October Mission Corner


This month we are highlighting two missions that primarily help women and children in need. Those missions are the Violence Prevention Center and the Holy Angels Shelter. The Violence Prevention Center of Southwestern Illinois is located in Belleville. It was formerly known as the Women’s Crisis Center. The Violence Prevention Center works with women, children and men who are victims of domestic violence to find a way to live a violence free life. The program has been expanded to include prevention work with children in order to deter domestic violence in future generations. The local center has operated more than 35 years. They are available 24 hours 7 days per week, for 365 days per year to provide support, information, and resources to those affected by domestic violence. They offer a 24 hour hotline and emergency shelter for women and children. Additionally, they have individual and group counseling for children and adults. Furthermore, the Violence Prevention Center provides advocacy to their clients for court, schools, welfare and social service agencies. All services are free of charge.


Domestic violence affects individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, gender, race or religion. Domestic violence can result in physical injury, psychological trauma, and in severe cases, even death. Emotional abuse can be just as devastating and harmful to individuals as physical abuse.  The physical, emotional, and psychological consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and last a lifetime. Frequently, unfair blame is put upon the victim of abuse because of assumptions that victims choose to stay in abusive relationships. The truth is, bringing an end to abuse is not always a matter of the victim choosing to leave; often, it is a matter of the victim being able to safely escape their abuser, the abuser choosing to stop the abuse, or others (e.g., law enforcement, courts) holding the abuser accountable for the abuse they inflict.


If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence and needs help, the hot line is 618-235-0892. For information about how you can volunteer or help, call Darlene Jones at 618-236-2531 Ext. 106. A donation container for the Violence Prevention Center is located in the Helping Hallway of our church. Some items they need are as follows: Baby clothing and children’s clothing sizes 0-3T. Used clothing for older children is welcome, too. Paper towels, and grocery gift cards. A more extensive list will be posted above the Helping Hallway donation box.


The Holy Angels Shelter, located in East St. Louis, is the other mission of our focus this month. Many of you have met Paulyn Snyder, who is the director there and has spoken at our church in the past. Paulyn has given her life to stay in East St. Louis and help women and children in need. Holy Angels provides shelter, support services and transitional case management for women of the Metro East. It is the only women’s shelter in St. Clair County. The staff strives to identify the needs and concerns of women and children who are caught in the temporary web of poverty and homelessness. Sometimes, the women are recovering from a catastrophic experience that rendered them without a stable home. Holy Angels takes a three prong approach to the problem of homelessness:

  • They offer assessment of the family’s housing/finances and then temporary rent or mortgage assistance before eviction to prevent homelessness.
  • Temporary housing up to nine weeks is offered to women and children if needed. During this time, case management is utilized to find employment, housing, and referrals for short term counseling.
  • Follow up care is provided by the Holy Angels staff for women and children up to six months after they begin living independently. These services include, housing, education, health, childcare and employment to assure the family is able to continue their independence.


The shelter aims to empower women and children to succeed in life as self-sufficient, competent people. The women of Holy Angels are thrilled to get donations for themselves or their children. Often the women and children arrive with only the clothes on their backs. A donation container is labeled as being for Holy Angels this month in our Helping Hallway. Some items they could use are as follows: washcloths, hairbrushes, dish detergent, small gift cards of $5-10 for rewards for the children and for the moms. plastic grocery bags. Again a list will be posted above a designated container in Helping Hallway.


The mission committee wants to thank everyone who participated in or worked at the mission fair. You made it a success! We had approximately 160 people attend the fair and many positive comments about it being informative and worthwhile.


God Bless,


Linda Gruchala,

Mission/Outreach Chairperson

Intergenerational Ministry


I love this picture.  Its not the most clear photo, and if you take a second look at it you might be confused as to who the subjects are, but the sentiments behind this pic are what make it so sweet.  You see, this is SnapChat face swap of my 13 year old daughter and her confirmation mentor, Joan Bowman.  The duo took a selfie together during one of their many meetings  this spring during which Joan taught Sophie the history of the seven churches in Revelation and Sophie taught Joan about the latest social media.  Sharing a love of Taylor Swift and a passion for Christ, these two built a beautiful friendship that transcends age.

Sophie and Joan exemplify an intergenerational relationship.  They have shown me how enriching it is to have friends outside your own age group and have caused me to think about the role of  here at OFFUMC.  It is my prayer that the young and old of this church can learn to respect, appreciate, and enjoy one another.

This past Friday, September 30, generational lines were again crossed, as 28 PreK students joined 50+ Prime Timers at a Lunch & Learn event.  Together the new friends talked, laughed, and created apple mosaics.  Long-time church member and employee of the Colonnade Senior Living Center, Kerry Turk, spoke of the benefits of cross-generational contact.

Young and old alike enjoyed time with new friends, and we look forward to future endeavors together.

Stacy Robinson, Children and Family Coordinator

See pictures from the Primetimers Lunch with the preschool kids here.

Spirit of God is Like the Wind


Sometimes I like routines.  They help me remember what I need to do, when I need to do it, especially in the morning when I’m barely awake enough to do anything.  The familiar patterns of routine bring comfort, and predictability makes life easier.  And let’s be honest, the easier, the better. Right?  Maybe not.
Maybe that’s why people were always getting mad at Jesus; he was really good at disturbing patterns, upsetting routines, and calling people to the path less traveled—working on the Sabbath, breaking bread with the wrong people, questioning authority, contradicting strongly held teachings, forgiving those who deserved punished, and all but guaranteeing suffering and hardships.  Jesus was unpredictable.  Maybe that’s why he described the Spirit of God like the wind—you don’t know where it comes from, or where it’s going—as it blows through your life.

But Jesus wasn’t trying to cause problems for the sake of being a troublemaker.  Sure he stirred things up, but he did so because things had become some common, comfortable and routine; spiritual vitality was stagnant; routine had bred comfort, and comfort produced complacency. It can be said Jesus’ ministry was one of “comforting the afflicted, and afflicting the comfortable.”

Today, (September 30th) marks the tenth anniversary of that horrible day when Charles Roberts barricaded himself inside a one room school house in Lancaster, PA, and shot and killed five Amish girls before taking his own life.  Talk about how unpredictable life can be.  Who could have ever imagined such tragedy?  In the wake of such pain our prayers were for Christ to comfort those who were so heavily afflicted.

Then I listened to an interview with Terri Roberts, the mother of Charles Roberts. She described how, in the wake of such tragedy, the Amish community’s response was that of forgiveness for Charles, and how they embraced his family.  In the aftermath of the pain perpetrated by her son, she said, “we had a very private funeral for our son… as we went to the gravesite, we saw thirty to forty Amish start coming out from around the sight of the graveyard, and they surrounded us like a crescent, and love just emanated from them.”  She described how she would never forget the devastation caused by her son, and how it is forever embodied in the life of Rosanna, now 15; a young lady who suffered head injuries the day of the attack, and is now tube-fed, in a wheel chair, suffering seizures, and forever changed. For ten years now, Terri has visited Rosanna once a week and helps care for her—feeding her, bathing her, reading to her, and more.  One of the Amish fathers recently noted, “none of us would have ever chosen this, but the relationships that we have built through it… you can’t put a price on that.”  Terri said, “Their choice to allow life to move forward, is quite a healing bond for us, and it’s quite a message the world needs.”

They chose to allow life to move forward through love and forgiveness.  I don’t know about you, but this afflicts my natural tendencies.  It would be easier to let anger, fear, and uncertainty drive the patterns of life.  But the Amish Community and the Roberts family didn’t do that.  And neither did Jesus.  Troublemaker!

Grace and Peace,
Pastor Don Long

Praying In the Moment


“I’ll pray for you…”  This is an often-used phrase, but how often do you actually fulfill this promise?  I know that some of you are very good at actually doing this, but I want to acknowledge how hard it is.  It can be so easy to make this promise, with great intentions, but then lose momentum in the busyness of life.  We get distracted and forget our original promise.

So, here is a challenge for you.  Try praying on the spot.  Make it short and quick, no more than a sentence or two.  Lift up a prayer for the concern that someone has lifted.

This lets others know, not only that you care, but that you really mean what you say.  Most people (even those who are not connected to any church) really appreciate being prayed for in the moment.  I know that this is a challenge.  It isn’t easy to pray out loud, but I also believe that it makes a meaningful difference to others who receive the prayer.  So, let us challenge ourselves to pray for people in their moment of need.

Looking for Prayer Volunteers
If you are interested in helping to build the prayer ministry of our church by praying during the worship service, please contact Pastor Becky.  I would love to have a team that would pray for our church and worship during this time.  You can email me at rwilliams@offumc.org.

Pastor Becky Williams

“Building a Team for Christ”


“Building a Team for Christ” was the theme for Friday night’s church tailgate. This event took place in our East parking lot prior to the OTHS homecoming varsity football game.

This was the second annual tailgate hosted by the Wednesday night Methodist Men’s Group, which is 11 members strong. Our group provided hamburgers, hotdogs, cheeseburgers, chips, cookies, and water for all that attended. Many members of our youth group used social media to advertise the event, as a result we had dozens of Jr high students from multiple schools in attendance. Many O’Fallon Little Panther football players, coaches, and cheerleaders enjoyed the tailgate, as did many O’Fallon community members.

As mentioned, the theme of the event was “Building a Team for Christ” and the scripture of Matthew 18 verse 20 which says “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Thankfully, we had several hundred people gather to see Jesus working!

Many members of the church family pitched in and helped, whether it was prepping/wrapping sandwiches, face painting, helping gather trash, or with set up and teardown of table and chairs. The event was a huge success, we served about 400 sandwiches in total and even made restocking runs to the grocery store during the event to meet the demand.

As a result of this event, our church was able to build an even bigger team for Christ!!! GREAT JOB First United Methodist Church Family.

Matt Cornell

Finding God in Unexpected Places


Our family recently visited a place called Dinosaur Ridge near Denver, CO. We saw fossilized dinosaur bones embedded in a rocky cliff. As impressive as it was to see the fossils, I thought about how easy it would have been to miss them. The bones didn’t look that much different than the rock around it. On the tour they also pointed out footprints, and even ripple marks left from a long ago pond. Each feature was impressive, but again without a sign marking the way, I would have easily missed these ancient landmarks.

Reflecting on this experience, I realized our spiritual lives are like that too. God is there, but sometimes we need bigger signposts to see God at work. In Psalm 118:24 we read, “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
We believe that God made this day, but we don’t always look for signs of God’s grace in the midst of the day. And we also don’t always take the time to rejoice in God’s creation and glory.

We can be signposts to one another. As we reach out in Christian love and pray for those around us, we enable others to see God at work in us. We can also sometimes see with more clarity God at work in someone else’s life. Share these moments with others, and hopefully they will share with you. Let us be on the lookout for God in unexpected moments and unexpected places.


Pastor Becky Williams

September Mission Corner


“We’re on a mission! Got a Dream, boy, Got a Song! Paint Your Wagon, Come Along! “
Do you remember Pastor Long’s first sermon when he broke out in the Paint Your Wagon Song? Well, the mission committee is building on that theme with the OFFUMC 2016 Mission Fair. The Mission Fair will be on Sunday, September 25th 9:30-11:00 in Fellowship Hall. We have reached out to the missions/charities to which our church contributes either financially, or, with volunteers, and asked them to come, bring a display and literature. They have responded enthusiastically! A representative will be at each of the 27 mission booths to answer any questions you might have have regarding how their agency helps others in need and how donations are used. As each person enters Fellowship Hall they will receive a bag to collect information and a wagon strip. The wagon strip is a drawing of a wagon divided into parts. One part of the wagon will be “painted” each time the person visits a mission table to get information. Once the individual gets their whole wagon (eight parts) painted then he or she can enter a drawing for a prize. This will be a wonderful opportunity for all the congregation to learn about many of our missions and how they work.

This year, our church is on course to earn the Five Star mission status in our Illinois Great River Conference. The Five Star Challenge encourages churches to reach out beyond their walls. Donation suggestions are given by the IGRC for mission projects within our own conference, within the United States and around the world. Specifically, the mission committee disburses donations to Connie Wieck, a missionary in China to assist with her salary support. Another criiteria for the Five Start Status is to give to three UMC Special Sunday offerings, which we have done with Human Relations Day, Peace with Justice and World Wide Communion. Our donations to the Henderson Settlement this year and Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House are two other missions that will help us meet the Five Star Challenge. We give above and beyond what is required for the Five Star Status but it would be nice to have that recognition for our church at conference. As we look at how to disburse mission dollars we want to look at how we are helping others locally (CASA, Violence Prevention, Holy Angels Feed My Lambs), within the midwest (Midwest Mission Distribution Center, Bridge Bread), nationally (Henderson Settlement) and globally (Connie Wieck, UMCOR, Blanket Sunday, Poland).

Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all of Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.”

Linda Gruchala
OFFUMC Mission Chairperson