Straight to the Point
October 21, 2020
Prayer for the Way Forward

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me
Let There Be Peace on Earth, the peace that was meant to be
With God as our Maker, neighbors all are we
Let me walk with my neighbor In perfect harmony.
Let peace begin with me, let this be the moment now.
With ev'ry step I take let this be my solemn vow
To take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally
Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me
— Jill Jackson and Sy Miller

Mike’s Markings - Life at the Intersection of Contemplation and Action

A Turning Worth Noting
The elected volunteer leaders of our church and your church staff are making an important turning. When I arrived in Sioux City back in August, I quickly became aware that there were some intense conflicts and unresolved grievances among us. So, I have spent the first weeks as your pastor 1) intentionally trying to understand the source of these community disruptions; 2) listening carefully and deeply to opposing perspectives;  3) calling our leaders to be renewed in their hearts by the extravagant love of God that is the heart of who we are and all we do; 4) fostering a holy reconciliation between our members who have been at odds with each other, and 5) seeking a path of peace that would enable us to turn from the past – particularly those things that have been the source of our currents conflicts-- and turn toward a bright and promising future full of dreams, of visions and hope!

Many hours of meetings were held over the last several weeks. Many conversations took place that were sometimes hopeful and] sometimes painful. Many questions were considered: “What happened?” “Why?” “Was it worth all this disruption and discontent?” All were encouraged to name their truth as they knew it in order to foster deepened understanding. All were invited to practice the spiritual discipline of forgiveness as our best hope in letting go and leaving behind all that was weighing us down..

My planned ending for this peace and healing process did not go as planned! However, in the end, I a sensing that we accomplished exactly what we set out and needed to do.  From what can I tell, there has been a profound turning in attitudes and attention. No one seems to be in the mood to fight and fuss any more. Deepened understanding gleaned from deep listening to one another happened. Grievances, resentments and perceptions were expressed directly to the appropriate individuals and groups, apologies were offered, and forgiveness was granted. In addition, a sense of clarity emerged as to what is needed NOW to move our church forward. 

And moving forward seems to be were the Spirit is now stirring among our leaders. There is a renewed sense of energy, interest and excitement about our future and the vital witness we offer our community and wider world as a progressive Christian community. There is a desire and a readiness to intentionally engage our church’s ministry and mission with our whole hearts. There is an eagerness to dream again, to envision again, who God is calling us to be and to do. For this turning away from our recent difficulties and the conflicts that have distracted us and for this turning toward the future that awaits us, I give thanks to God!   This turning is an invitation for all us to lean into a more robust relationship with our Still Speaking God who makes all things new.
I am putting together a written summary report to send to the entire congregation that will update you on what has happened over these past six weeks or so, and what we are now doing to turn from the past  and to begin creating, with God, a growing, lively, hope-filled future.  Whatever we do to turn that toward that future will need your creative participation and engagement.  So, I am for your help and assistance today.  By clicking here, you will find an Input and Response Form.  I am asking you to give some thoughtful consideration to what is being asked of you.  Your input will mean so much.  Please fill out the form and return it to the church office by November 1st.  Consider this a first step in your own turning to our church’s future!  Together we are going to be building, growing and nurturing an amazing Beloved Community overflowing with the Good News of Jesus and the Justice-Love of God.  Stay tuned. Pay attention. There is more Grace yet to come…   


Open and Affirming Status

Several members of the congregation attended a webinar from the UCC Conference on the process of becoming Open and Affirming.  We feel that FCUCC is well on our way to becoming Open and Affirming but there is still conversation that can take place to finish the process.  If there are any congregation members that are interested is being part of this process, please contact the church office or Pastor Mike to get your name on the list so you are included. 

Upcoming Worship:

October 25th - Reformation Sunday -
  • Please Join us in welcoming Rev. Dr. James Forbes Jr.

November 1st - All Saints Day - Please join us for:
  • FCUCC's All Saints Day Sunday Service at 10:30 a.m.
  • A Zoom meeting at 5:00 p.m. Central time with the National UCC for a service of All Saints to honor those who have passed. Details below.

All Saints Day
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

Estate Sale

Randy Peters will be hosting an estate sale in the Fireside room of the church November 6th, 7th, and 8th. There will only be access to the Fireside room from the upper parking lot and all who are interested are welcome. Those in attendance are encouraged to follow the church's health precautions in wearing masks and social distancing when possible.

It will be open:

Friday, Nov. 6th from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 7th from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 8th from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Thanksgiving Fund Drive

We all recognize that this has not been a 'normal' year. Because of covid, we did not have our 'normal' fall Children's Closet, fall rummage, or bake sale to raise funds to give the Thanksgiving donations to the eight community agencies we support annually. The Missions Committee would like to give our church members an opportunity to contribute to the important work these agencies accomplish.

The agencies are:
  • Food Bank of Siouxland
  • Mary Treglia Community House
  • Safe Place (formerly CSADV)
  • Sanford Center
  • Siouxland Soup Kitchen
  • Warming Shelter
  • Welcome Home
  • Women Aware

The Thanksgiving Fund Drive will collect your contributions for 5 Sundays beginning this Sunday, October 25, and continuing through November 22. Checks may be written to FCUCC and put in collection plates at church or mailed to Treasurer FCUCC at 4600 Hamilton Blvd, Sioux City 51104. Please write 'Thanksgiving Fund Drive' on the memo line.
*Please note that this should be a donation over-and-above your regular pledge/contribution to the life of our church.

Thank you,
The Missions Committee

FCUCC Thanksgiving Dinner

Plans are being made for our Annual Thanksgiving Dinner on Sunday, November 22nd. Although it will be somewhat different, we can still celebrate both together and separately. Information will be announced in next week's STTP.

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.


We are using new church management software in the office, which is called REALM by ACS Technologies, 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, 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 invitation to join/access our directory.

Sanford Center

The after school program at the Sanford Center could use donations of the following items:

Chicken Nuggets
Hot dogs and buns
Individual packaged servings of chips,
Treats (no peanuts),
Fruit cups
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. Thank you!

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:

Anne Shaner- 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 Ministry

MOB Needs:
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

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.

Current Needs:

3 Compartment To-Go Containers
To-Go Soup Bowls
Fresh Fruit
Paper Towels
Toilet Paper
Sandwich Bags
Salt and Pepper Packets
Tortilla Chips
Sliced Cheese
Stick Butter or Margarine

Erik's Closet Needs:
Shampoo and Conditioner
Face Masks
Plastic Bags

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