By Mary Taylor-Johnson, Director of Communications and Membership

The second Member Spotlight features Elizabeth Raymond, who first visited worship in March 2022, joined First Church that summer, and jumped right in to serve in volunteer roles. When she isn’t volunteering or spending time with her spouse Phillip, Liz plays pickleball, reads and goes on long walks.  

What led to your initial visit to First Church ? 

I was looking for a new church home and had been aware of First Church for a while.  I had tried smaller churches and decided to visit the big United Methodist church.  Of course, as a visitor you walk in and see the beautiful stained glass and pretty sanctuary — it’s beautiful. Then Pastor Grace preached, and I was so engaged by how passionate she was and how relevant and timely the message was. After worship I was approached and greeted by someone who recognized me as a new person.    

What happened after that? 

It was the leadership, engaging message and being welcomed that made me decide to come back. I wanted to see if the experience of my first visit was replicated.  Before long I participated in the Inquirers Class and decided to become a member.  First Church felt so comfortable; it ticked off all the boxes: welcoming, open, opportunities to get involved, comfortable. 

Where/How have you connected with people and opportunities at the church and in the community?   

I participated in Mission Morning which included some diaper packing for Bundled Blessings and and lunch making for homeless persons. Folks were so welcoming at that event; it really made me feel like I wanted to be part of the community. 

I’m a people person and I like meeting people, so I’ve really enjoyed helping as a greeter and usher.  I really like the Ask Me stickers, too.  They are a good idea and an easy way to be welcoming. 

After I retired from 47 years in nursing, mostly in management and professional development, I read that Evanston schools needed help, so I became a substitute teacher in District 65. Then Colin [McDonald, our Children’s Ministry Director] made an announcement in worship about needing help with children’s programs, so I started teaching Sunday School. Colin provides a curriculum and a lot of resources that make it convenient for the teachers. I’ve taught preschool through 6th grade Sunday School, and I like working with kids of those ages. They ask great questions, and I like the way they think; you can just see the wheels turning. 

How have these connections been meaningful for me?  I’ve been exposed to a lot of people and programs, and being involved makes me really feel like I’m part of this community. 

Any guidance you would offer others about getting involved? 

Look at the website ( and the E-News for opportunities to volunteer and reach out for more information on options that are interesting to you.  Talk with a pastor or the contact person — they are so approachable.  Ask about the level of commitment and whether it is flexible. 

I really believe there is something for everyone.  There are so many opportunities that you can’t help but find something that will interest you, and you’ll want to be involved.  And you can be involved at different levels. 

Thanks to Liz for sharing her story.  

The goal of our Member Spotlight series is to share the stories of First Church members as a way to build community among the congregation. When you see Liz at church, please say hello and introduce yourself.  

Did you miss the first Member Spotlight on Bill Brown?  Read it now.