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

101 State Street
Charlevoix, MI 49720

Weekly Newsletter- November 05, 2020

First Congregational U.C.C. Charlevoix –
November 05, 2020 

Message from your Pastor…

         This week at bible study, one of our participants shared an article with me on why younger generations – like Millennials – are giving up on and leaving the Church. The article cited 6 major reasons for this mass exodus among young people:

   1) churches are preaching and living a shallow version of Christianity
   2) the church is overprotective (as in keeping things the way they’ve always
   3) the church’s judgmental attitude around matters of sex and sexuality
       (particularly the church’s stance on gay, lesbian, and transgender issues)
   4) the church’s unfriendliness to those grappling with doubt
   5) the sense that Christianity is too exclusive (as in dismissive of other religions)
   6) the tense relationship between Christianity and science

         This well-researched article from PRRI, featuring recent studies from the Barna Group, is right on target, as far as I’m concerned. Consequently, if our congregation is serious about wanting to be the kind of community younger folks will want to come to, we are going to have to tackle these 6 accurate criticisms head-on. Why not seek to have our congregation known for being a place where those who enter need not leave their brains at the door? Why shouldn’t we welcome questioners and doubters? Isn’t it time we embrace and tout our denomination’s progressive stance on LGBTQ folks? Even further, why aren’t we working toward becoming an Open and Affirming congregation, using the UCC’s step by step process to do so? (We did this at my last church in Gaylord with an immediate and positive impact on attendance and diversity within our congregation.) How great would it be if we used our warm and inviting Ransom Hall to host lectures and panel discussions featuring scientists who openly discuss issues of climate change, not only with us but with the larger Charlevoix community! We could do the same thing with leaders of other religions to teach us about their faith and practices.
        Too many churches sit around and lament that they have so few young families anymore, and too few actually develop a plan to do something about it. The end of the PRRI article offered the following summary of what Millennials are seeking in an authentic spiritual community:

      “What they wanted in a church was a community that encouraged social
       justice activism, a place of creativity and critical thinking, and a space free
       from judgment. Perhaps most important, Millennials felt that churches
       should ‘focus their engagement on actions that serve the common good or
       speak up for the oppressed rather than opposing a controversial issue
       because of theological objections.’”

         As we continue our study of the Book of James this November, you will hear the brother of Jesus arguing for essentially these very same things. We CAN do this, folks, and in so doing, we will be a blessing to so many in our community and beyond.

Don’t forget that I would welcome your feedback on how you feel I am doing so far as your pastor. You can email me at or call me here at the church. I welcome your comments and constructive feedback. Thank you!

Sunday, November 8, 2020, 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.

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. 

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.****

Windows and doors will be open for ventilation, please be sure to bring a jacket and maybe even a pair of gloves so you don’t get cold.

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. Ushers will help direct you to your seat. Don’t forget your mask!

Google RSVP is required for contact tracing. Please only submit your form once.

RSVP for in-person worship by clicking here

Digital Worship bulletins are available HERE as there will only be a limited number of printed copies on hand. The bulletin is where you can find the weekly calendar and Prayer List.  When available, written sermon transcripts can be found on our website. 

Should you require the use of the elevator to access the building, the office should be notified when submitting an RSVP. 

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 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.  Hours: Monday – Thursday from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm.

If you would prefer to join from home, our Sunday services will be recorded and live-streamed at 10:30 am. Click Here To Watch

(email – or Toby Jones at 231-547-9122 ( Thank you!

Last year (2019) the Community Christmas Project served more than 250 families by providing food, gifts, and clothing for Christmas.  We anticipate that we will have at least that many individuals/families this year.  Possibly many more.  This project is supported by churches, businesses, and individuals in Charlevoix.

The team that puts the project together has been meeting to figure out how to meet the needs of Charlevoix families in the midst of the pandemic.  It will look a little different this year, as there will not be an opportunity for families to ‘shop’ at the church for gifts and clothing.  We will ask families to be specific (ages and sizes of children, etc.) when they sign up so that we can meet as many of their needs as possible.

Our church, once again, is responsible for collecting jars of JAM/JELLY and SOCKS of different sizes and colors.   The socks most requested are the short variety that young people wear inside their sneakers.

This week we will label collection boxes and put them in the fellowship hall for socks and jars of jam/jelly.  We will deliver them to the Lutheran Church on Dec. 13.  The distribution will be Dec. 17-18

Martha Trubilowicz
Lois Lewis

Christmas Cookies- Sharing is caring

If you are disappointed, as we all are, that there won’t be a Cookie Walk this year due to Covid-19… Cheer up! There is a way you can spread the Christmas spirit by sharing your homemade cookies with members/friends of the church.

Even though many of us are now able to worship together in-person, there are still many in our church family who cannot. Although they are currently out of sight, they certainly are not out of our hearts and minds. If you would like to make cookies for those who are “out of sight” and deliver them sometimes over the holiday season, please contact the church office to be added to our list of bakers and we will match you up with a lucky someone.

If you are hungry for a little live entertainment as the temperatures drop and the darkness lengthens, consider attending the virtual “Festival of Shorts” at Crooked Tree Center for the Arts on Nov 20 and 21 at 7:30 pm. A “short” is an 8-12 minute, one-act play, and this festival features 4 or 5 of them back to back. One of these shows features Toby Jones in the leading role. His short is entitled “You Haven’t Changed a Bit” and is a light-hearted, touching piece about a 70th high school reunion. This festival, due to increased covid cases, will now be recorded and streamed so you will be able to watch it safely from home.  

For more details visit