Monthly Newsletter



First United Methodist Church

8210 Buffalo Avenue

Niagara Falls, New York 14304

Celebrating 164 Years in Ministry

1855 – 2019

8:45 am Sunday Morning Bible Study


             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



Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching.           Hebrews 10

It seems for me that every day the list of things continues to grow. How about you? I am not sure when everything seemed to ramp up into such a sense of over commitment, too many responsibilities, and such little time. I think it was the same time we were gifted with “time saving” devices like computers, cell phones and the internet. But we all know we can’t blame things, or others, of even our culture or job. It begins with us, and the priorities we set. Too often we set them so completely wrong. And then the very things that could settle our souls and help us to see the path forward, we set aside because we can’t find time for them. There is an old poem that often comes to mind when my priorities get out of alignment:

I got up early one morning and rushed right into the day. I had so much to accomplish that I didn't have time to pray. Problems just tumbled about me, and heavier came each task. "Why doesn't God help me?" I wondered. He answered, You didn't ask," I wanted to see joy and beauty, but the day toiled on, gray and bleak. I wondered why God didn't show me. He said, "But you didn't seek.: I tried to come into God's presence. I used all my keys at the lock. God gently and lovingly chided, "My child, you didn't knock." I woke up early this morning and paused before entering the day. I had so much to accomplish that I had to take time to pray.

Each time we draw closer to God, in our prayers, our devotions, our worship …. we draw close to the source of wisdom, vision and understanding … and most of all peace.

Take some time today, and this weekend, and this year …. It will change everything.

Pastor Tom

From: LORI Gondek, CLM

 John 3:16-17 New International Version (NIV)

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

I was Listening to the radio this past week and they were discussing the requirements to get into Stanford University. This High academic University only takes on the best scholars and requires students to achieve a 3.94 in all levels of classes in order to succeed in life.

The school has a 5% acceptance rate ranking it #1 in California. Last year, 2,085 out of 44,073 applicants were admitted making Stanford an extremely competitive  school.  Academically, it has exceptionally high requirements for admission test scores, generally admitting students who score in the top 3 percent. Stanford University typically accepts and attracts "A" average high school students. Of those applicants who were admitted, 82% chose to enroll. This indicates that admission to the school is highly desirable and it may be a primary choice for many students. Most incoming freshmen graduated in the top ten percent of their high school class. In other words, you have to be perfect and maintain all requirements to be perfect during your attendance.

Being a Christian is the absolute opposite. Jesus holds very low standards for one to enter a life of being Christian. His Grace is the only way to perfection.  Jesus says all we must do is believe and with our belief comes a wonderful new heart full of forgiveness and grace.  Christ is looking for imperfect people to be made perfect when we call on His name.  His requirements are attainable and give us the admission to Heaven. As Pastor Tom always says “we live this life to get to the next”. I rather prefer HIS requirements of all not only the TOP 3 percent that Stanford allows.

Thank you, Lord, that we can come to you unworthy to be made worthy.

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…

Never stop hoping for what you want…

Or being content with where God has you now!

It is the start of the fall season with many things at First Church resuming. Our Chancel Choir will resume on Wednesday, August 28th at 7:00 pm. Anyone who

is interested in singing should attend!  There are plenty of choir robes and sheet music!

Judy’s New Beginnings Bible Study will be resuming on Sunday, September 15th at 8:45 am. The coffee is on and the conversation is always heavenly!


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 Project Update

The riding lawn mower is back from service.  We had to get new blades and some engine repairs.  Helen is now able to cruise along keeping our exterior beautiful.

Drain tile at the church and mission house and the landscaping has been completed.  We still have some work taking place inside of the mission house to repair the inside walls and floor from water damage.

Window repair has been completed.  The appearance of the building is much better.  We are now maintenance free as far as painting in that area now.

Our latest meltdown came from our air conditioner.  It is unknown what caused it but the electrical lines leading to the air conditioner in the attic melted.  It took several trips by the air conditioning service people and an electrician to find that the power leading to that area was not full power.  We had two Sundays with 83 degrees in the sanctuary but I am happy to report that we are now back to cool and refreshing.

This was an unplanned expense this summer that has depleted our trustee budget for the rest of the year and maybe a little into next year’s budget.  Unfortunately, this could not be foreseen.  We also had some wiring issues in the kitchen which the same electrician took care of.

The wiring of our church is old and we will need to upgrade that wiring in the next couple of years.

Last item still to be completed this summer is the enclosure of our sign.  We have money still in our sign fund to cover that expense.  They are behind but said it should be completed by the first week in September.

Please keep your prayers coming that we have met all our big expenses for this year.  If anyone would like to make an additional donation towards all of our building expenses, it would be greatly appreciated.

Nancy Walek, Trustee Committee Chairperson


History Corner 

   Business and finance are a necessary part of organizations like our church.  Back in 1958 we bought the land next to the church, the parking lot and grove.  Reverend Shirley Travis held a special meeting to discuss the details of the purchase.  Mr. Zito, a local real estate dealer, was contacted about the 250 foot wide by 190 foot deep property.  The Marine Trust Company made funds available to us to purchase the land. The zoning on the Buffalo Avenue side and the South side of the church were different. The land many years before had been used for tennis courts. The original purchase price was $40,000.

Mind you this just didn’t happen on a whim.  The property was up for sale and some folks were a little nervous that someone would buy it who wasn’t so friendly to the church. Originally, I believe the congregation was beginning to see the need for a larger parking lot. I heard that there was a fender bender in front of the church one night and not long after we got our parking lot.

The congregation was asked to supply addresses for their graduates. This way the graduates could keep in contact with the church through cards letters and First Facts.

Some Bible study classes helped with painting and property cleanup.

This same year Pastor Travis accepted a position as executive secretary to the Wyoming Valley Council of Churches with headquarters in Wilkes-Barr, Pennsylvania.

The membership of the church in 1958 was 914.  The average  attendance was, of course, much less at 325. The pastor’s salary was really small, $5,250.  The secretary made only $2,000.  The janitor made $2,184.  The organist got $600. The mortgage was $5,000 per year.

(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. 


Tips for Starting a Daily Devotional

Mama always said. “People have time for what they make time for.”

There’s no time like the present to start, and here are a  few things to consider to make starting a devotional time seem less daunting.

1) Choose a daily time that fits best in your schedule. Some people believe in starting the day with devotional time. That sounds great, but the morning may not be the best time for you. Any time of the day is great, as long as it works for you.

2) Pick a quiet spot. No matter how great you may be at multi-tasking, devotional time isn’t the best for showcasing your mad multi-tasking skills. Try your best to steal away by yourself. If you have family, make the time a family quiet time where they can sit and look at books, as well.

3) Put the cell phone and tablet away. Use devotional time to reacquaint yourself with the Bible.

4) Try journaling your daily time. A notebook should do. All you really need is a space to jot down your thoughts from your devotions.

5) Have more than one devotional on hand.  If you’re familiar with devotional books, then you know that they are not all created equal. Some are short and sweet while others are in-depth. There are days where your brain is overwhelmingly full and can’t handle anything heavy. Then there are other times when you want/need to go deep and study for a bit. Minimize the chance of “I don’t feel like reading” excuses with at least a few options.

 6) Ask for help. There is always someone you can turn to, to assist you with getting started or even getting back on track. Our Pastors are more than willing to answer questions and help you get closer to God.