The Phoenix Flamings

Phoenix Community Church UCC
Friday, November 29, 2019

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

We are getting closer to the end of another year and so it is a great time to reflect upon endings and beginnings. Many of us take stock of our priorities at this time of year, both how we want to spend our time and energy in the new year and also what causes and organizations we support. Personally, I try to support at least a couple of organizations that fight for justice and/or the environment. I also support Phoenix Community Church and would ask that you consider doing so as well. For me, it is vitally important to support spiritual communities that are truly welcoming to all people and support them on their personal journeys of faith, that are concerned about justice in the world, and that provide a progressive counter-witness to those that would twist the Christian religion into a tool to control others. I think Phoenix does all of those things. If you would like to consider an end-of-year donation, please send it to the church address near the end of this newsletter. And if you can’t give financially, any prayers and good energy sent our way is also much appreciated.

Speaking of aligning our priorities, our new purpose statement now appears in the masthead of this newsletter. It stresses our priorities as community, service, witness, and worship. We believe this is what God is calling us to live into as we follow the teachings of Jesus the Christ. As the church follows the story of Jesus throughout the year, we end the calendar year by preparing to celebrate a new beginning – the birth of the Christ child. This preparation is the season of Advent which begins December 1 and ends with the celebration of Jesus’ birth at our Christmas Eve service on December 24 at 11 pm. Please join us for this special service which ends in candlelight as we welcome the gift of God’s love into the world. Plus, there will be cookies and wassail after the service!

As we turn to new beginnings, it seems fitting that this last week we celebrated the culmination of Jesus’ ministry with Reign of Christ Sunday. There is currently a lot of anxiety, fear, and anger about what is happening in the world. We might wonder how we can proclaim Christ’s reign when the world looks so different than the kin-dom for which Jesus worked. Perhaps this is exactly when we need to proclaim the reign of Christ. Perhaps in times such as these we need to stand up and proclaim we will not let our anxiety, fear, and anger rule us, but Christ, the love of God incarnate, rules our hearts.

When Jesus was dying on the cross, the gospel of Luke tells us a man who was being executed by the Romans at the same time asked Jesus to remember him. That’s actually an interesting thing that the man asked for – to be remembered. He probably wasn’t asking that God take note of his good deeds. Scripture calls him a criminal after all. Perhaps he was asking that Jesus take pity on him. God does show us abundant grace in forgiveness. But as profound as God’s grace is, I believe there is even more to this request to be remembered. It makes me think of the term dismembered, to be taken apart. In that light, to be remembered is to be re-made, to be put back together again, to be transformed. What if the man is asking that Jesus re-make him? When we invite God into our lives, when we ask Christ to rule our hearts, there is also the promise of transformation.

To give our hearts to Christ, to ask that God pay us attention, to remember us… is to ask to be re-made, to be transformed, to be healed and made whole. To ask God to remember me is to ask that God take this person who selfishly longs for earthly power, for wealth and control over others and make me into someone who rejoices in love, who is filled with hope and gratitude, who longs for peace and justice. And by rejecting the tools of corruption and violence in our desire to change the world and inviting Christ to rule our hearts and transform us, we are given the tool that can truly and profoundly change the world – love.

As we move through this holiday season and this time of political unrest, we might be tempted to give in to anxiety and fear, we might be tempted to side with earthly powers that demand violence in support of greed and power. If this happens, I invite us to take a moment to stop and ask God to remember us – to re-make us in love, with hope and gratitude, that instead of giving in to the world we might re-make the world in love.

Pastor Ken

P.S. This reflection was inspired by the sermon, “Re-Member Me,” from Sunday, November 24. Audio recordings of most sermons can be found at



Pastor’s Office hours for December will be 1:30 to 3:30 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays but there are lots of exceptions during this holiday month. On Tuesday, December 17, hours will be 2:30 to 3:30 pm. Office hours will not be held on December 5, 24, 26, or 31. 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.

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 what’s on your mind. Bring a question and a friend with you and together we’ll tackle the mysteries of life. We meet on the first and third Mondays of the month. The next gathering is December 2 at 7:00 pm at the Main St. Pub on Westnedge Avenue in Portage.

The Southwest Association has called an Ecclesiastical Council to consider Rev. Calandra Nevenzel for Privilege of Call status in the United Church of Christ (UCC). This would allow her to “transfer” her ordination from her current denomination to the UCC, pending an approved call. The Council will be held at 10:30 am on Saturday, December 7, at First Congregational Church in Kalamazoo. Voting delegates from Phoenix will be Mike Tupper and Angie Willard but everyone is welcome to attend as a guest.

In other Association news, another member-at-large is still being sought to serve on Council. This is a three year term. If you’re a member of Phoenix or another UCC church and are interested in this position, please talk to Pastor Ken.

Dream Group: It’s been a couple of years since our last Dream Group but we’re going to start back up for the winter months. The first meeting is scheduled for 5:30 pm on Monday, December 9, at the church office. We’ll share and reflect on our night-time dreams from a Jungian perspective under the premise that dreams are one of the ways that God talks to us. If you’d like more information on the topic we recommend reading the book “Dreams: God’s Forgotten Language” by John A. Sanford. Otherwise, feel free to join us in December and we’d be happy to answer any questions.

Movie Night is Tuesday, December 10, 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 will be “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (2012, rated PG-13). Based on the novel written by Stephen Chbosky, this is about 15-year-old Charlie (Logan Lerman), an endearing and naive outsider, coping with first love (Emma Watson), the suicide of his best friend, and his own mental illness while struggling to find a group of people with whom he belongs.

Steering Committee will meet on Friday, December 13, at 7 pm in the church office. Guests are welcome.

The Timid Poet Open Mic: Hey Everyone! Thank you all for supporting our Timid Poet Open Mic night! We really appreciate everyone who has come out and shared or who just came to enjoy the great poetry. The open mic previously announced for Saturday, December 21, has been canceled so everyone can do their holiday things instead. We'll be back in January! For more details and/or to sign up for email notifications, visit

Pastor Ken will be on vacation beginning December 25 through January 1. If you have a need during this time, contact one of our peer ministers or our moderator, Angie Willard.

The Flamings will not be published on December 27, 2019. Our next issues are December 13, 2019 and then January 3, 2020, after which we’ll resume a bi-weekly schedule.



Explore the current exhibitions at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts before they close December 8: Black Refractions: Highlights from The Studio Museum in Harlem and Where We Stand: Black Artists in Southwest Michigan. Learn more about programs on-site and at

Have you ever heard of the Wild Goose Festival? Does spending an inspiring weekend at a campground 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 December, please remember:

  • Zion UCC, Baroda, MI, and interim pastor Rev. David Moffett-Moore

  • Union UCC in Tekonsha, Michigan, and Rev. Jennifer Fair.

  • The Association’s Council for 2020: Rev. Kathy Schuen, Moderator; Rev. Mary Beth Moran Cross, Vice Moderator; Rev. Adam Bohland, secretary; Ms. Kristi Blythe, treasurer; Rev. Ken Arthur, Registrar; Ms. Melanie Johnson, Members-At- Large

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

Dec. 1: “Keep Awake”

Dec. 8: “The Kin-dom Has Come Near”

Dec. 15: “Are You the Messiah?”

Dec. 22: “God is with Us”


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

  • hours on Dec. 17 are 2:30 to 3:30pm
  • no office hours on Dec. 24

Wednesdays, 4 pm: Prayer Group
Thursdays, 1:30 am - 3:30 pm: Pastor's Office Hours

  • no office hours on Dec. 5
  • no office hours on Dec. 26

Thursdays, 3:30 pm: Book Study

Monday, Dec 2: 7 pm, Spirit Talk @ Main St. Pub, Portage
Saturday, Dec 7: 10:30 am, Ecclesiastical Council @ FCC-Kzoo
Monday, Dec 9: 5:30 pm, Dream Group
Tuesday, Dec 10: 6:45 pm, Movie Night
Friday, Dec 13: 7 pm, Steering Committee
Monday, Dec 16: 7 pm, Spirit Talk @ Main St. Pub, Portage
Tuesday, Dec 24: 11 pm, Christmas Eve Worship

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