October 1, 2001 Patty Kolb, Editor http://www.fccog.org
The Members of The
First Congregational Church of Greenwich, Ministers
The images of September are still far too present in all of our minds. What a stark contrast there was between those horrific pictures which were broadcast again and again, and the perfect September weather. Did you notice? With very few exceptions, the days following the tragedy in New York and Washington could not have been more perfect for rescue and recovery efforts. It was almost as if God, who was weeping with us in the face of evil, gave us every aid possible to help us recover.
How do we help one another recover? While most of us were not in the financial district or at the Pentagon, we have all suffered loss, loss of friends, loss of employment, loss of future opportunities, loss of security and innocence.
My image for how we might proceed comes from a folk song I heard in Maine this summer. The song is actually written about the small town of Marian Bridge, which is on the Myra River in Nova Scotia. One verse says: Out on the Myra, the people are kind/ They love you like they do and help you unwind./And if you come broken, they’ll see that you mend./And I’m going to be with them again./
In these days of October, as the leaves change and the wind chills, we are called to be a community that mends the broken by our love and our presence.
As our neighbors and friends come to us, as we come to one another, we need to reach out with kindness and love, being slow to judge one another and quick to lend a hand.
Marian Bridge is sung about as an oasis of care and healing. In these troubled times, First Church needs to be that place where all are welcomed-in, loved and given a chance to unwind and to mend. Even as God stood with us as we walked through September, that divine Presence will guide us as we open our doors to all who would come, sharing our life together, sharing our retreats and support groups, sharing Noye’s Fludde rehearsals and Women’s Fellowship, Church School, choirs and youth groups. For these are the gifts which we can give, these and faith in God who weeps with us, holds us and heals us. Let’s reach out this October to those around us and say, ''Come and be with us again.''
We are in particular
need of cereal, tuna fish., canned fruit, Jello/pudding mixes. Tote bags
available in the Narthex or Coffee Hour. If you cannot bring your donation on
Sunday, drop it by the Church Office by Wednesday, October 10.
From the Parish Nurse
The tragic and dramatic events of September 11th have brought into our lives an increased sense of our individual and corporate vulnerabilities. Questions about how to cope with these feelings of inadequacy and uncertainty are at the forefront of our thinking. Consequently, I have chosen to postpone this month's planned topic to offer these words of encouragement.
Much has been written and reported in the television news about what measures are being taken to manage the consequences of the multiple attacks on the American people. The President of the U.S. has offered words of condolence to individuals, families and friends of those heroes who have been hurt or died in these incidents. Within our congregation and community, our clergy and staff members have made themselves available to lead worship services, and provide prayer and solace for all who seek their support and guidance.
Questions arise, however, about how to manage in the long-term. Members of our congregation have asked me about whether they are possibly experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? Also, how can they manage their on-going sense of spiritual or psychological weakness? Or, how can they cope with becoming anxious or overwhelmed by stressors that they once considered ''small stuff''?
The events of September 11 have caused injury for all of us-adults, young people, and children alike. The psychological impact alone has rendered all of us with emotional wounds that will require long-term recovery.
Feeling irritable, moody, more tired than usual, ''on edge,'' numb, restless, indecisive or depressed are responses that members of the congregation have described to me in these past few days. A number of individuals have expressed upset with their difficulty concentrating, and decreased ability to ''get on track again'' relative to their productivity and activities at home.
All of these symptoms are ''normal'' considering the horrific trauma that all of us experienced since the attacks. These ''responses'' are common to post traumatic stress syndrome. For most individuals, there is comfort in recognizing and coming to terms with that fact. When we are willing to acknowledge the ''why'' for our feelings, then we can move forward to seek strategies to treat the negative experiences or ''grief'' responses.
For people of God, prayer, personal reflection and reading the Holy Scriptures on a daily basis are strong measures to counteract feelings of depression and anxiety about the future. The message directly from Psalm 10:17-18 from The Good News Bible offers these words of hope: ''You will listen, O Lord, to the prayers of the lowly; you will give them courage. You will hear the cries of the oppressed and the orphans; you will judge in their favor, so that mortal men may cause terror no more.''
If you have questions about or need for referrals to resources in the community for mental health counseling, or are interested in the Where to Begin Support Group, please contact Dee Coover at 637-1791 x21.
Post Script: Some of you may have questions regarding the nation’s blood supply and the recent increase in blood donations following the September 11 attacks on the U.S. This information was supplied by the American Red Cross:
** The Red Cross, while it collects whole blood, does not actually store it as whole blood but rather separates components for multiple uses; there may be some rare exceptions to that. Each blood donation can save as many as three lives. This is possible because red blood cells, platelets and plasma can be extracted from each whole blood donation.
** Platlets can't be frozen and last only 5 days after donation. Therefore, it is important to maintain a constant supply of platelets by continually collecting whole blood. Platlets help blood to clot.
** Red Blood cells can be frozen & stored for up to 10 years. If Red Blood cells are not frozen they have a shelf life of only 42 days. Red Blood cells help carry oxygen to the body's organs and tissue.
** Plasma can be frozen & stored for one year. It can also be broken down by a process called ''fractionation.'' From each unit of plasma come the following products: albumin, which is used to treat shock and burn victims, Antihemophilic factor, used for patients with hemophilia, and immunoglobulin, which is used to treat patients with immune deficiencies. Plasma helps maintain blood pressure, carries blood cells, nutrients, enzymes and hormones, and supplies the critical proteins for blood clotting and immunity.
**Frozen blood products should be used immediately upon unfreezing.
**The Connecticut Blood Services Region serves 31 hospitals. In addition, as part of the National Red Cross blood system, can receive or send blood products as crises may indicate is necessary across the region and across the nation.
Dee Coover, R.N.,
Everyone is urged to attend a panel discussion among several Connecticut churches to learn how others have addressed inclusiveness questions. They are among 17 CT UCC churches who have adopted ''Open & Affirming '' statements (Churches create their own statements which typically state that they welcome homosexual persons, just as they welcome all people). The Inclusiveness Group wants to learn what led them to adopt these statements and what they can share about the process and results. Come learn with us.
The ''Inclusiveness Group'' was established by the Church Committee because, in part, the UCC asked churches to look at inclusiveness in their congregations, following several nationally known acts of violence against homosexuals. The group has conducted programs to educate itself/the congregation on these complex issues. This year, Dr. David Bartlett conducted a series of Second Hours on the topic of ''The Bible and Homosexuality'' and gave a talk for the Church Committee and Board of Trustees. Additional sermons and education programs are planned. Contacts: Kathryn Pugh/Chuck McConnell, co-chairs, or Tom Stiers, clergy liaison.
First Church is very busy preparing for our quadrennial performances of Benjamin Britten's chancel opera ''Noye's Fludde'' the weekend of November 3 & 4, Saturday at 7:30 pm and Sunday, as the 10 am worship service and again at 4 pm Jon Hunt has written the following about the meaning of ''Noye's Fludde'' for him in light of his lifelong involvement with the piece and the recent events in our world:
''In the hours following the attack on the World Trade Center I was called by three area churches to play the organ at impromptu prayer services that were being organized. I chose to turn down those invitations in order to attend the 7 pm service at First Church. That evening I knew where I wanted to be......it was among my friends at church.
''Instinctively, at certain times in our lives we know where we need to be. For me, every four years it is with 'Noye's Fludde' at First Church. Along with several others, I have been privileged to take part in every production of the flood since the first one in 1968. This will be the tenth time that the flood will have been presented and I, along with Christopher Pankratz, will be playing piano.
'''Noye's Fludde' is a story of hope, survival and unity. Its music is structured as a sail being raised and lowered. Starting off calmly, the piece gradually builds to an overwhelming crescendo as the storm unfolds, and then ends softly as dry land once again appears.
''At a time of coming together at our church, community and country, I can't think of a better piece at a better time to be performed than 'Noye's Fludde.' I hope many of you will become involved in our production. 'Noye's Fludde' is inclusiveness at its best.''
Jon's words underscore how worthy of your participation and financial support this undertaking is. A letter has gone out to enlist your support as patrons of the performances. A patron contribution will entitle you to tickets in a special patrons section at the Saturday evening or Sunday afternoon performance. Please, be generous! And even if you missed the Flood Rallye on September 23rd, there may still be room for you in the ark. Call John Stansell, Hilary Lawrence or Anne Wachsman.
John Stansell on the Organ Oktoberfest
In her August 26 sermon about how we deal with change, Brenda Stiers told about deliberations at The Riverside Church about their music program. An increasingly large African-American contingent in the congregation wanted the music for worship to reflect their particular culture, spirituals and gospel-style music. The outcome of the deliberations was a decision to retain as the core of worship the wonderful organ and the ''classical'' musical tradition associated with it, but to diversify and give equal status to music from the African-American tradition.
Here is my personal observation of an outgrowth of this process: I have for many years attended the Summer Organ Recital Series at Riverside. The audience often consisted mostly of my colleagues and the usual organ audience that one sees around the City. This summer I had the honor to be play on the series, and I also attended several of the other recitals. The audience has changed! An increasingly large proportion is members of the congregation. So the process has created an apparent sense of ownership of the organ and its music. Can our congregation also embrace its organ?
The first recital of our Ninth Annual Organ Oktoberfest will be take place Wednesday, October 3, at 8 pm in the Meetinghouse. The performers will be three members of First Church, flutist Mary Fike, cellist Mary Costanza and organist John Stansell.
The featured flute piece will be Johann Sebastian Bach's Sonata in E Major (BWV 1035), with organ and cello providing the continuo part. In addition, Ms. Fike will perform Trois Movements for flute and organ by Jehan Alain with me. Ms. Constanza will perform Oration by Daniel Pinkham, part of a recently completed cycle of works for organ and other instruments. The organ solo selections will be the Bach/Vivaldi Concerto in D minor, Prelude and Fugue in B Major by Camille Saint-Saens, and the popular Prelude and Fugue in G minor of Marcel Dupre.
The recital scheduled for October 10 has been cancelled. Felix Gubser of Zurich had planned to bring his seven-year-old son for a visit to New York City as part of his recital trip, but feels that the time is not right for such a visit. Heiner Grasst, however, scheduled for October 17, is coming. Let us all support him for his decision to honor his commitment to us. It will be his fifth recital here.
I urge members of the congregation to take advantage of great music, offered right here, as a balm for the anxiety of these troubled times.
There is no admission charge. A donation is requested. An informal reception with mulled cider and cookies follows each recital.
Correction: The date of the last Sunday worship service in October (on back page of this issue), Senior Deacon Chuck Wheelock preaching, is October 28.
This year, in an effort to address the conflicts families sometimes have with athletic or travel obligations and Sunday morning worship service, we will begin offering an informal worship opportunity on Saturday evenings. We hope to bring the informal ''come as you are'' intimacy of the beach services to these evening services. They are scheduled to take place at 5 pm on Saturdays, October 13, October 27 (our Annual Harvest Dinner will follow this service), November 10 and December 1, 2001. The 2002 schedule will be announced at a later date.
Learn More About First Church
Interested in learning more about how you or your family can connect meaningfully with your faith in a welcoming and relevant way? Please plan to join us for an informal discussion on Thursdays October 25 and November 1 at 7:30 pm in the Lounge. Meet staff. Hear more about the vital programs at First Church. Explore how you can get connected. Sitters are available. Please contact James Ebert or Tom Stiers if you are interested or have questions. 637-1791 New members will be invited into membership on Sunday, November 9 at the 10 am worship service.
This Fall at First Church
Informal Worship Service
If you attended the first informal Saturday service, you know what a success it was! Our next informal service will take place on Saturday, October 13, at 5 pm in the Auditorium. Dr. Tom Stiers will preach a sermon entitled ''Deliver Us From Evil'' and there will be special music and communion. The service is intergenerational and brings the intimacy of the beach service indoors. Join us as we embark on a new spiritual undertaking this year.
Let the Light Shine Forth
Each year in October, we ask the congregation and friends to make a financial commitment to the church for the coming year. The theme for our Stewardship Campaign for 2002 is ''Let the Light Shine Forth,'' a title based on the scripture passage John 8:12, ''And again Jesus spoke to them saying, ''I am the light of the world and he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'' The church acknowledges that current world events have affected all of our lives and many of us are feeling uncertainty. The loss of landmark structures in New York and Washington brings into focus the treasure that we have here in First Church, both the physical structure and the church family housed within. We find in our own lives our need for the church to serve as a foundation. We must ensure that this foundation is there for the future.
During the week of October 8, you will receive a brochure and a pledge card. You are asked to prayerfully consider your pledge for 2002. Stewardship Sunday will be October 21--we hope to have your commitment on that Sunday. We will celebrate our time of commitment to the future at our annual Harvest Dinner on Saturday, October 27, following the Informal Worship Service.
Donations for WTC Relief Funds
Our office has received numerous phone calls and e-mails requesting information about First Church’s response to the tragedy. All who are interested in supporting immediate and long-term disaster response are asked to contribute to the United Church of Christ’s Hope from the Rubble special appeal of One Great Hour of Sharing. These dollars will be used to help provide trained and certified volunteers to offer emotional and spiritual care to those directly and indirectly affected. If you would like to contribute, please make your check out to One Great Hour of Sharing and write ''Hope from the Rubble appeal'' in the memo section and mail to Kirk Young at the Church Office.
Understanding Islam to be the Topic of Second Hours
The devastating attacks on the United States by terrorists have exposed to us our need to have knowledge of world religions, including the Muslim faith. We are fortunate to have area residents who are experts on the subject who will address us at several upcoming Second Hours.
On Sunday, October 7, former U.N. official Derek Boothby will speak on the current world crisis. Mr. Boothby is an arms control and security expert. Join us in the Chapel at 11:30 am to hear this very knowledgeable speaker.
On Sunday, October 14, Dr. Hafiz H.M. Qadri, Imam of the Stamford Islamic Center and Mrs. Gulafshan Alavi, leader of the Islamic Women’s Group will be present in our 10 am worship service.
On Sunday, October 28, Dr. Dale T. Irvin, professor of world religions at New York Theological Seminary, will present a Second Hour on Christian and Muslim history. He writes: '' Christians and Muslims have had a long, and often violent, history with one another...we often cannot understand why Islam continues to treat the secular West as a religious enemy. What is the root of anti-Western violence in the Muslim world? What are the alternatives?'' These topics will be addressed at 11:30 am in the Lounge. Join us!
Calling All 20/30 Somethings
If you are in your twenties or thirties, and want to connect or re-connect to First Church, look for upcoming details on our first gathering of Young Adults in October.
If you are interested in becoming part of the ''critical mass'' that will meet before our mid-October launch to help with planning, or if you just have a question, please call James Ebert at 637-1791x23 or email him at email@example.com
Could You Be A Youth Advisor?
Always wanted to volunteer and haven't quite found the just the right venue? Like kids? Have an hour a week to give? This is your chance to make a difference. See James Ebert if you're interested in helping as a middle school youth advisor. Try it, you'll like it.
Women’s Fellowship Luncheon
There’s still room at The Women’s Fellowship opening luncheon. It will take place on Tuesday, October 9 at noon in the Auditorium. The featured speaker will be a return of Father Paul Keenan, author of Heartstorming: The Way of the Purposeful Life. We encourage all women to come and hear this inspiring speaker and to enjoy the fellowship and good food. Please call the Church Office to sign up.
The afternoon group will meet Monday,
October 1, at 1 pm in the Lounge. The evening group will meet Tuesday, October 2 at 7:30 pm in the Lounge.
The church & community is invited to our October educational lecture: Our topic will be ''Lyme's Disease: Symptoms, Prevention and Care'' presented by Cathy Morrissey and Yvonne Kosakow on Monday, October 15 at 1 pm and Tuesday, October 16 at 7:30 pm in the Lounge.
Autumn Blood Drive
This year’s First Church Blood Drive will honor the victims and families of those lost in the recent terrorist attacks. If you are over 17 years old, weigh more than 110 pounds and are in good health, please consider donating this year.
Appointments are required. The Red Cross has saved slots for First Church members. Please call 869-8444 ASAP for your appointment and mention that you are a First Church member.
Please help with the Blood Drive
The Women's Fellowship needs help during the October 20 Red Cross Blood Drive. Please sign up to help ''staff'' the drive for several hours and/or bring refreshments to feed our valued blood donors. Look for sign-up clipboard in the Church Office or call Mary Bausch at 622-0309.
Church School News
Our lives have changed, our world has changed - since I last sat down to write. Yet with all that has changed, our love for our children has remained constant. Our faith and reliance upon God, though perhaps severely tested, is going through a period of rediscovery, and I believe renewal and strengthening.
We have always wanted the best for our children - to provide them with a world of beauty and opportunity, with a world in which they know they are loved. As I have thought about these last days - and how they have touched our time, it has been for me, also a time of rediscovery - and surprise - for while much has been threatened, those hopes and dreams continue - but now in new and different ways.
We have tried to create an ideal world - but now our idealism has been broken open - and reality - our day-to-day life - is not the same. We are no longer untouchable, impervious to harm, simply happy and blithe of spirit. No longer do we take for granted the safe return of family members to our homes each night. Hugs are cherished gifts given and received. Personal priorities have been put aside, replaced by those of our families, friends, and those in need, and those changes are bringing a new sort of beauty to our lives. While we walk through a time of tragedy, we are doing so with incredible new sensitivities and acts of kindness taking place at every turn. This is a time of rebirth, of rededication to those things now realized anew as precious.
This is also a time when we are drawn to express our faith. Sitting down to dinner with family and friends is a gift, and we find ourselves drawn to offer thanks. Going to bed at night is a time for prayer - asking God's protection, and seeking God's healing grace for our world. It is a real chance for our faith to be kindled anew in our lives as families. For those of you who may be seeking prayer resources for your family, we hope you will pick up a copy of our Church School booklet entitled ''Prayers and Graces for Children and Families.'' These are available in the Church School, in the Reception Office, and on our sermon rack.
In these days to come, I would pray that we hold onto our dreams and help our children to see beauty in the old familiar ways and in many new ways as person upon person acts thoughtfully and with care. Let us also discover for ourselves the opportunity to love and act kindly. In the midst of all this let us continually let our children know they are loved. Our hopes and dreams for our children have not changed, only deepened and now more real. May God be with you, today and every day.
Sound Beach Doors Restored
It seems highly appropriate that the final building project of the Shelter Strong Campaign has been the restoration of the oak double doors facing Sound Beach Avenue, below the Chancel stained glass window. The doors and interior hardware were in such poor shape that they had to be replaced, while the framing, exterior hardware and the light fixture were restored to their former beauty. Please stop by and take a close look.
The last part of the restoration was the gold leafing of the engraved rosettes and words above the door. That work was completed Wednesday morning, September 12. It says simply, ''Come Unto Me'' and is now clearly visible to anyone driving past on Sound Beach Avenue. In light of the events of September 11, we pray this message will bring some comfort to those passing by. Many of you will recognize that the words come from the King James version of Matthew 11:28 ''Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest''.
The good colleges are getting fussier as more and more quality students apply. Where do you fit in? Talk with our own Mary Leinbach, an experienced and respected college consultant. Her $200 charge goes to the First Church College Loan Fund and is tax deductible. You can reach her at 531-9434.
Windows Before & After
Many of you have noticed how much brighter it is in the Meetinghouse these days following the removal of the Lexan plastic from our treasured windows. Don’t miss Business Administrator George Handley’s excellent photo display that chronicles the Before & After appearance. It’s on the bulletin board that backs onto the Lounge.
Mission Day 2001:
Mark your calendars! On October 14, the Christian Outreach Committee is sponsoring an exhibition of many of the organizations supported by First Church's outreach dollars and First Church volunteers. Beginning after the service and running until about 1 pm, Mission Day will provide you with an opportunity to hear first-hand about the missions and works of these vital agencies.
Outreach is a central part of life at First Church, where we have developed a wonderful tradition of generous giving, both of our money and of ourselves. Don't miss this chance to learn more about the lives we touch every day, in so many ways. From child care to hospice care, from safe places for children to safe environments for seniors, First Church is there to help. Mission Day 2001 will let you experience personally some of the great things that we are helping to happen in the larger world around us.
Acting Company will present the
The current Adult Education class reading Peter Gomes’s The Good Book will continue on Wednesday, October 3, from 7 to 8 pm in the Lounge. Read Chapter 12, ''The Bible & Evil.''
New Members Class
A new member training class will be held on Sunday, September 30 and the class will join the church on Sunday, October 14. If you are interested in becoming a member of First Church, please call Dr. Stiers or Rev. Ebert at the Church Office.
Is your birthday
missing from this list? If so, please send it to Mary Babbidge at the Church