Three Oaks United Methodist Church
Thursday, December 02, 2021
You Are Welcome!

Newsletter January 2012

The Parish Post
Volume #40 - Issue #1
11:00 a.m. Worship Service
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors
“Christ is the one who gave these gifts to the church… to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ, until we come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature and full grown in the Lord, measuring up to the full stature of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11a, 12-13
Equipped to Do God’s Work
For many of us, the beginning of a New Year is a good time to assess how our lives are going. If it seems that we are headed in the wrong direction, this assessment provides the opportunity for some course correction. We may make resolutions or set goals in hopes of improving our health or happiness in the future.
So too, the beginning of a New Year is a good time to assess how things are going in our church. Are we headed in the right direction? How might we improve the vitality of our congregational life?
In 2008 the General Conference of our United Methodist denomination hired the consulting firm of Tower Watson to survey our churches across the nation. Their goal was to identify the traits successful United Methodist churches have in common. Last August the firm finished its work and issued a report identifying what they call “the sixteen drivers of vital congregations.” In other words, congregations which focus on and do these sixteen things (grouped into four areas) tend to have vital ministries which attract people. They are well-equipped to do God’s work.
Please look over the list below. As you read these sixteen items ask yourself the question, “How vital are we in our ministry at Three Oaks UMC?”
Sixteen Drivers of Vital Churches
Engagement of disciples in small groups and the number of ministries for children and youth:
  1.  Vital churches have more small groups for all ages. 
  2. Vital churches have more programs for children.
  3. Vital churches have more programs for youth.
 Lay Leadership
  1. Vital churches focus on increasing the effectiveness of lay leaders understanding their role and carrying these roles out effectively.
  2. Vital churches have lay leaders who demonstrate a vital personal faith through regular worship, intentional spiritual growth, a personal devotional life, and the giving of financial resources.
  3. Vital churches place an emphasis on rotating lay leadership in order to involve more people over time.
  4. Vital churches call, equip, use and support more lay leaders than non-vital churches. (Twenty percent or more of their worship attendees describe themselves as current or past leaders in their church.) 
  1. Vital pastors give attention to developing, coaching, and mentoring lay leadership to enable laity to increase their ability to carry out ministry.
  2. Vital pastors use their influence to increase the participation of others in order to accomplish changes in the church.
  3. Vital pastors motivate the congregation to set and achieve significant goals through effective leadership.
  4. Vital pastors inspire the congregation through preaching.
  5. Vital pastors, when they are serving effectively, stay for a longer period of time. (Short-term appointments of effective pastors decrease the vitality of a congregation). 
  1. Vital churches offer a mix of contemporary (newer forms of worship style) and traditional services.
  2. Vital churches have preachers who tend to use more topical sermon series in traditional services. 
  3. Vital churches use more contemporary music (less blended music that includes traditional tunes) in contemporary services.
  4. Vital churches use more multi-media in contemporary services.
Our church leaders will be reviewing this list in the months ahead and evaluating how we are doing in these critical areas. I would welcome your thoughts. If you have comments or ideas to share, you may speak also to Church Council chairperson Jim Flick or Steering Team chairperson Rick Cooper. 
May you have a very Happy New Year! And may our church continue to grow and thrive as we service Christ to the best of our abilities here in Three Oaks.
Pastor Sherri
Click on the praying hands to the left to be taken to our up-to-date prayer list.
Click on the snowman to the left to be taken to our current calendar.
On November 27 we celebrated the baptism of Lynneah Merlyn Ackerman. Lynneah is the daughter of Josh and Joy Ackerman, and granddaughter of Mike and Joan Davidson. 
May the Lord bless your family at this precious time.
We extend our sincere sympathy to Eleanor Desmond at the death of her sister, Marjorie Prinzing, on December 18.
May the Lord give you comfort in your grief.
Merger or Mission?
Three area UMC congregations have taken a bold step. That is, to consider their future as individual churches vs. their future as a combined congregation. Each church has three appointees meeting together in an effort to develop a plan of merger for consideration sometime early next year.
The group has now met three times since the presentation by Brad Bartelmay at the church conference in Three Oaks in mid-November. You can see the full presentation at if you choose. The group is scheduled to have four additional meetings, concluding on Jan.14, 2012. The plan at this point, is to provide a summary of the weekly discussions in a form that will then be shared with each congregation sometime before the end of March, 2012.
It is too early to provide insight into what a combined church might look like, but the group has been presented with an overview of our net joint assets ($770K+) and a combined operating budget estimating the level of annual resources that could be re-directed to ministry opportunities for a combined church ($120K available per year). In the end though, this process must be more than a financial analysis.   Or fear that one or more of the three churches does not survive.
Over the past 10 years or so, church mergers have almost all been for one of the above reasons: The fear of not surviving or watching as financial resources dry up when attendance declines. It is my belief that neither of these reasons provides a platform for merger that has any opportunity for success. I have shared with the committee that if we reduce the groups work to a spreadsheet with numbers, we miss seeing what God may have planned for us and we miss the opportunity to join Him in that plan.
An article I read recently captured part of what I believe this journey needs to consider. It stated:
      “God’s mission wins. There is no win-win negotiation and no trade-offs or exclusions. The participating congregations are not negotiating for their institutional glory or survival, but are creating a single, new community that will take the experience of Christ deeper and further.” 
It is about mission. It is about our vision as a church and the impact we could have in our communities. In a sense, it is about “finding our way” and fueling that with our passions and our individual gifts.
To be sure, we have to do the ground work necessary, but it will never trump God’s mission for us as a church. I believe God calls us to love one another and to become part of authentic community for the purpose of sharing that love with those who do not know Christ. That is an outward focus for our purpose of being in authentic community.
Jesus was clear about his mission when he was on this earth. If we find that same clarity as it relates to our purpose as a church, it will ignite our passions, our willingness to give, and our individual desires to use our gifts in support of that mission.
Denny Fryman
Merger Task Force Chairman
Save the Date
Plans are underway for our tenth annual Valentine Tea for all the ladies of our church and their guests. The date has been set for Wednesday, February 8, at 7:00 p.m. In case of inclement weather our “snow date” will be the following Wednesday, February 15.
At the present time we are searching for program ideas. If you have a suggestion, please speak with Pastor Sherri or any member of Sisters in Faith.
Cookie Walk Update
Thanks to all who contributed and to those who bought cookies last month at our Cookie Walk. We realized a profit of $893.25. We sold 110 pounds of cookies and were sold out by 11:00! Special thanks to Ed MacGregor for
donating proceeds from the cute Santa sleighs he made.
Make sure to check your narthex mailbox for Christmas greetings from your church family.
Vital Training
Leadership Development Day & District Conference will be held Saturday, January 14, 9:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at Stevensville UMC. Workshops will be offered on S-PRC Basics, S-PRC Advanced, Trustees, Spiritual Formation, Missional and Attractional Churches, and Discipleship.
Guest speaker, Rev. Benton Heisler, Director of Connectional Ministries, will talk about the Vital Church Initiative (West Michigan Conference's version of the Healthy Church Initiative).
Approximately 80% of churches today are either stagnating or in decline. The Healthy Church Initiative (HCI) was formed to help revitalize these churches and fulfill The Great Commission.
There are three KEY steps towards revitalization:
TRAINING: Leaders are made – not born – therefore the first step in the HCI process revolves around the training of pastors and laity. Through Pastoral Leadership Development (PLD) and Lay Leadership Development (LLD) programs, HCI trains individuals to become leaders who are truly mission-focused. This is the step that prepares pastors and laity for the consultation process where true change begins to occur.
CONSULTATION: If a congregation could have implemented change themselves, they would have done it already. HCI coaches and consultants arrive armed with solid data and a wealth of experience to write individualized prescriptions that will revitalize a congregation. When the consultation process is complete, the congregation will decide to accept (or reject) the prescriptions. This decision truly alters the future of the church.
COACHING: Provided the congregation accepts the prescriptions, experienced coaches will be there to help the team implement change. Coaches will help the team stay on task to fulfill the prescriptions, navigate any potential landmines and celebrate wins. This third step is crucial to ensuring that the training and consultation processes translate into a healthy, vibrant congregation that is focused on creating disciples for Christ.
Please plan to attend this important District event. A soup and salad lunch will be provided by the Wesley Foundation of Kalamazoo. You may register online at or, if you do not have computer access, by calling the church office at 756-2053.
Berrien County Association of Churches and Southwest Ministerial Alliance present the 21st annual Dr. Martin Luther King Celebration on January 15, 6:30 p.m. at Covenant Christian Church (1870 Union, Benton Harbor). Rev. Dan Head will be the speaker and an offering will be taken to benefit SW Ministerial Alliance and Benton Harbor Street Ministry Scholarships.
Congratulations to Bill Payne and Jayne Payne who are the 2012 River Valley Senior Center King and Queen. This royal couple was selected by volunteering hours at the Senior Center. Congratulations to both!
Congratulations to Paige Barbour and Kaitlin Goodenough on each receiving Division II ratings last month at the District 6 Solo and Ensemble Festival. Great job, ladies!
Thank You!
A big thank you to our Communion Stewards for 2011. These members of our Worship Committee prepared the bread and wine each month. They are: Nancy Comfort, Joan Davidson, Sharon Flick, Robin Ireland, Doris Krossovitch, and Chris Zebell.
Snow Birds
Hello Everyone!
We had no troubles except a broken axle on the boat trailer, about a 3 ½ hour delay. But weather was great. Someone broke into our park and took the copper tubing to propane tanks.
Sorry but it has been very hot here. Our cold front is 70’s (no rubbing it in!)
Happy Holidays!
Perry & Bonnie Pickens
Christmas Decorations
Our church always looks so lovely at the holidays. Of course, what goes up must come down. The Worship Committee will be putting the decorations away on Saturday, January 7, at 9:00 a.m. They would welcome help from anyone who is available that morning.
Sunday School News
Thanks to the children of our church for a wonderful program on Sunday, December 18. All the readers, actors, and singers did such a fine job. There were 33 children participating! They were: Autumn Ackerman, Paige Barbour, Alex Becvar, Mary Becvar, Andrew Bellaire, Makena Christ, Jaren Christ, Ayame Cooper, Laura Donner, Nettie Donner, Haley Goodenough, Kaitlin Goodenough, Braxton Habel, Abby Henrich, Katharine Kersey, Jacob Musick, Caden Olson, Ella Olson, Lexie Olson, Cameron Seifert, Kevin Seifert, Kyle Seifert, Katie Sikorski, Lily Sikorski, Emma Springer, Isabel Springer, Leland Springer, Macey Springer, Jack Vanzine, Daniel Vollman, and Madison Vollman.
Thanks to Julie Becktell for organizing the program, to Rhonda Petro for providing costumes and props, and to the other teachers – Sabrina Bellaire, Nancy Caid, Dana Hammons, Cheryl Kersey, and Gayle Martin for working with the children.
Sunday School will not meet Christmas Day or New Year’s Day. Classes will resume on January 8.
We are looking for volunteers to provide refreshments after our worship services. Sign up in the narthex if you will help.
Psychological Services
Andrews Community Counseling Center offers counseling for a wide range of issues to individuals, families, couples and groups. This service is provided entirely free of charge. You will be seen by a professionally trained graduate student working under faculty supervision. Please call to make a confidential appointment and experience the joy of positive change at 269-471-6238 or pick up a brochure in the narthex.
Church Leaders
New leaders for our various church committees were elected this fall at the annual Church Conference. A directory of those individuals who will be serving in 2012 is enclosed in this issue of The Parish Post.
Thank you to all these persons for agreeing to serve Christ and His church through these important ministries. If there is some way that you would like to be involved in the future, please speak to Pastor Sherri about your interests.
We will install our 2012 Church Leaders during worship on January 15.
Sisters in Faith
Twelve women enjoyed a wonderful Christmas party at the home of Marcia Hess last month. There was plenty of good food and lots of laughter. We collected the gifts we had purchased for our adopted family.
Our next meeting will be Wednesday, January 18, 7:00 p.m. at the church. We still need someone to provide refreshments. Let Pastor Sherri know if you will help. We will be working on plans for our Valentine Tea.
As a New Year begins, we want to extend an invitation to all the women of the church to join us in fellowship, study, service and fun! Our meetings are usually held on the third Wednesday of the month. If you have any questions, please see Pastor Sherri.
The Board of Trustees will have an organizational meeting on Tuesday, January 10, at 7:00 p.m. to elect officers and prioritize projects for the coming year. We hope all committee members will be able to attend.
If you have any suggestions for maintenance needs around the church, please speak to a Trustee member or Pastor Sherri.
Special Sunday Offering
Human Relations Day is January 15. We share this offering in mid-January because this marks the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the work he did to transform our nation and the world in the area of healing relationships in the human community. The offering supports community development programs that improve living conditions, build relationships, and testify to the love of God through the ministry of presence.
More than 30 church-based community developers work in racial- and ethnic-minority communities in the United States and Puerto Rico. A multiracial network of grassroots social justice organizations related to United Methodist Voluntary Service provides vital outreach. Christ-centered Youth Offender Rehabilitation projects give teenagers a chance to succeed.
God calls us to lead others to Christ. Please give generously on Human Relations Day, the Sunday before the birthday observance of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Your gifts make a world of difference!
Study Plans
A Bible study will be offered on Sunday mornings at 9:30 a.m. beginning January 15. The study is called “Developing Your SHAPE to Serve Others.” SHAPE is used here as an acronym which stands for: Spiritual Gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality and Experience. This small-group resource is a part of the Purpose-Driven series developed by Saddleback Church where Rick Warren is the pastor.
If you are interested in participating in the study please sign up in the narthex. If Sunday morning is not a good time for you, please list other times when you are available and we’ll see if we have enough people to form a second group. The first eight people who sign up will receive a free copy of the study book (because these were donated by another church). For those who sign up later, the cost of the book will be $8.
2011 Greeters
Thank you to George and Vivian Koebel for arranging the greeter schedule every month. Also, a big thank you to the following people who served as greeters on Sunday mornings in 2011:
Josh and Joy Ackerman family, Mike Becktell, Rob and Alex Becvar, Albert Brayboy, Mike and Joan Davidson, Bob and Linda Flick, George and Sally Frye, Dave and Marcia Hess, Jeff Jakeway, Kelsey Jakeway, Ed MacGregor and Gay Bell, Bill and Judy Ross, Alvin and Shirley Schroeter, Debby Springer, Bob Tatina and Nancy Baird, Don Uebler, and Dick and Elsie Zabel,
These folks were here early on Sunday mornings so they could greet everyone at the door with a smile and a handshake. Thanks so much for your willing service!

Our Youth Group is meeting every Sunday during Sunday School except New Year’s Day. There will be a Youth Lock-In on Friday, January 13. More details will be available soon. Anyone in grades 5-9 is welcome. If you have any questions, please call Julie Becktell at 325-5162 or the church office at 756-2053.
Weather Closings
As winter is upon us, we are making preparations for the possibility of bad weather. Usually, we will have Sunday services if Pastor Sherri can manage the drive. However, if we should decide to close, this information will be posted on, TV channel 22; and, TV channel 16. You can go to these websites and have closing information automatically sent to your cell phone or via email. Any weekday events at the church will be cancelled  if River Valley Schools are closed.
Please use caution when venturing out over these next several months. We want everyone to stay safe!
Snow Removal
Our Trustees have hired Thomas Holman to shovel the church’s sidewalks this winter. He lives nearby and we appreciate his help with this job. Also, we appreciate the service of George Frye in plowing our parking lot on Sunday mornings and for special events. If you are planning a meeting at the church this winter please inform the church office so we can relay the message. 
Voice of the Martyrs – Blankets for Sudan
We are collecting new and gently used blankets for Christians in Sudan. During January you may bring these and place them in the box under the table in the narthex.
Do You Know…?
In 2011 our church was blessed to receive sixteen new members into our church family. Pictures of these people have been placed in the display case at the top of the Sycamore Street stairs. Thank you to Marcia Hess and Rhonda Petro for taking these photos.
Take a look and make sure you are acquainted with all of these individuals. Introduce yourself and take the time to learn something about them. If you need an entrée, tell them that Pastor Sherri sent you! J
We want all of our newer members to feel included in our church family. Please do your part, even if it means stepping out of your “comfort zone.”
P.E.T. News
Make sure to check out the narthex bulletin board for the latest newsletters about P.E.T. 
For more information see:
New Member Class
Persons interested in joining our church in the New Year are asked to speak with Pastor Sherri to set up an appointment for an orientation session. She is available on most any weekday during the day and on the following week nights: January 2, 3, 4, 11, 16, 17, 23, or 30.
Historical Corner
submitted by
Eleanor Desmond
Happy New Year 1912 Acorn January
At a meeting of the official board the pastor Rev. Root announced January 28 would be his last Sunday as pastor. Due to ill health he will return to his former home in New London, Connecticut. When he returns to work it will be in the New Jersey conference. After his long rest in August he feels much improved but his vigorous duties soon showed a decline in his health.
Circle Number 4 will meet at the home of Mrs. Riner Hellenga next Tuesday provided the weather is pleasant. If not the meeting will be held with Mrs. Robert Klute. 
The Sunday School of the M.E. Church held its annual election of officers last Sunday. 
            Superintendent            Oscar Duddleson
            First Assistant              W. B. Stickle
            Second Assistant         G.L. Miner
            Secretary                      Clara Wadkins
            Assistant                      Mabel Stickle
            Treasurer                     Mrs. J. M. Paxson
            Librarian                      Mrs. Jennie Wadkins
            Pianist                         Cecil Jenkins
            Supt. Home Dept.         Mrs. John Bryon
            Supt. Cradle Roll          Mrs. Fred Gelow
            Class 1                         Mrs. Root
            Class 2                         Mrs. Robert Klute
            Class 3                         Mrs. Jennie Brower
            Class 4                         Mabel Stickle
            Class 5                         Allen Morehouse
            Class 6                         Maude Warren
            Class 7                         Rev. H. J. Root
            Class 8                         Mrs. Martha White
            Class 9                         Mrs. W. B. Stickle
            Class 10                       G. L. Miner
            Class 11                       Aden Gauntt
Finance Update
Listed below are the figures from our October Treasurer’s report.
                      Income            Expenses             Average
                                                                      Monthly Need
October        $12,339.20       $7,914.55          $10,545.00
                        Income             Expenses          Shortfall
Year-to-Date  $91,187.33     $100,371.62       $9,184.29
General Fund Balance as of October 30, 2011 is $7,918.26.
Submitted by
Jim Thompson,
Finance Chairperson
Elma’s eMusings
Dear, Dear Friends;
            I just wanted to show you a different side of me... the crazy Elma! I went with some friends to the Danao Adventure Park in the southern Philippines to try some of the adventures. That day, 11-11-11, was truly memorable for me. This picture was taken when I did the “Plunge”- a 45-meter free fall drop into a gorge followed by 10 minutes of swinging like Tarzan high above the rocks and trees below.
            I also tried a ride across the gorge on the 320-meter “Zipline”, but that adventure paled after doing the Plunge. My friends wanted to do white river rafting... that’s where I draw the line. I’m afraid of water!!! I just figured death is more or less instantaneous on a fall but in the water one gasps and becomes bloated. Hahaha.
            During my vacation in my home country, I praise God that I have recovered my sanity (don’t doubt it), my spiritual health and my sense of purpose and direction. My mother will be celebrating her 77th birthday tomorrow by ministering in our city jail. We will be giving each inmate fruits and bath soap.  
            I have had the chance to participate in a hernia mission sponsored by a TV network. We operated on 21 children and it was a refreshing experience for me. I only had to think about my patients and my technique. There was a qualified anesthesiologist to administer the anesthesia. There were ably-trained nurses assisting and all needed materials were available. I led the group in prayer at the start of operations and had the opportunity to teach residents (surgeons-in-training) on how to operate on a child. My “bosses” in surgery are trying to convince me to stay here with job offers. They can’t understand why I have to go to other countries, while I can’t understand why they don’t see why I do it. God has been, is, and always will be good. In my language it’s called “utang na loob,” meaning indebted. I am indebted to God for raising me up and giving me honor by making me a surgeon. When all is said and done, we can only say to God, “we were your servants, we only did what was required of us.”
            The funds for the Operating Room renovation have started coming in. We need about $10,000 more. One of my very first covenant churches in Virginia, a small church, was damaged so much during the August earthquake that the sanctuary was condemned. But instead of making the church renovation their priority, they gifted Ganta and the people of West Africa – truly a testament of their love for God's mission. Even the church members in my home church are giving! Definitely a first, however we have long been engaged in local missions by supporting three mission churches. I truly praise God for the support that is coming in for the renovation. I appreciate your friendship because I know you never fail to pray for me. I want to assure you that your prayers keep me going and in my assignment. I will wish you Christmas blessing now before I forget, and a God-filled, wonderful 2012.
the crazy Elma
Elma T Jocson
Ganta United Methodist Hospital
Ganta, Nimba County, Liberia (West Africa)
Editor’s note: You  can help with the Operating Room renovation by sending your gift to:
The Advance
Checks should be designated OR Renovation #15080N (Both the Advance number and the words “OR Renovation” are needed.)
You can see the Plunge being demonstrated at:
You can see the Zipline demonstrated at
You can read about the Danao Adventure Park at
Poinsettias 2011
               Given By                                               In Honor/Memory
            Albert and Dorothy Brayboy                 Honor of Elizabeth Miller
            Michael Davidson family                      Memory of Robert J. Flick, Sr.
            Robert J. Flick, Jr. family
            Pat Dimmitt                                          Memory of Kayla Clingerman, granddaughter
            Elmer and Linda Doyle                         Memory of Tramelle LaVaun Sturgis
            Jim and Sharon Flick                           Memory of Herb and Leila Flick; Ray and Christine Waaso

            Beverly Harrington                               Memory of Allen Harrington
            Dawn Hayes and family                        Memory of Ed Hayes
            Dave and Marcia Hess                          Memory of Dale, Carmen, Allen Fox, and Jack Hess;
                                                                         Honor of Mary Louise Hess and Chuck Fox
            Doug and Rhonda Hinman                   Memory of Dean Hinman
            Noble family                                         Memory of LaVern Noble and Martha Behnke
            Sue Rubeck                                          Memory of Dale, Carmen, and Allen Fox
             Ken and Karen Seifert                        Memory of Edna Seifert; Devon Seifert;Nelson and Martha Schultz
             Dorothy Shook                                   Memory of Tom Shook
            Chuck and Julie Sittig                         Memory of Kevin Lee
            Tom and Martha Spychalski                 Memory of George and Ruth Hinkle; Clem and Rose Spychalski
            Jim and Charmaine Thompson            Memory of Luverne and Carrie Thompson;
                                                                        Edward and Edna Ziebarth;  Ron Ziebarth
January 1         Wesley Covenant Service with Communion
Sermon Series:    “Developing Your SHAPE to Serve Others”
January 8         “You Are God’s Masterpiece”
                        Ephesians 2:4-10
January 15       “Developing Your SHAPE…
                                    Spiritual Gifts”
January 22       “Developing Your SHAPE…
January 29       “Developing Your SHAPE…
January Birthdays:
4     Dana Lee
5     Eryka Kettring
5     Jacob Seifert
6     Jack Renbarger
7     Greta Vollman
9     Faye Sittig
12     Vickie Koth
14     Ben Bartelmay
14     Abby Henrich
16     Vera Deau
17     Maken Christ
22     Maggie Seifert
23     David Hess
25     Ramey Seifert
25     Don Uebler
26     Nancy Davis
27     Jim Flick
27     Lucy Lee
29     Virginia Feather
30     Elna Rogers
30     Troy Zebell
January Anniversaries:
22     John & Nancy Foster
22     David & Amy Vollman