The Phoenix Flamings

Phoenix Community Church UCC
Friday, February 14, 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

A story I found on the internet tells of a man who felt he couldn’t take life any more so he went to his rabbi. “Rabbi,” he said, “things are bad and getting worse. I live in a one-room house with my mother, wife and six children. It is too crowded and noisy. Help me find some peace, Rabbi, I’ll do whatever you say.”

The rabbi thought for a moment. “Do you have a chicken?” he asked. “Yes, of course I do,” the man replied. “Good,” said the Rabbi, “take the chicken and bring it into your home.” “Well, okay,” said the man, though he was a bit surprised. Imagine what the house sounded like now. In addition to the man, his mother, his wife and six children, there was a chicken clucking incessantly.

Frustrated, the man returned to the Rabbi. “Rabbi, I did what you said, and it’s much worse than before. Help me please.” “Tell me,” the rabbi asked, “do have a goat?” “Yes, I do,” the man replied. “Excellent,” said the rabbi. “Go home and bring the goat in to live with you.” A couple of days later, life in the hut was even worse. There was crying, quarreling, clucking, and a goat pushing and butting everyone with its horns.

The man returned to the rabbi. To his shock, the rabbi then instructed him to bring his cow into the hut. This Rabbi must be crazy, the man thought. But he did as he was instructed. The house became an utter chaos. When he returned to the rabbi for the fourth time, the man screamed, “Help me rabbi, the end of the world has come. There is no room in my house even to breathe.” The rabbi listened and said, “Go home now, my friend, and let the animals out of your hut.” The man rushed home and did so.

That night was the sweetest and most relaxing night he ever had. Every member of the family slept comfortably and peacefully. When he returned to the rabbi, the man said “Rabbi, you have made life sweet for me. With just my family in the hut, it’s so quiet, so roomy, so peaceful…What a blessing.”

We often fail to find the blessings in what we have. When the man was able to find a new perspective on his situation, he went from exasperated to peaceful. He was able to see how he was blessed from the beginning. In the Beatitudes Jesus tries to teach us to see life from a new perspective, to see the blessings we already have. While the world tells us to care only for ourselves, that the successful person is the “self-made” person, Jesus turns those notions upside down. He teaches us that those who are blessed, those who know the sacredness of life, those who feel the joy of being connected to God and Creation, are not the wealthy and the powerful. But blessed are those in need, the humble, the gentle, the justice seeking, the merciful, those who act with good intentions, the peaceful, and those who suffer for trying to do what is right. It is when we act with love and compassion in relation to each other, to Creation, and to God – when we appreciate and care for what God has already given us – that we are blessed, that we find fulfillment and the kin-dom of heaven. We are blessed by God, we walk in God’s kin-dom and encounter the sacred when we let our selfish egos go and love God and our neighbor as ourselves.

Pastor Ken

This reflection was inspired by the sermon, “Blessed” from Sunday, February 2, 2020. Audio recordings of most sermons can be found at



Steering Committee will meet very briefly after worship on Sunday, February 16, 2020, to choose voting delegates for a March 14 Ecclesiastical Council (see below). If you’re interested in being a delegate, please let our Moderator Angie Willard or Pastor Ken know before Sunday’s meeting. The next regular meeting of Steering Committee is scheduled for 7 pm on Friday, March 13, in the church office. Anyone is welcome to attend these meetings. A potluck dinner and Congregational meeting will be held after worship on Sunday, March 15.

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 February 17 at 7:00 pm at the Main St. Pub on Westnedge Avenue in Portage. Bring a friend and a question!

Lent, a season of reflection and turning to God, begins with Ash Wednesday on February 26, 2020. Opportunities to worship and reflect as a community beyond normal Sunday worship services are listed below. All events are at 2208 Winchell Ave except for Maundy Thursday.

Ash Wednesday, February 26, 6 pm – Short service observing the beginning of Lent. Ashes will be dispensed to all who wish to receive them. A light supper of soup and bread will be available after the service. Sign up at church to bring a dish.

Taize Prayer Services, March 11 & 25, April 8, 6 pm – Contemplative service of prayer and chanting.

Movie Night, March 10, 6:45 pmTitle to be announced. 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.

Maundy Thursday Love Feast, April 9, 6 pm – We will join Skyridge Church of the Brethren (394 S. Drake Rd) for their traditional Love Feast with a light dinner, communion and foot washing (optional). Please RSVP @

Good Friday Worship, April 10, 8 pm – We cannot afford to ignore the darkness in our world. This powerful 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 sit with the darkness, yearning for the light that returns Easter morning. Although all are welcome at this worship service, it may not be suitable for small children.

Easter Sunrise Worship and Breakfast, April 12, 7 am – Short outdoor service followed by breakfast (available until 8:30 am). Sign up at church to bring a dish.

Easter Worship, April 12, 11 am (CC-DOC) and 6 pm (Phoenix) – Christ is Risen! Come and celebrate!

The Timid Poet Open Mic is back! Our first open mic of the year will be Friday, February 28, 2020. Doors open at 6:30 pm and readings will start at 7 pm. To sign up for email notifications about this and future events, please visit

Pastor’s Office hours for February and March will be 1:30 to 3:30 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, except that there will not be any office hours on Tuesday, March 17. 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.

An Ecclesiastical Council has been called by the Southwest Association of the Michigan Conference United Church of Christ to consider Rev. Mike Tupper for Privilege of Call. This is one of the last steps for Rev. Tupper to receive full standing as a minister of the United Church of Christ. The Ecclesiastical Council will be held at 1 pm on Saturday, March 14, 2020, at Phoenix Community Church. Rev. Tupper will give a presentation to be followed by a question and answer period. Please come and support him during this process.

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. We’ll also try to post something on the website when possible. 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.


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

Feb. 16: “A New Way”

Feb. 23: “On the Mountaintop”

Mar. 1: “Led by the Spirit”

Mar. 8: “Born from Above”


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 March 17)
Wednesdays, 4 pm: Prayer Group
Thursdays, 1:30 am - 3:30 pm: Pastor's Office Hours
Thursdays, 3:30 pm: Book Study

Monday, Feb. 17: 7 pm, Spirit Talk @ Main St. Pub, Portage
Wednesday, Feb. 26: 6 pm, Ash Wednesday Service & Light Supper
Friday, Feb. 28: 6:30 pm, Timid Poet Open-Mic Night
Monday, Mar. 2: 7 pm, Spirit Talk @ Main St. Pub, Portage
Tuesday, Mar. 10: 6:45 pm, Movie Night
Wednesday, Mar. 11: 6 pm, Taize Prayer Service
Friday, Mar. 13: 7 pm, Steering Committee
Saturday, Mar. 14: 1 pm, Ecclesiastical Council for Rev. Tupper

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