Reaching Heights February 2024

Heights Christian Church Icon of Two Followers Lifting a CrossReaching Heights February 2024

Links to this month’s news:


  • Worship Themes, Ash Wednesday, Lent Materials


  • Kate’s Cogitations
  • Listening and Partnering Together
  • Newcomer Gatherings


  • Mission Fund Gift
  • Administration
  • Education
  • Worship Planning Team
  • Mission Ministry 
  • Fellowship
  • Community Engagement Opportunities


  • Wednesday’s Together
  • Book Group and Meditative Arts Group
  • Gift Cards
  • Social Media
  • Birthdays

See the Serving Schedule

Worship Themes for February 2024

February 4    5th Sunday after Epiphany    Mark 1:29-39  “That All Be Made Well”

February 11   Last Sunday after Epiphany    Mark 9:2-9
“Mountaintop Glory”

Lent begins with Ash Wednesday February 14

Ash Wednesday – Together with Plymouth Church February 14, Noon and 7:30 pm. Plymouth Church and Heights Christian Church will share worship services on Ash Wednesday to begin the season of Lent. Both services will be in the Sanctuary, with Dr. Kate sharing a meditation on the theme: “Tune My Heart,” and Rev. Matt Wooster and Pastor Dillon Shipman offering prayers and scripture. Join us for prayer, song, scripture, reflection, and the imposition of ashes.

Ash Wednesday Dinner Sign up in the Welcome Center (just outside the Church Office) for an Ash Wednesday Dinner on February 14th at 6:15 pm. Menu: stuffed shells, salad, rolls, dessert. $8.00 per adult, $15 per couple, $25.00 Family max. Please register by February 11. (As always, if you want to attend and the cost is prohibitive, come anyway! Dr. Kate can cover it.)

This Lent we will use worship materials from A Sanctified Art called “Wandering Heart: Figuring Out Faith with Peter”. The series focuses on the life and faith of one of Jesus’ most famous disciples. In Peter, we see a person who is both steadfast and unsteady, a dear friend and a betrayer, a follower and a wanderer. In Peter, we often see ourselves. By following Peter’s journey, we watch the story of Jesus unfold through the eyes of a very normal human trying to figure it all out – just like us. Phrases from the hymn Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing form the theme titles for each week. This Lent, we will look for ourselves in the stepping stones of Peter’s story. We will reflect on the stages of our own faith journeys we as well as who and what has shaped us along the way. As we wander, let us tine our hearts to sing God’s grace.

February 18     First Sunday in Lent   Luke 5:1-11
“Jesus Sought Me”  

Jesus doesn’t seek out trained rabbis to be his disciples; instead, he calls a few Galilean fishermen to follow him and join his ministry. In this story, Jesus tells Simon Peter to drop his nets one more time, even though they’ve been fishing all night long and have caught nothing. To their surprise, they haul in nets bursting with fish. In response to this abundant miracle, Peter says, “Go away from me, Lord!” And yet, Peter and his partners drop their nets and follow Jesus. What is the beginning of your faith story? When has God sought you out? Have you ever felt like your calling was pursuing—or chasing—you? Did you resist? Did you follow?

February 25     Second Sunday in Lent   Matthew 14:22-33
“Rescue Me from Danger”

As a new disciple, perhaps Peter wants to prove himself. Boldly, in the middle of a storm, Peter steps out of the boat to join Jesus who is walking on top of the waves. He, too, walks on water until the wind shakes his trust and he begins to sink. Many of us know what it feels like to be thrown off balance, to feel as if we’re sinking. Maybe this looks like doubt, unexpected change, too-busy seasons of life, devastating grief, or distance from God. In this story, we empathize with the desperation Peter feels as he cries out, and we pray for God to save us when we sink.


From the staff


Kate’s Cogitations

This Lent our worship series focuses on several stories from Peter’s faith journey. Each week we’ll hear him work through various stages of faith as he follows Jesus (and questions, and declares, and denies, and promises!).  And as we explore these stories together, we’ll get a different perspective of the stories of Jesus’ ministry. Perhaps it will call us to examine our own faith journey also – with our own ups and downs, and twists and curves. Everyone has a faith journey, and everyone is welcome at HCC, no matter where they are on their own journey. The richness of diversity (of belief, background, practice, and perspective) feeds us all and helps us find our own path. As we get to know Peter better, I hope we will consider him (and Jesus!) companions on the Way. May we all be companions on the Way to each other and to all who join us on the journey.
in peace,

Listening and Partnering Together

Interview Forms Due February 4th! 

We are deep into our interview phase and hoping you will return your self-interview form and any other interview report forms by February 4! We are looking forward to hearing from members of the congregation and community alike as we seek to discern God’s action in the world and how we might join in. 

Gathering information through Goals 1-3 (Community Engagement, Listening to the Community, Listening to Our Members) is an important step of our process and we want to hear from as many people as possible. We’ll share with the congregation some of the themes we hear and some suggestions for how HCC might be involved in mission to the community as a result. We will try some “mini-experiments” to learn even more about our community and ourselves.And we’ll keep our eyes, ears, our minds and hearts, open to the movement and guidance of the Holy Spirit!   If you have questions or suggestions, please see Dr. Kate or Jane Troha. Thank you! 

Goal #1:           Increase HCC’s community engagement, get to know our                              neighbors,  and build connections
Invitation: for each member of HCC to attend at least one community meeting or event each month, primarily to listen, to learn, and to increase our visibility

Goal #2:           Learn from our neighbors and identify opportunities for                               partnership
Invitation: for you to meet with someone in the community for a 30-45 minute one on one conversation. (Contact info and interview questions provided.)

Goal #3:           Hear from HCC members about their perspectives on HCC,
                             our past, present and future.
Invitation:  for you to meet with congregants to hear their views on HCC – to ask them about their experience with and involvement in HCC, and what they hope for HCC’s future.

Goal #4:        Experiment with some “action items” and events

Invitation:  for ministry team members and others to propose small events for HCC to host (or help with) that allow us to interact with and learn from the community

Goal #5:        Discern next steps based on all we learn through listening, partnering and experimenting.

Invitation: Hold congregational meeting(s) where we share what we have learned, as we hold space for creative imagining together.

Newcomer Gatherings  

We are blessed by the presence and participation of folks who are newer to our congregational life. A few have expressed their desire to join our congregation officially. In preparation for this, we will hold 2 Newcomer Gatherings after worship on February 18 and 25 (12:00 – 1:00 pm). If you are a newcomer who would like to know more about HCC and our denomination, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), or if you are one of the elders who has agreed to attend these sessions, please join us. Lunch will be provided, so please let Dr. Kate know of your attendance plans and any dietary restrictions. This will be an informal time of getting to know each other better, sharing about our own faith journeys, and asking questions about the church. 





Mission Fund Gift

When our congregation sold the Van Aken building and began nesting at Plymouth Church, the Board of Trustees set aside a portion of the sale proceeds to be used to fund gifts to worthy causes and organizations for mission purposes. Each year our budget designates $3500 for local mission gifts and another $3500 for world mission.

At its January meeting, the Board approved a gift of $1000 to the Cleveland Food Bank. Please remember that suggestions for gifts can come from any congregant. Simply notify the Moderator, Jane Troha, or any other Trustee and we will consider your request at the next meeting of the Board. Please provide a few details as to what amount you are recommending, the nature of the organization and any other information you think would be helpful.

The purpose of these funds is to further HCC’s missional presence both locally and globally. We want to disburse them fully each year. Help us find meaningful ways to do so!

Administration Ministry

A note to the Congregation and friends of Heights Christian Church for your participation in the just completed Stewardship Campaign, Thank You for your support of HCC. The total pledges for 2024 have been budgeted at $82,600 which is a slight increase in the budgeted pledges for 2023 of $81,000.

Each of you who pledged this year received a hand written thank you note from Shirley Blackwell, the Assistant Team Leader for this Ministry. Thank You Shirley for that effort.

Education Ministry

Sunday mornings during Lent, Adult Study will meet at 9:30 am in the Chapel. We will also welcome participants on Zoom at the Worship link.

Our study is full of questions and wonder. We look at our topics through multiple lenses and ask “how shall we then live?” All are welcome to join us any Sunday.

February 18 Mark 14-15:Judas Iscariot and the Naked Young Man”

February 25 and March 3 Atonement, Jesus’ Death, and Resurrection: Why did Jesus have to  die and what does it mean for us?

March 10 and 17 Baptism 101: The history, practices, and meanings of Christian baptism

We’ll take a break over Palm Sunday and Easter.

Mid-Week Bible Study Lenten Study

Hard and Holy Work: A Lenten Journey through the Book of Exodus
By Tyler Mayfield & Mary Alice Birdwhistell

Are we paying attention to the holy ground beneath our feet? Where do we see burning bushes in our world today, and what are they calling us to do? Do spiritual encounters in our lives have holy consequences in the world around us?

Many of us want to understand how to integrate our personal spiritual lives more actively with our engagement in working for justice and the liberation of the oppressed and marginalized. Hard and Holy Work provides a space for just that, helping readers participate in Lent in a new way by becoming attuned to God’s boundless presence in our world and waking up to and taking action for God’s justice through exploring stories from the book of Exodus that have inspired the work of liberation for centuries.

We will explore stories from the book of Exodus—alongside numerous contemporary stories—to help us to see anew and contemplate how God is calling us to respond to what is not right in the world: racial injustice, especially borne by women of color, houselessness, and discrimination against LGBTQ+ communities and people with disabilities.

Lent is traditionally a time of self-reflection and action that prepares followers of Christ to walk more intentionally in the way of God. Hard and Holy Work will take us through a unique Lenten journey, encouraging us to see those who are marginalized or suffering as God sees them; contemplate how privilege, fear, risk, and feelings of uncertainty can cloud our attention; and practice endurance for the messy middle of justice work, leaning on God’s provision and rest when the way forward is unclear.

Leadership of this study will be shared by Carolyn Troha, Dr. Kate Gillooly and Jane Troha. Come and join us Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. on Zoom. The study will begin on February 20th and run for the six weeks of Lent. Contact Jane if you wish to purchase a copy of the book (cost around $11.00).

Worship Planning Team 

Zoom Hosts – We are delighted to welcome Chris and Carson Crosby to the Zoom hosting team! They will serve on the second Sunday of each month. And we give thanks for Rosalind Powell’s faithful service as she retires from this monthly ministry. Zoom Hosts provide a warm welcome to our online worshippers and help us detect technical difficulties through our weekly sound checks. Chris and Carson join Valencia McMillan, Cindy Maxey, and Carolyn Troha as the Zoom Host team, each with their scheduled week of the month. Please express your gratitude to them all when you see them.

Missions Ministry

Wall of Love – our first delivery to Lomond School was made on December 13,2023. A nearly overflowing tub was delivered with these items: hats, gloves, mittens, scarfs, and socks. Recent below zero temperatures followed by Shaker Heights accumulating as much as 12 inches of snow, our donations were there in time to help. The tub will continue to be in the narthex and donation can be made through March 10,2024. Generosity didn’t kill the cat but rather provided for children in need during Ohio’s colder months. Thank you, Heights Christian Church.

Neighbor Night convenes year-round on the last Tuesday of the month. All are welcome. This month the date is February 27th from 6-8pm. The place is Stephani Tubbs-Jones building. Consider attending. Often a person from Food Network rescue delivers produce which is available to those who want it.

Egg cartons: Connee Choi started this collection many years ago on her own related to her weekly Saturday visits to Farmers Market. It has grown. There will be a very large sign in the Narthex with the number as of January 31, 2024. Thanks to Connee for her generous heart.

Primary voting in Ohio is March 19. Missions still have a few reusable LWV 411 yard signs. We will work to get more information in the weekly news update. Exploration for a time to have small information group setting on the way.

Adult Faith and Life at Plymouth UCC: Heights Missions Team support community partnerships and will continue to meet to find ways to join our partner however we can as they reach out and stand up for those who are marginalized locally and throughout the world.

If you are interested in joining Plymouth volunteers at the Food Bank, contact Paul Qua;

Donations to the Little Free Pantry are available for non-perishable food at any time.  It is located just off the parking lot here at Heights Christian and Plymouth Church. Stats from Cleveland Food Bank: Do you know that 1 out of 5 children live in poverty. 1 in 7 people are food insecure while there is about 40% of food in U.S. is wasted.

Continue praying but also doing for others. Some of us learned that as recent events in our lives has lead to more thinking/dreaming of what’s next. Micah 6:8. Missions is a community issue beyond the brick and mortar of the building.

Missions has consulted with Martha Cubberley for a look at how some thing in the past for thinking of others in February will include an easy participation again. The Mission team will consult with others to look back to provide some joy from to Campbell Court residents via its connection to the Christian Church. We will also discuss with HCC liaison, Val McMillian, to Campbell Court for her guidance.

Here is what we would like to do: Around the theme of Love and Valentine’s Day. In these these times we all could use a little joy uplifting to brighten our day. Missions will purchase Valentine cards to be left in the Narthex for your signature and/or statement to be delivered to Campbell Court residents and Meals on Wheels on or by February 14th. Or you can design your own. Children are invited to participate. Missions will coordinate with the liaison and Martha for more. Please check the weekly update news or email or call Andrena: 216-848-0108.

HCC’s weekly update has information that is current each week.

Remember to visit the clip board in the Narthex to sign up for community engagement events.

From our Fellowship Team Leaders:

Hospitality Hour

Hope you all have been enjoying our Hospitality Hours on the first Sunday of each month.

It does take a team to put this together and we need some volunteers to assist by providing snacks for these gatherings.   It seems to work well if we have two (2) people provide snacks, one a sweet and the other a savory snack.  We also like to include the bread from the communion table with some butter and perhaps some jam.

Please contact Linda Durham or Nikki Crosby if you can provide a snack in an upcoming month.  Thank you for your generosity.

Community Engagement Opportunities

Coffee & Community  at the Shaker Main Library
You’re invited to enjoy a cup of coffee (or herbal tea) while expanding your community. Focus varies each week – there may be a speaker, a craft project, a conversation prompt, puzzles and games…or a combination of the above. Just drop by the Teen Room (while the teens are in school) on Wednesday mornings at 10 am.





Wednesday’s Together

Plymouth Church, UCC and Heights Christian Church are both blessed to call our building at 2860 Coventry Road home. This coming year, both congregations are looking forward to growing friendships between our members, as well as discerning what ministry opportunities and events we can embark on together! One way we will seek to expand our relationship is through sharing “Wednesdays Together.” On the first three Wednesdays of each month, we will share8 in fellowship and formation with one another. We look forward to seeing many folks from HCC and Plymouth at each gathering!

On First Wednesdays, join us for Book Group. Come and be in conversation around a different chosen book each month. You’re welcome even if you haven’t read the book to enjoy the discussion together.

On Second Wednesdays, join us for Meditative Arts Group. We will provide projects or you can bring your own.  Everyone is invited to color, doodle, draw, paint, knit, sew – whatev8er fits your interest and provides soothing quiet for you. We will gather with fellowship, then listen to calm, soothing music while we break out our pens, crayons, colored pencils, and knitting needles.

On Third Wednesdays, join us for Lunch Club. We gather for a homemade meal and fellowship, and then listen to a speaker from the community or one of our churches. We will occasionally take a field trip out to a destination in Northeast Ohio, so be on the lookout for where we will meet each month. There will be a suggested donation amount  for lunch each month.   RSVP to Pastor Dillon at, which is necessary for food preparation.

This Month’s Lunch Club
Wednesday, February 21 at 12:30pm in Fellowship Hall
Join us for lunch and fellowship, as well as a time of getting to practice Lectio Divina. Latin for “Divine Reading,” Lectio Divina is an ancient and simple, yet rich practice of praying holy text, nourishing and deepening our relationship with God. It is an active practice that uses thoughts, images, and insights to enter into a conversation with God. We will not treat the scripture as a text to be studied, but rather as a still-speaking word as we listen and explore together. The suggested donation for lunch is $10. RSVP to Pastor Dillon at, which is necessary for food preparation.

Book Group

The Book Group will meet – Wednesday, February 7 at 1:00 pm in Room 102 at Plymouth Church. If you would like to have lunch before the meeting, bring your own and come at 12:30. We will be discussing the book The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin.

Meditative Arts Group

Meditative Arts Group will meet at 1:00 pm February 14 in the Atrium.  We will provide projects or you can bring your own.  Everyone is invited to color, doodle, draw – whatever fits your interest and provides soothing quiet for you. We will gather with fellowship, then listen to calm, soothing music while we break out our pens, crayons, colored pencils, etc.

Gift Cards

Remember gift cards are available on Sunday mornings and in the office every weekday during normal office hours.

If you want them for your gardening and home update projects pick them up now.  Your demand will determine whether we order more.  Help HCC while you brighten your yard and home.

Support Heights Christian Church while you shop.  Get your shopping done early.  And make your life less stressful.  Gift cards are easy and appreciated.  (Cash or check only, please)

Social Media outreach

HCC is on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and You-Tube and Linked-In!  Several recordings of special worship services have been uploaded to our channel on You-Tube. If you see something you like, share it on your page! This will increase our reach and may draw in our next visitor!



3 – Don Troha     8 – Dell Bigham     8 – Joan Fronck     14 – David Blackwell      16 – Aaron Sharpley

1 – Victor Mullen     3 – Avery Dunn     5 – Neil Chase     9 – Jani McWilliams
12 – Vel Scott     15 – Michele Moreland     16 – Danielle McDonald
18 – Nikki Crosby     20 – Daniel Chase     24 – Kese Webb     30 – Jane Troha

We are glad to share the birthdays we have on record each month and encourage members to reach out with greetings. We apologize if someone’s name has been omitted – please call Kese in the church office to share your birthday if we don’t have it in our list. We want to celebrate you!