January 1, 2002 Patty Kolb, Editor http://www.fccog.org
The Members of The
First Congregational Church of Greenwich, Ministers
The copy deadline for the Meetinghouse Monthly is the 15th of the previous month. The issue should arrive in homes by the first Sunday of the month. Deadline for the Meetinghouse Minute is the first of the month, to arrive in homes by the third Sunday of the month.
Sunday, January 6
Saturday, January 12
Sunday, January 13
Sunday, January 20
Sunday, January 27
The Pastor's Column
January 1, 2002
On December 1st, Nina Kreuter and I carried our newly purchased Christmas tree from the church's front yard to the Stiers' condo unit for Brenda and I to decorate that weekend. The staff Christmas party was the following Thursday. These two enjoyable events marked the beginning of Advent. The Advent services and events of the church were well attended and children and adults alike loved the new crèche figures and the sheep. The Messiah was, as always, inspirational. Christmas Eve services were overflowing with members and friends of First Church. This week, as I took the tree down, I knew it had been a most meaningful season! Again, we had shared the words of hope.
The year 2001 had brought new friends. At 9:30 pm on Christmas Eve, the phone rang and it was Mr. Mehboob Alavi from the Stamford Islamic Center. He said they had a gift that they would like to give to the congregation for Christmas Eve. I said the church would welcome such a gift. Some members of our church had visited with them at the end of Ramadan. So a few minutes later, a member of the Islamic Center arrived with a note for me to read at the 11 pm service and a five boxes of special chocolate. They wished us "Peace" as we celebrated the birth of Jesus. What a wonderful and warm way to end 2001 in fellowship with our new neighbors!
The new year promises to be a year of transforming our church. The officers have been visioning and planning for the next year. Our 5 pm Saturday Informal Worship Service is reaching new people in our community. Our Communications Task Force is a new creative force for the congregation. January 31st is our 331st annual meeting. Plan to join us for worship, dialogue, and discernment on effective leadership for the future of our congregation.
At the annual meeting we will be saying thank you to James Ebert as he prepares to start his new job at Yale Divinity School. James will continue to work with the Pastor's Class and the JPF through Easter on March 31st. This will be very supportative of the students in those two groups. We will have an all-church party for James and Allison in March.
The church committee will soon announce a search committee to begin the process to replace James as assistant pastor. After it is organized, the committee will do a congregational assessment. The results of that assessment will be a part of what will be given to possible candidates for our ministry. The United Church of Christ will be very helpful in our search process for a new assistant minister. The committee will meet with Joe Neville, who is the regional minister of the UCC. Around Easter we should begin getting resumes of interested candidates through Dr. Neville's office. I hope that we can have a new minister on board by August 1st.
January promises a number of important events. Dr John Stansell will be introducing our new organist to the congregation on January 13th. Last fall we had several events relating to our diversity as a congregation. I look forward to the Inclusivity Committee presenting more educational events for us in 2002. This is one of the primary issues facing the congregation in 2002.
A Farewell and A
Last August, Christopher Pankratz informed the church of his decision to resign in order to concentrate his professional efforts in the internet field, where he had been working part-time since his student days. Since Christopher had offered to play Sunday services and Thursday night choir rehearsals as his schedule permitted until the end of the year, he was in reality still with us. But the New Year has arrived and Chris is really leaving, at least in his capacity as associate organist-director. Though his tenure was short, it was marked by a high level of performance. Thank you, Chris, for your fine work in our midst.
Christopher is a member of our church. As long as he remains in the area we can look forward to seeing him from time to time. When you see him, wish him the best in his endeavors.
Welcome, Mark Swicegood!
On January 9, 2002, Mark Swicegood will join our music staff as associate organist-director. In the late fall our Chancel Choir and members of the music committee heard two candidates for the position from the fifteen or so resumes that we received. Mark showed himself to be a top-notch organist and displayed a friendly personality. We are very happy that he has accepted the position here.
Mark will be doing most of the organ playing, sharing that responsibility with John Stansell and Carolyn Diamond. He will take over the directorship of The Palmer Handbells, accompany rehearsals of the Chancel and Children's Choirs, and work with the Youth Choir and Carolyn Paulus. He will also be assisting John in various administrative duties.
Mark is a native of North Carolina where he grew up in a U.C.C. congregation. He received his Master's degree from Yale University School of Music and Institute of Sacred Music in 2000. He most recently worked as choirmaster and organist of St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in Danbury.
Mark's first Sunday will be January 13. Give him a warm welcome that day!
The world-class woodwind quintet BOREALIS will begin the 2002 schedule of Sunday Afternoons Live concerts on Sunday, January 13, at 4 pm in the Auditorium. The group is anchored by bassoonist Wayne Hileman, First Church member and Chancel Choir bass section leader. Their breezy style won the hearts of our audience when they first performed here in 1999. The program will feature works by Farkas, Mathias, Amy Beech and Poulanc.
The second concert of the series on January 20 will present cellist Mary Costanza, with John Stansell accompanying at the piano. Mary, also a member of First Church (she's Wayne Hileman's wife) is known to local audiences in her role as assistant principal cellist for the Greenwich Symphony. Featured pieces will be a Bach unaccompanied Suite and Schumann's "Fantasiestücke." Mary plays a cello made by Giovanni Dollenz of Trieste in 1832.
On January 27th the Contrasts Quartet, formerly known as the Eberli Ensemble, will present a program featuring "Still Movement with Hymn," an arrangement made for Contrasts of a 1993 work by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis, husband of the group's pianist, Evelyne Luest.
For these concerts the audience is seated at candlelit tables in the Auditorium, creating an intimate atmosphere. Hot chocolate, tea and cookies are served from 3:30 pm and the performances begin at 4:00, concluding between 5:15 and 5:30 pm.
The schedule of concerts for
Report on Shady Brook
Regarding the Potential Disposition of 22 Shady Brook Lane (former parsonage):
One of the agenda items at the Church's annual meeting this January will be the consideration of the potential future sale of the single family home the Church owns at 22 Shady Brook Lane in Old Greenwich. This house, located about a half mile north of the Church towards the Post Road, was originally acquired as the parsonage for the Senior Pastor who preceded Tom. The Stiers family then lived there for a number of years before purchasing their own home. Since that time the Church has rented 22 Shady Brook at market rates to people unaffiliated with the Church-often expatriate executives.
Over the past six years or so the Board of Trustees has considered recommending the sale of 22 Shady Brook on several occasions, but until now had decided to hold onto the property in part because of our potential future need for it again as a senior parsonage. In addition, it has been an attractive rental property, with net rental income going to the Church's operating budget.
However, with the passage of time and changing demographic patterns, it is less and less likely that the Church will use this house for its originally intended purpose. The overwhelming trend is that the most senior clergy in Churches like ours now prefer to own their own homes as a hedge against inflation and to generally provide for retirement security. In fact over 80% of such clergy own their own homes. It is therefore much more likely that in the future we may be asked to provide some sort of financial assistance towards home ownership, rather than providing Church-owned housing to our most senior clergy.
The decision to keep or sell 22 Shady Brook then becomes much more of a financial decision. While Old Greenwich real estate has been a sound investment over time, the Trustees, as well as the Asset Management Committee, have concluded that given reasonable market conditions the Church is better suited to maintain a portfolio of professionally managed financial assets as opposed to rental real estate. The Church is not particularly well suited to the role of landlord, and over the years we have been nagged by significant capital items which usually fall into the "deferred maintenance" category, reducing our returns and causing budgeting problems.
The Shady Brook house is currently
rented under a two-year lease, but with certain "escape" clauses-- such as the
repatriation of the current tenants. The property could become vacant during the
current lease at fairly short notice (in fact the prior tenants were repatriated
last year, leaving the house vacant for 2 months while repairs were made). Since
any sale of real property by the Church requires Congregation approval, the
Trustees will ask at the annual meeting that the Congregation approve a sale of
the Shady Brook house at the end of the current lease or earlier if the house
becomes vacant, PROVIDED that in the Trustees' judgement the then market
conditions are suitable for a sale. Proceeds of any sale would be invested for
the Church's benefit in the same manner as the endowment is. In effect, the
Congregation would be approving the house sale in principle, and delegating to
the Church Trustees the ability to act expeditiously if an appropriate
opportunity presents itself.
Can You Help?
Have you enjoyed the candlelit ambience of the winter Sunday Afternoons Live concerts? We encourage you to help First Church provide this gift to the community. Servers are needed for each concert beginning January 13. Do you know someone who might like to help? Middle- and high-school aged children are also welcome. The tables are set up after Coffee Hour and we ready the tea and cocoa to serve at 3:30. Then, of course, there is clean up! Look at the list of concerts (see above) and choose the one you would be interested in. Please call Hilary Lawrence with your availability: 637-1214. We look forward to your help.
A Message From the Church School
The New Year is upon us and with barely perceptible lengthening days, also comes a new energy around our time of teaching and presence to our children. January brings us into the season of Epiphany where we recall the faithfulness of the Magi who journeyed to find that most unexpected "King of Kings". Our lectionary readings also lead us into the telling of Jesus' baptism and the beginning times of his ministry. Following are some upcoming events:
Church School Big Event January 20th
In addition to our traditional teachings, at First Church we also try to add a special curriculum piece for our children during the course of the year. The schedule below indicates the special events that fall across these winter months for several of our classes. We hope your children can attend these sessions, as they are only offered once during their church school process. Please know as well, that your children are welcome to come to just one - or more of the sessions - as your family schedules permit.
Second Grade Jan. 24th (for
parents), Jan. 27th, and Feb 9th
Fourth Grade Jan. 27th, Feb. 3rd,
and Feb. 10th
Sixth Grade and Pastors’ Class Jan.
27th, Feb. 3rd, and Feb. 10th
Rain, snow, sleet or hail may adjust our classes, but we look forward to welcoming your children in the midst of all that winter brings!
Learn More About The Stephen Ministry
When you or someone you know is in need of care, consider the services of the Stephen Ministry.
A Stephen Minister Is...
A Stephen Minister is not...
Stephen Ministry helps meet the
needs of individuals who are...
Consider allowing a Stephen Minister to walk with you on your journey to wholeness.
From the Parish Nurse
Happy New Year 2002! May the peace and joy of the Lord be with you and your family throughout the whole year!
January and February are “flu season” months. Hopefully, all of you will stay well! Some of you received the flu vaccine. That strategy offers protection from selected strains of influenza virus. To avoid illness, there is one method--good handwashing--that can work for everyone if practiced faithfully.
Good handwashing technique is essential as an infection control measure. To be effective, the technique requires comfortably warm water, soap, and time. Findings from research show that most of us spend an average of five seconds on this process--perhaps due to our hurried lives. To be protected, the studies demonstrated that a minimum of 15 seconds are needed to remove potentially infectious substances from skin surfaces.
Next time you wash your hands, focus on your timing--count to 15 as you go through the steps of a) wetting your hands; b) lathering up with soap; c) rinsing off; and d) drying your hands. When you dry your hands, use paper toweling. Research has shown that use of paper towels or hot air dryers can significantly prevent the spread of infectious material to others as compared to use of a “common” or “family” towel.
A word of caution about the use of antibacterial soaps...from studies conducted at the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, “use of antibacterial soaps can have negative effects with regard to infection prevention by reducing the natural bacterial flora of the skin.” In essence, these products employed multiple times each day can reduce the natural barriers of the skin. This situation puts users in a compromised position for potential skin infections. Further, antibacterial soaps can dry the skin surface, which in turn, puts the skin at risk for cracking and breaking. Once there is a break in integrity, there is a portal for infection via the skin. For individuals whose health is compromised by diabetes, cancer, advanced age, and medications that suppress the immune system, the risk for infection increases tremendously. The primary use of antibacterial soaps is to eliminate cross contamination in individuals whose skin has been exposed to body fluids, i.e., urine, bowel contents, sputum.
These facts pose some interesting
questions. For further information, please contact your Parish Nurse at
Call to the 331st Annual Meeting of
People, Places &
On January 18, 19, and 20 at 7:30 pm in the Auditorium at First Church, the SPF will go onstage with their new musical revue.
Come and experience the wide variety of talents possessed by our own senior high school students as they sing, dance, read their own poetry and play instruments, jazz, classical and rock music. Over thirty young people are in the cast and waiting for you, their audience, to join them for a great musical evening.
Tickets will be available beginning Sunday, January 6, at Coffee Hour and in the Church Office. The show will benefit the SPF's sixteenth annual trip to H.O.M.E. Co-op in April.
Sally Colegrove is directing "Seize the Day," assisted by Will Bonnell, stage manager/accompanist; Carolyn Paulus, musical director; Bobby Fortunato, band leader; and Bill Bonnell; set designer. Kate Derr will be the choreographer.
A New Christianity for A New World: Why
Traditional Faith is Dying and How a New Faith is Being Born* by Bishop John
"The Early Connecticut
Memorial Service Scheduled
As many of you know, longtime member Steve Esrey died just before Christmas after a long illness. His memorial service has been scheduled for Saturday, January 19 at 11 am in the Meetinghouse. A reception will follow in the Lounge.
Thanks In Order
The Membership Committee, under the leadership of Jan Gelb and Allison Arsenault, deserves a special note of thanks for all their efforts in a very challenging 2001. Keep up the good work!
Friendship Weekend January 26 & 27
Have you ever considered bringing a friend to church some Sunday? The First Church Membership Committee hopes that you do just that.
A special First Church "Friendship Weekend" is being planned for January 26 & 27. A mid-winter pick-me-up, this is a perfect opportunity for you to bring your friends or neighbors to one of many outstanding First Church events. On Saturday, January 26, there will be an Informal 5 pm Worship Service. On Sunday, January 27 we will offer a special 10:00 service for all ages including both special music and coffee hour. In the afternoon, you may also invite your friends to the Sunday Afternoons Live concert featuring the Contrasts Quartet at 3.30 pm in the auditorium. Hot chocolate, Twinning's tea and cookies are served for this special event, performed by candlelight.
This is the perfect time for you to bring a neighbor or friend who might be looking for a church home. Did you know that 90% of the people who come to church come because they were personally invited?! It is the personal touch--the face-to-face, one-on-one invitation that makes the difference.
In speaking with recent new members, person after person cited that First Church feels truly like a home where the door is always open. They are impressed by the spiritual depth, family commitment, including the children and youth programs, ministers and music but also the warmth and openness offered by church members during worship. Of particular importance is the "Right to Private Judgment". One couple hadn't been to church in years. After September 11th they were invited to attend by a neighbor. Finding great solace and a warm welcome when they came, they decided to become members. Another couple said their best friends attended and had invited them to join them one Sunday. They've been coming ever since. Another recent retiree found himself drawn to the church as an importunity to volunteer in the many meaningful local outreach programs.
Indeed First Church is a church in and for the community. It offers something for everyone. When we experience something meaningful, something exciting, we want to talk about it. We want to share it. The same is true about our church and our faith. We hope you'll invite your friends to join us on this weekend.