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

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



“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”                                          Isaiah 43


There is a chain that hangs from the oak tree at our cottage. You would barely notice it since the rust on it matches the tree bark. My father hung it from a branch thirty years ago to hold a bug zapper. The bug zapper is long gone, and so, sadly, is my father. But the chain still hangs from the tree branch. Years ago it would have been simple to take it down. Get out a tall ladder, climb up and undo it. (But I never had the time.) Now, the tree has grown around the chain. I can cut it out, but it’s still in the tree, and who knows what damage it has done.

Churches are the protectors of traditions and things old. Scriptures from thousands of years ago. Rituals we have practiced for centuries. Songs written over 100 years ago. These things comfort us in their familiarity. They give us a sense of grounding. But some things we cling to are chains in the tree. They have long ago lost their purpose. They exist because we haven’t taken the time to consider their value.

We live in a rapidly changing world. We all know that. In the midst of such radical change we need constants to anchor us to God and life itself. But God is doing new things in our world. He is bringing refreshing springs to a wasteland of despair, frustration and anxiety. As churches, and as Christians, God is calling us to live into the changes that will transform the world for Christ. Some things will stay the same, but some will change. If we seek where God is leading us, we will see gardens blossom in the desert. If not, we might find ourselves, our churches and our lives becoming old rusty chains that no one cares about, notices, or bothers with.

The Bible tells us the gates of hell will not prevail against God’s church, but he didn’t promise the same for churches and religions of our own creation. God calls us to be transformed and changed for his purpose. May God make it so for all of us.

Pastor Tom

From: LORI Gondek, CLM

Lately it seems that I have been put in many positions that people say that I have said something behind someone’s back. It is hard to believe that people I surround myself with would try to cause harm by putting words in my mouth. Maybe I need to manage the way I have conversations so others will not be hurt or offended. So I offer words that could help me in my journey as a disciple of Christ.

            Many great men and women down through the ages have offered counsel on how to keep our tongues checked and caged. King David put it even more bluntly in Psalm 39:1: "I said, 'I will guard my ways that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle.” If that's what it takes. A determined tight muzzle on the muscle in your mouth. How can we watch what is said so others are not hurt?

 1 - Think first.  Before your lips start moving, pause ten seconds and mentally preview your words. Are they accurate or exaggerated? Kind or cutting? Necessary or needless? Wholesome or vile? Grateful or complaining?

2 - Talk less. You increase your chances of blowing it if you talk too much. Furthermore, compulsive talkers find it difficult to keep friends. Conserve your verbal energy!

3 - Ask three questions before we speak: Is it true? Is it kind? Does it glorify Christ? If we would always think before we speak, others would not get hurt.

I believe we truly want to be a body that loves each other. To Bring Hope to a lost world and peace to our brokenness. Let it start with Me.

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…

Grace is a beautiful reminder that God understands,

forgives, and loves us…no matter what!

Many thanks to all of those who voted in this year’s hymn sing. It was a pleasure to sing and enjoy the hymns that you had chosen and I hope that yours were among the ones we sang. If not, there is always next year!

Thanks to all who participated in our Spring Concert this year. And many thanks and blessings to Bud Mayer for planning and putting it all together. 

Just a gentle reminder that although many in our congregation will be on vacation or enjoying other summertime pleasures…we would be so grateful to everyone for keeping their pledge current and have a safe summer season.

We are always looking for extra help to help our worship service run smoothly. If you are interested in becoming a liturgist, usher, greeter or communion steward, please see Lori, Sherry or Dan.

The Worship Committee


History Corner

We do so many ordinary things each year not realizing how it all goes together to create a history of who we are. Here are some of those things from 2002.  Among our graduates for 2002 were Sharon Bradley, Barbara Sorley, Nancy Haley, Christopher Marshall, and Jimmy Woomer.

The Mothers and Others Banquet was held in May of 2002.  Entertainment for the event were the Niagara Experience Players. The Mothers and Others Banquet was held to celebrate the relationship of mothers and their daughters or those who felt like their daughters.  This event was organized by members of the UMW.

Officers of the United Methodist Women were Annette Amirian, Shirley DeMartin, Bea Cook, Mary Weber, Lorelei Collins, and Lois Thorp.  The UMW held the Election Day Chowder Sale. They made regular donations to the church.

The Rummage Sale for 2002 included rummage, a bake sale, and hotdogs with chips and a beverage.  We had space for shoppers to sit and eat after digging for bargains.  We generally did pretty well making around $1,100 for the general fund. 

Pastor Davin Oskvig and his wife Lianne came to our church in July of 2002.  An informal reception was held for the newly married couple during coffee hour.

The Volleyball group met for games in the grove at 6:30 pm on a Sunday afternoon. Our Quilters were still sewing and making quilts to order.  The Adult Drop-In met on Wednesdays at 1:00 pm. in Alice’s Room. Vacation Bible School was held in August of 2002.

We had to buy a new air conditioning unit that year.

Pastor Oskvig reorganized the Memorial team and Judy Kutis was appointed as Memorial chairperson. Formerly decisions were made between the memorial person, who was a trustee, and the pastor. He felt this team approach would encourage more input on memorial expenditures.                                          

 (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