a newsletter from

Phoenix Community Church UCC


Friday, July 13, 2018


A progressive Christian experience...

Welcoming and affirming the LGBTQ community...


Embodying God's all encompassing love, as exemplified by Jesus,

in the way we interact with each other, our neighbors, and all creation.


Food For Thought

I’ve always been intrigued by stories of spiritual mystics, who often describe their encounters with the Divine by talking about visions or ecstatic experiences. Sometimes they talk of the Divine as a lover. But what exactly do we mean when we call someone a mystic? One definition we might use is a person who seeks to experience God directly without the church or anyone or anything else as a mediator. A mystic is someone with a thirst for knowing the Divine Presence in their life. Mystics, however, do not typically stand alone but are part of a religious community and every major religion has mystics within its ranks.


The mystic can spend years preparing themselves for this encounter with God through a variety of spiritual practices including reading scripture, ascetic practices such as fasting or a vow of poverty, prayer, spiritual direction, etc. Although mystics may sometimes have visions, a vision does not make one a mystic. Similarly, one could be a mystic and never have a vision. It’s not about a brief ecstatic experience but a journey of transformation. To directly encounter the God of Love is to be transformed.


When we do hear of a mystic having a vision, how do we tell the difference between truth and delusion? Can we trust the experiences of others when they may sound so foreign to our own life experiences? One test is whether the mystical encounter of God results in a transformation based in love or not. If someone is unchanged by their experience or that change is not based in love, then perhaps they weren’t really encountering the Divine. Mystics tend to seek God with their hearts rather than with their intellect but we shouldn’t completely discount the intellect. We must seek God with both head and heart.


Many of the spiritual practices used by mystics are aimed at letting go of their own egos, that part of our minds that tries to control our lives and protect us. In letting go of our egos, we empty ourselves and make room for the awareness of the Divine Presence to enter, often achieving higher levels of consciousness as we become aware of the Sacred in and around us. While we may not all be called to dedicating our entire lives to the encounter with the Divine, everyone can at least open their hearts to the God within. We can all open ourselves to loving and being loved. Perhaps we can start as we go through our normal day by trying to notice where we see the presence of the Divine… in conversation with a co-worker, in a hug, in a flower or sunset… God is everywhere, in us and around us. Opening ourselves to that awareness will begin within us a transformation of love.


Pastor Ken


The above reflection is inspired by the sermon from July 8, “Mystic: Journey of Consciousness” Go to www.phoenixchurch.org/sermons.php to listen to the entire message.



We’re going kayaking! We’ll meet at the Plainwell Kayak Company, 211 N. Main St. in Plainwell, MI no later than 10:45 am on Saturday, July 14. This is the same place we went last year. If you need a ride some folks will be leaving from the Oakland carpool lot at 10 am. Please contact Linda Cross if you have any questions. Cost is $40 per kayak. After we’re done enjoying the Kalamazoo river many in the group often gather for dinner at a local restaurant. All are welcome.


Looking for some summer fun in addition to kayaking? Several ideas have been mentioned, such as a game night, a cook out, and a bowling excursion, but to make these things happen we need someone to take an idea and run with it as the host / organizer. Is that you? Talk to Pastor Ken if you have questions or to get an event on the church calendar.


Sanctuary update: The pews have been removed from the sanctuary to make it a more flexible space. We’re currently targeting Sunday, August 12, to move our worship service upstairs to the sanctuary but that could change depending on how the cleaning and repair work on the floor goes.


Building access: Although we’ll be moving our Sunday worship service to the sanctuary soon, we are still meeting downstairs in the fellowship hall for a few more weeks. On Sundays, we ask people to park and enter upstairs when possible. There is an elevator if needed or those with health issues can drive around to the back of the building to enter directly on the lower level (take Aberdeen Dr. to Watterworth Dr. to access the rear of the building). Many mid-week meetings such as prayer group and book study are held in the Phoenix office which is also located downstairs. For these meetings folks often use the lower level entrance for convenience so no cars in the main parking lot doesn’t necessarily mean no one is there. There is also a door bell at the main entrance which rings downstairs so if you arrive for a meeting or appointment and find the doors locked (because no one is upstairs to monitor them), please ring the doorbell or check the lower level entrance. We don’t want to miss you! It should also be noted that changes are occurring in the church building and more people are using the facilities. We will try to keep everyone notified as policies and practices evolve.


Pastor Ken will be on vacation July 16 through July 22. If you have a need during that time, please contact the church office or one of the peer ministers.


Phoenix: Present & FutureWe will gather for our next potluck dinner and Sacred Conversation after worship on Sunday, August 5, 2018 as we begin shifting from reflecting on who we are to imagining who we are to become. Please join us for these important discussions as we listen for the calling of the Spirit.


Steering Committee next meets on Friday, August 10, at 7 pm in the church office. Anyone is welcome to attend.


Our next Movie Night is Tuesday, August 14. We gather in the church office at 6:45 pm and the movie (title to be determined) will start promptly at 7 pm. A short discussion follows the movie. Bring snacks to share.


The annual meeting of the Michigan Conference will be held October 12 and 13, 2018 in Charlotte, MI. The guest speaker will be Alice Hunt, past president of Chicago Theological Seminary. For more information and to register, visit the Michigan Conference website, www.michucc.org.


News from the Wider Community

Big Pride LGBTQ Mentorship Program is for young people 12 to 16 who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning. Big Brothers Big Sisters, A Community of Caring and OutFront Kalamazoo are partnering to provide LGBTQ mentors to LGBTQ youth. Big Pride mentees (Littles) and mentors (Bigs) will meet individually and in groups in order to form a supportive friendship to help guide the Littles through their teen years. For more information call Big Brothers Big Sisters at 269-382-6800.


Grief can be overwhelming… if you’ve experienced the death of a loved one or know someone who has, Langeland Funeral Homes offers resources for support and healing. For more information, see their website at http://www.langelands.com/grief-and-healing/. Besides their own support groups, they also list other resources to be found in the Kalamazoo area. (Of course, Pastor Ken and our peer ministers are also willing to lend support and a listening ear. Simply call or email the church office to make an appointment.)

Sunday Worship Schedule (tentative)


Worship begins at 6:00 pm on Sundays. Communion is observed on the first Sunday of the month.

July 15:  “Song of the Soul – St. John of the Cross

July 22:  Rev. Whitney Brown, guest speaker

July 29:  Taize-style worship service

August 5:  “Dialog with the Divine – Catherine of Sienna”


Contact Info


Phoenix Community Church UCC        Office Email: office@phoenixchurch.org

2208 Winchell AvenueWeb Site: http://www.phoenixchurch.org

Kalamazoo, MI 49008Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PhoenixChurch

Phone: 269-383-3222


Peer Ministers for 2018 are Linda Cross and Arlene Scholfield. Please contact a peer minister if you need assistance or just a listening ear.

Upcoming Events


All events are at 2208 Winchell unless noted otherwise. Also see our online calendar at: http://www.phoenixchurch.org/WebCalendar.














13 (Flamings)



10:45 am Kayak Trip @ Plainwell




6 pm Worship




Pastor on vacation through 7/22




4 pm Prayer Group




NO Book Study





6 pm Worship






4 pm Prayer Group




3:30 pm Book Study

27 (Flamings)




6 pm Worship




Aug 1


4 pm Prayer Group




3:30 pm Book Study





6 pm Worship


7:15 pm Potluck and Sacred Conversation





4 pm Prayer Group




3:30 pm Book Study

10 (Flamings)


7 pm Steering Committee




6 pm Worship




Pastor on vacation through 8/26



6:45 pm Movie Night




4 pm Prayer Group



3:30 pm Book Study