Three Oaks United Methodist Church
Monday, October 18, 2021
You Are Welcome!

Newsletter March 2012

The Parish Post
Volume #40 - Issue #2
11:00 a.m. Worship Service
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors
“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14
Taking the Next Step on the Journey
            Throughout the month of January and the first half of February, I preached a sermon series on “Developing Your SHAPE to Serve Others.” The word SHAPE is an acronym standing for: Spiritual Gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, and Experience. I hope my messages provided food for thought about how you are a one-of-a-kind creation of God. (If you are interested in learning more about spiritual gifts and taking an online assessment follow this link: 
            During these past two months a Bible Study group was also exploring this same topic. We finished our lessons last week. However, the series is not over. Rather, from my point of view it is only now really beginning. 
            So often in Bible Study we read a passage, discuss it, and then pretty much forget about it. This study was particularly challenging because it kept pushing us to do something. The Apostle Paul was a “doer.” He was on the go constantly because of his deeply felt call to tell the whole world about Christ. He urged other Christians to get busy and “make every minute count.” (Ephesians 5:16, Contemporary English Version) Yet, he never pushed others harder than he pushed himself. In Philippians 3:14 (above), he tells fellow believers that he is straining forward and pressing on toward the goal. He is not there yet and he’s not about to stop giving his all. 
            How is our practice of discipleship by contrast? Many of us are pretty content to rest on our laurels and let someone else do the heavy lifting. But God has designed each of us with unique capabilities to do his work in the world. If we aren’t doing our part, it will not get done. This is particularly true within the body of Christ. Of all the resources available to our congregation – building, money, pastor, staff, etc. – there is perhaps no resource more valuable than the human resource of willing volunteers. 
            In order for our church to function at its optimum capacity we need all members to take an active part. Several of our members who are currently most involved wear several hats around our church. We appreciate their efforts, but we must be more intentional about expanding the participation of our 155 members. Otherwise, the few in leadership become burned-out and the gifts of the many others are left unused. 
            Brainstorming some of the areas where we need volunteers, I have come up with the following list of suggestions. See if your God-given “SHAPE” equips you to serve in any of these ways:
Teach in Sunday School
Help in Sunday School (sometimes we need an assistant for crowd control!)
Fill in occasionally as a sub when our nursery attendant is gone
Give a hand with our summer Vacation Bible School (plans are underway)
Prepare communion
Serve communion
Sing in the choir
Join our praise band
Be an usher
Be a greeter
Help our radical hospitality team give a warm welcome to visitors
Look for visual images for worship services
Prepare PowerPoint presentations for worship services
Join the tech team running the video in worship (serving in a rotation once a month)
Help run the sound system in worship
Launch a small group
Visit the homebound
Pitch in on Work Day when we wax the woodwork and spruce up the building
Wash dishes after our weekly coffee hour
Write a monthly newsletter article featuring a different “mystery member” in each issue
Join one of our many committees
            Of course, not all service is performed directly within the context of the church. There are so many ways to get involved in worthwhile projects and organizations. Here are some ideas which come to my mind for other avenues of service:
Volunteer at the food pantry
Become a Big Brother or Big Sister
Tutor a child at Harbor Harvest Urban Ministries in Benton Harbor
Assist with the GED program at the Benton Harbor Street Ministry
Serve on the Board of Directors for the Berrien Country Association of Churches
Help Ray Truhn and Bill Payne make some of the parts for Personal Energy Transportation devices (or P.E.T.’s) which are so desperately needed in many parts of the world
These lists are not exhaustive, but I think you get the idea. Undoubtedly you will be able to think of other ways that you could be engaged in service for the Lord.
            Our oldest son will be spending next week on an Alternative Spring Break trip to Philadelphia. While there he will be volunteering at an inner-city school, doing reading intervention, giving homework help, and leading recreational activities. His university has a huge network of service programs and I am aware of other students from our congregation who have been involved in these in the past, as well. In preparation for the trip, his group went a few weeks ago to a homeless shelter in downtown Grand Rapids. To me, it is pretty neat that these idealistic, altruistic, young adult college students are willing and eager to dive in and do whatever they can to make the world a better place.
            How about you? What is your next step on your discipleship journey? Listening to weekly sermons is OK, but doing something about them would be even better.
Pastor Sherri
Click on the praying hands to the left to be taken to our up-to-date prayer list.
Click on the shamrock to the left to be taken to our current calendar.
We extend our sincere sympathy to Bill and Judy Ross at the death of his son, Jeff Ross, in West Virginia on February 15. Jeff had been very ill for the past two years following a stroke. May God comfort you in your sorrow.
We also extend our sympathy to Ron Kersey at the death of his father, Ronald G. Kersey, on February 11.
We further extend our sympathy to John Foster at the death of his uncle, Charles “Bud” Longfellow, on February 12 in Florida. 
May the Lord give you comfort in your grief.
Recently we received news of the death of Arra Bunce, age 90, on December 4, 2011 in Chelsea, Michigan. She was the surviving widow of Rev. Ross Bunce who died in May of 2003. The Bunce family made their home in Three Oaks when Ross served as pastor of our church from 1983 to 1985. Our sympathy is extended to their four children: David, Sarra, Scott, and Laurel and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Church Camp
Children and youth (grade 1 through senior high) will find wonderful opportunities to grow in faith while making friends at church camp. There are several different United Methodist camp sites throughout our West Michigan Annual Conference, the closest being Crystal Springs outside Dowagiac. Camps are offered throughout the summer so choose the week that works for you.
A full week of camping costs $389 and our church plans to offer scholarships of one-half camp tuition. There is also a $50 per week rebate for first-time campers and returning campers who invite them($25 per mini-camps). Pick up a brochure in the narthex for detailed information or check the website at, click on camping. 
Merger Task Force
Approximately 40 people attended our Congregational Meeting held on Sunday, February 19, following worship. For those who were not able to attend, the Power Point Presentation has been posted on our church website and handouts of the Proposed Plan have been placed in our church narthex. We appreciate the many thoughtful questions which were raised during this meeting. A summary of these questions and answers follows this article.
In order to reach people who were not able to attend the first meeting and address additional questions that have been raised since, a second information session is being scheduled for Sunday, March 18, at 12:30. In order for the committee to be prepared with thoughtful responses to your questions, we would appreciate having as many of these questions as possible in advance. Please communicate any such questions you may have to one of the Merger Task Force members: Julie Becktell, Rick Cooper, or Ron Petro.
Q & A (from February 19)
Q. Who owns the property and buildings for Three Oaks and Water’s Edge? A. The United Methodist Conference we belong to actually owns the property.
Q. What happens to the current church buildings if the merger is approved? A. They would in all likelihood be sold to help raise needed resources to build a new church.
Q. Could the Temporary Worship site be the Three Oaks church since that would be free? A. The Task Force wanted a neutral site to begin our joint worship.    A neutral site would encourage us to begin to build relationships and remove simple issues such as “someone is sitting in my seat”.
Q. Does the Conference need to approve the plan of merger? A. Yes. In most cases they will approve it if the vision is clear and the resources needed are available. They might withhold approval if the plan includes debt that is too high.
Q. Did our church (Three Oaks) cover its entire budget in 2011? A. No, our income was $110,000, a shortage of about $15,000 on a budget of $125,000. The result was that we could pay only 75% of our apportionments. We also tightened our spending and used some of the prior year’s cash reserves. These types of adjustments can be signals of potential financial stress ahead and may require some difficult decisions within a couple of years.
Q. Is the financial situation here at Three Oaks an issue related to the general economic climate? A. Some of it certainly is. Other contributors are the percent of our membership on fixed income and a general lack of real growth over the past several years.
Q. Could any of our existing Stained Glass windows be moved and included in a new church. A. In merger situations it is generally accepted that it is a good idea to include some of the items in former churches. The limitations are usually cost and impact on the prior facility for any items taken.
Q. Since the proposed new church will be several miles away it may be more difficult for older members to attend. Any plans to address this? A. It was suggested that a small church bus might address this issue. One member volunteered to take people to the new facility.
Q. How do the two churches compare in size? A. Three Oaks has 155 members. We reached an average attendance of 91 in worship for 2011, though our average attendance since Christmas has been only 75. Water’s Edge has 168 members. Their average attendance for 2011 was 125 per Sunday.
Q. What is the status of our parsonage fund and what would happen to this?   A. Money from the sale of our parsonage (in 1998) is invested in the UM Foundation in Grand Rapids. At year’s end, there was $86,000 in this fund. These monies would be used by the new merged church. Pastor Sherri lives in the New Buffalo parsonage and our church pays a nominal fee for utilities. The conference has expressed concern about appointing a pastor to our congregation without the availability of a parsonage.
Q. Have mergers taken place between other churches?   A. In the last decade or so, mergers have taken place between Edwardsburg and Adamsville, two churches near Lakeview and two churches near Williamston.
Church Conference Merger Vote 
Hearing concerns from the congregation about holding a vote on merger in March, the Merger Task Force has decided it would be beneficial to wait another month so as to include those away for the winter and to allow plenty of time for sharing information and answering questions with everyone in the congregation. Therefore, in consultation with our District Superintendent, Rev. Neil Davis, we have set Sunday, April 22, at 1:30 p.m. as the date for this Church Conference vote. More detailed information will be printed in next month's newsletter, including the actual wording of the resolution to be voted upon. All members of the church who are present will be allowed to vote by written ballot. The only exception to this is that our youth members who are under the age of 18 will not be allowed to cast a vote because of the legal issues related to purchasing property. Please be in prayer throughout these coming months about the future mission and ministry of our congregation.
G.E.D. Classes
Twenty-four students have passed the G.E.D. test this year and you can be the next! Free G.E.D. classes are being offered at Galien Adult Education. You can register now by calling Remie Ramirez at 269-545-3365 ext. 119 from 3:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Fellowship Dinner
 Come and join us for some comfort food on March 11 after church. We will be serving beef stew and chicken dumplings, just like Mom’s. Along with that we will also be serving coleslaw, bread and of course, dessert. For those of you who enjoy playing games, we will be doing so after the meal. If you have a favorite game, feel free to bring it with you. We hope to see many of you for some food, fellowship and fun. There is a sign-up sheet in the narthex.
See you on the 11th,
The Fellowship Committee
Women’s Retreat
Would you like a vacation? How about a day to escape from it all? All the ladies of our church are invited to bask in God’s presence at “A Seaside Escape” on Saturday, March 24, 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Harbert Community Church (6444 Harbert Road, Sawyer). Register by March 11 for $20; after March 11 registration is $25. For more information email
Join Us!
A new Bible Study will be held during March and April on Sundays from 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. in the pastor’s office. We will use the book “24 Hours that Changed the World” by Adam Hamilton. 
No single event in human history has received more attention than the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. In this book, Adam Hamilton guides us through the last twenty-four hours of Jesus' life. Each chapter is designed to help the reader experience and understand the significance of Jesus' suffering and death in a way you have never done before. Whether readers are long-time Christians or simply curious about the story of Christ's crucifixion, they are invited to join the author in retracing the last 24 hours of Jesus' life.
Please tell Pastor Sherri if you would like to purchase the accompanying book for $12. You do not have to buy a copy of the book to participate in the class. There will be weekly Bible readings and discussion based on a DVD. 
Please sign up in the narthex.
Valentine Tea
We had 51 ladies and girls, including guests from Water’s Edge UMC in New Buffalo and Olive Branch UMC in Galien, at our Valentine Tea last month. Everyone enjoyed a lovely time as always. Cindy Jakeway shared a delightful program of love songs from all eras, with audience participation as everyone attempted to “Name That Tune.”
Adirondack Adventure Camp
 Our West Michigan Conference sponsors two separate weeks of Christian hiking camp for adults in the beautiful Adirondack Mountains of New York. Your choice of weeks: July 22 – 28, or July 29 – August 4. Cost is just $300 per person. For more information see, click on camping or call or email Ken or Barb Jeltema at 616-363-6480 or, or
Summer camp is not just for kids anymore! 
Widening the Welcome
In August of 2011 the Wesley Foundation Board of Directors voted in favor of accepting an offer from Western Michigan University to buy their property. WMU offered $600,000 and 1.8 acres of land in a new spot 1,200 feet from their current location on campus. Wesley will also have five years of free rent to stay in their current location as they raise funds to build a new facility. Plans are underway to build a fully-accessible, energy efficient programming space along with a residential component to provide an intentional Christian community. All funds previously raised through the campaign as well as all future campaign support will provide for the new facility.

Although the “Widening the Welcome” campaign focuses on capital improvements, they are also striving to offer radical hospitality and adopt a culture that provides a safe place to journey in faith and community. Their community is open to all, encourages questions, and provides opportunities to live out faith in shared experiences.
At the District Conference on January 14 a vote was taken to request all churches receive an annual offering of $3.00 per member as a gift to the Wesley Foundation “Widening the Welcome” capital campaign. Our offering will be received during worship on March 25. You may use a pew envelope for your gift and mark it “Wesley Foundation.”  
With your generous gift Wesley will see this vision, which has come after much prayer, become a reality.
Free Lenten Materials
 There are many free Lenten materials available on the table in the narthex including prayer booklets on several themes. Please help yourself.
Emmaus Walks
 The dates for the next “Walk to Emmaus” are: Men, April 19 – 22; and Women, April 26 – 29. Both of these events will be held at Three Rivers United Methodist Church. If you would like to participate in these spiritually refreshing events, please see Pastor Sherri for more information or an application or check out
Lenten Worship Series
 The River Valley Ministerial Association is sponsoring community worship services during the Lenten season. The theme this year is “The Trials of Jesus: Voices of the Prosecution.” In this series, witnesses give testimony about their experiences with the accused – Jesus Christ. Through their accounts we will come to know the truth: Jesus came to take our place in the defendant’s chair.
Soup Supper begins at 6:30 p.m. followed by worship at 7:15 p.m. for the next six Thursday evenings in these locations: March 1, “The Voice of Judas” at Three Oaks Free Methodist Church (12 E. Michigan St., Three Oaks); March 8, “The Voice of Annas” at The Gathering, RCA (301 N. Elm St., Three Oaks); March 15, “The Voice of Caiaphas” at First Congregational Church (108 E. Ash St., Three Oaks); March 22, “The Voice of Peter” at Sawyer Christian United Church of Christ (corner of Sawyer Rd. and Flynn Rd., Sawyer); March 29, “The Voice of Herod” at St. John Congregation of Three Oaks (12 W. Ash St., Three Oaks); and April 5, Maundy Thursday, “The Voice of Pilate” at Lakeside United Methodist Church (corner of Red Arrow Highway and Lakeside Road, Lakeside).
In addition, five of the River Valley Ministerial Association churches will be holding Good Friday services on April 6. The first of these services will be held at 12:15 p.m. at Episcopal Church of the Mediator (14280 Red Arrow Highway, Harbert), using the Book of Common Prayer with Communion from the Reserved Sacrament. The second service will be held at 6:00 p.m. at Real Life Community Church (14 N. Elm St., Three Oaks). This will be a showing of “The Passion of the Christ,” followed by communion. (Please note that the film is rated R for violence and thematic elements.) The remaining three services will be held at 7:00 p.m. at: Sawyer Highlands Church (13100 Red Arrow Highway, Sawyer); Harbert Community Church (corner of Harbert and Three Oaks Roads, Sawyer); and Three Oaks Free Methodist Church (12 E. Michigan St., Three Oaks). 
The community is invited to attend any of these events. 
Personal Energy Transportation News (PET)
 For more information about PETs go to: or
Dinner Out
 All the women of our church are invited to our annual Dinner Out. This year we are planning to meet on Tuesday, March 13, at 6:00 p.m. at the Red Arrow Roadhouse. Please sign up in the narthex so we know how many to tell the restaurant to expect.
Committee Meeting
 The Staff-Parish Relations Committee will meet on Monday, March 5, at 7:00 p.m.
It’s a Girl!
Congratulations to Luke and Rachae Wisner at the birth of a daughter, Rose Alise, on February 22. Rose weighed 8 lbs. 4 oz. and measured 20 ¾” long. New grandparents are Kurt and Tami Wisner and Cary and Nancy Harrington. Bev Harrington is the new great-grandmother.
One Great Hour of Sharing
You are with me; your rod and your staff,
they comfort me."
Psalm 23:4b
UMCOR brings relief when a catastrophe strikes. They rush to disaster areas all over the world with aid. But, along with food, clothing, shelter and medical help, they stay to assist survivors rebuild lives. That’s what United Methodists do in response to God’s love. From re-educating soldiers to feeding schoolchildren to establishing medical clinics in remote villages, we are hope for millions in nearly 100 of the poorest countries in the world. Once a year, during One Great Hour of Sharing, you can join United Methodists worldwide by making a special offering to support this humanitarian aid. Please do your part by giving generously. Now, more than ever, the world needs you.
We will observe One Great Hour of Sharing on Sunday, March 18. There will be an insert in your worship bulletin. Every gift helps, but when you give all you can, your generosity is more meaningful. It is multiplied. It is a miracle. And it becomes enough. Please give generously to One Great Hour of Sharing.
Dear Three Oaks United Methodist Church,
Thank you so much for the prayers and sympathy cards our family has received from you. I appreciate the concern and support that you as a church have shown since the passing of my husband, Don. Thank you, Pastor Sherri, for your condolence online and your support to our family. It is a difficult time but it helps to know you care and are praying for us.
In Christian Love,
Debbie (Noble) McCartney
Thank you for the nice Valentine Tea – As usual, you out-did yourselves!
Kathy Osburn
Thank you all for the plaque, candle and cook book – I hope you all know you didn’t need to do that!! It was my pleasure to be with all of you at the Valentine’s Tea!! I had a lovely evening.
God Bless You All!
Cindy Jakeway
Sisters in Faith,
Thank you very much for the V-Day treat bag. You have no idea how much gas cards help a commuting student.
With Love,
Jeff Jakeway
Sisters in Faith,
You are appreciated. Thank you for the amazing care package. It was great!
Ben Bartelmay
To Sisters in Faith,
Thank you for everything. I sincerely appreciate the Valentine’s day Goodie Box! The cookies were delicious! And I always use the popcorn on movie night with friends.
Thanks again,
God Bless,
Troy Robertson
Thank you for the care package! The snacks were great. Thank you for thinking of me.
Thanks again,
Mike Becktell
Dear Sisters in Faith,
Thank you for the Valentine Treat Bag and the gas card. It is very much appreciated.
Jessica Kersey
 Elma’s E-musings
(Dr. Elma Jocson, missionary)
Hello praying friends:
      Decades ago, there was a TV series that came on every Saturday at 7 pm - MacGyver. (I am a self-confessed TV addict; sober these days because I don’t have a TV or electricity). I loved watching how MacGyver could get out of sticky situations using practical physics, chemistry and engineering. He even saved lives! 
      If you come to Ganta you will see that our hospital has received a lot of donated equipment and supplies - from highly specialized instruments and machines to dressing gauze and tubes. We even have a rusted ambulance parked outside the administration building. I was told it ran only once after it got to Ganta, then never again.
      One morning I saw a janitor picking up garbage using an Aesculap alligator biopsy forceps (see picture to the left). It has handles like one would find on a pair of scissors but instead of scissor blades there is a long rigid tube with a tip on the end that opens like the jaws of an alligator and there are sharp teeth in the jaws.
      The manufacturer has sized the forceps to fit into a long tube (endoscope) when viewing the walls of the upper or lower gut. If there is a tumor, the forceps with its jaws are used to collect tissue for a biopsy. Here we are using it to pick up garbage!
      I need to explain why we can’t use all donations for their original designated purpose. It’s because some of the equipment we are given is properly used with something else that we don’t have. We don’t have the endoscope so the forceps are available for other purposes. This is where the MacGyver qualities that we have learned to rely on are so handy.
      Otika is an 8-yr-old girl who came in with difficulty of breathing. She had fallen from the 4-ft. height of a window one week prior. She arrived with respiratory distress; she had to be always sitting up and bended forward with her face tilted upward so she could breathe better. Her chest cavity appeared to be bulging, her tummy was big, and her legs were swollen. A chest X-ray did not show any rib fracture but it did show fluid in her left lung. The other doctor tried to drain the fluid by putting in a tube. When he turned around, she pulled the tube out. Ouch! I met her in the hallway outside the OR and she was gasping for air.
      Otika doesn’t speak English, only her tribe’s Mano language. But somehow we understood each other. I told her she needed the tube but she said “no.” I let a day pass and then talked with her, assuring her that the procedure would not be painful because we will give her medicine to sleep - something she hasn’t done for days.
      A chest tube is used to drain air or fluid from the chest cavity. I was able to insert a chest tube and drain 750 ml of thick, very foul-smelling pus. Imagine a balloon in a solid, protective box. The balloon can inflate and deflate within the protection of the empty box. If there is also fluid in the box, the balloon cannot inflate adequately. Differences in pressure make it easier to get air in and out of the lung itself - what an amazing Creator God we have! So for the chest tube to drain well it has to be a closed system, under water - sealed to generate negative pressure. Using tubes and parts scrounged from different stock rooms, we were able to cobble together a contraption which maintained a negative pressure, causing her chest cavity to drain.
      Days later, Otika had still not improved much. A repeat X-ray showed her left lung expanded but now the right lung had fluid. After trying and abandoning a simple tube in her right lung, I consulted with some UN aviation engineers and we improved on the water-sealed system, this time using a two-bottle drainage which increased the negative pressure and caused better drainage.
      Otika can now lie down on a bed. She is eating well and on oral medication. Her left chest is draining a little with bubbles present. The bubbling worries me because it may mean there’s a hole in her lung that acts as an abnormal path (bronchopleural fistula) – a more complex problem.  I have her blowing into a long IV tube submerged in water. I told her that’s her toy - a blow bottle to expand the lungs. We need you to help us pray for her.
      Here’s an update on the operating room renovation: I have seen how faithful God is to those who look to Him. I was daunted by this big project, but God has moved a lot of you to give towards it. We will move to a nearby orthopedic area as our temporary OR by Feb. 1. The roof and ceiling will be the priority. Your gifts are not late and will be welcomed. Any left-over money will go towards OR supplies.
Prayer Points:
·   Praise God for those loving hearts and generously open-hand givers to the OR renovation.
·   Otika's recovery- as of Feb. 5, all tubes were pulled out, both lungs fully expanded, she comfortably sleeps lying down. Residual cough remains.   
·   Construction workers' safety as they deal with the inhabitants of the OR ceiling. We need 'Pest Busters' for all the creepy animals living there.
·   Liberia Annual Conference happens on Feb 9-12. Protection for the delegates and wisdom for the Church leadership.
·   Praise God for all of you who love God and us here in Liberia. We are so blessed!!!
Editor’s note: On Feb. 5 Elma reported that Otika is going home today.
 Please Note
Please turn in all submissions for next month’s Parish Post newsletter by March 19.
Sermon Series: “24 Hours That Changed the World”
March 4            “The Garden of Gethsemane”   Mark 14:26, 32-52
March 11          “Condemned by the Righteous”  Mark 14:53-72
March 18          “Jesus, Barabbas, and Pilate”  Mark 15:1-15
March 25          “The Torture and Humiliation of the King”  Mark 15:16-21
March Birthdays:
1   Danielle Martin
1   Macey Springer
1   David Springer (95!)
4   Kris Goodenough
6   Sharon Flick
6   Troy Robertson
8   Mary Weers
9   Deb Barbour
11  Dorothy Brayboy
11  Kaitlin Goodenough
11  Tecla Kaiser
14  Steven Petro
17  Becky Glidden
17  Tom Martin
17  Dorothy Schwark
17  Morgan Weers
18  George Frye
21  George Koebel
24  Dawn Hayes
25  Jacob Barbour
25  Sally Preece
27  Alex Becvar
29  Erwin Klug
29  Ellen Sokolowski
31  Josh Ackerman
31  Jim Ireland
March Anniversaries:
14   Adam & Amy Hinman
18   Jerry & Barb Peters
27   Perry & Bonnie Pickens
29   Chuck & Marlyn Williams