Recent News

First United Methodist Church is pleased to offer “Beyond Suffering”, the groundbreaking course created to transform the way we view God’s plan for disability.

“Beyond Suffering” equips participants with the tools and knowledge they need to begin or enhance a disability ministry within their church or faith community.

The demand for churches to develop disability ministries is growing daily. According to the National Health Interview Survey, currently one out of six children (17 percent) in the United States has special needs, with autism affecting 1 in 45 births.

This has a dramatic effect on the spiritual life of entire families. In fact, many families with a child who has a special need do not attend church because they do not feel accepted. Parents also may be concerned that the church staff and volunteers cannot adequately care for the needs of their child.

“Beyond Suffering,” designed by the Christian Institute on Disability and Joni & Friends, is unique in that it views disability and suffering through a Biblical lens, and is only taught by certified trainers.

Lisa Wickenheiser, M.Ed., a certified instructor and member of First Church, will teach the “Beyond Suffering” course. Lisa is a local educator who has a passion and personal connection to those living with a disability. See Lisa’s bio here.

The eight-week course will conclude with a field trip to the “Finding the Forgotten” exhibit at Joni & Friends in Mountville, PA. This free exhibit gives an immersive, realistic glimpse into five or six very personal disability journeys.

“First Church is blessed to have an active disability ministry,” said Tina Eaton, Director of Discipleship at First Church. “And we have a responsibility, not just to continue to grow our own ministry, but also to encourage and equip other churches in developing their own disability ministries.”

“Beyond Suffering” is open to all. You do not have to be a member of First Church or any church to participate.

“Our dream is to build a network of churches in the local area that cooperatively work together to bring about God’s glorious plan for a fully inclusive body of Christ,” Eaton said.

Classes will be held at First United Methodist Church, 135 W. Simpson Street in Mechanicsburg. A brief orientation meeting will be held on Jan. 20, 2020. Course dates are Jan. 27, Feb. 3, 10, 17 and 29, and March 2, 9, 16 and 23. Classes will run from 6:15 to 7:45 p.m. The course concludes on March 28 with the field trip to Joni & Friends “Finding the Forgotten” exhibit. Find the flyer here.

The $35 fee includes a workbook, CD-ROM with valuable resource materials, and the cost of the field trip.

Learn more about “Beyond Suffering” at

To register for the course, go to or contact Tina Eaton at or 717.766.4611, ext 104.

All are invited to a special Cru mission presentation on Sunday, December 1 from 9:30 – 10:30 am in the multipurpose room. Hear from our church missionaries serving with Cru, regarding their overseas mission and their work to connect people to Jesus at West Chester, Eastern and Cheyney Universities.

Cru (formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ) is an interdenominational Christian parachurch organization for college and university students. Cru has active communities on 1,740 college and university campuses. For more information about Cru, visit their website at

First Church invites you to join us for our Christmas Eve services:

5:00 p.m. Family Service – Tailored to families with young children, includes candle-lighting (battery-operated candles available)

8:00 p.m. Service of Christmas Eve Simplicity – A quiet service with communion, instrumental music, candle-lighting and time for prayer

11:00 p.m. Service of Light and Wonder – Communion, candle-lighting and carols sung by our choirs

Based on the Charles Dickens story, A Christmas Carol, this study explores the world of Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, and the Cratchits from a Christian faith perspective. Along the way we will meet the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come, and learn about living with and for others in a world blessed by Jesus.

This special offering will be held in Fellowship Hall during the Sunday School hour from 9:30 – 10:30 am. The first session starts on Sunday, December 8 and will continue through Sunday, December 29. Each session will include a short video and discussion in small table groups.

For more information, call or e-mail the church at 717.766.4611 or No registration required.

The United Methodist Women (UMW) of First Church will host the Marketplace of Miracles on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

This is a shopping event like no other! Several organizations and merchants will have a variety of unique and inexpensive items for sale, with all proceeds benefitting the education and prevention of human trafficking, and fair treatment of workers in lesser developed countries.

Your purchases really can make a difference!

Participating merchants include WAR (Women at Risk), She’s Somebody’s Daughter (handcrafted jewelry), Change Purse (new or gently-used handbags starting at $1), Ten Thousand Villages (fair trade items) and Trades of Hope (jewelry, handbags, accessories).

For more information, call or e-mail the church at 717.766.4611 or

Love Christmas cookies but don’t enjoy baking them? Attend the Cookie Walk at First Church on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., sponsored by the Youth Group.

For one price, attendees can fill a container with a variety of homemade holiday cookies. Nut-free and Gluten-free cookies available. Proceeds benefit youth mission projects.

For more information, call or e-mail the church at 717.766.4611 or

“Joy to the World,” a beloved Christmas classic, turns 300 this year. Composer Isaac Watts wrote the words based on Psalm 98, calling us to sing a “new song” in celebration of the coming of the Lord into the world.

Join us for worship this December as we discover the depths of “joy” we proclaim whenever we sing these ancient words. As we “receive our King,” we find joy in the midst of suffering, the work of justice, and the presence of compassion – a message the world so desperately needs.  Click here to view a trailer of this series.  Find the Daily Reading Plan here.

All are welcome and encouraged to attend!

Dec. 1 First Sunday of Advent Prepare Him Room: Hopeful Joy (with Holy Communion)
Isaiah 2:1-5, Romans 13:11-14

Dec. 8 Second Sunday of Advent Repeat the Sounding Joy: Loving Joy
Isaiah 11:1-10, Matthew 3:1-12

Dec. 15 Third Sunday of Advent Make the Blessings Known: Unabashed Joy
Isaiah 35:1-10, Luke 1:46b-55

Dec. 22 Fourth Sunday of Advent Make the Nations Prove: Peaceful Joy
Isaiah 7:13-15, Matthew 1:18-25

Dec. 24 Christmas Eve The Lord Is Come: Incarnate Joy
Isaiah 52:7-10, Luke 2:1-20

             Candlelight Services: 5 p.m. (Family) 8 p.m. (Informal) 11 p.m. (Traditional)

Dec. 29 First Sunday after Christmas Wonders of His Love: Compassionate Joy
Isaiah 63:7-9, Matthew 2:13-23

Travel to ancient Bethlehem to experience what it was like the night Jesus was born! Visit the interactive marketplace to experience the sights, sounds and tastes of Bethlehem on Sunday, December 8 starting at 5:15 p.m. There will be a preview for special needs guests from 4:00 to 4:45 p.m.

A Mission Meal will be provided by the Youth in Fellowship Hall. Proceeds benefit Youth Mission trips.

All ages welcome, but especially designed for children and families. For more information, call or e-mail the church at 717.766.4611 or No registration required.

First Church will hold a Christmas Service of Hope and Remembrance on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, at 7 p.m. in the church sanctuary. This is a special worship service for those who have lost loved ones or will not be with family this Christmas.

All are welcome. For more information, call or e-mail the church at 717.766.4611 or

First Church will observe the World Thank Offering, led by the United Methodist Women (UMW), on Sunday, November 24, during the 8:15 and 10:45 a.m. worship services.

Observed annually, the World Thank Offering is an opportunity for individuals to respond to God’s abundance and grace with gifts of gratitude. Donations support the mission and ministry of UMW nationally and around the world.

After the 10:45 a.m. service, join us in the Fellowship Hall for a barbecue Mission Meal. The meal is free, but donations are accepted to support local ministries.

Registration is now open for “Becoming a Woman of Excellence”, the 2020 Women’s Retreat to be held Friday to Sunday, February 7 to 9, at the Mt. Asbury Retreat Center in Newville.

All First Church women are invited and encouraged to attend, for a weekend filled with fellowship, fun, food and spiritual renewal. Hotel-like accommodations and four meals included.

Register by Dec. 31 to enjoy the early bird fee of $135. After that date, the fee is $140. Final registration deadline is Jan. 19, 2020. For more information, call or e-mail the church at 717.766.4611 or You can find the registration here.

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