News 03/14/2020




Dear members and friends,


Life can change in a moment. At this moment of uncertainty and concern, I bring you a word of encouragement and resolve.


Amid quickly developing events surrounding Corona Virus / COVID-19 concerns, all of us at FMCUCC wish to remind you that your well-being, including your health and safety, is of utmost importance to us. In the face of increasing apprehensions and anxiety, we are reminded that God’s wisdom and strength call us to “be not afraid.” Baptism has raised us into new life in Christ – a life which participates in Christ’s ongoing care for the world.


We hold in our hearts those who are already impacted by this current pandemic, and those who are potentially impacted as well. Regardless of the current circumstances we might be facing, we should all take precautionary measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 and ensure we do not spread the infection in the community.


Trusting in the above, we will have an abbreviated worship service at 10:00 am this Sunday March 15, followed by a period of discernment and prayer about what the next few weeks may hold. Please know that we have taken precautions to offer a space where we can worship in confidence.

  • After the AA meeting Saturday evening, all areas used will be sanitized with hospital grade disinfectant. The volunteer disinfectant group will meet at 8:00 pm Saturday. Feel free to join in.
  • Worshippers will be encouraged to spread out in the sanctuary as we are expecting a smaller than usual crowd.
  • Offering plates will not be passed through the pews. Rather, we will have receptacles at the entrances/exits for your contributions.
  • Further, worshippers will be discouraged from touching and/or shaking hands.
  • Following the service we will partake of a COVID-19 Adjusted Coffee Hour. Gloved hands and tongs will serve the refreshments
  • For the next three months we have secured CELEBRATION CUP individual communion wafer and juice sets. Gloved hands will place the wafer and juice sets on the racks directly from the box.
  • Remembering that there is comfort in community, you are invited to come and worship in these slightly altered ways.
  • As we are all aware, decreased attendance can result in decreased revenue. Please use your mailable offering envelopes to either bring your offering with you or mail it. Your pledge card can also be submitted in the same way.
  • We intend to be up and running with our live streaming capabilities by March 22. You will be notified of the details.


Over the next few weeks we will determine the way forward for our congregation.


See you in church. — Dave


Exodus 17:1-7

In the midst of a crisis, it’s hard for humans to take the long view and understand God’s long, steady purpose. Instead, we focus on the potential shortness of life. In our Hebrew text this week the people are angry that Moses brought them out there to “kill” them and their livestock with thirst (v. 3), while Moses is concerned about his own hide because the people “are almost ready to stone” him (v. 4). When we’re in trouble, we can hear the chronos clock ticking down our lives with increasing urgency. This Sunday we’ll look at the impatience of Moses’ followers and nearly hear them break into song alongside Carly Simon as she sings “Anticipation,” her 1971 hit. See you then. — Dave


Dear Colleagues,

We’ve begun to receive inquiries in the conference office relative to the efficacy of holding public worship services during what has now been declared a pandemic involving the Corona virus.


Last night, the NBA suspended their season. The NCAA March Madness tournament games will take place in empty arenas. The President announced travel restrictions for people coming from Europe. In addition to these very public actions, there is no shortage of personal opinions about whether we should be taking all of this seriously or shrugging it off as an overreaction to a scare that should not be a scare.


As for me, I am paying attention to the science and the medical community. They assure us this is a for-real-crisis that cannot be dismissed as mere hype. So the question is a fair one: should houses of worship gather their congregations during a time when many other public entities are encouraging what for me is a new concept, ‘social distancing’. I’ve begun encouraging our regional ministers to work from home and not visit churches unless critically necessary. I’ve asked them to use Zoom and other means to meet electronically and to avoid the potential of inadvertently carrying the virus from one church house to another through their meetings and attendance at church gatherings. That’s what we can do from here.


As for local churches, I have begun to respond as someone did on social media saying, “I’ve never pastored through a pandemic before; I’m doing the best that I can.” Humor aside, my best advice to each of our churches is to be in touch with your county health department to get their guidance on whether large groups should be gathering at this time. The response is likely to be different in different parts of the state and I am reticent about suggesting a uniform answer to all our churches.


If you do choose to meet, and I suspect many or even most will, I suggest following the latest guidelines published by the CDC and the common sense offerings in this bulletin insert offered to us from the national setting of the United Church of Christ. 


Friends, it’s an interesting time, to say the least. Today, I give thanks for your ministry while thinking especially of our Chaplains, many of whom serve among our most vulnerable population. Please keep them in your prayers even as we bind ourselves to one another in walking through this crisis together. I’ve little doubt, personally, that things will get worse before they get better but I have utmost confidence in the God of creativity and healing and am assured by scriptures that while weeping may linger in the night, joy comes in the morning.


The situation around the Corona virus changes from moment to moment and new realities may well dictate fresh responses. Let’s keep communicating with one another in the name of our God whose love remains steady in the midst of it all.


For more news from the national setting on this topic, here’s a link: 


Be at peace, and be in touch, won’t you.

John Vertigan, Conference Minister, Florida Conference UCC  386-868-5530 office


This ministry is made possible by your support of Local Church Basic Support and Friends of the Conference.


COVID-19/ Corona Virus

During the COVID-19/Corona Virus Pandemic your church leaders want you to be aware the we are taking every reasonable precaution to make FMCUCC a place where we can meet and worship. The following guidelines are in place:
  1. Limit touching and direct contact by using the fist bump, elbow bump, and hip bump during greetings, the Passing of the Peace, and “Let There be Peace on Earth.”
  2. Participate in the Covid-19 Adjusted Coffee Hour.
  3. Volunteer to help with the Sunday evening wiping down of pews and hard surfaces with hospital grade, EPA approved broad spectrum disinfectant.
  4. Encourage folks who are ill and/or hesitant to refrain from attendance.
  5. Transact as much business as possible by phone, email or text.
  6. Follow the precautions of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  7. Use common sense such as “When in doubt, don’t”.



Please make sure to pick up your giving envelopes on your way out of church this Sunday. You can find them on the table just outside of the sanctuary.


Will meet on Tuesdays March 10 and April 14 at noon at the church for Salad Lunch, Part I and Part II. Again this year there will be two parts to the Annual Salad Lunch. Please sign up to bring your favorite salad for either March or April. Plan to attend both lunches to enjoy the many kinds of salads the excellent cooks of the church bring to share, along with conversation, fellowship and friendship. Please sign up on the UCC Women’s Bulletin Board.



GROW is an educational ministry of Fort Myers Congregational United Church of Christ. It draws upon the resources that make our church unique to foster an atmosphere of intellectual and social experimentation. GROW is a series of free classes, workshops, and social events led by staff members, retired clergypeople, and guest facilitators who seek to edify our community through the enlightenment and organization of its members. You are welcome to attend any course listed at any point in its progress. If you would like more information about GROW or any of its courses, please contact our Community Minister Wesley Snedeker at Please click here for a detailed description of all classes offered.


GROW hosts a New Testament study before worship every Sunday at 9am! We are using Marcus Borg’s “Evolution of the Word”. We are reading every book of the New Testament in the order they were written. Each session covers one or more texts, along with Dr. Borg’s historical-critical introduction. We are so excited to be digging into scripture together! In preparation for the March 15th discussion please read 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, 2 Peter (p.563-593).




Beginning Ash Wednesday February 26th and continuing through Wednesday April 1st, our Lenten Study meals will be prepared by Retired Gold Medal Chef, Jeffrey Trullinger. Traditionally, our Boards and Committees have provided soups and and breads for the Lenten Study. This year, Chef Jeff will treat us to his savory soups accompanied by breads and desserts. The only responsibility our Boards and Committees will be the set up and cleanup for the meals. Plan to be on hand each Wednesday for delectable soups and breads with your church family. 


Sunday, March 1st, worshippers were given a small hand-sewn cloth bag. The cloth bags are used to collect coins (30 pieces of silver) to allow participants inside the mind of Judas as he contemplated his misgivings about Jesus. On Palm Sunday (4/5) and Maundy Thursday (4/9), participants will bring their bags to the chancel as a means of admission of our own betrayal of Jesus. Some have put nickels, dimes and/or quarters in their bags. Others have opted for a more adventurous “betrayal.” Even John F. Kennedy half dollars and Susan B. Anthony dollars and an occasional Sacagawea dollar have made their way to the chancel.


The 2020 Fort Myers Congregational UCC Annual Meeting will be held on March 29th immediately following Sunday worship service. The purpose of this meeting is to accept the Annual Reports of the Officers, Boards, Committees and other working groups, to accept the budget for the coming year as presented to this meeting, to elect a slate of officers and Board/Committee members, and to take up any business which may be rightfully initiated from the floor. Respectfully submitted, Susan Randall, Clerk. Please note that the meeting is open to all. Members will be able to vote on all matters. 


Will meet on Thursday, March 19, 6:00 p.m. at the church for a shared cost dinner followed by a discussion of “I, Eliza Hamilton” by Susan Holloway Scott. Women are encouraged to borrow or purchase a copy of the book to be discussed (a copy is in the Church Library and the Lee County Library System has additional copies) and read it prior to the dinner. If you haven’t had a chance to read all, or even part of the book, come anyway for the lively discussions and fellowship. Please sign up on the UCC Women’s Bulletin Board.

SUNDAY CINEMA – “The Farewell”

Movie night and potluck. This month — “The Farewell” : Sunday, March 22nd at 5:30 – 8:30 pm. Bring a dish and a curious spirit! Genre: Comedy/Drama. “A Chinese family discovers their grandmother has only a short while left to live and decide to keep her in the dark, scheduling a wedding to gather before she dies.” [Rated PG] 


Come enjoy a tasty lunch and fellowship as we bid farewell to our church family “Snowbirds” on April 5th at 11:15am following worship. The “Bon Voyage Luncheon” will include Egg frittata, Banana Bread, Fruit and pastries. Sign-up on the bulletin board in the Fellowship Hall. Questions to Susan Hegner-239-482-0959.


Thank you to the approximately 52 people who represented FMCUCC at the LIFE Nehemiah Action last Monday night at Dunbar High School. Our church was well represented on stage by Rev. Bucey and Kris Hurren, in the aisle and at the registration table by Karen Kelley, and in rows of seats by the many FMCUCC members and friends including those who came from school, those who came from work and those who are retired. What a joy to be part of a crowd of 575 people of so many ages and races and from such diverse faith communities who are all seeking justice here in Lee County. Also thanks to the bus captains Sharon Tilbe and Sandy Boler.


At the Action we heard reports of progress made this year in three different issue areas and we were given opportunities to help – including making sure we and those we know participate in the 2020 Census to ensure Lee County receives all the funds for which we are eligible, based on population, for social services.


At the Action we witnessed County Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass agree to champion vouchers for infant care for the 577 infants and one year olds who are on the current waiting list and to meet with stakeholders to discuss ways to work to fill the gaps in services for children in Lee County.


At the Action we were all asked to read and comment on the report of gaps in services in Lee County revealed in the LIFE supported study. Missing in the study is a plan to provide infant care for working families


(To access the study go to:


At the Action we received cards to sign and send to the Department of Juvenile Justice to ask that they fix a”glitch” in the way juvenile Civil Citations and Arrests are recorded with the purpose of increasing the use of Civil Citations throughout Florida. (extra cards are available at the LIFE display in Fellowship Hall).


Finally, and maybe most significantly, at the Action we were surprised and shocked (some outraged) by the members of Fort Myers City Council who agreed to attend the Action but, at the last minute and on the advice of the City Attorney, failed to appear. As one of our members posted on Facebook, “Since when did Sunshine Laws mean that city council members can not attend and interact with citizens at an open, public meeting?”


The Council Members were being asked to commit to champion the creation of an Affordable Housing Trust Fund to be used to create badly needed new rental units in the City of Fort Myers. When the Council Members stood us up, members of LIFE agreed to attend upcoming Council Meetings beginning with the meeting on Monday, March 6, for a silent witness to the current shortage of approximately 7,000 affordable housing units. The City Manager has agreed to hold a Council Workshop on affordable housing but we need to remind the Council members of promises they have made to support an Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The other Council meetings we will attend are April 6 and 20 and May 4 and 18.


LIFE Team Leaders: Kris Hurren Karen Kelly, Sharon Tilbe, Jim Boler


If you know someone who would benefit from the comfort and blessing of a prayer shawl, please don’t hesitate to let me know and you can present it to a loved one yourself. If you would like to create and donate a shawl, we can provide printed instructions and yarn. Of course you can always use your own pattern and yarn if you would prefer! In God’s service, Kris Hurren 239-565-4289


FMCUCC’s youth gather at the church for fellowship, games, music, and faith formation! Youth group meets on Thursdays at 6:00 pm and ends around 8:00 pm. All middle and high schoolers in our church and our community are welcome! If you have questions about youth group, please contact our Community Minister Wesley at or our Chair of Christian Education, Catalina, at


Lyn Clark Pegg will be leading a delegation to Bogota, Colombia on June 13-23, to strengthen solidarity with our partners and to learn how our continuing presence supports their efforts for a sustainable and peaceful future. Our solidarity matters!
Contact Lyn Clark Pegg (, 218-348-3048) for more information; see Facebook posting, Click here – Witness for Peace


Are you interested in helping serve the FMCUCC community by being a welcoming face before guests enter the sanctuary? Please consider serving at the Welcome Center desk or as a door opener once a month. See the sign-up sheets in the Fellowship Hall to indicate your desire.


“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27) Paul uses the metaphor of a human body to explain how Christians are to work together to be the body (and message) of Jesus in the world. There are lots of parts needed to make a body function. So too with the church. So what part are you? Please take some time to review the ministry opportunities and see all the different parts that are needed to make the church function. Prayerfully consider stepping out in faith and/or stepping up to leadership. Maybe your part is to host a coffee hour, or volunteer to usher. Maybe even join a committee. What part are you? Think about it.


We have many volunteer opportunities available to assist with various aspects of our Sunday worship services and around the church. Please consider signing up for one of these important jobs. Sign-up sheets can be found on the bulletin board in the Fellowship Hall or send an email to Lisa Riehl,, and let her know what you are interested in doing. Thanks in advance for helping make our church so great!


The new Flower chart has been placed on the bulletin board outside of the Parlor. Please sign-up today. Envelopes to pay for the flowers can be found at the bottom of the board.


Did Joan go on the around the world cruise she’s been planning these past several months? Do you know whether Harold is recuperating at his daughter’s home in Wisconsin? And how about Marie – she’s usually back in Fort Myers for the season by now, have you heard from her? Oftentimes, the Board of Deacons and the church staff know when a church member is homebound locally, and keep tabs on him or her. However, we aren’t always informed by family members or caretakers when a member has prolonged health issues making it difficult for them to attend church functions. Here’s where the members of the congregation can help out. If you are aware of a member that is homebound, or have noticed a member’s prolonged absence but haven’t heard it announced at church, please bring it to the attention of one of the deacons or the church office. Most times we are aware of the members who are homebound locally, but we don’t want to overlook anyone.


If you have walkers or bedside commodes you no longer need, please consider donating them to the church. We loan those items out to those in need and are currently out. If you have any questions, please contact Lisa Riehl in the church office, 239-482-3133


Rev. David Bucey – – 513-535-2121
Rev. Wesley Snedeker – – 239-297-1586
Church Office – – 239-482-3133