Tuesday, September 10, 2013


The United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) team from First United Methodist Church in Portland Oregon, shares their experiences with UMCOR as they volunteer at UMCOR West Depot in Salt Lake City, Utah.

In part four of a five-part blog series from First United Methodist Church in Portland, Oregon, Bob Fujimoto, Volunteer in Mission, shares about a recent dinner with guests from First UMC in Salt Lake City, Utah, and discusses its history and similarities to his own church in Portland.

August 30, 2013

Our Volunteers in Mission team hosted dinner last night, with guests from First United Methodist Church, Salt Lake City’s (FUMC SLC) United Methodist Women, and other guests staying with us at the Episcopal Church Center of Utah. All 15 of us enjoyed a wonderful stir fry with peanut sauce dinner (Kay Ward’s fabulous recipe), and had great conversations with all. FUMC SLC UMW President Carolyn Thurmond led her group one block from their church, and Pastor Eun-Sang Lee welcomed us to Salt Lake City. Although he couldn’t stay for dinner because he had to attend a meeting (Pastors have to go to evening meetings?), he invited us for a tour of their historic church this morning. This is the church that UMCOR West Director Brian Diggs was Senior Pastor for 10 years before working for UMCOR.

FUMC SLC was founded in 1870, one year after the completion of the transcontinental railroad. Their first service was in a hay loft above a livery barn, with 40 worshippers. Their current building was constructed beginning in 1905, and completed in 1906. The large, beautiful stained-glass windows, and pipe organ, are originals to the building. During this time, J.C. Penney and his wife Berta Alva Hess Penney attended the church, and Berta was a member. Following her tragic death in 1910, JC Penney paid off the mortgage for the church. The bell tower is dedicated to the memory of Berta Alva Hess Penney.
There are several similarities between our two churches. Both are the oldest in their respective cities. Both are located in their central core areas. Both work with interfaith groups to sponsor lodging and meals for homeless families. Both have diverse congregations – FUMC Salt Lake City has over 10 nationalities in their congregation.

Following the tour, we went back to UMCOR’s West Depot for another day of volunteer service. Anxious to sew the fabric that they brought, the ladies began to work in the sewing room. Overcoming a few problems with the sewing machines (they frequently get a hard workout), they sewed and assembled baby gown (17 in progress), did some mending of other layette items, and Shirley Blalock began work on a fish-themed quilt square which we will leave at the Depot as a memento of this year’s FUMC PDX VIM team.

The non-sewer in the group (me) went back to repackaging tooth paste. It is a lot slower going when there is only one person, rather than five people, working on this part. However, I had the company of Antonin and Dmitri. Erin asked who they were, and I told her Dvorak and Shostokovich. Three full pallets of toothpaste are still waiting to be repackaged, as part of the health kits that will be sent out next month to Armenia. Along with the health kits, UMCOR’s West Depot will send out school kits and layette kits. In October, another shipment will go out to another destination.

Fortunately for me, another United Methodist Church group will be arriving tomorrow, and will be working with me.

Gotta love Mint Fresh toothpaste.

Bob Fujimoto
United Methodist Volunteer in Mission

Click here to view First United Methodist Church’s original blog posts.

Learn more about United Methodist Volunteers in Mission.

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