The Epistle would like to thank: Bill and Judy Oehler for providing the historical interview transcripts; Leslie and Harry Durling for their help in  interviewing church members; and Judi Van Cleave for transcribing interviews and assisting with research.

Reminiscing with friends is always fun and often reminds us of things long forgotten. As you explore this issue, you will discover snippets of First Memories from some who have called First Church their home for many years. In 2004 the history committee interviewed some of the earliest members of our church; selections from those interviews are included as well as recent dialogs with some of our long-time congregants in which they shared their earliest and fondest memories. We hope you enjoy the trip down memory lane and smile fondly as you recall your own First memories.

Stan Shuart (pg 17)

Member since 1996

Stan served as Chair of the Building Committee tasked by Pastor Paul Kirbas to oversee the new sanctuary project. He spoke on Heritage Sunday (January 27, 2013) when the mortgage was burned during worship.

STAN: There were some of us who were very worried and questioned, “Did we, as a congregation, take a step bigger than we could actually handle?” So, we prayed; we prayed a great deal. Today the burning of the mortgage is evidence that our prayers have been heard; that God has been with us through the entire journey. It proves to me that, with Him, we can accomplish great things. It’s not the bricks and mortar. It’s not the nice amenities that we have. The thrill comes with seeing this place filled with people anxious to hear the Word of God. I believe it is a testimony to this congregation that we are doing the work God wants us to do—spreading the Gospel.

Dorn and Judi Van Cleave (pg 23)

Members since 1996

Dorn and Judi first met in high school and moved here from South Dakota. They found a home at First Church and have shared the joy of  volunteering together whenever they could.

Q: Since becoming members of First Church, what has had the biggest positive impact on your spouse?

DORN: Once Judi retired, she was able to join me in volunteering at First Thrift. Judi attended the Great Banquet two years after I did, so that has deeply enriched our lives both spiritually and as a couple. Being on staff at First Church, I know she feels especially blessed to work with Pastors Steven and Brad.
JUDI: Serving the church has been a priority for Dorn. Since 2004, he has actively volunteered wherever he could—at First Thrift, during VBS, at Misión Peniel. We have both been Deacons and served on the Visitation and Home Communion teams together. Being of service to God and our church family has transformed us both.

John and Joan Lewis (pg 24)

Members since 2003

John and Joan grew up in a music-centered Welsh Community in Southeastern Ohio. Both joined the Chancel Choir in 2001 and are still members. Both are musicians, grateful they found First Church where music abounds. John served on the Worship and Music Committee for 15 years; Joan has served as an Elder and on numerous committees over the years.

Q: What does your spouse love most about the First Church Music Ministry?

JOHN: Joan often marvels over the fact that God led all of us to First Church. She loves the choir’s family atmosphere. Under Jeff’s great direction,  everyone gives their best as they sing praises to our Lord. Joan believes the Holy Spirit uses music to touch our hearts.

JOAN: John loves all of the musical opportunities at First Church. He loves singing and the camaraderie of the Chancel, Men’s and Motet choirs. He loves rehearsing and sharing his gift of playing the trumpet.