Weekly Update 1/20

n Person Outdoor Services

Weekly services are being held on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. The services are held outside on the lawn. Masks are to be worn and physical distancing will be observed. Please bring your own chair if you can.

Childcare provided.

If the weather is bad, the service will be held on the patio adjacent to the playground.

This Sunday a story about an exorcism invites reflection on how we can move forward in our lives and as a society. Take a look at Mark 1:14-28.

The bulletin and text of the Sunday sermon will be posted at the website early in the week and there will be regular posts of music and music videos from Hilton Jones.

Thank you for your understanding in this continuing season of adaptation and experimentation!

Congratulations to Zach Blair-Andrews

LUCC’s Zach Blair-Andrews is one of two recipients of the 2021 USF Ron & Libby Sanders Public Service Scholarship given to students who have demonstrated a commitment to a career in public service!

Zach is an Honors student majoring in Political Science and minoring in Public Administration. He currently serves as the elected Lt. Governor for the USF Student Government on the Tampa campus. After he graduates from USF, he plans to pursue a master’s degree in Public Administration and work in the public/non-profit sector.


Westminster Palms and Westminster Suncoast Receive Covid Vaccines

Numerous people from the LUCC congregation live in these Westminster communities.  We are grateful that they have received the first Covid vaccine with another to come on Sunday Feb. 7.  We look forward to all in the congregation and community and country receiving the vaccine!

Vacuum Cleaner Needed

It would be helpful to have a vacuum cleaner at church for occasional use.  If you have an extra one at home, please consider donating it to the church.  Many thanks!

Congregational Meeting Ahead

There will be a congregational meeting held on Sunday January 31 at 1:00 p.m. on Zoom to take action on the budget for 2021.  Finance documents will be available next week.  Please plan to participate in this brief but important event in the life of the church.  This work undergirds the ministry of the church.  Here is the Zoom link:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/2700683648

Or call in at: 1-301-715-8592  and use the Zoom ID 270 068 3648

Budget Workshop 

On Sunday January 24 at 1:00 p.m. there will be a budget workshop in preparation for the Congregational Meeting.  Everyone who would like to is invited to join the advisors in this conversation.  Here’s the Zoom link:   https://us02web.zoom.us/j/2700683648 or call in at 1-301-715-8592 and use the Zoom ID 270 068 3648.

Adult Daycare Update

Renovations continue in the Fellowship Hall.  The tentative opening date for the Adult Daycare Center is Feb. 15.  It is very exciting to see this ministry finally coming to fruition!

Rev. Wells to Have Surgery

Please note that Kim is having surgery on her heel (again) on Monday, Jan. 25. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.  

Operation Attack Needs

There was another successful OA Food Distribution Drive Thru in December due to caring volunteers, thankful families, and all of you.  We fed 91 families with 2 bags of non perishables, fresh produce, meat,  and dairy products.  We also gave extra food to large families (over 6 people), diapers and wipes, 50 referrals to Clothes to Kids, and 120 Christmas Goodie Bags.  The  goodie bags were donated and made by E.L.F.S., The Elected Ladies For The Savior.  Each beautifully decorated Christmas bag was filled with a juice box, chips and candy.  We were grateful to be asked to distribute these gifts to children. 

The next Food Distribution Drive Thrus will be January 30 and March 13.  Listed below are ways you can participate in our future Drive Thrus: 

Volunteer to pre-bag food before the Drive Thru Volunteer on January 30 Purchase baby wipes and large/family size nonperishable food Donate plastic grocery bags Pray for the people/groups making this event happen Pray for the people we are serving

Thank you for your faithfulness to the people in the community who need our support right now.  Yours in Christ!

Anti-Racism Demonstrations Continue

Weekly demonstrations to end racism resumed Sunday January 10 at 4:30 p.m..  Many thanks to all who are participating.  While there was a break in the demonstrations, we know that there is no break in the systemic racism that is harmful to everyone.  Add your presence to this weekly demonstration making a witness to your commitment to anti racism.

Weekly Labyrinth Walks Continue

Each Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. a small group gathers at the outdoor labyrinth for a time of devotion, discussion, and meditative walking of the labyrinth.  The theme for the week is taken from the Sunday before, so it is an opportunity to go deeper in the spiritual exploration of that theme for your life.  This devotional gathering is outside and physical distancing is maintained. All are welcome!

If there is rain on Wednesday morning, the gathering will be held on Thursday morning at 9:00.

Spiritual Direction Offered by LUCC Clergy Member.

In these troubled times, it is important to find ways to tend to our spiritual lives. In the Christian tradition, Spiritual Direction is one of the ways of paying attention to the spirit in our lives. A Spiritual Director is someone to talk with about what is going on in our spiritual life and in our relationship with God however we may conceive of God.

Rev. Sally Purvis, Ph.D., a member of LUCC, is a retired clergy person with training and experience in Spiritual Direction. She is offering her services as a Spiritual Director to the community. The sessions would be held on Zoom and there is no fee to be paid. Church leaders are pleased to have the ministry of the church expand in this way.

Spiritual Direction with Sally is open to anyone, not just the congregation. And it is offered to everyone whatever their spiritual or religious background or affiliation or lack thereof. Sessions are generally held once every three weeks. Spiritual Direction is not a mode of therapy. It is a process for understanding and deepening your relationship with God/Spirit in ways that are authentic and life-giving.

Sally was trained by Henri Nouwen, a noted spiritual guide of the 20th century, and did Spiritual Direction as part of her professional ministry before retiring in 2015.

If you would like to explore Spiritual Direction with Sally, please contact her at
sallybpurvis@icloud.com or contact the church (867-7961 or lakewooducc@gmail.com ).

The church is very grateful to Sally for offering this avenue of support to the congregation and the community.

Music from Hilton

You can watch 5 videos Hilton made as lead-ups to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUn2RmCFhW2uAVwKQLfqJnzNmZhEK_TK5.

If you want to just hear they soundtracks, without the videos, you can hear those at https://soundcloud.com/hilton-kean-jones/sets/mlk-day.


For the above church website links, please note the “Older Posts” button near the bottom of each page.

January Birthdays: Martha Lamar 1/2, Chip Cosper 1/7, Jackson Cosper 1/9, Hilton Kean Jones 1/23, Bob Bell 1/28. Someone missing? Contact the church office with birthday information.

Circle of Concern:  To the family and loved ones of Wilbur Reid, Dollie Pettis, and Irma Smith. Victoria Long, Kim Wells, Jeff Wells, Edward Jones, William Owen, Jen Degroot, Carolyn Moore, Ann Quinn, Maggie Brizendine, Dave Radens, Joyce Lee, Wally LeBlanc, teachers, students, and school personnel, and all healthcare workers and essential workers. All those suffering from COVID-19.

Please keep LUCC member, Olivia Gibson, in your prayers. She is a nurse in a COVID-19 unit in a local hospital. We are grateful for her ministry!

Church Office Hours:  Tuesday-Friday 9:30-noon. 

Recent Posts:

Weekly Update: If you are involved with an activity or event that you would like to share with the LUCC family, please send the information to the Church Office by Tuesday since the Update usually is sent out on Wednesday.

Sunday Service 1.17.2021

This post includes the bulletin, the sermon, and the music for the service.

GATHERING MUSIC       Medley: God’s Eye Is on the Sparrow, Leaning on the Everlasting Arms, Precious Lord Take My Hand


There will be a congregational meeting to take action on the budget on Sunday Jan. 31.  The time is yet to be determined.  The meeting will be held on Zoom. 

LIGHTING THE PEACE CANDLE                         Claire Stiles, liturgist

Non-violence is a powerful and just weapon. It is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1929-1968

PRELUDE Medley: Roll Jordan Roll, Hold On, Steal Away

OPENING SENTENCES                                 Dr. M. L. King, Jr., adapted

In the final analysis, says the Christian ethic, every person must be respected because God loves them. The worth of an individual does not lie in the measure of their intellect, their racial origin, or their social position. Human worth lies in relatedness to God. An individual has value because they have value to God. Whenever this is recognized, ‘whiteness’ and ‘blackness’ pass away as determinants in a relationship and ‘son/daughter’ and ‘sister/brother’ are substituted.


Let us prepare ourselves for the word of God as it comes to us in the reading of Holy Scripture. Our hearts and minds are open.

Amos 5:21-24

For the word of God in scripture, for the word of God among us, for the word of God within us. Thanks be to God.

A Reading of the address ‘The American Dream’ by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Christy Martin

This address by Dr. King was given at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, an historically Black university, on June 6, 1961.  It was selected for this Sunday because of the themes which tie in to the presidential inauguration this week.  Christy read an abridged version.  She shared with the congregation that her grandparents were present when Dr. King gave this commencement address.

Here is a link to Dr. King delivering the original speech:

Sharing From the Congregation

The congregation discussed the questions:  What is your dream for America?  What needs to happen to realize that dream?  What can you do to make that dream a reality?


Martin Luther King, Jr. was a strong voice for peace. This is what he said:

“Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts.   Negroes of the United States, following the people of India, have demonstrated that nonviolence is not sterile passivity, but a powerful moral force which makes for social transformation. Sooner or later, all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”

To this dream, we re-dedicate ourselves.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. believed in the power of love. This is what he said:

“When I speak of love. . . I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. . . We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation.”

To this dream, we re-dedicate ourselves.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream of justice and peace for all people. This is what he said:

“Justice for black people will not flow into society merely from court decisions nor from fountains of political oratory. Nor will a few token changes quell all the tempestuous yearnings of millions of disadvantaged black people. White America must recognize that justice for black people cannot be achieved without radical changes in the structure of our society. The comfortable, the entrenched, the privileged cannot continue to tremble at the prospect of change in the status quo.”

To this dream, we re-dedicate ourselves.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an advocate for the oppressed. This is what he said:

“We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers and sisters.”

To this dream, we re-dedicate ourselves.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was committed to the full expression of democracy. This is what he said:

“The problem of race and color prejudice remains America’s greatest moral dilemma. When one considers the impact it has upon our nation, internally and externally, its resolution may well determine our destiny. How we deal with this crucial situation will determine our moral health as individuals, our cultural health as a region, our political health as a nation, and our prestige as a leader of the free world. The shape of the world today does not afford us the luxury of an anemic democracy. The price that America must pay for the continued oppression of the Negro is the price of its own destruction. The hour is late; the clock of destiny is ticking out; we must act now before it is too late.

To this dream, we re-dedicate ourselves.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. believed in the moral principle of love. This is what he said:

“To retaliate with hate and bitterness would do nothing but intensify the hate in the world. Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can be done only by projecting the ethics of love to the center of our lives.”

To this dream, we re-dedicate ourselves.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a man of action. This is what he said:

“We must move past indecision to action. . . If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.”

Let us re-dedicate ourselves to the long and bitter – but beautiful – struggle for a new world.

MUSICAL OFFERING            We Shall Overcome


The mission of Lakewood United Church of Christ, as part of the Church Universal is to:

  • Celebrate the presence and power of God in our lives & in our world
  • Offer the hospitality and inclusive love of Christ to all people.
  • Work for God’s peace and justice throughout creation.


Morning offerings may be brought forward and placed in the plates on the altar.

Offertory                      Medley: Go Down Moses, There Is a Balm in Gilead, Deep River

 Prayer of Dedication                                    Dorthy Walters

Moment to moment we ask, what is happening? The sound of shattering everywhere, is it the world, fragmenting at last, or our own hearts cracking, the final break-up of ice?

MUSICAL CALL TO PRAYER       There’ll Be Peace in the Valley


Peshita Syriac-Aramaic translation

O Birther! Father-Mother of the Cosmos, focus your light within us—make it useful. Create your reign of unity now; Your one desire acts with ours, as in all light, so in all forms. Grant what we need each day in bread and insight. Loose the cords of mistakes binding us, as we release the strand we hold of others’ guilt. Don’t let surface things delude us, but free us from what holds us back. From you is born all ruling will, the power and the life to do, the song that beautifies all; from age to age it renews. Amen.


*POSTLUDE                      Life Every Voice and Sing; Lead Me, Guide me

Sunday Service 1.10.21

This post includes the bulletin, the sermon, and the music for the service.

Sermon 1/10/2021 Downside Up

Date: January 10, 2021 Outdoor worship
Scripture Lesson: Mark 1:4-11
Sermon: Downside Up
Pastor: Rev. Kim P. Wells

It was a slog, but some of us even read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Or
maybe it was The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire. Or The Rise and Fall of the
Ming Dynasty. We are captivated by the concept of the rise and fall of
civilizations, cultures, governments, and movements as well as the rise and fall of
individual leaders, entertainers, and other public figures.

This week, we have had cause to reflect on the rise and hopefully fall of the Trump
era. More on that later.

But again and again in history we see the rise and fall of different phenomena.

In the scene that we were told about today from the gospel of Mark, we see a
people who have fallen. They are on the down side of things. They are living
under occupation. The Romans have the Jews under their thumb. They are being
oppressed: their labor and their money extracted for Roman benefit. They are in
the ‘fall’ position.

And we hear of this prophet, John, calling people to repent and be baptized. He is
talking about preparing the way for one who will reverse their fortunes. A savior.
A messiah. So the people pour from the capital, from villages and towns, out into
the desert to hear John. To be part of creating the conditions for a rise in the
fortunes of their people. They are turning toward God in hopes that God will bless
them and improve their circumstances and rescue them from Roman oppression
through the one who is to come.

And we are told that among those who head out to the Judean wilderness, to the
banks of the Jordan River, is Jesus, of Galilee. And after he is baptized, a voice is
heard saying, “You are my Beloved, my Own. On you my favor rests.” [Mark

This story is written for us, for those who come after Jesus, for those who need to
be told that Jesus carries the authority and approval of God.

And maybe part of why we need to be reminded of this is because Jesus doesn’t
follow the usual human pattern of rise and fall. He doesn’t overthrow the Romans.
He doesn’t become a civic ruler or military leader. He doesn’t follow the usual
trajectory of rise to power, fortune and fame. In fact, Jesus inverts that pattern. He
turns it upside down; his life ending in a humiliating public death on a cross.

James Howell of Duke Divinity School points this out when he writes, “In the
world, it’s rise and fall. The rise and fall of the Third Reich, the rise and fall of the
business tycoon, the rise and fall of a movie star. But with Jesus it’s fall and
rise…We fall, and from that lowest point, we rise.”

We see this in the story of Jesus’ baptism. Jesus goes out to the wilderness to be
baptized. The leaders in the capital, Jerusalem, the Temple authorities, they do not
go out to the Jordan to be part of what John is doing. But Jesus goes among the
common people. He goes low. He goes down into the water. The symbolism is of
dying and rising to new life. Baptism is about the emergence of a new creation.
Jesus invites people to be part of a new creation; a reality that is not based on the
assumed pattern of rise and fall. The wielding of status, success, prominence, and

Jesus addresses himself to fall and rise not rise and fall. Again and again in his
ministry we are told of his encounters with the lowly. He seeks out those who are
lost and forgotten. Those who are suffering and marginalized. Those who are
considered ‘less than.’ Jesus looks for those who have fallen, or been pushed
down. So that he can lift them up. With Jesus it is about helping lift up those who
are down. And he gets down to do it.

And what he teaches us is that our highest good is found in lifting others up. In
helping the fallen to rise. That is how we rise. That is how we become a
new creation.

The conventional pattern of rising involves amassing wealth, or status, or power, or
influence. And this is often done on the backs of others. Empires are built on the
shoulders of smaller countries and their wealth and labor. The Roman Empire.
The British Empire. And, yes, the American Empire, came to what is seen as
greatness on the backs of slaves from Africa, labor from Asia and Mexico, and natural resources extracted form other lands. And the wealth of the few continues
to be built on the backs of the many who are denied health care, pensions, vacation
time, affordable housing, good schools, clean air and water, etc. It is built on the
backs of people who work long hours in unsafe conditions here and abroad. The
rise is achieved on the fall of others as it was in Jesus’ day.
But what Jesus shows us is what it means to rise by lifting others and standing
beside them not by standing on their backs. He shows us that we rise by going
down, looking down, reaching down, and serving others. We elevate our humanity
by honoring the humanity of others, especially those who are hurting and
struggling and bereft. And what Jesus shows us is that we are to lift each other,
one on one, and as a community, a society. The people who went to John the
Baptizer were looking to lift their people, their society, in the face of the
oppression of the Roman Empire. It was about lifting the community as a whole.
They were seeking a better future for their country.

We are called to lift one another one by one, yes, but also to lift one another by
creating institutions and organizations and power arrangements and economic
systems that lift everyone. We are called to pursue justice for society as a whole.
We are called to lift each other through societal arrangements that provide for
everyone, not arrangements that provide for some at the expense of others.

The way of Jesus undermines the whole notion of hierarchy and rise and fall.
Maybe that is why we need to hear again that what Jesus is showing us is the way
of God. The way of Divine Love. That Jesus is beloved, favored by God.
Because we are always in danger of doubting, of being drawn into the power
arrangements that lead to the traditional model of rise and fall.

Rise and fall. We saw the manifestation of that phenomenon this week. A
president who built his rise on the backs of people who perceive themselves as
being left behind, ignored, forgotten, cut out, and cut down. Using them for his
gain. And once it became clear that his cause was lost, he had no more need of
them. It was never about them and their needs. It was always about him and his
needs and what they would do for him. And now they can do nothing for him so
he has abandoned them. That is rise and fall.

But we, as followers of Jesus, are to be about fall and rise. And a great challenge
for us as Christians and for our society is how we are going to reach out to those
who have been betrayed by the president. They are still our neighbors and
coworkers. Still our family members and fellow citizens. So, how are we going to
reach out, reach down, and help to lift up those who are angry and hurt and embittered? What about their pain? They, too, need lifting up. What word of
hope and uplift and redemption do we have? How can we talk about a rise for all
who have been battered? I don’t know exactly, but I know that we must take this

The story of the baptism of Jesus does not just tell us who Jesus is, it tells us who
we are. We are the ones lifted by the love of Jesus. No matter how low we may
be. No matter how deep we are mired. Jesus goes low. Reaches down. And lifts
us up. And he calls us to extend our hand. And take hold of another.

As followers of Jesus, we are to concern ourselves not with the rise and fall, but
with the fall and rise. Our fall under the water of baptism, our death to the ways of
the worldly power, and our rise to the way of Jesus, lifting each other in love. Let
us remember the call of God in our lives empowering us. Brennan Manning, who
wrote The Ragamuffin Gospel, puts it this way:

“Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other
identity is illusion.” [Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for
Intimate Belonging, 20th century]

Hear that again: “Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the
true self. Every other identity is illusion.”

May we part of the fall and rise that define the commonwealth of God.


A reasonable effort has been made to appropriately cite materials referenced in this sermon. For
additional information, please contact Lakewood United Church of Christ.

Go Tell It on the Mountain
We Three Kings
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Missa de Angelis-Sanctus
The First Noel

National UCC MLK Events

“By the time we reached the counter, we’d already won.” Dr. James Lawson Theologian & Tactician of Non-Violence within the Civil Rights Movement

What shall we say to these things?Join us as we explore:

  • The Myths and Facts of Nonviolence
  • Types and Levels of Conflict
  • Six Principals of Kingian Non-violence
  • Six Applications of Kingian Non-violence

In a 3.5 hour teach-in with Chuck Alphin, Certified Kingian Non-violence Trainer. Event fee: $35


Please join the United Church of Christ and The People’s Inauguration as we curate space for Release & Renewal at the intersection of Pain & Promise. At the close of Martin Luther King Day Celebrations and on the cusp of the 47th Inauguration, we will worship together bearing witness to this past year and pouring Hope into the future. What is Hope? Hope is the confident expectation that all God intends will come to pass. Valarie Kaur, author of See No Stranger; Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, Senior Pastor of Middle Collegiate Church; Rev. Dr. Chris Davies, Minister and Team leader for Faith Education, Innovation and Formation, UCC will join the Officers and staff as we Build Back Hope, followed with a sermon by Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, Senior Pastor of Trinity UCC-Chicago.

*closed captioning will be available.

We have before us the glorious opportunity to inject a new dimension of Love into the veins of our civilization. ~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Other Upcoming Webinars

Tuesday, January 26, 3:00 pm EST – The State of the Children View the full calendar here for more upcoming webinars.

Tuesdays for Nurture and Thursdays for the Soul webinars are made possible through your support. To continue to support programs like this, please donate to the Annual Fund.


With Peace,Justice and Local Church MinistriesThe United Church of Christ