• Ash Wednesday — Special Pan-Methodist Service


    Published: Feb. 10, 2021

    Join us as we begin the holy season of Lent together 
with our pan-Methodist siblings from around Rochester. Preaching: REV. James Simmons – Baber AME. Live streamed at

    Churches involved: Baber African Methodist Episcopal Church, Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, New Bethel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Asbury First United Methodist Church

  • Sacred Space: A Virtual Tour of Our Sanctuary


    Published: Jan. 27, 2021

    Sundays, 9:45-10:45 am, Zoom,

    It has been too long since most of us have stepped into our sanctuary. And maybe we are having a hard time remembering it: Which window did I usually sit by? What color were the hymnals? Does “my” spot still have just the right amount of cushion?
    To help us get ready for our eventual return, we are going to spend the next three weeks touring our sanctuary space. The first week, we will focus on the windows, and talk about why stained glass is such a quintessential stereotype of churches. The second week, we will delve into the symbology and discover just how much imagery you never knew was all around you. The final week, we will consider the colors of the space—and why the colors change throughout the year. 
    All are invited to join us—even if you never have and never will actually step foot in our sanctuary. Much of what we cover, you will be able to find present in most every church you enter in. Whether in person, or online, all are welcome in this space. 

  • Better Together — Bring It Home Campaign


    Published: Jan. 25, 2021

    Help us Bring It Home!

    This Sunday, we set a new goal to raise the remaining funds for the new Outreach Center at 1010 East Ave this winter so that we can break ground in the fall. Through your faithfulness and generosity, we have already raised $3.5M toward our goal and have $1M to go. We believe half of the remaining amount will be raised through additional foundation gifts and a special campaign with the University of Rochester. The other half is up to us!

    Help us raise $500k by this winter and bring our outreach ministries home! Every gift matters…to the whole community!
    To learn more about the campaign or to make a pledge or a gift, please visit our website:

  • Prayers for Our Country Inauguration Day Event


    Published: Jan. 19, 2021

    Asbury First is joining with other faith communities from around Rochester on Wednesday morning at 9am to pray for a peaceful inauguration day. This interfaith zoom will be an opportunity for us to pray for our country, our leaders, and the road ahead.

    Also, check out the Facebook event for more information by clicking here.

    As you are able, please consider joining us using the zoom link below:

    Peter Stein is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

    Topic: Prayers for our Country Inauguration Day Event

    Time: Jan 20, 2021 09:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

    Join Zoom Meeting

    Meeting ID: 847 7601 0159

    Passcode: 415246

  • MLK Day — Racial Justice Progress Report


    Published: Jan. 15, 2021

    Dear Asbury First Community,
    Martin Luther King Jr. Day provides us with an opportunity to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King, while reflecting on his commitment to racial equality, and considering the work that still needs to be done. As we honor Dr. King today, let us also revisit our own commitment to racial justice, the progress made, and the work that lies ahead. And let us do so, while echoing his sentiment, that “we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
    2020 was an interesting year, to say the least. In addition to the ways we have been personally and communally affected by the pandemic, we have also been forced to confront the realities of a race epidemic that has bruised our nation and our country. Over the last several months, we have had to confront the fact that issues of racism are not simply reminders of our distant past, but are sinful realities that stare us in the face, today.
    On June 15, the Pastoral Staff of Asbury First wrote to you, first acknowledging the moment, but also taking the lead in lamenting the losses of life, livelihood and liberty; repenting of our own racism and silence; and committing to speak truth to power and work for a better world. We invited you to join us in our commitment and we promised to take tangible steps towards humbly engaging in the fight for racial justice. While we wish there was no longer a race epidemic to fight, we are happy to share that over the last six months, we have made some progress towards what we know will be a longer journey towards justice.
    As a staff, we have continued to engage one another in conversations about racism and inequality, read together White Fragility, participated alongside many of you in the 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge coordinated by United Way of Rochester, and continue to read and educate ourselves individually.
    As a church, we have successfully developed a Racial Justice Advocacy Group, which seeks to understand the racial justice work already happening within our community and provide direction to the church on where to best focus our efforts. This group meets monthly as a larger group, and several times a month in smaller work-groups to help direct our efforts. Our work-groups on Housing, Education, Policing & Criminal Justice Reform, Public Health & Healthcare, and Voting & Elections, are comprised of members of our congregation, who have volunteered their time to dig a little deeper into these subject areas, establish relationships with organizations throughout Rochester, and begin to help us as a congregation identify initiatives and advocacy work with which we can connect. While the last six months have been devoted to planning and initial conversations, we are happy to report that we are working and hope to have some initiatives for you to join in the first part of 2021.
    In addition to the work of the staff and our racial justice advocacy group, we continue to update our website with different resources, guides, films, and more that can assist you on the journey toward racial justice. We have also created a specially designated fund called the Racial Justice Advocacy Fund to which any may contribute, as we look to distribute funds to local organizations, and to the racial justice group at Asbury First.
    As we all continue to deepen our understanding of and willingness to confront racism, bias, and social inequity; we hope to continue to offer trainings, opportunities for group and individual reading, and other educational tools that might support us on this journey. If you are still interested in joining the Racial Justice Advocacy Group, we invite you to do so. We also invite you to continue to do what you can from where you are to confront the realities of racism, and help Asbury First become an anti-racist church.
    With love,
    —The Asbury First Staff

  • Annual Church Conference 2021


    Published: Jan. 14, 2021

    January 24 — After 11 am Service

    This Sunday we will hold our Annual Church Conference at Asbury First during which time we will vote on candidates for ministry, our Annual Operating Plan (the 2021 budget), and the new slate of nominations. As we approved our new Governance model in December, we have put together a slate of nominees for the new Governing Board, the six committees of the Board, as well as well as many of the teams. Please stay on the live stream at beginning shortly after 12 pm. 

    The pertinent documents for our Annual Church Conference are to download by clicking the links below, including:

    Voting and Meeting Instructions

    The Church Conference meeting will continue to be broadcast through the normal Asbury First live stream. Whether you watch it on your computer or on your television or listen on your phone, you should plan to attend the meeting in the same way. (Click here to download a quick guide on how to use Slido.)

    In order to vote, members are asked to:

    1. Visit on your computer, tablet, or mobile device. 
      NOTE: If you have more than one voting member in your household, it is best to use separate devices or browsers.
    2. Enter the code: #VoteAsbury (capitalization not necessary). 
      NOTE: The poll will not be live until the actual meeting. If you’d like to get a feel for it now, you can enter the code #AsburyTrial and try it today.
    3. Select your choice.
    4. Click “Send”.

    When you have cast your vote, you may want to keep your browser window open as the results will show up there and a new “Q&A” feature will be enabled during the “State of the Church” Update following the meeting.

  • A Prayer for Peace


    Published: Jan. 6, 2021

    Like so many of you, I have spent the afternoon watching in horror the footage from our nation’s capital. As a people who proclaim the Prince of Peace, we condemn these acts of violence. This is not Christian. This is not patriotic. This is not normal.
    On this day of Epiphany, the twelfth day of Christmas, we look again for the arrival of the light that shines in the darkness. Only we won’t find it in the manger any longer. Now, we must look in our mirrors. We are the body of Christ now.
    Every Christmas, I close each service with a prayer from Howard Thurman called The Work of Christmas. It speaks about what Christmas asks of us as believers. More than ever before, two lines stand out: 
    to rebuild the nations, 
    to bring peace among neighbors.

    Wherever you are, whenever you read this, I ask that you pause and pray. If you don’t have words, try asking God for peace. If that doesn’t work, the full text of The Work of Christmas is below:
    When the song of the angels is stilled,
    when the star in the sky is gone,
    when the kings and princes are home,
    when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
    the work of Christmas begins:
    to find the lost,
    to heal the broken,
    to feed the hungry,
    to release the prisoner,
    to rebuild the nations,
    to bring peace among neighbors*,
    to make music in the heart.

    May it be so.

    Grace and Peace,
    *the original poem said “brothers”

  • New Year, New You! Class — January 2021


    Published: Dec. 30, 2020

    Sundays in January, 9:45-10:45 am, Zoom,

    New Year, New You! — Couldn't we all use a Spiritual Reboot?

    What does 2021 hold for you? How can we continue to grow in our faith — even with the challenges that meet us each and every day?  How can we KEEP MOVING in the new year?

    All are welcome to join us via Zoom on Sunday mornings in January from 9:45-10:45 am as we read Maggie Smith's new book Keep Moving — Notes on Loss, Creativity and Change. Come experience a four week journey of fellowship and self-discovery as we grow with God and each other. You are encouraged to get a copy of Keep Moving prior to our first meeting January 3. This book can be purchased locally, or through Amazon by clicking here. If you need help getting a copy of the book, please contact Mike Mullin at and we can have one sent to you. For questions or more information about this class, contact Emily Cady at

  • Dynamic Disciple Challenge 2021


    Published: Dec. 23, 2020

    We had over 200 participants join us in our 2020 Bicentennial Bible Challenge where we challenged individuals to read through the whole Bible. Many are now asking, what's next?

    Well, it's one thing to read the Bible as a literary exercise, but it takes on new meaning when reading it dynamically as a disciple. In 2021, we are inviting everyone to join us in signing up for a Disciple class so that we can delve deeper into our faith and strive to become dynamic disciples. The Disciple Bible Study is a 34-week study with 17 weeks focused on the Old Testament and 17 weeks focused on the New Testament. There are Bible readings assigned each week, but they are much less intense than the reading schedule of the Bicentennial Bible Challenge—and you can take the summer off :).

    Whether you have read the Bible or not, this is a great way to engage our scriptures in a community seeking to deepen their discipleship. If this sounds like something you might like to look forward to in 2021, we encourage you to click here to sign-up!

  • The Wisdom of Jesus Class


    Published: Dec. 23, 2020

    Start off the new year contemplating some exciting and challenging perspectives on the teachings of Jesus. Rev. Kathy Thiel and I, Claude Adair, invite you to join us in an exploration that will use the book The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind—a New Perspective on Christ and His Message by Cynthia Bourgeault to spark new questions, inspire personal transformation, and deepen our appreciation for the teachings of Jesus.

    This weekly, 90 minute session on Thursday evenings at 7 pm will run for 8 weeks starting January 14, 2021 via Zoom (click here for the Zoom link). The book is available to order on Amazon, and if you need a copy, please contact Kathy at (585) 271-1050 ext. 106, or Please do your best to read the Introduction and the first two chapters for our first session.

    Early in the first chapter of Wisdom Jesus Bourgeault — a modern day mystic, Episcopal priest, writer, and professor — lays out her approach:

    "The angle of approach I will be using throughout this book is to see Jesus first and foremost as a wisdom teacher, a person who clearly emerges out of and works within an ancient tradition called 'wisdom,' sometimes known as sophia perennis, which is in fact at the headwaters of all the great religious traditions of the world today."

    Our intention is to provide an opportunity to share, discuss, learn and grow that will make our time together around this book much more than a typical book study. Please contact Rev. Kathy Thiel at (585) 271-1050 ext 106 or if you have any questions. We hope you will join us!

  • Joy of Christmas Giving 2020


    Published: Dec. 18, 2020

    These past nine months have been challenging for us all. The COVID-19 pandemic has required us to make significant adjustments, which have impacted our personal lives and our church community. Our outreach ministries have certainly felt this. As news of the pandemic worsened, our dedicated volunteers made efficient and effective decisions to adjust programs, halt activities, and seek creative ways to serve our community, even if it meant doing so from home. We are grateful to all volunteers of the Dining & Caring Center, Storehouse, Grocery Bag Ministry and UR Well clinic for their flexibility and commitment to our on-campus programs.
    One of the many ways we have been able to respond to our community and remain a church that prioritizes outreach is through our COVID relief fund. This fund, traditionally referred to as the Pastor’s Discretionary Fund, has allowed us to respond to needs surrounding back-rent, threats of eviction, and RG&E concerns from individuals who have experienced the pain of this pandemic in direct ways. From June to November, we served 55 individuals, and provided over $64,000 in COVID-relief support. We would not have been able to do that without the support of this congregation, grant funding dedicated to COVID-relief; and our dedicated volunteer social worker, Martha Neubert, who spends countless hours working with members of the community, referring individuals to other agencies for further support, and helping us respond to this growing need as a church. We’ve received countless “thank you” messages and affirmations of just how impactful this support has been to the individuals we served. 
    As we head into the Christmas season, it is no surprise then that the needs steadily increase. With the holidays and deadlines for eviction notices approaching, we are averaging at least ten calls a week from our neighbors looking for assistance. In response, the Outreach Committee leaders have decided that this year, our Joy of Christmas Giving efforts should be focused on COVID-relief. To ensure that more of Rochester’s most vulnerable receive the support they need, we are inviting the congregation to consider donating to this fund, in lieu of donating to our individual Asbury First-afiliated outreach ministries. We’d like to be a part of mediating the current crisis around evictions, and believe we can do it with your help! Thank you in advance for helping to make someone else’s holiday a little better.
    To donate please; and for further questions or concerns, please contact the Rev. Jacqueline Nelson at

  • Sanctuary Choir to appear on WXXI


    Published: Dec. 11, 2020

    Friday, December 18, 6 pm
    Asbury First's Sanctuary Choir will be among several local choirs featured in an upcoming broadcast on WXXI, a virtual "Holiday Prism Concert," on Friday, December 18 at 6 pm. Tune in to FM 91.5, or listen online at The program will include a recording from Christmas Eve 2019 of the Sanctuary Choir singing "Ding, Dong! Merrily on High" by Howard Helvey, with Duane Prill and Jeanne Strong, duo-pianists. Click here for more information.

  • Voting Instructions and Governance Update


    Published: Dec. 9, 2020

    This Sunday, December 13, following the 11 am service we will hold a special Church Conference to vote on the proposal from the Governance Task Force. Thank you to all who have attended the virtual Town Halls, read through the materials (, and engaged in this process through your questions and conversation. In response to your excellent queries, we have put together a special Frequently Asked Questions document. Please download it here, or read below.



    While we would much prefer this vote to take place in person, our hope is that this provides the simplest method of participation possible. If you have any challenges in the day or in the moment, you can simply send an email with your vote to Similarly, if you need help thinking through how you might participate, please reach out and we will do our very best to help.

    Thank you for your faithfulness in this process.

    Voting and Meeting Instructions

    The Church Conference meeting will continue to be broadcast through the normal Asbury First live stream. Whether you watch it on your computer or on your television or listen on your phone, you should plan to attend the meeting in the same way. (Click here to download a quick guide on how to use Slido.)

    In order to vote, members are asked to:

    1. Visit on your computer, tablet, or mobile device. 
      NOTE: If you have more than one voting member in your household, it is best to use separate devices or browsers.
    2. Enter the code: #VoteAsbury (capitalization not necessary). 
      NOTE: The poll will not be live until the actual meeting. If you’d like to get a feel for it now, you can enter the code #AsburyTrial and try it today.
    3. Select your choice.
    4. Click “Send”.

    When you have cast your vote, you may want to keep your browser window open as the results will show up there and a new “Q&A” feature will be enabled during the “State of the Church” Update following the meeting.


  • Pastor Appreciation Sunday


    Published: Dec. 6, 2020

    Sunday, October 11

    We at Asbury First are truly blessed to have such amazing shepherds guiding us during a very difficult time. This October 11 is national Pastor Appreciation Sunday. Please take a moment to click here and add a greeting for our pastor's on our Kudoboard to thank them for all they do!

  • Blood Drive Tuesday, Dec. 15


    Published: Dec. 5, 2020

    Although COVID-19 has received much attention from the media during the year, the need for life-saving blood is constant, and at this time critical.

    Asbury First has held 19 drives over the years, collecting 556 units of blood. Last May our drive resulted in 32 donations during a difficult time. Suffice it to say, we have made an impressive contribution to a vital community need.

    If you can help us with a blood donation on Tuesday, December 15, from 1–5 pm, please call the Red Cross at 800-RED CROSS, or visit for an appointment or to discuss eligibility.