November 1, 2001 Patty Kolb, Editor http://www.fccog.org
The Members of The
First Congregational Church of Greenwich, Ministers
Sunday, November 4
Sunday, November 11
Sunday, November 25
Thoughts on Stewardship
The following is the text of a Moment of Concern delivered on Stewardship Sunday by Chairman of the Board of Trustees Chuck Ainsworth:
Good morning everyone! A few months ago we celebrated together in this Meetinghouse the virtual completion of the Shelter Strong capital improvement projects. At that festive event I suggested embracing the metaphor used by Bill Shore, in his work, "The Cathedral Within," that of finding the sustained commitment within us, to view social change and the pursuit of justice for all people, in the same way that the cathedral builders of the middle ages viewed their tasks, namely that masons and carpenters and stained glass cutters were not likely to see the completed cathedrals in their lifetimes. Nonetheless they were motivated to give of their talents, time and treasure in the belief that fulfillment of a great vision in praise of the glory of God would one day occur. We completed our projects and celebrated the beauty of our house, but we also realized that we had strengthened part of our cathedral - the physical structures that enable us to fulfill our mission to seek to know and make known, God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Our next task would be to proclaim the strengths of our other assets, namely this community of faith, of volunteers and staff, ministers all, to be seekers of truth and enlightenment and companions to others in the journey. We also knew that we had reached that opportune moment to sharpen our focus on the work within and outside our "cathedral." As with the building of great cathedrals, we were and are called upon to continue our cathedral building though the continued commitment of our talents, time and treasures. By now most of you will have received the mailing created by your Stewardship Committee. Hopefully the beauty of Laura Pugliese’s design of the Stewardship brochure induced you to review with appreciation the many messages of our ministries and to contemplate the kind of value you place on being part, like the great cathedral builders, of an effort that was begun before our time, and, with our contribution, will continue generations after us.
It is for this reason that I am here this morning. It is about our commitment and contribution to help "Let the Light Shine Forth." It is about asking each of us to consider in especially unsettling times, when many demands are being placed upon us, which of our many gifts we will place here. Time, talent and treasure!
Let's focus for a moment on the first two - time and talent. In keeping with the idea of "Let the Light Shine Forth" I was looking through an old file that had not seen the light of day for many years. I found an article I had clipped - it was a column written by Erma Bombeck whose common sense and wit will be remembered by many. Her column was called "Being a Volunteer--A Noble Profession" and she wrote:
“I was a ‘thousand points of light’ long before volunteerism lighted up the sky and had an official name. I had my lights short-circuited, burned at both ends and occasionally punched out. I hang in there because generally volunteerism is a dazzling galaxy of gems that streak across the sky and illuminate the world when it falters and cannot find its way."
This morning's service is strong testimony to the dazzling galaxy of gems - the volunteers who bring us beautiful music, the preparations of the deacons, the service of the ushers, the greeters, the radio crew, the volunteers who will deliver flowers, the members of the committees who will meet after our worship service to consider outreach allocations, those who will serve us coffee, the teachers in our church school, the volunteers who designed our Stewardship materials and themes - a dazzling galaxy of gems, indeed. There are "settings" for more than 300 "gems" who will be needed in the year ahead to allow the Light of First Church to Continue to Shine Forth! At a time when all of us harbor concerns about national and world events, about our families and friends, we need to consider the gifts of our time and talent - the cathedral within, if you will - that will be part of our return to God. Bringing these gifts will continue to be needed and appreciated.
As the Stewardship brochure so artistically explains - the physical and spiritual beauty of this place - comes also with certain real costs. This is the time of the year in which we decide how much of our treasure we will make available to enable the continuation and development of our ministries for 2002. This is the time that the Trustees ask each of us to make a commitment of our dollars, to sign a pledge to pay over the 12 months of 2002 a generous portion of our financial resources. For those who are able, we are asking an increase of 15% over this year's commitment. Our average pledge of $1,700 in 2001 still lags behind other comparable community churches. If you can do more with your treasure, we ask that you prayerfully consider doing so.
As you may already know, this past year, for all of its emotional or financial challenges , we have been able to maintain a steady long-term course, even though the short run has had a few rocky shoals. The Deacons and the Trustees together with many other interested members of the congregation, or rather "dazzling gems," have pursued a Strategic Plan that has had us focused on: 1.) developing new opportunities for worship, such as the experimental Saturday evening service, and 2.) implementing new ways to understand our "welcomeness" to visitors through a different focus of our Membership Committee. Thanks go to Allison Arsenault, Sarah Thalheim, Jan Gelb, James Ebert and others for creating new materials to be used to interpret our message and uniqueness (with the help of Robin Loughman, Patty Kolb, Laura Pugliese, Peggy Briggs, Barbara Cooper, to name a few). We have also been considering groups and individuals whom we are not reaching through our Inclusiveness Task Force (Kathryn Pugh and Chuck McConnell, chairs) as well as through the newly identified Accessibility Task Force with Marge York and others. We have been studying the use of our real assets under the leadership of Ty Anderson and others; the development of stewardship through Colin Murphy, Robert Riley, Dave Williams, et al; and the development of Endowment/ Planned Giving (Dana Low, chair). There is, of course, no possible way that we could ever afford the time and talent of the many people who are laboring on our behalf and for them I am most grateful.
But we wrestle with many practical issues: 1.) increased costs of buildings and grounds with a continued focus on deferred maintenance issues, especially at our housing properties; 2.) the need to attract and retain qualified staff and clergy and not let our clergy and staff fall victim to operational expense squeezes; and 3.) the cost of energy, of programs, of staff training. These factors are all a part of what we personally need to consider as we complete our pledge cards this morning or in the days ahead. As we are challenged to expand our giving in response to disasters and meet the needs of unwitting victims, or simply to maintain the normal and enriched life of this church community, we are reminded of the tireless efforts of our clergy and staff to center us in our grief and to remind us of the promise. Your prayerful consideration of your financial commitment is needed, and, for those who have already acted or will act in a timely way, very much appreciated, so that we can translate that commitment into the allocation of resources in a meaningful and responsive church budget and church program next year. Thank you, everyone, for your willingness to stretch in your personal commitments of time, talent and treasure to this special community of friends and neighbors.
Fludde Is Coming!
The Meetinghouse has been filled with the happy sounds of over 100 children and adults (singers, dancers, waves and animals!) hard at work rehearsing Benjamin Britten's chancel opera "Noye's Fludde." It will be presented the weekend of November 3 & 4, Saturday at 7:30 pm and Sunday, at the 10 am worship service and again at 4 pm. The Britten work is a musical setting of the medieval Chester miracle play about Noah and the Ark. Britten composed the work for the local singers and instrumentalists at Aldeburgh in 1958. Productions have been mounted every four years at First Congregational Church since the second production in 1969. The colorful production will involve more than two hundred children and adults, including an orchestra of strings, recorders, handbells and percussion. Thomas Woodman will perform the role of Noah. Lucinda Winslow will be the stage director, Sheila Hitchens, choreographer and John Stansell, musical director. Anne Wachsman and Hilary Lawrence are the production coordinators.
Joining Mr. Woodman will be Trish Hussey, mezzo-soprano, as Mrs. Noah, and Martha Ahrens will be The Voice of God. Noah's sons and their wives will be sung by John Garlid, Andrew Sisley, Tim Garlid, Kate Bonnell, Maggie Houseknecht, and Holly Hanbury-Brown.
Free tickets are available at the Church Office. A ticket assures the holder of a seat if presented at least fifteen minutes before the performance. A freewill offering will be received with a suggested donation of $15. Tickets with reserved seating are also available through prior contributions in various Patron categories ($50, $100, $250 and $ 500).
If you have seen this production, you know how entertaining and moving this delightful opera is and will not want to miss it!
Harvest Festival Weekend
The Senior Pilgrim Fellowship is proud to sponsor...
The H.O.M.E. Craft
Show and Sale
Maine crafts including: pottery, quilts, wooden toys, jams and jellies, sweaters, scarves and mittens, Christmas decorations and much more. Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm and Sunday from 11 am to 2 pm in the Auditorium.
Harvest Sunday, November 18
Celebrate our Service of Thanksgiving by bringing a harvest offering of nutritious, non-perishable foods for the Food Bank and H.O.M.E. Suggested donations: canned meats, stews, soups, fruits and vegetables, and cereals. We bring our offerings forward to the worship platform while singing familiar American hymns.
People, Places & Things
Cross Thanks First Church
Night Is Coming!
Soup Kitchen Cooks!
First Church volunteers prepare and serve the noontime meal at the New Covenant House Community Kitchen in Stamford on the first Monday of each month. Thanks to the annual efforts of about 80 church members, we will have provided over 1,100 individual meals of chili/rice, salad and fruit over the year.
This volunteer project is simple: 5-7 volunteers each month shop and prepare the meal and 3-4 volunteers serve the meal at the 'Soup Kitchen'. No experience is necessary - the shopping and cooking directions are well-defined! Often a family decides to "take the month", a group of friends may ask to cook together, a church group (e.g..: SPF, JPF, or Church School parents) will request to prepare the meal as a team-building activity.
This year the volunteers who shopped, cooked and served include: Lucy and David Cowles, Harriet Starr, Marcia Livingston, Zoe Hannson, Lea Fountain, Pat Myer, Sue McCalley, James Ebert's Pastors' Class and JPF, Sally Colegrove's SPF, Karen, Nicole and Kim Pacent, Jennifer Feenstra & Friends, Colette Rogers, Barbara Oppedisano/Jane Howland & Friends, Shona and Frank Quinn, Gene and Lindsay Waggaman, Nancy Whiteman, Inge Thalheim, Shirley Robinson, Fred Arndt, Kathy & Jenna Sood, Barbara Van Buren, Barrie Richmond, Joan & Paul Johansen, Lois MacDonald, George Manning, Mary Jane & Bill Penwell, Mary & Bill Bausch, Beth Rollins, Lu Baldwin, Lucy Henjes, Marcia Wilson, Nancy McLarnen, Rosemary Lamie, Barbara Davidson and Cyndy Anderson.
Shopping for provisions may take several hours and a couple strong backs for lugging the groceries to our church kitchen. A group of 5-7 volunteers can finish their cooking/prep chores in less than two hours. The serving crew donates about two hours on the first Monday.
Bill Penwell is coordinating the serving volunteers and Mary Bausch coordinates the 'shopper-cookers'. Please call them if you can spare several hours in the coming months.
Pat Myer stirs the pot.
The mother/daughter team of Barbara Van Buren and Barrie Richmond.
Soup chefs extraordinaire: from left; Mary Bausch, Bill Penwell, Mary Jane Penwell and Lois MacDonald.
Office Volunteers Needed!
The First Church receptionist position is handled by a wonderful group of dedicated volunteers. Currently, though, we need to add to our corp of substitute receptionists.
If so, would you please consider becoming a substitute receptionist? Please call Senior Administrative Assistant Donna White at 637-1791 ext. 14 if you are interested. M/F--an equal volunteer opportunity-- we look forward to hearing from you!
Several of our corp of front desk volunteers offer their own thoughts on their work here at First Church:
Several of our corp of front desk volunteers offer their own thoughts on their work here at First Church:
It’s fun and there’s never a dull moment! Persis Alden
I love learning new things and being busy. Ann Robinson
I was so grateful for all the help from the clergy when my husband died, I decided it was a good way to give something back. Jan Ruxton
What I love is being involved with all the action and all the fun people who work here. Anne Wachsman
real need for help and if you have the time, why not help out?
Thanks to the Stewardship Volunteers
The Preschool children are enjoying their new playground truck installed last month. Fundraising efforts by the Parents Committee at the Book Fair and Parents’ Playdate will help defray the cost. Pictured in the truck is Elly Orozco.
Father Paul Keenan Radio Broadcast
The Chancel Committee needs pumpkins to decorate the Meetinghouse for Harvest Sunday. Please drop off in the Narthex during the week of November 12 - 16. Thanks!
Church School News
Children and the Church
Our life in the Church School this fall has been a very important time - in that we have come together with a new appreciation for things that matter - our freedom, our families, and our faith. We are wandering through uncertain times, and the wilderness has much to teach us. For so long we have felt totally in control, now we look for One who is stronger yet, and in that constancy, challenges our understanding.
In ways unlike previous years our children are coming to class with clearly recognized concerns, and a real hunger to know God and learn about the promises of hope made possible through the life of God's son, Jesus Christ. They reflect us all with their hopes and fears. In spite of our efforts to protect them and offer comfort, they also are walking with us into a time the likes of which we have never before encountered.
As parents we have experienced a powerful time together as we have worshipped in the Meetinghouse. Just so, life in our classrooms has also been powerful. Our teachers have met and prepared with a new understanding of the roles their presence and teaching play in the lives of our children. There are not words sufficient to thank them for all they are doing, but I hope we will all find ways to let them know how much their efforts mean.
This is a time for prayer and praising. It is also a time for courage - and for supporting one another and living our lives fully. As the events of our fall unfold in the world at large, and at First Church, we continue to invite all who would come. It is important to be able to gather together. Our Saturday 5 pm services are becoming part of the fabric of our children's worship life. We are looking forward to Noah's Flood (November 3 and 4 at 10 am) to our Harvest Sunday Festival Service on November 18 (don't forget your food offering), and to our Family Wreath- Making Dinner (November 25, 5 pm).
As we enter this Thanksgiving season, let us be sure to celebrate the blessings that surround us, the most important of which is God's continued presence.
The next adult education series will be based on a timely and informative book, “The New Religious America” by Diana L. Eck. The discussions will take place on Mondays, November 12, 19 and 26 at 7:30 pm in the Lounge. Please join Dr. Tom Stiers and Rev. James Ebert in examining this very important book.
Father Paul Keenan Broadcast
Many who heard Father Paul Keenan speak at The Women’s Fellowship October luncheon have asked about his radio shows. They are: As You Think on WOR Radio (710 AM) on Saturdays from 9-9:30 pm; and Religion on the Line on WABC Radio (770 AM) on Sundays from 6-9 am. Hope you get a chance to listen in!
A new fellowship group is forming at First Church. Under the guidance of Rev. James Ebert, a group of adults in their 20’s and 30’s will hold a dinner gathering at the home of Emily and Josh Ziac on Tuesday, November 6, at 7 pm. The group is currently calling itself the “Not-So-Youth Group.” Please RSVP by e-mail to email@example.com.
Women’s Fellowship invites you to...
This year marks the return of this very popular First Church tradition. We gather in the Auditorium with evergreen wreaths, decorations and ribbon and work our magic on the greenery. Following the workshop will be a potluck supper. Everyone in the family is invited to take part in this wonderful early-Christmas-season event!
For reservations, please return the form below, with an accompanying check payable to The Women’s Fellowship, to the Church Office or mail it to First Congregational Church, 108 Sound Beach Ave., Old Greenwich, CT 06870, or sign up at Coffee Hour on November 4, 11, and 18. The deadline for reservations is November 18.
Please make your reservations early to help us in our planning.
The Women’s Fellowship Wreath-Making Workshop and Potluck Supper
Name_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
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Please save a space for_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (number of people)
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Reserve_ _ _ _ _ _ _ (number of wreaths) @$11/wreath
I will bring (circle one): (serving 10 to 12 people)
the Parish Nurse
Diabetes ranks high on the list of health threats among Americans. Diabetes is a condition that affects glucose metabolism in the body. The effects of severely elevated glucose levels are serious - causing altered nutrition of the body's tissues that lead to complications such as heart attack, kidney failure, stroke, and blindness.
Screening to detect elevated blood glucose levels is important for prevention of diabetes, or a condition known as early diabetes. Impaired glucose tolerance is a condition that precedes full-blown diabetes. It is a "symptomless" condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal.
Early diabetes occurs in individuals who are overweight, consume a diet high in fats, do not exercise on a regular basis, and find themselves in on-going stressful life situations. Overweight and high stress makes the body store fat around internal organs in the abdominal (visceral) area. Visceral fat is linked to increased fat storage in the liver. This situation leads to increased blood sugar levels, and to extra fat stored in peripheral muscle cells, which in turn, leads to insulin resistance by the very cells that need insulin to convert glucose into energy.
Research findings show that individuals impaired glucose tolerance will develop Type II diabetes within 10 years. Early diabetes raises one's risk for heart disease, hypertension and stroke, and contributes to the development of "bad cholesterol" or elevated LDL levels, which cause clogged arteries. By the time an individual develops Type II diabetes, damage has already occurred to nerve fibers causing burning pain and numbness (known as peripheral neuropathy), and potential loss of sensory function, particularly, vision.
It is important that you take the first step to determine your risk for diabetes or its precursor, impaired glucose tolerance. On Wednesday, November 14, there will be a diabetes-screening event at First Church. Make a date with yourself to take advantage of the blood screening procedure, information sessions presented by two well-known Greenwich physicians on recent developments in diabetes, and heart disease, and printed information available to take home with you for further study. The program begins at 9 AM and runs until noon. An appointment is needed to get your blood screened. Call (203) 863-4444 to have your name added to the appointment list. Please contact your Parish Nurse for further details about this important event.
Opportunity to Help
Used Car Needed
Mustafa and Emsa Hodzic and their three young sons arrived in the U.S. eight years ago after escaping the terrors of the Serbian attack on Bosnia. They were sponsored by the First Congregational Church of Greenwich, the Second Congregational Church of Greenwich and the Round Hill Congregational Church. They found work and a home to live in.
The two older sons worked in Manhattan, one in the World Trade Center, the other nearby. Fortunately both escaped the attack of September 11, but they are struggling with shock and the memories of the genocide in Bosnia.
The family has a car, but it is worn out and must be scrapped.
If you would like to donate a used car to this fine family, it would be greatly appreciated. The best way would be to donate the car to First Church so that you can take a charitable deduction on your tax return.
First Church Business Administrator George Handley has the proper form to be filled out. You may contact him at the Church Office at 637-1791.
now be the time for you
terrible events of September 11 have caused many of us to re-evaluate what is
truly important. In addition to experiencing a heightened sense of personal
spirituality as we search for meaning and hope amidst tragedy, many are also
reawakening to the value of community, particularly the Church community. Now,
more than ever, we are aware of the importance of First Church in our lives and
for the well?being of generations to come. By making a gift to the First Church
Pooled Income Fund you can provide a source of funds for the long?term needs of
the Church while retaining a lifetime income interest in the donated property
for yourself and/or your family members.
First Church Legacy Society
Last year’s annual report included for the first time a list of members who have made planned gifts, or made personal arrangements for planned gifts or bequests, to benefit First Church. These gifts can take one or more of these forms:
The 2001 annual report will include an updated list of Legacy Society members, so if you were not listed last year but qualify to be listed now and are unsure of whether or not we already have your name on our roster, please notify Dr. Stiers, or contact Dana Low at the numbers on the left.)
Prudames Family Leaves Bequest
The Church was recently blessed with a generous bequest from the estate of Mott and Ida Prudames. Many in the congregation will remember the Prudames, who were active members of First Church for 34 years, from 1957 until they moved to California in 1991. Both served in a number of leadership capacities during that time, and it is gratifying to know that they kept a special place in their hearts for us.
Letter from a Visitor
Friday, September 14, when churches across the land called for a day of mourning
and remembrance, I was at work in Stamford. Not knowing the area’s churches very
well (I belong to Notre Dame Church in Easton, CT), I drove around searching for
a church, and was fortunate enough to come upon First Congregational Church. I’m
certain there were many others there that day who did not normally attend your
church, joined together with your many parishioners, all looking for answers and
for God’s help in coping wtih this disaster.
Informal Saturday Services
This fall, we began offering an informal worship opportunity on Saturday evenings. The intention is to bring the informal, intergenerational, “come as you are” intimacy of the beach services to these evening services. The next service will take place at 5 pm on Saturday, November 10. In addition to Dr. Tom Stiers preaching, there will be a wedding ceremony (see box on right) and communion. The final service for 2001 will be on December 1, while the 2002 schedule will be announced at a later date. Join us as we embark on a new spiritual undertaking this year.
Perna and John Robertson invite you to be present at their wedding during the
Informal Worship Service on Saturday, November 10. The service begins at 5 pm
and will be held in the Meetinghouse. They then invite you to join them in a