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

101 State Street
Charlevoix, MI 49720

Weekly Newsletter- August 26, 2021

First Congregational U.C.C. Charlevoix
August 26, 2021

Sunday Services: 

8:45 a.m.- FirstLight Service is held at Michigan Beach this Sunday! Our LAST FirstLight Service will be Labor Day, 09/05

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! 

A Message from your Pastor…

           Being a pastor comes with a certain amount of emotional whiplash. After Sunday’s Celtic service, picnic, and show & tell, I was riding an incredible high. Never have I been more proud of my church family and all that we’ve accomplished together. I hope all of you got to see and digest the information displayed on those 7 booths in Ransom Hall. We really are building the kingdom of love Jesus spoke of here in Charlevoix!
            I spent a good chunk of Monday down in Munson Hospital, visiting with one of our families, as they recover from a very difficult and delicate cancer surgery. Tears were shed and prayers were said, and I left feeling overwhelmed with difficult emotions. It has been such a long and challenging road for the two of them in the 20 years since the cancer first appeared.
            When I returned to Charlevoix and to my office, Leah gave me the news that she is leaving to accept a full-time job much closer to home. She will be working in her daughters’ school district with full benefits. I felt two completely different emotions at the exact same time: I was thrilled for Leah and her family, knowing that this will be so much better for her economically and practically; and I was devastated for our congregation, because of all that Leah has done for us in such a short time. Every success that I have experienced since arriving here 14 months ago has been a direct result of Leah’s terrific work. I think the same can be said of all our church’s accomplishments in the last couple years.
            Change is the one constant in our lives – change in circumstances, change in relationships, change in health, change in finances, and change in our emotions. It is at times like these, times of emotional whiplash, that I cling to the vine of Jesus, remembering that apart from Him I can do nothing. The Holy Spirit is not only around us through all of life’s ups and downs, but it actually resides within us. All of the changes life throws our way can be experienced in step with the Spirit of the living God. I love how Paul puts it in Romans 8:38-39: “I am absolutely convinced that nothing – nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable – absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way Jesus our Master has embraced us.” (The Message translation) Amen.

Looking Ahead to Life Without Leah
     Leah has been amazing at managing our communication as a church family. From producing our weekly worship bulletin for Sundays to putting out our amazing online newsletter each and every week, from updating our website to producing weekly videos, the quality of documents we have come to expect is not going to be the norm for quite some time. Beginning September 3, we will be without office help for a while, and there is no way Toby or anyone else will be able to produce anything close to what Leah did.

      As we enter this time of transition, we need everyone in our church family to be patient, kind-hearted, and to adjust expectations. There will be weeks without newsletters, Sundays without bulletins, and a lot less available on our website for a while. Please do your part to be patient, tolerant, and accepting of our new normal while we seek a new office manager.
     One of the truths that will come out in Leah’s exit interview is that we reached a point where she was simply doing too much. There weren’t enough hours in the day, there wasn’t enough room on our website, and there weren’t enough dollars in her paycheck for all that she was attempting to accomplish. Thus, it will be important for our leaders to take a much-needed time-out to consider what is really necessary around here and what might we be wise for us to set aside, even once we do have a new person in the office.
      Please pray for our church and ask God to bring us a terrific new office manager, who can lead us in communication. And pray also that each of us will look inward and consider how we might be more loving and Christlike in our dealings with the future office manager. God has given us an opportunity to grow and improve through the transition we are now entering. May we take full advantage of it.

Celtic Music Sunday & Church Picnic…

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 

From the Outreach Team:

Please note that the Noisy Offering to be accepted on Sunday, August 29, 2021 will be for the Pastor”s Discretionary Fund, which are funds that Toby can use to aid individuals who are in need of help with groceries, gasoline and the like.

Please contribute generously.

-Jack Weber

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.

Here are some upcoming weeks where we need an assistant for Lynette: 08/19, 09/05/, 09/12, 09/19

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 

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 down to our last month of outdoor services. Can you help us finish strong?

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. Begin by reminding everyone that we have been exploring the Holy Spirit, that piece of God that lives inside each of us. Remind them of the wind – the Ruach – that blows not only outside of us in the form of wind, but inside us in the form of breath.
  2. Introduce today’s reading by explaining that Jesus has now left the disciples to carry on his ministry of love, compassion, and healing. Listen to this passage and pay attention to how much Peter resembles Jesus in this moment. (Read Acts 3:1-10 from the N.I.V. or another family friendly version.)
  3. Ask everyone for specific things Peter says or does in this moment that remind them of Jesus. Ask what role they think God’s Holy Spirit played in this moment? Remind them that Peter wasn’t exactly the best disciple. He stumbled and messed up quite a bit, including turning his back on Jesus and denying him on the night Jesus was captured.
  4. Ask everyone this: If God’s Spirit can be inside Peter and work through him in ways like this that so resemble Jesus, what might God’s Spirit be able to do in and through us?
  5. Close with this prayer: “Dear God, thank you for being a Spirit that can be so many places at the same time. Thank you for being in Jesus and guiding him. Thank you for being in Peter and empowering him to be more like Jesus. Help your Spirit empower and guide us, so that we can be more like Jesus than we ever thought possible. Amen.

Prayer List:


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
Clark Hull- passed away on August 9th. Please pray for Kay and his friends and family. 

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. 

EarthKeepers Nature Camp Highlights!  

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

Stay Up-To-Date With The Church Calendar 


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


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!