Published: March 16, 2021
As we look back at the past year of the pandemic, we stop to evaluate its effects and ask: How has worship and fellowship changed at our church? We hope you take some time and go through the newest edition of the Visitor @ Home to learn more about how we have adapted to the challenges the pandemic presented.
Scroll through our Q&As with the different ministries and work areas to learn more about the church's behind-the-scenes work. Take a look at the technological updates implemented to enhance our virtual worship with our live-stream worship timeline (download a printable PDF here), and check out the amazing statistics and connections we've established with our virtual reach.
Even though the world changed almost over night, our ministers, staff, volunteers, and congregation have proven that through God's grace we can be together even while apart. And, that we are always Better Together!
Published: March 6, 2021
Submit your images by March 10, Click here for Kudboard link
We are coming up on the one-year anniversary of the pandemic shutdown. Not only has it disrupted "normal" life, but the pandemic has exacted a toll with the lives lost to the virus as well as their family and friends. Not one of us has gone completely unaffected by this world-wide pandemic.
However, there have been some creative and inspirational ways that we have pulled together to get through these difficult times. One of those ways, is the connection we have each week as a nation- and world-wide congregation. Asbury First is proving more and more that we are greater than the building.
So, as we approach this anniversary, we'd love for you to tell us "What has the live stream meant to you this year?"
Share your answer on our Kudoboard by clicking here. Also, we'd love for you to share a picture of you and your loved ones with a sign saying where you're tuning in from.
Published: March 4, 2021
Asbury’s Community Garden Team recently received some great news that will allow our garden to become a reality this spring: The Rochester Preservation Board approved our plan to create a community garden of raised beds on the Asbury First campus. The garden will be on the west side of the church, between the playground and 1010 East Ave. Produce raised in this new vegetable garden will supply meals and take-home snacks at the Dining & Caring Center. It’s our sincere hope that volunteers to run the garden will come from church members, Dining Center guests and other members of the community.
We’re starting out with 10 raised beds, which have already been constructed and delivered to campus. (A Monroe County Soil and Conservation District grant got us started.) The beds still have to be set up and filled, however, and that’s where volunteers are first needed. In the spring, we’ll be putting out a work call to find people to set up the beds and fill them with soil. If you want to be kept informed, please contact DIana Carter at (585) 732-7224, or DianaLouiseCarter@gmail.com.
Besides set-up, small groups of volunteers—young and old—may participate in one-time projects such as growing seedlings that will be transplanted to the garden. Longer-term commitments are also welcome. Some recurring jobs include taking responsibility for a single bed; providing regular watering, weeding, and harvesting; serving on the team that manages the garden. Though these jobs need to be done regularly, they can be done on whatever schedule is convenient for the volunteer—mornings, afternoons, evenings, weekdays or weekends. Because of COVID restrictions, many dining center volunteers are now idle and families are stuck indoors. The Asbury Community Garden might provide a welcome outlet for both groups. Contact Diana if your green thumb is itching to get involved.
Published: March 3, 2021
As we approach the anniversary of our physical distance from one another (something we will honor during the worship service on March 14), I thought it might be helpful to update you on our preparations for return.
We continue to monitor the COVID-19 infection rates and are heartened to see that they are trending in the right direction. While we have not set a firm date for re-opening, we hope to gradually begin worshipping together in person sometime this spring. As it stands, our plan is to use a phased approach to returning that maintains, for a time, our 11am worship as a virtual-only service and adds an earlier in-person service. In the beginning, the in-person service will have to be different than ones we have experienced in the past. For the safety of the community, we will have limitations on hymn singing, pre- and post-service fellowship, and where we can sit. Nevertheless, I am so looking forward to the day when we can see each other face to face (even if it is with a mask). I’d ask for your prayers as the COVID-19 Task Force works through the details of our return.
Regardless of when we return, we recognize that this year has changed the way that we worship, maybe forever. While many of us plan to worship in person (as soon as it is safe to do so), our worshipping congregation has grown during this time. By God’s grace, Asbury First is no longer confined to the walls of our buildings nor to the Rochester region. We now have regular worshippers, givers, and active members of our community who live outside of this area, many of whom have never been to our sanctuary. In addition, we have been joined by many who are in Rochester, but unable to leave their residence, regardless of the pandemic. We are grateful for all who have found a home here.
As a people of faith, one of our most important jobs upon our return will be to continue to extend Christian hospitality to those who are not physically present with us. Like never before, this last year has highlighted—day by day, week by week, month by month—that the church is more than a building. Still, there are things we can do in our building to remind us all that there are more who are a part of this congregation than the people who sit in our pews each week. As I shared during a town hall meeting last fall, we believe it is time to add a means of formal participation for those not physically present for worship on Sunday morning. To that end, using other prominent cathedral churches around the country as a model (St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NY, the National Cathedral in Washington DC, and First UMC of San Diego, among others) the Trustees developed—and in December approved—a thoughtful and tasteful plan to add unobtrusive monitors to the sanctuary.
To be clear, there will be no drop-down screen covering the rose window—these will be low-profile television monitors hung on the stucco on the aisle pillars (not into the stone). They will only be used for special moments in our services and will not remain on all the time. In fact, our hope is that most of the time we will not even notice them. In the end, this is simply a means of remaining open to all (our first value as a congregation) and a way to “see” our virtual members from time to time through scripture reading, candle lighting, and other liturgical participation. This will remind all of us—inside and outside the sanctuary—that we are more than the people we see on Sunday morning.
Some will know that I have argued against this idea in years past. Indeed, my doctoral dissertation made a forceful argument as to why adding screens was not necessary for congregations to attract new members. I still believe that. However, the circumstances have now changed and so must I. The reason for adding screens is now different and much more compelling to me than my previous apprehensions. I pray others with similar apprehensions will join me in setting aside our personal preferences for the sake of the gospel.
Technology is best when it is used to facilitate connection, as we have learned over this last year. I am grateful to all of those on our tech team who have made it possible for us to worship together during this strange time and to share the promise of life made known in Jesus Christ with the world.
I look forward to the ways that we will continue to do more good in the years to come.
Grace and Peace,
Published: March 3, 2021
Saturday, March 13, 1 pm, Click here for the Facebook Live link
On Saturday, March 13 at 1 pm, Flower City Habitat will be dedicating the home at 395 Campbell Street in a live streaming event which will include a house tour by the homebuyer, Patrese Thomas. This is the eight home completed in the JOSANA neighborhood by Asbury First, in conjunction with the Harvest Home coalition of churches.
Click here to read more about Patrese's moving story. We hope you'll join us in celebrating this joyous move for the Thomas family.
Notes about Facebook Live:
Published: March 3, 2021
Sunday, March 7, After the postlude, Live Stream
Stay tuned after the postlude for a new feature: Join us for new conversations with ministers, staff, musicians, and more, as they give a behind-the-scenes look at the workings of the church. The new series will start off with a discussion from our amazing musicians and their thoughts and reflections on singing the moving spirituals during Black History Month. To accommodate the new feature, the Fellowship 1/2 Hour will be delayed until 12:30 pm. We hope you stay tuned and enjoy a different perspective on the background work continuing Asbury First’s mission.
Published: Feb. 12, 2021
Tuesday, March 2, 6:30–8 pm, Zoom, zoom.us/j/93437503481
Join us for a Community Conversation about the COVID-19 vaccine led by the Rochester Regional Health Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Office. Key speakers include Devorah Stamps, EdD, RR, Nananamidia Duffy, MD, and Ebony Caldwell, EdD. This is a joint conversation to help inform the public about the vaccine and the importance of getting vaccinated. Asbury First will be hosting along with Memorial AME Zion Church.
or Call: 1-786-635-1003
Webinar ID: 934 3750 3481
ASL interpreter services will be available.
Published: Feb. 10, 2021
In honor of Black History Month, take some time to check out the new PBS documentary series The Black Church: This is Our Story, This is Our Song, premiering February 16 and 17 at 9 pm on WXXI-TV (DT 21.1/cable 1221). Produced and hosted by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the two-part series traces the 400-year-old story of the Black church in America. For the full description and trailer click here.
Also, this Thursday, February 11 at 7 pm Dr. Gates is hosting a national virtual event on Zoom to talk about the series. He will be joined by Rev. Dr. Yolanda Pierce, Professor and Dean of Howard University Divinity School and Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, Senior Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ. The event is free but reservation are required. To register, visit: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_DS6P6ovsT_m_utl_xrHXpQ
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 www.asburyfirst.org
Churches involved: Baber African Methodist Episcopal Church, Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, New Bethel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Asbury First United Methodist Church
Published: Jan. 27, 2021
Sundays, 9:45-10:45 am, Zoom, zoom.us/j/8347173468
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.