The First Congregational Church of Greenwich
May 1, 2002
Patty Kolb, Editor
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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."
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
- As the focus on prevention expands, so
does the use of herbal supplements to improve memory, lose weight, or
The good news is that health complications
related to medications can be reduced significantly by following these
- 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
- Read the information sheet provided by the
pharmacist, especially about side effects and possible drug or food
- Know if you have medication or food
- 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
- 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
- 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.,
Available at First Church
Sunday & Wednesday
8:30 am to 3:30 pm
Tuesday 8 am to 12:30 pm
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
People, Places & Things
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
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
- 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
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
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.
(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.
||Women’s Fellowship Luncheon, Auditorium
||All Church Planning Event, Daniels
||Church School Recognition Sunday,
||Communications Task Force, TLS Office
||Concert-ed Effort Benefit Concert,
|7, 14, 21, 28
||Diabetes Discussion, Lounge
||Confirmation Sunday, Meetinghouse
||Concert-ed Effort, Benefit Concert,
||Inclusivity Panel, Lounge
||Work Transition Group, Lounge (also on
||Music Sunday, Meetinghouse
||Heritage Sunday, Meetinghouse
||Memorial Day, Office Closed
||New Members Class, Lounge
||Membership Committee, Lounge
||Church School Task Force, Room 103
||Stephen Ministers, Lounge
||Professional Staffing Committee, Lounge
||Church Committee, Lounge
||Rummage Room Committee, Lounge
||Board of Trustees, Lounge
||Stephen Ministers, Lounge
||Christian Outreach Committee, Lounge
||Stephen Ministers, Lounge
||Wellness Committee, Room 203
||Cherub Choir rehearsal, Room 104
||Youth Choir rehearsal, Choir Room
||Grief Support, Lounge
||JPF, Room 103
||SPF, Room 103
||Confirmation class (May 7 only)
||Children’s Choir rehearsal, Choir Room
||Children’s Choir Pizza Supper, Room 303
||Hats Off, Lounge
||Chancel Choir rehearsal, Choir Room
||James Morris, Jr.
||Elen Amedeo Sotzing
||Danielle Von der Linden
||Margaret Ann Parker
||John Reece II
||Kristin Lehman Browne