The Phoenix Flamings

Phoenix Community Church UCC
Friday, January 17, 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

Last Sunday our scripture reading was Matthew’s account of Jesus’ baptism. I don’t remember much about my own baptism at the age of 10 or 12. I do remember the emotional impact though. I remember feeling energized and joyful, feeling like I belonged, like my spirit had come home. Have you been baptized? Do you remember your baptism? What does it mean to you today?

Churches have different traditions around the sacrament of baptism. For some churches, baptisms are done by immersion. Some baptize by sprinkling or pouring water on the head of the person being baptized. Some will baptize babies and some think we should wait until the child is old enough to make the decision for themselves. For some, baptism is about making a commitment to God and accepting God’s commitment to you. For some, baptism is about God cleansing us and forgiveness of sins. For some, it is a death and resurrection, the death of who we were and our resurrection as a child of God, as a new being. For some, it is their entry into the body of Christ, a belonging, an initiation of sorts, being claimed by God. I’m not sure all of these details matter that much. I think all of these things can be true.

Perhaps we tend to overthink these things, spending too much time in our heads and not enough time in our hearts. Maybe we aren’t supposed to worry so much about the doctrine of baptism as we are to experience the beauty of the moment. Sacraments like baptism and communion, as well as our every day spiritual practices like prayer, meditation, reading scripture, fasting, journaling, and communing with nature, are meant to draw us close to God, opening our hearts to an experience of the Divine. They’re intentional acts that interrupt our thinking selves and ask us to actually experience something. They invite us to strike a balance between logic and intuition, between reason and emotion. They invite us to be aware of the moment and notice the beauty of the now. They ask us not to worry about doctrine and dogma, not to question why, but to just be who we are in this moment, drawing close to God just as we are with all of our imperfections.

Our head-thinking tends to build walls, making us feel safe. But it is by cracking open our hearts that we best experience God. It is where we are broken open, where we are most fragile, that the Divine flows in. When we open ourselves to God’s presence in our lives, we not only find that that is where we belong, where we are loved, but we change and transform. The heart is where change takes place. Research has indicated that when people who are anti-LGBTQ change their beliefs and attitudes, it is seldom the result of intellectual debate. It’s most often because they realized someone they love is gay, or lesbian, or transgender. The heart is where change takes place.

This week, I invite us to intentionally set aside a few minutes each day to engage one of the spiritual practices above and open our hearts to the presence of God and know that we belong, that we are loved and God is well-pleased.

Pastor Ken

This reflection was inspired by the sermon, “Opening Heaven,” from Sunday, January 12, 2020. Audio recordings of most sermons can be found at


It’s that time of year again when cancellation of events due to bad weather is a possibility. If we have to cancel Sunday worship, it will be posted on our website as well as on Channel 3’s website, For smaller gatherings, cancellations are usually handled by contacting those who regularly attend. If the weather is bad and you’re not sure whether an event might be happening you can check in with the church office at 383-3222.

Join us for Spirit Talk, a time of relaxed discussion over the refreshment of your choice. There’s no pressure to join the church or think in a certain way – just an opportunity to talk about whatever spiritual questions have been on your mind. We meet on the first and third Mondays of the month. The next gathering is January 20 at 7:00 pm at the Main St. Pub on Westnedge Avenue in Portage. Bring a friend and a question!

The Book Study Group will be starting a new book this week. We’ll begin reading "Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others" by Barbara Brown Taylor at our gathering at 3:30 pm on Thursday, January 23. The author recounts her moving discoveries of finding the sacred in unexpected places while teaching the world’s religions to undergraduates in rural Georgia, revealing how God delights in confounding our expectations. This would be a great opportunity to join us for what is always wonderful conversation. We read together at our meetings so there is no need to read ahead or even buy the book if you don’t want to.

Steering Committee meets for the first time in 2020 at 7 pm on Friday, January 24, in the church office. Anyone is welcome to attend these meetings.

Pastor’s Office hours for January will be 1:30 to 3:30 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Tuesday, January 21, hours will be 2:30 to 3:30 pm. If you stop by and the front door to the church is locked please ring the bell. We don’t want to miss your visit but we are unfortunately not able to leave the doors open if no one is upstairs to monitor them (our office is downstairs). Other meeting times can also be arranged by making an appointment.

Movie Night is Tuesday, February 11, in the church office. We’ll gather at 6:45 pm and the movie will start promptly at 7 pm with a short discussion to follow. Bring a snack to share. The movie title is to be determined.

The Timid Poet Open Mic is coming back! Our first open mic of the year will be Friday, February 28, 2020. To sign up for email notifications about this and future events, please visit


Book Discussion at Skyridge Church of the Brethren: Beginning February 5, Skyridge (394 S. Drake Road) will have a five week discussion of this year's community read, "We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast," by Jonathan Safran Foer. Discussions will be 1:30-3:00 Wednesdays Feb 5, 12, 19, 26, and March 4. Copies of the book are available at any branch of the Kalamazoo Public Library and at some neighboring libraries. For more information see Reading Together Kalamazoo at You're welcome to join any or all of these conversations. Please feel free to let others know about this opportunity.

Have you ever heard of the Wild Goose Festival? Does spending an inspiring July weekend at a campground in the mountains of North Carolina with a couple of thousand progressive Christians sound like fun to you? Check out for more information. Pastor Ken has been to the festival twice and will be going again in 2020. This is a truly wonderful and uplifting time. Let’s carpool!


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

For February please remember:

  • First Congregational Church, Coloma, MI, and Rev. Susan Greenwood.

  • Zion St. Joe UCC, St. Joseph, Michigan, and Rev. Adam Bohland.

  • Michigan Conference Staff: Rev. Calandra Nevenzel, SWA Minister; Rev Ruth Moerdyk, SWA Search & Call 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 Ruth Fitzgerald GWA ACM; Rev. Jodi Betten, UNA ACM; Coni Simon, DMA ACM.

Folks often make personal prayer requests during Sunday worship and at our Wednesday prayer group. 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. Communion is observed on the first Sunday of the month. Sermons from previous weeks are available online at

Jan. 19: “What are you looking for?”

Jan. 26: “Follow Me”

Feb. 2: “Blessed by God”

Feb. 9: “Light to the World”


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.


All events are at 2208 Winchell unless noted otherwise. Also see our online calendar at:

Sundays, 6 pm: Worship

Tuesdays, 1:30 am - 3:30 pm: Pastor's Office Hours (except 2:30 to 3:30 pm on January 21)
Wednesdays, 4 pm: Prayer Group
Thursdays, 1:30 am - 3:30 pm: Pastor's Office Hours
Thursdays, 3:30 pm: Book Study

Monday, Jan. 20: 7 pm, Spirit Talk @ Main St. Pub, Portage, MI
Friday, Jan. 24: 7 pm, Steering Committee
Monday, Feb. 3: 7 pm, Spirit Talk @ Main St. Pub, Portage, MI
Tuesday, Feb. 11: 6:45 pm, Movie Night

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