Newsletter Archive

We hope you enjoy reading about the events and stories that make Asbury First a church that is an integral piece of the Rochester community. Scroll down for archived articles, or click the links to view past issues of the Visitor @ Home newsletter.

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Article Archive

Community Garden Wins Award

Published September 15, 2023

Congratulations to our incredible Community Garden team! Our garden won "Best Urban Farm" in the Flower City Flourishing Garden Contest. Diana Carter and Charlotte Pierce Craig accepted the award at City Hall on September 14. We were also featured as a "Bright Spot" on WHAM Channel 13 with Dan Alhart. Check out the video below, or click the link to learn more.

Click here to view the WHAM Bright Spot


Carvers of Hope Project

Published July 14, 2023

Carvers of Hope is a ministry that works to support members of our congregation who are facing the difficult situations of life. Wooden crosses are carved and given out as needed by our pastors. Our group meets one time per month and carvings are completed at home. All materials and carving lessons are free.

For the past two years, we have been working on a special project for older members of Asbury First. We have carved over 200 crosses for those who are 80 and older. They will be passed out by Ruthellen Hoyle.

The pictures below show the work of the group that took a couple of years to complete.

— John Smalt and Bob Castle


Notice of Death: The Rev. Dr. Ted Weeden

It is with a heavy heart that I announce the death of the Rev. Dr. Ted Weeden, Senior Minister Emeritus of Asbury First. Dr. Weeden was appointed to Asbury First in 1977 and served for seventeen years, laying the groundwork for so much of the mission and ministry we celebrate today. He once called his years as the Senior Minister at Asbury First the happiest of his life and we are a better congregation because of his witness and service. Personally, I am indebted to Dr. Weeden for his constant support and faithful advice. He was a brilliant man with a generous heart who lived a life of faith we would all do well to follow.

His service will be held on July 8 at 11 am. If you are interested in being a part of a group considering how we might formally honor Dr. Weeden’s life and legacy, please contact me at In the meantime, please hold his family and friends in your prayers.

In Christ,


Keeping Our Promise (KOP) Update 

Published March 2, 2023

Organization Highlights:

  • Since 2014 we have assisted over 820 allies who now call Rochester home.
  • Our Wheels for Work Car Grant gifted 60 cars in 2022!
  • Over $216,000 was paid in rent and security deposits in 2022.
  • KOP is the 2022 winner of the Best of Rochester Award in the Non-Profit Organization category!
  • One of our resettled children, who is now a senior at Mercy, has been accepted to attend college at St John Fisher University and Nazareth College. We are all so proud!
  • KOP recently hired 2 new part-time Operations Assistants, one of which was resettled to Rochester by KOP in April 2022.
  • We have already resettled 12 Afghan families to Rochester this year!

Community Opportunities: 

  • We are looking for space to hold a small volunteer CommuniTea with KOP gathering sometime in March at 12 pm.Volunteers will bring their own brown bag lunch and listen to organization updates and training.
  • Historically KOP has utilized volunteer support to clean our temporary guest house between new arrivals. With low volunteer and community interest for this opportunity, we hope to shift to hiring one of our Afghan women needing some extra income for contract work. KOP is seeking a private grant or donation to fulfill this need.
  • As we fully outfit homes with furniture and necessary household items, we appreciate groups, churches, organizations, and businesses who are willing to hold a donation drive for needed household items. Please reach out for a list of our most needed supplies, and for materials to advertise your donation drive.
  • KOP does not receive any government funding and relies solely on private funds and fundraising events to accomplish our work. We invite you to join us for our upcoming Road to Resilience Gala fundraiser on Wednesday, April 26. Tickets now available! For more information and to purchase tickets please visit their website here.

Reflections of Asbury First by Dick Moncrief

Published March 2, 2023

Several years after retiring from Kodak at the end of 2003, I decided to find a position with a not-for-profit organization. I met many people in the Rochester area during the interview process. When I heard about the opportunity at Asbury First, I knew early on that the financial administrative position matched my criteria very closely. So, I started working at Asbury First in early 2006.
I was drawn to Asbury First by the excellent reputations of the staff, the music program, and the outreach program. The involvement of the congregation in the community fit with my background as well. I anticipated that this involvement would become a highlight in my activities at Asbury First.

One of the challenges I faced was getting to know the membership of the congregation in a positive manner. Sending out quarterly giving statements was a good way for members to get to know me better. From my experiences in other churches, I recognized that my thoughts about the involvement of members in the church were much more than purely financial. As a result, my letters accompanying the statements concentrated on the ministries and how much good they were doing for members and the community. Seeing all of this activity changed my life.

Changes in the life of Asbury First during my 16 years here have been dramatic. The staff works consistently very well together, as well as with the members, visitors, community, and the missions outside of this geographic area. I am impressed with how well the congregation works on improving the facilities. Significant upgrades to 1040 East Avenue have been made. The conversion of 1010 East Avenue to an Outreach Center is remarkable and provides new life to the community. Opportunities for our outreach abound in the community with the new center.

Working in 1050 East Avenue during my 16 years here, I see that improvements providing accessibility to the building and changes to the upper floor enabling appropriate usage will enhance the space greatly. That is another step in continuing Asbury First’s ministry to the community. Thank you all for making my service here a highlight of my life. Best wishes to you all.

— Richard "Dick" Moncrief


Asbury First Featured in The Advocate

Published May 4, 2022

Check out the cover of the latest issue of the award winning UNY Advocate. How wonderful to be featured for our Children's and Youth Ministries! This issue focuses on some of the children and youth ministries around the Upper New York Conference. 

Click here to read the issue


Chacocente Update

Published May 4, 2022

Things have been busy in Nicuragua at Project Chacocente. Learn about the virtual mission trip, a new board memeber and more in the newsletter below. You can also download a PDF by clicking here.

Keeping Our Promise (KOP) — Perhaps you didn't know that...

Published April 21, 2022

Perhaps you didn’t know that:

  • KOP has welcomed and settled 70 Afghan refugee families into the Rochester area since July, 2021. That is over 200 people.  
  • KOP is looking to find a “Housing Miracle.” We are in search of a three- or four-bedroom home to rent for a three-generation family of seven people. If you know of anyone in the Rochester area who is looking to rent a home please contact Deb Abell at
  • In March four car grants were provided to four different SIV families through our Wheels for Work program. That means each SIV has completed 100 hours of volunteer service and secured full time employment. We have a critical need for car grants — either vehicles or monetary donations — because KOP contributes between $4,000 to $5,000 toward each vehicle.
  • We have given nine car grants so far in 2022 totaling $30,407!
  • Only 3% of the Afghan SIV’s who worked for the American forces have been rescued from Afghanistan. 70,000 are still trapped in their county under Taliban rule.
  • KOP has just launched our annual virtual fundraising event: “‘ALL IN FOR AFGHAN ALLIES”. It will be held from June, 20–30th. Please click here for complete details.  


Welcome to Our New Members!

Published April 11, 2022

After a year hiatus, we have 26 new members joining our church this week, six of whom are virtual members only! This is a large group all coming from different religious backgrounds and even from some different parts of the country. What a blessing to add these individuals to our community. If you see them around or on Zoom, make sure they feel welcome!


Keeping Our Promise (KOP) — Helping Hands: Triplets!

Published March 4, 2022

"Helping Hands: Triplets!" is a KOP initiative designed to support one of our recently arrived Afghan couples who welcomed triplets on February 9! They live in the Brighton/Rochester area. We are reaching out to our community to mobilize a group of women volunteers willing to offer hands-on help in caring for the babies. Helpers will have the support of Keeping Our Promise volunteers: Lin Vanderstyne and Deb Abell.

While the arrival of the triplets is surely delightful, we also respect the complexities of caring for three infants. We are conducting this outreach volunteer request in advance of them being discharged home, and are mindful that we may need to adjust course. Specifically, we are seeking women to do one or more 'shifts' per week or every other week. We are hopeful for consistency for the couple and the babies. Ideally, a shift would be four hours; however, there is certainly flexibility. We ask that volunteers be fully vaccinated, including boosted, and masked when in the home. Helpers must be willing to register as a volunteer with Keeping Our Promise—a very simple process. 

Thank you for considering this deeply meaningful volunteer opportunity to care for these dear little ones. If you are interested in volunteering with this family or if you have any questions, please contact Keeping Our Promise volunteer, Jordan Bontrager at


The Storehouse Needs You!

Published January 25, 2022

Join us for a quick look into one of our Outreach ministries, The Storehouse. From helping the Red Cross clothe people who have suffered loss due to fires, to providing clothes, books, and toys to a child in foster care, the Asbury Storehouse served 2,638 people in 2021 alone! Now, we need YOUR help as volunteers to continue this important service for the Rochester community.

Sign up to volunteer at


Join us on a Virtual Mission Trip to Chacocente 

Published January 28, 2022

We are thrilled to offer you the opportunity to visit Chacocente virtually! We realize that many of you have missed traveling to Nicaragua and we hope that you will join Chacocente Board member Rev. John Shaver (pictured at left below) and a small group of supporters from California (again, virtually) as they travel physically to Nicaragua February 7-15, 2022. We look forward to being able to extend an invitation for in-person trips in the future.

Your participation in our 2022 Virtual Mission Trip will include:

  • A Valentine from a student at Chacocente Christian School to you.
  • A Valentine for a student that will include a toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • A cement block with your name on it will become part of the new storage shed to be built by the team and funded by your donation when you register.
  • A Zoom session from the Project with Rev. John Shaver and In-Country Director, Omar. 
  • Sponsorship of a Chacocente Christian School student to take part in a 5K for staff, students and mission team members. Participating students will be given a T-shirt. 
  • Video tour of the Chacocente community delivered to your Inbox within a month of the team’s return.
  • A dollar-for-dollar match for all donations of $100 or more!

To register, please send a suggested minimum donation of $100 to Project Chacocente, PO Box 128, Lexington, MA, 02420; or donate online at If paying by check, please write “Virtual Tour” in the memo line.

Please also send your name, mailing address, email address (for the Zoom call) and amount of your donation to Deadline for registering is Tuesday, February 8th.



Keeping Our Promise Needs Volunteers 

Published December 10, 2021

The Afghan families from the military camps continue to trickle into Rochester. We are so grateful to the volunteers who step up and assist these families during their first few months here. We continue to have a great need for ongoing help in this regard. We especially need local volunteers, who are available to help give rides and the like.

On Monday, December 13 a family of seven arrives. This family comprises two parents, two children, and three young adult siblings of one of the parents. On Tuesday, December 14 a family of four arrives: two parents, two children, etc.  


  • A volunteer to drive a wife back and forth to visit husband in Park Ridge. She also needs a first-floor bedroom and bath where she can stay while waiting for husband to return from hospital.
  • Linens are needed, as well as sewing machines, housing, volunteer coordinators and grocery store gift cards.  

Please visit the website for Keeping Our Promise at for more information and to sign up.

Identifying volunteers NOW does help the whole process, so please let me know ASAP if you can help! You will receive more information, literature, opportunity for a Zoom training session, access to a recorded Zoom session, and more. We are trying very hard to stay on top of helping our volunteers to help these families, but it is tremendously difficult to play catch-up, so please step up now if you can help!

We welcome you even if you have holiday plans. You are not expected to make any changes to those plans. We just need you to help when you can, in cooperation with your fellow volunteers.

Thank you, so very much, for your willingness to help these families settle in to their new, safe lives in Rochester! Please reply now if you are local and can help! Please be aware that I take volunteers in the order in which they reply. I do not track specific availability, so no need to share that--just a simple email response is all I need--you will work out specific workflow with your fellow volunteers

Feel free to reach out to Asbury First member Cindy Malone by email at, or text/call 585-645-4060.


Project Chacocente Update 

Published November 10, 2021

The global pandemic continues to affect all of us, and as we try to adjust to the “new normal” we fear for those living in poverty near and far. For those living day-to-day in rural Nicaragua, the needs are great.

Project Chacocente, a registered 501(c)(3) organization, works alongside Nicaraguans as they journey out of dire poverty. We continue to refine a model of working with the poor by educating children from pre-school through high school at Chacocente Christian School and then supporting them through college, by offering emergency food relief during times of extreme need, and by providing a living wage to our teachers and staff. Chacocente began by helping families living in the Managua city dump form a new community in rural Masaya, then teaching them the skills needed to survive and thrive on their own. They learned how to read and write, and attended classes on farming, home construction, hygiene and parenting, among many disciplines. We now also work with families living in the community that surrounds the Chacocente campus.

We invite you to share their journey by taking part in our second virtual 5K, The Iguana Trot.

Spend the month of November walking, running, biking, or trotting (as in Turkey Trot) as many 5Ks as you can (5 kilometers is the distance from the main highway to the Project). To ensure the success of this event we encourage you to invite family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers to sponsor you per kilometer, or to participate directly themselves! Registration is $50 and includes a T-shirt that will be mailed to you in December.

There are three ways to register. Once you have done so, we will send you further instructions:

  1. Online at
  2. Send a $50 check made out to Project Chacocente with “Iguana Trot” in the memo line. Include a separate piece of paper with your T-shirt size (Adult S, M, L, XL, XXL). Mail to Project Chacocente, c/o Robyn Gage, 9 Glenmore Circle, Pittsford, NY, 14534
  3. Pay the $50 registration fee using the DONATE button at Then email us at with your T-shirt size and address so we can mail your shirt.

Where did the Asbury Community Garden go? 

Published November 5, 2021

With production winding down and a killing frost around the corner, the garden team recently put the garden to bed for the winter. All that’s remaining to do is add a nice, thick blanket of chopped up leaves to protect the soil over the winter. The little bit of green still growing is the carrots we’re leaving a bit longer. 

If you missed out on all the fun this year, consider joining us in 2022 as we plan and execute another garden season. We’ll probably start planning — choosing what to grow and ordering seeds — right after the holidays. If you’re game to help just once, or nearly every week, let us know. There’s plenty of gardening to go around. 

In the meantime, we want to say “Thank you!" to the many, many people who helped out this year, from children at the day care and in our children’s ministry and youth ministry, to various garden team members and volunteers, to guests and staff at the dining center, to Monroe County Soil and Water Conservation Service, and to the Monroe County Cornell Cooperative Extension. The food we raised was shared with the dining center and its guests, with recent refugees from Afghanistan, with two feeding programs in the city, and with VBS families. We had an amazing year and hope to do it all over again next year.


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