Two Services this Sunday 🎶🙏

Sanctuary Enhancement Project

This week new baseboards were installed in the sanctuary and the chancel steps are being refinished.  Thank you to everyone who helped paint the baseboards over the last few Saturdays!! 

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.

Next week, pews will be moved back into the sanctuary ~ prayers for good weather!
We continue to be grateful to Bud Rives for his leadership and management of this project!

We are grateful to the work crews who have torn up tile, laid the new t-loop hearing system, installed the new tile and baseboards.
We are grateful to Carol Fields, Doug Fields, and Don Hoy who are working hard to reupholster the chairs in the back of the sanctuary.   

This Saturday ~ August 26 at 8 am ~ we could use YOUR help to dust!  We will have Clorox wipes to help clean window ledges and all the nooks/crannies where dust has settled over the last few months.  If you have a Swiffer Wet Jet, please bring with any feather dusters.  Many hands make light work.  You are welcome to come at anytime and for as long as you can Saturday morning before 11 am

On Saturday, September 2 we will Murphy Soap Oil the pews.  You can help bless the sanctuary as we prepare for the rededication.   


 TWO Services this Sunday ~
August 27 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 Timothy, Poured Out.

11 a.m. ~ in Syster Hall and online ~ Pastor Wes will preach on 1 Timothy, Poured Out.  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 27 will be Ice Cream Treats

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

Please note that on Labor Day Weekend, there will be ONE Service on September 3rd at 11 am in Syster Hall and Online.


90+ Wise Birthdays in September

8/21 ~ Donald Dumford
8/24 ~ Ed Dupree
9/1 ~    Rev. Dr. Robert Bryant
9/5 ~    Barbara Mask
9/12 ~   Guy Spencer
9/19 ~   Joann Evans


Family Promise Francis House Volunteer Opportunities.       An expectant mother with two children, ages 8 and 18 months moved into Francis House the weekend of August 12.  She is currently working so Family Promise congregations will help her by supplying a hot healthy meal once each weekend.  First Congregational, UCC will supply meals in September with the help of our volunteers. Volunteers, who are interested, will also be attending one of two possible training events so that they can interact with the mother and children.  Thank you for the support of time, money, food and supplies that so many of you have given to Family Promise.  We ask for your prayers as the search for a center/shelter continues so that the shelter program for families can be started again. If so, please contact Ellen Marsey or Dotty Reed and they will be glad to add you to the year-round list and/or send you a current list of specific volunteer opportunities.


COLLAGE visit from Tom Edwards, LGBTQ+ Sarasota School Board member, will be speaking to COLLAGE on September 10, 12-1:00, in Syster Hall. He will share his thoughts on professional and personal experiences in the LGBTQ+ community. All church members are invited. Feel free to bring a friend. In lieu of a full luncheon, snacks will be available. 


“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.


The Mission Team encourages you to give to the Hawaii Conference of the United Church of Christ following the devasting fire there.  You can donate by clicking here.  The United Church of Christ as a LONG relationship with our siblings there and we want to offer our love and financial resources in these days.

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 cousin who was like a sister, Sandra.

Millie Small on hospice care. 

Prayers for Pat Myers, 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. 


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 23
Bible Study, 11 am, Oasis Center and Zoom
Sacred Conversations on Race, 3 pm, Oasis Center and Zoom

Sunday, August 27 ~ TWO Worship 
Early Morning Worship, 8:45 am, Chapel
Sunday Worship, 11 am, in Syster Hall and online
Fellowship Time (ice cream treats), noon, Syster Hall

Monday, August 28
Greg Chestnut on vacation through September 12
Covenant Groups Conversation, 11 am, Zoom
Hunger Group, 2 pm, Zoom

Tuesday, August 29
Bible Study, 6:30 pm, Zoom

Please note on Sunday, September 3rd, Labor Day Weekend, we will have ONE Service at 11 am in Syster Hall and online.  It is also birthday Sunday!  While Greg is on a well-deserved vacation, we welcome Cynthia Roberts-Greene to play for us.






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