeton Foundation, one survey “found that spending money on other people was associated with significantly greater happiness, regardless of income; conversely, there was no association between spending on oneself and happiness.”
Now this challenges my personal worldview because I really think a new Amazon package at the door brings me happiness. But the truth is, we find happiness, ironically, not when we’re trying to make ourselves happy… but when we’re trying to bring happiness to others. 
So for the rest of November, our goal is to help you think about how to help others. Learning how to help someone else might be the smartest thing you can do for yourself.
Hope to “see” you online or in-person this Sunday as we kick-start this important topic!
P.S. We’ll be introducing our new Next Gen Director, Mona Candea this weekend. If you haven’t sent her a welcome note yet, you can reach Mona at  . Drop her a line!
P.P.S. If you’ve been around the church and looking to take your “Next Step,” join us online or in-person for our Next Steps class next Sunday! This is for people who: Want to become a member, join a Sunday school class or small group, find a place to help out, and/or learn more about what we believe as a church! Details below in this newsletter :)
Posted by Chris Abel

Oct 22, 2020

I called someone from our church recently and the subject shifted away from our original topic to how our church has been impacted by Covid-19. He was generally really pleased with how we’ve adapted, but then made a comment that made me pause. “It’s really a shame that this pandemic has killed the momentum you were building.”
And I can completely understand why he’d say that! For all intents and purposes, churches are just as reliant on crowds as... movie theaters. And I don’t know about you, but I haven’t been back to theaters yet. 
So you might be surprised by this, but I honestly haven’t felt like we’ve lost momentum! In fact, for the last 6 months I’ve been working with our leadership council and staff and dreaming about 2021 and what God will do through our church in this next year. We’ve come up with some ambitious and God-sized goals through 2025, and I can’t wait for us to talk about it! But we’re not just waiting for a new year for God to do something at First UMC. Andrew Nelson has come on staff as the first full-time associate pastor we’ve had since Choong-Ho Kwon left in 2015. We just hired a Next-Gen director, Mona Candea, to lead our kids and youth ministries. We’ve updated our A/V equipment to share church online for years to come. And there have been countless ways we’ve still been able to adapt and serve in this time. 
If anything, this season has felt like an opportunity to prepare for where God is bringing us—Which is why I’m so excited as we begin to gather together again for worship! It’s not that being in the sanctuary is somehow more special than watching church from the couch, it’s just been a reminder that our church family is still here and still cares. And I am beginning to like these elbow-bumps...
That being said, I want to make sure you know what to expected moving forward now that we’ve resumed in-person worship!
Here are the details:
  1. Beginning THIS SUNDAY, We’ll be offering live online and in-person services at 9:00am (contemporary) and 11:00am (traditional) every Sunday, with First Kids being offered at the 9am service. Masks are required and seating has been moved to provide social distancing. 
  2. If you’re part of a Sunday school class, talk to your class leader about whether or not your class will be meeting in-person with social distancing, or online through zoom. 
  3. We’re asking people to let us know you’ll physically be coming to church by registering your attendance ahead of time at 
I am SO excited for our momentum as a church and can’t wait to see where God brings us. “See” you Sunday as we continue our series on faith and politics! 
P.S. we’ve still got some spots lined up for you and/or your family to serve our community during Serve Day! Help us make a difference in just 4 hours this Saturday. Claim your spot at (“Uplift” still has 10 spots and is kid-friendly!)
Posted by Chris Abel