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

101 State Street
Charlevoix, MI 49720

Weekly Newsletter- July 10, 2020

First Congregational U.C.C. Charlevoix –

Weekly Newsletter July 10, 2020


Welcome to our weekly newsletter!

Saying Goodbye and Hello – Part 1

Hello church,

Can you believe it’s been almost two years since I started this transition time journey with you all? I got here just after summer ended, and witnessed firsthand the seasonal life of Charlevoix and the church.  I wondered if I’d get a second summer in Charlevoix, and I did, although it’s perhaps the strangest set of circumstances that got us here. I honestly never anticipated being an interim minister during a global pandemic.

With Pastor Toby Jones starting next week, and my staying on until the end of the month to help with the transition, what will the next few weeks be like? In the broadest sense, the second Pastor Toby starts, he is the pastor of the church. I am here at his request to help him learn the ins and outs of the church, especially in this new COVID reality.

For the wider congregation, the next couple of weeks give us some time to say goodbye, which is vitally important. I will be leading worship for the final time on July 19, and as you’ll read elsewhere, we are having a couple of leave taking celebrations that day. For those that’d like to talk one more time, the week of July 20th will be a time that we can set up a final conversation. I’ll have one final article in the next newsletter as well. But once Pastor Toby leads worship on July 26th, my public presence with the church will be finished. 

The role of pastor is a unique one. It is both a profession and a calling. We build strong relationships in communities, but they are also not fully mutual. We are here to provide spiritual support, leadership, and guidance, and the ethical guidance that goes with that can seem different and strange, until you think about them in that context. To help close our time together, and to welcome Pastor Toby to the church, there is a gift each person can give us. Take a few minutes to read the “UCC Ministerial Code,” and “the local church in relation to its pastor.” The link will be attached at the end of this article. It is a gift to understand what pastors are called to do, deeper than just their job description. That includes knowing what we are called to do so that the pastor that comes after us can be successful, which is to say goodbye and step away.

One of the last things I do when I leave a church is what I call my leave thanking. I’ll walk through the church building, giving thanks for my time here. As I disentangle myself from the church’s social media, I use it also as a chance to say a prayer of thanks and well wishing for each person. I send out final emails to community individuals I’ve worked with in my time here, letting them know that my time is done, and thanking them for their partnership. I look forward to leave thanking with each of you, individually and as the church.


Giving Thanks and Farewell to Pastor Greg

 Pastor Greg Briggs joined us nearly two years ago as our interim pastor during a period of important transition and uncertainty for our church.  He challenged us to define ourselves resulting in a completed church profile; activated committee leadership; facilitated retreats and development sessions on leadership, communication skills, and community engagement; and provided us spiritual guidance during a ‘weary’ time of ‘social distancing’ and isolation because of a “once-in-a-century” global pandemic. Despite these trials and tribulations, he has lead us to a point of much anticipation and promise for our church with a successful pastoral search and the coming of our new settled pastor.

It is time to honor Pastor Greg, who will be giving his last sermon on Sunday, July 19, 2020, virtually, which will be available for early viewing. He will be finishing his interim pastor role with us at the end of July.  Though our church is closed and will remain so until developing a formal re-opening process, staff training, and public health guidance procedures, we need to give thanks and to celebrate Pastor Greg before leaving our beautiful community.

Here are several ways to say ‘Thank you and Farewell to Pastor Greg.’ Depending on your personal comfort level and risk-taking during these trying times of a pandemic.

  1. Send a personal thank you card, note , and donation to our Church Office, attention: Financial Secretary for Pastor Greg, 101 State St., Charlevoix, MI 49720. Donations can be made to the First Congregational Church of Charlevoix, UCC, with memo for Pastor Greg.
  2. Schedule a telephone call of appreciation during the week of July 20-24. Pastor Greg has graciously agreed to set up scheduled phone calls. Please arrange requests for calls with our church office by email,
  3. Participate in an “Open-air-in-the Garden Celebration” on July 19, from 10-11 am, instead of the virtual coffee hour. We have planned a program to occur behind the church in the garden area with the fresh, cool, morning, summer air. There will be a single entrance and exit access to the garden directed by ushers. We will set up chalked demarcations for ‘social distanced’ standing areas.  There will be circles large enough for groups or families who have not ‘distanced’ from each other. Please wear masks and maintain a ‘safe’ distance (at least 6’) from other persons not in your immediate group. Bring umbrellas for rain and sun protection, water, and chairs. The program will include: Welcoming and “Keep-it-Safe” Reminders, Opening Thanksgiving Prayer, Instrumental Performance, Reflections from the Past Moderator, Reflections from the Current Moderator, Spontaneous Salutations and Well-Wishing, Special Recognition and Tribute, Reflections from Pastor Greg, and Farewell Closing Prayer. Please RSVP to the church office after receiving a Google Invite Form if you plan to attend this garden celebration. Remember there will be no access to the church including the restrooms. We need to keep a participation and attendance record according to public health recommendations for gatherings. Imaginary hugs and creative expressions of appreciation at a safe distance are greatly encouraged!
  4. Participate in a “Drive-thru-Farewell” on Sunday, July 19, from 11am-12 pm. Pastor Greg will stand in the small parking lot on the side of the church. We will direct cars through the alleyway starting at State Street. Feel free to stop, partially roll down your windows, chat, share salutations, and offer well-wishes at a safe distance with Pastor Greg. Please RSVP the church office after receiving a Google Invite Form for the “Drive-thru” event. We need to keep a participation and attendance record for group gatherings and events. We appreciate your consideration.

Please use the following link to go to a Google Invite Form to RSVP for the Garden Celebration or the Drive-thru Farewell:

Of course, you can also just email in your RSVP.

Looking forward to joyfully thanking Pastor Greg and wishing him “Happy Trails” ahead!!!

Submitted by the Pastor Parish Relations (PPR) Committee:  Susan Fowler, David Nedwick, Barb Wilson, and Bill Wadland

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. You can also contact me to set up another time to talk.

Grace and peace,
Pastor Greg

Other Ways to Stay Connected



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

Register here:

Still, Still, Still


Maybe you’ve been feeling this psalm. I have. Tired. Heart low. Eyes downcast. Overwhelmed. Too discouraged to place much hope in goodness.

To manage, I’ve been moderating my energy – lowering my gears like a car climbing a mountain in fourth, down to third, then to second, then to first. Just expend enough energy to cross this mountain. Just make a plan for the next month. Just make a plan for the next week. Just try a plan for the next day. Just get through the next breath.

Keep anxiety from clogging the catalytic converter.

Keep anger from burning out the engine.

Keep overstimulation from misfiring across the spark plugs.

A low-energy spirit is not a quieted spirit. It’s an injured spirit, rather than an imaginative spirit. A burned-out spirit, rather than a burning spirit. A despairing spirit, rather than a determined one. It’s a spirit that needs to crawl into the lap of a mothering God, close its eyes for a spell, and feel the holy heartbeat quieting its chaos.

From the safety of God’s lap, the now-quieted heart can notice great change and welcome hope. Hush, be still. From the solace of God’s lap, the stilled spirit can delight in beauty more marvelous than it could imagine. Hush, be still.

Breathe in the beauty of life. Breathe out the assurance of love.

Be still. Be still. Be still.


Mothering God, even a weaned child needs a parent’s comfort. Even a reliable car needs a tune-up. Even a faithful disciple needs quiet. Let my rest be marvelous in your sight.

dd-hackenberg.jpgAbout the Author
Rachel Hackenberg serves on the national staff for the United Church of Christ. She is the author of Writing to God and the co-author of Denial Is My Spiritual Practice, among other titles. Her blog is Faith and Water.