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Holy Vessels: Safekeeping

We praise God for “gathering” us as a Beachcomber gathers and marvels at each precious surviving piece of beach glass she finds. We are never alone, the lost is found, and healing can be a real possibility in the hands of the Body of Christ. We pray that this Lenten journey will become a time of healing—on personal, communal and global levels—and we pray that the church will be the true Body of Christ, a place of “safekeeping,” a safe space for all.

Join us for worship in-person and online at 10:00 am.

Scripture:  Luke 15:3-10                Liturgist: Deb Griffith




Ecclesiastical Council for Steve Newcom

Thursday, February 29th at 6:00 - 7:30 pm 

You are invited to come and support Steve's journey of seeking ordained ministerial standing in the UCC. The purpose of an Ecclesiastical Council (EC for short) is to provide an opportunity for the candidate to demonstrate the ability to communicate a theological understanding of faith, the church, and its ministry in ways that approximate the preaching and teaching expectations of ordained ministry.

In-person at First Congregational UCC in Brainerd and Zoom:
If the Zoom meeting window does not automatically launch, click "Launch Meeting"
By phone: dial 1 312 626 6799, Meeting ID: 645 235 0419, password: 56401



Church Office Hours:
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Phone: 218-829-2528

Terri Admin Asst. Vacation Days:
February 21, 22, 23 & 29
Office Closed Friday, February 23rd


Pastor Leslie's Schedule
Pastor Leslie's workdays: Sunday through Thursday

Drop-in Hours
Wednesdays 11:00 am - 1:00 pm  &  Thursdays 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

*Drop-in hours are times set aside for “drop-in” conversations, much like a professor’s office hours. Pastor Leslie is typically working at the church the rest of the week, but it is possible that she may be in meetings, at a community event, or working off-site.

Everyone is encouraged to make an appointment if the above times are not convenient. You can go to and select a day and time that works for you, or you can email Pastor Leslie at or call/text at 218-656-0096.



This Week
**Unless specified otherwise, all church Zoom Gatherings use this link:
If the Zoom meeting window does not automatically launch, click "Launch Meeting"
By phone: dial 1 312 626 6799, Meeting ID: 645 235 0419, password: 56401

Friday, February 23
Terri Admin. Asst. Vacation Day
Office Closed
10:30 am - Book Group via Zoom

Sunday Worship, February 25
10:00 am - Worship Service in-person and Facebook Live
11:00 am - Fellowship in Fellowship Hall
Special Offering: My Neighbor To Love 
**Newsletter Deadline

Monday, February 26
3:00 pm - Renewal Leave Team Meeting in-person

Wednesday, February 28
11:45 am - Men's Fellowship @ Perkins
1:30 pm - PRC Meeting in-person

Thursday, February 29
Terri Admin. Asst. Vacation Day
11:30 am - Women's Luncheon @ Front Street Cafe
6:00 pm - Steve Newcome Ecclesiastical Council in-person & Zoom

Friday, March 1
10:30 am - Book Group via Zoom
6:30 pm - Movie Night in-person Fellowship Hall

Sunday Worship, March 3
Blessing Service for Pastor Leslie Renewal Time
T. Michael Rock Attending and Co-lead Worship Service
10:00 am - Worship Service & Communion in-person and Facebook Live
11:00 am - Fellowship in Fellowship Hall
11:30 am - Luncheon Served
Dan Hegstad Photo taking for Directory



Hosts, Ushers, Greeters, Scripture readers
Sign up on the clipboard in the narthex or click here to go to

H.U.G.S. this  Sunday, February 25
Host: Maria Bertram & Marina Grabowski
Greeter/Ushers: Shirley Carper
Counters: Tracy Lyons & Judy Whiteman

H.U.G.S. next  Sunday, March 3
Host: Christian Ministry - Lunch Served
Greeter/Ushers: Shirley Carper
Counters: Reed Campbell & Judy Whiteman

Liturgist: Sunday, February 25 - Deb Griffith
Liturgist: Sunday, March 3 - Open


Special Offering - Sunday Worship February 25
My Neighbor To Love Coalition

Ending homelessness in the Brainerd Lakes area with a comprehensive approach. Building homes, connecting people, offering hope. The mission is to increase the stability, health, safety, and wealth of our most economically disadvantaged community members by creating affordable housing in an intentional living community. Our goal is not to keep people more comfortably homeless, but to end homelessness altogether. Building small, connected rental homes within an intentional living community in NW Brainer – Creekside Community. Learn more at:

Please send your donation to First Congregational UCC, 415 Juniper St. Brainerd, MN 56401. Or for your convenience use our Paypal account at:
Make sure to note on your offering: “Special Offering Neighbor to Love”. Thank you!



























Sunday, March 3rd Luncheon after Blessing Worship Service
Sign-up sheet is in the Narthex.
We are serving pulled pork sandwiches, with the congregation contributing salads and other side dishes.
If you can, please bring your own plates and utensils, to cut down on the cleanup after.
Of course we will have dishes and utensils for anyone who needs them! Thanks so much!

Church Directory To Be Updated for 2024

Dan Hegstad will also be taking photos of your beautiful faces to be included in the directory after worship on the first two Sundays, March 3 & 10!
If you do not have a picture taken by Dan, please send us an updated photo. Email your photo to Terri in the office at A jpeg is the best format. Or you may bring a photo into the office or mail it and Terri will scan it for you. Please note if you would like the photo returned.


Has your contact information changed?
Do you want to be removed from or added to the directory?

Please contact Terri in the office by email or using the information update section
on the prayer cards in the back of the pews.

Help us stay connected! Thank you!


March Adult Forum - 11:30 am after Worship

March 10th - “Tell It Like It Is - Reclaiming the Practice of Testimony” by Lillian Daniel. Learn how testimony can deeply affect, and finally transform, the life of a congregation. 


March 17th - Join us as our WISE Ministries Team sponsors a panel discussion of people with various lived experience of mental illness. Discussion and Q&A will follow the panel.



W.I.S.E. Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive and Engaged

2023 W.I.S.E. Resolution: First Congregational UCC Brainerd will devote time during the next 12 months learning about mental health issues to become a WISE (Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive and Engaged around mental health) Congregation registered with the United Church of Christ Mental Health Network. After a year of study and raising awareness around mental health, a vote will be taken at our annual meeting in 2024 to reconfirm our WISE Covenant which will allow us to be designated as a WISE Congregation in the United Church of Christ.


 March 24th – “The Art of Compassion”: The Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has stated that loneliness is an epidemic. While most social problems cost millions of dollars to address, the art of compassion is something that can radically transform lives. What does it mean to extend compassion? What are healthy ways to engage another person with compassion? Through the lens of biblical texts, we will consider the art of compassion.  

The Rev. Dr. Candace Adams has over thirty years of experience extending compassion to those who are all too often overlooked by society. She is the missionary leader for The Compassionate Way, a newly formed ministry in the Baxter/Brainerd area. She extends compassion to women experiencing incarceration, men and women who are struggling with homelessness and mental health issues, women receiving substance abuse treatment, women residing in sober living homes, and more.




UCC Men's Fellowship

Join the guys for a casual fellowship gathering.
Each Wednesday of the month @ 11:45 am.
Perkins is our regular venue indefinitely.





Friday Book Group via Zoom

We meat each Friday at 10:30 am via Zoom
We are reading the book, “Gutsy Women”, by Chelsea and Hilary Clinton.
Hillary Rodham Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea, share the stories of the gutsy women who have inspired them—women with the courage to stand up to the status quo, ask hard questions, and get the job done.


Easter Flowers 2024
You have the opportunity to give a gift in the name of your loved one(s).
We will use the money to purchase flower arrangements for the altar.
All memorials will be listed in the Easter bulletin.

Please fill out the following completely.

Amount of Memorial Gift: $_______________________

<< In Memory Of >>


Your Name(s):_________________________________________________

Write Checks to: First Congregational Church Brainerd 
Memo: “Easter Flowers”
Leave this form with your check in the offering plate, church office (slide under door if closed), or mail it to: First Congregational Church 415 Juniper Street Brainerd, MN 56401



UCC Volunteers for Bridge on 7th
Our church is scheduled to volunteer at the Warming Shelter March 10 through 17.
The sign-up link is below.
Call Deb Griffith to learn more and to sign up. 218-851-2949.
Sign up link:
Training video:






Save the Date!
Easter morning breakfast - Potluck
March 31st 8:30 - 9:30 am
Join your friends and family on Easter Sunday for a potluck Easter breakfast. More details will follow.











My Neighbor To Love Coalition - Upcoming Events

Monday, March 4 at 7:30 PM - Brainerd City Council meeting at City Hall. We hope to see your support at this meeting also! If the Planning Commission approves of the amendment to our CUP it goes to the City Council for their approval.
(MNTLC applied for an amendment for our Conditional Use Permit to build a 12-plex and we need approval from the Planning Commission and City Council. Our original design minimized shared walls but would be more costly to build. Some of the funding we hoped to receive isn't coming through, so we need to make adjustments to save on construction costs.  We love the new 12-plex design, and it will still meet our needs.  We continue to get calls and emails from people desperately looking for housing and we look forward to moving ahead with this project.) 


Wednesday, March 20 - Pints for a Purpose at Jack Pine Brewery.  Stayed tuned for more information.  MNTLC is planning a fun evening to help raise funds for our next housing structure.  There will be pizza, games, and prizes!

Our current needs!

We are so grateful to be the recipients of a $600,000 Affordable Housing Program grant from FHLB towards building a multi-family 12-plex.  We have other funding secured also, and still have $474,000 left to raise before we can break ground. Now is your chance to DOUBLE YOUR GIFT! 
A donor is offering a matching grant of $100,000!    
Use the QR code below or go to:

We work very hard to keep our operational costs as low as possible.  We have no paid staff or office rental costs, etc. - yet we still have ongoing expenses such as property assessments, accounting costs, printing, grant writing help, etc.  Please consider becoming a FOUNDATIONAL MONTHLY GIVER.  Sign up by going to the Donate tab on our website to help us with these expenses so more money can go to building homes.  We are so grateful for our faithful current monthly contributors.  It makes all the difference.



First Congregational Food Shelf Collection
Our church continues to collect non-perishable food items for the Salvation Army Food Shelf.

There are two collection boxes: one in the parking lot entry hallway, the other in the Narthex. Brian Twamley picks up and delivers the food.

Please consider bringing items and donating. You may also send a money donation to the church; First Congregational UCC, 415 Juniper St. Brainerd, MN 56401. Or for your convenience use our Paypal account at:  Make sure to write in memo “Food Shelf”.

Join us as First Congregational delivers for Minnesota Food Drive! 
Thank you!










































UCC Care Team
Pastor Leslie, with input from the Care Team, keep track of parishioners who are homebound; living in a facility; living with chronic conditions; the bereaved and those with other concerns. Those who would like prayers are lifted up during worship and those wishing a pastoral call or visit are given to Pastor Leslie.

If you are interested in joining the team to make phone calls or visits, please contact Barb Hoeft or Pastor Leslie. If you or someone you know would enjoy a call from the care team,
please let one of us know.

Your Congregational Care Team: Barb Hoeft, Jack and Kay Kraywinkle, Pat Scott, Chris Yager, Joey Halverson, and Deb Griffith.





Hosts, Ushers, Greeters & Scripture-readers
Sunday morning greeters/ ushers and coffee hosts play an important part in making our church a warm and welcoming place for all.

Here’s a secret; it’s FUN!! If each household committed to 3 Sundays a year as greeter/ushers and/or coffee hosts we would have a full complement of participants. For instance, I plan to take 2 Sundays in August to greet/usher and 2 Sundays in February to Host Coffee.

The Christian Ministry Committee is working on simplified instructions for these duties and one of us will be available to guide you through your first go if needed. Are you ready to take the leap into RADICAL HOSPITALITY?

Give it a go and signup below for your first Sunday as the face of the church!



Crisis Services
All are available 24-hours, FREE and confidential

Bridges of Hope: 218-825-4357 or 1-800-462-7682
Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: Call or Text 988
Crisis Line & Referral Service: 218-828-4357, 218-828-HELP or 1-800-462-5525
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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