a newsletter from

Phoenix Community Church UCC


Friday, January 19, 2018


A progressive Christian experience...

Welcoming and affirming the LGBT 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

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

Lao Tzu


In the last Flamings Newsletter, I reflected on discernment and challenged us all to be both attentive and intentional in listening for the guiding voice of the Holy Spirit, setting aside some specific time to do so. Have you given this a try? Are you using a spiritual practice such as prayer, meditation, or journaling (to name just a few)? What is working for you? I’d love to hear about your experiences.


Personally, I’ve been journaling. It’s a little early to make any proclamations, but so far it feels like it’s helping, opening me up and allowing me to think creatively. Part of that is getting all of the distracting chatter out of my mind and on to paper so my mind is left to do its more important stuff. If you’re interested in journaling but haven’t ever tried it, here are a couple of suggestions. Now, I don’t claim to be an expert, so these suggestions are simply from my personal experience.


Set a specific time to journal. I’ve been doing it as the first thing I do when I get up in the morning. Or you might try journaling right before you go to bed in the evening. Pick a time that will be easy to remember as you want this to become a habit.


Make it a priority. There are mornings when I either don’t feel like doing anything or I want to jump right into my work for the day. Either way, journaling can feel like a chore or a distraction on those days. Do it anyway. That’s when I really need it to help energize and focus me.


Use paper and pen. For me, there’s just something about paper and pen. It seems to work so much better than typing on the computer. I also like to write poetry and I’ve discovered that for me a poem almost never starts on the computer. It always comes to life from ideas jotted on paper. I can edit and refine on the computer, but there’s something unexplainably creative about pen and paper.


Just write. Write at least two pages every day and probably not more than five. Write what’s on your mind, and never stop before your minimum number of pages are full even if you’re just writing “I can’t think of anything else to say” over and over. This is stream of consciousness writing. If you don’t know how to start or have something specific you want to think about or ask, then start with a question. For example, in my journaling this morning I started out asking what I should write as a reflection for today’s newsletter. But once you get started, just let your mind take over and write whatever comes up. Your mind will often want to outpace your writing hand. That’s ok. Force your brain to slow down and wait for your hand to catch up. That itself, it feels to me, is a useful and interesting spiritual exercise. If you “zone out” and stop writing for a bit while your mind races, don’t judge but simply start again until your minimum pages are full.


And that’s it. Write every day, a couple of pages about whatever’s on your mind. Try it for at least a month and if you’re not discerning any benefits, try something else instead.


Of course, there are other spiritual practices you can try as well. If you’re spending time in prayer, remember to allow for some silence. Don’t judge what pops into your mind during that silence but simply note what it is and your reaction to it. You can think critically about it later if it seems important. The goal, though, is to let your own ego be quiet for a time so Spirit has a chance to speak. The same goes for meditation. Meditation techniques that we might utilize aim to help us empty our minds, which both teaches us to be in the moment as well as opens us to Spirit. Often thoughts pop into our supposed-to-be-empty minds. Don’t judge them, just note them and let them pass by.


One important thing that can affect the usefulness of our spiritual practices is our expectations about them. In my sermon from January 14, I reflected on expectations. If you’re interested you can hear the sermon at http://phoenixchurch.org/sermons.php. You might also be interested in this article about how expectations affect our lives: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-the-power-of-expectations-can-allow-you-to-bend-reality/.


Expectations can open us to new possibilities or sabotage what we’re trying to do. For example, many times people will say that they can’t meditate because they can’t keep their minds quiet or some such thing. Our expectations of failure are self-fulfilling because if we expect to fail, we tend to not even try. So why not raise our expectations? We often will live up to (or down to) our expectations and the expectations of others that are projected onto us. So why not dream big? And while dreaming big, remember that a thousand mile journey begins with a single step! Don’t be discouraged when the high expectations aren’t met immediately but set small goals in the right direction.


Blessings on your spiritual journey. May we all be blessed even deeper by our traveling together.


Pastor Ken



Steering Committee’s first meeting of 2018 is tonight, Friday January 19, at 7 pm in the church office. Everyone is welcome. Topics on the agenda include plans for Lent and Holy Week, our 30th Anniversary Celebration, and our 2018 project to envision our future.


Phoenix’s 30th Anniversary Dinner is Saturday, February 17! Come celebrate with us! Founded in 1988 in response to the unmet spiritual needs of the LGBTQ community, Phoenix has for 30 years provided an open and affirming home for all people to explore the human spiritual journey through a progressive Christian experience. That’s worth celebrating! Dinner will begin at 5 pm with a presentation at 6 pm followed by a concert by gifted musician and singer Jonathan Talmadge. If you’re coming for the dinner, please RSVP by calling 269-381-3222 or emailing phoenixchurch@yahoo.com by February 13.


On Sunday, February 18, 2018, the Celebration Continues at 6 pm with a special worship service featuring special guests including soloist Tim Hiscock and preaching by one of our founding pastors, Melanie Morrison. We will also spend a moment to officially kick off our visioning project – after all, we can celebrate our past, but we can’t live there! Refreshments will be served after the service.


The season of Lent, leading up to Holy Week, will be fast upon us. Details will be announced in the next Flamings but for now here are a few dates to mark on your calendar. Ash Wednesday is February 14, 2018. We are also hoping to host a few Taize services during Lent. Tentative dates are February 28, March 14, and March 28. Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday on March 25 and ends with Easter on April 1. Look for traditional services on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday of that week. As mentioned, details for all of these observances will be included in the February 2 Flamings Newsletter.


Cancelation Policy: Now that we are in the midst of the winter season it is possible that we’ll need to cancel an event or even Sunday worship due to hazardous weather. If it becomes necessary to cancel Sunday evening worship, notice will be posted on the Phoenix Community Church web site as well as at Kalamazoo’s channel 3 television station (wwmt.com). If other meetings are canceled, such as prayer group or book study, we’ll attempt to call those who regularly attend. If in doubt about a meeting, feel free to call the church office phone for clarification. And always use your own best judgement about traveling in the cold and snow.

Our next Movie Night is Tuesday, February 13, at 6:45 pm in the church office. The movie title is to be announced. Feel free to bring snacks to share.


Sunday Worship Schedule (tentative)


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

January 21:  “Following Jesus

January 28:  “Living in Authority

February 4: “A Gospel of Healing”

February 11: “A Needed Reminder”


Contact Info


Phoenix Community Church UCC

2208 Winchell Avenue

Kalamazoo, MI 49008

Phone: 269-383-3222


Office Email: office@phoenixchurch.org

Web Site: http://www.phoenixchurch.org

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PhoenixChurch


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.














Jan 19 (Flamings)


7 pm Steering Committee





6 pm Worship






4 pm Prayer Group




3:30 pm Book Study






6 pm Worship






4 pm Prayer Group


Feb 1


3:30 pm Book Study

2 (Flamings)




6 pm Worship






4 pm Prayer Group




3:30 pm Book Study






6 pm Worship





6:45 pm Movie Night




4 pm Prayer Group


TBA – Ash Wednesday Service




3:30 pm Book Study

16 (Flamings)



5:00 pm 30th Anniversary Dinner



6 pm 30th Anniversary Worship






4 pm Prayer Group




3:30 pm Book Study




TBA = to be announced