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

101 State Street
Charlevoix, MI 49720

Weekly Newsletter- March 18, 2021

First Congregational U.C.C. Charlevoix
March 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…

            It is so exciting to see our church family gradually come back together for worship! Following our Governor’s protocols, we are now able to operate at 50% capacity, as long as we continue wearing masks and socially distancing. We’ve reconfigured our sanctuary to reflect this new capacity, and we hope more of you will join us, particularly if you’ve been vaccinated. You’ve all been missed!

            When we haven’t seen one another in so long, of course we want to chat and catch up. I just want to remind you of a few things as you seek to do that. First, we still need to stay 6 feet apart from anyone other than those with whom we live. So please be extra careful and sensitive about moving into anyone else’s bubble of space, no matter how excited you are to see one another.

           The other thing I want everyone to consider is what we need to be doing as worship begins. We have revived the wonderful tradition of ringing our church bell at 10:30 to signal the official start of worship. Our desire is for all conversation to cease at that point, so that everyone gathered may quiet their hearts and minds and prepare for worship. What usually happens next is Shelley begins her prelude. The purpose of a prelude is twofold. First, it, like the bells, calls us into silence and reverence as we begin our brief time of worship. Second, the prelude serves as Shelley’s time to offer her particular gifts to God, her form of worship, if you will. Just as we wouldn’t talk to one another when a scripture passage is being read or a sermon is being preached, neither should we be conversing or even whispering while the prelude is being played. Think of it as a time for silence, meditation, and prayer.

            Thank you for making these important adjustments as we reconvene, rev up our worship, and move toward Easter.


Toby’s Vacation Schedule
     Toby will be out of town from Friday, March 26 through Friday, April 2. He and Eloise are heading to North Carolina for some much-needed R&R. He will be back in time for Easter Worship on April 4. We will have a guest preacher on March 28.

Guest Preacher
Sunday, March 28, 2021

Please extend a warm welcome to Sarah Hescheles!   

Sarah has spent her career building structures and cultivating communities and is passionate about co-creating sacred space that nourishes individual wholeness, supports integrated leaders, and weaves together life-giving, compassionate communities. Her degrees in architecture and theology give her a unique perspective in the work she enjoys with leaders, including faith formation leaders, those who care for all who are suffering and hurting, and those who actively work to strengthen their communities. In addition, Sarah’s work with intergenerational women has added an important layer to experiencing and co-creating sacred space which informs her work.

Sarah received her Master of Sacred Theology from Yale Divinity School and Yale Institute of Sacred Music, Master of Divinity from Duke University, Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, and was prepared as a Courage & Renewal facilitator by Parker J. Palmer and the Center for Courage & Renewal. She is a life-long United Methodist whose spirituality is profoundly influenced by the natural environment and has volunteered with faith communities serving in missions/social justice, worship, and youth ministry.

Sarah delights in writing and reading in front of the fire, photographing landscapes and wildlife, dancing, exploring the outdoors (hiking, biking, snowshoeing, skiing, gardening), and spending time with friends and family. She and her husband volunteer with the Boyne Mountain National Ski Patrol, live in Boyne City, and wholeheartedly experience each of Michigan’s four seasons!

A Message from the Moderator…

Welcome to Spring everyone!  Spring is a time of reopening so to celebrate, we are taking some steps to open up the Sanctuary for Sunday Services.

Starting this week, the cushions will have returned to the pews so you can be more comfortable as you attend services with us in person.  We still need to be socially distanced in the pews so you will see strips of blue painter’s tape placed on the cushions where you should not sit.  This will set up a checkerboard of seating pods that will provide the spacing we need.  The ropes will be taken down, too. This will boost our seating capacity up to ~50%.

Rules for in-person church attendance:

  • Be in good health
  • RSVP if you can
  • Wear your mask
  • Enter from Park Avenue door
  • Use hand sanitizer
  • Sit with your family pod
  • Don’t sit on the blue tape

-Moderator Bill

In-Person Worship Service- March 21, 2021

Sunday, March 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, March 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

Announcing an Exciting Opportunity!
Blue Water Camp for Creation Explorers: 
First Congregational UCC, Charlevoix

A small planning team is forming to bring a one-time children’s event to our church and to the community this August. We’d love your help and input!

We have discovered a really cool VBS-like curriculum for kids, designed to help them freely explore and develop a relationship with the natural world. Using the outdoors for observation, wonder, and play, this 5-morning experience will give 10 lucky kids a deeper understanding of their Creator and a genuine appreciation for the natural environment.

We are looking for a couple of planning team members and several other volunteers who are interested in developing and executing a pilot program for this coming summer. We plan to meet twice a month in March, April, and May, and then as needed in June and July.

Camp Dates:  August 9-13, 9 am-Noon
Where: Meet at Church covered porch and walk to the Pavilion Michigan Beach
Resources: This is an excellent model from which to choose activities, music, prayers, and family involvement. Please explore by clicking on the preview.

If this project interests you and you would like to help plan it, please contact Betty Wadland at or call 517-410-9922. The first meeting of the Planning Team will be announced soon.

If you need assistance registering for your Covid-19 vaccine or would like help with transportation to and from your vaccine appointment please click the link below and complete the form.

2021 Easter Garden Gala

~Money and Order Forms Due on MARCH 23RD~


Each week we will be featuring a new local restaurant that needs our support. Restaurants have been among the hardest-hit industries of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Let’s help our friends and neighbors during this difficult time by ordering take-out, donating to servers and employees who rely on tips, or buying gift cards for future use or as gifts for others. Together we can make a difference for those who have always been there for us with a hot meal, friendly service, and a warm smile!

This Week’s Restaurant Of The Week Is:

Charlevoix Dairy Grille
1111 Bridge Street
Charlevoix, MI 49720


Now Open for the Season!