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

101 State Street
Charlevoix, MI 49720

Weekly Newsletter- July 2, 2020

First Congregational U.C.C. Charlevoix –

Weekly Newsletter July 2, 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.

The weather is warm, the lawn chairs are out, and many churches are choosing to return to worship outside. For many of us, however, this is brand new territory, and our heads are buzzing with questions. Is it safer to worship outside? What are the risks? What kind of equipment do we need? How do we make sure people can hear us? How do we livestream an outdoor service? In this webinar, we will discuss the pros and cons of both indoor and outdoor worship, and help you to create the safest and most engaging worship possible in your own context.

This webinar is part of a new webinar series by the UCC Science and Technology Network to help promote good science for churches on the road ahead. It shines light on what we know, what we don’t know, and how to interpret that for your individual context.

Register here:

Sign up for their mailing list to get links to the future webinars directly to your inbox:

This webinar is co-hosted by two church pastors with a passion for creating opportunities for people of faith to learn about science. The Rev. Dr. Ruth Shaver has written a dissertation on using hands-on science to teach children wonder and curiosity about the world, while the Rev. Zack Jackson Zack additionally hosts a weekly science and religion podcast called “Down the Wormhole.”


Good question and one that is being addressed by a committee established by Church Council of Pastor Greg Briggs, Moderator Bill Trubilowicz, Alice-Pletz Miller, Dr. Bill Wadland, and Joyce Herbert.  They had their most recent meeting on Tuesday, June 30. 

Just as background: The church was originally closed in March by decision of the Church Council when the governor closed most non-essential businesses. Our area of the state is now in Phase 5 of the reopening which allows for gatherings, but since being inside for extended periods of time (i. e. church) is considered a high-risk activity there are restrictions (i.e. social distancing) and recommendations (wearing of face masks) that must be followed. There are also additional guidelines regarding bathroom use, signage, cleaning, staff training, etc. that must also be addressed. 

Not only are worship and other extended gatherings a high-risk activity, but a high percentage of our congregation is in the At Risk category, who are recommended to still stay home. So, we are taking many precautions to lower the risk for anyone who enters the building, as well as continuing to stay connected with those that remain home through online services.

In comparison to other local churches, we may be a little slower than some to restart in-person worship. It is important to remember that we were in the middle of a search process for a settled pastor, which took much of the church’s time and attention since the beginning of the year. Also, we take this task seriously, valuing the health and safety of our members, and preferring to be cautious.

The desire that everyone feels to gather together and see one another was fully acknowledged and certainly is uppermost in the minds of the committee.  But before any gatherings can be planned the committee is doing its utmost to comply with the guidelines.

Our new pastor, Toby Jones will officially begin on Monday, July 13.  Greg Briggs’ last Sunday preaching will be on July 19.  It is the hope of the committee that an outdoor, in-person send-off can take place on that Sunday or during the following week.  While the Opening-the-Church Committee is working on satisfying the criteria mentioned, the Pastor Parish Relations Committee is working out other details of the day. 

The welcoming of Toby Jones will take place at a separate time and will be planned by the Search Committee.  The format or time of this has not been determined and will most likely take place over a period of time and not just be a single event.

Stay tuned.  The Committee will keep you apprised of its progress in the weekly newsletter. 

Racial Justice Working Group

Meeting Sunday’s – after the church’s coffee hour and joys and concerns 

The need to love our neighbor through a greater focus on racial justice has been highlighted in new and unavoidable ways over the last few weeks, though it has been going on for centuries. There is a growing group of church members that want to engage the church more deeply in this mission issue.  Seeking to balance the inner, reflective, work with the outer work, the group is reviewing three common resources as possible starting places. We will meet on Sunday, June 28 after our zoom joys and concerns time.  Anyone who is interested in engaging in these discussions is welcome to attend.

Resource #1, the UCC website, Be sure to look at the White Privilege curriculum, the Sacred Conversations to End Racism program, and our justice resources.

Resource #2, this is a helpful article about ways to start with racial justice work:

Resource #3, here is a collection of “Scaffolded” Anti-racism resources. It recognizes that not everyone is at the same point in becoming anti-racist, so it gives targeted resources, depending where you find yourself in the spectrum of white identity development.*FHuvm1aOZv4HqsULrEEYLQ#

I encourage every church member to look over these resources, and then spend time in prayerful reflection about where God is calling you in this time, and what you need to go in that direction.

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



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