First Congregational U.C.C. Charlevoix –
Weekly Newsletter June 4, 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.
For A Time Such As This – pastoral letter from Interim Pastor Greg Briggs
Church family of First Congregational UCC,
In these chaotic and transformative times, I’ve reminded myself of a couple of verses from one of my favorite Bible stories, the story of Esther. She unexpectedly becomes a queen in a vast empire, which is doubly surprising because she’s also secretly Jewish. Later in the story, danger comes for the Jewish people, and Esther’s uncle asks her to intervene. She initially doesn’t think she can. Here is what her uncle replies:
“Don’t think for one minute that, unlike all the other people, you’ll come out of this alive simply because you are far away in a place of safety. In fact, if you don’t speak up at this very important time, relief and rescue will appear for the people from another place, but you and your family will die. But who knows? Maybe it was for a time such as this that you came to be part of the royal family.” Esther 4:13-14
For a time such as this. That is exactly where I think we all are. Individually, any of the issues we are confronting now would make it seem like this isn’t the right time to make big changes But perhaps it is all those reasons combined that have placed us in this situation where we can no longer wait. We can no longer wait for justice. We can no longer wait for compassion. We can no longer wait until we know exactly what to do. It is a time such as this where we are called to go out and be Christians.
Maybe things had to get so bad in the world that we realized that the way things are, are not the way things should be. Maybe it took a global viral pandemic combined with an outbreak of the even more virulent and long lasting pandemics of racism, inequality, and apathy. Maybe the congregation needed to be restricted from the church building to remember that it is only a meeting house for the church, and not the church itself. Maybe it took seeing a total failure in national leadership, combined with this transition time in local church leadership to reveal that leadership is in each member, each child of Christ. Maybe it needed to reclaim it’s congregational strength – that each member is charged to Be The Church, not just the people who get paid to do it. Maybe it’s a time like this to help the congregation realize that one of the things it sees as a weakness is a strength, the age of the population. This gathering of people has the wisdom of the elders, and the blessing of people with time on their hands and an already full life to finally get fed up with the polite status quo, and want to leave a better world for their children, grandchildren, and all other children and grandchildren out there.
The pastoral part of me wishes I could say that everything is going to be alright. And, in the end, I do believe it will be. I get that feeling from the bible quote above. Even if this church, If white America doesn’t act, relief and rescue will still appear from God, but from another quarter. At the same time, the prophetic side of me compels me to say that we are called to follow Christ, pursue justice for all, especially those in most need of it, not just because we are nice people, but because our salvation, our liberation, it tied up to that work. Until all of us are free, none of us are free. And if we aren’t part of that liberation, than we will not be liberated either.
You are the people you’ve been waiting for. You are part of the United Church of Christ, you are united in faith, called to proclaim the truth, and work for the coming of God’s common-wealth. You are the leaders, not your pastors, not the people elected to board positions, not your elected public officials. Maybe this needed to take place for this church in a time of transition. I, as your interim pastor, am finishing my time here. I am willing to advise, encourage, refine ideas, and give resources, but anything I “do” right now will not last. But the things you do will last as long as you want them too. Your next pastor, not yet even elected, will not be able to come in and just take the reins. They need time to enter, to learn the congregation, to build trust and relationships. They also need to learn how this church has grown and where it is growing towards. It is time to live into the congregational part of your name.
Maybe it is for a time such as this that you are here. To say, in a place that needs to hear it, that Black Lives Matter.
Your sibling in Christ,
P.S. If the protests against police brutality and Black Lives Matters rallies stir your soul and inspire you to seek justice, there is a group of people from church that are gathering to discuss responses. This will focus both out in the wider world and in doing our own work to combat racism within ourselves. Please contact Pastor Greg if you are interested in joining. email@example.com
This Sunday Is Communion Sunday
Please bring your individual communion setting to our zoom call at 11 am on Sunday!
A Letter From The Moderator
A Letter to the Congregation of the First Congregational Church of Charlevoix:
I am excited to inform you that our search to find a new Settled Pastor is almost complete. We started down this path over a year ago and now have a candidate identified and anxious to become our Pastor.
The Search Committee completed a huge task in order to reach consensus and propose a candidate for our Pastor. I want to personally thank them for their dedication and diligence to find us a settled pastor. Please see the attached letter from them that will summarize the work that they completed.
In a normal search process, when we reach this point we would have the minister hold a meet and greet, preach a Sunday service and then we would hold a meeting of the Congregation to vote on their acceptability to our congregation.
The current pandemic has caused most normal processes to grind to a halt. We have a desire to complete the search process but with the current limitations on meeting within the church building, we have looked at a different way to get to consensus with the congregation.
In the last Council meeting, Council approved an online Candidate’s Sunday in order to conduct the final step of the search process. We have a number of details to work out but I am confident that we can be successful and complete this task. The Church and the Candidate are committing to Father’s Day, June 21 for the Candidate’s Sunday. A Congregational Meeting will be conducted for the purpose of approving the Search Committee’s choice of Settled Pastor.
In a nutshell, we will provide you access a biography of the candidate, an online church service conducted by the candidate, a Zoom meet & greet to allow you to meet them and an opportunity to cast an online ballot by email. For those of you that have been enjoying the online services that Pastor Greg has been conducting and/or the Joys & Concerns Coffee Hour at 11 AM, this will all look very familiar.
We would want you to continue to “practice” working with the technology by attending the online church service and the various Zoom calls that the Church holds every week. If you need help in connecting online, contact the church office and we will figure out a way to help you with the technology.
If you do not have the skills or equipment to participate online and you live in the area, we have the ability to hand you a written biography and a transcript of the sermon on that Sunday morning. You will then be able to vote via telephone.
Members of the Council and their committees made calls to wish everyone a Happy Mother’s Day and to gather information about each members ability to complete this online process. The results were encouraging as to the numbers of members with the necessary skills to accomplish the task. If we somehow missed you and you have a desire to be a part of this historic and important process, contact the church office to ensure that we have you on the voting list.
Please call me personally if you need clarifications or have questions about the process. I look forward to June 21st when we can, hopefully, make an informed decision about our next Settled Pastor.
Church Office Hours
As a reminder, the church office is remaining closed for the time being. Leah is physically in the office one day a week to take care of things that can’t be done remotely. She is working from home the remainder of the week. Due to poor cellphone service, the best way to reach her is by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My Church, My World – a faith based reflection for the week
This week: PATERNALISTIC RACISM OF NICE WHITE PEOPLE
One of the proudest images shared here in Minneapolis after the tragic murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police, is a picture of mountains of food donations delivered to the South Side neighborhood where Floyd was killed.
In Need of Sign Ideas
Church, we are going to be putting out a banner in our church yard to let our neighbors and visitors know that while the meeting house is still closed, the church is always open. What slogan or phrases would you suggest we put on the sign to show you you are as a faith community?
Where can I find Sunday’s Sermon?
There are a few different ways to access the church sermon each Sunday. The sermon is emailed out to the congregation every Sunday morning using Breeze. It is also posted to the Church website Click Here and the Facebook page Click Here. It is not a live recording, so you can follow along at your own pace, or at anytime you would like. If you are concerned we may have your email address wrong, or if you are having difficultly finding the sermon, please contact the church office at email@example.com
First Congregational UCC is now offering a secure online giving option!
You can now give online using Breeze! We have added a section to the website that allows you to easily click and give. The is a fast and secure option that shows you which giving campaigns are taking place during any given time and allows you to designate specific areas you would like your money to go. Right now you can chose to give to the general fund or the Strengthen Your Church Fund. Online giving is not a requirement and is just a new option available for those who may be interested. Click Here to check it out and let us know what you think!