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Date: March 20, 2020

Subject: Please Read – An Important Update from Our Senior Pastor

Dear Sisters, Brothers, and Friends in Christ,


It has been seven days since our church moved to an all-virtual model in order to do our part in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. With new information, new questions, new changes, and new challenges breaking daily, if not hourly, both our sense of normalcy and of time have been grossly altered. In some ways, the last week has felt more like a month. In other ways, like a flash. Compounding the situation and our emotions is that we do not know how long all this will last. Either abroad. Or here at home.


However, some things we do know. Things we can cling to. Things we can wrap around us, like a sacred shawl, like a holy covering. Things that can gird and ground and galvanize us… not just as individuals, but as God’s children united. Things that are deeper and more enduring than this or any dark time. Critical, compelling, and concrete things that can reframe our thinking, concert our efforts, and carry us faithfully forward.


So, what do we know? Amidst all that is shifting, upon what truths can we confidently stand?


NUMBER 1: Our God is with us. As Christians, no truth is more certain or more central. So much so that Christ’s very name (“Emmanuel”), as prophesied by Isaiah, literally means: “Our God with us”. So, let us remember to pray and to call upon God for wisdom and strength.


NUMBER 2: Our actions matter. Not only to ourselves and our immediate loved-ones. But to countless others within the long, often untraceable causal-chain of human choice. And, most pointedly, to those with the highest risk of being infected and harmed (perhaps even mortally) by COVID-19. As members of “A House of Worship For All People”, we are reminded—and let us humbly remind others—that our call is ever and always beyond ourselves to the broader human Communion to which we inseparably belong. Other than handwashing, the phrase of the day is social distancing. For the clearest, most compelling illustration of social distancing’s power to help flatten the COVID-19 infection rate and, thus, to help prevent a catastrophic overwhelm of our healthcare system, please click on—and share—this link:


NUMBER 3: We are still Church. Needfully distanced, separated, even quarantined as we may be in coming weeks (and, more likely, months)—we are still Church. We are still part of Christ’s risen body. We are still part of each other. And we can still do the sacred work of Church, which is to connect to and to serve God and neighbor with humility, generosity, and love. As one rabbi so poetically put it, “for every handshake or hug responsibly avoided, let us write a note or place a call.” For every foot between us, let us lift a prayer: for calm, for peace, for compassion over fear. For every moment of inevitable doubt, let us diligently search for—and celebrate—the rays of heavenly hope that brighten our every darkness.


May these unshifting truths inspire you. And may the following updates from the last seven days offer both sacred solace and resource as we continue to respond with prayerful purpose to these unprecedented times. These efforts speak mutually to the heart of our congregation and to our willingness to adapt our ministry to meet our present exigencies.


Virtual Worship:

On Sunday, March 15, our church launched its first-ever virtual worship service. It was created in fewer than 48 hours. Your staff collaborated. And our congregation responded with palpable appreciation and spiritual vigor. Your Sunday attire was decidedly more casual (PJ’s, sweats, and slippers); and the seating, decidedly more comfortable (cushioned couches and recliners instead of our usual hard-backed pews). But Christ was still with us. The Spirit still flowed. And, we were still Church. Indomitably knitted in God’s grace.


For virtual worship this Sunday, March 22:

  • Watch for a printable worship bulletin, printable children’s bulletin, and printable children’s coloring pages in advance of the worship service. You can access those on Saturday via our church website, Facebook page, and all-church email.
  • Late Saturday or early Sunday, we will share the link to the virtual service, itself, via our website, Facebook page, and an all-church email. The virtual service will “go live” at 10 A.M. on Sunday. Join us, and share the link with others!


“Our Daily Bread”:

With God’s help, “Our Daily Bread” will premiere today, Friday, March 20. (Consider the first edition sustenance for Spring!) If we look to worship as our center, our once-weekly pivot, then look to “Our Daily Bread” for inspiration and faithful grounding on the weekdays between Sunday services. This will be available via our website, Facebook page, and all-church email.


Online “Story Time with Pastor Sarah”:

Yesterday, our Associate Pastor for Children, Family and Youth, the Rev. Sarah Lohrbach, and our Church School Coordinator, Shelli Brown, launched a brand-new, interactive “Story Time with Pastor Sarah”.

We will offer “Story Time” every Thursday beginning at 2:30 P.M. (Central Time) using Zoom video conferencing. Each session will feature a story from Pastor Sarah and will offer the children a chance to check in and to feel connected. To join any future session of “Story Time with Pastor Sarah”, simply click on the Zoom link below and then input the Meeting ID provided:

Meeting ID: 911 751 498


Ministering to Members—Especially Those At Risk:

We want every member of our church family to feel supported and loved. Our entire pastoral team; our Director of Connections Ministry, Elaine Harrison; and our administrative staff are actively collaborating to connect with our congregation.


We are also investing additional resources to be sure that we connect with those who have reason to feel more at risk in this health crisis. Our Associate Pastor, the Rev. Jeffrey Phillips, and one of our Care & Callings team leaders, Dr. Carol Jansson, are working closely with our broader team of trained Care & Calling ministers. Collectively, these caring folks have already made over 50 personal calls to check in, to assess how these members are feeling, to ask our church can support them, and to ask if they need specific assistance with shopping. Shopping assistance is then provided by our church’s Men’s Fellaship group, which has created an impressively efficient, personable system.


Anyone needing shopping assistance due to health concerns or conditions can contact Steve Huels directly ( Simply provide the items you need, and a volunteer will reach out to you directly. Anyone wishing to join the Shopping Assistance team can also email Steve Huels. As of today, Men’s Fellaship was already on the road helping with errands.


Spiritual Enrichment:

Our weekly Spiritual Enrichment programming is now virtual. And interactive! The current series of personal faith stories began on March 8, 2020 with the faith story of Asif Masood, one of our Muslim partners in multifaith mission and ministry. Asif’s story can be found at:


For this coming Sunday, March 22, 2020, we invite you to join Pastor Jeffrey Phillips and Sam Fifer for a discussion of Sam’s faith journey.

We invite you, first, to view Pastor Jeffrey’s pre-recorded interview with Sam, which is available now at :


To join the live conversation this Sunday from 8:45 to 9:20 A.M., please click here to download and register:


Once you have Zoom, use this link and meeting code to join the discussion:

Meeting ID: 407 072 899. 


Our Spirit-Led Partnership with Bethel Baptist Church (Chicago Heights):

I have been in active conversation with Bethel Baptist’s Senior Pastor, and our brother in Christ, the Rev. Lawrence Blackful, Jr. Pastor Lawrence has reported that our sisters, brothers, and friends at Bethel Baptist have also moved to a virtual model for worship and meetings. They have made the difficult but prayerful decision to keep the shelter at their Community Center open because their shelter guests would otherwise have nowhere to go. Please join me and all our WCC leadership in praying both for and with our extended faith-family members at Bethel Baptist.


In Summary:

Surprisingly (or perhaps not), this is but a topline of our church’s collective initiative this week. Wherever we are, whatever we are facing, may we continue to aspire to be Jesus’ risen body, adaptively alive and at work in the world. May our prayers be broad. May our hearts brim with compassion. And may our faith in God and Son and Holy Spirit fortify us, come what may.


Wishing you God’s Peace, and welcoming any thoughts, concerns, or questions you may have,




Jeffrey D. Braun

Senior Pastor

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Spiritual Enrichment Continues!
Thank God for technology!  (Well, sometimes….)
Phone conferencing, video conferencing, and social media are allowing our ministries to continue at WCC.  Spiritual Enrichment, our ministry of faith exploration and formation, is carrying on virtually, and you are welcome to join us!
Our series of personal faith stories began March 8 with the spiritual journey of Asif Masood, Muslim friend of Winnetka Congregational Church. Asif’s story can be found here: You will find it deeply moving.
Spiritual Enrichment
Personal faith story - Asif Masood | March 8, 2020

Thanks to technology, we were able to pre-record former WCC member Sam Fifer’s spiritual journey: Sam grew up in a Jewish household but was baptized as a Lutheran at age 35. He later joined WCC, and then became a Catholic in 2010. You gotta see this!
Spiritual Enrichment.
Personal faith story - Sam Fifer | March 22, 2020
We will have a chance to discuss Sam’s story this Sunday morning, March 22, 8:45-9:20 A.M. via Zoom, a free video conferencing service. Sam will be with us! To participate, you need to have Zoom.Click here to download and register:
Once you have Zoom, use this link to click into the meeting at 8:45 A.M. on Sunday:, meeting ID: 407 072 899. If you have a web camera, we will be able to see you (you can also turn off your camera and join us by voice only if you don’t want us to see you in your pajamas).
Remember: view Sam’s faith journey anytime between now and Sunday morning, and then tune in for a live, 35-minute “face-to-face” conversation with Sam and WCC friends at 8:45 a.m.
We will also do our WCC Reads discussion this Wednesday, March 25, 1:00-2:15, by Zoom. We will be discussing the last three chapters of Barbara Brown Taylor’s Holy Envy. Information with the Zoom link will go out in the Spiritual Enrichment Update email on Tuesday. To sign up for that, or if you have any questions about Spiritual Enrichment, contact Pastor Jeffrey Phillips: (847) 636-6111 (cell) or
Could you use a little help
with shopping or errands?

Some of us shouldn’t be shopping for necessities because of our health conditions. If you could use help with some shopping or errands support, other members of the WCC community would love to help. The WCC Men’s FellaShip Team has created a process to match those needing help with volunteers willing to help. Just email Steve Huels with the list of items you need. A volunteer will be in touch with you soon to confirm delivery.  
And if you would like to volunteer, and anyone can, just email Steve and he’ll get you incorporated into the process.
Care and Calling
Church Members Caring for Church Members

Now More Than Ever!
Care and Calling, our congregation’s lay caregiving ministry, is reaching out to members of our church who might need extra care during the current national emergency. Fifty-one households have been identified for contact. The goal of each call is to see how everyone is doing emotionally, spiritually, and physically, and to find out if anyone needs anything. The calls are a tangible expression of God’s love and the church’s concern. 
The calling has continued all week. Thank you to the callers: Heidi Law, Mary Boyer, Nancy Carstedt, Mary Reynolds, Neva Egan, Carol Jansson, and Pastor Jeffrey. 
Care and Calling is partnering with WCC Men’s FellaShip to help with shopping and other errands for members. If you need assistance, contact Steve Huels,, (312) 953-6965. Three households have now been helped by the Men’s FellaShip mission of mercy to assist people with shopping and errands.
Of course, your entire pastoral team is here for you as well during this trying time. Their contact information is located elsewhere in the Messenger
It’s great to belong to a congregation that cares! Thanks be to God!

In an effort to keep families connected Pastor Sarah invites you to Online Story Time.

Our first “Story Time with Pastor Sarah” was this Thursday at 2:30 P.M. But you are not too late! Join Pastor Sarah every Thursday at 2:30 P.M. for an interactive story time. The information on how to join is below. In addition to hearing a story or two, we will have time to check in and share how we are doing and what we are doing with our days at home. Story time will last 30-45 minutes.

If you have never used Zoom before you will need to download it onto the computer/phone you will be using. You can download in advance by going to this link:

Join Zoom Meeting:

Meeting ID: 911 751 498

Together in the Spirit,
Pastor Sarah

A Message from the WCC Nominating Committee…
We are looking for people to fill several leadership and committee positions. If you are looking for a way to learn more about how the church operates and want to meet more fellow parishioners, please view the list of available positions and think of how you can share your talents. Don’t wait for us to call you! Please reach out to a member of the Nominating Committee and we will help find the right spot for you. Thank you from the Nominating Committee.

Julie McConnell  |  Tom Temple  |  Ingrid Anderson Grace  |  Bruce Kelly  |  Brad Page  |  Shari Felty
Lay Ministry
                                                               1st Term Started |  Term Length
  Chair Christy Shellenbarger 2020  
  Vice-Chair OPEN 2020 4 yr term
  Clerk Julie McConnell 2019  
  Treasurer Clyde McGregor 2020 2 yr term

Worship Group
  Councilors Steve Dyer 2018  
    Tom Evans 2020  
  Liturgics OPEN   1 or 2 yr term
    JoAnne Brown 2016  
  Music Kathryn Raysses 2018  
    Eileen Baumgarten 2018  
  Design Jill Olson 2015  
    Nicole Jakob 2018  

Flower Donors OPEN   2 yr term

Education Group
  Councilors Susan Snyder 2018  
    Cristina Chung 2019  
  Youth Heather Smith 2015  
    Susan Brewster 2018  
    Katie Shook 2018  
  Spiritual Enrichment Mel Schwartz 2018  
    Paul Van Zuiden 2018  

Outreach Group
  Councilors OPEN   2 yr term
    Jane Huels 2019  
  Mission Doing Colleen Root    
    Karl Schmidt    
    Anne Kelly 2019  
    Joanne Baker 2018  
  Mission Giving Doug Crimmins 2017  
    Ray Gillette 2018  
  Interfaith Junia Hedberg 2015  
    Bob Hastings 2015  
    Carol Jansson 2017  
    Jan Smith 2018  
    Cynthia Churchwell 2019  
    OPEN   2 yr term
  Centennial Loans Will Herst 2019  
    Carla Vorhees 2018  
  Green Team Liz Kunkle 2019  
    Steve Huels 2019  
  Rummage/ Benevolence Eileen Baumgarten 2019  
    Jane Huels 2019  
    Carolyn Kenly 2019  
    Julie McConnell 2019  

Nurture Group
  Councilors Julie Eldring 2019  
    Elsa DeJaegher 2016  
  Care and Calling OPEN   2 yr term
    Sally Sprowl 2017  
    Andrea Anderson 2019  
  Fellowship Meredith Rajan 2019 2 yr term
    Julie Johnson 2019  
    Judy Archambault 2014  
  Prospective Members Kelly Anderson 2018  
    Brad McLane 2016  
  Woman's Society Fleury Lynn 2019  

Support Group
  Councilors Mark Vorhees 2017  
    Sharon King 2016  
  Building and Grounds Brad Page 2020 2 yr term
    Bill Anderson    
  Financial Management Bob Ebersole 2018  
    Bob Linn 2018  
  Human Resources Bob Smith 2018  
    Peter Egan    
  Annual Giving Steve Huels    
    OPEN   1 or 2 yr term
    Tom Temple 2015  
    Tom Churchwell 2018  
  Planned Giving Greg Frezados    
    OPEN   1 or 2 yr term

Nominating Committee
    OPEN   2 yr term
    OPEN   2 yr term
    Bruce Kelly 2017  
    Julie McConnell 2017  
    Floy Shrage 2018  
    Brad Page 2018  
    Shari Felty 2019  
Prospective Members        Kelly Anderson 
(Adhoc Support)                Brad McLane
Connected by the Rev. Jeffrey D. Braun | March 15, 2020
Inclusion Statement

As “A House of Worship For All People” Winnetka Congregational Church acknowledges, supports, and welcomes all God’s children whatever their age, culture, race, creed, gender identity, sexual orientation, socio-economic or marital status, education, nationality, or cultural background, physical or cognitive ability. 

As called by Christ: we seek to celebrate every person’s dignity, uniqueness, relationships, and God-given gifts; to recognize our inter-connectedness as human beings; and to foster a safe, nurturing community in which each person can live out their faith journey authentically and wholeheartedly.
Happy Birthday!

1: James Miller, Neva Egan, Deborah Herst, Taft Lewis
2: Susan Wellington, Robert Kyle, Jack Leadholm
4: Nancy Fox, Susan Gillette
5: Janet Smith, Mack Reynolds, Jennifer McCarty, Jeff Braun, Ali Meyers, Erin Law
6: Bill Seymour, Connie Casey
7: Kristin Struckman, Marisa Mulvaney, Ruby Greene, Jonah Wentz
8: Jane Brower, Judy Blunck, Kara Struckman, Ryan Struckman
9: Bob Hastings, Philip Carlson, Martha Gillis, Beth Dustman
10: Russell Bartz
11: Thomas Law
12: Faith Bugel, Casey Santi, Evan Mueller
13: Sarah Woodburn, Chris Blum, Maggie Leonard
14: William McCarty, Susan Gould, Oliver Chung
15: Virginia Neuckranz, Kristie O'Neill, Sarah Healy
16: Annette Cole
17: Clark Wagner, John Davis, Mia Hales
19: Robyn Lindblad, Mimi Trangsrud, Karin Palasz, Matthew McShea
20: Donna McShea, Elizabeth Walther
21: Jack Jadel
22: Thomas Temple
23: Jean Schreiber, James Law, Jack Hales, Graham Gottschild
24: Peggy McNamara, Hilary Gould
25: Ellis Gould, Kylie Alt
26: Peter Cosyns, Harry Grace, Grace Funke
27: Wendy Sherman, Steven Chadwick
28: Heather Crimmins, Ingrid Jansson, Sara Kirkpatrick
29: Mugs Klapperich
30: Bill Moeller, Eric Underwood, Peter Shellenbarger
31: Michael McNerney, Nelson Geraghty

Prayer List
Prayer Requests can be submitted during worship on the orange cards found in the pews. If you would like the concern to be shared with the pastors only, mark the box next to, “Please do not share my request.”  If that box is not checked, the request will be shared with the pastors and the Prayer Ministry that meets every Monday at 3:30 P.M. It will also be included in the weekly Prayer List. Of course, you are invited to contact Pastor Jeff, Pastor Sarah, or Pastor Jeffrey anytime to share a joy or prayer concern.
New and Updated Petitions and Thanksgivings

For people around the world, including here at home, who have contracted COVID-19, for their friends and family, for health care workers, public health professionals and researchers, and for everyone who is anxious about the disease and its effects on daily activities and the global economy.  See the contemplative poem below.

Ongoing Petitions

Judy Blunck
is now home where she is recovering from a recent fall. Prayers for health and healing.

Brad McLane asks for prayers for his former brother-in-law Brian Hinchliffe who is in palliative care with end-stage lung disease.

Good news! Mary Mumbrue, friend of Betty Carbol and Patti Van Cleave, was declared cancer-free two days before her birthday. What a birthday gift!


What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now, 
on trying to make the world
different than it is. 
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love -
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
Lynn Ungar 3/11/20

Please keep in mind we update our online Prayer List every Thursday. Each week we email a PRAYER LIST to those among our members who request such a list to know about who to be praying for and with. Our Monday afternoon Prayer Group uses the list to hold these persons listed on the Prayer List in their prayers. You too can pray with and for those persons listed by requesting to add your name to the e-blast Prayer List.

Parish Calendar
Church Closed Until Further Notice.

Sunday, March 22
8:45 A.M. Spiritual Enrichment via Zoom: We will have a chance to discuss Sam Fifer’s story
10 A.M. Virtual Worship Service

Wednesday, March 25
1:00 P.M. WCC Reads via Zoom:
We will be discussing the last three chapters of Barbara Brown Taylor’s Holy Envy.
Dawn Huntsman 
Administrative Assistant
The Rev. Jeffrey D. Braun
Senior Pastor
c: 203.913.2574
The Rev. Sarah A. Lohrbach
Associate Pastor for Children, Family and Youth
c: 815.370.0261
The Rev. Jeffrey L. Phillips
Associate Pastor
c: 847.636.6111
Elaine Harrison
Director of Connections Ministry
c: 773.808-4202
Shelli Brown
Church School Coordinator
Matthew Hunter
Director of Music
Jill Hunt
Patti Van Cleave
Executive Director of Operations
Waldek A. Ziolkowski
Maria Sobczak
Paul Allen, Pastor Emeritus
Joseph A. Shank, Pastor Emeritus

Phone: 847.441.3400
AMP - Amphitheater
AC - Alsdorf Center
CR - Centennial Room
CL - Conference Library
EW - Education Wing
HH - Harkness House 
JKK - Junior Kindergarten
L - Library
LC - Little Chapel
LL - Lower Level (Youth Rooms)
MR - Music Room
NN - New Narthex
NR - Nursery
S - Sanctuary
TFH - Tolman Fellowship Hall
WEX - Women's Exchange
WS - Woman's Society
Pastoral Care
A reminder: When you or a loved one is admitted to a hospital or other health care facility, please let your pastors know by phone or email. Due to HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), such organizations are prohibited from providing confidential information to anyone, including clergy. Contact any of us at 441-3400 or via our emails.

 Jeffrey D. Braun | Jeffrey L. Phillips | Sarah A. Lohrbach
725 Pine Street, Winnetka, IL 60093
Copyright © 2020 Winnetka Congregational Church, All rights reserved.

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