The First Congregational Church of Greenwich

Meetinghouse Monthly

December, 2002

Dear Friends,

This is a time of year that is made bright by tradition. From our scripture lessons with their words of prophecy announcing the birth of a child in Bethlehem, of the line of David, a branch of the tree of Jesse to new traditions begun in recent years there are many events which include the familiar. Whether you have been a member of First Church for thirty years or are just contemplating membership this year I hope that you will join us as we make our Advent pilgrimage to the manger.
As I look at the month of December I look forward to participating in the Church School's Advent Craft Fair and the Women's Fellowship Wreath Making early in the month. I always look forward to Messiah rehearsals - don't worry, John and Mark, I will sing very quietly. On December 8th this year's Confirmation Class will honor a tradition which now spans a quarter century. They will hold a bake sale at coffee hour that day to benefit their Christmas service project. They will buy Christmas plants and visit senior members of the congregation. These members share stories of what Christmas was like at First Church in earlier days with our young people. If you are over 65 and would like to take part, please give me a call. This year we have over 30 young people, so we need lots of senior members.

After I buy a Christmas tree on the front lawn on December 15th I hope to see many of you at the Christmas Supper and Sing hosted by the Parish Life Committee. Check the flyer which is in this Meetinghouse Monthly for details. Last year this new tradition began with a great Carol Sing following a soup and bread supper. Homemade Christmas Cookies were shared as dessert. It was like stepping into a Norman Rockwell painting. It also required very little advanced preparation and was a nurturing event for all who came.

Another wonderful part of the month of December is the chance to welcome home our College Pilgrim Fellowship. The SPF and the CPF will hold their traditional Christmas Progressive Dinner and Caroling Party on Friday evening, December 20th beginning at 5:30 in the Youth Room. This event requires reservations as we divide into groups and visit homes in the area. Please call me if you would like to come. The evening will conclude with our annual Christmas Auction grab bag.

And then it will be Christmas Eve!! But more about that later,

Happy Advent,

December Worship Schedule

Sunday, December 1
8 am &10 am in the Meetinghouse
Rev. Sally Colegrove
“Grace and Peace”
Communion served

Sunday, December 8
8 am &10 am in the Meetinghouse
Rev. Susan M. Craig
“Comfort My People”

Sunday, December 15
8 am &10 am in the Meetinghouse
Rev. Thomas L Stiers
“Wrapped in Joy”
Sunday, December 22
9:15 am Pastor’s Class
11 am Rev. Thomas L. Stiers

Sunday, December 29
10 am in the Meetinghouse
Rev. Susan M. Craig
“Joy to the World”

Sunday, January 5, 2003
8 am & 10 am in the Meetinghouse
Rev. Sally Colegrove
Communion Served


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. You may e-mail your articles to: communications@fccog.org

 Happenings Around the Church

Save the Date!!!
Joseph is coming to town.
Joseph who?

The SPF is proud to announce that their production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will be presented January 23 - 26, 2003. Carolyn Paulus is musical director, Mark Swicegood is accompanist, Sally Colegrove is stage director. There are over forty in the cast which is led by two Joseph's - Tom Oppedisano and Jay Anderson and four narrators - Nicole Pacent, Julia Barber, Ginni Kimberlin and YoYo Zhang. Tickets will be on sale at January coffee hours and in the Church Office beginning on January 6th.

First Church is returning to Honduras in 2003
The Christian Outreach Committee and the Senior Pilgrim Fellowship are sponsoring a trip to San Pedro Sula and the rural villages of Northwestern Honduras from February 13 - 19, 2003. During this trip the group will take part in the dedication of the new clinic in Subirana and will visit the clinic in Pinalejo and the medical hostels in the city of San Pedro Sula which have been built by our International Mission Offerings in the last six years. There are still a few places available if members of the congregation would like to join the group. For more information contact Sally Colegrove at the Church Office 637-1791 ext. 15.

A Letter to the First Church Family

Dear First Church Family,
Don and I wish to express our greatest appreciation for all the loving concern you have shown to us during the past six weeks. The visits and phone calls from the clergy, Dee Coover and members of the Congregation have been most helpful to us. Your prayers have given us strength to endure all the difficulties we have encountered. The flowers have been beautiful. We cannot thank you enough.
Lovingly yours,
Connie and Don Walton

Church School

Filling in the Gaps

In October the Church School began the process of seeking a new Church School Coordinator. In November after hearing from many of you who were interested we have hired a "Coordinator Team." During that time many of you stepped forward to lend a hand or answer a phone call with a "yes, happily." As a result, our fall season has been a time of high energy and much learning which leads us with much excitement and anticipation into the season of Advent. Special thanks go to Jenny Lepoutre and Catharine Sotzing for filling in wherever needed and with wondrous dependability during the interim.

Effective November 20th we have hired Rosemary Lamie and Jenny Lepoutre as our Church School Coordinators. Rosemary will be working ¾ time and Jenny ¼ filling the position formerly held by Lynne Lehman. We are very excited to have them both on board and believe that moving this position into a shared status will lend the flexibility needed to create the optimum possible for our children and their families.

Rosemary Lamie has been a member of First Church for a number of years, taught in our Church School and most recently served as part of our Church School Task Force. Rosemary has two children, Anna and Michael, who have been part of our Church School.

In addition to being the mother of two middle school young people, Rosemary brings with her an extensive background in the area of Social Services, child advocacy, and an ability to network with numerous community services responding to the needs and problem-solving of numerous child concerns.

Jenny Lepoutre comes to us with a long history at First Church. Growing up at First Church, Jenny and her husband Clem were married here in 1988. They have raised their three sons, Daniel, Michael and T.J. here as part of the Church School and the Junior Pilgrim Fellowship. Jenny has been active at First Church as a Deacon, member of the Chancel Choir, Music Committee, and Outdoor Ministries Committee assisting especially with the All Church Retreat. Beyond First Church Jenny has worked as a Special Education teacher for Cooperative Educational Services in Trumbull, CT. We look forward to welcoming her as part of our staff.

We welcome Rosemary and Jenny as part of our First Church team committed to raising our children in faith, and supporting our families through the numerous aspects where parenting and our lives together as church family intertwine. This season of Advent is one of high anticipation - of all that God brings into our lives, past and present. As your family finds its way into the season of Advent, do stop by the Undercroft and greet them.


A Prayer for Christmas
Written by our First Grade Class in 1996

Dear Lord,
We pray for peace.
We hope for Jesus to come back.
We ask for food for the hungry.
We wish the world to be safe.
We pray that sick people get well for Christmas. Amen

Parish Nurse

Friends Helping Friends

Christmas will be here soon, and the thoughts of gifts come to mind. Among the gifts that the holiday season may call to mind are the gifts or talents given to us by our Creator. Paul, one of the Lord's apostles, tells us in Romans 12:6-8 that "…we are to use our different gifts in accordance with the grace that God gives us…if it is to serve, then we are to serve others…if it is to encourage, then we should do so…." Surely this scripture must be the mission of our Friends Helping Friends ministry.

Among the "gifts" Friends Helping Friends volunteers donate is the gift of their time. A short visit to an individual who is disabled by surgery or illness, or recently-widowed, or driving someone to an appointment, or perhaps baking fresh bread for a family with a new baby are some of the offerings made by First Church members who contribute to this group. Other tasks include giving assistance with the completion of medical forms or shopping for folks who are homebound. Still another gift could be a visit on the phone to someone who needs cheering up --- all of these gifts are so appreciated, and so caring.

How about you? Do you have a small amount of "time" to offer to another First Church member? As Parish Nurse, I am looking for volunteers of all ages for the Friends Helping Friends ministry. How wonderful it would be to have a "visit team" of a parent and their son or daughter make and deliver some Christmas cookies to a senior member who is homebound! Or perhaps a pair of high school students to help a new mother by babysitting a toddler in the same home. Please call me and tell me how you can contribute to the Friends ministry. In this month that we commemorate the birth of Christ Jesus, let us reach out to "our own”!

Contact me at (203) 637-1791 ext. 21 on Sundays, Wednesdays and Tuesday mornings, or simply leave a message. I will enjoy returning your call.

Weddings at First Church

June 14, 2002
Dianna Sarah Truss-Rakip to Joseph Theo Santora, Jr.

June 22, 2002
Frances Jean Unrine to Robert Mauro

June 29, 2002
Linda Drake Kreutzer to jan Paardecamp

July 20, 2002
Elizabeth Ann Mendelsohn to Andrew Douglas Tauber
August 17, 2002
Jennifer Ann Smith to David Grohusko

September 8, 2002
Imelda Mandasari Harjono to Michael Changmin Moon

September 21, 2002
Gabriele Gaensslen to Michael James Linahan

September 28, 2002
Janine Ann Perri to Stephen Paul Hodgkins
October 5, 2002
Nina Elizabeth Reichborn to John Kurt Setten

October 18, 2002
Kristen Malmberg to Eugene Lee

October 19, 2002
Samantha Leigh Bistany to Thomas Henry King

December Second Hours
The spiritual education of adults is a priority at First Church. This lecture series offers a wide range of topics from Bible study to spiritual and physical health. Sundays, 11:30 am - 12:30 pm in the Lounge. The December offerings are:

December 1: Maryan Ainsworth, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art will make a presentation in the Daniels Center.
December 15: Senior Deacon Robin Loughman discusses information regarding church surveys.


Get Your Messiah Tickets!!

Tickets for this year's presentation of Part I of Handel's great oratorio Messiah and the "Hallelujah" chorus will be available to the congregation at coffee hour on December 1 & 8. Beginning Monday, December 9, the tickets will be available to the general public in the church office.

The performances will be Saturday and Sunday, December 21 & 22, at 4:00 p.m. each day. Soloists this year will be soprano Cheryl Hill, mezzo-soprano Sharon Gordon, tenor Terry Beaurline and baritone Gregory Gardner. The twenty-piece chamber orchestra will include Dorothy Happel as concertmistress, our own Mary Costanza as continuo cellist and David Johnson at the harpsichord. Many of the orchestra members have been playing for us for many years. For them, as for many in the congregation, it just wouldn't be Christmas without First Church's Messiah. If it's not already one of your family's holiday traditions, consider starting this year.

Swell the Chorus!!

If you have choral skills, why not consider joining the chorus for Messiah. Rehearsals are Tuesdays and Wednesdays, December 10th, 11th, 17th and 18th, at 8 p.m. Registration begins at 7:30 p.m. on the 10th, but it is possible to sign up at subsequent rehearsals. Just be sure to bring $ 20.00 as a deposit for the required use of First Church's hard-bound scores. There are no auditions; everyone is welcome. The singers always have a great time. Just ask one!

The Really Final (?) 2003 Sunday Afternoons Live Schedule

Since last month's Meetinghouse Monthly, one change had to be made in the SAL schedule. We apologize and trust that it will remain as printed here:

January 12 Sharon Gordon, mezzo-soprano, Beth Palmer, piano

January 19 Constantin Popescu and friends performing on historically important string instruments

January 26 The Joyce DiCamillo Trio, jazz
with support from the

February 2 The Woodland Scholars,
a cappella vocal ensemble,
Larry Allen, director

February 9 Eric Comstock , pianist and cabaret singer

February 16 Duo pianists Millette Alexander & Frank Daykin

February 23 NO CONCERT

March 2 Rautenberg-Saathoff Duo, violin and piano

March 9 Maryly Culpepper, flute, Dan Culpepper, French horn, Brian Krinke, violin, Jenny Undercofler, piano

Mark Swicegood Returns from Paris

Our associate organist Mark Swicegood returned on November 18th from two weeks in Paris where he competed in the Fourth International Competition of the City of Paris. Mark was the first American in the history of the competition to enter the finals in organ interpretation. He was the only non-French organist among this year's four finalists. Though several of the jurors expressed their disappointment that he had not placed, Mark was awarded Honorable Mention. (In the end the judges decided not to award the first prize.)

The various rounds of the competition were held in different venues around the City. Mark competed on seven different instruments including those at the Royal Chapel at Versailles, La Madeleine, Ste. Clothilde (where both Franck and Langlais were organists) and St. Eustache. Among the jurors and audience members were several who have invited Mark back to France and Holland for concerts in the future.
We can be very proud of Mark Swicegood who performed so admirably on such an important international stage!

The Parish Life Committee presents

We Gather Together for Christmas
A Christmas Supper and Sing

Soup and Bread Supper Cristmas Caroling

Bring Your Christmas Cookies All Ages Welcome Fellowship for All

Sunday, December 15th

Our evening begins at 5:00 and concludes by 8:00. We will begin with a simple soup and bread, cheese and fruit supper with Christmas Cookies for dessert. Please bring about a dozen Christmas Cookies!!! Then we will move to the Meetinghouse for an old fashioned Christmas Carol Sing. Please return this form to the Church Office.

Reservation form A Christmas Supper and Sing - Dec. 15th.

Name ______________________________ Number of people attending ______

A donation of $2 per adult and $1 per young person will help us with the cost of the soup and the paper goods. There will be baskets for your offering at the door.

Solve your holiday and baby gift shopping needs

Annual Christmas Sale of Fine
Bosnian Hand-Knits

Sunday, December 15th - Coffee Hour

Uniquely patterned adult & children sweaters
Luxurious afghans
Infant sweater sets and baby blankets
Adult & child hat, mitten and scarf sets
and, of course,
Traditional Balkan slipper socks

Sponsored by the Connecticut Friends of Bosnia