Sensory Sunday School Coming!


At First Church of Glen Ellyn we stand behind the ideal that all are welcome within our doors. That is why we are so excited about a new program to offer Sunday School education to children whose needs may be different from their peers.

In our mission to warmly welcome all into our faith community, on September 10 we will open our Sensory Sunday School program, designed for children with unique learning needs.

This program offers two settings for boys and girls.

  • The first is a self-contained classroom, furnished with decor, furniture, and tools that will help our children to learn in ways that help them to find success. While maintaining the content being taught in the other classrooms, learners in this room will utilize resources that meet their individual needs.
  • The second setting that we will be offering to our students is inclusive with same-aged peers. Each child identified as needing additional support will be assigned a Buddy to aid them in the classroom as they learn with their classmates.

As we prepare to kickoff this program on September 10, we are meeting with parents who are interested in this program. Through individual interviews we will learn more about our learners, as well as how we can best support their education.

As our program continues to build, we look forward to extending our ministry to include support during worship as a respite program for parents.

Seeing our vision become a reality would not be possible without both regional and local supports. We are grateful to the Northern Illinois Conference for granting us the finances necessary to furnish our classroom and order supplies and to First Church’s Permanent Endowment Committee for granting us the funding necessary to train our volunteers.

Please spread the word if you now a family that would like to be a part of this very special undertaking. Remember, ALL are welcome here!

To learn more about the program, please contact or


Habitat for Humanity Mission Trip

This summer, First Church member Elena Nichol was blessed with an opportunity to serve with Habitat for Humanity in Chaffee County, Colorado by joining her sister’s church, Tri Lakes United Methodist Church of Monument, Colorado.

Four work days took the team of 10 to three work sites at various stages of completion.  This included preparations for the foundation for this year’s build, landscaping details at the duplex finished last year, and finishing touches on an apartment for Habitat interns and travelling groups above the local ReStore.

Please enjoy this slideshow of the trip, soundtrack music by previous First Church members.

If you are interested in more information about Habitat for Humanity, it’s ReStore efforts or in being a part of such rewarding efforts, please contact our local Habitat for Humanity affiliate at or First Church members Bob Anderson or Elena Nichol.

Annual Conference 2017


Did you know that the Northern Illinois Conference (our conference) holds an annual meeting each June? It does and Bob Anderson attended this year as our Lay Representative. We are so grateful for Bob’s interest and participation in events that reach beyond our church in Glen Ellyn!

Here are Bob’s summary notes from the event. If you want to learn more, visit the Annual Conference link here or read the Bishop’s thoughts here.


Bishop Sally Dick preached on the story of the ten bridesmaids who took their lamps to meet the bridegroom.  She views this story of ‘being ready’ as relating not to what happened at the last wedding, but understanding the context of this particular wedding.

She said that this also applies to ministry, and understanding the context of where one’s appointment is, rather than relying on ‘what we did last time’.

Bishop John Schol (Greater New Jersey Conference of UMC), Bishop Julius Trimble  (Indiana Conference of UMC), and Bishop John F. White (Presiding Bishop of the Fourth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which includes Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Canada, and India) all participated as guests in the Ordination Service.

Two clergy from NIC were commissioned for work as missionaries. They are Rev. Kyong-Ah (Kay) Woo and her spouse Rev. Jin Yang Kim, with a base in Geneva, Switzerland.  Rev. Woo was at one time appointed an associate minister with our congregation.

  • Commissioned for the work of a deacon:  3
  • Commissioned to the work of an elder:  8
  • Ordained as deacon:  2
  • Ordained as elder:  6
  • Lay missioners:  14

The retirement service honored 17 clergy and local pastors for their combined 529 years of service. The memorial service remembered one bishop, Bishop Felton May, 14 retired clergy,  7 spouses of retired or active clergy (including Maralyn Zeman, wife of Paul Zeman, and a former member of GEFUMC),  and six lay members of the Annual Conference.

This year’s worship design leader was Dr. Marcia McFee. She helped with the design of the worship space and service, as well as being a strong music leader. (Later in the conference, she had an opportunity to explain some of her ideas about worship design that were used for the various services of the conference).

Again this year, Drs. Jack Seymour and Margaret Ann Crain, retired faculty members of Garrett Theological Seminary, led two sessions of bible study.

The business matters of the conferences were handled in five plenary sessions.

  • The first matter was the approval of the consent calendar, a mechanism for voting on several resolutions (considered to likely be non-controversial) with a single vote.
  • The most involved resolution proposed an organizational restructuring plan for the conference, an effort to streamline the work of the conference.
  • Other legislative items included resolutions to a) call for affordable health care, b) close the Bethany UMC in Itasca, c) choose to elect delegates for the 2020 General Conference at the 2019 Annual Conference, and d) approve a conference budget of $6,648,410 for 2018. This budget amount is about the same as last year.
  • Additionally, the UMC Constitutional amendments that came from the 2016 General Conference were passed. However, these amendments must be passed by 2/3 of the total number of members of annual conferences from all over the world.  The results will be certified by the College of Bishops after the conclusion of all of these annual conferences.

By way of offerings, 4135 pounds of materials were donated to the Midwest Mission Distribution Center.  The 2017 Bishop’s Appeal special offering raised more than $71,000 for the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund, and 25% of that amount will remain for work in this Annual Conference.  Finally, an offering of just over $4,000 was given to the Ministerial Education Fund.

Appalachia Service Project

Today’s blog post was written by Laura Hollinger Antonelli, Director of Student Ministries…

This year marks a very special occasion in First United Methodist’s relationship with the Appalachia Service Project (ASP). It our 45th year sending a mission team and we were honored to receive a Certificate of Appreciation from ASP’s Chief Advancement Officer, David Kelley. This plaque belongs to all of us and marks generations of generous hearts and hands in our congregation.

This year we had 20 youth, young adults, and adults, divided into three work-teams all travelling to repair homes in Knott County, KY. We stayed at Lotts Creek Community School and shared a few outdoor showers and classroom sleeping space with about 60 other volunteers, most of whom also hailed from the suburbs of Chicago. The four ASP staff members at our site were supportive and helpful and the kitchen staff cooked up delicious breakfast and dinner for us all daily.

Each week-day, after a full, tiring, yet rewarding day of work on home repair, we enjoyed rich cultural and spiritual programs at our site during the Evening Gathering. The highlight of the Evening Gatherings was a night of music and square dancing. For many of us this was our first time square dancing and we had a great time!

Our three work-teams each built a special relationship with the family whose home we were repairing and we were able to demonstrate, and have demonstrated to us, this year’s ASP theme “Love in Action,” taken from 1 John 3:18. “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with action and in truth.” We experienced the true privilege of being invited into someone’s home and heart, building new relationships with our families-from elders to children, and building deeper bonds of friendship and fellowship with one another. ASP is a life-changing experience and our ASP team this year says,

“Thank you FUMC for supporting us on this beautiful mission experience!”

A Covenant


When you hear the word “covenant” what do you think of? Today, I’m sitting at my desk and, like many days this spring, it is raining. So, I’m thinking about God’s covenant after the floods.

I’m also thinking about a new covenant we have adopted at church council. Scroll down to read it at the end of this post or read a little bit about church council first.

If you attended the Lenten supper when we covered the ministry topic, you will remember that we group ministries into these broad, somewhat overlapping, categories: Nurturing, Outreach, Witness and Resource Management. Church council is the group that oversees all of these ministries.

Here is how the Book of Discipline describes council’s purpose.

¶ 252.1. Purpose – The church council shall provide for planning and implementing a program of nurture, outreach, witness, and resources in the local church. It shall also provide for the administration of its organization and temporal life. It shall envision, plan, implement, and annually evaluate the mission and ministry of the church. The church council shall be amenable to and function as the administrative agency of the charge conference (¶ 244).

This January, our former council chair Vicki Spiller stepped down I stepped into the role. As we’ve changed leadership, we’ve also made some other adjustments to the group and our meetings such as merging in the CAT/Transformation team and spending more time on spiritual development.

(If you are curious about who is on church council, look for a blue or yellow ribbon under our name tags that say Council Member. We’d LOVE to answer any questions you have or hear your thoughts about the church!)

And we adopted a covenant that reminds us of our shared faith and commitment to Christ and each other as spiritual leaders. It also outlines the promises we make to one another as members of the Body of Christ.

The full text is below. We encourage all committees, small groups, and ministry teams at First Church to think about their covenant with each other. Consider using this one or creating your own. Let us promise to honor Him as we work together to build the kingdom.



First Church Leadership Council Covenant

As a leadership team for First United Methodist Church of Glen Ellyn, we are committed to this body of Christ through our love for God. We recognize that the church is not our idea but God’s idea, and that His Spirit wants to guide us. We promise to seek to discover what is best for our whole church and we will willingly sacrifice our own desires to those of our risen Lord in faithfully building the church He desires for us to be.

We recognize that a strong body of Christ is built on loving relationships with one another, our church, and our community; and so we commit to the following behaviors that we might allow the Holy Spirit to work through us to build disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

We commit to pray for each other, our congregation, our leaders, and the United Methodist Church.

We commit to building relationships within our team and with our Church by:

  • Building each other up with prayer, affirmations, and support.
  • Maintaining a posture of humility, forgiveness, love, and respect toward one another.

We commit to seek open and effective communication by:

  • Offering opinions with charity and humility.
  • To the best of our abilities, sharing complete and accurate information.
  • Owning our personal thoughts, feelings and experiences and speaking directly about them.
  • Seeking feedback from others and sharing it clearly and honestly.
  • Listening for understanding before judgement.
  • Honoring confidentiality as necessary.

We commit to work through conflict as an opportunity to grow in Christ and in healthy authentic relationship with one another by:

  • Approaching one another directly when there is disagreement or criticism.
  • Seeking to deal constructively with disagreements or conflict.
  • Actively and graciously pursuing genuine peace and reconciliation.
  • Encouraging each other to express their point of view in a constructive and timely manner.
  • Adopting, valuing, and respecting a consensus decision-making process. This method may not mean 100% agreement but means we accept and support the decision of the council.

Upon passage, each person in council is authorized to remind each other of our commitment to abide by this covenant whenever we find ourselves in an interaction that does not represent the relational grace to which we have agreed.

Lent Recap

During the recent Lenten series, we gathered every Wednesday to enjoy a meal and explore and discuss our theme of LOVE.

Thank you to these groups who all contributed to meals this year! Every dinner was delicious and so graciously offered by our hosts.

  • Yarns of Prayer
  • Lilies of the Field
  • RAMBO (Retired Active Men’s Breakfast Organization)
  • Youth and Children’s Ministries
  • Church Choir
  • United Methodist Women

The theme this year was LOVE and each week we looked at our loving relationship with God and each other through different lenses.

  • Week One we looked at prayer as a way to express love to God and to ask for his love to work through us. We learned our breakthrough prayer and did a prayer walk through the sanctuary. You can read more about our prayer initiatives here.
  • Week Two we explored our spiritual gifts; God’s gifts to us that enable us to share his love with the world through our talents.
  • Week Three was hosted by Laura (Youth Ministries director) who shared a story about love shared across generations and we made friendship bracelets to give with others.
  • Week Four was about telling God’s love story. We explored storytelling as a way to witness; and practiced telling our own and others’ stories.
  • And finally in Week Five, we examined our ministries and looked at the Methodist framework of NOWrm to explore the kinds of ministries we engage in and the opportunities to explore new ministries in the future.

If you are interested in any of these topics, here are some links and videos you might enjoy.

  • Watch this Chuck Knows Church edition on Evangelism and Story.

  • Read about the types of ministry from the Book of Discipline or watch this video where one UMC shares their interpretation of nurture, outreach and witness.

Thank you again to everyone who helped make the Lenten dinner series interesting, fun, delicious and spiritually energizing!

Enjoy your Easter Season! He is risen, He is risen indeed!



Prayer has been on my mind a lot lately.

In February I was invited to attend a day-long session led by Sue Nilson Kibbey on breakthrough prayer (discussed in her book Floodgates). Sue serves on the West Ohio Conference’s executive staff as the Director of Missional Church Initiatives, which supports select congregations and their pastors jump start a new life cycle of ministry. A breakthrough prayer initiative is required for all churches that wish to participate.

Based on the work done by Sue, we started our own breakthrough prayer initiative at First Church. If you attended our first Lenten dinner, you experienced a prayer walk where we walked though the sanctuary praying for our church and then walked around the church praying for our people, programs, and ministries. If you noticed post-it notes on windows, walls and corners; those were mementos of prayers left behind. If you attended worship that week, you received our breakthrough prayer card and if you attended Easter Sunday worship yesterday, you were offered a hand-made flower from our knitting and crochet ministry with our church prayer attached.

Late last month Cheryl Peters and I attended another prayer-focused event. The Northern Illinois Conference’s United Methodist Women’s Spring Spiritual Retreat featured Barbara Miller, spiritual formation leader within the conference. We spent the day practicing  prayer methods: lectio divina, visio divna, and praying in color. and discussing prayer practices using labyrinths, prayer beads and photography. It was an inspiring reminder of how prayer can take many forms and serve many purposes, and it inspired me to not only speak my prayers but also create my prayers through movement and art.

The subject of prayer is a constant as we continue to experience much change at First Church. This time last year we released the CAT survey and it’s been an invaluable tool to for understanding ourselves and how we might create a path toward our mission to make disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Since then we’ve experimented, we’ve learned, we’ve set new goals. We’ve had some amazing successes. As we transition to a new Pastor this summer, no doubt more change will come.

As I pray daily for Christ to transform us and our church so that we can do great things through him, I am reminded of the first question Sue asked us at the Breakthrough Prayer training: Do we believe in the power of prayer?

I do. I believe prayer is changing us and bringing us closer to God’s vision for us. I believe our church’s growth, spiritual vitality, and capacity to serve, witness and transform the world cannot happen without prayer. I pray every day. I pray our breakthrough prayer, and I pray that you join us.



Inter-generational Worship

kids bring baskets (1)Today’s blog post was submitted by Laura Hollinger Antonelli, our Director of Student Ministries. Thank you Laura for the wonderful work you have been doing at First Church in such a short amount of time!


On January 29th here at First United Methodist, we experimented with an inter-generational worship service titled: A Prayer for the Earth

It was a great experience for the congregation and we hope to continue to be creative in exploring more avenues for inter-generational worship and fellowship.

I submitted a blog about the worship service, including some tips based on my experience planning and leading the service, that was posted on the Christians Engaged in Faith Formation blog.

You can read the blog at the link below. And please let me know if you have ideas for inter-generational worship as we continue to work together to deepen and broaden our church community!

Laura Hollinger Antonelli, Director of Student Ministries

Church Exchange

IMG_0329On March 5, we were blessed with a visit from Rust Memorial United Methodist Church in the Englewood neighborhood in Chicago. It was a fantastic day of song, spirit and fellowship.

First Church Glen Ellyn considers Rust Memorial our ‘sister’ church ever since we started our relationship with them last summer with a books and games drive for the children of their community. Since then we have provided Christmas goody bags and helped them establish a sewing ministry. You can read more about those initiatives here and here.

The church exchange offered a wonderful opportunity for us to welcome the Rust Memorial congregation, choir, and pastor to our church and we will have the opportunity to visit them in May.

Enjoy this sermon from Pastor Harriett Cross about the purpose of Lent and the story of Adam and Eve and plan to join us when we travel to Englewood later this Spring to enjoy their hospitality.