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

101 State Street
Charlevoix, MI 49720

Weekly Newsletter- April 15, 2021

First Congregational U.C.C. Charlevoix
April 15, 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… 

                I am so excited to be diving into Jesus’s parables with all of you! We had a great session this past Tuesday morning on the parable of the unweeded garden, which you’ll hear more about this Sunday in worship. It never ceases to amaze me how alive and relevant these parables remain after nearly 2000 years. As one of my seminary professors once said, “Early on in our journey, we think of ourselves as reading the bible, but later we come to the realization that it is the bible that reads us.”
                The parables have definitely read me over the years, and they continue to read me as I move through my fifties. Gradually, I’ve come to see that perspective has an awful lot to do with how we feel about any particular parable. For instance, when we read the prodigal son, do we relate most to the older brother who stayed home working or the younger one who went off on a bender? Or is it the father of the two sons with whom we resonate? When we read the parable of the laborers in the vineyard, do we identify with the workers who worked the entirety of the day for the one denarius or with those who came in at the last moment and only worked a single hour but still earned the full day’s wage? You see, this is the brilliance behind Jesus’s parables and how they “read” us. As we hear each story, the character with whom we most identify reveals everything about our self-understanding. If we’re always identifying with the character who worked the hardest and the longest or the one who stayed home and fulfilled all his farm responsibilities, we’re not going to feel or have access to the grace that is embedded in these parables. If we’re unable to see our own flaws and failings, we’re never going to be able to celebrate when God bestows unmerited grace on the characters in the parables who have screwed up.
                Do you remember when Jesus said that getting angry with someone was just as sinful as murdering him? Or when he said that looking at another man’s wife (or another woman’s husband) lustfully was just as bad as committing adultery? Part of the reason Jesus said these things was so that we would come to see ourselves as struggling sinners too. For if we don’t recognize our flaws – or if we hide behind the fact that ours are not as bad as the flaws or sins of others – we will never be able to celebrate the grace that God is waiting to shower upon us.
                As we continue our journey through these parables, be sure you pay close attention to the characters with whom you are identifying. If you find yourself constantly identifying with the “good guys” in the story, don’t be surprised if you wind up feeling angry at the “unfairness” of God rather than elated at Her unfathomable kindness and mercy. And remember…these parables are reading us every bit as much as we’re reading them.

Attention American House Families…
    If you have a loved one living at American House, Toby would really like to come over for a visit. Call him in the next week or two with some possible times he might come over to American House with you to meet your family member. Thanks!

               Charlevoix Ministerial Association Hours

Reminder: The church has started servicing CMA clients on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm. We ask that you be extra mindful of these folks and their privacy during those times. If you need to visit the office, please try to do so outside of CMA hours or give the office a quick call first to be sure the office is vacant. Thank you for your understanding and patience while we adjust to this new and vital ministry! 

In-Person Worship Service- April 18, 2021

Sunday, April 18, 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, April 18, 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 may be directed to overflow seating in the Fellowship Hall EVEN IF SPACE IS STILL AVAILABLE IN THE SANCTUARY. 

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.

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
Digital Bulletin – Click Here  


Steve Libert– on the death of his sister Pam. 

Jim Pletz– Alice Pletz-Miller’s brother- suffering from health issues related to Parkinson’s disease & had a fall in February and tore his rotator cuff 

Charlie Johnson– Bruce & Joyce Herbert’s 16 yr old grandson had brain surgery on April 9th. 

MaryAnn Ogden– Underwent breast cancer surgery on April 6th. 

Michael Fifelski– Michael is in the Intensive Care Unit at Henry Ford Hospital waiting for a liver transplant (Lani Ochs)

Please click the link below to submit your prayer requests. Include as much detail as possible and use a separate form for each request. Please submit requests prior to noon on Wednesday of each week to ensure your prayer is included in the Sunday bulletin. 

Click Here to Submit your Prayer Request Don’t forget to share both joys and concerns! 

Announcing an Exciting Opportunity!
Nature Camp for Kids
First Congregational UCC, Charlevoix

Our planning team is formed and working toward offering a terrific children’s camp for our church and the community. 

We are using 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.

If you have children, grandchildren, or neighbor children who might be interested in this experience, please let Betty Wadland know. You can reach Betty at or call 517-410-9922. Here are a few details about the program, with more to follow in the coming weeks. 

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.


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 is: 

Jax Northside Food & Spirits 

757 Petoskey Ave. 
Charlevoix, MI 49720



As of April 5, everyone 16 and older in Michigan is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. See how to get yours at

If you need assistance registering for your Covid-19 vaccine or would like help with transportation to and from your vaccine appointment please Click Here 

Zoom Reminder:

Just a quick reminder that you may have to enter a Meeting ID number and Passcode when joining a Zoom meeting. These numbers are provided within the Zoom invite just below the Zoom link. Due to security concerns, Zoom now requires you to log into each meeting you join. Also, if you are hosting a Zoom meeting using the church’s credentials, please remember to log out and do not autosave the church’s passwords. By not properly logging out, your computer may automatically log you in as the church the next time you go to use Zoom, even if you are not hosting and it is not church-related. Click Here for more information on disabling your remembered passwords in your internet browser settings. 

One Great Hour of Sharing 

Outreach will be accepting contributions to “One Great Hour of Sharing” through April 24trh. OGHS provides help in places that are lacking health and education resources and/or where disaster has struck. If contributing by check please be sure to write “One Great Hour of Sharing” in the memo section. 

The next Noisy Offering will happen again on April 25th, with the contributions going to “Heifer International”.

-Jack Webber 

Thank you! 


Awake, Arise!

     Many of you know Chris Ludwa, Director of Music over in Bay View. He is a good friend of this church, having supplied us with incredible musicians and program offerings summer after summer. Chris is also a close personal friend of Toby’s.

      Just this past Sunday, Chris released a 50- minute video of a massive musical project on which he has been working throughout his Covid sabbatical. He has taken a well-known Bach piece and rewritten the words using a multitude of black voices. He has excerpts from Dr. Martin Luther King’s speeches, famous poems, etc. The result is a moving and provocative blending of Bach and contemporary social justice issues. If you are a fan of classical music, I think you’ll really like it. Perhaps we could even get Chris to come over some evening this summer and talk about it with our church family. Enjoy!

Foster Care- S.H.A.R.P

We had a visit from a representative from the Probate court expressing the urgent need for foster families in Charlevoix County through its S.H.A.R.P. program. 

What is Sharp? 
Safe Harbor Adolescent Recovery Program

SHARP is a court-administered adolescent substance abuse treatment program in Michigan that offers all phases of treatment: stabilization, assessment, treatment, and transition services, as well as, meeting education requirements from one location. For the past 16 years, Charlevoix County Probate & Family Court has successfully provided adolescent substance abuse program services for over 52 counties throughout the state. Based on research findings and the youth self-reporting, results reveal that many teenagers abusing substances are also struggling with unresolved traumatic stress and emotional issues, which frequently and directly contributes to their substance abuse. This newly enhanced program will address the deficit in traditional substance abuse programs that left emotional, mental, and traumatic stress issues unaddressed and, therefore, unresolved. The adolescents are placed in court-licensed and supervised homes. Our foster parents are trained in issues of adolescent substance abuse and trauma-informed care. 

How Can You Help? 

FOSTER CARE- Foster Care is the temporary care in your home for youth who have been removed from their home due to dependency. The goal for most foster children is to return to their parent(s) when the circumstances that led to the foster placement have been resolved. 

RESPITE CARE- Respite care is very short-term care of a child who already has a full-time foster placement. You will help foster parents by caring for a child in your home or the home of the foster parent, for a few hours to a few days. 

VOLUNTEER ACTIVITIES- There are many activities available, such as: tutoring, organizing donation drives, sponsoring events, etc. Foster Families need a variety of volunteer supports. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

I have children of my own. Can I still be a foster parent? 
Yes! As a foster parent, you can have up to six children living in your home, including your own. 

Can I choose the age range and gender of the child I want to care for? 
Yes. We try to match a child to a family based on strengths and needs. 

Isn’t it hard to give up a child once you become attached?
Caring for a youth and then sending them back to a healthier family is one of the hardest and most important aspects of fostering. By helping the child stay connected to their family, foster parents often feel they have contributed to the strengthening of a family. The care you provide a child will live in their heart forever. 

Do I get reimbursed for my expenses?
The daily rate (per Diem) per youth is $55.00 

Program brochures are available in the church office. 

For more information please call or email SHARP at 231-547-4085 or

You can reach Leah in the church office by calling 231-547-9122 (ext. 201) or by email at

You can reach Toby by calling 231-547-9122 (ext. 202) or by email at

You can reach the Charlevoix Ministerial Association by calling 231-547-9122 (ext. 204)