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

101 State Street
Charlevoix, MI 49720

Weekly Newsletter- August 19, 2021

First Congregational U.C.C. Charlevoix
August 19, 2021

Sunday Services: 

 Please Note: There will NOT be a FirstLight Beach service on August 22, please join us for worship at the church at 10:30 am. 

10:30 a.m.- Please join us for in-person worship each Sunday morning with live-streaming options available on our website at

Our 10:30 am worship service will be held outdoors, weather permitting. Please come prepared with a lawn chair, jacket, hat, sunglasses, a cup of coffee, and anything else you may need to be comfortable outdoors. The elevator and bathrooms are still open and available. If you need special seating accommodations we are here to help!

Notice:  Masks are not required outdoors for those who are vaccinated, but due to the latest CDC recommendations, if worship is moved inside ALL participants will be asked to please wear a facemask while indoors regardless of their vaccination status. 

Digital Worship Bulletin – Click Here 

Choir Rehearsals have been temporarily suspended.
Stay posted for updates! 

Celtic Music Sunday

Music for the Celtic Service is provided by The Araglin Irish Ensemble, which is comprised of five talented musicians whose experience includes graduate training at University College Cork, Irish World Music Championship competitions and medals, and musical performance across the United States, Canada, and Ireland.

The Celtic Worship Musicians: Bruce Gartner, Mandolin, Violin; David Bowen, Vocals, Strings; Hannah Harris, Vocals, Violin; John Richey, Violin, Viola; Rick Willey, Violin, Mandolin, Banjo

Invite a friend! Celtic Music Sunday Facebook Event Link- Click, Copy & Paste

Everything You Need to Stay Connected to First Congregational Church of Charlevoix is Just a Click Away!

Just visit our website at There you will find previous newsletters, Tuesday Bible Study, Forms, Virtual Worship, Sunday Bulletins, Tips and Tricks, Online Giving, the Photo Directory, church calendar, the newly revised By-Laws, and much, much more! Don’t forget to use this valuable tool to stay up-to-date with all the exciting things happening! Reminder: if you need to access the Login Required section of the website, the password is the same as what was sent via email with the photo directory at the beginning of the year. If you need the password again please just give the church office a call! Thank you! 

A Message from Toby Jones…

 A Sunday NOT to Miss!
            I get excited for worship with my church family each and every Sunday. But this coming Sunday, August 22, my excitement level is off the charts! I have loved Irish and Celtic music all my life, and this Sunday we will be treated to some of the best Northern Michigan has to offer. Our own David Bowen has assembled an all-star cast of Celtic musicians who will cover all the worship music this week.

            For the uninitiated, Celtic music is filled with the Spirit. You will feel God’s Spirit in every tune. Given that this Sunday is Part IV of our month-long exploration of the Holy Spirit, it is the perfect Sunday for a Celtic service. My sermon will focus on what Paul calls the Fruits of the Spirit – those indicators that our lives are being lived in step with the Spirit.
            Right after worship, we’ll celebrate our first all-church picnic in almost two years! We’ve procured a large tent for the occasion and will be grilling hot dogs, hamburgers, and veggie patties for everyone. We’ll also take care of your drinks. Just bring your own table service and a dish to pass, and if for some reason you show up empty handed, we’ll still welcome you to stay and join in the celebration. Our guest musicians will continue the live music right into the noon hour.
            Finally, inside Ransom Hall the various ministry teams and committees of our church will have display tables set up to familiarize you with what they’ve been up to in the past year and what they’re hoping to accomplish in 2022. There will be photos, posters, and summary sheets you can take home with you, all of which celebrate the important kingdom-building work our congregation has been doing. We’ll even have some suggestion sheets where you can offer your ideas, as we shape our future together.
            My dream is to see everyone in our church family this coming Sunday! In fact, this would be the perfect Sunday to invite a friend or neighbor. They’ll see our church at its absolute best! The more the merrier! See you Sunday! *Reminder: Masks are required while in the church building, regardless of your vaccination status. Thank you for loving your neighbor! 

A Spotlight on Our Treasurer – Alice Pletz-Miller  

Every so often, I look around this church family and am overwhelmed by the voluntary contributions some of you make. Given how much I see certain folks in and around this church, busily working on important yet behind-the-scenes stuff, it’s easy to forget that they are volunteers.
            One such person is Alice Pletz-Miller, our treasurer. I get here pretty early on Sunday mornings to prepare for the early service down at the beach, but on most Sundays, Alice’s car is already in the lot before I even arrive at 8:00 am. She is working on financial statements, payroll, and, as I write this, the 2022 church budget. She is in that office from before 8:00 am until 1:00 or 1:30 pm every single Sunday. And that is just the beginning of the work she does for our church family finances. Emails and reports are flowing to and from Alice throughout the week.
            What makes Alice’s depth and breadth of service to 1st Congregational Church even more impressive is that she works full-time at Wojan Window and Door as well as Wojan Transportation, serving as their Financial Controller. There have been some retirements and some other changes at Wojan that have led to Alice wearing an additional hat or two at her full-time job. On top of all this, Alice has been serving our denomination’s United Northern Association – the configuration of churches of which we are a part – as its registrar. This is a big job that was done for many years by Barb Hoig, who passed away in the last year. Alice stepped up to fill Barb’s shoes and has been doing a terrific job in a very difficult position.
            All this is to say that Alice’s service to our church is not her main responsibility. She is a volunteer here who manages to squeeze her church treasurer duties into the few cracks and crevices she has left in her schedule, and we are all incredibly indebted to her for doing so. I hope we can all remember this when we have questions or other things we need from Alice. It simply isn’t reasonable to expect Alice to fulfill our requests immediately or according to our schedule and needs. When any of us has things we’d like Alice’s help with, we need to give her at least a week or two to get it done. Let’s all remember the old adage that poor planning on our part does not constitute an emergency on Alice’s part. My experience has been that Alice always does her best to serve our church’s needs in as timely a fashion as she can. But we all need to do a little better at giving her more lead time and remembering how her volunteer service to our church fits into her larger professional life. Please remember to email Alice only at the following address:
            Thank you, Alice, for ALL you manage to do for our church family! We are all so blessed to have you on board!

From Your Board of Trustees

July was a tough month for our church financially. Income was significantly down and expenses were significantly up. Long story short, we find ourselves heading for about a $14,000 budget shortfall for the current year. What could really help us get out of this situation is if any of you who have not yet paid your pledge for the current year could do so in the next few weeks. Even a partial payment would be greatly appreciated at this time. If for some reason you are not going to be able to honor your 2021 pledged amount, please let Alice Pletz-Miller or Chris Gengle know as soon as possible. Such information is always kept confidential. Thank you!

We thank everyone for your investment in our wonderful faith community and for inviting family, guests, neighbors, and friends to our in-person services or to share in our streaming events. Your trustees will provide another quarterly update in October.

-From your Board of Trustees 

Kingdom Building Opportunities

 Assistant Childcare Volunteer –On Sunday, August 1, we officially kicked off our children’s education program for a couple of late elementary-age kids. We have a terrific, parent-approved curriculum that is easy to use and super fun. Lynette will be leading this effort with one volunteer helper each week. You can sign up for a week as Lynette’s helper on the same sign-up sheet that includes Coffee Hours, Liturgists, etc. Any of Lynette’s volunteer helpers must read and sign off on the Volunteer Handbook recently completed by our Safe Conduct Policy Team and approved by our Council BEFORE they can work alongside her. You can find that handbook online at the following link:  FCC Kids Ministry Volunteer Handbook 

We are so excited to be able to offer a meaningful educational opportunity for Bella, McKenzie, Elsa, and any of the other kids in our church! Middle and High school students are welcome to sign up and become trained volunteers with Lynette.

Outdoor Worship Service Volunteers – Our outdoor services are fantastic for all of us and for potential visitors. Plus gathering outdoors is much safer for all of us given recent developments in the pandemic. But they do take a lot more work to set up and execute than our in-the-sanctuary gatherings. We are looking for individuals or families who would be willing to help one Sunday a month or so. We are especially in need of folks who can help run the sound and some of the technological aspects of the service. We can teach you how! The time commitment is from 9:30 am to noon. Please let Bill Trubilowicz or the office know if you can cover a Sunday or two. We’ll get you trained on the ins and outs. We’ve added this volunteer opportunity to the sign-up sheet available during coffee hour! Thank you!

A Family Devotional for the Week

  1. Read Galatians 5:22-25 from the N.I.V. translation
  2. Remind everyone that we have been studying the Holy Spirit, that piece of God’s presence that God puts inside all of us. Explain that this Spirit starts small but begins to grow inside us. Over time it actually spills out of us into the world. What Paul calls the “fruits of the Spirit” are 9 great qualities that Jesus himself had AND that we start seeing in ourselves as we grow closer and closer to God.
  3. Discuss why you think Paul decided to call these “fruits.” Play with the possibilities.
  4. Ask the group to pick a few of these qualities or fruits that they’d like to talk about or learn more about. You might also ask everyone which qualities they are already starting to see in themselves OR in other members of the family. Which ones does each person think they need a little work on. (Be positive and encouraging with each other! Emphasize that these are gifts we receive from God’s Spirit and some take more time to show up in us than others. That’s OK!)
  5. Close with the following prayer:

    Dear Spirit God, thank you for living inside us. Thank you for planting seeds in our hearts and personalities that grow little by little each day. We look forward to seeing more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in ourselves and in each other, as we stay connected to the vine of Jesus. Amen.

Posted weekly on our website. Click Here to check it out! 

Prayer List:


Michelle Steffey- was diagnosed with breast cancer (Lani Ochs) 
Jack Lehmkuhl- Ron & Linda Moore’s brother-in-law recently passed away. Please pray for his family & loved ones.  
Cynthia Postmus- passed away on July 26th. Please pray for Roger, and their three daughters Liz, Holly, and Katie.   
Jesse Hitsman- is struggling to recover from meningitis & encephalitis. (Jack & Sherrel Bergman’s granddaughter) 
Sharron Matthew– is having a lot of falls and complications (Roger Waters) 
Shaina Oneill-Butler– Marge McGoff’s granddaughter, has had a serious return of breat cancer after surgery & treatment. She has two children, ages 6 and 3 years old.
Nancy Schairbaum- Phil & Ginnie’s sister-in-law, was diagnosed with breat cancer and is in treatment.  
Bill Picotte’s- colon cancer has returned. He had surgery at TC Munson on Thursday, 08/19

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 RequestDon’t forget to share both Joys and Concerns!

EarthKeepers Nature Camp Highlights!  

To view, click on the photo and then hit the next arrow

Stay Up-To-Date With The Church Calendar 

If you need assistance from the office, please be mindful of Leah’s existing schedule and limited hours. When possible, please call to check the office’s schedule. Thank you!
Click Here to View the Church 411 rev. 10/2020

Reminder: There will NOT be a FirstLight Beach Service on August 22nd. 

Let’s help Lucy Witthoeft reach her goal of $8,000! Click the link below to donate! 
Crop Walk 2021- Click Here to Donate

From Phil Pratt (former First Congregational organist)

I just gave my first in-person concert in two years on Wednesday, August 11. The concert was streamed live and the recording from that live stream is available on the Church’s website ( if you would like to see it.  Simply click on the Philip Pratt Organ Concert link on the home page. Note that the actual concert begins a little over 5 minutes into the video.

Also, if you are interested, my two online concerts (2020 and 2021) are also available on the website.

Best wishes, Phil

Recent Posts: 

Reminder: The basement doors are now locked for security reasons. Keys have been provided to a limited number of participants. If you need to access the basement and do not have a key, please see the Office Manager, Pastor, Custodian, or the Chair of Trustees. 

Please be sure to shut off all lights and lock the doors when you leave. 

Thank you!