True Life Change Magazine - Vol. 1 Issue 2

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Spring 2023 Volume 1/ Issue 2

Our church staff is here to help each all generations experience true life change with Jesus. Feel free to contact them.

Simple Conversations That Ignite True Life Change

PHONE 217.793.9760



Dr. Roger Grimmett | Lead Pastor

Rev. Justin Snider | Pastor


Allison Means | Director of Worship Arts

Brennan Pappas | Director of Technical Arts

Carli Burton | Director of Senior Ministries

Kacey Belitsos | EarlyLife & Preschool Director

Kelsie Fairfull | KidLife Director

Sydney Pappas | StudentLife Director

Dr. See Tsai Chan | Associate Director of Music Ministry

Sharon Sweeney | Director of Connections


Bob Dodd | Executive Director

Dara Bose | Accountant & Publications/Social Media Manager

Dayton Emery | Technical Arts Assistant/Video Producer

Jenny Hutcherson | Financial Administrator

Josh Groves | Facilities Manager

Kathy Kerr | Administrative Assistant

Michael Howard | Print Shop

Sally Howard | Executive Assistant

custodial STAFF

Renoldo Gayton | Lead Custodian

STAFF emails:

First initial and Last

I recently spent time reflecting on a biblical story in the book of Acts about two unlikely conversation partners. This strange story is about Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch. Philip is told to head down a certain “wilderness road” south of Jerusalem where he is next instructed to go near to a chariot coming by, a chariot carrying the eunuch on his way back from Jerusalem. Soon these former strangers are found riding in the same vehicle with each other and having a conversation. The eunuch had been reading out loud from the prophet Isaiah, but he did not understand it. He invites Philip to hop in and Philip begins to instruct him. Starting with the passage from Isaiah, Philip next tells the eunuch the “good news about Jesus” (Acts 8:35). Soon after, Philip baptizes the eunuch, and then they each depart to continue their own journeys. Quite a story!

One feature of this story I find striking is how God took two very different people on two different journeys and made them fellow conversation partners. While Acts sometimes mentions large groups of people, more often Acts highlights how people experience God in smaller groups. Personal relationships really do matter. Simple acts of hospitality, mutuality, and prayerful honesty open up people to God’s presence in their lives.

Many faith communities throughout North America are struggling to find their footing after the last three years of the Covid-19 pandemic. One thing that the pandemic revealed to us at Springfield First is just how important meaningful relationships are with one another. Of course, it’s not like we didn’t know this before the pandemic. Building community has long been a key focus of our congregation. But the last three years have shown us how crucial it is to have opportunities for meaningful conversations and growth with each other. We have seen increases in small group participation and in missional service teams. We have witnessed how simple conversations have led to true life change. And even when some group experiences didn’t work out as intended, we still saw God’s love and faithfulness at work.

Back to Philip and the Eunuch. These two characters did not have much in common. Philip was a leader in the early church. The eunuch was a court official in charge of the Ethiopian queen’s treasury and, as a eunuch, was someone who may have had a sexual identity outside the mainstream of the culture. Yet God brought them together. And they found a shared joy in Jesus and his resurrection. Some traditions say that the eunuch went on to be a great evangelist on the continent of Africa. Philip eventually settled near the coast of the sea and helped raise his family. But their lives had been changed by their shared conversation.

As we keep journeying together, I invite you to see how simple conversations can lead to hope, encouragement, and joy as we open ourselves to God’s life in our lives.


Saying YES to God

response that Monday morning when I explained what had happened and that I'd be dealing in pizzas most of that day. Also, thanks to the few folks I called that Sunday and Monday to get any additional ideas for where all the pizzas could go. Turns out, we could have given out even more!

When God calls, you move. In my experience, it's usually when you least expect it and normally not convenient. We want life to move on our own terms. What I find, though, is that God's calls turn into blessings beyond belief if you are simply willing to say, "YES".

On a cold Saturday afternoon, after a phone call from a friend, I accepted a large donation of Totino's pizzas from the general manager at HyVee. Not completely sure what I had gotten myself and the church into, I spent several hours setting up manpower, resources, and space . In between church services, three of us took 2 trucks to HyVee that Sunday morning, where the PALLET of cases of pizzas was loaded up. The enormity of the project quickly became clearer. Back at church, 4 of us loaded cases of pizzas onto a rolling cart and into the kitchen. After the big freezers easily swallowed 15 unboxed cases of pizzas, we determined that the remainder would have to go into "outdoor cold storage" (the garage), but only because God had supplied the necessary freezing temperatures to give us 24 hours to get the food out!

It was truly fun making calls about the plethora of pizzas to offer. What a blessing! With help from several connected contacts, we placed all the pizzas with a plan to have the majority delivered on Monday. Between three of us, we got the 75 cases of 14 pizzas each (1,050 Totino's Pepperoni Pizzas) delivered to the following agencies: Contact Ministries, Inner City Mission, The James Project, Kumler Distribution Center, The Outlet, Ronald McDonald House, St. John's Breadline, and the Waverly Food Bank. Not only that, but we were also able to feed folks at our ouw FamilyLife Magic with a Message night. Most of the pizzas were gone that day, some waited until the following Monday, but all were used by grateful folks. Figuring that each pizza had 2 servings, that's a total of 2,100 servings placed in just 26 hours!

Special thatnks to Leslie Groth, HyVee, Vince Howard, Josh Groves, Renoldo Gayton, Vince Belitsos, Brenda Cloyd, and Eden and AJ Lindbergh. Thanks to our Executive Director, Bob Dodd and Pastor Roger for their calm and encouraging

Until the next opportunity, I pray you will just say, "Yes", trusting that God will help you. Listen for His nudges and run with it. He will provide for you! Also, when someone calls to ask you for help, just say, "Yes". You will bless others and be blessed yourself!


Where we gather to experience God in worship.

Our strategies are designed to maintain a focus on genuine worship of God in a welcoming environment which will encourage growth in all of our worship services. We are focusing our time and resources on expanding the number of people we reach and serve in our worship services both in person and online, with a goal of 1500 people attending worship in person or online.

“Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” Psalm 100:2

Worship extends to more than a service on Sunday mornings. It can be prayer, meditation, reading the Word, and so much more. On Saturday, April 29, Springfield First hosted the IF:Gathering Women's Conference. There were over 50 people in attendance this year. We had live music by our worship band, we listened to speakers from different backgrounds talk about their faith and their journey, we gathered together in fellowship with women from different churches in the surrounding area, and, most importantly, we came together as the body of Christ to deepen our own relationships with Him.

Donna Wade shared her gratitude for the event, saying, "I certainly enjoyed the IF:Gathering. All of the work that went into it and all of the small details, including the gift bags, were such a blessing. I am so grateful for this expeirence! And, to those that weren't able to attend, you certainly missed a blessing!"

There is just something about being in a room filled with people who have a heart for God. I always enjoy coming to church and connecting with others. The sermons are great, but the one thing that always seems to touch my soul is the music. Whether I am in the Traditional service listening to the hymns or in the Contemporary service singing along with the worship band, I feel a deeper connection to the Holy Sipirit when I am singing. As Psalm 100:2 says, "Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs." I feel joyful when we worship in song. It also helps me connect and to align my heart to recieve the message of that day.

I like to arrive to church service early to be alone in my thoughts and prayers. I feel a sense of calm and connection with my Father. My heart is open to His love and reassurance. As my church family starts to arrive I’m so happy to greet them. When our fabulously talented worship band, lead by Allison Means, is on the stage and getting people up on their feet for an opening prayer, then music begins to fill the room. I see everyone is smiling ,singing, and clapping their hands. I can feel the Spirit move me to raise my hand to honor Him. Sometimes I think our pastors' sermon is just for me. See you soon, church family. - Can’t wait until Sunday.

Patti Fricke Hospitality Team (Photo from IF:Gathering)


Where we grow with God and others.

Growing spiritually in Christ is a continuous process of learning and building community together. Growing our Sunday school classes and small groups is critical to our individual growth and the growth of our church. We are developing an intentional discipleship pathway that will focus on preparing all generations to live a life of Kingdom impact, with the goals of seeking 200 adult confessions of faith, 200 children confessions of faith, and 20 emerging ministry leaders.

“Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still: teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.”

Proverbs 9:9

When Layton and I decided to join a small group last fall we chose the program "Follow the Sermon." We thought it would be a great way to use the gospel readings of the Sunday service and expand on the message. The Pastors create questions for each week's service to help us prepare for our time together. Our focus centers around the words of the pastor, the bible verse chosen, the message presented and how it applies to us in our everyday life. Mark (our group leader) does such a good job keeping the group on track, especially since we have really great discussions! The most recent series "The Challenging Teachings of Jesus," truly was challenging, yet so rewarding.

Layton and I have come to value our small group time together, praying for each other when needed, plus sharing the joys of prayers answered. For us, what began as an extra opportunity to be a part of our church community, lead us to know that we are really part of our church family.

I was approached by some people I know from church about joining their small group. They knew I was going through some difficult times and thought it would be good for me. I told them I would join, but I was secretly thinking "right, like I have time for that with everything going on in my life right now."

As the time grew closer and closer for the new class to start, they approached me again, and I told them that I was not sure but to send me the information and I would try. I took a copy of the book knowing I most likey wouldn't read it. Everyday for a week I would look at the book and think I should at least open it, but I never did. The night of the first meeting I got a message from the group leader telling me that they would love for me to join. It was almost as if they knew what I was thinking. They said they understood if I did not come and that if I had not had a chance to open the book, it would be fine; that I would still be able to join in the discussions, and they thought it would be good for me. I decided I would go ahead and give it a try. I figured if I did not like it, I could just make an excuse next time and not come.

After the first meeting I knew that God had lead me to join in. My small group was made up of amazing like-minded and like-hearted people. I needed to be surrounded by them. God knew it was what I needed at that time in my life. I honestly never even read the book we were studying, but I still showed up and never once felt like I did not belong. The people in my small group became MY people. They support me in my struggles and help lift me from my darkness. I am so grateful I joined a small group.

-Anonymous and Grateful

Layton Lamb Cathy Donovan


Where we unleash spiritual gifts through volunteering and serving.

Demonstrating the love of Christ though community outreach is an outward and visible sign of our faith that we are called to do. We are prioritizing engaging our faith community, resources, and church campus to reach the people of Springfield for Jesus. Our goal is to touch the lives of 1000 people not currently connected with Springfield First.

“…Truly I tell you, whatever you did it to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40

Chaddock is located in Quincy, Illinois and is an internationally recognized leader in the treatment of children suffering from the psychological, emotional, and spiritual effects of significant abuse, neglect and trauma. Chaddock's full range of preventive, educational, and treatment services to children from birth to age 21 and their families include community-based services, a special education school, in-home intensive programs, and residential treatment. In addition, Chaddock provides training and mental health consultation locally, nationally, and internationally to educators, therapists and others who serve children and families.

Back in 2016 one-third of our Christmas offering went to Chaddock. With the proceeds they recieved, they were able to complete and furnish 2 Sensory Rooms.

On March 5, 2023, we kicked off a church-wide mission project to help Chaddock. A BIG thank you goes out to all who made it a success, whether you donated finacially or brought in items. Chaddock has about 50 kids age 6-21 at any given time who live on the Chaddock campus, another 50 who come to Chaddock from the surrounding communities daily to attend school, and another 300 children from birth on up in the adoption/foster care programs. Chaddock provides birthday and Christmas gifts for each child so our goal was to collect 800 gift items. We exceeded that goal with 820 items! The church van was stuffed with donations from our congregation!

Along with the gift items, we were also collecting items for the Welcome Baskets and Daily Needs. Our expectations for these items were met and exceeded as well!

Thank you, to all of Springfield First congregation including Adult Sunday School classes who came together to support this mission project.

-Heather & Kevin Behl

Kevin Behl, Janet Richter, Heather Behl, & Janet Overton with the overloaded church van full of donations for Chaddock. Gifts and donations from the church. Heather Behl, Pastor Shawna Bunnell of Chaddock, and Chaddock Executive Director Jeff VanCamp with all of the donations from Springfield First.

"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink…"

-Matthew 25:35

The Missions Council has made its primary focus growing the Meals Ministry at Springfield First. Jesus spoke often about feeding people, both physically and spiritually. Below are some examples of people who have stepped up to help address the issue of feeding the ever-growing number of people in need in our community. We want to multiply those efforts by getting individuals, Sunday School classes and other small groups to join our Feed Springfield Meals Ministry. The Missions Council will come alongside to help get new groups up and running and will cover the cost of the food. You can help make an impact in our community.

Eden Lindberg: Eden leads and coordinates a group of 6 to 10 dedicated volunteers who spend a couple of hours cooking freezer meals at the church once a month. The meals are then dropped off at The James Project to feed foster families, and to the Contact Ministries shelters. The meals we prepare feed between 65 and 90 people each month. For more information, contact Eden: 217-899-5644 (call or text) or

Brenda Cloyd: The Outlet is an ongoing program for young boys ages 8-18. They provide mentoring and life skills training, helping them acquire and maintain meaningful spiritual and ethical values while exploring their gifts and talents. We prepare and serve 40 meals one Friday each month. For more information, contact Brenda:

Sherry Sinnott: Sherry leads her Sunday School class and other small groups in preparing bagged meals for delivery to the Salvation Army Overflow Shelter. We put together sandwiches, chips, fruit, and a desert in a brown bag, and we then deliver those meals to the homeless shelter. For more information, contact Sherry: 217 621-5949 or

Joe O’Neill: Joe heads up a neighborhood group that prepares part of a hot meal menu in their homes and then serves them at the Salvation Army homeless shelter once a month. For more information, contact Joe: joe.

Drivers needed to deliver meals: One volunteer need we have is for people to deliver the meals to organizations in Springfield. If you are able to help in this way, please contact Eden Lindberg: 217-899-5644 (call or text) or

“You can’t do everything, but you can do one thing!”


Where we encourage and support families.

Families are the foundation of community, and supporting families is critical to our Mission. We are equipping families with the tools necessary to inspire a Biblical worldview in their children and teens, with the goals to re-engage our families and to reach 100 new families.

“So commit yourselves to these words of mine…Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home…Write them on the doorposts of your house…”

Deuteronomy 11:18-21

FamilyLife consists of all children from birth through high school. We are broken into three subgroups; EarlyLife, KidLife and StudentLife.

EarlyLife provides exciting discovery-based experiences like singing, dancing, and cooperative play to learn more about the love of Jesus.

KidLife offers engaging and meaningful activities for children in kindergarten through fifth grade. Children can grow in their faith together and individually by learning to be the hands and feet of Jesus!

StudentLife is "Doing Life Together." We do more than just gather for a couple of hours on a Sunday night; we authentically engage with one another in a way that leads to True Life Change with Jesus!

FamilyLife enjoys hosting many different events throughout the year such as, Parents’ Night Out, Spring Festivals, VBS, Fall Festivals, Christmas events, and so much more! All are welcome and we look forward to seeing you soon!

-FamilyLife Team

Each month StudentLife gathers for a mission project! The first Wednesday of each month we have been packing meals for the Salvation Army.We learn together the importance of being the hands and feet of Jesus. Each time we gather to pack meals we each have a role in building the bags. At least 70 bags are built each time! Not only do we assemble food bags, but we pray for the bags, decorate them, and include a note of encouragement for those who receive them. Packing meals for those who need them reminds us of our own blessings as we bless others.


Mail from Friends

Senior Ministries

Marge Iverson has been a member of Springfield First since 1965 and celebrated her 100th birthday on May 5, 2023!

Sunshine Sharers are our volunteers who send greeting cards and/or notes to our elderly to brighten their day. As you can see from the letter, they are appreciated not only by the recipient, but by the family. This ministry goes hand in hand with the following:

Caring Friends is our church’s ministry to our elderly who can no longer attend church services on a regular basis. Volunteers visit at least once a month. Love, prayer, scripture, and conversation can be shared. But the most important message is letting the recipient know they aren’t forgotten, and reminding them that Jesus never stops loving them.

If you are interested in serving in this ministry, please contact Carli Burton, or 217-793-9760.

Springfield First Preschool Journey

In October of 2021, God placed it on my heart to open a preschool at the church I call home, Springfield First. It all happened on the drive home from visiting my sister. I was working part-time at the church and part-time teaching preschool at a local school. I was talking with God, seeking some guidance on where my future was heading in regards to work. I loved both of my jobs, but I knew it was not going to be sustainable for me and my family. God answered. Just like a movie reel, I saw myself walking into church and there were kids on the playground playing and swinging on swings (which we did not have at the time), laughing and saying, “Hi Miss Kacey!” I was walking into school to teach. I asked God, "What about my current teaching job?" I heard, “Your job now is just the cornerstone to what I want to use you for here.” Well, I let Jesus take the wheel, and I am still continuing to hold on for the ride. I would never have taken this step on my own. I like comfortable situations, and I knew this was not going to be that! I knew that if this was God’s plan it would be so, and he would provide everything that was needed to fulfill this vision. Our God never fails, and He surprises me at every turn in this journey. He will continue to guide this ship. My prayer is that He continues to do so for many, many years to come!

So, what sets this preschool apart from others? At Springfield First Preschool we believe students have three teachers: the adults, the children, and the environment. The teacher and assistants observe, follow the interests of the child, and create the environment to reflect that.

The environment provides rich educational invitations to foster growth and curiosity. Kiddos are naturally drawn to learn and explore, when given the freedom to do so, by themselves or with their peers.

Also, family engagement is such a vital part to the education of children. Holiday parties, field trips, family events, and family time in the classroom are a few ways a strong connection is formed between a child’s education and their parent’s vital role at school.

Another component of our program is learning of helpfulness through our Give Back Days where we do something for others or for the planet. We have been lucky to participate in rice meal packing, finding trash treasure on the hikes at Lewis Park and Trails, and making snack bags for kiddos in the community.

Finally, the preschool age is such a beautiful one because children learn best through movement, discovery, and PLAY. Being outside is a big deal to them. When children are able to feel the grass between their toes, listen to the birds, play in mud, build and dig with the sun on their face, it just further connects them to the world God created and their precious role in it. Students get to see how the seasons change and what the weather is because we are out in it as much as we can be! It is a great day when we get to rescue worms and jump in puddles on a rainy day!


Without the generosity, time, talents, prayers, and knowledge shared by the people of this church, this school would not have happened. I am beyond grateful for all the people God has used to make this school so successful. To those first-year families who enrolled their children and who believed in what Springfield First Preschool had to offer, your support and voice to the community has allowed this school to grow. We began with 5 students; we will end the school year with 12 students. What a huge blessing!

So far for next year, we have 22 students enrolled and only a few part-time spots left! I am looking forward to having another teacher join this journey and share in the joy that is Springfield First Preschool. As we move forward, please continue to pray for the families, the students, and the program, that it will continue to be a place where children can play, learn, and grow.

FamilyLife Team Sydney Pappas Kacey Belitsos Kelsie Fairfull
Stay up on ALL future events of Springfield First · Visit 217.793.9760 2941 South Koke Mill Road Springfield, Illinois 62711 WEEKEND WORSHIP EXPERIENCES Sunday 9:00 am Contemporary in Community Life Center 10:30 am Contemporary in Community Life Center 10:30 am Traditional in the Sanctuary To see ALL generations experience hange with Jesus. Springfield First staff celebrate with Pastor Roger as he shares the news that he is cancer free, on March 20, 2023.