The Phoenix Flamings

Phoenix Community Church UCC
Friday, October 2, 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

Forgiveness is an important part of healthy relationships and healthy community. If we are to heal ourselves and the world around us, forgiveness needs to be a part of that process. And sometimes it’s not just the work of individuals, but can be the necessary work of an entire community. Unfortunately, talking about forgiveness can be uncomfortable because it requires intimacy and vulnerability. It’s deeply emotional. The act of forgiving requires facing both the ways we’ve been hurt and ways we’ve hurt others.

People are not inherently bad, but we do mess up sometimes. We wrong others, we abuse the earth, and we even hurt ourselves. When we seek forgiveness we let go of unhealthy shame and guilt that can consume us and express our desire to be healed. Forgiving and being forgiven is critical for restoring damaged relationships. It creates fertile ground for growth and allows pain to be processed and transformed. Forgiveness creates a possibility for the future where there doesn’t seem to be any and declares that the past need not dictate the future.

Forgiveness is also an act of courage. It can be difficult to forgive instead of holding onto pain and bitterness. Not only tragic circumstances but even little hurts can be difficult to forgive. Forgiveness is about letting go, not only of our own guilt but when we forgive others we let go of the anger and resentment that deadens our spirits. Forgiveness is important for our spiritual health. It’s really a spiritual practice like prayer or meditation, with an emphasis on practice. It can take time, even years, to reach a point of true forgiveness. Jesus tells Peter that we should forgive not once, not seven times, but we should forgive seventy times seven times. That is an endless abundance of forgiveness – absolute, complete, and beyond counting. When we can't seem to forgive, we are asked to keep forgiving anyway until it wears down our walls of pain, hate and bitterness. Each time we make an effort to forgive is like taking a hammer to those walls. Even if they don't come down at first, Jesus tells us to keep forgiving, keep hammering, until the walls are gone and the way to restoration is clear. To forgive seventy times seven times is to practice forgiving until it becomes ingrained in our very souls. To forgive means to make God's love the ruler of our hearts, not our pain and bitterness.

I found the following “Buddhist Prayer of Forgiveness” on the internet. Let’s pray it together…

If I have harmed anyone in any way either knowingly or unknowingly through my own confusions I ask their forgiveness.

If anyone has harmed me in any way either knowingly or unknowingly through their own confusions I forgive them.

And if there is a situation I am not yet ready to forgive I forgive myself for that.

For all the ways that I harm myself, negate, doubt, belittle myself, judge or be unkind to myself through my own confusions I forgive myself. Amen.

Rev. Ken Arthur

Note: This reflection is inspired by the sermon, “Forgive and Forgive Again,” from September 13, 2020. This and other sermons can be heard at



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!

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 through the month 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 has begun 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 on Thursdays at 3:30 pm. The connection information is the same as for Sunday worship.

Join us for Spirit Talk on Monday, October 5, 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 ONA (Open and Affirming) Team will meet online at 3:30 pm on Tuesday, October 6, to reflect on our next steps in deepening our commitment to a radical welcome to all people. If you would like to join this group, please contact Mike Tupper for the connection information.

Steering Committee’s next meeting is Friday, October 9, at 7 pm via Zoom. Anyone is welcome to attend. 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

The Michigan Conference Annual Meeting will be held online via Zoom on Saturday, November 14. 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.

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:


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, Oct 5: 7 pm, Spirit Talk online
Tuesday, Oct 5: 3:30 pm, ONA Team online
Friday, Oct 9: 7 pm, Steering Committee online
Monday, Oct 19: 7 pm, Spirit Talk online


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