EASTER CROSSES — Members of Grace Chapel in DeLand show off the decorated crosses completed for display on Easter Sunday, April 9, in Downtown DeLand. In the photo are Shelby Shelton, Ashley Worden, Holly Brunelle, Madison Mewhorter and Sydney Manning. BEACON PHOTO/MARSHA MCLAUGHLIN

The Gate

On this fourth Sunday of Easter, April 30, First Presbyterian Church of DeLand will have one service at 10:30 a.m. in the sanctuary to recognize the last Sunday of the month, but especially to celebrate the arrival of the Rev. Casey Riker, the church’s new associate pastor.

Casey Riker

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pastor Riker attended Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, graduating in 2020. She comes to First Pres after serving as associate pastor at Jamestown Presbyterian Church in Jamestown, North Carolina, for three years.

Enthusiastically, Riker declares a love for God and a love for Christian ministry and God’s people, a devotion that she strives to live out daily.

Pastor Michael Bodger’s sermon will address John 10:1-10, which relates the significant declaration by Jesus Christ, “I am the gate!” Although we have few or no city gates to mark today’s boundaries of our communities, in the historical times of Jesus, that image stood well-known to listeners to our Lord.

Today, we can go around or leap over to reach the place to which we are going. But not back then! People had only one way to begin their journey — through the gate!

Christ-Followers have realized that the gate Jesus stands for opens up to life and life abundant in God. This contrasts the way of the thief, who comes only to steal and kill and destroy.

This gate presents a monumental spiritual choice presented in many parts of Scripture and Christian readings and studies. Choose the Gate, as Jesus says, “through me!”

On this newly regularized Last Sunday Single Service, the congregation will gather in fellowship hall for a potluck meal. With the church kitchens supplying a lunch of spaghetti with meatballs, salad and beverages, First Pres asks guests to bring a side dish or dessert to share if you like, but it is not mandatory to attend.

Remember that Boy Scout Troop 550 invites all to their Yard Sale fundraiser Saturday, April 29, all day. New and used items can be found at bargain prices.

On its regular first Thursday, May 4, The Bridge will offer eat-in or takeout boxed suppers, prepared and served by First Pres volunteers, at The Neighborhood Center. Starting at 5 p.m., hungry folks can enjoy a free meal of tacos, black beans and corn chips, with beverages. Church contributors, thank you for your donations in the entry shopping carts or the office during the week.

After a brief suspension, free bingo 7-8:30 p.m. Fridays in fellowship hall resumes this week. Join in for family fun and simple but amusing prizes.

Note that ministries of grief-sharing and Bible studies on faith and justice continue.

Presbyterian Women are preparing the “Gifts of Women Sunday” event May 7 during worship services, including awarding the annual Life Member Award.

Save the date

On Wednesday, May 10, author and professor Dr. Christopher Bell will present an overview of the basic summaries and histories of multiple major Asian religions, from Hinduism to Taoism to Buddhism and more, in honor of Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Dr. Bell is an associate professor of religious studies at Stetson University.

This event is free and open to the public, and takes place at 2 p.m. in the auditorium at the DeLand Regional Library, 130 E. Howry Ave.

‘Letting Go of Loneliness’

Have you ever felt like you were all alone in a crowded room? Loneliness is not necessarily being alone; it is more the feeling that no one cares. Most everyone has had that time in their life when they question the dynamics of their relationships with others. At First Church DeLand, the sermon series “We Are the Church” concludes on Sunday, April 30, with a sermon titled “Letting Go of Loneliness.”

As a part of the Family of God, we should never feel alone. God promises to never leave us or forsake us, and as Christians, we need to learn how to be there for each other as we are being His Church in the world in which we live. Explore further how to better connect and let go of those feelings of loneliness in our lives. You don’t ever have to walk alone.

First Church DeLand provides in-person traditional services at 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. in the sanctuary, and an in-person contemporary service at 9:30 a.m. in the Life Enrichment Center. The services are streamed live on Facebook on the First Church DeLand page, or they can be accessed through the website at Firstchurchdeland.org.

First Church DeLand provides a variety of other opportunities for you and your family to get connected with the church family throughout the week. There are youth, young adult, men’s and women’s ministries, Bible studies and prayer times throughout the week. For more details, please contact the church office at 386-734-5113.

First Church offices are open 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

1st Christian Church activities

The Rev. Carlos Perez of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of DeLand will give the sermon at 10:45 a.m. Sunday, April 30, following Kathy Porr, prayer requests, special music by Barbara Polomsky and the Scripture reading. The service ends with Communion offered to all believers in attendance, directed by Brenda Velazquez- Morales.

The Disciple Women invite all bingo players to come to the fellowship hall at 7 p.m. Friday, April 28. Proceeds after expenses are donated to Foundation to Freedom in April.

During the month of May, Pastor Perez is providing a class for those interested in baptism on Pentecost, May 28, at the 10:45 a.m. service.

Those watching the service from home on Facebook: First Christian Church – DeLand Disciples may notice that the dialogue is now printed at the screen bottom. Those attending service may appreciate the printed dialogue if they have any hearing impairment.

‘Moon Magic’

The congregation of Mosaic Unitarian Universalist meets online at 11 a.m. every Sunday. The April 30 service is titled “Moon Magic.” Throughout time, in various cultures the moon has been associated with deities in various pantheons. You’re encouraged to join Minister Teresa Leary as she delves into the pantheon’s past and modern pagan practices, honoring the cyclical pattern of the moon.

Judy Raymond will facilitate the service. Everyone is welcome!

For information on Mosaic, visit the website at https://mosaicuuc.org. For instructions on how to join the virtual service, email to mosaicuuc@gmail.com.

Finding the truth

At First Unitarian Universalist Church of West Volusia in DeLand, retired broadcaster and attorney Mel Browning will ask, “What can you believe?” at the 10:30 a.m. Sunday, April 30, service. In an era of fake news and faker newsmakers, how can we evaluate the information we receive?

As it happens, for the past several centuries, the legal system has been grappling with that exact question and has an answer. Browning’s presentation will examine the methods that have been developed to ascertain the facts in our most important matters: liberty, life and property.

Browning was in broadcast management in Virginia, Kentucky and Illinois, and owned a 50,000-watt FM station in Terre Haute, Indiana.

After he received his Juris Doctor degree from Southern Illinois University and, after private practice, he served for 23 years as senior staff attorney at the 6th District Court of Appeals in Ohio. He has been a Unitarian Universalist since 1964.

Those attending in person are encouraged to arrive between 10:15 a.m. and 10:25 a.m. for greetings before the service begins. Masks are discretionary and voluntary.

Services are in person as well as Zoomed, beginning at 10:30 a.m. The Zoom Sunday-service ID is the same every week: https://zoom.us/i/92718819188. Please feel free to contact the church for help in getting connected at www.uudeland.org before Sunday’s worship time.

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Raised in Miami Beach, Margie moved to DeLand after graduating from Florida State University. She has a master's degree in community mental-health counseling, and retired after 12 years in substance-abuse treatment. Having worked at the DeLand Sun News during the 1980s, Margie came to The Beacon in 2002 in search of a second career. She helps the reporters; compiles obituaries, the calendar of events and religion news; and deals with a mountain of emails each day. Margie is the proud Nana to two grandchildren, Sophia and Alex.

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