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

101 State Street
Charlevoix, MI 49720

Weekly Newsletter- February 18, 2021

First Congregational U.C.C. Charlevoix
February 18, 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…

             Have you ever been in a Bible study or a worship service and felt a question rise up inside you that you wish you could ask but instead just kept it to yourself? What kept you from asking it? Did you fear what others in the group might think of you? Were you convinced that you were the only one wrestling with that question inside you? Did you have the sense that your question might not be considered acceptable in this particular Christian community?
            It might interest you to know that this very situation is the reason a huge percentage of Christians give up on and leave their churches. Once people feel that their honest, heartfelt questions will not be accepted or respectfully engaged within the walls of their church, they start heading for the exits, never to return.
            What that means is that those of us still inside the church need to get a whole lot better at welcoming and engaging such questions. Now notice that I didn’t say “answering” such questions. Plenty of Christians, especially those in the early stages of faith (see McLaren’s Faith After Doubt) are very quick to offer tried and true “answers” to the questions with which more thoughtful Christians are wrestling. But such answers are rarely what the asker truly needs.
            Engaging the thoughtful questions of doubters and strugglers within our family of faith means hearing the question, letting it hang in the air between us, and then encouraging the asker by sharing our own struggles with that question. Chances are someone else in the group has wondered the same thing, and letting the asker know that is far better than any smug and certain answer.
            Another aspect of what I mean by engaging the question is for the rest of us to squelch the instinct we have to provide the definitive answer. If you have an “answer” that satisfies you, then let it satisfy you. Don’t presume to satisfy the asker by spewing it out. The asker needs something far more important than “your” answer; she needs your empathy, your support, your sense that this is a totally safe place for such a question.
            As our congregation seeks to move into and through more advanced stages of faith with Brian McLaren’s help, my hope is that we can provide a truly safe, encouraging environment for questioners and doubters. After all, wouldn’t we rather have them in here than out there? Amen.


Lent 2021 Part One

      Lenten Discipline Luke   4:1-13

Do not look for lent in your Bible because it is not there. Back then there was not such a thing. There is some early evidence that early Christians fasted between Good Friday and Easter, but the custom of 40 days of prayer and self-denial did not come until the initial rush of Christian Adrenaline was over. The believer became ho-hum about their faith.

You see, when the world did not come to an end as Jesus said it would and the Savior did not come to reign on earth as expected; they hung a Wooden cross on the wall and settled into a more comfortable routine. Gone was the passionate devotion to God they remembered in the enthusiasm of their youth. Oh, to be young again.

Realizing it was time to call Christians back to their senses again, the church announced there would be a Season of Lent. Now, Lent comes from an old English word meaning “Spring.” Not only was it a reference to springtime, but an invitation to a springtime for your soul. Let’s think of it as outward bound for the soul. No one has to sign up for it, BUT if you do, you give up the illusion that you are no longer in control of your life but give it totally to God.

Not anything is too small to give up for 40 days, not even a tiny chocolate bar.

Simply pay attention to how often your mind travels in that direction and then ask yourself; WHY does this happen? Am I hungry, thirsty, bored, or lonely? Try sitting with that feeling for a while instead of fixing it.

Don’t be surprised when you first ask yourself; Why not!? What does it matter?

You resist but next you hear; that’s not a pacifier or a power tool. Great you passed 2 tests, then the voice comes again…you know God really loves you, you can do whatever you want to. Why waste your time on such a dumb exercise. Now read Luke 4:1-13 again and then decide; whose voice do you hear? Or more important Whose will I be.

Words are taken from Barbara Taylor Brown’s book, “Home By Another Way”

Blessings in Christ, your Christian Education Thoughts for the season. Julia

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 21, 2021 

Sunday, February 21, 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 21, 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

Your church family wants to help you!
Please complete the form below and let us know how we can best assist you. 

If you are interested in helping your friends and neighbors get their Covid-19 vaccine please complete the form below.



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!


This Week’s Restaurant Of The Week Is:

Pigs Eatin’ Ribs 

1418 Bridge St. Charlevoix, MI 49720