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Vision Update - June 2022

Hello, First Free Church Family -

As you might know, First Free exists to guide people into becoming healthy followers of Jesus Christ.

Our vision is to see people know God’s life changing power and love, grow in community, and live out his truth daily.

To God's glory, we are pursuing this vision in seven primary ways:

  • Growing healthy disciples
  • Welcoming more people
  • Equipping next-generation leaders
  • Upgrading our facilities
  • Expanding multimedia ministry
  • Deepening our reach into our communities
  • Revitalizing global ministries

I wanted to pass along some personal updates regarding our vision, ministry, and ongoing projects for your encouragement and prayers.

Pastor of Worship and Creative Arts

A couple of weeks ago, a consultant from our search firm made a weekend visit to First Free. That Friday, he held individual meetings with all four of our pastors and Nancy Jo Demolin, our current Director of Worship and Creative Arts. On Saturday, he met with a majority of our musicians and tech team members before meeting with members of our church leadership for several hours. He then filmed a brief video about our church and the vocational opportunity with me. Finally, on Sunday morning, he worshipped with us, observing our pre-worship sound checks, dress rehearsal, and service.

Utilizing the insights gained during his visit and other tools, he and the search firm now work to create a church profile and a candidate profile. These profiles will guide their promotion of our open position and national search for qualified candidates over the summer.

As this search unfolds, please pray:

  • With gratitude for Nancy Jo Demolin's past and continued ministry as our Director of Worship and Creative Arts and her gracious help through this search process;
  • For church leaders, staff, musicians, and others who will help shape and guide this search;
  • For our search firm as they help us plan, promote, and execute a thorough and prayerful search for our next Pastor or Director of Worship and Creative Arts;
  • For related items, as the Spirit leads;
  • And for God to reveal the person of His choosing to lead the next generation of worship and creative arts ministry at First Free Church.

Changed Lives Fund and Facility Renovation

Our contractors, some dedicated staff members and leaders, and some tireless volunteers are making significant progress in our facility renovation with praise and glory to God. Whether it's new carpet, reupholstered pews, a new tech booth, new hallways, new windows, or a hundred other improvements, God's faithfulness and provision abound. So, while too many variables preclude announcing a specific date for reentry into our auditorium for worship, progress to date has us currently hopeful for sometime in July.

Likewise, we are grateful for God's provision in the Changed Lives Fund through your generosity. As a result, we've made significant progress toward our goal of raising 250K in a year toward offsetting the costs of this project. Thank you for your partnership.

140th Anniversary Celebration

This month marks the 140th Anniversary of First Free Church! We will briefly commemorate this milestone during a worship service this month. However, we will officially celebrate this expression of God's faithfulness at our annual church picnic on Sunday, September 18. So please mark your calendar and plan to join us!

Growing Wider through Outreach

Late last month, Joel Rishel, our Pastor of Children and Families, and his team promoted upcoming ministries, Summer Blast and Summer Pop, during the White Oak Memorial Day Parade. From a Jeep-pulled parade float and with the help of dozens of marchers, they handed out hundreds of invitations to Summer Blast and Summer Pop to community residents. 

Later this month, our Welcome Team will meet for a special planning luncheon after worship to prepare for our return to worshipping in the auditorium. We will be reconfiguring our team to accommodate our upgraded facility and additional offerings like the cafe. 

Further, I am currently working with our elders and trustees to lay the foundation for the start of a new outreach ministry this fall: Serve Saturdays. Watch for more details on this exciting plan to serve our communities, neighbors, and members in need. 

Growing Deeper through Discipleship

This month, we begin our summer Adult Bible Fellowships (ABF) for women and men. Both Sarah Howard, our Women's Ministry Director, and Kirk Albrecht, our Pastor of Discipleship, and their respective teams prepared excellent studies on Nehemiah (women) and Moses (men). Don't miss them! 

This month, Pastor Kirk Albrecht will also host his Being and Bringing Good News (BBGN) workshop on relational evangelism (June 4, 2022). Along with Discover, our guest orientation gathering, and Deepen, our new membership gathering, BBGN now serves as the third of eventually four "core" gatherings at First Free - gatherings we encourage ALL First Free members and friends to eventually complete. We plan to share more about First Free's "Core Four" sometime later this year. 

Also, Sarah Howard and the women's ministry team recently announced their exciting plan for the 2022 First Free Women's Conference (September 10, 2022), featuring author and speaker, Abby Hutto. Mark your calendars. Don't miss this special and encouraging time together in God's Word. 

Mercy and Missions

Please pray for Alex Ielase, our Pastor of Students and Young Adults, and his team as they prepare for summer missions to Ocean City and our beloved McKeesport. With some amazing developments and growth this year among students and Christian clubs at local high schools, we have many reasons to rejoice. Please pray for Pastor Alex, our students and young adults, and their efforts to grow deeper in faith and go wider into our communities and world. 

Also, please pray for Pastor Kirk Albrecht and the Global Ministries team as they coordinate with and help care for our mission partners around the United States and world. 

Staffing Additions

It's been a joy to welcome Bob Squires (Maintenance) and Jennifer Ielase (Lead Pastor's Assistant) to our staff. We are already exceedingly blessed by them both. 

Conclusion

Of course, there is much more to share. Watch for more updates in the coming weeks as we see God's plan for First Free unfold and more lives changed to His glory!