The Phoenix Flamings

Phoenix Community Church UCC
Friday, August 28, 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 we fail at something, maybe at a job, maybe trying out a new hobby, we have a choice: do we give up or do we try again? Do we persist? There are many reasons we might quit. Maybe we discover that what we tried holds no passion for us. Maybe we decide we just don’t have the right skills. But why do we sometimes choose to persist, to continue in the face of our failures? I think we tend to persist in those things which hold a lot of meaning for us, things that we feel some sort of calling to do even if we may not succeed at first. When we are called to something, failures become detours and not dead ends. In fact, our failures actually teach us to do better as long as we don’t give up.

The story of the Canaanite woman in the 15th chapter of Matthew’s gospel is a wonderful story of persistence. She went to Jesus to seek healing for her daughter and she encountered many opportunities to give up. She was ignored, told she was a nuisance, told she didn’t matter, and she was outright insulted. But she persisted. And finally Jesus relents, granting her wish for her daughter’s healing and commending her faith.

This amazing woman found the healing she sought for her daughter because she stood up for what was right, for justice. She insisted that she was worthy of God’s love and compassion and that her daughter was worthy of being healed and made whole. She clung to a desperate persistence when she ran into a wall. She argued and claimed the blessing she knew she was worthy of. She resisted and challenged injustice – the cultural nonsense that Jesus threw in her face. For whatever reason Jesus might have said what he did, she resisted. If he was testing her, as is sometimes claimed, she passed with flying colors.

Insist. Persist. Resist. That is faith! Are we willing to put our faith into action by being insistent, persistent, and by resisting injustice wherever we find it? Can we trust in our own worthiness as well as God’s compassion? And are we willing to help others do the same? To stand for them and with them?

I imagine that the Canaanite woman might have been terrified confronting Jesus. But she knew she was worthy and she trusted that God’s compassion would win out. The Rabbi Joshua ben Levi gives us this vision: “A procession of angels pass before each person, saying, ‘Make way for the image of God! Make way for the image of God!'” When we are afraid of standing for justice and the world seems to overwhelm us, when we’re not sure we’ve got faith left to insist, persist, and resist… I invite us to picture those angels walking in front of us shouting: Make way for the image of God!

Be assured that we too are worthy of God’s blessing. Each of us are worthy of being healed and whole. It is our inheritance as children of God. So let’s put our trust in God’s compassion and claim that blessing – living out our faith through insisting, persisting, and resisting. When we are filled with a faith that is desperately persistent, then failures become detours rather than dead ends.

Rev. Ken Arthur

Note: This reflection is inspired by the sermon, “Desperate Persistence,” from August 16, 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, Steering Committee has decided that we are not ready to begin in-person services. We 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!

Kayaking! A few of us will get together to go kayaking and canoeing at 11:45 am tomorrow, Saturday, August 29, in Three Rivers. If you would like to go, please contact Linda Cross for more information.

Join us for Spirit Talk on Monday, September 7, 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.

Steering Committee’s next meeting is 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 at 4 pm on Saturday, September 12, 2020, 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.

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

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.

Because of the pastor’s vacation, the schedule for the Flamings will be adjusted slightly. Our next issue will be September 11, but there won’t be a newsletter on September 25. Bi-weekly publication will resume on October 2.

Book Study continues online every Thursday at 3:30 pm. We’re currently reading “The Cross and the Lynching Tree” by James Cone. 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. Note that Book Study will not meet on September 24.

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 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.


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

Recurring Events

Sundays, 6 pm: Worship
Thursdays, 3:30 pm: Book Study (except Sept 24)

One-time Events

Saturday, Aug 29: 11:45 am, Kayak Trip @ Three Rivers
Monday, Sept 7: 7 pm, Spirit Talk online
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


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