We are once again collecting coats, gloves, scarves, and winter hats to hand out to those in our community who will need them as the weather gets colder. All items should be clean, fully functional and ready to wear. You can drop off your donations in the Fellowship Hall and hang them on the coat rack or place them on the nearby table. Contact Pastor Phil for more info or to make a financial donation to this ministry!

First UMC is now offering multiple opportunities to engage with our community and educate ourselves on issues of racial inequality and injustice. Please review the information below and prayerfully consider your involvement in the activities, events, programs, and educational opportunities that are provided. It is our hope to keep this page updated with events, opportunities, and information that best facilitate our mission in transforming the world through making disciples of Jesus Christ. Please contact Katy Brandt, our Bridging the Gap Coordinator, with any suggestions, updates, or corrections. 

This livestreamed National Call to Conscience includes a sermon by Rev. William Barber and a call to action by local clergy in Charlottesville, VA, inviting faith communities around the country to join us in rejecting the evil ideology of white nationalism.To read and sign this letter please click here: https://action.groundswell-mvmt.org/petitions/national-call-to-conscience


Racial Justice

United Methodists experience and observe racism regularly.

Sometimes it is overt, like the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, August 11-12, 2017, when Heather Heyer was killed and 19 others injured when a white supremacist intentionally struck them with his car.

Other times, it is more subtle. A nasty comment from a coworker or an assumption that crosses our mind and grieves our heart.

Those in the United States live in a culture permeated with racial bias. We may not be able to avoid racism, but we don’t have to accept it. If God’s kingdom is to come, and God’s will is to be done on earth as it is in heaven, things need to change.

We can be the agents of that transformation by changing our beliefs, changing our actions, and working to change the world.**

Changing Beliefs About Race

Becoming an agent of transformation includes focusing within ourselves. We need to allow God to shape our inner thoughts and attitudes toward race.

  • Pray – Changing our beliefs begins with prayer, which “is foundational to everything we do as Christians,” writes Katelin Hansen, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Training, at the United Methodist Church and Community Development for All People. In addition to prayers for events of racial injustice in the news and your life, pray for God to change your heart and attitudes. Hansen offers a sample prayer:

Triune God, help us be ever faithful to your example: affirming of our unique identities, while remaining unified as one body in you. Help us seek out the voices that are missing, and empower the marginalized. Let our witness of repentance, justice, and reconciliation bring glory to You, O Lord.

  • Broaden your education – It is important to include more voices in your learning. The internet is a great resource to find authors and thinkers whose racial and cultural backgrounds differ from your own. In a video produced by the General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR) Hansen shares, “I turned to the digital world to continue my racial education, to serve as the professors of justice and theology that I never had.”
  • Seek new relationships – There is no substitute for sharing consistent, ongoing, authentic relationships with people of color. Developing those relationships may mean moving out of your comfort zone. Hansen and her husband became members of a multi-race and multi-class church. “We joined out of a belief that isolating ourselves among believers of similar backgrounds just deprives our own souls of God’s majesty,” she says in the GCORR video. Forming authentic relationships takes time. Don’t rush it.

Changing Behavior

We live out our changing beliefs through changes in behavior. Through some bigger steps we begin to act on what we believe about race.

  • Empower leadersUse your resources to promote and equip leaders of color. Then, be willing to follow. Listen and act on opinions, activities, and points of view different from your own.
  • Show up – “At the guidance and invitation of leaders of color,” Hansen writes, “show up when called upon.” As we come together for conversations and deomonstrations, we build a culture of justice in our community and model multi-cultural love and understanding.
  • Spend responsibly – Support racial equality through your shopping and donations. Shop at local markets owned by people of color. Donate to charities and ministries led by and supporting those of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.
  • Examine your media intake – Expand your social media follows and news sites to include voices and opinions different from your own. For big stories, be sure to consult multiple sources from a variety of points of view. Don’t rely on just one when you form an opinion. Consider your entertainment choices also. Be aware of the movies, music, and television shows you consume that promote equality, and those that present a bias. Listen to more voices and remain aware of how they are shaping you.

Changing Society

Author and professor Robin DiAngelo reminds us in a Vital Conversations video from GCORR, racism is “group prejudice backed up by institutional power.” Therefore, to take a stand against racism we cannot simply change our own beliefs and behaviors. We must also work to change the world.

  • Advocate – Written and unwritten policies in our neighborhoods, workplaces, churches, schools, and nation disadvantage certain ethnicities. Learn from the people of color in your neighborhood about the ways they feel disadvantaged and find ways to participate in changing those systems.
  • Sponsor – People of color sometimes struggle to access public services, opportunities, and more. Use your money, gifts, and sphere of influence to make a difference. Sponsor friends and coworkers who need assistance to attend a career seminar. Encourage and lead your congregation toward creating programs like a Freedom School. Invest in people and programs that work toward racial justice.
  • Take a risk – Meaningful change requires risk. Sometimes we will put our reputations, money, and leadership opportunities on the line. Shaping our society and institutions to reflect more fully the kingdom of God will not always be appreciated. We must be willing to risk the loss.

Changing beliefs, changing behavior, and changing society are long processes that may never be complete. We must continue, however, to work for change in all three areas as God calls us.

“These steps aren’t so much a progression as they are a cycle,” Hansen concludes. “Advocacy without relationship is empty. Education without changed behavior is hollow. Sponsorship without humility and trust is misguided.”

What steps will you take to participate in God's transformational work of moving our society toward racial equality? To find resources about how The United Methodist Church is working toward racial justice visit umc.org/EmbraceLove.

This information was taken from an umc.org feature article written by Joe Iovino*
August 15, 2017

*Joe Iovino works for UMC.org at United Methodist Communications. Contact him by email or at 615-312-3733.

**Special thanks to Katelin Hansen for this framework from her blog By Their Strange Fruit. Used with her permission. Hansen is the Director of Strategic Initiatives and Training, at the United Methodist Church and Community Development for All People, a multiracial congregation in Columbus, Ohio.

First UMC serves the greater community on the East Coast and internationally, through short-term and recurring missions, including Appalachia Service Project, Friends of Ft. Liberte Mission, and Stop Hunger Now.

First UMC members serve in the Charlottesville community in a wide variety of ways, but we are always looking for new ways to demonstrate the hospitality, love, and grace of Jesus Christ. If you have any new ideas about how we can better serve our community please contact Pastor Phil Woodson, Associate Pastor for Outreach and Witness!

Adult classes and programs – Bible study, Sunday school, fellowship groups, small home groups. Being with others through study, small groups, and service is how we connect with others in the church where friendships and support systems grow. Check the Sunday bulletin, information kiosks, and the Focus newsletter for current information.
Men's Programs
  • UMM – United Methodist Men have breakfasts and programs on Saturdays during the year
  • Men Who Shop – contribute to supporting programs like VBS, mission, and special programs
Women’s Programs
  • Bible Study
  • Last Thursday Lunch or "LTL" - meets at a different restaurant the last Thursday of each month
  • Annual Retreat – overnight retreat in the fall

Adult Programs

  • Sunday School groups
To volunteer or request more information please contact Carolyn McGee, our Spiritual Life Coordinator
Youth participate in Sunday school and Sunday evening activities of study, service, fellowship and mission. Adults are needed and welcomed as chaperones and mentors.
  • Sunday School Teachers - There are two youth Sunday school classes, 6th-8th grade and 9th-12th grade. A teacher or two is needed for each class and curriculum is provided.
  • Youth Group Helpers - Helpers are needed for Sunday nights from 5-7pm during Youth Group. Helpers facilitate games, lead small group discussions, and more.
  • Confirmation Mentors - Confirmation is currently held every other year and each confirmand is paired with an adult mentor. Mentors provide fellowship and guidance as the youth take this next step in their faith journey.
  • Special Event Chaperones - Adult chaperones are needed for outings, lock-ins, retreats, and to work alongside youth in service opportunities including Appalachian Service Project (ASP).
To volunteer or request more information, please contact Alex Erwine, our Director of Discipleship for Youth & Children.
Pastoral Care – we care for our congregation in many ways, directly and indirectly
  • Homebound Visitors – visit people that can’t get out to come to church
  • Prayer Teams – pray from home the prayers that people share on Sunday mornings or Wednesday evenings and special prayer requests submitted to the church
  • Stephen Ministry – be a care giver to someone in need of a person to walk through a time in life when they need help. Church provides required training.

To volunteer or request more information about volunteering, contact Rev. Al Horton, Senior Pastor.

Nurture groups care for others in the church through education, programs, and caring ministries.
  • Homebound communion – take communion to homebound members, instruction and equipment provided
  • Letter Writers – write cards to two homebound people each month
  • Martha Ministry – meals for families that are experiencing a difficult time
  • Nurture Team – help plan church activities to nurture the congregation
  • Shepherd Ministry - individuals volunteering as shepherds have a group that they touch base with periodically
  • Christmas Luncheon or Dinner - plan an annual meal, held during Advent, as an opportunity for fellowship for the whole congregation
To volunteer or request more information, contact Paige Lindblom, Nurture Team Chair.
Technology – all worship services use PowerPoint presentations and some video requiring someone to sit at a computer and advance slides or start videos. Some services use a sound board and need someone to monitor and adjust microphone volumes during the service. Training is provided. 
  • 8:30 am service
  • 9:45 am service
  • 11:00 am service
To volunteer or request more information, contact Tim Williams.
  • Administrative tasks – regular “shifts” in the office to handle phone calls and help with small tasks
  • Office reception – answer the phone, take messages
  • Church mailings – periodic mailings require many hands to fold, seal, or stuff envelopes
To volunteer or request more information, contact Kathy Berkeley, Administrative Assistant.

Music Ministries


Behind the scenes or actively participating. Worship services have many elements of preparation and direct assistance; singing, reading scripture, playing an instrument, ushering, or helping serve communion.
  • Singing (celebration singers at 8:30 service or chancel choir at 11:00 service)
  • Scripture readers (at each service)
  • Communion Stewards (Prepare the communion elements, bread and juice, for any of the three services. )
  • Communion Helpers (Assist in serving communion at any of the three services. You will be given instructions before you serve.)
  • Instrumentalist (Share your musical talents in the 9:45 band or provide special music at any of the services.)
  • Acolytes (8:30 & 11:00 service. Children and youth are invited to participate as acolytes by lighting and extinguishing the altar candles.)
  • Usher (11:00 service, assist people find a seat, help collect offering, and usher for communion)

To volunteer or request more information about volunteering with worship, contact Ann Shaffer, Worship Team Chair.


We are a growing community!  There are many ways to get involved within First UMC.