Two Services this Sunday 🎶🙏

Above is the before picture…

And now…as of today…

Wait for it…


Insert your “Oohs” and “Aahs”  here.  

Here is a close up of the tile so you can see the beautiful ways the light reflect off the grey tones:

Our sanctuary enhancement project continues to move forward ~ on time and on budget.  We are projecting to be back in our sanctuary with a dedication Sunday of September 17.

Insert your prayers here!

We continue to be so grateful to Bud Rives for his leadership and management of this project!
We are so grateful to those who showed up to help paint baseboards and clean choir bi-fold doors last Saturday!!
We are grateful to the work crews who have torn up tile, laid the new t-loop hearing system, and are putting in the new tile.   
We are grateful to Carol Fields, Doug Fields, and Don Hoy who are working hard t
o reupholster the chairs in the back of the sanctuary.   

There is still an opportunity to help with painting baseboard this Saturday, August 19.  Please contact Bud Rives for more information!!

With deep gratitude for our church ~ Wes

Thank you to Dr. Christine Hoffman for preaching and leading worship last Sunday.  Thank you to our moderator, Nancy Morris, for leading announcements.  Thank you to Greg Chestnut, our amazing choir, and our drumming group for a wonderful-spirit-filled service.


 TWO Services this Sunday ~
August 20 at 8:45 am & 11 am ~

Please note for 11 am: because the chairs are not bolted to the floor (like the pews), we are encouraging you to stand in body OR Spirit.  There is a row of chairs with arms to assist those who need help standing or you are welcome to sit at one of the round tables.  Please continue to use care when standing or sitting down in Syster Hall, the chairs do slide.

8:45 am ~ in the chapel ~ Pastor Wes will preach on 1 Thessalonians 5, selected verses.  

11 a.m. ~ in Syster Hall and online ~ Pastor Wes will preach on 1 Thessalonians 5, selected verses. Our amazing Chancel Choir will sing.

For our online viewers, we encourage you to stream on YouTube directly.  YouTube offers a GREAT experience for participating in the service.  You are welcome to continue to watch on Facebook right now.  Please note that our website is taking the feed from YouTube, so going directly to the platform will help.

Click Here to Watch on Facebook

Fellowship this Sunday, August 20: Did you know that August 4 was National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day?  Come celebrate with us during Fellowship Coffee Hour, and have a cookie.

Pastor Wes’s morning meditations this week have focused on reading the Psalms.  You can click here to read.


90+ Wise Birthdays 

8/3 ~   Bill Brackett
8/21 ~ Donald Dumford
8/24 ~ Ed Dupree


“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” Isaiah 43:19

To all Member Congregations:

We want to thank you for your continued support of SURE during the past 3 years.  It is no secret that our organization has been through some staff turnovers. This has caused difficulty in gaining ground on our issues, developing leaders, and growing our organization. But God is indeed doing a new thing in our midst!


At our May 15th meeting, the board voted in a Custodial Leadership Team (CLT) consisting solely of past SURE Co-chairs. This group of clergy got together in order to bring back stability, leadership, and vision to our organization. The CLT has already been at work interacting with the Hiring committee and bringing leadership to the SURE Board. The CLT consists of the following leaders:

Rev. Carla McCook – St. Margaret of Scotland Episcopal        
Rev. Vincent Smith – Trinity CFC
Rev. Wes Bixby – First Congregational UCC                  
Rev. Patrick Miller – Bethlehem Bible Church
Rev. John Walker – Retired Pastor.                                              
Rev. Wayne Farrell – St. Boniface Episcopal
Rev. Keturah Pittman – SURE Director of Clergy Engagement

In addition to this group of leaders, the Hiring Committee has been hard at work looking for a solution to our staffing needs. We are excited to bring you news that, in addition to the leadership of the CLT, we have brought on not one, but two staff members! 

First, we are thrilled to announce that we have hired Mackenzie Grimes as our Lead Organizer! Mackenzie is a Sarasota native, holds a Master’s Degree, and has been a teacher at Booker High and Riverview High for the past 9 years. Mackenzie is a smart, gifted, and energetic leader with a heart for justice in Sarasota. She has everything we were looking for except specific experience in the role. That is where our second hire comes in.

We are also thrilled to announce that we have hired Rev. Ryan McBride as our Temporary Executive Director! As a previous Lead Organizer for SURE, Ryan brings experience and leadership to our organization that the CLT, Board, and Hiring Committee agree will help them to stabilize SURE and accomplish the above-mentioned goals.  He will primarily work to oversee, mentor, and train Mackenzie for the next 12-18 months.

As this “New Thing” springs up among us at SURE, we invite you to mark your calendars for Monday, September 18th, at 6 p.m. at First Congregational United Church of Christ. We will hold our kickoff as well as a meet and greet with our new SURE staff!

We are excited about the fresh vision that God is bringing to our organization! Whether it’s been 10 years since you’ve been involved with SURE or you have remained fully committed to our efforts, we want you to please join us on September 18th as we relaunch with a renewed vision, enthusiasm, and resolve.


Please pray for family of Gail Johnson who passed away.  Services for Gail are planned for August 19 at 10 am in the chapel.

Please pray for Jane Delgado-Semidei whose husband, Joe passed away.  Please pray for Pamela and Bob Gore-Meade on the passing of Bob’s mother, Esther.  Please pray for Lee Smith on the passing of his sister, Sandra.

Millie Small on hospice care. 

Prayers for Nydia Muniz-Smith, Maria Duprez, Nancy Gillum, Chuck Shipman’s granddaughter (Barbara), Julia Detoff, Dick Sparrow, Kitty Miller, Jon Metzger, Melissa Hill, Michael Carone, John Hilficker, Helaine Eckstein,  Dr. Robert Bryant, Blaine Pool, Roger Weiss, Connie Schaefer, and who all continue to recover. 


Our very own, Gary LaParl is having an art show at Art Ovation Lobby Art Studio Aug. 15 – 21!

I’m excited to let you know that I will be the Artist in Residence at Art Ovation Hotel at 1255 N. Palm Ave in Sarasota from August 15 -21.  I’ll be in the Art Ovation Lobby Studio from 4PM to 8PM daily with a Public Reception on Friday, August 18 from 5PM to 7PM.  I’m calling this exhibit “Portraits from a Stolen Past,” and will feature oil paintings and oil collage works based on vintage portraits.  

I’ve always loved vintage portraits of same sex couples and have collected them for years.  Whether you perceive them as friends or partners, in many of them you can feel a melancholy as well as an excitement for sharing their friendship or relationship in a photo.  I love bringing these portraits to life with color and enhancing the positive elements off each image.

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

August 23: “How to Have a Voice and Lean into Conversations about Race” – TED Talks by Amanda Kemp. 
September 13: “The Urgency of Intersectionality” – TED Talks by Kimberle’ Crenshaw 
September 27: “We Need to Talk about an Injustice” – TED Talks by Bryan Stevenson 

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



Wednesday, August 16
Bible Study, 11 am, Oasis Center and Zoom

Thursday, August 17
Budget, Finance, and Stewardship, 3 pm, Zoom

Saturday, August 19
Service for Gail Johnson, 10 am, Chapel

Sunday, August 20 ~ TWO Worship 
Early Morning Worship, 8:45 am, Chapel
Sunday Worship, 11 am, in Syster Hall and online
Fellowship Time, noon, Syster Hall

Tuesday, August 22
COLLAGE Zoom, 11 am,
Spiritual Education and Growth, 2 pm, Oasis Center and Zoom
LGBTQ Grief Support Group, 6 pm, Oasis Center
Church Council, 6:30 pm, Chapel and Zoom






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