First Congregational Church
(United Church of Christ)
Rev. Toby Jones, Pastor

101 State Street
Charlevoix, MI 49720

Weekly Newsletter- June 25, 2020

First Congregational U.C.C. Charlevoix –

Weekly Newsletter June 25, 2020


Welcome to our weekly newsletter!

With the changes in our life because of the COVID 19 virus, we need to develop new ways to communicate to replace what used to happen naturally when we gathered together. So, we are giving a weekly newsletter by email a try! We will post this to our web page and email it out to all of our members. Please be patient as we figure this new thing! If you have suggestions for improvement or notes you’d like added, let us know!   

Pastor Greg Briggs and Leah Dice.




CHARLEVOIX, MI (June 24, 2020) – The Rev Toby Jones has been appointed settled pastor at the First Congregational Church United Church of Christ of Charlevoix. 

Rev Jones succeeds Pastor Neil Wilson who retired in 2018 to return with his wife Donna to his native New England. Since then, Rev Greg Briggs has served as interim minister at the church. The transition from interim to settled minister begins immediately and is expected to take about a month. 

The appointment of Rev Jones is the final step in a search process that began in August 2018. The search was thorough and required development of a local church profile, appointment of a search committee that screened and interviewed more than a dozen candidates before selecting Rev Jones as the leading candidate.  The process was delayed almost three months due to the effects of the coronavirus, which caused the church to move much of its administration and its Sunday service totally online.

“We are excited to have Rev Toby Jones serve as our new settled pastor, and I am amazed at the overwhelming enthusiasm that the congregation has shown toward him,” said Bill Trubilowicz, moderator of the church council. “The search committee worked very hard and took their assignment to heart and found the best candidate for our church.  The coronavirus lock-down challenged the entire church family to meet and evaluate Rev Jones only online, and they rose to the challenge.”

Rev Jones was appointed Pastor following a special Father’s Day service and sermon. The sermon is posted on the church website at  The congregation also expressed its appreciation to the interim minister, Rev Briggs,  who provided guidance during the search

Pastor Toby Jones- Biography

         Toby hails from a western suburb of Cleveland, Ohio – Bay Village. His parents and 3 siblings attended a Presbyterian Church in Bay Village, but during the three summer months each year, the family “church” was Bay View, Michigan.

            In addition to the significant influences of his family, his home church, and the Bay View Chautauqua community, Young Life – a para-church youth organization – deepened and personalized our candidate’s faith commitment during his junior and senior years in high school. It was then that he first began to consider a career in ministry. That call would further take shape at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, where he majored in English Composition and minored in Classical Studies. During his junior year, he studied in Athens, Greece, learning Ancient Greek, which would aid him greatly in his seminary years. During his senior year, he accepted a position as the Student Assistant Minister at Gobin Memorial United Methodist Church, where he preached, taught Bible studies, and made pastoral visits, all while finishing his course work. He graduated from DePauw Cum Laude and was offered a full scholarship from Princeton Theological Seminary.

            At Princeton, our candidate distinguished himself in Old Testament Studies, becoming a Teaching Assistant of Biblical Hebrew. He also picked up a double major in Christian Education and managed to graduate near the top of his class, earning Princeton’s prestigious “Fellowship for Parish Ministry,” a $10,000 cash prize designated for overseas study and travel. He used portions of that gift to visit England, Scotland, Wales, Italy, and Israel. But he spent the bulk of it on six weeks at Leiden University in Holland studying suffering.

            His first full-time church call came from a small church in the Chicago area, where he served as a solo pastor, helping the church grow from 70 members to over 200.  There he worked with the local pastors’ association on a common problem – homelessness. After getting his congregation and six others involved in addressing this growing local concern, he helped found P.A.D.S. – Public Action to Deliver Shelter. Eventually, he left the church to become the full-time director of this non-profit organization. P.A.D.S. still exists today and recently celebrated its 30th anniversary.

            The next 13 years of his journey was a fulfillment of a childhood dream – teaching high school English, coaching, and serving as chaplain at several college prep schools including one in Wisconsin, one in Ohio, and one in New Hampshire.

            In 2002, he returned to Michigan and pastoral ministry, serving a seven-year stint as the Associate Pastor of a Presbyterian Church in Northern Michigan. The final year of that appointment had him serving as Temporary Head of Staff. Once the new pastor was hired, he moved onto the next chapter of his life, designed to maximize his time with his infant daughter. He taught World Religions and Composition classes at a Community College, founded and ran a small college counseling business for college bound high-schoolers, taught prayer and ancient spiritual practices to small groups of adults at a yoga center, and painted cottages. It was also during this time period that he filled in one summer for a pastor who was on his summer sabbatical.

            This curious collection of part-time endeavors allowed our candidate to raise his one and only child born on January 7, 2008. Though he and her mother were divorced very early in her life, they’ve managed to co-parent effectively, sharing equal custody of this amazing now 12-year old. She is his joy, and fatherhood has brought our potential pastor closer to God than ever.

            From 2015 through mid 2019, He served as the part-time solo pastor in Northern Michigan. That congregation also experienced significant growth under his leadership. He left there in May of 2019 to become a fulltime hospital chaplain, providing spiritual support to patients, their families, and the hospital staff. In recent months, he has been serving in the heart of the Covid-19 outbreak.

            Our candidate is a multi-talented person with a unique and exciting array of passions and gifts. He has been performing as a guitarist and vocalist in pubs and restaurants for over 40 years. He is an avid outdoorsman – a deer hunter, a cyclist, a golfer, a skate-skier, a snowboarder, and a downhill skier. He reads voraciously and has written 3 books as well, two by himself and one in collaboration with an old friend from the Chicago area. The first two books had spiritual topics –the third was his first foray into Historical Fiction.

            He is excited to see what God has in store for him as Pastor here at First Congregational Church UCC of Charlevoix.

If you have not had an opportunity to view the Candidate Sunday Sermon from Pastor Toby Jones, Click Here

What’s Happening in the UCC

The United Church of Christ has also started offering regular gatherings that are open to anyone who is interested. They have Tuesdays for Nurture and Thursdays for the Soul, as well as other events. You can stay up to date and register by going to

Tuesdays For Nurture

Revolutionary Love: A Conversation between Rev. Traci Blackmon and Valarie Kaur Tuesday, June 30, 2020 at 03:30 PM

As a nation, we are experiencing our own awakening right now. We are in the midst of an uprising for Black lives the world has never seen. Millions of us are flooding the streets, risking (show all)

Tuesdays for Nurture: How to NOT Add an Unintended Legal Battle to your Church’s Worries Tuesday, July 07, 2020 at 03:30 PM

Tuesdays for Nurture is a Tuesday webinars series which we faithfully focus on education for the people of God. Topics from faith-filled politics, to interviews of key leaders, to “how to’s (show all)

Thursdays For the Soul

It Started As a Love Letter: Resilience in Re-Membering and Story, Movement, Identity and Faith, June 25, 2020 at 03:30 PM

Join this conversation between Rev. Tracy Howe Wispelwey, and Jocabed Solano as they share their work and insights in the work of leaning into collective memory in a way that builds justic (show all)

An Evening of Music: Restoring Beauty Thursday, June 25, 2020 at 06:00 PM

The United Church of Christ Presents: Restoring Beauty – An Evening of Beautiful Music

Join the United Church of Christ for an evening of beautiful music from gifted musicians and vocalist (show all)

Voces, Oraciones y Canciones de la Frontera / Voices, Prayers and Songs from the Border Thursday, July 02, 2020 at 03:30 PM

Los líderes pastorales de la Iglesia Unida en Cristo reflexionan, rezan y cantan sobre su arraigo bicultural / bilingüe como personas de México / EE. UU. frontera. Una celebración espiritu (show all)

Sunday Worship Events 

UCC ONA Coalition’s ONA Sunday Worship Sunday, June 28, 2020 at 07:00 PM

Please join us for a special worship on UCC Open and Affirming Sunday. Open and Affirming Sunday, June 28, 2020 @ 7:00PM — 8:30PM
Sermon by Rev. Michael Schuenemeyer Minister and Team Leade (show all)

Time To Check In- Virtual Office Hours With Pastor Greg

Hi everyone, while I’m always available to talk via phone or zoom, I also know that sometimes the effort to schedule a meeting can seem like too much. So, I’m setting aside two times on Wednesdays to be on zoom, and people can pop in as they’d like.

They are:

  • Check-In Over Coffee – From 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and 
  • Check-In and Chill Out- From 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. 

If you want to chat for a few minutes, or ask a question about something going on in church or in the world, I’ll be here.

Grace and peace,
Pastor Greg

Other Ways to Stay Connected

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash


Even though we cant be together face to face right now, we are still doing the work and living the life of the church. There are several opportunities for us to gather each week, using the website, Facebook page and Zoom teleconferencing. 

Bible Study– Every Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. via Zoom 
Sunday Morning Virtual Coffee Hour and Joys and Concerns – Our weekly worship service is emailed out to all members and posted to the website early Sunday morning. We hold a virtual Coffee Hour at 11:00 a.m. via Zoom. 
We also regularly post information both on our church’s website and on our Facebook page

For more information on how to use zoom please visit our website at

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