CSN – Life at First Grace


First Grace – where the city worships
This Sunday at First Grace  
Sunday school (all ages) will resume on January 7th.
9:00 AM Spanish Language Worship
11:10 AM English Language Worship
Rev., Dr. Torin Sanders
Sixth Baptist Church


Pastor Shawn’s reading + recommendations for 2018
  • Podcast: On Being. Te Nehisi Coates interviewed by Krista Tippet. Imagining a New America. Coates is one of the most important voices in America today.https://onbeing.org/programs/ta-nehisi-coates-imagining-a-new-america-nov2017/
  • Barking to the Choir-The Power of Radical Kinship, Gregory Boyle, Founder of Homeboy and Homegirl Industries-“I’ve learned from giving thousands of talks that you never appeal to the consciousness of your audience but, rather, introduce them to their own goodness.” A quote from the introduction.
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Benjamin Alire Saez. A coming of age novel for tweens. My then 13 year old daughter insisted that I read this book. I’m grateful
  • Deep Is the Hunger-meditations by Rev. Howard Thurman. Martin L King’s mentor, and a rare spiritual and theological voice.
  • Parable of the Sower, and Parable of the Talents, Octavia Butler.A two part, science fiction series about a teenage girl in America in 2030-75. While written in the 1990’s about America in 2030, it a feels a bit too real-environmentally and politically.
  • All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr. A WWII historical novel about a German boy and a French girl and the choices they make during the time of War.
  • The Spirituality of Imperfection, Ernest Kurtz & Katherine Ketcham. A rich book about the Divine, self-awareness, and what to do with it.
  • Divine Therapy and Addiction-centering prayer and the 12 steps, This is actually an interview with Father Thomas Keating, a Trappist monk. It is practical and deep, and offers the spirituality of the 12 Steps without needing to be an alcoholic to benefit.
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, 2016 Drew University Commencement Address: A Letter to Future Generations https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyCo_0Geoxc
The Youth Ministry is asking if there is anyone who has a sofa to donate for the youth Sunday School room upstairs. Please contact Marice Bailey at firstgraceumcyouth@gmail.com with pictures or details about the furniture you would like to donate.

The Adult Choir resumes rehearsal on January 3, 2018 at 7:00pm in the Chapel.


Couple Ministry – meets each month on the first Monday and is using “7 Inhibitors of Intimacy” along with “Marriage Today” by Jimmy Evans. The series will run through May 7th and the next meeting is on Monday, January 8, 2018. For additional information please contact Jennifer Moss, 504-616-7431.

First Grace Parents Prayer Line Every Tuesday at 8:30 PM. Call 641.715.3580, Access Code 838575#.

Men’s Morning Call, Tuesday, 7:15-8:15AM at Morning Call Café in City Park, “Illusions” by Richard Bach -All are welcome.
Disciple II continues each Thursday at 1:00 PM in the Parlor. Led by Toni Antrum. New day and time. Resumes on January 8th.

Monday Meditation 6 PM -6:45 PM, each week in the Chapel.
Monday Meditation is a guided meditation by Dan Thelen (dthelen2520@gmail.com).  Resumes on January 8th.

Green Tip
Green Tip Happy New Year! If you want to get organized and de-clutter this year, some tips to help will be listed for the next several weeks. Linen closet:  if you are replacing towels, bath rugs or blankets, consider donating your old ones to area animal rescues. These groups can use old sheets, pet beds and other pet gear. The LA SPCA can use bedding of any kind and even old or mismatched socks. (These are used to make cat toys!) They also request bags of unopened pet food and kitty litter either opened or unopened. Tennis balls, heating pads, newspaper and plastic bags are also needed. Contact the SPCA at 504-368-5191. They are located at 1700 Mardi Gras Blvd on the West Bank. The Tuesday Community meal will also accept kitchen towels.


Tuesday Meal
The meal is served at 12:30 PM and volunteers are always needed.   You may contact Marilyn Prince at marilynprince1949@yahoo.com or contact the church office.  Tuesday Meal will resume on January 16th.

Desmond Project Looking for a way to make a difference in our community. The Desmond Project provides a healthy, nutritious meal to the men, women and children at the New Orleans Mission every Saturday evening. Contact Jackie Vinson at blaqjacque@gmail.com, or Neil Poynter at


Sanctuary Opportunities
The Sanctuary Hospitality Committee at FGUMC have been asked to support the following:

Jose’s birthday is 12/30.  Please consider dropping off or mailing Jose an encouraging birthday or Christmas card (in Spanish or English) to:  Attn: Jose Torres, First Grace UMC, 3401 Canal Street, New Orleans, LA 70119.  Jose has his own mailbox so your card or gift will go directly to him.  
Family Transportation-A need for a few people who have reliable vehicles that can fit 3 or more people to rotate driving Jose’s family, especially to church on Sunday afternoons.  Please sign up here for more information:  https://goo.gl/forms/KWyO3919xvIpLouq2 .  Or, mail or deliver an Uber or Lyft gift card to Attn: Sanctuary Committee, First Grace UMC, 3401 Canal St, New Orleans, LA 70119.
Weekly Groceries– Sign up at  https://mealtrain.com/0nv3k4  to deliver a week’s worth of groceries for Jose (& his family).  Feel free to partner up with a few friends as each sign up is for a whole week of food. FGSanctuaryCommittee@gmail.com. will email you his grocery list a few days before you’re scheduled.
Monthly Phone Bill– Donate at the donation link at https://mealtrain.com/0nv3k4.  Or, mail or deliver a pre-paid visa card to Attn: Sanctuary Committee, First Grace UMC, 3401 Canal St, New Orleans, LA 70119.
5 Ways to make a gift
1.    Online:   On Realm/Vanco Services


2.  Use  your smart phone and scan the UC Code below.
Note: The UC code reader app is free through the Apple Store or GooglePlay

3. Text Messaging

Send a text 73256 and in the body of the message type FIRSTGRACENOLA GIVING and follow the prompts. Standard text message rates do apply.

4.    Automatic draft:    Please set-up with your Financial Institution

5.    The Old Fashion Way: Write a check
First Grace, 3401 Canal Street, New Orleans, 70119

First Grace Statement of Affirmation

First Grace is an urban community of faith embracing all of God’s children as persons of sacred worth, regardless of station in life, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity. We invite and welcome all persons to join us as disciples who believe in the transforming love of God revealed in Jesus Christ from which nothing can separate us.


Bethlehem and Bourbon Street

Pastor Shawn’s Christmas Eve Message: Bethlehem and Bourbon Street
I always have identified with the Inn keeper.
It’s the knock. You open the door …and it’s not a Jehovah’s Witness. Nothing against Jehovah Witnesses. And, there. God has confronted you with a real live person…an incarnation … “everything that has life has come into being through the Christ…”
I am still surprised at how often I fail at treating the person like an incarnation. But, you know God. God just keeps sending incarnations. ” Try again-bonehead”…God would never say bonehead…but in my head I imagine God saying, “bonehead.”
One late afternoon, this past week,
I was walking through the lobby of the church
and there were 4 women.
I introduced myself and asked if they were being helped.
They said they were waiting for someone from Hagar’s House. Hagar’s House is our beautiful home for women and children
Who are without a home.
A few minutes passed and Amber, the director, arrived and I went on my way.
Later, Amber told me that these women were (Bourbon Street) dancers.
They were donating some of their earnings to support shelters for women and children.
The women were giving Hagar’s House “a bit more than they had planned” because some of the other places would not take their money.
Being the pastor, and spiritual leader,
I got right to the important matter at hand-the bottomline.
How much?
Amber did not know. She had not opened the envelopes.
Being the pastor, I said lets’ open the envelopes.
We opened four envelopes with checks totaling $3,865.
That’s a lot of money… for dancers.
(We happen to be about $25,000 short…now we are $22,135 short.)
Life really is so beautiful and so painful.
So complicated and so messy.
Kinda-like a babe……….. in a manger
In the Jewish tradition there is a story about a master Rabbi, who is training young rabbis.
Master Rabbi Kotze asks the young rabbi’s.
“Where does God dwell?”
The young rabbis looked at each other, knowingly,
And one says,
“Master, is not the whole earth full of God’s glory?”
Master Rabbi Kotze responds-“yes”…long pause…
Then he adds,
“God dwells wherever we allow God in.” (Buber)
The glory of God is everywhere; sure ’nuff.
Yet, as the Master Rabbi is suggesting,
If we have been trained, encouraged and have learned from birth to see ourselves and everything else on earth as LESS THAN THE GLORY GOD it may be a little difficult to be awe struck by each other. To see each other as incarnations, much less THE full-blown incarnation.
So, how does God get in?
From the best I can tell, Any way She can!
Our Christmas story that our youth read so beautifully for us tonight, it tells us that God is a bit of a trickster…
God has the relentless spirit of Lin Manuel’s version of Alexander Hamilton.
God is not throwing away God’s shot…
“Not throwing away my shot. Just like the country,
I’m Young / scrappy and hungry, And I’m not throwing away my shot!”
Neither is God throwing away God’s shot.
God never gives up…the knocks just keep coming!
God will incarnate in burning bushes, whirlwinds, bolts of Light and even humble God’s self to be born a babe in a manger.
Or, a babe from Bourbon Street,
God has no shame. God has love-endless love!
Endless acceptance.
If you are the Inn Keeper, or put another away,
the Pastor, the respectable boss, the distinguished mom,
the hostess with the mostest…it can be hard to let God IN!!!
you can hear the voices-in your well trained head,
what will people think?
You going to let a pregnant woman sleep in your barn?
Take money from dancers?
You going to church?
Do you believe in virgin births, stars and babes?
But God just keeps trying, trying and trying to lower you off of your mountain and raise those you are looking down at in the valley.
You might understandably hesitate on letting God IN,
It is often humbling…which, of course is the only way to let God in.
Strangely, in all this hot mess of a world,
One thing we can know for sure is when it is Christmas. When our trickster God has gotten IN.
Gotten in Somehow…
Through the grind of our Brutal economics,
Passed the numbing drug of our choice,
Under our haughty education,
Around the walls of our self-righteous religion and politics.
And miraculously in front of our endless array of screens– computer screens, phone screens, Ipads, Television, and watch screens, glass screens …
all the things we are taught from birth to believe will save us.
When God gets IN…we know it.
You see a babe…in a manger, no crib for a bed, is no longer s shameful thing, but Christ. The savior of the world.
And a babe… on Bourbon Street …is no longer a babe at all.
But, a somebody.
Somebody’s peeps.
Somebody’s 20 year old daughter.
Somebody- Trying to make room in the world.
Somebody-in a messed up; complicated world,
trying to do a little good-if the world will let her…. IN.
somebody standing right in front of you knocking wondering if you have room for her humble offering from the valley of dolls!
When they become the incarnation right in front of you,
That’s when you know its Christmas. That God really does send babes to be received by our hearts so that old men dream again of peace on earth and goodwill to all people.
Merry Christmas,
pastor shawn


New Electronic Giving Options

On August 1st, we will officially transition to a new electronic payment provider.  The partnership with Vanco Services and On Realm will allow you to give in several ways.

  • Through a link that you can copy and paste into the browser
  • Using a QR code using a smart phone
  • Via text message

Method One:  Computer Link

Click the link below or copy and paste it into your web browser. https://onrealm.org/firstgracenola/Give/FYGZRMCPOI


Method Two:  QR Code

Use the camera of your smart phone to scan the QR code provided below.  QR code for giving


Method Three:  Text Message

Send a text message to 73256.  In the body of the message type FIRSTGRACENOLA GIVING.  Follow the prompts.  And be mindful that standard messaging rates apply.


Happy Giving!