Monthly Newsletter



First United Methodist Church

8210 Buffalo Avenue

Niagara Falls, New York 14304

Celebrating 164 Years in Ministry

1855 – 2019


             A Blended Service of Traditional & Contemporary Styles

Holy Communion served

Lori Gondek – CLM

Pastor Sherry Mahar

Pastor Lisa Taylor

Senior Pastor Thomas Kraft

Church Office - 283-3370

Email -

Our Sister Church - Pendleton Center UMC Office- 625-8306



“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will.”                                    Romans 12

It seems lately everywhere we go people are choosing sides, picking teams and striving to win at any cost. (And I’m not talking about the Bills or Sabres.) Even in the church there are struggles where people seem more concerned about winning than learning to love each other. The Holy Spirit of God is a message of love…and joy and peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. Galatians says we don’t need laws if we live with these as our intentions.

We all have our struggles. Sometimes I find myself angry or hurt and I want to lash out at someone who doesn’t agree with me. Then I remember I am that way toward God. And Jesus didn’t lash out at me. He took the lashes and was willing to let go of being right, being perfect, so he could love us. God’s perfect will is not to get everything right, and it’s not winning. It’s to love anyway. Return love for hate, prayers for persecution, a measure of blessing for pain. In doing that we are transformed into children of God. And it’s good for us as well. A smile is easier to wear than a frown. A friend is easier to walk alongside that an enemy. Instead of worrying about who is winning, or who is in control, we need to strive to work together to build the kingdom of God. Then we win together.

From Christ, the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.                            Ephesians 4

Transformation isn’t always easy. The old ways are more comfortable. But God is leading us at First Church to transform ourselves, our church and the world.

Pastor Tom

From: LORI Gondek, CLM

 Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord. They rejoice in your name all day long; they celebrate your righteousness.      Psalms 89:15-16

Many of the immigrants who came to America in the 19th century were overwhelmed with the freedom they found to worship God. G.D. Hall was one of those who ministered to these grateful immigrants.

In August 1899, Hall led a series of services in a small prairie town where he “found a hunger after God’s Word so intense it was seldom found elsewhere. They had a great appetite for the Gospel.” An 80-year-old man “was so moved with blessedness after one meeting that he stood up and sang a solo to honor God.”

These people lived in sod houses and had “endured many severe trials.” But Hall found that their faith “has given them power to soar above it.” Many of the people were “poor but they are happy in Jesus and satisfied with their lot.”

Christians can learn many lessons from those immigrants. In the midst of our modern conveniences, we easily can focus on material comforts and feelings. But, as those immigrants found, our joy should not be related to our external circumstances. We can experience the joy of the Lord no matter where we are. No matter what is going on in the world or how much money we have, we can rejoice in Him.

Today, think about your life. Are you so focused on your circumstances that you have forgotten about God? Don’t let anything distract you. Let the joy of the Lord fill your heart and mind. Do not place your hope in the possessions, pleasures and rewards of the world.

Commit your life to God and start praising Him now. Worship Him. Sing to Him. And thank Him for all He has done for you.

Lori Gondek CLM                


Worship Committee News

It is our hope and prayer that you will join us for worship each Sunday morning at 10:00 am because…

Hard days strengthen and teach us--

God is near … and Grace is enough!

First Church will be holding our Vacation Bible school Tuesday, August 13th thru Thursday, August 15th from 9:00 am till 11:30 am. Your help is still needed if you can spare a few hours of time. If you are able to help, please see Judy Kutis. And if you know any children that would like to come and join in the fun, please invite them!

We hope that you are enjoying the summer months, but we would like to let you know that the church is still open and operating, so we would like to encourage you to keep your pledge current. We appreciate your continued support of our church and may God bless you!

We are always seeking those of you who would like to take part in the worship service. If you would like to be an usher, liturgist, communion steward, or greeter…please let Lori, Sherry or Dan know. These jobs are not too demanding and the rewards are awesome!

The Worship Committee


Trustee News

               The repair of the water problem in the front of the church and the basement of the mission house have been completed.  We need to wait for the ground to settle before the landscaping can be finished. Next we will have to get inside and pull down the paneling and make repairs to the walls caused by the water damage.

            We are arranging for the company who installed the sign in front of the church to return to clean and service the sign and then complete the covering of the open areas and enclose the wiring.  We have enough money left in the sign fund to pay for this completion.

            We are working on some minor repairs around the church; cleaning/maintaining the riding mover; fixed the switch on the lift chair to the social hall (thanks Bud Weber); and the water leak in the area of the dishwasher.  There is still a backflow leak but hopefully that will be repaired soon as well.

            Our next major project is going to be the repair of the stain glass windows in the sanctuary.  This project really cannot wait.  The rotted wood around the windows is only going to get worse and we are at risk to our stained-glass windows.

            If you would like to help with this project by making a donation towards this expense, please make a donation and mark it for the repair of the windows.  No donation would be considered too small.  Many donations will add up to the completion of this project.

            If you are aware of any repairs needed around the church, please bring it the attention of any one of the trustees.

Nancy Walek, Trustee Committee Chairperson


History Corner

   Though the educational wing of the church was completed in March of 1953, planning for the wing began three years earlier following the fire that burned the community house on June 1, 1950. Following the fire, a pre-building committee was appointed by Rev. John Fleury. The community house, though large, was not meeting increased enrollment in the Sunday school. 

            A special meeting was called on November 22nd of that year to look at plans designed by Charles Obenhack, the architect.  On December 18, 1950 a Building Fund Campaign was formed and a committee was appointed. The plans had to be revised in May 1952 due to a lack of funds.  In June the congregation and board approved the request by the trustees to borrow monies to finance the building.  In August the community house was razed and construction began on its foundation.  The new building boasted a remodeled basement that included a renovated and modern kitchen, restrooms, and a furnace room.  We also had three new rooms. Two classrooms and a music room for the choir, their choir robes, music, and a place to prepare for Sunday mornings were added. On March 1, 1953 the staff of teachers, officers, and over 300 church school attendants began classes. 

            On March 15, 1950 the education wing was dedicated.  The ceremony was led by Bishop W. Earl Ledden.  Also present were District Superintendent, Richard J. Davey, Reverend Eugene Fleury, and Reverend Shirley Travis.

            June 28, 1953 marked a celebration of the 250th anniversary of the birthday of John Wesley.  A special bulletin outlining the service is preserved in our historical archives. The service begins with several of the songs written by Charles Wesley.  A responsive reading of the General Rules of Methodism was read.  It appeared to be quite a lengthy service. I don’t think anyone complained about the length.

(From FUMC Archives)


Safe Sanctuaries, as referred to by Pendleton Center UMC and First UMC, encompasses the efforts made by our local church, district, and the Conference to reduce the risk of abuse to children, youth and vulnerable adults, and also to protect the adult workers (either paid or volunteer) who interact with those individuals in any church activity, whether on-site or away from the church building.

For Pendleton Center UMC and First UMC, the physical and emotional safety, as well as the spiritual growth of all God's children at any age, is important. We as a Church are committed to the holistic well-being of each child, youth, and adult entrusted to us. We believe that we, as a Church, must take reasonable steps to love and protect people, especially our children, youth and vulnerable adults, while they are involved in programs and activities provided in and by our local churches, districts, and our Conference. In addition, we must take reasonable steps to love and protect those adults who work with our children, youth and vulnerable adults. 

The Safe Sanctuaries policy has recently been updated, and the team is hoping to arrange broad training in August, beyond the training that will occur in every ministry involving children, youth, and vulnerable adults.  The broad training will introduce how to identify issues, how concerns are to be handled, and prevention strategies.  Training within ministry areas will cover the specific prevention policy along with how the policy is specifically lived out in each individual ministry. 

Keeping our church safe is a priority, and it will likely take some changes in mindsets and long held practices as we work together to protect our church family.  We thank you for your support and compliance in this very important agenda, and encourage everyone to attend the training and become more aware.

The Safe Sanctuaries Team                 (Contributed by Pastor Sherry)



If you are interested in participating in caregiving ministries - whether it be visiting the sick or home bound, or providing a meal, or making calls, or sending cards, or many other ways to care for others, please contact Pastor Sherry.  As a team working together we can ensure that the church family is well cared for, living into the call to be the body of Christ.  


Prayer is an essential and foundational part of our Christian faith.  A prayer team could meet for intercessory prayer, go on prayer walks in the community, hold prayer vigils, and pray for the concerns of church members.  If anyone would like to create or participate in a prayer team, please contact Pastor Sherry. 


How to Have a Daily Devotional Time

The phrases "doing devotions" or "having devotions" may sound foreign or weird. These phrases are simply ways people describe spending time with God by reading the Bible (and other Christian literature) and praying. Why bother to read the Bible and pray? Why is having a regular time with God important? We spend time with God in order to deepen and strengthen our relationship with the One who created us and yearns to be with us.

But because we are all different and because each of us has a unique relationship with God, no one devotional pattern will work for everyone. And no one way works for anyone all of the time. Experiment until you find the time of day, content, and length of time spent that helps you feel connected with God.

Begin your devotional time by quieting yourself. Take a few deep breaths and become still. Some people light a candle or say a simple prayer such as, "O God, open my heart to hear your message to me in the words I read."

Then read a short passage in the Bible and some additional reading. A resource such as The Upper Room, Daily Bread or Disciplines can guide you in choosing scripture passages, and its witness from other believers can help you connect the words of the Bible with concerns of everyday life.

At the end of your reading time, be silent and wait to see what words, feelings, or images rise in your heart or tug at your thoughts. Notice what situations or people come to mind.

Consider how the words or images connect with your life; then pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help you to see what God may be saying to you through what you have read, thought, and felt.

Say a prayer, asking God to help you follow the guidance you have received and to be with the people who came to mind during your reading and reflection.

You may want to record your thoughts and feelings in a notebook or journal, to help you remember what God has been saying to you. Many people find it helpful to write about concerns and to write a prayer as a way to end their devotional time.                                        

 by Mary Lou Redding