Zion is now holding in person services in the sanctuary, but seating is limited.
Please consider joining us online for a Facebook live stream of our service.
We also have a radio station carrying our service live that you can access from our parking lot. Tune to 96.5 to hear the service as it happens.
August 10th Zoom Training Workshop 6 p.m. August 19th Soup Kitchen
Letter from Rev. Calandra Nevenzel
I am so excited to start on this new part of Zion UCC’s journey together with you all! Thank you for welcoming me in so extravagantly! Obviously, there is nothing typical about how this is starting out. I lament with you that we are not able to visit and get to know each other more, to sing together in the sanctuary, and so much more. However, I am so grateful that we are still able to be the church and I am confident that we can continue to be creative in doing so in new ways, while still loving and honoring our old traditions.
I will be inviting us to gather for some additional worship and Bible Study online via Zoom. The great thing about gathering online right now is we can see each others’ faces, sing, and take communion together safely, even though we are apart! You can also call in by phone if you do not have internet access.
To start out, you are invited to join Matt Schlutt and me on Monday, Aug. 10 @6pm for a Zoom Training Workshop. We will go over the basics of Zoom and its features. People of all ages and abilities are welcome!
While I will be mostly working remotely from Kalamazoo for a little while until my husband Zach and I move into the parsonage, I would love to get to know you, what you love about Zion UCC, and hopes and dreams you have for our church. Below is my contact info. Feel free to call or email me. If I don’t answer right away, leave me a message and I will get back with you soon, when I am able to. I look forward to getting to know all of you in one way or another.
Peace, Pastor Cal email@example.com
Patient Attention, Valuable Discoveries For many people, the coronavirus pandemic has been a test of patience — or worse. Medically vulnerable people face an anxious time of hypervigilance. Furloughed workers wait on hold or in lines for assistance. Special events have been canceled or rescheduled.
Those not impacted directly deal with assorted frustrations and inconveniences. Many people are learning the benefit of slowing down, being present (even virtually) to others and practicing patient attention.
Interestingly, scientist Isaac Newton did some of his best work when the plague forced Cambridge University to close. At home, the inquisitive student invented calculus and developed groundbreaking theories of gravity and optics. Later Newton called 1666 his annus mirabilis (“year of wonders”) and reportedly said, “If I have made any valuable discoveries, it [owes] more to patient attention than to any other talent.”
What have you discovered during the Covid-19 crisis? What appreciations have you developed for aspects of life you may have previously taken for granted? What has social distancing taught you about the value of neighbors, church, community volunteering?
During the pandemic, what have you learned about persistence and God’s presence? What empathy do you now feel for writers of words such as “I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope” (Psalm 130:5, NIV)?
God Amid Pandemic
Last spring, life changed as we became familiar with terms such as social distancing, flattening the curve and self-quarantining. We could hardly believe the closed schools, businesses and especially churches — just as Holy Week and Easter drew near! The coronavirus ran rampant in the world. Where was God?
But as the spread continued, many civic leaders stepped up, calmly informing us of the facts, of actions being taken to mitigate the crisis and of how we could help. Healthcare professionals risked their lives and endured separation from families; teachers drew on astounding stores of creativity to teach online; pastors delivered sermons and lessons to empty sanctuaries as members listened and prayed while living in lockdown. Surely God was present — through them!
Then I remembered how God assures us through Isaiah, “Fear not! When you pass through the waters, the fires, yes, even the pandemics of this world, I will be with you” (43:1-2, paraphrased). And Jesus echoes, “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20).
Learning — and laughing — on the fly
Faced with the sudden move to livestreamed church services, many pastors and worship leaders had to learn new technology quickly during the pandemic. As they were “winging it,” bloopers and bobbles added levity to the tense time.
For instance, a fake tree fell on a drummer while a worship song was being broadcast from Georgia. After getting too close to a candle, a vicar in England had to pause to extinguish flames from his sweater. And several preachers appeared on screen with cartoon-like features after inadvertently turning on social media filters.
“This wasn’t planned,” wrote the pastor about the falling ficus, which didn’t cause injury but quickly went viral. “But God used it to bring laughter to the hearts of many. For that, we are thankful.”
In the News!
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The MLG, Pastor Cal, and many others of us are carefully watching and waiting as we review safety protocols in light of COVID-19. We will keep you updated, but for now we will be continuing with the current way that worship is being done. We urge you to stay home and view our livestream which you can find on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ZionUCCBaroda or join the “Parking Lot Party” outside the church building to listen to the radio broadcast. If you are unable to do so, we are allowing a small number of folks to worship inside the building as long as you follow the current protocols.
We want to highlight some of the extra safety precautions we are taking at Zion UCC, as these are important in protecting one another and folks in our community. It is also important to take extra care now so that we are able to move forward and do the things we love to do again.
Please remember that only our sanctuary and narthex are open right now in the building on Sunday mornings. Avoiding other spaces helps so that we only have to clean and disinfect a smaller area.
Masks are required for entry into the building. If you are uncomfortable wearing a mask, you can access our worship service from one of the other ways it is being offered. Please sit at least 6 feet away from other families and do your best to keep distance between you at all times. You will notice some pews taped off to help guide us. Please remember not to congregate or take off your masks right outside the front door. We want to give space for folks to exit while still socially distancing. I would encourage you to continue wearing your mask outside, especially if you are within 6 feet of other people.
During the worship service, we will not sing out loud and we will do very little responsive reading. We will not be passing offering plates, but there is a plate at the back of the sanctuary and you can also give online. If you would like give during the offering time, you could write your check or donate on your phone: https://www.zionuccbaroda.org/donate.html
We know this is not comfortable for any of us. Let us stay the course and be the church no matter what. These small precautions are just a little inconvenience for us as we protect one another and our community. Let us love God and love our neighbor!
It’s human nature to sometimes slip into judgmentalism and arrogance: “I’d never do what she did!” we think or say. Or “People who [fill in the blank] shouldn’t call themselves Christians. They don’t belong in the church.” Jesus clearly said, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1, ESV) and, memorably, made his point with the image of a speck in someone else’s eye and a log in one’s own.
In Love Does (Thomas Nelson), Bob Goff reflects further on what Jesus’ response would be when we put ourselves in positions of authority over others: “[Jesus] said people who followed him should think of themselves more like ushers rather than the bouncers, and it would be God who decides who gets in. We’re the ones who simply show people to their seats that someone else paid for.”
The Pastor Is In
Every Tuesday morning on New York City’s Upper East Side, Gregory Fryer sits in a Peanuts-style booth offering prayer and a listening ear to passersby. Initially the pastor wanted to draw attention to his church, but instead he ended up noticing all the “hungry hearts” in the neighborhood. Fryer has been pleasantly surprised by all the people who open up to him. “I think they like the idea of a pastor being on the sidewalk,” he says.
Although a sign on the booth reads “Spiritual advice 5¢,” the pastor keeps a plate of nickels handy if people want to put one in his jar. Some people donate much more — and some even pray for Fryer.
The pastor says he was inspired by Peanuts character Lucy van Pelt, who has the “audacity, the courage to brazenly sit there out in public and offer to deal with important matters.”
Zion United Church of Christ - 9105 Third St, PO Box 10, Baroda, MI 49101 - 269-422-1590 - e-mail - email@example.com