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

101 State Street
Charlevoix, MI 49720

Weekly Newsletter- November 19, 2020

First Congregational U.C.C. Charlevoix –
November 19, 2020 

 From Your Pastor… 

            Advent 2020 is shaping up to be one of the most bizarre Decembers ever. It is breaking my heart to think about a Christmas season when families can’t be together, when so many literally can’t come home for the holidays, and when our church family may not even be able to gather together for worship.
            But these are the realities in which we find ourselves, and so we must navigate them faithfully, positively, and creatively. Our worship team – consisting of Roger Waters, Shelley Fisher, Hugh Hansen, Bill Trubilowicz, and I – will work extra hard in the coming weeks to bring you meaningful and memorable Advent worship services. We know it can’t be the same as if we were all together, but God’s Spirit knows no bounds, and that is a huge blessing during this unusual time.
            I want to encourage each of you to take whatever negative thoughts and frustration you have as Advent 2020 approaches and ask God to transform it creatively into something beautiful and unexpected. Can we dare to believe that God, in Her goodness, may have some new and incredible gifts for us, even as we celebrate our first Covid Christmas? Rather than lament the temporary loss of some old traditions, what if we individually and collectively sought to establish some innovative new ones? Here is one I’m currently considering…
            In the event that we can’t gather for Christmas Eve in-person worship, what if we invited individual family groups to sign up for a 10-15 minute time slot to come to our beautifully decorated sanctuary, sing a favorite carol or two, hear the Christmas story read, and have our pastor say a special prayer for you and your family?
            One way or another, we want to help the light of Christ shine upon you and yours this Advent season. Share any creative Advent ideas you’ve come up with for you and your family this holiday season by emailing them to toby@chxucc.org. Thank you!

Are You Looking for a Meaningful Ministry as 2021 approaches?
     The Charlevoix Ministerial Association is looking for someone to manage its Benevolence Fund. Every year, we give approximately $15,000 to truly needy individuals and families from Charlevoix County to help them with everything from housing and utility bills to medical expenses. For many years, Larry Minch served in this vital function. For the last ten years, Ginger Stevens from Joppa House has led this volunteer ministry, but she is stepping down. If you’d like to learn more about this incredible, front-lines, difference-making ministry, please call or email Toby ASAP. It would be wonderful if someone from 1st Congregational Church stepped up to this high calling. Thanks for considering it.

The Little Traverse Civic Theater’s “Festival of Shorts” – previously advertised in this newsletter – has now been indefinitely postponed due to Covid-19. We will let you know of a reschedule date when it is announced.

Important Worship Update from Toby and Bill Trubilowicz … 

If you have been listening to the local news lately, you know that the pandemic is spiking throughout Michigan.  This morning there was a Zoom call with the Northwest Michigan Public Health Department to discuss the latest data from Northern Michigan.

The latest numbers show that we are experiencing a significant spike in COVID-19 positive tests. The positivity rate is now five times higher than the numbers we saw during even the worst of the summer and fall seasons.

Due to the size of this spike and our overriding concern for the safety of our Congregation, we have decided to close the church building to all meetings and to move back to a virtual-only Sunday Service starting this Sunday.  We will remain in this remote mode of operation through the month of November and reevaluate the situation as we move into the Advent Season. This necessity to go virtual extends to all church gatherings – not simply worship. So Bible Studies, committee meetings, and all church-related gatherings will need to be Zoomed until further notice.

We know how hard and how disappointing this is for everyone. Being together these last couple of months for worship has been such a gift. Being in quarantine and isolated is extremely difficult, and none of us wants to go back into that mode. But let’s be patient and prayerful as we ride out this second wave, trusting that God has good things in store for us down the road.

In order to execute our on-line, streamed worship services, all participants involved in the service are to report to the sanctuary by 9:45 Sunday morning and then conduct the service beginning at 10:30 am. The only difference will be that no one else will attend the service.

All of us will be able to watch the service on our website on Sunday mornings starting at 10:30 am – www.chxucc.org and on tape delay the rest of the week. Please remember to share the link to our amazing services with friends and family, no matter how far away they might live. Our goal is to be a blessing to as many people as possible and to share the great things our congregation is managing to do even during this pandemic. Thank you all for your understanding, your flexibility, your support, and your prayers during this trying and unprecedented time.

Click Here for Virtual Worship- Each Sunday @ 10:30 am 

You can access this Sunday’s worship bulletin HERE

Toby Jones – Pastor

Bill Trubilowicz – Moderator

*Due to recent stay-at-home orders, the church office may not be regularly staffed during normal business hours. The best way to reach the office during this time is by email. office@chxucc.org.

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.

We will deliver them to the Lutheran Church on Dec. 13. 
The distribution will be Dec. 17-18

Yes, there will be a MITTEN TREE set up in Fellowship Hall sponsored by the Outreach Committee this year. We welcome all types and sizes, handmade or store purchased. The main thing is to keep hands warm in the cold weather. The collected mittens will be donated to the Community Christmas Project. The final day for donating is December 13

If you would like to donate to the Charlevoix Christmas Project, Leah will be present in the church office on Monday’s from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm. Please come to the Park Ave. doors and ring the doorbell, she will come down and collect your donations. 

Volunteers Needed…