Worship this Sunday

FEAST begins Tomorrow!!

During February, we welcome the return of FEAST (Friends Eating And Studying Together).  We will meet on Thursday mornings beginning February 22 (as well as February 29, March 7 and 14) at 10:30 a.m. for coffee, fruit, and goodies.   This will be a holy time of conversations that connect us.  Lent this year is a time to celebrate our relationships as a church, as well as welcome new folks to share parts of their life and faith.  We live in a world where isolation is a problem, this gathering will offer the holy experience of sharing stories and getting to know each other better.  Please plan to attend and bring 10 friends!


 Two Services February 25 ~

 8:45 a.m. in the chapel
11 a.m. in the sanctuary and online ~ 


8:45 a.m. ~¬†Join us in the chapel as we worship together.¬† Pastor Wes will preach on the parable of the Good Samaritan/God’s Loving Kindness.¬†¬†All are welcome.¬†

11:00 a.m. ~ in the sanctuary and online ~ Please join us this Sunday ~ in the sanctuary or online.  Our amazing choir will sing, The Servant Song echoing the words of the Good Samaritan that Pastor Wes is preaching.  All are welcome.

For our online viewers, we encourage you to stream on YouTube directly ~ rather than from our website.  If you arrive on YouTube before 10:55 a.m. you will need to refresh/reload the page.  We encourage you to log on to YouTube or Facebook after 10:55 a.m.  If you have questions, let us know.  
Click Here to Watch on Facebook

Pastor Wes’s Morning Meditations on continued reflections on the Good Samaritan~¬†¬†You can click here to read.

Lenten invitation ~ prayerful read the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) and the Parable of the Prodigal Family (Luke 15:11-32). For me, these two narratives represent the Gospel Medicine to our lives.  They are gospel in a nutshell.  


Racial Justice Mission Group and COLLAGE are co-sponsoring a viewing of Rustin right after worship service this coming Sunday, February 25 in Syster Hall.  Please RSVP by calling the church office by Thursday!

The movie tells the story of Bayard Rustin who orchestrated the 1963 March on Washington.¬† He faced racism and homophobia as part of his participation in Civil Rights.¬† Bayard Rustin famously proclaimed, “We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers.”¬† The film stars Oscar best actor nominee, Colman Domingo.¬† ¬†

A light lunch will be served and discussion will follow the film.  Please sign-up after church or call the church office.  


A heartfelt thank you to everyone who helped make our anniversary kick-off luncheon a success!  Thank you to my fellow members on the Fellowship Team, the members of the Growing and Caring Team, all the generous people who brought a dish to share, those who helped clean up, and everyone who joined in the fellowship of a meal together.  Let’s keep up the celebration momentum, and continue to share in the fellowship of our congregation throughout the year! Stay tuned for future events.  From Sandy Smith


Help Us Fill Our Celebration Jars
Make a Word Cloud

In 2024 we are celebrating the rich history of our 70th anniversary as a vibrant community church.

We are also celebrating 35 years of Greg Chestnut as our minister of music sharing his passion and “Making a Joyful Noise!‚ÄĚ

Celebrations include Pastor Wes Bixby as our senior minister guiding us on this journey for 10 years ‚ÄúGiving Us His All‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒand then some!

We need your words describing what our church, Greg, and Wes mean to you‚ÄĒone or two words per slip. (i.e. Spirit-filled, Inclusive, Loving . . . .) ¬† ¬†
Our three jars will rotate between Syster Hall, the Narthex or outer office. ¬†Place your words for each in the appropriate jar. ¬†Multiple slips are encouraged‚ÄĒwe know one word will never fully show our love!

Whether you are attending in person or online, please consider providing your words describing your gratitude for this church, Greg, and Wes. 

You may also mail your responses to:

First Congregational UCC
Attn:  Celebrate
1031 S. Euclid Avenue
Sarasota, FL  34247

We can’t wait to share the results and celebrate our blessings!
Harold, Carol, and Nancy (Your moderators)

Your responses by February 29th please.

Sacred Conversations on Race ~ gathers at 3 pm in the Oasis Center and on Zoom on the following date:

February 28: The Little Problem I Had Renting a House РTED Talk by James A White, Sr.  

March 13: How Racial Bias Works – and How to Disrupt it – TED Talk by Jennifer L. Eberhardt

March 27: A Tale of Two Americas, and the Mini-Mart Where They Collided РTED Talk by Anand Giridharadas  

All are welcome!  You can join either in person in the Oasis Center or on Zoom.  Please see Jim Crumel for more information.


The Wayless Way ~ Your Life as a Curriculum ~
In March, The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen (March 11 and 25).

We continue to lean in and listen to the wisdom of others in our Wayless Way Book Club.¬† Next month, we will turn our hearts to a Christian Classic by Henri Nouwen.¬† This is a wonderful way to dive into one of the most central parables in Luke’s gospel.¬†¬†

In April, No Cure for Being Human by Kate Bowler (April 8 and 22).  

The Seventh Story Podcast Series by Brian McLaren (May 13).  


Thinking of Joining our Church?

On March 3rd we will offer a light luncheon and discussion in the Oasis Center after the 11:00 a.m. service for those who would like to know more about our church. Come with your questions and meet others ~ there is no obligation to join.  Please RSVP by calling the church office.  

Should you decide you like what you hear, and this is the church for you, we will welcome you in membership on New Member Sunday, March 17th at either the 8:45 a.m. or 11 a.m. service, whichever works best for you.

A reception to meet and greet our new members will take place after the 11 a.m. service. You are welcome to contact the church office and have a conversation with Pastor Wes at any time.


Please pray for Ellie White on hospice care. 
Jim Crumel in the hospital
Tom Glover, husband of Sherry Glover (our admin. assist.) recovering after hospitalization. 
All in our church who have COVID.  

Prayers for Norm Wilcox, Pat Grubb, Susan Moore, Greg Chestnut, Sherry Glover’s brother, Gary; Steve Horowitz; George Handley; Gib Mitchell; Bill Brackett; Garvey Clarke; Sandy Dowty, Jerry Oliver; family of Chris Pickett; Helaine Eckstein; Jean Kerrigan; Karen Barber; Scott Nutter; Kika Landers; Sylvia Abreu; Tom Briggs; Al Cady; Lloyd Kalisak; Lainey Pitt; Nydia Muniz-Smith; Maria Duprez’s daughter Yvonne; Chuck Shipman’s granddaughter (Barbara); Michael Carone; Dr. Robert Bryant; Roger Weiss; Connie Schaefer; and who all continue to recover.¬†


Our Prayers for Armenia 
By Jeff Jones

Throughout its history Armenia and its people have had to deal with times of struggle and violence. The most horrific of these was the massacre of between 600,000 and 1,000,000 people living in and escaping from the Ottoman Empire during World War I. Later, the country was part of Soviet Union until 1991, after which it began a struggle to exist as a democratic nation surrounded by authoritarian states. In recent years the greatest struggle has concerned the large number of ethic Armenians who are the dominant group living in an area that most nations consider part of Azerbaijan. Last July Azerbaijan shut down the one access road to this province, eliminating the ability for Armenia to provide essential supplies. Then in September Azerbaijan launch a military offensive against the province, seeking the evacuation of the ethnic Armenians who lived there. Within a few weeks more than 100,000 people left their homes and belongings and journeyed to Armenia. The refugees brought nothing with them. Their most basic needs for food and shelter still need to be met. Many are suffering from the mental health issues associated with the loss of homes and possessions and uncertainty about the future. Relief agencies are at work but there are still challenges that need to be met. There are troubled nations throughout the world that are suffering greatly and need our prayers. Armenia and its people are certainly among them.


Join us at noon, Sunday, March 3, in Syster Hall, for our Offering of Letters. We will write letters to our Representatives to encourage them to support the Farm Bill.

By taking part in Bread for the World‚Äôs 2024 Offering of Letters, you will help support domestic and international nutrition programs that offer a hand up to families and a brighter future for children. Your letter matters. Combined with others from your church, campus, or organization‚ÄĒand joined with the voices of thousands of advocates across the country‚ÄĒyour letter is an expression of faith and hope, urging U.S. decision makers to pursue a world without hunger. God uses these letters to change hearts and minds, and again and again, Bread for the World wins help and opportunity for our neighbors who face hunger. ¬†¬†


Offering a new and very special way to pray, the First UCC Women‚Äôs Association has invited author and teacher Sybil MacBeth to show us how to ‚ÄúPray in Color.‚ÄĚ Join us on Tuesday, March 5, 11:30 am in Syster Hall for doodling with pen and markers on paper. We will learn a versatile and meditative prayer practice that includes praying for others and addressing the daily stresses of life and work. Absolutely no artistic ability is necessary! Luncheon costs $12. Sign up after either Sunday service or call the church office at 941-953-7044. ¬†Sybil MacBeth is the author of the series of books called Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God and a practical guide called The Season of the Nativity: Confessions and Practices of an Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany Extremist. Check out her website and blog at prayingincolor.com.¬†


The 2024 Altar flower chart is now available and waiting for you!  If you have an anniversary, birthday, special occasion in the coming months, please call and reserve a Sunday today.  Cost of bouquet is $40 each.  Thank you for bringing the beauty of creation into our worship on Sunday.


Hunger Walk
Sunday, March 24th (before church)

Team with us and walk to end summer hunger with All Faiths Food Bank.

The Peace & Justice Team along with the The Food and Hunger Group re supporting this effort.  Choose a one mile or 5k (about 3 miles) walk.  The $25 signup fee includes a t-shirt

The walk starts at 8:15 a.m. at Nathan Benderson Park.  

Note: this is Palm Sunday, but participants who walk a mile, should be able to make it to church in time for the 11 a.m. worship.  Walkers will be recognized during announcements so wear your t-shirts and be ready to stand and wave your palm branch.

Please notify Barbara Smith-Bacon or Ellen Marsey that you intend to walk and here is the registration link:

Click here to register!



Wednesday, February 21
Wednesday Morning Bible Study, 11 a.m., Oasis Center and Zoom
Chancel Choir, 7 p.m., Chapel

Thursday, February 22
FEAST (Friends Eating and Studying Together), 10:30 a.m., Syster Hall
Mission Team, 1 p.m., Oasis Center and Zoom
Staffing Team, 3 p.m., Oasis Center and Zoom

Sunday, February 25
Early Worship, 8:45 a.m., Chapel
Sunday Worship, 11 a.m., in Sanctuary and online 
Rustin Movie, noon, Syster Hall ~ please sign up by Thursday to attend!

Monday, February 26
Wayless Way Book Club, 4 p.m., Oasis Center & Zoom

Tuesday, February 27

COLLAGE Meeting, 11 a.m., Oasis Center and Zoom
Tuesday Bible Study, 4 p.m., Zoom
SURE (Sarasota for Responsibility and Equity) Rally ~ see below
             Bethlehem Bible ~ 6 p.m.




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