This Week


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“The Way to Wonder” by Lisle Gwynn Garrity    © Sanctified Art

When Everything Falls Apart

Everything Job holds dear—his property, his family, his wealth, his physical health—has been taken from him. Reduced to suffering and misery, Job laments his circumstances and tries to make sense of what has happened to him. How do we also seek to make meaning of our pain? Ultimately, Job discerns that God is the source of all wisdom, and to turn away from evil is to turn toward the heart of the world, which God made good.

Our worship series explores the theme “Unraveled: Seeking God when our plans fall apart.” What happens when our world falls apart? What does it look like to search for God in the gray area of our lives? How do we press onward when our tightly-knit plans unravel into loose threads? Sometimes we need to be unraveled—from shame, fear, patterns, or identities that cause harm. To unravel is to acknowledge and grieve what has fallen apart to allow God’s newness to unfurl.

A guided journal is available for each week of our series. To download and/or print you own copy, click here.

Scripture for this Sunday: Job 28:12-28

How to watch Sunday worship
The worship service is broadcast live on the church Facebook page and the church’s YouTube channel every Sunday at 10:00 am.
To watch worship on Facebook, go to
To watch on YouTube, go to

If you don’t see the service when you click on the link, try refreshing your browser. The videos typically being streaming less than 5 minutes before 10:00 so if it is before 10:00, please be patient and continue to refresh your browser.

Live stream videos are saved and can be viewed at any time.

Pastor Leslie’s sermons are posted online so you can read and share!
Click Here:
This Week
**Starting on August 1, all church Zoom Gatherings will use this link:  or

Friday, July 31
9:30 am – COVID Task Force Meeting
11:00 am – Book Study Group at Gregory Park

Saturday, August 1
10:00 am – Memorial Service for Mona @ Arboretum

Sunday, August 2
8:30 am – Book Study, “How God Changes Your Brain”
10:00 am – Online Worship & Communion
11:00 – Fellowship Hour via Zoom

Wednesday, August 5
9:30 am – Devotional Time on Zoom before Prayer Circle
10:00 am – Prayer Circle online via Zoom

**Pastor Leslie will be away on retreat 8/4 through 8/9/20**

Keep reading for information about online gatherings and Zoom Links

Poetry Happy Hour via Zoom!
Fourth Friday of each month at 4:30 pm – Join us for a Poetry Happy Hour!
We will take turns reading aloud (it is completely fine and wonderful if you simply wish to listen and enjoy). We will be reading the collection: Stone Gathering: A reader. Volume II, Issue I Summer 2020. Published locally in Brainerd.
“Each poem, each small fiction, each short essay is itself a small kindness rock; inscribed with a message, a color, a texture, a weight, freely given in generosity and also in certainty that some one will discover it, reach for it, need it.”
– Rosemerry Wahrola Trommer, author of Naked for Tea and Even

Copies Available at Crow Wing Co-op or The Crossing Arts Alliance, or at Danielle Dufy’s website. Read more about Danielle Dufy Literary here:

ZOOM Info: or
Meeting ID: 645 235 0419  Password: 56401
Or join by phone:  +1 312 626 6799, Meeting ID: 645 235 0419, password: 56401


Thanks to a VERY GENEROUS Donation by one of our church members, we are able to offer all of these webinars FOR FREE!!!!

You are encouraged to attend one or all of these webinars.
Expand your understanding of a variety of LGBTQ topics as well as ways to deepen our Open and Affirming (ONA) commitment as a congregation.

Thursday August 6 – ONA 201
Tuesday August 11 – Bisexuality/Pansexuality 101 
Thursday August 13 – Bisexuality/Pansexuality 201 
For descriptions of each webinar, click HERE
All webinars begin at 7 pm CDT.
Use this link to participate in any of the webinars:

Dave sends THANKS!

The birthday parade on Sunday July 19th for David Crum’s 90th birhtday was an awesome success as well as a complete surprise.
And the appearance of Hilda (Itty) and Lena (Sharon) was over the top.
Dave was very curious as to why he was sitting at the edge of the road, and then the cars started coming. It was thrilling (for both of us) to see friends in person. Thanks to Jean Schaeffer and Karen Ford for organizing it and to every friend who participated. It was a memorable gift!
~ Bonnie Crum
Friday Book Study Group
The Book Group meets each Friday at 11:00 am at Gregory Park picnic shelter (on the West side of the park). If there’s a thunderstorm or pouring rain at that time, we’ll cancel (An email or text will be sent that morning).  We will observe appropriate social distancing. Please also wear a mask. We will begin the book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari.
Sunday Morning Book Study Group
Over the next few months, we will reading a few different books together and we hope you will join us! The Books (in order we plan to read them) are as follows:
1) How God Changes your Brain: Breakthrough Findings From A Leading Neuroscientist by Andrew Newberg, MD and Mark Robert Waldman. Begin reading August 2nd.
2) Einstein’s God by Christa Tippett.
Habitat for Humanity Faith Build
Ellie Burkett –  First Congregational church
liaison for this build
Faith Build from Cathy Wells NEW UPDATE – July 29th

Dear Friends,
I took these pictures to show you the progress we have made in recent days inside the Johnson’s home.

With the limitations put on us by COVID-19 we are not asking for volunteers at the house this next week.  We certainly welcome you to drive by and see the “almost complete” project.  As I said in last week’s update, we will need help laying sod once the sidewalk and driveway are in.

For now, please continue to pray for Habitat for Humanity and Dale, Katie and Anthony Johnson.  Your prayers are so important to the success of the Thrivent Faith Build.  Together we are working to end poverty housing and change lives in our community.  Thank you.

God bless,
Cathy Wells, Support Staff, Lakes Area Habitat For Humanity

Online Gathering Opportunities
We may not be gathering in person, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get together! Check out these opportunities to connect with your church.

**Starting on August 1, all church Zoom Gatherings will use this link:  or

Poetry Happy Hour! via Zoom – Fourth Friday of each month at 4:30 pm
The name has been changed to Poetry Happy Hour! Also the time has been changed from 5:30 PM to 4:30 PM. We will take turns reading aloud (it is completely fine and wonderful if you simply wish to listen and enjoy).
We will be reading the collection: Stone Gathering: A reader. Volume II, Issue I Sumer 2020. Published locally in Brainerd. Each poem, each small fiction, each short essay is itself a small kindness rock; inscribed with a message, a color, a texture, a weight, freely given in generosity and also in certainty that some one will discover it, reach for it, need it. – Rosemerry Wahrola Trommer, author of Naked for Tea and Even Now.
Available at Crow Wing Co-op or The Crossing Arts Alliance (maybe available other places as well and possibly at Kitchigami Public Library) or at Danielle Dufy’s website. Danielle Dufy Literary is a new and very independent literary company committed to getting more short literature that matters into the hands and hearts of a wider readership. To that end, we publish Stone Gathering: A Reader–a collection of poems, small fictions, and short essays–5 times each year: there are four quarterly issues and an annual (themed) special issue. or
Meeting ID: 645 235 0419  Password: 56401
Or join by phone:  +1 312 626 6799, Meeting ID: 645 235 0419, password: 56401

Process Film Group via Zoom
This group meets on the 3rd Friday of each month from 7:00 – 9:00 pm. Password: ProFilm.
August movie: The Hate You Give – Starr Carter is constantly switching between two worlds — the poor, mostly black neighborhood where she lives and the wealthy, mostly white prep school that she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is soon shattered when she witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend at the hands of a police officer. Facing pressure from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and decide to stand up for what’s right.  
Please watch the movie before the discussion. It is available on HBO, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play and perhaps other streaming services. You may be able to watch it as part of your subscription or rent. It is $3.99 on YouTube.
What is Process Film Group? We watch a movie and discuss it using Progressive Theology as our guide. This is an open group, but we ask people to sign up – email Ellie Burkett at if you want to be added to the list.

Sunday Morning Book Study Sundays at 8:30 am
We will begin discussing chapters 1 and 2 of How God Changes Your Brain on 8/2/20.
Connect using the following link:
You may also use a tinyurl that would be easier to remember and shorter for sharing: 
If you prefer to call in and use audio only, here is the information to join by phone:
Dial 1-312-626-6799       Meeting ID: 645 235 0419      Passcode: 56401

Fellowship Hour via Zoom!
Join in Fellowship by Zoom. Starting immediately after worship, hop on to Zoom and say hello!
Join by computer or smartphone:
Join by phone dial 1-312-626-6799, Meeting ID: 938 4659 1823, password: 56401

Wednesday Morning Devotional 9:30 – 9:55 am
Prior to Prayer Circle, join Pastor Leslie at 9:30 am every Wednesday for a brief devotional time. Stay on for Prayer Circle at 10:00 or just tune in for the devotional time.
Click here to participate:
By phone: dial 1-312-626-6799, meeting code: 143-352-001, password 56401.

Prayer Circle Wednesday Mornings at 10:00 am
Join our prayer circle for a time of fellowship, conversation, and prayer from 10:00 am – 11:30 am every Wednesday.
Join by computer:
By phone: dial 1-312-626-6799, meeting code: 143-352-001 password 56401.

“Daily Bread” with Pastor Leslie on Facebook Live
Tune in at Noon Wednesdays – Fridays for a short time of prayer, pause, and reflection via Livestream on Pastor Leslie’s Facebook page. Click here at noon each day to participate live or to view recorded videos at any time:

“Story Time” with Pastor Leslie on Facebook Live
Tune in at 4:00 pm every Friday for a short story time on Pastor Leslie’s Facebook page. Click here to participate live or view recorded videos any time:

New to Zoom? Try it out! I recommend joining a “test meeting” in advance. Click here to practice.

Your Financial Support of the Church Matters!
A significant portion of the church’s financial support is received during worship on Sunday mornings. When we don’t gather in person, our income takes a hit. We realize that for many of you, this is a time of financial uncertainty. If you are able to continue supporting the church with your financial gifts, we encourage you to do so. We may not be gathering in person right now, but we are continuing to Be the Church in new ways!
We also understand if you need to reduce your giving right now. If you are signed up for electronic giving and need to reduce the amount you contribute, please contact Terri in the office. If you are able to increase your giving to help cover the decrease we are likely to see, please also contact Terri in the office to make that adjustment.

You can now donate to the church online! We are now accepting your offerings and donations using PayPal. You do not need to have a PayPal account to make an online donation with a credit card. To contribute using PayPal, click here:

Important Information For Groups who meet at First Congregational
As restrictions for small group gatherings are easing, we know that some of the groups who use our building are resuming their gatherings.
Please click here to read our expectations for groups meeting in our building at this time.
Crisis Services – All are available 24-hours, FREE and confidential
Bridges of Hope: 218-825-4357 or 1-800-462-7682
Crisis Line & Referral Service: 218-828-4357, 218-828-HELP or 1-800-462-5525
CRISIS: from cell phone call CRISIS (274747)
Crisis Nursery-Crow Wing County: 218-692-2859
Crisis Text Line: Text “MN” or HopeLine” to 741741
Minnesota 1st Call for Help: 211
Minnesota Farm & Rural Helpline: 833-600-2670
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Poison Control Center: 1-800-222-1222
Suicide & Mental Illness: 1-800-462-5525
Teen Crisis Line: 310-855-4673
The Trevor Project (LGBTQ Crisis & Suicide Hotline – Youth under 25): 866-488-7386
Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860
Veteran’s Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 – press 1
WARMLINE: Speak with peers who are there to listen and support adults experiencing emotional distress. 1-844-739-6369 from 5:00pm -7:00am.
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415 Juniper Street
Brainerd, MN 56401