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Salty and Bright 
Those two words are probably not the first words you would think of when deciding how to describe yourself. Yet Jesus tells his disciples in the scripture this week, that they are the "salt of the earth" and the "light of the world." Like the first disciples, we are called to be the salt of the earth and to be the light of the world so that all people can see God through our lives and theirs.

Join us for worship at 10:00 am!

Scripture: Matthew 5:1-20 (focus verses 13-20)    
Liturgists: Shon Boman & Karen Ford



Connect, Serve, Grow...
The format of the weekly email has changed slightly. 

HUGS information can be found at the bottom of the page. Thank you!


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 3rd
10:30 am - Book Study via Zoom


Sunday, February 5th

10:00 am - Worship Service & Communion

11:00 am - Fellowship in the Fellowship Hall

11:30 am - Adult Forum "Clergy Renewal & Funding"


Monday, February 6th
6:300 pm - Beginning Meditation with Dan Hegstad

Wednesday, February 8th
12:00 pm - Men's Fellowship meet at El Tequila


Thursday, February 9th
3:00 pm - Trustees Mtg. in-person
4:00 pm - Executive Team Mtg. in-person


UCC Volunteering at The Bridge on 7th Warming Shelter

Our UCC has been asked to volunteer at Warming Shelter during the week of
February 19th through the 26th.

Please visit the link to the volunteer sign up page, which you must use to sign up. 

If you know of anyone else who may wish to volunteer, please share this information with them and ask them to email me as well at Please let me know if there are any questions.
Thank you for your commitment to the shelter and for volunteering. Deb Griffith 


February Adult Forums - 11:30 am after worship
February 5th - Clergy Renewal Information session: We're making plans for 2024 and applying for a grant to support Pastor Leslie's renewal leave. Come and learn about this wonderful opportunity we have as a congregation for not only supporting our pastor, but re-energizing our community and our faith. 
Februray 12th - Expanding Congregational Justice Ministry: Steve Newcom, Pastor Leslie, and Council representatives will provide information, answer questions and lead a conversation about Steve’s work and the congregation's justice ministries. Final approval is subject to congregational vote and UCC Conference authorization.
February 26th - How'd You Do That?: An informal artist chat and Q&A. Carla Benjamin will speak about inspiration and techniques used in creating the photo encaustic artworks on display in the Fellowship Hall. The exhibit will close on 2/27/2023. 


Friday Book Group - 10:30 am via Zoom
In February we will begin reading "The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times" by Jane Goodall and Douglas Abrams with Gail Hudson. 

In this urgent book, Jane Goodall, the world's most famous living naturalist, and Douglas Abrams, the internationally bestselling co-author of The Book of Joy, explore through intimate and thought-provoking dialogue one of the most sought after and least understood elements of human nature: hope. In The Book of Hope, Jane focuses on her "Four Reasons for Hope": The Amazing Human Intellect, The Resilience of Nature, The Power of Young People, and The Indomitable Human Spirit.


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!

Prospective Member Classes Starting February
Have you thought about becoming a voting member of First Congregational UCC? Whether you know you definitely want to join or you aren’t sure if joining is right for you, please join Pastor Leslie for the three-session series. You will meet other prospective members, hear each other’s faith journeys, learn about the history and governance of United Church of Christ and the history and culture of our congregation. You’ll also learn about healthy and unhealthy communication in a faith community, as well as what you can expect from your church and what will be expected of you!
Let Pastor Leslie know if you are interested in participating and dates will be determined based on the availability of participants.



A New Initiative within Our Walls 

As many are aware, the historic documents of our church are in disarray. Those of us who sought to present aspects of the church history for our 150th celebration last summer found out how bad it is. Historic information is stored in the many different places, even if it covers the same topic. Barb Stokke, Jeff Behr and I vowed last summer that we would improve the situation after the celebration was behind us. Marcia Ferris has also joined us. Jan Kurtz had similar problems searching for photographs, and will participate as she can. We got the go-ahead from the Church Council to begin in January, and have held two organizing meetings to date. This initiative really does not have a name, but Church Document Organizing Effort (C-DOE) might be relatively memorable.

The organizers have carved out our scope, and have written our mission and vision statements. The scope is historic (i.e., non-current) church documents and photographs (both physical and digitized). We cannot deal with other kinds of church property at this time, such as choir robes, costumes, unused AV equipment, etc. We are aware that that, too, needs to be organized, but we are focusing on the documents. Our major aims are  to categorize  and catalog the historic church documents, relocate them into one or possibly two places, and provide a guide that will help folks readily access the information. We hope that this effort will lead to an increased awareness within the congregation of the rich heritage that is ours at First Congregational UCC, Brainerd.
How you fit in
This week we hope to locate all the written material stored within the church. Then we will need volunteers to help move it into the large former Sunday School room on the south side of the Rainbow Room. We have received  permission to use this room, and Terri has reserved it for this purpose. Some is in boxes, some in file cabinets, some just loose and needing boxes.
Next is sorting the material, and this process should reveal categories and sub-categories of information. We will develop spread sheets to describe and identify each manuscript. It will be quite messy at first, because we will have to create and adjust categories as we discover what we have. But when the sorting and cataloging process is fairly settled, we will need volunteers to help do that work. We envision working an hour or two per session, and simply hacking away until we understand, and have accounted for, all the historic documents in the church. There are lots of details that we have not yet faced, and we will deal with them as they appear.
This is not a job for three or five people, especially when each of us has busy lives, and some even travel! We need YOUR help and will ask for it as we go along. It will be work, but it will be fun. All who participate will be richer for doing so, I promise! When asked, join us in the C-DOE!

Questions? Ask any of us (except Jeff, who for the next several weeks will be caring for Lilja post-surgery).
Cynthia Janes, for C-DOE

Connect, learn, and grow with the Minnesota Conference
Outdoor Ministry 3rd Annual Winter Zoom Series
Three Zoom gatherings focused on environmental justice issues...

Microplastics in the Great Lakes: February 9, 7:00-8:00 pm CST
Presenter: Art Hirsch; Host: Jane Dow
Free; register here to receive the Zoom link

Microplastics in the Great Lakes is an emerging water quality issue that has a huge potential of impacting human health and the aquatic environment. Microplastics are found in our food, water, air, and even beer along the Great Lakes. Fish are ingesting microplastic that cause them to starve and allow microplastics to move up the food chain. Humans are ingesting plastics made from endocrine disruptor chemicals. Read more

Mining Pollutant: March 9, 7:00-8:00 pm CST
Presenter: Paula Maccabee

Register here to learn more and receive the Zoom link. Mining pollutants have been on the forefront of Minnesota’s environmental conversations for many years. The effects on our water, habitats, and health are well documented. However, the push for copper-nickel is an urgent concern, especially from the PolyMet mine. 

Feb. 9-11: Virtual National Gathering of Rural/Small Town UCC Churches

A Virtual National Gathering of UCC Rural/Small Town Churches and Ministries, "Nourishing the Seeds of Faith," is being presented by the Coalition for UCC Rural Ministries. It is being hosted by the UCC National Faith INFO Ministry Team of the Justice and Local Church Ministries. The event will be held from February 9-11, 2023 - 4:00-7:00 pm EST. REGISTERIf you have questions, please contact the Rev. Roberto Ochoa, UCC Minister for Ethnic Inclusion, Rural and Small Churches at 

Minnesota Conference 61st Annual Meeting: June 9-10, 2023

College of St. Benedict, St. Joseph, MN, with an online option

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! The gathering of the Minnesota Conference will commence once again in June. We will build on the hybrid model we inaugurated last year of virtual and in person workshops, meetings, and worship. Our hope is to engage our youth and young families, our local congregations, our state, and the Spirit to participate in protecting and renewing the Earth, which is God’s and the fullness thereof.

In the coming months, please watch for more announcements about workshops, events, registration, and all the good things of our Conference’s annual meeting.

Men's Group

Join the guys for a casual fellowship gathering each Wednesday at various location in the Brainerd Lakes area.
2023 New Schedule
First Wednesday: B-Merri - 19624 Co. Rd. 3 Brainerd
Second Wednesday: El Tequila Mexican Restaurant
7399 Garrison Rd. Baxter
Third Wednesday: Dunmire's East Hwy 210 Brainerd
Fourth Wednesday: Black Bear - Baxter
Fifth Wednesday: Wings Cafe - Airport Hwy 210 Brainerd


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

H.U.G.S. this Sunday February 5th  
Host: Marina Grabowski, Joy Persall & Steve Newcom
Greeter/Ushers: Jean Schaeffer, Mary Reardon & Karen Ford
Counters: Judy Whiteman & Reed Campbell

H.U.G.S. next Sunday February 12th  
Host: Jan Morton & Shon Boman
Greeter/Ushers: Marina Grabowski, Dan Hegstad & Sharon Carlson 
Counters: Deb Griffith & Marcia Ferris

Liturgist: Sunday Februar
y 5th - Shon Boman & Karen Ford
Sunday February 12th - Dan Hegstad & Joy Persall


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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