Straight to the Point
October 13, 2020
Mike’s Markings - Life at the Intersection of Contemplation and Action
A Prophetic Call to Reformation
October 13, 2020

I am thrilled to announce that First Congregational Church will be joining Christian communities across the country in welcoming the Rev. Dr. James Forbes to our church on Sunday, October 25, which is Reformation Sunday. In partnership with our friends at the Alliance of Baptists, Dr. Forbes has prepared a timely message at such a crucial moment in our nation’s history.

Preaching from John 3:1-8, in a sermon entitled “The Answer to the Questions of the Soul,” Dr. Forbes will proclaim the call for ongoing reform and renewal within the church. He writes, “We are reminded that an authentic ‘born again’ experience must include a continuous process of being renewed in the spiritual connection to the family of God. To have a vibrant relationship with God demands that we treat our fellow human beings with justice and compassion.

Ongoing calls for reform and renewal within the church are a central part of our history. Today’s cry for renewal and reform in the church is a call to repentance and continuing engagement with the long, demanding, necessary and life-giving process of turning away from that which hurts, demeans and divides, and turning toward Jesus’ vision of a beloved community experienced right here, right now, among us.

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Forbes on Reformation Sunday!

The Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes Jr. is National Minister of the Drum Major Institute, Senior Minister Emeritus of the Riverside Church (affiliated with the United Church of Christ and the Alliance of Baptists), the Harry Emerson Fosdick Distinguished Professor at Union Theological Seminary, and President of the Healing of the Nations Ministries (all of these institutions of New York City). Additionally, Dr. Forbes is a highly acclaimed author, scholar and nationally sought-after speaker, affectionately referred to in national and international religious circles as the preacher’s preacher because of his extensive preaching career and his charismatic style. Newsweek magazine once recognized Forbes as one of the 12 “most effective preachers” in the English-speaking world. As a passionate educator, administrator, community and human rights activist and interfaith leader, Dr. Forbes was twice designated as one of America’s greatest Black preachers by Ebony magazine. Dr. Forbes is a featured TEDex speaker and also a frequent guest & contributor to top national media outlets including Huffington Post, MSNBC and others.  
From the National United Church of Christ

Beloved of God,

It has been a year of abundant grief. On top of the pain and loss we experience collectively in what we used to call “normal” times, this year has added 205,000 (and counting) Saints to the numbers of those who have gone before. This year has added trauma and pain and loss in ways that continue to hold our hearts captive. This year has called a reckoning of systems towards Justice, and the slow pains of growth and awareness and the impact of struggle on people trying to hold it together. And this year has called us to cling fast to faith with clarity and strength and prayer.

So in calling on our faith that all those who have gone before are in community with All Saints, you are invited to join us in honoring those who have passed, especially to COVID-19, for a service of All Saints with music, prayer, and lifting of names. We will gather via Zoom on November 1st at 6pm ET / 5pm CT / 4pm MT / 3pm PT / 1pm Alaska & Hawaii.

To contribute a name to the visual list of people in memoriam, simply fill out this form and the name will be included.

With prayer, faith, and hope,
The United Church of Christ

The Nurture Committee is looking for volunteers for greeters. You would need to be present from 9:15 until church starts at 10:30. One person will need to take temperatures starting with those that come for the adult class. The other person will need to hand out name tags. After church the name tags will need to be sanitized.

If you are interested in helping please let Ginger France or Jan Nowlen know.

Streaming Update!
Live Streaming Project:

First Congregational UCC has embarked on a live-streaming project, and Sunday we recorded and live-streamed the worship service on Facebook (FB) Live. Hope you got to see it! – either in real time at church or watched from home. Now, I would ask that if you have not watched the video on FB, you take time to watch it this week. We want your feedback and recommendations as we move ahead. Here’s some of the information about the project…
  • Paul Ebsen of Vermillion SD has been our “leader” in this project. He is a director at South Dakota Public Broadcasting and has lots of experience and training in broadcasting. Additionally, he is a member of the Vermillion Congregational UCC and responsible for their live streaming programs from Vermillion.
  • Five members of our congregation have participated in a training session and are now working with Paul to get “hands on” experience.
John Kiernan                Jim France
Jerrod Kiernan             Todd Siefker
Dave VanBerkum
This group will assist on Sunday mornings. Anyone interested in helping with the broadcasting should consider attending a training session in the future. Contact the church office or talk with John Kiernan or Jim France. We would be glad to have you as part of our group.
·        The audio (sound version) of the worship service is also being recorded and available on your phone. You will be able to listen to the audio “live” on Sunday mornings and if more convenient, call into the system later and hear a recording of the service.

Haven’t much experience with Facebook Live or using your phone system to listen to the worship service? There’s more information in this STTP on how to do that!! You can always call the church office for assistance, as well.

In the future…
  1. the video version will be available on YouTube Live for those of you who are familiar with using that platform.
  2. ZOOM will be added to our efforts to communicate with the congregation and others. Watch for the start of a “Touching Base” feature on ZOOM following the worship service. People can join and spend time sharing with others about the service and what is happening in their lives. Many of us have enjoyed this as part of our ZOOM worship services during COVID and we want to continue this sharing in the near future.

We will make sure to announce when both the YouTube Live and ZOOM “Touching Base” feature are available for use.

To utilize our Call-In phone system, you can call 844-485-8226 at any time. If asked for a PIN it is 9959. Once you call you will be asked if you would like to sign up for a phone call that will be automatically sent to your phone each time that the church is streaming in the sanctuary and you can listen in real-time. The prompts make it quite easy to get signed up.

If you have missed a service that we have streamed and would like to catch up, recordings of our church services are also on this phone system and are easy to access. It will automatically play the most recent one, but you can follow the prompts to listen in on older church services as well.

Stay tuned! Good things are happening! If you have questions, call Tiffany at the church office or send her an email ( with your questions or ideas.

Time to Save Receipts

Please save:
*HyVee grocery receipts (dated Aug 23 and after)
*Boxtops for Education
There’s a collection box wrapped in balloon paper in the narthex near the office.
Thank you~These will be donated to a local school and shared with Mayflower Congregational’s preschool.

Book Club

The book club has resumed meetings. Here are the upcoming meetings and the books they

-Thursday, Nov 12 at 9:30 AM - Death Comes for the Archbishop
Authored by Willa Cather

These meetings are to be held in the church library, but can also be accessed by ZOOM. Please contact Barb Knepper if you would like to join the meeting via ZOOM.

Sanford Center

The Sanford Center is looking for part-time help—2:30 to 6:30 Monday and 3:30 to 6:30 Tuesday thru Friday. Applicants need to be at least 18 years old. If you know anyone that would be interested, please have them call Gina at the Sanford Center for more information. Her number is (712) 252-9005.


The Missions Committee has been in contact with the Sanford Center about helping to supply food for the meal the students in the after school program are provided with before they go home for the evening. They could use donations of the following items:

Hot dogs and buns
Individual packaged servings of chips, treats (no peanuts), fruit cups, etc.
Juice boxes
Large cans of Nacho Cheese
6 pack boxes of macaroni
  (These two items can be purchased at Sam’s Club
Large cans of chicken noodle soup

You can drop your donations off at church or at the Sanford Center. If you would prefer to send a monetary donation, please send it directly to the Sanford Center and mark it after school meals.


We are using new church management software in the office, which is called REALM by ACS Technology, and this includes a digital directory. Please expect to receive an invitation email from Realm or ACS Technologies. Tiffany sent out those invitations by email last week, if you need assistance please call or email her in the office.

Please inform the office of any directory updates that you would like to include for yourself or your family. You can also pick up one of the directory update forms on the table outside the church office or find it on our website.

Instructions on how to access our new directory can be found by clicking HERE. Please call or email Tiffany if you need to be re-sent an invititation to join/access our directory.


A note from our friends at CROP Walk:
The Sioux City CROP Walk will look a little different in 2020, but our goal is still the same! To help fight hunger locally and around the world. The safety of our walkers is our number one priority, therefore this year the Sioux City CROP Walk will be virtual. 

Please visit their website for more information.

They are mostly asking for online donations but food donations are still accepted as well. Details abou how to donate online, and where to donate food items are all on the above website. If you would like to donate cash or checks, please send them to the church and make them payable to CROP Walk.

Remember to Support FCUCC Financially During this Time!

During this COVID-19 event, having no in-person services has impacted our normal income. Thank you to those who have mailed in checks!

FCUCC Finances for September 2020

Giving in September amounted to $8,562.00, all from mail-in and online giving.

You can help us stay on track by mailing in your check or setting up an automatic payment from your bank. You can also contribute through a simple app called is our online, app and web-based giving system. is convenient because it:
·        Accepts debit, credit or bank account info
·        Can be set up for a one-time payment, or automatic regular payments
·        Can be changed at any time (there are no contracts or commitments)
Go to to sign up online, or download the app on any iPhone/Apple or Android device.

Keep the Connection -- Join us on “Zoom”
Todd Siefker will be sending out an invitation link right before each event.

6:30 pm Wednesday – Weekly Reflection Time
9:30 am Sunday – "Admiration Series" Study Session

ZOOM Meetings – Remember to Invite Others!
Invite your friends to attend the Wednesday night or Sunday morning Adult group gatherings.
Each of us knows people who need connection during this time. You can send your friends the invitation link or send their emails to Todd so he can send them the invitation. This is a way to reach out and enlarge our caring community!
Before each Zoom session, you will receive an email invitation to the session. By clicking on the link included in the invitation, you can join the session.

You can join online with your computer OR by phone.
Follow the instructions that come in the email.
On Wednesday evenings, at 6:30 pm Todd Siefker will lead a reflection time.
Sunday mornings will be an adult session from 9:30 a.m. until 10:15 a.m. 
  • At 9:30 a.m. Todd Siefker will lead the Admiration Series.  

You can join in at any time during the morning by using the Zoom link.

Steps on how to work around a zoom meeting that has a password (passcode)
1.   Setup your own account with zoom
2.   Get link that is sent by the church in email
3.   Click on link it will open the zoon app once you log in to your account
4.   You will see "start new meeting" or "join meeting" click join
5.   This will bring a meeting ID screen - enter the meeting ID that is found in the email from the church
6.   Enter the meeting ID in the meeting ID feild - this will connect you to the meeting
7.   If the passcode is required enter the passcode that is found in the email from church
8.   Click "OK" after you enter the passcode
9.   You should now be in the meeting
The Schwerin Family
Jan Nowlen
Pastor Al Hohl
Antony Allyn Wyckoff -Rosenberg
Tyrell Tanner and Family
Dick Owens
Sandy Gregory
Katherine Trautman
Bud Ziebell
The Bilka Family
Anne Cleghorn
Cameron Mower & Family
All Teachers and Students

Thank You, Volunteers!

A big "thank you" goes out to our volunteers who have helped with Sunday Services this week. These were:

Suzanne Johnson - Worship Leader
Nan Cord - Usher
John and Jerrod Kiernan - Sound, Lighting, and Screen Display
Jim France - Live Streaming

Take Some Time to Check in With Each Other

Remember to “check in” with the person(s) before you and after you in the current church directory. Let's make sure everyone is connected during this time!

Moving-On Box

Dish Soap
Window Cleaner
Spray Bottles of Kitchen/BAthroom Clorox
Fry Pans
9x13 Cake Pans
Paring Knives
OCTOBER is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. 

At First Congregational UCC we provide help and hope to women and families moving forward with their lives. Each Moving-On-Box set contains many things to help them start over~from towels to toilet paper to a toaster, from cleaning supplies to kitchen necessities. Printed on each set is the verse from Jeremiah 29:11–‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’
Pictured is Emily from Safe Place (formerly Council on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence) with Ginger France as Emily picks up Moving-On-Boxes from FCUCC last month. 
Visit Safe Place on Facebook to become more aware of what their dedicated staff does to help so many women have a hope and a future.

Thank YOU, FCUCC members, for continuing to make this MOB ministry possible through your donations and $$ contributions. 

We are finding that our newsletter is only being opened by about 50% of the people who receive it by email weekly. Make sure you share the news that we have updated it to this new platform and that is is also posted to our website weekly.

The Soup Kitchen

Council has voted to halt our in-person services to assist at the Soup Kitchen due to the dangers of COVID-19 and will revisit the project at the beginning of the year. If congregants would like to volunteer on their own, please contact the Soup Kitchen directly at their office number: (712) 279-3199.

The Soup Kitchen has been hit hard with the expanded need of families and individuals needing food assistance during COVID-19. They have been serving well over 3000 meals per month and are runing critically low on some items and are completely out of others. Here is the list of current needs. The items in all CAPS are the ones that they are completey out of at the moment.

Tater tots
Individually wrapped snacks
To go containers
To go soup bowls with lids
Fruit/Jello/Pudding cups
Food service plastic wrap
Plastic silverware (no knives)
Dinner napkins
Italian dressing
Coco powder
Baking powder (just a small amount)
Instant mashed potatoes
Chicken broth and base
Individual coffee creamers
Styrofoam coffee cups with lids
Hand soap
Frozen vegetables
Oven cleaner
Paper towels
Toilet paper

Erik's Closet Needs:
Tennis shoes
Toilet paper
Shaving cream
Tampons and pads
Body and baby wipes
Body wash
Foot powder
Shampoo and conditioner

You can drop donations and gift cards off at the Soup Kitchen or Mail them to:

717 W. 7th Street
Suoix City, Iowa 51103

They also have Venmo and Paypal for those who would like to donate through that method. Here is the info from them:

If you are wanting to make a donation please use the following:
Venmo : @siouxland-soupkitchen
PayPal :
All donations can be issued a receipt for tax purposes.

Rummage Sale
At this time we have postponed the Rummage Sale, however, those of you who are cleaning and de-cluttering your home during this time, there is plenty of room to store things you wish to get rid of. Just bring them to church when Tiffany is in the office and she will open the doors upstairs for you to bring your things in.

Sharing Our Community Memories and God Moments
In the spirit of Pastor Al Hohl's book on Prayer we've been talking about the importance of Remembering. To Pastor Hohl, forgetting is not the opposite of remembering. He says that DISmembering is actually the opposite of REmembering. He writes, " not remember is to tear apart. What we tear apart runs the risk of being scattered in our imaginations" (Hohl 2020, 172). I believe we would rather not run this risk. 

We are starting our own Story Corps Project. We would like your story about how this faith community has benefited your life in written, audio recorded, or video recorded format. Please send them to Todd at or back to Tiffany at our church email at In case you need some prompts from Pastor Anne to get started, here are a few that might help:

  • I came to FCUCC because . . .
  • The person or group here who has made the most difference in my life is _____ because . . . 
  • I learned something new here that deepened my faith when . . .
  • I was able to make a difference in the community/wider world through FCUCC when . . .
  • A time I met God through FCUCC was . . .
  • A favorite memory I have of my time with FCUCC is . . .
Church Office Hours
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday

Church Staff:

Rev. Dr. Michael Castle

Tiffany Watts, Church Administrator

Todd Siefker, Intergenerational Coordinator

Rick Darrow, Organist
Church Contact Information

(712) 239-3385
4600 Hamilton Boulevard
Sioux City, IA 51104
(712) 239-3385