Straight to the Point
October 27, 2020
Prayer for the Way Forward

It doesn't have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don't try
to make them elaborate, this isn't
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
         -- Mary Oliver

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

The Saints and Poets Do
According to the old play, Our Town, by Thornton Wilder, Emily Gibbs had died during childbirth as a young woman and was buried in the cemetery on the hill, high above Grover’s Corners. Through the miracle of play writing, she was allowed to return to life for just one day. Emily is counseled against such a choice by the others in the cemetery but she insists. 

Emily returns to relive her 12th birthday. The scene opens on her 12th birthday. Her mother is in the kitchen, busy with pots and pans, preparing for another meal, another day. Everyone in the family seems busy – too busy to notice each other or to touch each other. At one point, Emily is so frustrated that she pleads: “Oh, mama, look at me one time as though you really saw me.” 

She feels life going by so fast, too fast to notice it. Emily finally has had enough. She can’t go on and asks to be taken back to the cemetery on the hill, but first she must have one more look. Listen to her goodbyes: “Goodbye, earth. Goodbye, Grover’s Corners. Goodbye, mama and papa. Goodbye to clocks ticking and to Mama’s sunflowers and to food and coffee and new ironed dresses and to hot baths and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you are too wonderful for anyone to realize you. Does anyone ever realize life while they live it? Or, are we blind to it all?”

And the stage manager answers Emily’s rhetorical questions: “The saints and poets, maybe – they do some.” The saints and poets do…they realize life while they live it. The saints and poets do...sometimes!

More than sometimes…I am grateful and amazed at the great cloud of witnesses who surround us, who testify to the wisdom of paying attention to this one, precious life we have; who proclaim that God is not found separate from the world of time and space, but that God is found in the right here, right now, is-ness of life. Yes, the saints and poets, the artists and writers and musicians, the gardeners and birdwatchers, the scientists and mystics can, and often do call us to pay attention to the miracle of life and the very life-giving presence of God that is pulsating and real and right in front of our noses!

As we approach All Saint’s Day I like to think that the saints (as well as poets) are not asking us to look at them and try to see a world beyond this one, but Instead that are calling us to set our gaze at that which is right in front of us and all around us. As Elizabeth Barrett Browning penned: “Earth’s crammed with heaven, each common bush aflame with God. Yet only he who sees takes off his shoes. The rest set around and pluck blackberries.”

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 Schedule:

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

November 8th - 23rd Sunday after Pentecost - Communion - Sunday Service at 10:30 a.m.
  • Congregational Meeting to follow after Sunday's worship service - Church Finances

Exciting news! Church Nursery Update
PLEASE contact Ginger France if you are willing to volunteer.

The Church Nursery will be open during the Sunday 10:30 Worship Service starting Sunday, November 1, 2020. Jessica Orr will be returning as the Nursery Coordinator and she is very excited to see the children again!  With her help, the toys have been sorted and cleaned out and ready for kids to use. Ginger France is putting together a schedule of volunteers to act as the 2nd adult in the Nursery each Sunday.

Guidelines for the Nursery 
  • Temperature to be taken at the door for adults and children before entering the nursery 
  • Upon arrival adults and children will wash their hands 
  • All adults must wear a mask 
  • There will be 2 adults in the Nursery at all times with the children
  • Children over the age of 2 should try and wear a mask or a face-shield  
  • Children age 3 and up must wear a mask 
  • All dress up, plush toys and extra pillows will be removed
  • If a toy is soiled meaning it has been sneezed on, coughed on, or put in a child’s mouth it will be placed in a bucket that is out of reach and will be cleaned and disinfected at the end of the day 
  • Items that cannot be cleaned easily such as books, blocks, crayons, markers, play-dough and paper will be rotated. Used for one day and then put away for a week. With each basket being used every 2-3 weeks depending upon supplies
  • All hard surfaces (toy shelves, doorknobs etc.) will be cleaned and disinfected at the end of each day.
  • All tables will be cleaned and disinfected before children arrive and at the end of the day.
  • If a table or surface is dirtied (any bodily fluids), it will be cleaned and disinfected as soon as possible
  • Toys will be cleaned and disinfected at the end of each day
  • All toys will be rotated where possible
  • A snack will not be provided at this time, if the parent/guardian of the child feels their child needs a drink they must provide it. The child will sit at table with their drink.
Estate Sale
Hosted by Randy Peters

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
Hosted by The Missions Committee

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

A Note from some of these agencies:

Mary J. Treglia Community House was established in 1921 to serve the needs of newcomers to the Siouxland Community. Throughout it’s nearly 100 year history and beginning with Mary J. Treglia herself, the organization has worked to identify the needs of the immigrant population in Siouxland through education, services, advocacy and celebration of diversity. This continues today as Mary J Treglia Community House board and staff envisions a vital and diverse Siouxland community of self-sufficient, responsible, and engaged residents. We accomplish through programming such as a DHS accredited Preschool Program, Translation/ Interpretation Services, Legal Immigration Services, Adult English Language Learning, Cultural Competency and Community Outreach, and Family Services. Annually, nearly 2210 (unduplicated) families are served.
Thank you for your continued support! Stay healthy and Safe.

FCUCC Thanksgiving Dinner
Sunday, November 22, 2020
Submitted by Nan Cord

The turkey, dressing, potatoes and gravy have been ordered for our traditional Thanksgiving dinner. However, due to the high number of coronavirus cases in our area, we won't be able to all dine together in our Fellowship Hall. Therefore, the food will be put into individual take-out containers to be eaten in our homes while remaining together in spirit. The dinners will be handed out following our Sunday service on November 22nd. If those of you not comfortable attending the service want to participate, you may drive up and it will be brought to you.

Reservations must be made by Monday, November 16th. Sign-up sheets will be available at the church. You may also email or call the church by the 16th. A donation toward the cost of the dinner will be required. I f donations exceed the food expense, the balance will go toward the Thanksgiving Fund Drive for the community agencies.
Time to Save Receipts
Submitted by Ginger France

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
Submitted by Barb Knepper

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.

Managed by Tiffany Watts, Church Administrator

We are using new church management software in the office, which is called REALM by ACS Technologies, and this includes a digital directory. 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
Submitted by Jan Nowlen

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!
Submitted by Ellen Shaner

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!
Updates from Church Treasurer

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

Admiration Series Update
Hosted by Todd Siefker

Starting this Sunday, November 1, 2020, the Admiration Series will start reading David Brooks’ book The Road to Character. This book has been a real blessing to me.  I really think this will be an enriching study for our faith community. I invite you (and a friend) to this study. 

David Brooks strongly believes that a part of the healing balm for people living in the midst of a collective moral crisis is to immerse themselves in the examples of people who have thrived in challenging times.

This course/discussion/book study will be offered simultaneously on Zoom as well in person at church at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings starting this Sunday.  

Please feel free to purchase a copy of David Brooks’ book The Road to Character from Random House (2015) on line. If you don't purchase the book, you can still participate in the discussion. We will also use videos and photo copies for upcoming readings.  

Updates from Jan Nowlen

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:

Constance Popken - 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
Submitted by Ginger France

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. 

Updates from Tiffany Watts, Church Administrator

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
Updates from Jan Nowlen

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
Updates from Jan Nowlen

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.
STTP Submissions
Under Pastor Mikes direction we have begin to notate submissions and who is hosing different events, so that the proper people can be notified/contacted should questions arise. If you need any help getting in contact with the peoole who have submitted anything to the newsletter please call or email the office and Tiffany will be happy to help you get in touch with them.
Church Office Hours
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday

Church Staff:

Rev. Dr. Michael Castle, Pastor

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