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

101 State Street
Charlevoix, MI 49720

Weekly Newsletter- February 11, 2021

First Congregational U.C.C. Charlevoix –
February 11, 2021

Join us for either in-person or virtual worship each Sunday at 10:30 am
Click Here for Online Worship and the Digital Bulletin!

A Message from Toby…

           As many of you know, I’ve been preparing for Lent by reading Brian McLaren’s latest book Faith After Doubt. He ends this thought-provoking work with an adaptation of a wonderful benediction from William Sloan Coffin, a benediction Coffin loosely based on the Beatitudes. 

Blessed are the curious, for their curiosity honors reality.

Blessed are the uncertain and those with second thoughts, for their minds are still open.

Blessed are the wonderers, for they shall find what is wonderful.

Blessed are those who question their answers, for their horizons will expand forever.

Blessed are those who often feel foolish, for they are wiser than those who always think themselves wise.

Blessed are those who are scolded, suspected, and labeled as heretics by the gatekeepers, for the prophets and mystics were treated in the same way by the gatekeepers of their day.

Blessed are those who know their unknowing, for they shall have the last laugh.

Blessed are the perplexed, for they have reached the frontiers of contemplation.

Blessed are they who become cynical about their cynicism and suspicious of their suspicion, for they will enter the second innocence.

Blessed are the doubters, for they shall see through false gods.

Blessed are the lovers, for they shall see God everywhere.

        I find this benediction so refreshing and enlivening in this era when those who speak the loudest and with the most apparent certainty are granted authority. Faith and beliefs are not matters of certainty; they never have been and they never will be. One of my seminary professors once said that the very definition of theology is “a human attempt to understand what cannot be understood and to explain what cannot be explained.” Her point was that whenever we speak about God, we need to do so humbly, recognizing that we are seeing through a mirror dimly, as the Apostle Paul wrote. Another of my seminary professors put this same matter somewhat less delicately when he said, “The most important thing I can teach you about God is that you aren’t Him!”

            My sincere hope, during this dark and cold season, is that we will get more and more comfortable with admitting what we don’t know; that we will learn to hold our beliefs more gently and less rigidly, recognizing that they are but human attempts to explain what cannot be explained. May we become known as the church that doesn’t pretend to have it all figured out, the church that embraces doubt and questions as portals to a much deeper and more honest faith. Amen.

A BIG THANK YOU – to ALL of our church leaders who submitted their committee reports to comprise our Annual Report for 2020. Your leadership is greatly appreciated. Special thanks to our amazing Office Administrator Leah Dice for compiling the report into such a beautiful product, and thanks to Moderator Bill Trubilowicz, Chair of Trustees Bill Wadland, and Treasure Alice Pletz-Miller for their spoken reports and leadership last Sunday. We are blessed to have such terrific, generous, committed leaders!

LAST CALL FOR THE LENTEN BOOK STUDY – If you’d like to join a group of questioners and doubters for a fascinating book study, be sure to sign up for the upcoming Wednesday night study group that begins on Feb 17. Details are in the ad below. Email or call Toby if you’re interested in participating. Remember that in addition to getting your copy of Faith After Doubt, you also need to have the first 55 pages read before the first session this Wednesday.

* Even if you aren’t inclined to participate in this particular group, if you know someone who really wrestles with buying into Christianity, forward your invitation onto them. Remote participation via Zoom is welcome!


An Invitation to a 40-Day Book Study  
February 17 – March 23

The Book – Faith After Doubt: Why Your Beliefs Stopped Working and What to Do About it by Brian McLaren

Target Audience – According to the inside cover of the book, “Faith After Doubt is for the millions of people around the world who feel that their faith is falling apart…Using his own story and the stories of a diverse group of struggling believers, Brian D. McLaren, a former pastor, proposes a model of faith development in which questions and doubt are not the enemies of faith, but rather portals to a more mature and fruitful kind of faith.”

    In other words, this study is not for everyone. If you feel strong in your beliefs and don’t doubt much or wrestle with perplexing faith questions that have no satisfying answers, this study is probably not for you. But if you’ve found yourself increasingly bothered by some aspects of traditional Christianity and have begun to question some of the beliefs and doctrines you grew up with, this book and study group may be just what the doctor ordered.

Course Approach – Toby will lead us on a journey toward this “more mature and fruitful kind of faith,” where doubts and questions are engaged as important portals, rather than criticized as unfaithful or heretical. Participants will need to purchase McLaren’s book and have the first 55 pages read prior to the initial meeting on Wednesday, February 17 at 7:00 pm. This class will be available as a Zoom event for all 6 weeks. If Covid restrictions lift, participants who are in town may be able to meet in person at the church on these Wednesdays from 7:00-8:30 pm. But the in-person dimension will not affect Zoom participation. Remember, this will be a book study rather than a Bible study, and again, since this class is designed to nurture and engage those with significant questions and doubts, it will not be a good fit for those looking to
defend or convince others of their own position or approach to faith.

If You Are Interested in Participating – Get yourself a copy of Faith After Doubt and email Toby at indicating your interest in the course. You may also direct any questions you have to Toby at this email address. Thank you! 

Support our community by shopping local…
Round Lake Book Store
216 Bridge St. Charlevoix, MI 49720

A Message from the Moderator…

As we start to loosen the restrictions on access to the building for meetings, we need to do so in a controlled, measured fashion.  I would like to establish the following controls:

  • Schedule all meetings through Leah in the Office – only one meeting at a time is allowed
  • Limit the number of people to 10 – take attendance for contact tracing
  • Always require the use of masks
  • Encourage the use of hand sanitizers
  • Set up your meeting room to meet the 6-foot social distancing rule
  • Limit the length of the meeting to one hour
  • Email me at of the plans for your meeting

For now, if anyone on your committee is uncomfortable attending a meeting in person, please continue to hold the meeting remotely on Zoom.  In the future, we will phase in a combination of in-person and Zoom meetings.

-Bill Trubilowicz 

In-Person Worship Service- February 14, 2021 

Sunday, February 14, 2021, we will be holding ONE in-person service at 10:30 am with services also being live-streamed. 

Google RSVP Form- Click Here 

*Google RSVP is only required if you plan to attend in-person worship. Please do not submit a form if you plan to watch from home. Thank you! 

Sunday, February 14, 2021, we will be holding ONE in-person service at 10:30 am

*Seating in the Sanctuary is VERY limited and handled on a FIRST-COME-FIRST-SERVE BASIS. Once the Sanctuary reaches capacity, you will be directed to the Fellowship Hall, as space allows.

We cannot take reservations specifically for Sanctuary seating. The best way to guarantee a seat in the Sanctuary is to RSVP online and to arrive early to church on Sunday.

Those who arrive without an RSVP on file will be directed to overflow seating in the Fellowship Hall EVEN IF SPACE IS STILL AVAILABLE IN THE SANCTUARY. 

Seat cushions and bibles have been removed from the pews in the sanctuary, If you need a padded seat or a bible, please bring your own.

Social distancing is required and there will be markers on the carpet in the Fellowship Hall and also in the pews for individual groups. Don’t forget your mask!

Digital Worship bulletins are available as there will only be a limited number of printed copies on hand.

Should you require the use of the elevator to access the building, the office should be notified prior to Sunday and during regular office hours.

Remember that our overall goal is to provide a safe environment for our church family to be able to worship together on Sunday morning. The following practices are still in effect:
-RSVP for contact tracing purposes
-Enter through the Park Avenue doors
-Fill the Sanctuary seats first
-Could be cool in the building
-Masks are required in the building
-Use hand sanitizer and practice social distancing
-One person in the bathroom at a time
-Exit the building at the end of the service
-Nursery is closed

If you have questions, please contact the church office at or 231-547-9122
Office Hours: Monday – Thursday from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm. The church voicemail and email are not monitored over the weekend.


If you would prefer to join us from home, our Sunday service will be recorded and live-streamed at 10:30 am. 
Virtual Worship- Click Here

Please join us on Sunday, February 21 at 2:00 PM for a special performance by the Cummings String Quartet. You have heard each individual during worship as a soloist, now hear their collaborative efforts “Live” on Sunday afternoon!


Why am I seeing a QR Code in Church?
Click Here to learn more! 

Click Here to see the 11 Best QR Code Reader Apps for smartphones and devices. 


This Week’s Restaurant Of The Week Is:

Harbor View Cafe 

100 Antrim Street
Charlevoix, MI 49720


Hours: Open daily 7:00 am until 2:00 pm