Three Oaks United Methodist Church
Monday, October 18, 2021
You Are Welcome!
Volume 39 - Issue #2   
11:00 a.m. Worship Service

For Previous Month's Newsletters, CLICK HERE

We your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise you forever; from generation to generation we will proclaim your praise. Psalm 79:13
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:5
One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. Psalm 145:4
A Church For All Generations
Recently a pastor colleague shared with me that the youngest member in her congregation is 65 years of age. Another pastor colleague then shared that the oldest member in his church is 67. I cannot imagine either extreme. Within our church family we have 9 members who are in their 90’s! Yet, we also have 27 children under the age of 13. All of these individuals are such a blessing to me and to the family of God. 
As our Steering Team has been meeting over the past few months, I’ve thought a lot about words which describe my vision for our church. One of the words which has come to my mind over and over again is this: intergenerational. To me, that is a key component of the community of faith. 
In the Apostle Paul’s marvelous description of the body of Christ, he notes that each individual part – whether a foot, a hand, an ear, or an eye – is essential to the whole. Then he comments, “How strange a body would be if it had only one part!” (I Corinthians 12:19) Though Paul does not mention different age groups per se, his image of the many parts working together emphasizes to me the importance of young and old being in fellowship with one another. 
I have commented in the past that I can’t imagine anything more depressing than a church without children. Yet, at the same time, I greatly treasure our elderly members – their wisdom and counsel. Through the years these persons have mentored me and my children. From a young age our boys were doted on by parishioners who functioned as surrogate grandparents. What a tremendous gift their presence has been in my life.
In annual ministry evaluations, our Staff-Parish Relations Committee has lifted up as a strength my ability to relate well to all ages. I regard that as high praise and I pray that God will continue to provide this ability for me in the years ahead. Truly, I desire that there be something for everyone within our church. Even so, my experience shows me that it can be quite challenging to meet the needs of all age groups. People are looking for different things. Persons in various life stages define meaningful worship and relevant programming differently.
In recent months, the leadership of our congregation has been considering how we can better meet the needs of younger adults (particularly those under the age of 40) – not because they are any more important than people of any other age but because they are currently under-represented in our church. Unless we find ways to reach out more effectively to this segment of the population, the future of our congregation is very bleak indeed. Surely God must cry to see more and more churches close their doors every year. 
Many Christians I know claim Jeremiah 29:11 as a favorite Bible verse for their personal lives: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” That message was originally sent by the prophet Jeremiah to the entire group of Jewish people exiled in Babylon. Clearly, God has plans for his people not only individually, but also collectively. I believe God has plans for our church. He wants to give us a future with hope. 
We need to seek out those plans which come from above and get on board with them. Here’s a suggestion for one way you may be able to help: Ask your children and grandchildren what would make them want to attend church. Or, if they are already attending somewhere, find out more about what their church is like. Report back to me or any member of our Steering Team. We care about their generation. We want to be in ministry with them. 
Last week our Confirmation Class met for the first time. I am thrilled to have five young teens taking part in this experience. At our opening session Eleanor Desmond was gracious to provide our lunch. Besides the gift of food, I so appreciate the gift of presence that Eleanor shared with these young people. She told them how she herself was confirmed in this church 67 years ago on June 6, 1944 at the age of 13. She explained that she still has a photo from that memorable day. 
Furthermore, she let them know that wherever their journeys may take them – through all the ups and downs of life – this will always be their church family. They may one day move away from our community; they may on occasion drift away from the faith. Yet, they can always return and know the church will be there for them. This place, this people, will be a constant touchstone in their lives.
To me that is a beautiful example of one generation commending God’s work to another, as the Scripture says in Psalm 145. "May we all have such a love for God that we continue to share his faithfulness from generation to generation."
Pastor Sherri
We share our sincere sympathy with the Reitz family at the unexpected death of Linda Reitz on January 10.
May God comfort you in your time of grief.
Thank you to all those who assisted with the funeral luncheon at our church on January 13.
We also extend our sympathy to the family of Lawrence Lange who died on January 26. Lawrence was the father of Garry Lange, the former River Valley Elementary School Principal.
May the Lord comfort your family at this time.
We celebrate the baptism of William Henry Beer on January 16. Will is the son of Matthew & Christina Beer of Union Pier and Chicago.
May the Lord bless your family at this special time!
“When one member suffers, we all suffer; and when one member is honored, we all rejoice.”  I Corinthians 12:26
Those who serve as missionaries, especially:
Jeff & Deliegha Swanson, Charissa, Lois, and Titus in Mexico; Dr. Elma Jocson in Liberia.
Those who are in the military, including:
Christopher Blackwell, Ryan Ehlert, Rick Martin, Jim Parker, Laura Wright.
Those who are in care facilities:
Barney Fay, Shirley Hoadley, Tecla Kaiser, Marjorie Weller.
Those who are homebound:
Dorothy Brayboy, Lloyd Gearhart, Kathryn Renbarger, Thais Williams.
Those with health problems:
Dick Adamec, Deb Barbour, Lois Boyle, Andrea Bucks, Ron Freehling, Barb Geisler,
Lianna Hadden, Beverly Harrington, Daniel Harrington, Robert Hass, Norma Hoadley, Laurie Johnson, Maria Joseph, Sayuri Kakimoto, George Koebel, Doris Krossovitch, Les Lee, Lucy Lee, Gary Long, Kelly McCarty, Shirley McLaughlin, Rylie Miller, Bill Parker, Jim Parker, Bill Ross, Janice Rowlison, Judy Schinske, Alvin Schroeter, Keiko Shimizu, Louise Uebler, Greta Vollman, Vi Waller, and Wayne Weller.
Those who grieve
Family and friends of Lynn Reitz, Jennie VanDerAa, Victor Jackson, Ryan Gowen, and Lawrence Lange.
Those with a new baby:
Casey & Heather Caid at the birth of a son, Jonah Andrew, on December 31.
Pete & Cassandra Rodriguez at the birth of their daughter, Sophia Louise, on January 18. Mike & Cara Bettig at the birth of a daughter, Violet.
Our church Steering Team.
Our pastor.
Our confirmation class.
Those seeking employment.
Those having family problems.
Please note: Names will be deleted from the above list after one month unless an updated request is received.
Casey & Heather Caid scored a “touchdown” on New Year’s Eve day when their son, Jonah Andrew Caid, was born. Jonah weighed 7 lbs. 5 oz. and was 19” long. He joins big brother, Eli. The joyful grandparents are Matt & Nancy Caid. May the Lord bless your family at this special time!
Valentine Tea
Our ninth annual Valentine Tea will be held on Wednesday, February 9, at 7:00 p.m.  Having learned our lesson from last year, we’ve also set a “snow date” of the following Wednesday, February 16, in case the weather is inclement.  Cancellation notice will be aired on WNDU (channel 16) and WSBT (channel 22) television.
Our program will feature the “Mad Scrapper” (a/k/a Rhonda Petro) showing us how to make a couple of homemade greeting cards for a sweetheart or a good friend. In addition, music will be provided by Jeff Comfort. All the ladies of our church and their guests are invited. We hope you will be able to join us for this evening of entertainment and fellowship!
Trustee News
Our Board of Trustees met last month to organize for the coming year. These persons were elected as officers: Doug Hinman, chairperson; Dave Hess, vice-chairperson; and Jayne Payne, secretary. If you have suggestions of things that need attention around the church, please speak to one of our Trustee officers.
Thanks to Steve Seifert for plowing our church parking lot as needed.
70th Anniversary!
Congratulations to Ken & Thais Williams who will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary on February 12. May God bless you as you celebrate this special milestone!
Congratulations to Paige Barbour and Laura Donner who were two of the six finalists at River Valley’s Middle School Geography Bee last month.  Way to go, ladies!
Marriage Encounter Weekend
Enjoy a mid-winter getaway. . . A Marriage Encounter week-end! 
You and your spouse deserve a romantic weekend together!  Rekindle your relationship at a United Methodist Marriage Encounter on February 25-27 in Romulus, Michigan.  For more information call Registration Couple Dean & Kathy Thompson at (734) 844-0075, or email them at  Also see
Sub Sale
Our Middle School Youth Group will be selling sub sandwiches for Super Bowl Sunday, February 6. Please place your orders in the narthex after church or by calling Rhonda Petro at (269) 756-9847.  A 6” sub costs just $6.00 and a 12” sub costs $9.00. Choose your toppings: ham, salami, turkey, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles. Order yours today!  When you see these yummy sandwiches you’ll wish you had ordered more!
Emmaus Walks
The dates for the next “Walk to Emmaus” are: Men, March 31 – April 3, and Women, April 7-10. Both of these events will be held at Faith United Methodist Church in Delton, Michigan. If you would like to participate in these spiritually refreshing events, please see Pastor Sherri for more information or an application. You may also want to talk to these individuals who have been on a Walk to Emmaus: Rhonda Petro, Alex Renbarger, and Craig Goodenough.
Sisters in Faith
Our next meeting will be Wednesday, February 16, at 7:00 p.m. Marcia Hess and Robin Ireland will bring refreshments.  Our Bible Study will be Chapter 8 “Rachel . . . When All Is Said and Done”.
Three Oaks United Methodist Church,
Thank you so much for the generous gift of money for Christmas.
The Rowlison Family
Dear Church Family,
Thank you for your generous gift at Christmas. This is a wonderful church to be a part of.
Love to all,
Martha Spychalski
Three Oaks UMC family,
Thank you so much for the generous gift at Christmas. I am very blessed to be part of this wonderful congregation – I really do love my job and enjoy coming to work.
God Bless,
Cheryl Kersey
The Mission Highway is not a one-way street. It’s a multi-cultural, multi-colorful path that brings people together in community and in ministry. There are 17 racial-ethnic local churches in West Michigan. The West Michigan Conference Racial Ethnic Local Church Committee and the Commission on Religion and Race are working together to raise awareness and develop strategies for building relationship with our Hispanic/Latino neighbors. Your support for Racial Ethnic Local Church offering will help to support our current Racial Ethnic congregations and equip all of our churches to build healthy relationships with our neighbors in a changing world.
We will be observing RELC Sunday on February 6. There will be an insert in your worship bulletin explainingmore about this special offering. You can contribute anytime this month by using a pew envelope for your gift.
After a well-deserved break during the Advent season, our praise band re-assembled this past month. Our band often comes early on Sunday mornings to practice the songs before worship. Please take a moment to express appreciation for the musical leadership of these individuals:
            Piano – Martha Spychalski
            Guitar – Julie Becktell and Bill Swanson
            Singers – Sharon Flick and Ron Petro
If anyone would like to join the praise band, please speak with Pastor Sherri. We could use additional guitar players and singers; perhaps also a bass player or drummer. Make a joyful noise to the Lord!
Our confirmation class is off to a good start. We have five students: Paige Barbour, Laura Donner, Kaitlin Goodenough, Kyle Seifert, and Andrew Bellaire. One way the congregation can support us is to pray for us as we are learning together.
Another way to share would be to provide a light lunch for six following worship. Thanks to those who have already signed up to do so. This month is taken care of, but there are open days beginning March 13.
Always a great social event for the River Valley School Community, Chilly Night Chili Night will be held at River Valley’s Cafeteria on Monday, February 7 from 4:30 to 7:30. The meal price includes admission to that evening’s River Valley Girls Basketball games. The Mustangs take on Grace Christian with Middle School games beginning at 4:00 followed by JV & Varsity games. Enjoy the evening! You’ll see preliminary drawings of the proposed River Valley Elementary School to make RV a K-12 campus. Girl Scout Cookies will be on sale in the hallway. Miss Three Oaks, Gina Schrader, and her court will be there. Meal prices are staying the same. Adults: $5.00, Students K-5: $3.0, Ages 1 day to preschool: Free.  See you there!
Vacation Bible School
The dates have been set for our community Vacation Bible School this summer: June 20-24. We will be following the theme “Panda Mania: Where God Is Wild About You!” Each day’s lesson focuses on a portion of Psalm 139.
Lots of help will be needed this year. Our next planning meeting is scheduled for Monday, February 28, at 7:00 p.m. at the Free Methodist Church (12 E. Michigan St.). Please consider being a volunteer. If you need more information, speak with Pastor Sherri.
Bible Study 
We just recently started studying the Gospel of Mark. We will continue through the spring. Everyone is welcome to join us. We meet in the pastor’s office from 9:30 to 10:30 on Sunday mornings.
Steering Team
Our Steering Team has been hard at work. This past month we’ve held two meetings in conjunction with the Hospitality Team to discuss at length the hospitality practices of our congregation and how we can be more welcoming. We give thanks for the many worship visitors who have been attending in recent weeks and want to make sure they feel at home in our fellowship.
We’ve been reminded that hospitality is a full-church effort, not the task of a few individuals. Please help us by being intentional about looking for guests on Sunday mornings and getting acquainted with them. Take a few moments to talk with people you do not know or people you do not know well, before visiting with the close friends and family members you usually spend time with.
“Reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory. Jesus did it; now you do it!”
Romans 15:7 The Message
Going Up?
We would like all persons in the congregation, especially those who serve as greeters, to know how to use our elevator. This is important for welcoming and assisting guests. If you need a lesson or a refresher, please speak with Pastor Sherri and she will be glad to show you.
Bishop’s Day
Our Kalamazoo District together with the Albion District present Bishop’s Day for Evangelism on Saturday, March 12.  Mark your calendar today!
The keynote speakers are from the “Church for All People”, home of the “Free Store” and amazing community outreach. They were featured speakers at Annual Conference. Plan now to attend!
P.E.T. Update
Make sure to check out the information on the narthex bulletin board about Personal Energy Transportation devices. There is a note from Ray Truhn and a lengthy newsletter from P.E.T. International, Inc. with several pictures. 
How exciting to see how locally we can impact the world!
Dok Elma’s E-musing
New year, new beginning! A lot of people, especially us Asians, believe that decisions and actions set the direction for the rest of the year. I like January because it’s my period of assessment and planning. No, you did not hear from me last month because I wasn’t able to compose my prayer bulletin. I was home for two and a half weeks and returned to Liberia December 16, with my mother! Yes, she is here. She enjoyed the long travel though she confessed feeling as though we wouldn’t ever get to Ganta. What with 27 hours of flying through five countries then five Hours on rough roads. She always thanks God and me for the opportunity of being with people she prays for using the UMW Prayer Calendar. She keeps busy looking for small work she can help with at the mission, like scrub-cleaning all signboards. She has begun her ministry with the people she encounters by praying with and laying hands on them. But her main task is keeping me clean and fed. As for me, it is good to have my mother here. I have somebody to talk with at the close of the day. It has been extra difficult since returning.
There are just two of us MDs managing this 150 bed capacity hospital because the third doctor went AWOL. Later we came to know he has been employed in a big hospital in Monrovia. These last two weeks were particularly trying. Each of us does a straight week of night calls aside from our usual Monday-to-Saturday work schedule. It’s common to be called to do at least two Caesarean Sections in the middle of the night. After successive nights of C Sections, I was called for a tiny 18-year old premature birth who had been in labor for three days. It took them three days to finally decide to get her to a hospital. But her uterus was so fatigued that it just wouldn’t contract despite a maximum dose of available medicines. The choice was between bleeding to death or living without the uterus. The choice was easy, but to live with the consequence of that choice is a different matter. Thankfully her baby was born strong and she has at least a child. This patient was followed by a 19 year old whose baby died in the womb, because they delayed coming to the hospital. I thought I would be doing another hysterectomy. In my moment of despair I cried out, "I hate the uterus! I don’t want to see another one!" God is good. I didn’t see any others for three days. But this week I had daily hysterectomies for older women with tumor growth in their uteri. My Pediatric Surgeon-Boss was offended when I told him I was doing hysterectomies here. Maybe he believes we Pediatric surgeons are trained for a higher calling. My mother, on the other hand, told me how wonderful that God has called me and put me in a place where people are in dire need of surgeons. Mothers are God's special blessing!
At the close of 2010, we here were praying for the country of Guinea because of danger of post election violence developing into civil war. Ganta hospital is just 15 minutes from the Guinea border and, war or not, we get Guinean patients. Praise God the situation was resolved and peace restored.
Now it’s another neighbor on the verge of civil war. The Ivory Coast is 2.5 hours away and the Liberia border towns have had refugees crossing over since the start of 2011. Of last report there are 5000 Ivorian refugees registered. I was a member of the reconnaissance group from Ganta that went to the border to assess the health facilities from the border to us. This is in preparation for an escalation.   There were at least four small health clinics manned by nurses along the main road and Ganta hospital is the only and nearest hospital with the capability of receiving spill-over casualties. We have put together an emergency plan. Although the media reports have not been encouraging, we continue to pray for peaceful resolution. Understandably, Liberians are wary of rumors of wars because their own country has been ravaged by several civil wars. As if our present workload isn’t heavy enough, we prepare to receive more.
Monday, January 17, I had a long operating room list (eleven cases) and by the afternoon I was already planning on how I can manage Tuesday. There were five scheduled cases and it was my out-patient clinic day. I was the only doctor in the hospital for four days. By Tuesday morning I had developed some kind of plan. But God had a better plan. In His perfect time, He sent a group from Ohio. Late Monday night United Methodist Pastor Cathy Dekreide, husband Daniel and two medical students arrived. They minister in another mission point in southeastern Liberia. Daniel is a medical doctor who worked here two years ago. And seeing the need, he immediately filled in and took the out-patient clinic duty! I was able to do nine operations that day. One of the medical students was tailing me and was exposed to a lot of medical mission stuff. Pray with me that she will keep a heart for mission burning in her. But isn't God great? The "11:59" God. . . His help is never late.
January is definitely eventful. If beginnings do set the tempo for how the year is going to be, it sure is going to be challenging. But even surer is God's very present help in every situation. Please pray for strength and stamina for me. Patience too, because it seems to be in short supply after several busy nights. Pray for peace in the West Africa region, specifically the Ivory Coast. Pray also for the Liberia Annual Conference happening in Ganta on February 7 through 13. Thank you for blessing me with your love, prayers and graces.
Till next time,
Elma Jocson,
UM Medical Missionary at Ganta UM Hospital,
Nimba County, Liberia (West Africa)
New Resource
Copies of the Community Resource Directory, presented by Help for Southwest Michigan, Inc. are now available in the narthex. Please help yourself.
Future plans for Help for Southwest Michigan, Inc. include a One-Stop Help Fair to be held in the spring and a local Advocacy Center in a central location. We’ll keep you posted.
Game Day
Come and join us for food, fun and fellowship. After church on February 13 we will be hosting lunch and an afternoon of games. Bring your favorite game or just come and join the fun. Mary Behrle is organizing games for the children. A meal will be provided. However, if there is a favorite food or snack that you like to have while playing games feel free to bring it. There is a sign-up sheet in the narthex. Hope to see you on Game Day.
The Fellowship Committee
Delizioso! . . . An Italian Meal
The Fellowship Committee will be hosting an Italian meal after church on March 6. We will be serving lasagna, salad and garlic bread with dessert to follow. We hope you will plan to attend. There will be a sign-up sheet in the narthex soon.
The Fellowship Committee
Historical Corner
Submitted by 
Eleanor Desmond
The Acorn, 1911
The Methodist Sunday School held the election for the new year.
Superintendent            Oscar Duddleson
1st Assistant                G. L. Miner
2nd Assistant                Allen Morehouse
Secretary                      Fitch Miner
Assistant Secretary     Wave Swift (Hellenga)
Treasurer                     Mrs. J. M. Paxson
Librarian                      Mrs. Jennie Wadkins
Chorister                      Lois Fisher
Circle #4 met at the home of Mrs. Charles Close.
Rev. Root has an attack of congestion of the lungs.
Pansy Class, Mizpah Class and Gleaners Class all held meetings.
The Gleaners Class is the oldest organized class in the Sunday School.
Editor’s Note: The stained glass windows in our bell tower have the names of many of the young women who were in this 1911 era Gleaners Class.
Please Note
Please turn in all submissions for next month’s Parish Post newsletter by February 20.
February Anniversaries 
12 Ron & Dee Jelinek
     Ken & Thais Williams  (70!)
21 Michael & Joanie Davidson
February Birthdays
   1 Linda Flick
   2 Dee Jelinek
   3 Mary Behrle
   4 Barbara Peters
   7 Ayame Cooper
 17 Emma Seifert
      Kerri Becktell
 19 Matt Caid
 20 Mark Seifert
 25 Gayle Martin
 26 Jon Barbour
      Nick Reitz
      Alexis Renbarger
Sermon Series: “The Many Facets of Love”
February 6
“Tender Love: Walking in Someone Else’s Shoes”
Luke 10:30-37
Racial Ethnic Local Church Sunday
February 13
“Tough Love: Insisting on Truth in Relationships”
Matthew 23:13-36
February 20
“Sacrificial Love: Giving without Giving Out”
Mark 8:34-38
February 27
“Radical Love: Breaking the Hostility Cycle”
Matthew 5:38-48