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

101 State Street
Charlevoix, MI 49720
231-547-9122


Weekly Newsletter- May 26, 2021

First Congregational U.C.C. Charlevoix
May 26, 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!


I came across this great piece and thought I’d offer it to you as a follow-up to last Sunday’s sermon on Forgiveness. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! – Toby

The old woman is lying in a hospital bed in her living room. The hospice nurse sits in the corner keeping an eye on her. Today is a big day.
“Is he here yet?” asks the patient.
“He’s coming,” says the nurse. “Your daughter said he texted, his plane just landed.”
“How much longer?”
“You know how traffic is.”
These are the final stages of her life. She was an English teacher once. She taught high-schoolers to read Hemingway, Clemens, and Steinbeck. And how to love them.
Local students said her class was the best thing about their one-point-five-horse town. Especially when she used to get students to reenact “Huckleberry Finn.” The English teacher always played the part of Huck while wearing cutoff overalls, straw hat, and painted freckles.
The old woman says, “What time is it now?”
“Same time as when you asked thirty seconds ago. Relax, Miss Adeline. He’s coming.”
She is hazy from medication. “What if he changed his mind?”
“Miss Adeline.”
Forty-three years ago the English teacher’s husband was unfaithful. He had been having a relationship with her best friend for years. It ruined her. Their marriage shattered like plate glass and their family split in two. The Leave it to Beaver image died. And June Cleaver traded in her pearls.
“Miss Adeline. How’s your pain level? You comfortable?”
The old woman tries to swallow. “I’m thirsty.”
“I’ll get you some water.”
The nurse leaves. And the old woman is left with memories. Some good. Some not. She never remarried. She never spoke to her ex-husband again, either. Not once.
She never used his name, never acknowledged him. She moved to a different part of the state. He moved across the country. They have been strangers for four decades. But that was a long time ago. And pancreatic cancer has changed her perspective.
Then a doorbell rings.
“That’s him,” says the old woman. “Maybe this was a bad idea.”
The nurse turns to the chaplain who says, “Miss Adeline. You’ve been preparing for this.”
“Well…”
In a few minutes she has company. The man who enters is elderly. Tall and lean, dressed in a button down. They are given privacy.
“Hello, Adeline,” he says.
The old woman gestures to a chair. “Randall, please, sit.”
He does.
They run through the typical forced pleasantries. “How was your flight?” “How’re the kids?” “How’s your life?” “Wow, you look different.” “I don’t look old, you look old.” Together they ogle photos of grandbabies on mobile phones. Never mind the forty-three years of bitterment between them, they are making chitchat now.
Finally, the mood becomes serious and they get down to cutting bait.
“Adeline,” he begins. “God. I don’t know why you’d wanna see me.”
The old woman is undaunted, she has been rehearsing this scene for weeks with her chaplain. She will never be more ready than right now.
“Randall, listen. I wanna say this, and I don’t want you to interrupt. And it’s important I say this to you.”
He remains silent.
“I’m sorry I hated you, I’m sorry we were hateful to each other, I’m sorry I was angry for so long, and… I’m just sorry. I should have apologized years ago. I don’t want to die without you knowing how sorry I am.”
Randall is now a blithering mess. He removes his glasses. “God, Addy.”
She holds his hand.
“God,” he says through tears. “I’m the one who’s sorry. I wish it was me lying in that bed.”
She smiles. “You know something? Me too.”
He looks at her. He’s not sure how to react. Then they both erupt into laughter. Real laughter. Together they laugh until their vision goes blurry.
“I’m gonna miss you.”
“I have missed you.”
“We had some good times.”
He wipes his face with a sleeve. “God, when I took you to prom I thought I was ten foot tall. Everyone in the whole school was jealous.”
She laughs. He always was a great embellisher.
The old woman asks permission to touch his face. He grants it. It’s been a while since she’s done this. And here comes the next part she’s been rehearsing. “I love you, Randall.”
“God. Addy.”
The pair of one-time sweethearts spends another hour rehashing ancient memories. All smiles. No pain. And sometime around 3:09 P.M., as soon as they finished, everyone within the household would claim something happened. Something filled the home. Something sweet, like the smell of drugstore perfume, like a cake baking. A deep peace.
The old woman’s daughter says she could almost sense this peace drifting through the hallways, the living room, the bedrooms, out into the yard, and upward into an eternal place.
A place where wrongs are not remembered, where mistakes are not recalled. Where, I am told, trespasses are forgiven. And where we forgive those who trespass against us.
Rest, Miss Adeline. Rest in peace.

-Sean Dietrich 


FirstLight Service to Kick Off This Sunday! 

Beginning this 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.


Click Here For More Information on Identifying Email Scams!

Please be aware there has been another email scam circulating. Do NOT, under any circumstances, respond to these emails. Just delete them. Nobody connected with the church will ever ask you for money, gift cards, or personal information via email. 


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.


Special Music- Sunday, May 30th 

This Sunday we welcome special guest artist Trisha Berquist and our very own Dave Smith! Please extend your warmest regards to Dave and Trisha!

Trisha Berquist is the Assistant Director of the Dorothy Gerber Strings Program and violist for the Cummings Quartet. She enjoys an active and varied career as a performer and pedagogue. She has appeared regularly and held principal positions with many orchestras in the southeast, including the North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra, Huntsville Symphony Orchestra, and Mobile Symphony Orchestra. Trisha is a former member of the Capstone String Quartet who toured internationally in Ireland and Italy. She earned her undergraduate and Masters’s degrees from the University of Memphis and is a doctoral candidate at the University of Alabama. During the summers, Trisha has taught at the Interlochen Arts Camp. She previously held the position of Violin/Viola Instructor at Mississippi State University. 


A Word from Our Pastor About the Transition to Our New Bylaws…

First, a HUGE thank you to all of you for affirming the work done by the bylaw revision team of Hugh Hansen, Pam Smith, and me. The congregation’s unanimous approval affirms the work we all have done, and recognizes that the time is right for the kind of restructuring work we are undertaking.

Perhaps the biggest conceptual and practical change our new bylaws will bring is with our Council. In the recent past, our Council was made up of the heads of a dozen or so committees, along with some officers as well. But moving forward, we will have far fewer committees, and the Council’s focus will be long-range planning and big picture thinking. Plus the Council will be much smaller – 5 people instead of 12-14. But we cannot get from where we’ve been to where we’re going overnight, nor should we, so here is a look at how we will gradually and thoughtfully transition from our previous Council to our future one.

Bill Trubilowicz and Betty Wadland will continue to serve as Moderator and Vice Moderator through the remainder of their terms – through the end of this calendar year. Linda Weller will continue on as Clerk, keeping records of all that transpires during this gradual transition. Bill Wadland, as the chair of trustees, will stay on Council through the transition, helping the group consider financial ramifications of our structural changes. While our amazing and dedicated treasurer Alice Pletz-Miller will no longer officially be on the Council, she will be called upon regularly as a key consultant. The focus of Alice’s detailed work moving forward will be with the Trustees, but she will be updating the Council monthly on where our finances stand through a one-page summary report.

Sue Fowler will stay on the transitional council as the chair of outreach, largely because as we make our way toward the next bylaw revision in early 2022, her team will likely transition into the Reaching Out Team, and thus she’ll be able to help us manage that change as we move through it together. Similarly, Joyce Herbert will stay on the transitional Council as chair of diaconate with an eye toward the next revision, when Diaconate will become the Reaching In team, the team that will coordinate and support all in-house events, once we get to that Reaching In/Reaching Out format.

We’ve also asked Hugh Hansen to stay on the transitional Council since he played such a key role in the bylaw revision. Hugh will help the transitional Council understand how to get from where we’ve been to where we are going. He will also continue to work on the subsequent bylaw revision with Pam Smith and me, which we’ll be getting started on in the next few weeks.

So that gets us from 12 or so, where we are now, down to 7 with some good consistency in key places. Our transition plan also calls for the soon-to-be-elected Council folk – who will be nominated and elected in October – to come aboard at the end of this calendar year, so they can be up and running by January of 2022, when we’ll officially get the rest of the way down to five Council members.

There are a few folks who have been regularly serving on Council who will now move into more of periodic consulting roles. A prime example of this would be Julia Heddle, as she continues to head up our Safe Conduct Policy team. Julia will give our Moderator highlights and updates of her team’s important work in writing, and when a significant step in her team’s work approaches, she may be invited to come and share that with the Council in person. Similarly, when either the Personnel or Nominating teams kick into gear for their important annual work, they may be asked to submit a written report or come to a meeting in person in the fall.

Change is always difficult, and many of us are likely to have differing emotions and responses to the changes these bylaws bring. Some of us will be happy and relieved to get some much-deserved time off from leadership responsibilities. Others may feel a sense of loss, seeing a committee they’ve loyally served essentially transforming into a far less structured entity under the new bylaws. Wherever you are on this emotional spectrum, please try to remember that whoever you are and whether you will still be serving on a particular committee or not, there will always be plenty of ways for you to be as involved as you want to be with the planning and executing of key events that will be the lifeblood of this church in the future. Never forget that the whole point of this bylaw revision is to make it easier for EVERYONE – not just officers and Council members – to bring vital events and ministries to this church and the larger community. So not being on Council or a committee should not be seen as limiting one’s ability to bring exciting events and ministries to our congregation! We are all in this together, and our future has never been brighter. Thank you for your flexibility, support, and good faith!


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 30, 2021

We will be holding TWO in-person worship services on Sunday, May 30th. Our FirstLight Service will be held at 8:45 am at the Michigan Beach Gazebo. Our second worship service will be in the church sanctuary 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! 



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