News from University United Methodist Church in East Lansing, MI 

January 20, 2021



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Feature Articles
A Message from Bishop Bard: Reflections on the Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


(NOTE: This letter was originally published on Monday, January 18, 2021.)

Dear Friends in Christ in the Michigan Conference of The United Methodist Church,

I greet you on this celebration of the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This day brings with it some wonderful memories for me. When I was pastor of First United Methodist Church in Duluth, MN, I joined other area clergy for a Sunday evening interreligious worship service at a historically Black church in our community. The morning of MLK Day, either the church I pastored or a Catholic Church in town hosted a breakfast for the community. There was always a late morning march of about a mile and a half. That may not sound like much, but remember, this was January in Duluth!

More than memories, I carry within me the distinct voice of Dr. King. I was only nine years old when he died, but his voice echoes in my soul as I’ve listened to it again and again over the years. While in college, I bought these two records on the Gordy label – that’s Barry Gordy of Motown. One is a recording of an earlier version of King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” given in Detroit. The other has a sermon, “The Drum Major Instinct,” and his final speech, given the night before he was killed. I carry that voice within my soul.

This year, I also carry the voice of Black author James Baldwin in my soul. This summer, I watched the recent award-winning documentary about Baldwin, I Am Not Your Negro. This holiday season I read Baldwin’s book of essays, The Fire Next Time, and could hear his voice as I read.

I am grateful to listen to those voices today. I am grateful for Dr. King’s words:
  • God has a way of wringing good out of evil…. At times, life is hard, as hard as crucible steel. It has its bleak and painful moments. Like the ever-flowing waters of a river, life has its moments of drought and its moments of flood. Like the ever-changing cycle of the seasons, life has the soothing warmth of the summers and the piercing chill of its winters. But through it all, God walks with us. Never forget that God is able to lift you from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope...
Lest we think such words too sanguine for the moment we are in, I remind you that these words were spoken in a eulogy for four Black girls murdered in a church bombing in Birmingham.

I am grateful for James Baldwin’s words.
  • We, the black and the white, deeply need each other here if we are really to become a nation – if we are really, that is, to achieve our identity, our maturity, as men and women. (The Fire Next Time, 111)

On this MLK Birthday celebration today, I ask us to listen to those voices and to other Black and Brown voices that are also calling us forward by asking difficult but necessary questions, like why black and brown bodies continue to die at the hands of law enforcement in disproportionate numbers – George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and, on December 22, Andre Hill; why was the law enforcement response seemingly so different when a predominantly white group stormed the Capitol building in comparison to protestors calling attention to the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor; why do White people struggle so mightily to acknowledge the impact of racialized thinking in our history, in how we have treated Black, Brown and Indigenous persons?

As we hear those voices of pain and anguish and longing and hope, we must join the work articulated so well by Dr. King “to transform the dangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood” (1963) and “to speed up the day when there will be peace on earth and goodwill toward all” (Christmas Sermon, 1967).
Grace and Peace,
David Alan Bard, Michigan Area Bishop



Doris Brewer has a new address and phone number and would love to hear from you! Her new contact information is: Doris Brewer, 6800 Deder Rd., Belding, MI 48809, 616-244-3367.


Join us for virtual Holy Communion during our online worship service on Sunday, February 3 at 10:00 a.m. (viewable on our Facebook page or You Tube channel). We will have a supply of single-serve communion elements available for pick up at the church (1120 S. Harrison Rd., East Lansing) on January 27, 28, and 29  from 12:00 - 3:00 p.m. Call the office when you arrive, and we will meet you at the door. Please let us know how many persons will be receiving communion so that we can have the correct amount available.


The next Methodist Men meeting will be held on Thursday, January 28 at 7:30 p.m. via Zoom. Dr. Raza Haque will join us for a conversation about COVID-19 and vaccines. Dr, Haque is an Associate Professor of Human Medicine at MSU. Women and all who are interested are invited to join the meeting. If you are not receiving emails about the Methodist Men meetings and would like to receive one about this meeting or future meetings, please send your email address to Jim Pocock ( so he can send you the Zoom link for the meetings.


The Church and Society Committee is sponsoring two book circles for Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad. The groups will meet via Zoom on Tuesdays, 3:00 - 4:30p.m., beginning February 9 OR Wednesdays, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m., beginning February 10. To sign up, please email Rev. Bills at and indicate which session you would like to attend. Also, please indicate if you need a book purchased for you (available on Amazon) or if you need help installing the Zoom software on your computer. (It only needs to be installed once and is a free service.)
This is meant to be a learning experience that is personal, communal, and transformational. It will require some shared group leadership and monitoring on a rotating basis. Participants are strongly encouraged to journal in response to questions in the reading. Participants will share facilitation and monitoring of the group process. This is to ensure that all voices are heard and that a safe environment is maintained. Me and White Supremacy was originally a workbook for racism training. It has been adapted to its current form and has become a New York Times best seller. The groups will meet for eight weeks, covering a half chapter each week. (Please read the appendix first!)


First we fed them. Now, we need to maintain our care for them. The nurses, front line workers, and hospital staff still need our help. While many employees at Sparrow Hospital continue to work in their fight against COVID-19, these caregivers are facing daily life without adequate income, food, or shelter. Their spouses may have lost their jobs, child care costs are mounting, and monthly bills still need attention.
The UUMC Mission Committee has changed the name and focus of the FEED THE FIGHT account. The new fund will now be called CARE FOR THE CAREGIVERS. All monies collected in this project will be donated to The Sparrow Foundation and used as financial assistance for the health care staff on a monthly need-by-need basis. A $200 check was sent in December, and we are hopeful that we can send monthly checks in the future.
We have received a grant from the Endowment Fund, and your donations will be matched up to $1000. We are asking you to make donations, designated for the "CAREGIVER” fund, through your mail-in offerings (UUMC, 1120 S. Harrison Rd., East Lansing, MI 48823) or through Venmo (@UUMCDonation). Thank you for your support of our “Hometown Heroes.”


If you have any 2021 calendars that you would like to donate, there is a plastic container to collect them at the following location: 2375 Sapphire Lane, East Lansing, 48823. As of January 31, we will no longer collect calendars for 2021. What we have will be distributed to public health nursing clients and nursing homes. Many thanks to all who contributed!


If you live in Ingham County and are interested in signing up for vaccination against COVID-19, you can now do so through the Ingham County Health Department. The process is straightforward but, with limited vaccine availability, may take several tries. The vaccination is administered at the MSU Pavillion as a drive-through.

For those who have an internet connection, click on this link. When the site opens, click on "Vaccine Information" and then click on the yellow highlighted section. That will take you to the sign-up form.

For those who do not have internet, you may call 517-541-2605. Leave a message including your name, age, phone number, and the fact that you live in Ingham County.

Any individual that needs help with this process can call Sara Alchin (517-896-5119) or Janel Horrocks-Boehmer (517-449-7345) for support.


Many of you know you can find our online worship service on Facebook on Sunday mornings at 10:00 a.m. But did you know we also have a YouTube channel? You can subscribe to our channel and watch our videos there, too, if you prefer! We “premiere” our worship services on both platforms, which means it is pre-recorded but aired in “real time” so that you can interact with your friends and neighbors as it is showing for the first time. If you are subscribed to this newsletter, you will automatically receive an email on Sunday morning with direct links to the Facebook and YouTube videos.
  •  To Watch on Facebook: In the Facebook search bar, type “University United Methodist Church – MSU” to find our page. Make sure to “Like” our page so that you can easily follow us and receive reminders in the future! The direct link to the page is:
  • To Watch on YouTube: In the YouTube search bar, type “University United Methodist Church – East Lansing”. Then “Subscribe” to our channel so that you will be able to locate us quickly! The direct link to our channel is:


Rev. Bills is meeting with anyone who would like to fellowship virtually over Zoom on Sundays at 11:00 a.m., following the online worship service. Come as you are -- in the comfort of your own home! We can discuss the worship service or the sermon, share news, ask questions, ask for prayer, or just come to see some familiar faces! We miss you! If you would like to join us, you will need the Zoom link. The link will be posted in the comments during the Sunday morning worship service on Facebook (University United Methodist Church – MSU) or YouTube (University United Methodist Church – East Lansing), or you can email Rev. Bills on Sunday mornings before 11:00 a.m. at


We want to remind you that at this time the church building is STILL CLOSED to all persons with the exception of essential staff (Rev. William Bills, Rev. Jim Magee, Bruce Wheaton, Jay Weessies, Kim Depew). An appointment IS REQUIRED for all others, including any business that needs to happen inside the building or deliveries. Appointments should be made PRIOR TO ARRIVING. For an appointment, call 517-351-7030. ***MASKS ARE REQUIRED TO BE WORN INSIDE THE BUILDING.*** Your cooperation is greatly appreciated as we take necessary precautions to help ensure the health and safety of all persons during these unprecedented times due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


If you would like to submit a prayer concern, please send your request via email to These will be posted on our website, and Rev. Bills will read the names and lift them in prayer during our online services. If you would like to view the prayer concerns on our website, go to From the top menu, select “Make a Difference” and then “Prayer.” The password to view the prayer concerns is “Together” (please note that It is case-sensitive). If you have an urgent request, please contact Rev. Bills at 517-351-7030, ext. 207.


Thank you for your continued support of the church during this uncertain time! There are three convenient ways to make sure your donations reach us: 
  1. Mail your donation to UUMC (1120 S. Harrison Rd., East Lansing, MI 48823). Make sure to specify what the donation is for on the memo line.
  2. Give through the Venmo app to @UUMCDonation.
  3. Electronic Giving: If you would like to utilize the e-giving option, please contact our Financial Administrator, Jay Weessies, at 517-351-7030, ext. 205 or for assistance.
Announcements are due on Tuesdays by 5:00 PM. If possible, please e-mail your item to Questions about Tower Alert should be directed to Diane Constan (517-393-5450).

For updated church information, be sure to check the UUMC-Wesley Foundation website at

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