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

101 State Street
Charlevoix, MI 49720

Weekly Newsletter- April 22, 2021

First Congregational U.C.C. Charlevoix
April 22, 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 thrilled with the response we are getting to the current series on the parables. We had 15 people this past Tuesday morning at our “Puzzling Over the Parables” discussion, ten in person and five on Zoom. Participants are really stepping up to the challenges that Jesus’s stories present. I’m equally pleased that discussion of and feedback on the sermons are on the rise as well. All this is proof positive that Jesus’s teaching and God’s word is alive and still changing lives.
               True to form, I’ve also started to see some of these parables getting under people’s skin and ruffling some feathers. Remember – this is what is supposed to happen! If a parable doesn’t make you uncomfortable or even anger you a bit, you’re probably not reading it carefully enough. Jesus came to comfort the afflicted AND to afflict the comfortable. 1st Century Jews had views of God and of His kingdom that needed correction. Never forget that many of Jesus’s parables were designed to blow those false understandings to smithereens.
                I had a fun conversation with a retired UCC pastor this week, who is also a “from-a-distance” participant in our congregation. She’s a parable lover too, and she offered this nugget of wisdom: “Whenever I read the parables, I always look for God. I look for the character who seems to be doing what God would do in that situation: the father in the Prodigal Son story, the Samaritan in the Good Samaritan, or that shepherd who leaves the flock of 99 to go in search of the one who got lost.” I like that approach.
               Thank you for taking this important and often uncomfortable journey through the parables with me. Two down and six more to go. Have a great week! See you Sunday.

Don’t Forget – Toby is hosting a meeting for all 1st Light/Early Beach Service participants right after worship this Sunday in Ransom Hall. You are welcome to attend in person or via Zoom. Here’s the link:

Topic: First Light / Early Morning Worship Service Meeting
Time: Apr 25, 2021, 11:45 AM Eastern Time 

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 863 037 2823
Passcode: 690632

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!

CMA Reminder: The church has started serving CMA clients on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm. Please try to be extra mindful of these folks and their privacy during those times. As always, you are welcome to come to the church anytime you need, we just ask that if you see Leah in conversation with someone you don’t know in the office, just wait over in Ransom Hall until she finishes. It will probably only be a minute or two. If you need to have a conversation with Toby or Leah during those hours, it might be best to call ahead to check the schedule. Thank you for your understanding and patience while we adjust to this new and vital ministry!

Safe Church Committee

              Whenever we hear or read about abuse or sexual violation, it is very common to think: “This could never happen in our church.” Yet this year alone, over 1 million children and many adults will be victims of such abuse, and, indeed, such abuse does happen in churches far more commonly than any of us would like to think.

          Occurrences of abuse are devastating, causing deep and lifelong psychological damage not only to the victim, but to all those connected to him/her. When a church is involved, particularly in today’s media-saturated world, reporters and camera crews are sure to be on hand to ensure that the latest church scandal is well publicized. Today’s juries award millions of dollars to victims, and such funds are rarely covered by Church insurance policies.

              First Congregational Church of Charlevoix desires to be a safe church for all who come here, and to do that, there are some important preventive steps that we need to take right away for the safety of all. A team from our church family is working right now to help us become sanctioned as a “Safe Church.” We will be implementing safeguards to promote the safety of not only our children, but all who come here. Know that we will keep you posted every step of the way in the coming months, as we put policies in place on the way to becoming a truly Safe Church.

-Yours in Christ, the Safe Church Committee
 Scott Beatty, Julia Heddle, Ellen Hess, Ron Moore, Betty Wadland, Lynnette Webb

In-Person Worship Service- April 25, 2021
Sunday, April 25, 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 25, 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
Worship Bulletin- Click Here 


Virginia Scharschmidt– recuperating in rehab from a broken hip, prayers for her speedy recovery 

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. 

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: 

Terry’s of Charlevoix

231-547-2799 (Call after 4pm) 


Outreach News: 

Contributions to One Great Hour of Sharing will be accepted through April 24. Be sure to identify OGHS contributions.

There will be a Noisy Offering this Sunday, April 25, which will be sent to Heifer International along with previous Noisy Offering and Hunger Jar contributions.

The May Noisy Offering recipient will be determined at the May Outreach Meeting and will be announced in the weekly newsletter.

Also, we have received a big “Thank You” from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Michigan for the contribution made to them through the Outreach Budget.

-Jack Weber



Thank you! 

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)