Weekly Announcements

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now listing these online as well every week – this link will be updated


Linda is in the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Every Sunday
Choir Practice 9:00 a.m.
Worship Service 10:00 a.m.

Every Monday
Laurie’s Sabbath; call for emergencies ONLY.
Other needs
can wait or call Elders Catherine Ravitch or Shirley Hagelberg-Klemish

Every Tuesday
Food Pantry Open 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Bible Study 10:00 a.m.
Pub Theology 7:30 p.m. @ The Livery

Every Thursday
Food Pantry Open 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Prayer 5:15 p.m.
Community Supper 6:00 p.m.
Choir Practice 6:30 p.m.


Sunday, November 19, 2017– TODAY!
10:00 a.m. — Worship with Laurie preaching
4:00 p.m. — ARTSBRIDGE featuring “All God’s Children’s Choir,”  Perry Heppler and artwork of David Smykal

Thursday, November 23 — Thanksgiving Day! (No Thursday night supper)

Sunday, November 26, 2017
10:00 a.m.  — Worship with Laurie preaching and celebrating LATASHA LOUIS!
After Worship — Hanging of the Greens
ICE Youth Group will meet from 12:30 – 2:30 p.m.

Wednesday, November 29 2017 (and every Wednesday until December 20)
6:00 p.m. — 8:30 p.m. — State Police Citizen’s Academy

Wednesday, November 29, 2017
5:45 p.m. — Trustees; 6:30 p.m. — Session
6:00 p.m. — Community Supper at Fairplain Presbyterian

Sunday, December 3, 2017 — First Sunday in Advent
10:00 a.m. — Worship with Laurie preaching, commissioning of elders, and the Lord’s Supper.  “Sharing Our Blessings” Sunday for the Food Pantry.
6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. — Women’s Christmas Party!  See details below!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017
9:00 a.m. — The Presbytery of Lake Michigan meets at First Presbyterian in Mason.
Elder Catherine Ravitch will be our elder commissioner.  

Sunday, December 10, 2017 — Second Sunday in Advent
10:00 a.m – Worship with Laurie preaching.
6:00 p.m. — ICE Youth Group

Thursday, December 14, 2017
6:00 p.m. –  First Presbyterian Choir presents Christmas Cantata at Orchard Grove Nursing Home

Saturday, December 16, 2017
4:00 p.m. — Fairplain Christmas Cantata and Music Program at Fairplain Presbyterian

Sunday, December 17, 2017 — Third Sunday in Advent
10:00 a.m. — Worship with Laurie preaching

Wednesday, December 20, 2017
6:00 p.m. — Trustees and Session meet at Pastor Laurie’s house.

Sunday, December 24, 2017 —  Fourth Sunday in Advent and Christmas Eve
10:00 a.m. — Worship with Laurie preaching
6:30 p.m. — Christmas Eve Service


ARTSBRIDGE!  Our next Artsbridge program will be TODAY!  This fabulous program will feature All God’s Children’s Community Choir, Perry Heppler on our Gabriel Kney organ and the artwork of David Smykal.  As always, it is FREE!!

FOOD PANTRY We are in need of canned tuna and soup, cornbread mix, and macaroni and cheese.  Please help — client numbers keep growing.

CELEBRATING LATASHA!  Latasha Louis has been our nursery worker since December, 2012.  Children like Taylor Wilson and Sylvia Van Beek have grown up with her here!  Because of her other work, she has had to step down from this position.  We are going to honor and celebrate her work among us and with our children on SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 26 after worship!  Please bring a card for Latasha and plan to join us.

ANNUAL WOMEN’S CHRISTMAS PARTY will be at the home of Kathryn Durant on Sunday night, December 3 from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.  Bring a dish to pass and a $5 gift to share.  There’s a sign-up sheet on the bulletin board in the narthex!   

PLEDGES are DUE today!  Please give them to Shirley Hagelberg-Klemish! (If you don’t have them ready today, she will accept them next week.)

PURCHASE CHRISTMAS TREE BALLS to support “Open Wide!”  One of our members made a generous donation of high quality glass balls to the “Open Wide” art auction.  There are still a number of them left.  They would make great Christmas gifts!  One can you be yours for $20.  Stop by Laurie’s office and take a peek!

THE ADVENT DEVOTIONAL is HOT off the press!  Please feel free to take one!  We have had extras.  Please feel free to take a second one to share with a friend or family member.  Also, the devotional will be available in digital form.  If you would like us to email it to someone, leave the name and email address in the office.

YOUTH MENTORS NEEDED!   Are you interested and able to work as a youth mentor with a middle schooler from the Boys and Girls Club?  More details will be forthcoming about this new opportunity to partner in our community.  See Julie or Laurie for more details.

OUR YOUTH will be selling products from Equal Exchange through November 19. All proceeds will go towards Camp Henry. Please support our youth and get some Christmas shopping done in the process.

Last Sunday we received a $2,000 first-time ‘Open Wide’ gift from a member of the congregation.  What a blessing!  Do you know of someone  the “Open Wide Our Front Door” Major Gifts Team could contact? Team members are now sending out letters and making follow-up phone calls. They’ll be doing this for many weeks. The team is made up of Charase Dorsey, Isabel Jackson, Lois Peeples, Bob Barrett, Ted Hartzell and Virginia Maxwell.  The “Open Wide” campaign has raised approximately $454,000. That means we’re about 64.8% of the way toward our goal of $700,000, with plans to finish fundraising by next spring and build in the spring or summer.



TODAY’S SCRIPTURE      JAMES 1:2-8                        MSG

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.  If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE            LAMENTATIONS 3:19-33              MSG

I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.  I remember it all—oh, how well I remember— the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:  God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.  God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times. When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions:  Wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The “worst” is never the worst. Why? Because the Master won’t ever walk out and fail to return. If he works severely, he also works tenderly. His stockpiles of loyal love are immense. He takes no pleasure in making life hard, in throwing roadblocks in the way.






ArtsBridge Brings Music + Art to You!

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All programs start at 4 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church and are absolutely free.

Sunday – November 19 – Thanksgiving & Praise Concert & Exhibit

ArtsBridge presents Thanksgiving and Praise Concert and Exhibion Sunday, November 19 4:00 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church475 Green Avenue on Morton Hill in Benton Harbor, Michigan. This program features organist, Perry Heppler, All God’s Children Community Choir and David Smykal’s reclaimed wood art. Admission is free and donations accepted.


Rev. Laurie Hartzell, who is the minister at this church, commented about ArtsBridge: “In a community that is often known for its racial and socio-economic divisions, ArtsBridge provides a safe space where people can come together through the creative and performing arts. There is incredible talent throughout our community—what a joy to share in it together.”

Admission is free, donations accepted. A reception will follow the program.

All programs start at 4 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church and are absolutely free.

Past Events of this Season:

Sunday – October 15 – 9th Annual Poetry Reading
ArtsBridge will present its 9th Poetry Reading at 4:00 p.m. Sunday, October 15, 2017 at First Presbyterian Church, 475 Green Avenue on Morton Hill in Benton Harbor, MI. Poetry lovers of all ages are invited to attend and read a poem they wrote or simply listen. Possible topics may include nature, feelings ranging from love to loss, diversity, spirituality, and more.

Isabel Jackson Photo

Isabel Jackson, who is the event organizer, commented: “This (event) will take place in an intimate and non-intimidating setting. Attendees may read their own work or have someone else read it. Participation is highly encouraged. All present will have the option to simply listen.”

Sunday – September 24 – Three Pianists Concert & Exhibit
ArtsBridge presents Three Pianists Concert and Exhibion Sunday, September 24 4:00 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 475 Green Avenue on Morton Hill in Benton Harbor, Michigan. This program features pianists Joshua Goines, Susan Burkholz, and David Brock plus ceramic artist Jerry SirkAdmission is free and donations acceptedFor more details visit


More great events coming soon!



Online Art Auction for Open Wide

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Everyone, this is super exciting. Thanks to the dedication of members, friends and others wanting us to succeed in our OPEN WIDE OUR FRONT DOOR campaign, we are running an online art auction from September 22 until October 21. It all culminates with an Open Wide Open House that closes the art auction and provides a celebration and gathering of friends of the project and the community at large.

Check out the ART AUCTION – Opens Friday September 22!

Check out the event notices on Facebook too!



Grand Haven First Drops By!

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Look who stopped by on Sunday! What a blessing to have so much support from Grand Haven First Presbyterian this past Sunday. George Barfield, former deacon at Benton Harbor First, preached and brought his wife Sara Shambarger and lots of wonderful friends! (Our own Sylvia Van Beek even photobombed the group photo!)


Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Service

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First Presbyterian Church is proud to partner with the Southwest Michigan Ministerial Alliance and the Berrien County Association of Churches to present a service of Unity and Hope in celebration of the life of Dr. King.

Join us TONIGHT at 6:30 at Union Memorial AME Church in Benton Harbor.


Thrivent Choice Donations

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Thrivent members can now dedicate their Thrivent Choice dollars to First Presbyterian Church of Benton Harbor and/or our Open Wide Our Front Door campaign.

Thrivent Choice Dollars® directions can help First Presbyterian Church!

Choice Dollars charitable grant funds can make a world of difference to our ministry as we work together to bring our community together in the racial reconciliation of Christ’s love. By directing Choice Dollars, eligible Thrivent members recommend where they feel Thrivent should distribute a portion of its charitable grant funds. Directing Choice Dollars is easy. Simply go to to learn more and find program terms and conditions. Or call 800-847-4836 and say “Thrivent Choice” after the prompt.

Thrivent Choice® makes a meaningful impact

Think of the impact you—along with other eligible Thrivent members—can help make by directing Choice Dollars® to First Presbyterian Church. The grant funding we receive from Thrivent Financial through this program can help us expand the space for our youth and welcome the community to partner with us in many ministry programs.

Directing Choice Dollars is easy. Simply go to to learn more and find program terms and conditions. Or call 800-847-4836 and say “Thrivent Choice” after the prompt. Together, we can do even more to help strengthen communities and change lives.


Art in Worship

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Renowned watercolor artist David Baker led us in worship this past Sunday (September 25) and it was at capacity. More than 75 people participated in a unique art expressions for our worship as we explored our motto — ROOTS DOWN, BRANCHES OUT. What a blessing for David to do this and our own artists, Joan Judd, Arianne Baker, and Peter Helm, pitched in and led a rewarding and exquisite cultural and worshipful experience.

We also dedicate David Baker’s piece, “The Autumnal Equinox,” to our church sanctuary. This watercolor is a meaningful and powerful picture of “Roots Down, Branches Out.”  You can see more of his work at