The Phoenix Flamings

Phoenix Community Church UCC
Friday, February 19, 2021

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

There are many reasons we attempt to put limits on the Divine, to put God in a box. We might unintentionally attempt to limit God as we try to understand the mystery that is God. Saying God is this or that in some sense attempts to put boundaries around God. We might try to muffle God because we don't really want to hear God's message. Or, we might try to box God up because we are truly scared of what might happen if God got loose in our lives. But, to try to put limits on God is to try to limit God's love and God's power of transformation in our lives. That doesn't do us, or our church, or our world any good. When we put God in a box we put ourselves in a box as well because we aren’t able to fully become what God desires us to be.

Think of the penguin, a bird that can't fly, with tiny little wings. It's legs don't really have knees so it just has to waddle along. We might look at a penguin and think that it isn't worth much. But give a penguin access to water and watch it go! Did you know a penguin is ten times more streamlined than a Porsche? If you limit a penguin to the land, you take away its ability to live out its true being.

Of course, there are limitations on what we can accomplish. Even Jesus wasn’t able to heal everyone. There are limits on our human selves, limits of strength and energy, limits on our talents and gifts. But the problem is that we often think those limits are so much lower than they really are. And when we expect little of our selves, that is what we get. But, if we expect much of ourselves and we set our expectations high, focusing on what we can accomplish rather than what we cannot do, then we allow ourselves the room to be what we can really be, what God intends us to become.

The prophet Isaiah also tells us of the heights to which God would have us soar: “those who wait for YHWH shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” We aren’t supposed to ride on eagles’ wings but we ourselves will soar with the wings of eagles. We’re not meant to just be along for the ride, but God gives us the energy and strength to fly ourselves, to accomplish more than we could ever imagine. God opens paths before us when we can see no path and is our everlasting source of power and strength for the journey.

Do not put yourself, or God, into a box. Do not limit yourself. Let us aim high, that we might become who God has created us to be, God’s beloved children, meant to soar with wings like an eagle. Let us turn to God in prayer, seeking the strength to walk, even to run, on the path that God has set before us. Where might that path lead? Into the world, somewhere beyond our wildest imagination, to serve our neighbor, to serve God’s good Creation, in the name of love.

Rev. Ken Arthur

P.S. This reflection is inspired by the sermon from February 7, 2021, “With Wings Like Eagles.” Video and/or audio recordings of this and other past sermons can be found at


The Lenten Season began this last Wednesday. Because of the pandemic, our Lenten calendar will be greatly reduced from what it might be in a more “normal” year. But we can still make this a meaningful time. During Lent, I invite you to take some time to reflect on how you might grow closer to the Divine Presence. Perhaps we might pray the following prayer together. We first pray for “me” and then for “us.”

O God, prepare me for new life.

Wash away the obstacles that prevent growth.

Nourish my body and soul, and fill me with the Spirit.

O God, prepare me for new life.

Look after me in the crucible of difficult times.

Show me what I no longer need. Let me see what might be.

O God, prepare us for new life.

Wash away the obstacles that prevent growth.

Nourish our community, and fill us with the Spirit.

O God, prepare us for new life.

Look after us in the crucible of difficult times.

Show us what we no longer need. Let us see what might be.


Good Friday Worship will be held online via Zoom at 8 pm on Friday, April 2, 2021. We cannot afford to ignore the darkness in our world. This service recounts the tragedy of the last hours of Jesus' life through scripture and music while modern readings remind us of the evil and despair that still exists in our world today. This evening we will sit with the darkness, yearning for the light that returns Easter Sunday. Here is the Zoom connection info (This is different than Sunday worship. Contact the church office if you would like the connection info for Sundays):

Join Zoom Meeting :

Meeting ID: 813 0192 6547
Passcode: 096803

Other than Good Friday, we aren’t currently planning any other special services during Lent or Holy Week outside of our normal 6 pm Sunday worship times. However, if you’ve enjoyed the Taize prayer services we have held in the past you might explore these links:

Prayer live from the Taize community in France

This short service is streamed live on Saturdays and then posted at the link above for viewing throughout the week. The link also has audio only links for other prayer services.

Taize Services hosted by the UCC Open and Affirming Coalition: Every weekday morning during Lent and Easter the ONA family will continue to offer a contemplative service of Taizé Morning Prayer at 9 and 11 am (EST) in the Coalition's Zoom Chapel – Monday through Friday. They'll also gather at 10 pm (EST) Sunday for Compline – an ancient experience of prayer, silence and song at the close of a day. Each service is about 20 minutes and draws from ancient Christian practices of daily prayer, although in inclusive, non-binary language. Morning Prayer and Compline are sometimes posted on the Coalition’s Facebook page, but you can always join on Zoom at 

Ordination of Tere Krueger: Many of us know Tere, who has in the past participated in the life of Phoenix Community Church. Tere has received a pastoral call in New Hampshire and will be ordained as a minister of the United Church of Christ on February 28, 2021, at 3 pm on Zoom. Everyone who knows Tere is welcome to attend to show your support and help her celebrate! Contact the church office for the connection information.

Steering Committee’s next meeting is Friday, March 12, at 7 pm via Zoom. Anyone is welcome to attend. The connection information is the same as for Sunday worship.

Our next Congregational Meeting will be after worship on Sunday, March 14. One important item on the agenda will be the first reading of a proposal to change our bylaws to match the committee structure we’ve been using the last few years.

Sacred Conversations on Race: For six weeks beginning in March you are invited to participate in a transformational dialogue on White Privilege. Tentatively scheduled to start March 18, sessions will be on Thursday evenings from 6:30 to 8 pm EDT. Please join us in this important discussion! If you’d like the Zoom connection information, contact the church office.

The Pastor Parish Committee will have a short orientation meeting via Zoom at 7 pm on Friday, March 19. Our bylaws say this committee “foster[s] a healthy relationship between the pastor(s) and the congregation. The committee encourages a relationship that is constructive, rewarding and satisfying for everyone. The committee shall also serve as a forum for input, counsel, discussion and feedback of issues which arise from the congregation and/or from the pastor(s).” If you ever have something you’d like the Pastor Parish Committee to discuss, please contact a committee member (Linda Cross, Mark Kole, Jonathan Talmadge, and Lori Tupper).

The ONA Team will host a workshop “Some folks are gay, what does the Bible say?” at 7 pm on Wednesday, March 24, 2021. We’ll gather on Zoom to find out what the Bible really says about welcoming and affirming the LGBTQ community. There will be several short presentations, each followed by a short question and answer period. Topics covered will include how we understand and interpret scriptures, scriptures that are commonly used against LGBTQ people and scriptures that suggest an unconditional and affirming welcome. Anyone is welcome to attend. Contact the church office for the connection information.

The Spirit Talk discussion group meets via Zoom at 7 pm EST on the first and third Mondays of the month for an open discussion regarding topics related to spirituality. The connection information for these gatherings is not the same as worship. Please contact the church office for the Zoom info if you would like to join in the discussions.

Be sure to check out our online discussion forum where you can drop in and contribute written comments to ongoing discussions at your leisure. If enough people are interested, this could be another useful tool to keep us all connected. To help us test this concept go to and create an account for yourself. This is a work in progress so let us know if you have questions or problems with the site.

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we are 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!

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:

Open And Affirming Experience: A 1-Day Virtual Conference: In partnership with the Michigan ONA Coalition and the Michigan Conference, the UCC Open and Affirming Coalition is offering a day-long Zoom event with worship and informative workshops on Sat., Feb. 27, 10 am-5 pm EST. Congregations from any Conference are invited! There will betwo tracks: one for not-yet ONA churches and one for existing ONA churches. Leaders will include Kimi Floyd Reisch, the Coalition's ONA Program Minister, and Andy Lang, the executive director. Registration is free for Michigan Conference members. Go to to register.


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, Kalamazoo, MI, and Rev. Nathan Dannison and Rev. Sarah Schmidt-Lee

  • Portage UCC, Portage, MI, and Rev. Dr. Mary Kay Schueneman and Rev. Kyle Tade

  • Southwest Association Council: Rev. Susan Greenwood, Moderator; Rev. Mary Beth Moran Cross, Vice Moderator; Rev. Caroline Meyers, Secretary; Ms. Kristi Blythe, Treasurer; Rev. Ken Arthur, Registrar; Rev. Ruth Moerdyk, Liaison to MI Board of Directors and SWA Search & Call Minister; Rev. Calandra Nevenzel, Association Minister; Ms. Melanie Johnson; Mr. Matt Schlutt

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 living through a pandemic

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

  • For all whose employment has been affected by the 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 be united in compassion for each other

  • For the victims and perpetrators of violence

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:


Help support the church: If you would like to donate to the church, checks can be mailed to the church office or you may visit our website and click on the "Give" button in the right hand column or visit

Peer Ministers for 2021 are Linda Cross, Arlene Scholfield, and Marvel Spencer. 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

Thursdays, 3:30 pm: Book Study (through March 11, then on break)

1st and 3rd Mondays, 7 pm: Spirit Talk

One-Time Events

Sunday, Feb 28: 3 pm, Ordination of Tere Krueger

Friday, Mar 12: 7 pm, Steering Committee

Sunday, March 14: 7 pm, Congregational Meeting

Thursday, March 18: 6:30 pm, White Privilege Discussion (for six weeks at same day and time)

Friday, Mar 19: 7 pm, Pastor Parish Committee

Wednesday, Mar 24: 7 pm, Bible and LGBTQ
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