Three Oaks United Methodist Church
Thursday, December 02, 2021
You Are Welcome!
Volume 37 - Issue #10   
11:00 a.m. Worship Service

For Previous Month's Newsletters, CLICK HERE

“This one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.” 
Philippians 3:13-14 
A Banner Year
How good it was for me to return to the fellowship of my home church – West Hill United Methodist Church in Burlington, Iowa – on the occasion of its 150th anniversary celebration last month. As I’ve said many times before, this has always been a special place to me and the people there have played a tremendous role in shaping my faith and preparing me for ministry.  I attended worship and Sunday School in that church every week from the age of 4 to the age of 18. 
During that 14 year stretch, we had 10 pastors! This was not exactly ideal, but it did have the positive outcome of developing strong lay leaders who kept things going whenever the congregation was in transition. My parents were two of those people. For a short while, church mail was directed to our house. My dad just about fainted one day when he picked up a piece that was addressed to Rev. Harold Swanson

Well, at this recent celebration they made a big deal out of recognizing me as Rev. Sherri Swanson. They are happy and proud about my service in pastoral ministry. However, when I first went before them as a candidate for ministry, many seemed surprised that a young person from their own congregation would become a pastor. 
Where do people think pastors come from? They don’t just drop out of the sky. They are home-grown. That is, they are formed by God in the midst of an intentional faith community. 
Some of you remember walking with Jeff Williams in his journey to ministry during the same approximate period of time (nearly 30 years ago) as when West Hill was journeying with me. I know you too are happy and proud about his service in pastoral ministry. Still, we must not think our job is done. Just because it happened once already, doesn’t mean it won’t happen again. In fact, churches that have lifted up ministerial candidates in the past are much more likely to do so again than churches with no memory of “raising up” a pastor. It has something to do with the culture of the congregation in nurturing and drawing forth the gifts of its members, particularly the young people. In order for that culture to develop, the body of Christ must be constantly growing. 
A growing church needs a willingness to adapt to new conditions. During my recent weekend in Burlington, I was especially interested in one small piece of history which was presented concerning the ancestry of the congregation. I knew previously that it had been a Swedish Methodist Church. What I didn’t know was that services were conducted solely in the Swedish language until 1928. At that juncture, the congregation decided to make a radical change and conduct services in English. 
I wonder how that decision was made. Was the vote contentious? No one in the present membership could remember it (!), but I have a feeling that there may have been at least a few folks disgruntled by this modernization. Any time someone messes with a long-standing tradition in a church community, there is a strong likelihood that someone is going to get upset. 
The West Hill church (left) has surely experienced times of conflict during the past 150 years, even if these have not all been recorded in the history books. I know about a few of those conflicts. Others have been forgotten, buried in the memories of folks long-gone.
How we handle conflict as a church is very important. This past summer I preached a series of sermons on “Controversial Issues.” I was pleasantly surprised and impressed that we were able to have civil disagreements about issues that raise our passions. In particular, our Bible Study group modeled some wonderful sharing on these topics.
I wonder if it is easier to approach these social issues because they seem “out there” – i.e. not having a direct impact on our personal lives. I’ve noticed that we tend to get the most riled up about things that hit closer to home. In my eighteen years of pastoral ministry, the biggest church controversies I’ve witnessed have been about things like these: what color carpet to purchase, which songs to sing, where to store committee supplies, how to spend memorial money, and what to serve at the annual dinner. What do these things have in common? They are all about “us” and “our” territory.
That inner-directed focus is not the purpose of the church. My ancestors at the West Hill Swedish Methodist Church seemed to recognize this when they decided to set aside their beloved language in order to minister more effectively to their community. They realized they couldn’t keep living in the past. Not too many new Swedish immigrants were coming into the country. The children and 
grandchildren of the next generations were not learning the old language. Their church attendance was shrinking and people were transferring to other churches. So, some wise elders of the church decided to set aside their personal preferences in order to expand the congregation’s outreach in a new day.
Are there parallels for us today? I think so. We must find ways to adapt to the present realities of the twenty-first century. We must be willing to try out the “language” of younger people. We must tell the “old, old story” in new ways, using modern technology and up-to-date music. We must abandon archaic language that no longer communicates with the people we serve and out-dated practices that are no longer meaningful to them.
The significance of a milestone occasion is not only to look back, but also to look forward – to re-evaluate where we are and where we want to go. Our church in Three Oaks will celebrate its sesquicentennial 19 years from now in 2028. What will our congregation look like then? The answer to that question will be determined by how we do things now.
As this newsletter goes to press, I am beginning a sermon series on “The Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations.” If we are to bear fruit that will last into the next several decades (and hopefully beyond), we need to get busy now developing fully these five important qualities: Radical Hospitality, Passionate Worship, Intentional Faith Development, Risk-Taking Mission and Service, and Extravagant Generosity. 
Please come to worship each week with hearts prepared to be challenged. And open yourselves to the possibility that God may use you to begin a new ministry in one of these areas or to enhance an existing ministry. We want our sesquicentennial to be a banner year, a celebration of how the United Methodist Church is still influencing the community of Three Oaks. We don’t want it to be merely a remembrance ceremony of how our congregation was vital once-upon-a-time in the past. Together, let’s press on toward the goal of our high calling to be representatives of Christ’s love in this time and for many generations to come.
Pastor Sherri
Those who serve as missionaries, especially:
Jeff & Deliegha Swanson, Charissa, Lois, and Titus in Mexico. 

Those who are in the military, including:
Brad Bellaire, Pete Birochak, Christopher Blackwell, Ryan Ehlert, Rick Martin, Brandon McCombs, Jerry Peters Jr., Nathan Phillips and Dustin Smith.

Those who are in nursing homes:
Barney Fay, Shirley Hoadley, Tecla Kaiser, Nan Klinedinst.

Those who are homebound:
Dorothy Brayboy, Lloyd Gearhart, Kathryn Renbarger, Marjorie Weller and Thais Williams.

Those with health problems:
Dawn Ackerman
Eldon Audiss
Robert Bucks
Shirley Busick
Marcia Elders
Irving Eldred
Bob Ferrell
Paul Friedburg
Becky Gardner
Pete Harfert
Allen Harrington
Beverly Harrington
Dawn Hayes
Ed Hayes
Alyssa Henry
Donna Julian
Judy Kersey
Geroge Lawton
Lucy Lee
Betty Martin
Estella Baca Miser
LaVern Noble
Jerry Peters
Dorothy Petro
John Rowlison
Judy Schinske
Dave Schultz
Carolin Spragg
Louise Uebler
Neva Marshall Walls
Tony White
Caroline Willis
Charles Wright
Those Who Grieve
    The families of:
    Ruth Conklin
    Mary Hathoot-Mitchell
    Bob Heward
    Jim Lewis
    Clara Olson
Those Recently Married
Clay Ackerman and Sara Noble on September 5. 
Those who are seeking employment.
Those who are in the process of adopting a baby.
Those affected by wildfires in California.
Ibrahim Parlak in his efforts to remain in the U.S.
Our Sunday School.
The Harrington family in Colombia.
Please note: Names will be deleted from the above list after one month unless an updated request is received.
Address for Cards and Visits
Large Print Hymnals
Thank you to the Memorial Committee for purchasing four large-print United Methodist Hymnals for use in our worship services. The songs words are in easy-to-read 14 point type.
Our church also provides large-print bulletins and large-print copies of the Upper Room. If you would benefit from one of these items, please ask an usher for assistance.
Last month Sisters in Faith sent ten care packages to our out-of-town college students, plus three gas cards to our local college students. You can help support this ministry by attending our Chili Luncheon on Sunday, October 25, after church.
Our meeting this month will be Wednesday, October 21, at 7:00 p.m. at the church. All women of the church are welcome. Nancy Comfort and Sabra Lambert will provide refreshments. Plans will be made for our Cookie Walk on December 5.
Our next meeting will be Wednesday, October 28 at 2:00 p.m. at the church, unless announced differently. 
Thank you to. . . 
. . . Jim Thompson and Doug Hinman for mowing the grass at our church this summer.
. . . Jim Thompson and Rhonda Hinman for unpacking and arranging the new furniture in Fellowship Hall and to Jim for repairing several of the damaged pieces.
. . . Jim Thompson for replacing many lightbulbs around the church and in the overhead projectors.
. . . Judy & Bill Ross and the volunteers they recruited for moving missions supplies to the stage.
. . . Bob Behrle for leading our worship service in Pastor Sherri’s absence last month.
We offer our sincere sympathy to Joe & Helen Heward at the death of Joe’s brother, Bob Heward, on August 31.
We also offer our sympathy to Helen Heward and Doris Krossovitch at the death of their aunt, Clara Olson, on September 5.
We also offer our sympathy to Betty Swanson at the death of her sister, Ruth Conklin, on September 12.
We further offer our sympathy to Steve Terry and his fiancée, Tia Mitchell, at the death of her mother, Dr. Mary Hathoot-Mitchell, on September 18.
May the Lord comfort you all at this time.
Craft Show Coming Soon!
The Chapel Hill United Methodist Church in Sodus is sponsoring their 30th annual Arts and Crafts Show on Saturday, October 3, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Berrien County Youth Fairgrounds in Berrien Springs. Admission is only $1.00 and there will be over 260 exhibitors plus food vendors and a bake sale. You can check out their website at
World Communion Sunday
On World Communion Sunday, October 4, we will receive a special offering which will provide scholarships for ethnic–minority students in our country and international students coming to study in the United States. Through this offering we invest in the future leadership of the church and the global community. There will be a special insert/envelope in the worship bulletin. Please give generously. Your gifts make a world of difference!
Annual Chili Luncheon
Sisters in Faith will host their seventh annual Chili Luncheon for the congregation on Sunday, October 25, following worship. The menu will include: chili with all the fixings, cornbread, beverage and dessert.
Cost is $5.00 for adults and $3.00 for children ten and under. Proceeds will support the church’s ministry to college students. Twice a year we are mailing care packages to those who are away at school. These funds will provide supplies and postage.
Bring your family members and friends and join us for a warm bowl of some chili dished up with some wonderful fellowship. We hope to see you there!
Greeting Cards
There are just three boxes of greeting cards left in the narthex. Also, if you previously picked up some cards, did you remember to pay for them? Money is still outstanding for five boxes.
Visitation Team
Our Visitation Team is off and running. Thanks to: Bob Behrle, Albert Brayboy, Yuriko Cooper, Marcia Hess, George & Vivian Koebel, Sabra Lambert, Sue Rubeck, and Jane Temple for reaching out to some of our infirm members through this ministry.
Church Conference
Our joint Church Conference with Lakeside UMC and First UMC of New Buffalo will be held in New Buffalo this year on Sunday, October 4, at 3:45 p.m. Our District Superintendent, the Rev. Neil Davis, will preside at the gathering. Rev. Davis will meet with the Staff-Parish Relations Committee at 3:15 p.m.
All members of the congregation are invited and those who hold office are especially encouraged to attend. Business will be conducted regarding church membership, leadership, and finances.
New Bibles
Thank you for all your contributions toward Bibles for our Sunday School students. We received enough money to fully fund this need. Bibles will be presented to the children in worship sometime next month.
Thank you very much for the celebration last month and the bright-colored carnations. They were so pretty and lasted so long. I really appreciate all of your kind wishes. The past ten years have certainly flown by for me. Thanks again. Pastor Sherri
A Wedding
Congratulations to Pastor Mark Keel of St. John Congregation of Three Oaks at his upcoming marriage to Miss Juvy Catacutan UmaliThe wedding is planned for Sunday, October 11, pending Juvy’s safe arrival in this country. She is re-locating here from the Philippines and we pray she will settle in quickly. Best wishes for a long and happy life together!
Lay Speaking Classes
The Kalamazoo District is offering the following lay speaking classes. 
Basic Lay Speaking will be held on October 10, 17, and 24 with the Commitment Service on October 25. Advanced Lay Speaking, “Let the People Say Amen!”, is a course on prayer and open to anyone who wants to attend, on October 3, 10, and 17, 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. To register contact Sheila Baker at or (269) 628-4882.
In addition, Nashville has endorsed one lay speaking class to be taken online that allows credit for Certified Lay Speakers. It can be done in the privacy of your own home, though you will need a high speed internet connection in order to take part.  
Leading Worship 101 for Lay Persons will be offered August 31 – September 25. The cost is $50.00 Completion of this course meets the criteria for an advanced course in Lay Speaking Ministries, though you do not have to be a Lay Speaker to take this course. This worship will focus on basic worship leadership skills for lay persons (liturgists) who assist the pastor in Christian worship. If you currently help to lead worship in your congregation, or would like to prepare for such leadership, then this course is for you. See Pastor Sherri for more information. 
Christmas in October?
Once again this year Faye Sittig is coordinating a devotional booklet to be used by the congregation during Advent. If you have been contacted, we would appreciate having your devotion in the church office this month. Time is needed for typing, copying, and assembling the booklets before they are distributed – hopefully mid-November. It is always a treat to read reflections on the Christmas season from members of our church family. Thanks for you help!
Fall Luncheon
First United Methodist Church of New Buffalo will hold its annual Fall Luncheon on Wednesday, October 28, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The cost is only $6.00 for this delicious home-cooked meal. The church is located at 24 South Whittaker Street. Be sure to come enjoy a great lunch!
Bridgman Faith UMC invites you to a Music Fest, Sunday, October 18, at 3:00 p.m. Three groups will present Christian music in a variety of styles. “Heart & Soul” is an accordion and percussion duo. “Instruments of Faith” is a guitar ensemble. “Echoes of Happiness” is a vocal sextet. The church is located at 9156 Red Arrow Highway, Bridgman. There is no admission charge and refreshments will be served after the performance.
New Class
Pastor Sherri will offer a New Member Class on Wednesday, October 14, at 7:00 p.m. If you are interested in joining the church at this time, please let her know. The class will provide information about the history, beliefs, and organization of our denomination and the local congregation. If you are not available on this day, another can be arranged.
Special Remembrance
On November 1 our congregation will observe “All Saints Day”. On this special day we remember those who have gone before us into God’s heavenly kingdom, especially those who have died in the past year.
Our worship service will include the celebration of Holy Communion as we gather around the Lord’s table with the “great cloud of witnesses”. If you have lost a loved one in the past year, please turn in their name (and date of death, if known) to the office by October 28 so that they may be included in our remembrances.
Emmaus Walks
The upcoming dates for the fall session of “Walk to Emmaus” are: Men, October 15-18, and Women, October 22-25. both of these events will be held in Vicksburg, Michigan. If you, or someone you know, would like to participate in these spiritually refreshing events, please see Pastor Sherri for more information or an application. Three individuals from New Buffalo are planning to attend, so car pooling may be a possibility.
October is Pastor Appreciation month. Let’s all show Pastor Sherri how much she means to us and how much we appreciate her. She’s awesome!
New Arrival!
Congratulations to Jason & Melissa Flick on the birth of a son, Austin, on September 22. Bob & Linda Flick are the happy grandparents and Don & Louise Uebler are great-grandparents. May God bless your family at this special time!
Hog Roast
Galien United Methodist Church (208 North Main Street) is sponsoring their 22nd Annual Hog Roast on Saturday, October 17, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The cost for this “Pig Out” is $9.00 for adults, $6.00 for children under 12, or $28.00 per family. Also on the menu will be roast turkey, potatoes, vegetables, sauerkraut, salads, homemade rolls, desserts and beverages. All proceeds will go to Ministry Shares.
The Berrien County Association of Churches will hold its 132nd Annual Meeting on Monday, October 12, at Union Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church, 911 South Crystal Avenue, Benton Harbor. Guest speaker, Judge Tom Nelson, will present “Expanding Restorative Justice in Our Community.”
Members of all churches in the county are invited to take part in this evening. Registration begins at 6:00 p.m. with the dinner beginning at 6:30 p.m. at a donation of $10.00 per person. The program begins at 7:15 p.m., followed by the business meeting at 8:00 p.m. Reservations need to be made by Monday, October 5, with payment at the door. See Pastor Sherri if you would like more information.
Crop Hunger Walk 2009
The 25th annual CROP Hunger Walk, a community-wide inter-faith event sponsored by Church World Service, is coming soon. 
Twenty-five percent of funds raised will be given to the Harbor Country Emergency Food Pantry to help people in our own community. The other seventy-five percent will be distributed through CWS to help people who are hungry and thirsty in the U.S. and around the world. Every year more than 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes – that’s about one child every five seconds. There are approximately 178 million children who are malnourished across the globe.
This year’s walk will be held on Sunday, October 4, beginning at First United Methodist Church in New Buffalo. A light lunch will be served at 12:30 p.m. A brief worship time will be held at 1:00 p.m. and the walkers will start out at 1:15 p.m. If you would like to walk, please pick up a sponsor sheet in the narthex. If you are not able to walk, please sponsor someone else.
They walk for food.
They walk for water.
They walk for firewood.
They walk to escape violence.
They walk to seek shelter.
They walk to farm their fields.
They walk to find employment.
They walk to go to school.
“We Walk Because They Walk”
Weekday Study
A new weekday Bible Study will begin on Tuesday, October 20, and run for eight weeks through December 1. We will meet from 11:00 a.m to noon in the parlor. This study is especially for retired folks, though anyone available during the daytime is welcome. 
The book we will use is “Living Fully, Dying Well” by Bishop Rueben Job, the author of “Three Simple Rules”. The publisher’s description of the book says: “Our best decision about life’s most important events are seldom made in a time of crisis. ‘Living Fully, Dying Well’ is a book designed to assist us in making careful, wise and prayerful preparation for meeting life’s most important moments.” The cost of the book is $11 and you may sign up in the narthex.
A Gift to Our Church
Thank you to the United Methodist Women who decided this summer to purchase new tables and chair for Fellowship Hall with the balance of their treasury. With some help from our Memorial Fund toward the shipping cost, two round tables and sixteen chairs were ordered.
Unfortunately, when these arrived in August we were dismayed to discover they had been damaged in transit. Fortunately, the company made good on their pledge to rush a replacement order at no extra expense to us. Happily, this second shipment arrived in plenty of time for our Chicken Dinner.
By the talents of Jim Thompson, repairs have been made to items in the first shipment. Therefore, we have ended up with twelve extra chairs and one extra table. Thanks to Jim for spending time to make these items usable.
In planning for this gift to the church, UMW members decided to recognize faithful members from past years who are now deceased. In particular, they wanted to remember the group’s most recent loss of Thelma Avery.   She gave so much of herself to the congregation and specifically to the UMW. Her presence has been greatly missed since her death in February of this year. 
In addition, we would like to lift up remembrances of all the women who have served faithfully in years past. Some of these individuals are: Martha Behnke, Velma Berry, Ruth Burian, Addie Comp, Gladys Hefferan, Anna Hicks, Marge Korbel, Millie Stanage, Lee Turley, Christine Waaso and Eleanor Walton. May we remember all of these loving servants each time we sit down to a church meal together.
And finally thank you to the most recent UMW members who made this gift possible with their hard work on rummage sales, bazaars, dinners, and individual pledges: Dorothy Brayboy, Eleanor Desmond, Virginia Feather, Dawn Hayes, Helen Heward, Nan Klinedinst, Doris Krossovitch, Lynn Reitz, Cheryl Thomas, Esther Thomas and Pastor Sherri
Personal Energy Transportation Update
We recently received an update from Ray Truhn in Galien about the Personal Energy Transportation (PET) Project. He makes parts for the units in his workshop in Galien. Bill Payne also assists him. Many of these locally-made parts are sent to the new PET affiliate in Holland, Michigan, where they specialize in the child-size PET.
Ray included a letter from The Luke Commission, a medical mission group working in Swaziland in southern Africa. They received a shipping container of about 140 PETs this summer.  Below is an excerpt of the letter: 

"We just cannot say in words what the PETs have done to this ministry and the country of  Swaziland. It has been absolutely amazing to see how God has used them. So many people say they will be able to go to church now. We want you to know how thankful we are. The PULL PETs are almost all gone now. You cannot imagine how many children and teenagers with cerebral palsy we are fitting into the PULL PETs. They have been confined to their homes and never taken out because the grandmothers — who traditionally do all the care for the family — are too weak to carry them on their backs after a certain age.

The traditional   PETs are so amazing and people are thankful for their independence. One elderly man this week that was fitted surprised us. After evaluating the patients, which may take several hours to decide who qualifies, we put this older man in a PULL, because he was very elderly and seemed weak. We were so excited when he begged for a crank PET.  We loved his desire to be independent.
Just a few minutes later a very old granny was brought to us on a blanket. You see, God provided her with a PULL PET, the one the older man had not taken. So amazing it is to see how God works! It is like putting these patients on a throne. You can see their self worth grow in leaps and bounds when they mount their PET.  We praise God daily and thank Him for the piece of the puzzle you have played in delivering effective physical and spiritual assistance to the people of Swaziland ." 
You may see the entire letter and more photographs on the bulletin board in the narthex. Contributions may be forwarded through our church. Use a pew envelope and mark it “PET”.
Anne Harris Concert
The Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra will present singer-songwriter-violinist, Anne Harris on Saturday, October 3, at 7:30 p.m. For this special concert, held at the unique studio of the world famous sculptor Richard Hunt (248 Territorial Road, Benton Harbor) acoustic string instruments, vocals and percussion will mingle with digital technology.
Tickets cost $20.00 for adults and $7.00 for students. They can be purchased online at or at the door.
Flu Clinic
The Berrien County Health Department will again provide community flu vaccination clinics this year. The clinics are strategically placed in large facilities throughout the county with ample parking, handicap accessibility and large inside waiting areas. Clinics are open to anyone who desires a seasonal flu shot.
The clinic for our area will be Thursday, October 8, at Harbert Community Church (corner of Harbert and Three Oaks Roads), 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. For more information you may call the health department at (269) 756-2008.
Historical Corner
Submitted by 
Eleanor Desmond 
In 1977 the UMW published a cookbook Our Favorite Salad. 
Contributors were: Laura Gearhart, Helen Hampton, Hazel Bolin, Anna Hicks, Addie Comp, Thelma Avery, Martha Behnke, Agnes Thorney, Gladys Hefferan, Christine Waaso, Leona Francis, Lora Guild, Velma Berry, Lee Turley, Helen Sterba, Millie Stanage, Ruth Warren, Edna Seifert, Emma Horton, Marge Korbel, Helen Thomas and Ruth Burian.
Try this tasty salad submitted by Anna Hicks:
1 package of lemon Jello
1 cup boiling water
¾ cup beet juice
3 Tablespoons vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon horseradish
¾ cup celery, cut into small pieces
1½ cup beets, cubed
Mix Jello, water, juice. Cool. Add salt, vinegar, horseradish. Add celery, beets. Chill and serve.
October Anniversaries
 2 Jamie & Julie Flick
 4 Matt & Nancy Caid
 5 Mark & Ramey Seifert
 7 Mike & Cindy Jakeway
    Chuck & Julie Sittig
11 Steve & Aimee Seifert
12 Bill & Jayne Payne
13 Allen & Beverly Harrington
16 Eric & Dana Lee
19 Brett & Tammi Williams
23 Jim & Robin Ireland
29 Jon & Deb Barbour
31 Ron & Rhonda Petro
October Birthdays
   2 Helen Heward
      Brett Williams
   4 Katie Kozel
      Ken Seifert, Jr.
   5 Les Lee
      Nikki Springer
   7 Amanda Ireland
      David Vollman
      Sherri Swanson
 10 Mike Petro
 15 Cameron Seifert
 16 Bob Behrle
                                                Sabra Lambert
 18 Ron Petro
 22 Melissa Noble
Jane Temple
 23 Elsie Portinga
 24 Michael Flick
 25 Lil Lewis
28 Ricky Martin
 Sunday Services
Sermon Series: 
“Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations”
October 4
World Communion Sunday
Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations:
"Passionate Worship
John 4:19-26
October 11
Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations:
"Intentional Faith Development
1 Timothy 4:6-16
October 18
Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations:
"Risk-Taking Mission and Service
Matthew 25:31-46
October 25
Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations:
"Extravagant Generosity
2 Corinthians 9:6-15