The Phoenix Flamings

Phoenix Community Church UCC
Friday, October 16, 2020

A progressive Christian experience...
Welcoming and affirming the LGBT community...

As a spiritual community following Jesus Christ we are called by the Holy Spirit:
  • To create meaningful, inclusive Community;
  • To be God’s voice and hands in Service to our neighbors and Creation;
  • To be a Witness of God’s love in and for the world;
  • To deepen our relationship with the Divine through Worship.

Food For Thought

Remember the story of Jonah in the Bible? Jonah, so the story goes, got swallowed by a fish because he refused to deliver a message to the city of Nineveh as God asked him to do. This is the part of the story we all remember because it’s so fantastical (ridiculous?). But after this little “nudge,” Jonah gives in and goes to Nineveh, warning them to change their ways and turn to God’s Way. And they do!

But Jonah didn’t actually expect the people to listen. He expected the people to be punished by God. He seemed to be looking forward to it. I can only imagine that he was still a little upset over the whole fish thing. Punishment was Jonah’s idea of justice and that shouldn’t really surprise us because it is often the world’s idea of justice. Our laws and our moral codes call for punishment as a response to wrong doing. But something different happens in the story of Jonah. The people listened and turned to God. Justice in the eyes of God seems to be more about mercy and reconciliation – justice not as punishment for broken relationship but justice as restored relationship.

Jonah, however, was angry that his expectations were not met and he went into the countryside to pout and stew in his disappointment. A bush grew to shade him one day and then withered the next, leaving Jonah unprotected in the scorching sun. Jonah got angry about that too, causing God to point out Jonah’s selfishness – that he seems to care only for his own comfort and yet cares nothing about the welfare of the thousands of people in Nineveh. In the end, God is not only concerned about those thousands, but God is also concerned with Jonah as an individual. God gives him the opportunity to rethink what justice is, to understand in a new way and change his attitude, to re-set and re-align his expectations.

Maybe when expectations go unmet, we need to ask ourselves where those expectations are coming from. What are our motivations? Are we, like Jonah, being selfish or vindictive? Can we, like God, instead come from a place of mercy and reconciliation? Can unmet expectations be, like they were for Jonah, an opportunity to grow and better align ourselves with God’s expectations, with God’s mercy and compassion?

Rev. Ken Arthur

Note: This reflection is inspired by the sermon, “Expectations,” from September 20, 2020. This and other sermons can be heard at


Thank you so much to all who have continued to give to Phoenix Community Church during this difficult time, whether it be financially or in other ways. Unfortunately, we’re running behind financially. As of the end of September, we are approximately $1800 behind last year’s offerings and, although we’re currently doing church differently due to the ongoing pandemic, the normal costs of a church community are the same. Please consider whether you can make an additional gift. Checks can be mailed to the church office (address below). Of course, we understand that not everyone will be able to increase their giving. We remain grateful for the many ways you all give to God and to our community. Simply joining us for Sunday worship online as we commune together in the presence of the Divine is a treasured gift of your time. Thank you again for keeping Phoenix Community Church in your prayers.

We still need an additional delegate for the Michigan Conference Annual Meeting to be held online via Zoom on Saturday, November 14. Meeting details are still to be announced. Martin Schug will be one of our voting delegates. If you are interested in serving as our second delegate, please contact Pastor Ken.

A message from the Southwest Associations Church Support Team:

Shalom & Blessings to UCC Church Members & Clergy in the Southwest Association (SWA) from the Church Support Team of the SWA’s Church & Ministry Committee. Our team’s purpose is to be caring and supportive to you, your church, and your ministry. In addition, we wish to “Unite” our Churches in meaningful covenantal relationships. After all, we are the “United Church of Christ”! Many of you have been offering your prayers in harmony with our 26-Week Prayer Project, which is ongoing. It is a great way for us to offer our prayerful blessings to our fellow UCC Churches with an organized, structured approach. Also, it is so richly meaningful to know that every week the people of a different Church are offering prayerful blessings on our Church family.

Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, our team was making Sunday Church visits to many of our SWA Churches. We have had a number of very meaningful, heartfelt worship experiences. As a part of our visit, we like to meet your Church leaders. It has been so very heartwarming to hear about so many awesome ministries coming from within our Churches.

We had been out visiting a different Church every six weeks or so. In the past year, there are many we have visited, and also, many we have not. Someday we pray to have a successful COVID-19 vaccine, which will allow all of us to come together, safely, in worship and ministry, with the comfort our Church families, inside our Church buildings. Meanwhile, if your Church has any needs, or would like to talk with us, please contact Doug Stahnke ( or Dale Muyskens (

Our Church Support Team offers you our continued blessings in the name of our Savior, Jesus the Christ.

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Phoenix Community Church is not ready to re-start in-person services yet. Our Steering Committee continues to re-evaluate on a monthly basis. In the meantime, continue to keep in touch with each other via phone, text, etc. and be sure to join us for Sunday Worship online! Thank you for your continued patience and support!

Join us for Spirit Talk on Monday, October 19, at 7 pm. We’ll meet online via Zoom for this open discussion time. This is a great opportunity to talk about whatever spiritual questions have been on your mind. The connection information is the same as for Sunday worship.

The Southwest Association Annual Meeting will be held online via Zoom at 2 pm on Sunday, November 1. The first 45-60 minutes covers Association business such as hearing reports and approving a budget for next year. After the business, there will be a discussion on racial justice with guest speaker, Rev. Dr. Velda Love, the UCC Minister for Racial Justice. Please join if you can, especially for what promises to be a special time of reflection with Rev. Love. Martin Schug and Angela Talmadge are our voting delegates but anyone is welcome to attend the meeting and discussion. Simply pre-register as a guest at

Steering Committee’s next meeting is Friday, November 13, at 7 pm via Zoom. Anyone is welcome to attend. The connection information is the same as for Sunday worship.

A Congregational Meeting will be held after worship on Sunday, November 15, (approximately 7 pm) via Zoom. This will be an important meeting to discuss plans for next year. Anyone is welcome to attend. The connection information is the same as for Sunday worship.

Pastor’s office hours are now by appointment until further notice. Meeting online is preferred via phone, FaceTime or Zoom. In-person meetings will only be considered in emergency situations.


Covid-19 Information: For those in Kalamazoo County, here is a helpful link from the county Health Services:

Register to Vote! This is an important election year. Please remember to register and vote in our fall elections! For Michigan residents you can find more information and register at the online Michigan Voter Information Center:


Please remember the churches and people of the Southwest Association, Michigan Conference, United Church of Christ, in your prayers.

For October please remember:

  • First Congregational Church, Battle Creek, MI and Rev. Nathan Craddock

  • First Congregational Church, South Haven, MI and Rev. Jeffrey Dick and Rev. Mike Tupper

  • Retired Clergy (not currently serving congregations or in SWA leadership): Rev. William Bertsch, Rev. Robert Manning, Rev. Dr. David Moffett-Moore, Rev. Chris Noffke, Rev. Tom Ott, Rev. Robert Persenaire, Rev. Curtis Plummer, Rev. Barb Van Eck, and Rev. Richard Warner

Also remember and pray:

  • For victims of racism and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)

  • For those who live in privilege, that we may have the courage and compassion to fight racism

  • For those who are ill, whether it be Coronavirus or another ailment

  • For those in at-risk categories such as the aged and those with compromised immune systems

  • For caregivers, health care workers, and the hospitals and organizations they work for

  • For those that work in situations where they are at heightened risk from Coronavirus

  • For all of us as we navigate the questions and issues of returning to “normal” routines

  • For students, teachers, school staff, and parents in the midst of a pandemic

  • For our leaders, that they may act wisely and compassionately for the good of all

  • For the future of our nation, that we may become united in compassion for each other

If you would also like to make a personal prayer request to be included in the Flamings, please email the request to Do not include information unless it is ok to make it public.


Worship begins at 6:00 pm on Sundays via Zoom. While we’re meeting online communion will be observed every Sunday. If you wish to participate, have something to eat and drink with you as we gather together online. Sermons will be posted online on Friday with a short summary and discussion time during Sunday worship. Check for new reflections and to view older ones.


Phoenix Community Church UCC
2208 Winchell Avenue
Kalamazoo, MI 49008

Phone: 269-383-3222

Office Email:

Web Site:


Peer Ministers for 2020 are Linda Cross and Arlene Scholfield. Please contact a peer minister if you need assistance or just a listening ear.

If you are trying to contact a particular person at the church for more information on any of the items in this newsletter, but don’t have their contact information, please call the church office phone for assistance.



Also see our online calendar at: Most events are currently being held online via Zoom. Note that if you don’t have a computer, you can also call in to Zoom on a phone (connection or long distance charges from your phone service may apply). If you need the connection information for an event contact the church for more information.


Recurring Events

Sundays, 6 pm: Worship

Thursdays, 3:30 pm: Book Study

One-Time Events

Monday, October 19: 7 pm, Spirit Talk
Sunday, November 1: 2 pm, SWA Fall Meeting
Monday, November 2: 7 pm, Spirit Talk
Friday, November 13: 7 pm, Steering Committee
Saturday, November 14: Michigan Conference Annual Meeting
Sunday, November 15: 7 pm, Congregational Meeting
Monday, November 16: 7 pm, Spirit Talk


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