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The Lebanon First United Methodist Church has “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.”

by Jade Marceau Mary

The Lebanon First United Methodist Church is full of people who love God, are friendly, warm, and welcoming, and love sharing the story of Jesus Christ. One is not required to be a member of the Lebanon First United Methodist Church to participate in what it organizes. According to Pastor Kimberly Hagedorn, the Pastor at the First United Methodist Church, they only need to believe in Jesus Christ. “This Church is very welcoming of all people. We believe that Jesus is our savior, and we have open communion, so you don’t need to be part of our Church to take communion, all you need to do is say you believe in Jesus Christ to be able to take communion,” Hagedorn said. In recent years the United Methodist Church has been facing some struggles with issues related to the LGBT+ community. “Right now, that is written in our Book of Discipline that they cannot be ordained, and we cannot marry them. We are getting ready to have a World Wide Conference in 2024, and the hope is that this verbiage will be taken out from our book of discipline,” Hagedorn said, “But this Church is very open, they have no issues with others. This Church is very welcoming of all people.”

The church has been a part of the Lebanon community since 1823, it recently celebrated its 200 birthday last April. It burned down in the meantime but was rebuilt as it is now in 1898, 125 years ago. The Lebanon First United Methodist Church offers its worship services at 9:30 a.m. while also offering parents the option to let their infants and children in a playroom in the meantime. The church also offers the option to pick up people by bus to go to services in case they couldn’t drive or wouldn’t have a car. On Sundays at 10:30 am, the Church also hosts fellowship with coffee and donuts, and Sunday School at 11 a.m. The Sunday School is shared in three groups, including two discussion groups of various sizes and ages and a class called the “Wired Word” where members relate current events to the Bible. “They take current events that happened that you read about in the news or see on the TV and use to find a biblical point in them or use the Bible to explain them or find how the Bible applied to them,” Hagedorn said. The Wired Word also has an online version on Sunday evening available on Facebook Live and Youtube Live. The Church is also open for baptizing at any age, starting with infants. “We consider that they are part of the family of God from the time they are born,” Hagedorn said. 

This summer, the Lebanon First United Methodist Church participates in the Grab & Go Program, a program that gives meals to children in need every day during the summer. Other churches and community groups such as the Rotary Club also participate, but the First United Methodist Church provides the meals on Fridays. People have donated money to help buy the foodstuff that goes in the lunch bag. Each year, it also organizes a yearly free Thanksgiving dinner open to all. “If you just don’t want to cook on Thanksgiving day you can come here and enjoy a meal. It’s a sit-down served family style so the food is brought to the table and you pass it around your table,”  Hagedorn said. Each year, the church serves 85 to 90 people within their fellowship hall, and gives the leftovers to the nursing home, making a total of 125 to 130 meals each time. The church also makes a free pancake meal that is open to all for Fat Tuesday, and takes part in the Eastern Egg at McKendry the Saturday before Easter and in the Trick or Threat with the village of Lebanon. The church will also participate in the Fall festival on October 7th, 2023 as they will have their bread booth to sell $5 homemade bread. The booth will be open on Brick Street from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. “or when we run out of bread,” Hagedorn said, “The money that we earn from that event goes back to the community in the form of helping others. There is a mission outreach called redbird mission, we sent money there, we have sent money to help Chapter 1, they get all the supplies for kids, we have also given money to the girls’ scoot and boys’ scoot. So we try to give money back to areas to help other people. It’s not money that we keep for our own benefit.”

The Lebanon First United Methodist Church also offers Senior/adults classes in the fellowship hall, including Tai-Chi classes on Friday at 11 am ($10 per session), Chair Yoga classes on Tuesday at 11 am ($5 per session), and Senior Stretch classes every last Thursday of each month at 1 pm (Free). It also hosts the Young at Heart Social Group on the second Wednesday of the month at 10 a.m. There people meet to socialize and discuss their life experience and what they learned from it, sometimes with guest speakers. The Church used to host Bible Study but stopped when covid hit. However, Pastor Kimberly Hagedorn plans on bringing them back to the Church in Fall. Everybody is also welcome to bring their voice or instrument to the Church chore which sings every Sunday during the summer, and practice every Wednesday.

Pastor Kimberly Hagedorn has been at the Lebanon First United Methodist Church for 8 years as she arrived on July 1st, 2016, after being a pastor for 12 years in Texas. “All three of my churches have been wonderful, they’ve been working together and they just really love the Lord, and want other people to love the Lord. It’s not something they are gonna shove down people’s throats but through their examples. There is a saying that you may be the only Bible that some people read, and they set a wonderful example at being this living bible for others to see,” Hagedorn said.

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