News 03/16/2020



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.


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 Sunday, April 19th 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. 


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


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!


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.


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