The Phoenix Flamings

Phoenix Community Church UCC
Friday, September 11, 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

When the apostle Paul tells the Jesus-followers at Rome, “Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil by doing good,” I believe he is speaking to an internal transformation that must take place for us to live according to God’s Kin-dom of peace and justice. We can’t enter the Kin-dom, we can’t create peace and justice, through fear and power. But if we are overcome by good, if we are ruled by love in our hearts, then we have a pathway that leads to the Kin-dom and defeats evil. Jesus too talks about this internal transformation when he asks us to take up our personal cross and follow in his footsteps. If we wish to walk God’s Way, we have to deny those mortal impulses of fear and power and live by love and compassion, as healers and seekers of justice.

This requires an internal transformation, a death of sorts, both of our fear and of our selfish egos. Jesus is telling us not to fear the very real danger of challenging the power of the world but instead trust in God. This “taking up of the cross” can only be done through a profound sense of love. Jesus risked his life in his ministry because of his love for us. He in turn is asking us to love each other deeply, even if it involves risks. I believe “taking up the cross” also speaks of the death of the ego – letting go of our selfishness, our need to control, our need to hang tightly to the familiar, which are the ways of fear and power. It asks us to instead embrace God’s way of love and compassion in all things, moving from the “mortal” mind to the Divine mind, putting our trust in God’s guidance.

We have to let go of the ego, the importance of “me,” so that we can see that we are in reality all extensions of each other and of God. Jim Marion talks about this as levels of consciousness. The highest level, which he equates with the inner Kin-dom of God, is the realization of non-dual reality, that deep knowledge that everything is one, that everything in its individual uniqueness is really interdependent, an extension, a part, of everything else. To live in this knowledge requires a death of sorts, a rebirth and resurrection, a dying to who we have been and a re-birth to who God wants us to become. It means denying ourselves as we know ourselves today and seeing that we’re part of something so much larger in the body of Christ, in the Kin-dom, seeing that there is no meaningful “you” or “I” apart from “us.” It’s not something where we just flip a switch some day, either, and say, oh, I’m going to be like Jesus now. It’s an iterative process, which is to say we never really finish, but every time we are re-born we move closer to the Divine. It is a deep, profound, and sacred process.

Let this be our challenge for this week: how can we practice putting on the mind of Christ, the Divine mind? How can we practice letting go of our egos and letting God lead? Maybe just once a day we can stop to take a moment to pray and ask God what God would have us do that day. It doesn’t need to be something big, but maybe something like calling a friend we haven’t talked to in a while, asking forgiveness from someone we’ve been struggling with, or donating to a justice organization. Maybe this is one way we can simply practice opening our minds and hearts to the way of God’s love. We are each called by God to follow the path of love in our own unique, God-given way. Let’s release our egos, our selfishness and greed, and open our minds and hearts to Christ that we may become our true loved and loving selves, that we may become the kin-dom of God, a people of hope, peace, and justice.

Rev. Ken Arthur

Note: This reflection is inspired by the sermon, “Overcome with Good,” from August 30, 2020. This and other sermons can be heard at


When will we gather in person again for worship? Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we are not ready to re-start in-person services yet. Steering Committee will 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!

Steering Committee’s next meeting is tonight, Friday, September 11, at 7 pm via Zoom. Anyone is welcome to attend. The connection information is the same as for Sunday worship.

End of the Summer Picnic! To give us all a (relatively) safe way to see each other in person in this weird time we’re living through, we’ll have another picnic tomorrow, Saturday, September 12, at 4 pm at the church. Please wear a face covering when not eating and maintain social distancing. Hamburgers, hot dogs, and veggie burgers will be supplied along with some basic condiments. Please bring your own lawn chair and a dish to share. If it rains, we’ll meet in the downstairs fellowship hall where there is plenty of room to spread out.

A Congregational Meeting is scheduled for after worship on Sunday, September 13.

An offering for Neighbors in Need will be collected (symbolically) on Sunday, October 4. If you are able to donate you can send a check to the Phoenix office with “NIN” in the memo field anytime between now and the end of October. Thank you for your generosity. Neighbors in Need (NIN) is a special mission offering of the United Church of Christ that supports ministries of justice and compassion throughout the United States. One-third of NIN funds support the Council for American Indian Ministry (CAIM). Two-thirds of this offering is used by the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries (JWM) to support a variety of justice initiatives, advocacy efforts, and direct service projects through grants. For more information on how the money is used visit

Book Study will not meet on September 17 or 24. We’ll resume on October 1 with a new book, “Between the Dark and the Daylight: Embracing the Contradictions of Life” by Joan Chittister. We read together during our meetings so it isn’t necessary to buy the book if you don’t want to. Please join us via Zoom. The connection information is the same as for Sunday worship.

Join us for Spirit Talk on Monday, September 21, 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.

On Sunday, September 27, guest speaker Rev. Debbie Eisenbise will lead worship and discussion on our “dirty laundry.” Please be sure to join us online via Zoom at 6 pm that Sunday and every Sunday as we come together to grow in the presence of God!

The Flamings newsletter will not be published on September 25. Bi-weekly publication will resume on October 2.

Pastor Ken will be on vacation from September 21 through September 28. If you have a need during this time, please contact a peer minister or the church moderator. Messages can also be left on the church office phone.

Donations to Phoenix Community Church: Many thanks to everyone who continues to support the church in whatever way they are able! Even though we’re doing church differently at the moment, the normal costs of a church community continue. If you are able to make your usual, or even additional, offerings at this time it would be much appreciated. Checks can be mailed to the church office (address below). Some might want to set up “bill pay” with their bank so that their offering is automated. At this time we don’t have a mechanism for making online donations.

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:

Poll Workers needed! Election workers are democracy’s Most Valuable Players. Democracy is a team sport and every Election Day, thousands of Michigan citizens come together to assist voters and process ballots. In the presidential election in November, very large numbers of citizens are expected to vote by mail and also at polling locations. One of the best ways you can help today is by signing up to serve as an election worker on Election Day to assist voters and count ballots. Election workers are the front lines of our democracy.

Even in the midst of a global pandemic, democracy will march on in November. Election workers are pivotal to the success of these upcoming elections and will adhere to health guidelines and best practices to keep all staff and voters safe. If you are a registered voter in Michigan or a 16-17 year old looking to do your part in this critical moment, learn more and sign up at If you are 18+ and not yet registered to vote, you can register to vote online (at and then sign up to serve as an election worker. You will be paid for your time on Election Day, and you will be a crucial part of the team helping to protect and defend Michigan’s elections.


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

For September please remember:

  • Zion UCC, Baroda, MI, and Rev. Calandra Nevenzel

  • Union UCC, Tekonsha, MI, and Rev. Jennifer Fair

  • Michigan Conference Staff: Rev. Calandra Nevenzel, SWA Minister; Rev. Phil Hart, interim conference minister; Rev. Cheryl Burke, Associate Conference Minister for Church Vitality; Ms. Lisa Soulliere, Executive Administrative Assistant; Ms. Merrilyn Vaughn-Hoffman, Search & Call Coordinator; Mr. Bob Heisler, Business Manager; Ms. Jennifer Ringgold, program associate for youth ministries; Rev. Jodi Betten, UNA ACM; Rev. Ruth Fitzgerald GWA ACM; Rev. Dr. Coni Simon, DMA ACM.

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 the teachers, students, and parents as school begins again in the midst of a pandemic

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

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.


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 online

Note: Book Study will not meet Sept 17 or 24. It will resume meeting weekly at 3:30 pm on October 1 (online).

One-Time Events

Friday, Sept 11: 7 pm, Steering Committee online
Saturday, Sept 12: 4 pm, Picnic @ 2208 Winchell Ave.
Sunday, Sept 13: 7 pm, Congregational Meeting online
Monday, Sept 21: 7 pm, Spirit Talk online
Monday, Oct 5: 7 pm, Spirit Talk online
Friday, Oct 9: 7 pm, Steering Committee online

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