The First Congregational Church of Greenwich

Meetinghouse Monthly

May 1, 2002         Patty Kolb, Editor        http://www.fccog.org

The Members of The First Congregational Church of Greenwich, Ministers

Thomas L. Stiers, Senior Pastor
Sally Colegrove, Senior Associate Pastor
Susan M. Craig, Associate Pastor
John Stansell, Director of Music, Senior Organist
Mark Swicegood, Associate Organist/Director
Carolyn Diamond, Associate Musician
Dr. Joyce Baker, Missionary in Honduras
Dr. Reniery España, Dir. of Medical Services, AIEH
Sunday Services of Worship—8 am & 10 am
Church School—10 am
Nursery Care provided during the 10 am Service.
The 10 am Service is broadcast live
on WGCH 1490 am Radio.

The Pastor’s Column
Town Meeting Report

May 1, 2002

Dear First Church Family:

By now you have received my letter announcing my plans to retire in August of 2003. Although the past week has been full of emotion, I am most grateful for your good wishes and words of support. We have much to do together in the next 16 months, and I am looking forward to marking our traditions and breaking ground for new projects in the year ahead.

Brenda and I have just returned from a wonderfully refreshing week on Hilton Head Island. We enjoyed the company of our two daughters and our two growing granddaughters. Our focus was on the grandchildren--so we listened to the audiotape of Harry Potter, Book Two and watched six videos at least six times each.

On April 14, the officers of the church conducted a Town Meeting. Senior Deacon Robin Loughman said that this would be the first in a series of meetings designed to increase communication with our membership. She invited one and all to make suggestions for the church's strategic plan, which will be updated at the annual strategic planning session May 4. She opened the floor for questions and for an hour a strong dialogue took place.

Jan Thalheim and Clark Whittemore raised questions about the use of the endowment. Bill Dakin, Chair of the Board of Trustees, responded. He acknowledged that our policies for withdrawal from the endowment are relatively conservative, but confirmed that occasional budget overruns had caused us to withdraw more than our policy would allow. He added that the Trustees will soon review our existing endowment policies and establish new procedures to help ensure that we keep our promises to ourselves.

Bill also reported that Eric Schless will chair this year's annual stewardship drive. John Raynolds spoke concerning the tremendous success of the Capital Campaign and 'Let's Finish the Job.' John stated that, with the retirement of these capital drive pledges, he believes that the congregation could step up and strongly support our ministry and mission. He reminded us that people give to ministry and mission, not to a budget.

Rufus Winton and Chuck Wheelock reported from the Pastoral Staffing Committee. Earlier this year, the Church Committee asked this group to investigate the future pastoral needs of our congregation in light of James Ebert's departure. They are a research committee and not a search committee. Rufus and Chuck shared that the Pastoral Staffing Committee had met five times. They are gathering data about the four clergy job descriptions as well as information on comparable local congregations as to their use of clergy and laity for leadership. The committee is discussing the possibility of a layperson to head our Middle School Ministry. Jen McCalley has been hired to help with this important ministry on an interim basis to finish up this program year. A former MTV staffer, Jen was confirmed at First Church and is currently a member of The Riverside Church in New York. She knows many of our young people through participation in our Honduras mission and recent youth activities.

The Pastoral Staffing Committee is working on a questionnaire to send to our congregation. At the Town Meeting, a question was raised concerning checking the data from other churches on their arrangements for buildings and grounds help. Rufus and Chuck noted the suggestion. Another question was raised concerning the possible use of focus groups to gather data from the members of the congregation regarding current and future needs. Again Rufus and Chuck were receptive to the idea.

The question of the future of our 5 pm Informal Service was raised. The staff and Church Committee have that on their agenda for May 4.
Other major issues raised by the discussion were the role of lay leadership of various ministries and missions of the congregation. I want to spend some time this spring focusing on this issue. There is a program entitled Laity Empowerment used in the New York Conference of the UCC. I want to get copies of their program and see if we could use it here.

The question was asked about where we are in the process on our study of inclusivity. Robin and I reported that the Inclusivity Committee is planning an open forum on the night of May 13 with two openly gay men from the First Church of Christ in Hartford coming to share their faith pilgrimage. They held a blessing ceremony at that church. Then on June 23 the Rev. David W. Spollett, Senior Pastor of the First Church, Congregational in Fairfield will preach at our 10 am service about that congregation's decision-making process of becoming Open and Affirming.

The need to be aware of positive programming for the senior members of the congregation was also raised. Several said how much the 3-week study groups had meant to them. Robin Loughman shared the news that Reverend Susie Craig recently held a second meeting of the newly created "Empty Nesters Group" to brainstorm ideas for future activities.

Don Walton reminded us that we are in the business of being faithful to Jesus Christ in our ministry and mission. Don reminded us of the many disaffected church members in our town and that the majority of our neighbors in our community are not members of any church or synagogue. We need to invite more of our neighbors to join us in worship.

Robin closed the Town Meeting encouraging us all to continue sharing our ideas and talents, and to support the idea of an empowered laity to take a greater role in church program development. She thanked everyone for their comments and welcomed further calls or letters concerning our next strategic plan.

Warm regards,

Tom Stiers

Church School Recognition Sunday, May 5
8 & 10 am in the Meetinghouse
“A Service of Thanksgiving”
Rev. Susan M. Craig

Confirmation Sunday, May 12
8 &10 am in the Meetinghouse
“A Leap of Faith”
Rev. Sally Colegrove and the
2002 Confirmands

Music Sunday, May 19
10 am in the Meetinghouse
“Filled with the Holy Spirit”
The Cherub, Children’s, Youth, Chancel and Palmer Handbell Choirs
Maypole Dancing and strawberries & cream on the lawn

Heritage Sunday, May 26
8 am in the Meetinghouse
Dr. Thomas L. Stiers
“A Wisdom Available to Us All”
10 am in the Meetinghouse
Dr. Elizabeth Hart Frazier

Checked Our Web Site?

Have you seen our website recently? It is now updated several times per week with sermon reprints, the latest issue of Meetinghouse Monthly and Meetinghouse Minute (especially useful if, like many Stamford and out-of-town readers, your bulk-rate mail is delivered slowly). If you listen to the radio broadcast of the service, you can find the bulletin and calendar on the website each Sunday. The address is www.fccog.org

Considering College?

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.

Musical Notes

Filled with the Holy Spirit

Quite fittingly our annual Music Sunday worship/celebration falls on the Feast of Pentecost. The Church marks this day, fifty days after Easter, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles as tongues of fire. It is often through music that, week after week at First Church, we feel the presence of that same Spirit in our midst. So on May 19 at our regular ten o'clock worship hour the Meetinghouse will once again be filled with the sounds of praise.

The Chancel Choir's featured selection will be "Rejoice in the Lamb," a festival cantata by Benjamin Britten. The text by the 18th century poet Christopher Smart has as its main theme the worship of God, by all created beings and things, each in its own way. The Youth Choir under the direction of Carolyn Paulus will sing William Dawson's arrangement of the spiritual "Ev'ry Time I Feel the Spirit." Mark Swicegood will direct The Palmer Handbells in a rousing selection, "Spirit of Joy" by Robert Nolan. The Children's Choir anthem, "Alleluia! Loving Spirit" by Helen Kemp, celebrates the way God's Spirit works in us like a mother and a father. Members of the bell choir will accompany the Children' Choir, as well as the Cherub Choir, under the direction of Holly Beneville, while they sing "Hallelujah! Praise Ye the Lord!" by Anna Laura Page. The closing hymn for choirs and congregation will be "Praise the Spirit in Creation" by Richard Dirksen of the National Cathedral.

After the service we will enjoy strawberries and croissants on the lawn and watch the Maypole dance. The whole morning promises to live up to the day's theme, "Filled with the Holy Spirit."

John Stansell

The 2002 H.O.M.E. Trip

We shingled. We taped and sanded. We cut horses’ manes. We dug footings for a garage. We cut wood in the saw mill. We cleaned and recycled. We mucked out stalls and held new baby goats. We got to know the people of H.O.M.E., working with them and listening to their stories.

From April 13-20, the Senior Pilgrim Fellowship and advisors lived and worked at H.O.M.E. Co-op in Orland, Maine. This was the 16th annual trip to H.O.M.E. and this year the week focused around four new houses under construction on the Land Trust in Dedham, Maine. Many of the young people on this year’s trip were first-timers, freshmen who had never shingled or spackled. They have come back with new skills and a sense of accomplishment.

The SPF wishes to thank the Women’s Fellowship for their gift to H.O.M.E. and the funding of one of the rental vans and also wishes to thank the new advisors who joined us for this trip: Peter Garlid, Debbie Bocchino, Marilyn Olsson and Rick Nelli.

From the Parish Nurse

Preventing Medication-Related Complications

May is the month in which the health focus is on older adults, i.e., individuals who are 60+ years of age. A major health concern in this age group is the growing incidence of illness and hospitalizations related to medications. The following is a list of factor that significantly contribute to the genesis and degree of the problem:

  • Demographics: the number of people greater than 60 years is increasing annually
  • Morbidity: the incidence of chronic illness rises markedly after the age of 50 years
  • Individuals with chronic illness generally take prescription drugs to control the symptoms in addition to over-the-counter (OTC) preparations
  • Insurance companies that offer medication plans frequently rely on the use of generic formulas for prescribed medications
  • As the focus on prevention expands, so does the use of herbal supplements to improve memory, lose weight, or relieve depression.

The good news is that health complications related to medications can be reduced significantly by following these suggestions:

  • Carefully read the label including the name of the drug and the person for whom the medication is dispensed.
  • Be consistent with your medication administration instructions printed on the label.
  • Know the intended purpose of the drug.
  • Be aware of how you respond to the medication.
  • Read the information sheet provided by the pharmacist, especially about side effects and possible drug or food interactions.
  • Know if you have medication or food allergies.
  • Keep a list of your medications including OTC drugs, and vitamin/ herbal supplements in your wallet or purse.
  • Give a copy of the medication list to all of your doctors, and at least one family member.
  • When in doubt about a dispensed prescription, e.g., the color or appearance of the pills or capsules, talk with your pharmacist or doctor. Medications can have a generic form that has a name and drug color that may differ from brand formulas. Also, generic drugs dispensed today may have a different color than the pills issued last month due to pharmacies buying medications from different pharmaceutical manufacturers from time to time for resale to you.
  • Alcohol mixed with pain medications, muscle relaxants or sedatives is not advisable. Read the printed information sheet regarding other contraindications or drug interactions.
  • When medication effects occur that interfere with daily activities, consult your physician about dose, administration frequency, or drug chemistry - maybe you need a different form of the same drug.
  • Review your medications with your doctor every six months to make certain of the purpose and necessity of each prescription.
  • When you need to take medication at night, make sure a light is on so you can see the label clearly Studies show that most medication-errors occur at night.
  • Remember that eye drops, skin creams, and suppositories can produce drug interactions with oral preparations and injectables.
  • Lastly, see your Parish Nurse for a wallet-sized card to list your medications --- or if you have questions about your medications.

Dee Coover, R.N.,
Parish Nurse
Available at First Church
Sunday & Wednesday
8:30 am to 3:30 pm
Tuesday 8 am to 12:30 pm
203-637-1791 x21

Discussion on Inclusivity Encouraged

The Inclusiveness Task Force was established by our Church Committee in 2000. This move was prompted in part by a UCC call for all churches to explore these matters following several nationally publicized acts of extreme violence against homosexuals. Many at First Church consider that we are already a fully welcoming and inclusive church congregation and that our Mission and Vision Statements currently express a welcoming and open position. Others feel we can do more to encourage diversity in our congregation.

The Task Force continues its exploration of how we as a congregation can make our welcoming church more effective in reaching out to all who wish to worship with us. There will be an open forum to discuss these matters on Monday, May 13, at 7:30 pm in the Lounge. At that meeting, two openly gay men, one of whom is a deacon at Center Church (UCC) in Hartford, will take part in the discussion. We will welcome all comments and suggestions as we explore our Vision 2000 Statement in the context of an explicit inclusiveness position for First Church. Please join us for this important presentation.

People, Places & Things

Concerted-ed Effort

Concert-ed Effort is a series of concerts intended to benefit blind jazz pianist and Riverside resident Stuart Hemingway, who is recovering from a stroke. The first of the concerts will take place on Sunday, April 28, 4-5:30 pm in the First Church Auditorium. It will feature the jazz group of Matt Whyte, guitar; Tod Hedrick, bass; and Jake Seligman, David Burrows, and Jessica Laufer, piano. The second concert will be on Sunday, May 5 and will feature Dr. Dubious Dixieland Band, Bob Whyte’s “Laundry” and more. The third and final concert will feature cabaret divas Stefanie Kies, Nina Murano, and Karen Bartholomew with John Goldschmid on piano. Admission is $15; refreshments at 3:30 pm, cabaret seating. Information: (203) 637-1051

Work Transition Group Forming
First Congregational Church
Monday, May 13, 20, June 3, 10, 17 and 24, 7:30-9 pm

A work transition group will form here at First Church. It will be open to all men and women looking to explore the fears, joys and potential of being job-free and transitioning into new work, or for those who are disillusioned with their current career. Cost $5 per session (scholarships available). The group will be facilitated by Louise Lague, MA, psychotherapist specializing in mid-life transitions. Questions/reservations, call 602-4423.

Soup Kitchen Volunteers
No, things do NOT get slower during the summer at the New Covenant House Community Kitchen in Stamford where meals are served 365 days a year! First Church is committed to serve the luncheon meal on the first Monday of every month. We're currently feeding 100-125 clients (more than ever before) on each of our Mondays.
At this point, we need volunteers to cook on June 2, August 4 and September 1 (Labor Day Weekend). Can (just) you, or your family and friends help out on any of these dates? The chili cooking/salad preparation takes a group of 5-7 only about 1-2 hours in our church kitchen right after Sunday worship service. Please call Mary Bausch at 622-0309 to say yes to this appeal.
(P.S. - if you want the hands-on experience of serving our much-appreciated chili meal at the Community Kitchen, call Bill Penwell at 622-1792. He coordinates the Monday serving team.)

Christian Outreach Approves Allocation

The Christian Outreach Committee serves the congregation by allocating the annual Outreach budget to a variety of organizations serving local, regional, national and international populations in need. The budget this year is $73,000. The committee will inform the congregation of the grants as they are made. In March, the committee approved the first allocation for 2002 to Table to Table.

Organization: Table to Table

Need Addressed: Hunger is a significant issue in the United States. The events of September 11th have exacerbated the problem. Unemployment is up and food donations are down.

Mission: Table to Table is a food recovery effort to benefit the needy of Lower Fairfield county. With its small staff and growing board of volunteers, Table to Table collects food that would otherwise be discarded from local food providers such as supermarkets, restaurants, and bakeries, and redistributes it to local agencies. The results for 2001 were significant. Table to Table has:

  • Recovered more than 400,000 pounds of food from sixty licensed food providers
  • Distributed the food to more than 50 local agencies that collectively served 500 to 1000 people in the course of a month.
  • Helped save the Soup Kitchen more than $40,000.
  • Assisted a job-training program at the Soup Kitchen by providing food for culinary skills training program.

Grant: $4,730 for operations and expansion (refrigeration, van maintenance, driver)
Other Support Requested: Table to Table is looking for a proactive board member from First Church. Table to Table could use assistance in building their program, leveraging their publicity, increasing food donors and. charitable contributions. If you are interested, contact the director, Mary Ryan, at 323-3211.

Safe Churches

On Saturday, April 20, five church members (including Tom Stiers) spent the day in a training seminar in Newington, CT. Attended by over 100 UCC church members from across Connecticut, this UCC-sponsored workshop focused on what steps to take to prevent and deal with sexual misconduct.

After an all-morning seminar, followed by four different afternoon workshops (each of which was attended by at least one of our members), our group came away much more knowledgeable about the subject. We are also more knowledgeable about what other UCC churches are doing, and importantly, about what our church needs to do.

Our group concluded that it is a very large, yet very critical challenge for any church, including ours, to be prepared and a challenge that will require a team effort (beyond just the Safe Church Committee). Education and awareness among all our committees and all our church members will be important to insure that our church is safe for all.

The committee now has some concrete knowledge and guidelines to prepare a plan, and will continue to the process that it began several weeks ago.

Jud Saviskas
(Editors Note: Members of the Safe Church Committee include: Jud Saviskas, Rex Howland, Dr. Tom Stiers, Rosemary Calderalo, Paul Kretschmann, Taylor Craig, Doris Sisley, Peter Briggs, Kathryn Sood and Dee Coover.

May Calendar

Special Events
1 12:00 PM Women’s Fellowship Luncheon, Auditorium
4 9:00 AM All Church Planning Event, Daniels Center
5 10:00 AM Church School Recognition Sunday, Meetinghouse
11:30 AM Communications Task Force, TLS Office
4:00 PM Concert-ed Effort Benefit Concert, Auditorium
7, 14, 21, 28 6:30 PM Diabetes Discussion, Lounge
12 10:00 AM Confirmation Sunday, Meetinghouse
4:00 PM Concert-ed Effort, Benefit Concert, Auditorium
13 7:30 PM Inclusivity Panel, Lounge
Work Transition Group, Lounge (also on 5/20)
19 10:00 AM Music Sunday, Meetinghouse
26 10:00 AM Heritage Sunday, Meetinghouse
27 Memorial Day, Office Closed
30 7:30 PM New Members Class, Lounge
Committee Meetings
1 7:30 PM Membership Committee, Lounge
Church School Task Force, Room 103
6 1:00 PM Stephen Ministers, Lounge
6:30 PM Professional Staffing Committee, Lounge
7:30 PM Church Committee, Lounge
13 12:00 PM Rummage Room Committee, Lounge
15 7:30 PM Board of Trustees, Lounge
16 7:30 PM Stephen Ministers, Lounge
19 11:15 AM Christian Outreach Committee, Lounge
20 1:00 PM Stephen Ministers, Lounge
28 7:00 PM Wellness Committee, Room 203
Weekly Events
Sunday 11:15 AM Cherub Choir rehearsal, Room 104
Youth Choir rehearsal, Choir Room
2:00 PM Grief Support, Lounge
5:00 PM JPF, Room 103
7:00 PM SPF, Room 103
Tuesday 7:00 PM Confirmation class (May 7 only)
Wednesday 5:00 PM Children’s Choir rehearsal, Choir Room
6:00 PM Children’s Choir Pizza Supper, Room 303
Thursday 9:30 AM Hats Off, Lounge
7:30 PM Chancel Choir rehearsal, Choir Room

May Birthdays

1 Paul Tholen 10 Fred Laffan 22 Pat Geismar
Peter Dadzis Karina Saari James Morris, Jr.
Erik Norrgard Robert Friend David Gordon
Edward Dadzis Devon Simpson Colin Kelly
Caroline Glover Nicole Baker 23 Alice Hallowell
2 Joseph Robinson Jacob Calle Bill Wheaton
Kent Atkins 11 Christian Meyer Susan Tedford
Olga Hartwell Virginia Shanks Lisa Ghaffari
Alexandra Arader Brooks Riley Taylor Schinto
Tom Fraser 12 Kathryn Hewitt 24 Robert Brady
Erika Bloes Eric DeReimer Leah Carey
3 Carolyn MacLea Miles VanDermeer Christopher Cumming
John Denne 13 Stella Thomas 25 Paulette Tholen
Robert Dinmore Christopher Low Brad Craig
Dianne Crilley Robin Calderalo Elen Amedeo Sotzing
Jennifer Cuminale 14 Cyndy Anderson Matthew Kilmurray
4 Robert Smith Beth Ryder 26 Stuart Serenbetz
Leslie Bacon Tamara Ng-Yow Deborah Stickney
Anthony Graham Timothy Garlid Danielle Von der Linden
Alec Russell Megan Yort 27 Peter Simpson
Margaret Beneville Elizabeth Grellier Kathryn Pugh
Todd Stafford Curtis Grellier Chase Riley
Helen Buscher 15 Douglas Breismeister Joshua Arnold
5 Scott Gaulocher Gary Klingner 28 Julia Servadio
C.G. O'Rielly Fritz Waine David Williams
Thea Kruger 16 Virgil Cumming Judy Provoost
Andrew Burbank Kathryn Wilson Deborah Wheelock
Julia Quinn Lindsey Friedman 29 Elizabeth Stewart
6 Daniel Kilmurray Margaret Ann Parker Karl Sandreuter
Douglas Friedman Isabelle Carter Billy Heidt
Olivia Thalheim 17 Matthew Carey 30 Judy Coleman
7 Charlotte Schmidt-Fellner John Reece II Gwenann Seznec
Stephen Alden Mackay Eveland Lesley Bender
Helen Hagner Willie Piro Nick Carter
Karen Harris 18 Ty Anderson William Klingner
Julia McDonald Andrew Sotzing Lindsey Hascher
Daniel Cioffari 19 Olga MacEachern 31 Ted Anibal
8 Harriet Starr Richard Wolter Eleanore Olsen
Joseph Henry Erica Reiss Libby Craig
Martha Carey Michael Fusaro Pam Grunow
David Provoost Field Garthwaite Louisa Winthrop
Tamara Kilmurray Eleanor Garnett Kristin Lehman Browne
Amy Videtto 20 Nancy McConnell
9 Linda Perry Peter Thalheim
Matthew Derr 21 Joseph Hunt
David Allen Sean Kilmurray
Emily Hoffman