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

101 State Street
Charlevoix, MI 49720

Weekly Newsletter- May 20, 2021

First Congregational U.C.C. Charlevoix
May 20, 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!

There will be an All-Church Meeting held on Sunday, May 23rd, immediately after worship, for the purpose of approving the recent revisions to the Articles of Association (By-Laws) 

A Message from Toby…

Four times a year, we are given the opportunity to celebrate the fact that we are a part of a larger body of Christians known as the United Church of Christ. Our denomination, based in Cleveland, Ohio, sponsors 4 special offerings a year, each designed to strengthen the overall ministry and impact of the UCC in a targeted way.

On Pentecost Sunday – May 23 this Sunday – UCC churches around the country participate in the Strengthen the Church offering. We pool our resources and the denomination then disperses the funds to help struggling churches initiate an innovative ministry that will help them grow. In the past year, as the Covid pandemic was raging, many Strengthen the Church funds went to help poor churches upgrade their technology so they could stream their services and stay connected to their church families. We know first-hand how important that capability is, and, fortunately, we are one of the few churches that could afford such technological upgrades. But by participating in an offering like this one this Sunday, we show our brothers and sisters in less wealthy churches that we care, that we are here for them, and that we are building the kingdom of God together, hand in hand.

Please plan to give and to give generously to this week’s special offering to the UCC’s Strengthen the Church effort. You’ll be glad you did and our church will offer concrete hope to many struggling congregations in our denomination. Thank you!

A Preview of Coming Attractions…

Next Sunday, May 30, will be the final sermon in our “Puzzling Over the Parables” series. It has been a great ride these last 8 weeks, both in worship and in our Tuesday morning discussion group. The parables are timeless and always enriching. Keep in mind that our 10 AM Tuesday gathering wrestles with the very same scriptural texts that the following Sunday’s sermon does, but unlike our Sunday services, Tuesdays are fully interactive! So our new series, as we head into June is entitled:

“Better than Back to Normal: Living More Fully After Covid Than We Did Before!”

Each of these four weeks, both Tuesday mornings and Sundays in worship, we’ll examine one vital life lesson that the Covid pandemic taught us, things like spending more time with the people we love, spending more time outdoors, slowing our lives down, and reaching out to neighbors. We’ll hear from David in the Psalms, Paul in his epistles, Job in his saga, and, of course, from Jesus, linking all of their wisdom with the lessons we learned in lockdown.

We really hope you’ll join us IN PERSON, as we will be fully back open and largely outdoors. While it may be nice worshipping at home in your PJ’s, there is no substitute for the warmth of face-to-face fellowship and human contact. We miss you, so come on back!

A Word About Our Terrific Children…

You may have noticed that we’ve had anywhere from two to seven kids in our Sunday services lately. What a blessing! As a result, some of you have asked, “Are we going to restart the Children’s Sermons soon? That question grows out of a heart-felt desire to include the kids in our Sunday gatherings, to help them feel a part of our worship time. But keep in mind, the age of the kids we’re now seeing ranges from 4th grade up to 10th grade, with a cluster of middle school-aged kids. As a parent of one of them, I can attest to the fact that these are NOT children in the “children’s sermon” sense of that word. I have had conversations with most of the parents of these amazing kids – along with a former children’s minister – and they have all made it clear that calling up these kids to the front of the sanctuary at some point in the service would be the worst thing we could possibly do, if our desire is to keep them coming back. Children’s sermons can be positive for 3-6 or 7-year-olds, but after that, we’re dealing with a very different developmental creature.

Trust in the fact that our pastor and leaders are fully aware of our new influx of kids and are working with their parents to find the best, most age-appropriate ways of helping them integrate positively into the life of our growing church. In the meantime, be sure to do your part as an individual to welcome and get to know each of these gifted and talented young people. Thank you!

FirstLight Early Service to Kick Off Memorial Day Sunday!

Beginning Sunday, May 30 at 8:45 AM, a small group of hearty folks will resume meeting down at Michigan Beach in the Gazebo. This casual, interactive, discussion-based gathering is linked in theme, scripture, and message to the 10:30 AM worship service at the church. It is anywhere from 30-45 minutes in length, involves no music except occasionally, and allows all those who come to raise questions and to fully engage with the morning scripture and theme. If you or someone you know might prefer this earlier, shorter, lake-side gathering to the 10:30 worship service, we hope you will help spread the word. See you Sunday, May 30 at 8:45.
    *Note – this group will meet down at Michigan Beach every Sunday morning between Memorial Day and Labor Day EXCEPT June 13th and July 18th when everyone is encouraged to come to the 10:30 am service up at the church.

An Important Financial Update from Your Board of Trustees

          We wish to thank everyone for your time, talent, and treasure, as we transition toward fully re-opening our church during these trying times of a global pandemic. Our church, along with so many non-profits and small businesses, has greatly benefited from two cycles of the Payroll Protection Plan (PPP) loans, as a part of the federal government’s COVID-19 relief funding. Alice Pletz-Miller, our Treasurer, has done a truly remarkable job in applying for these loans and providing the proper documentation for our 2020 loan to be forgiven. It was only because of these loans that we were able to cover the additional, transitional costs of our interim pastor and new settled pastor and still finish 2020 with a balanced budget.
           Our second PPP loan has helped us start 2021 by meeting all our payroll expenses from January through May. However, we have already exhausted those funds. Without the loan support going forward, we are likely to have a significant fiscal shortfall in the remainder of 2021. We are going to need everyone’s help and generosity as the pandemic wanes and as we resume gathering together more fully. We have planned some fantastic outdoor services in our beautiful garden through June, July, and August, in hopes of welcoming everybody back. There is a sense of a new beginning, and we ask that you use it to review and update your commitment of time, talent, and treasure to our beloved church. Thank you for doing your part as we enter our 140th year of ministry in the Charlevoix community.

WANTED: An Assistant Childcare Volunteer

        Most of us know Lynette Webb. She has been our childcare point person for many, many years. She has done a great job, not only when we’ve had children present during our worship hour, but even when we haven’t. Lynette has been faithful by being here, ready and waiting, so that if a family with young children shows up, there is a safe and fun place for them to go.
       But in today’s world, there are higher standards for safety where childcare is concerned. No longer is it an acceptable practice to have a lone adult supervising even a single child. We must always have two trained adults on hand in order to meet the legal criteria for safe conduct as our church insurance policy establishes.
       If you or someone you know might be interested in working with Lynette, even if it’s only one Sunday a month, to provide for any children who would prefer not to be in the sanctuary, we’d love to talk to you. In the short term, this position might not require anything of you. But once we start effectively attracting younger families with kids, or once some of our grandkids start showing up for the summer, we’re going to need a helper for Lynette. Please talk to Julia Heddle if you are interested. Thank you! And be sure to thank Lynette as well, who continues to be present week in and week out.

In-Person Worship Service- May 23, 2021

Sunday, May 23, 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! 


*If you are watching this video and would like to make it larger, click the brackets button [ ] at the bottom right of the video. This will make the video full-screen. To exit the full-screen view, hit the ESC button on your keyboard. 

As conditions change and the recommendations are updated from the state and the CDC, we are committed to staying safe and preventing the spread of COVID-19.  It is important that we respect the personal confidentiality and individual needs of others to take precautions. We need to be gracious and ask others what they feel comfortable with concerning precautions, social distancing, and close contact such as shaking hands or touching.

Overall the guidelines have not changed for persons who are not fully vaccinated related to wearing masks, social distancing, and hand hygiene. Masks and social distancing should occur for all persons, except for fully vaccinated people.

With the exception of fully vaccinated people for both mask-wearing and distancing, we recommend an ‘honor’ system approach to your protection.  Anyone who feels unsafe for whatever reason- whether fully vaccinated or not vaccinated- should feel free to take precautions of wearing masks, socially distancing, etc. Remember that children below the age of 12 are not vaccinated.

What does this mean to the Congregation?

  • We will continue to ask for RSVPs for Sunday Services
  • We will continue to ask the “illness” question when checking in.
  • The blue tapes on the pew seats will remain in place.
    • Sit with persons that you feel safe to be with based on the precautions they are taking—wearing masks or vaccination status.
    • The Sanctuary capacity will remain at 50% or about 70 people
    • You can sit in the Fellowship Hall if you feel more comfortable
  • Wear your mask when singing in the Sanctuary.

We do expect the recommendations from the state to change as conditions improve in Michigan and we will update our response to reflect them.  Council will discuss our plans at their next meeting.  I look forward to the day when we can return to a normal Sunday Service.

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 

Jeannine Wallace- Additional health difficulties, living at Boulder Park 

Jack Lehmkuhl- Ron & Linda Moore’s brother-in-law, is undergoing radiation treatment for liver cancer. 

Doug McPhearson- Diagnosed with lung cancer & severe back problems (Roger Caylor)

Michael Fifelski– Michael is home 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 RequestDon’t forget to share both Joys and Concerns! 

Camp Information & Registrations Forms Available HERE and at the church



Don’t forget to pick up a new copy of The Upper Room.

Located just outside the sanctuary doors! 

If you would like us to mail you a copy, please call or email the church office. Thanks!