The First Congregational Church of Greenwich

Meetinghouse Monthly

January, 2003

As you read this column, Brenda and I will be in Orlando, Florida visiting Disney World with our two grand daughters. After enjoying the festival services of Christmas Eve at First Church and a family gathering at our home in Old Greenwich, we drove south. As I write this I am very grateful for the inspiration of the Christmas pageants, The Messiah, and all the wonderful music of the season. Also I want to thank each of you for your thoughtful cards and gifts. This has been a very rich Christmas for the Stiers family.

2003 begins with a full agenda. As this New Year begins, I suggest that we turn to Ephesians 4 for our new mission statement. St Paul invites us "to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness…." God is calling us to do a new thing in 2003. Our congregation will continue to be in the midst of transition under the guidance of the Church Committee and the Trustees. The Senior Pastor Search Committee has begun its work. Let us continue to hold them in our prayers.

We will continue discussing what it means for our congregation to be a "welcoming congregation" during the next few weeks. The Inclusivity Committee has been working for three years to educate us concerning this possibility. Your clergy will be preaching on January 19 concerning this important topic. You are invited to study the Question and Answer document and call any of the clergy for dialogue. I pray that we will accept the challenge and become an Open and Affirming Church.

In February and March I have invited some colleagues as guest preachers. It is important in this time of transition to hear from both our friends in the United Church of Christ and our neighboring congregations here in Greenwich. Both Dr Davida Crabtree our Conference Minister and Mr. Dale Bishop, Executive Minister of Wider Church Ministries of United Church will be preaching here in the next few weeks. Two of our neighbors, Reverend Thomas Nins of First Baptist Church of Greenwich and Rabbi Mitch Hurwitz of Temple Shalom will also be guest preachers in the near future. The congregation is well respected in our denomination and among our neighboring congregations.

As we look forward to Lent 2003, I am training some of the members of the Church Committee to be leaders of a Laity Empowerment Project by the name of "Unwrapping Our Gifts". This program is an extremely affirming group process in which you explore the Biblical vision that all Christians (not just the ordained) are MINISTERS each in their own way. This course will help you to name and unwrap your unique gifts of mind, heart or hand that God has given you to minister to others. Think and pray about signing up for this special Lenten course.

Let us enter 2003 with an awareness of the Holy Spirit in our midst. In Ephesians 4 St Paul writes, "bear one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." This is my prayer for us.
Warm regards,

Calendar

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

Sunday, January 12
8 am & 10 am in the Meetinghouse
Rev. Susan M. Craig

Sunday, January 19
8 am & 10 am in the Meetinghouse
Rev. Thomas L. Stiers
“You Called?”

Sunday, January 26
8 am & 10 am in the Meetinghouse
Rev. Thomas L. Stiers
“Turn Around”

Save the Date

Friday, April 4 -
Sunday, April 6
The getaway retreat to Silver Lake sponsored by the Women’s Fellowship
More details to follow

Annual Meeting

Save the Date on
Thursday, January 30
8:00 pm

Dessert will precede
the meeting in the Auditorium.

January 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 January offerings are:

January 12: The Inclusivity Task Force will present information on the Open and Affirming process and how we
can be a more welcoming church to all people.

January 19: Reverends Stiers, Colegrove and Craig discuss the Open and Affirming process in Part Two of the Inclusivity Task Force presentation.

January 26: Reverend Richard Schuster of Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church will discuss the “Life Works” project.

 Happenings

Senior Pastor's Search Committee Begins its Work

The Senior Pastor's Search Committee met twice in December with representatives from the Church Committee and the Pastor's Advisory Committee as they started to formulate a search process. Subcommittees have been formed to begin the work of updating the profile of First Church, developing a job description for the Senior Pastor and communicating progress to the congregation. At its next meeting in early

January, the search process will be discussed with Joe Neville, Western Regional Minister for the CT UCC, who is responsible for advising congregations faced with replacing their minister.

Stewardship Reminder

As a reminder to those who have not yet completed fulfillment of their pledge to Stewardship for 2002, please note that contributions of cash and/or securities need to be received by the Church on or before Tuesday, December 31 in order for them to be reflected on the 2002 Year-End Giving Statement that we will be sending out early next year. Additionally, contribution envelopes for 2003 will be available beginning on Sunday, December 29 at coffee hour.

Celebrate Diversity on January 19th

The YWCA of Greenwich and the Greenwich Fellowship of Clergy will sponsor the community’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration on Sunday, January 19, 2003. Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Senior Pastor of the Riverside Church in NYC, will preach at an interfaith service to be held from 2:30 - 3:30 pm at Christ Church located at 254 East Putnam Ave., across the street from the YWCA.

The YWCA will host the celebration, including refreshments, immediately after the service until 6:00 pm. Both events are free and open to the public. The event will include the opening reception for an exhibition of African-American fine art, “Roots to Renaissance-Proud to be Americans,” curated by Valerie Cooper of Picture That Art Gallery in Stamford. Entertainment will include the Serendipity Chorale, the We Four Jazz Ensemble, and a live performance, “The Right to Dream-Share the Struggle,” from the Living Voices series sponsored by the American Jewish Committee. For information, call 869-6501, ext. 241.

Christmas Tree Sales

A huge thank you to all members and friends who pitched in to set up tree racks and unload and sell 600 tress. We did a fantastic job and had fun in spite of snow, rain, wind and sidewalk construction. Because of everyone’s help we were able to raise $17,500 ($14,000 in 2001) for our outreach program. A special thank you to the Outreach Committee for building the colorful tree displays. These wonderful three-dimensional signs served as a reminder that the proceeds from our sale go to local charitable organizations.

Eric and Betsy Kreuter

CHURCH SCHOOL

All That Lies Ahead…

The New Year has arrived - after a wonderful season filled with prayer and song, manger scenes, children's laughter, candy canes, and Christmas as told and expressed through the words and moments beyond words with our children. Challenging and nourishing, tiring and energizing - all rolled together and bringing us into the year 2003.

January in the Church School is a time filled with special events for all our children. After you rest up during Christmas vacation there are several ways we hope to have our children participating. Just look and see because there is something special for everyone! This month will include special work on class emphases for our Second Graders and their families as they learn about communion.

The Fourth Grade Takes a Look at the United Church of Christ

January 12 Come hear stories about First Church from people who grew up here in the 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's through the present day! See pictures and slides of First Church before it looked like it did today!

January 26 Learn about how your church works - hear from our church staff and officers about how First Church runs. Then take a special tour of our building including all nooks and crannies.

February 2 Play games and learn about our denomination, then you can tell your parents what you know about the UCC

February 9 Take part in a visit to First Church on the Green in Norwalk. Hear their gospel choir, and begin to understand how each church is the same - and different

The Second Grade and their parents learn about Holy Communion

January 22 Parents Night (Wednesday) - Communion 101 in the Lounge

January 26 Parent Child Workshop learning about Communion and making a family banner.

Saturday, February 1 A Celebration of Holy Communion at 5 PM. All are welcome to attend. Children will take part in this service in the fashion appropriate to their families and traditions. The service is followed by a reception in the Lounge.

Don't Miss our Big Event on January 19 in the Daniels Center. "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"

With the help of our SPF we will teach you the story of Joseph and his Coat of Many Colors as well as some of the songs from the show to get you ready for a Special Musical which will take place January 23-26.

PARISH NURSE

Happy New Year! The members of the Wellness Committee and I extend our heartfelt wishes for a wonderful year ahead, full of blessings and joy! We thank you for your support of the services and educational programs planned and presented by our ministry.

As your Parish Nurse, I want to acknowledge the devotion of the members of the Wellness Committee in assisting me to bring you programs that will help you live a more healthy life - physically, spiritually, emotionally, and in relationship to one another. Specifically, the members are: Nancy Wisecup, Mary Bausch, Ginny Breismeister, Carolyn Colegrove, Betsy Kreuter, Paul Kretschmann, Ruth Davidson, Ruth Reed, Jillien Orozco, Louise Schmitt, Dr. Tom Stiers, Charlee Tufts, Bob Alden, and Vickie Altmeyer. The next time you talk with them, please extend your appreciation for bringing Second Hour Programs, the flu vaccine clinics and the Diabetes Awareness Day among other events this past year. And to you all…words to live by from the apostle Paul…"Rejoice in the Lord always…rejoice…be anxious in nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, give thanks to God." (Philippians 4:4-6).

If you have any health-related concerns or questions, please contact the Parish Nurse at 637-1791 X21 - Sundays & Wednesdays 8:30 AM -3 PM, and Tuesday mornings until noon.

Pastoral Prayer written by our Fourth-Graders for December 22, 2002

Dear God,

With the arrival of the winter season, our hearts begin to fill with excitement as you transform our world into a winter wonderland! We also get a sense of inner happiness and peace as we watch snow falling, covering the ground and blanketing our homes. This change in nature tells us that Christmas is coming, and knowing that it is almost here makes us think of your gift to us that first Christmas - the birth of Jesus. Your most holy and magical gift shows us how your love is unconditional and never ending.

But often, dear God,we cannot keep our thoughts focused on you or your precious gift. Instead we think only of ourselves and our own wants, and we worry about things that don’t really matter. We lose our temper when things don’t go our way. We are hurtful to our family and friends, and we don’t respect one another. We seem to think only of the Christmas gifts we want, rather than all the gifts we have already received and enjoy.

Thank you for our many blessings. We enjoy many personal freedoms because we are so lucky to be Americans. We go to good schools, play on sports teams, and enjoy worshipping as we choose. We live in nice homes and enjoy many luxuries such as TV, computers, listening to music, and wearing nice clothes. There are so many thousands of people in the world who are much less fortunate than we are, and many don’t even have enough to eat today.

So God, help us to remember how blessed we are. We need to be kind and patient with others. We need to focus on truly loving one another. Help us to treat every person we meet as you would want us to. We need to help those who have less than we do by giving our time and money to those who need it. Direct us to be in harmony with you and all people.

Last of all, dear God, we pray for world peace. Let it begin with us. Help each one of us to understand that differences are okay, and we can still love and accept someone who is not the same as we are. Each one of us is unique and special, and deserves respect. We especially ask that you guide world leaders to make the right decisions as they lead us into the future. May that future include us always keeping our hearts and minds in the true spirit of Christmas. Amen.

MUSICAL NOTES

Sunday Afternoons Live Begins

The 2003 Season of Sunday Afternoons Live will celebrate the rebuilding of our magnificent Steinway concert grand piano. The rebuilding was made possible by funds given in joyful memory of Dorothy Crabill. The first half of the schedule is:

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

January 19 Constantin Popescu and Friends performing on
historically important string instruments
co-sponsored by Atelier, Riverside, CT

January 26 The Joyce DiCamillo Trio, jazz
with support from the
CONNECTICUT COMMISSION ON THE ARTS

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

These four concerts are representative of the wide variety of music that will be presented this season. Mezzo-soprano Sharon Gordon, who was heard in First Church's Messiah, has assembled an entertaining program with music by Rodgers & Hammerstein and Kurt Weill, and "Bon Appétit!," the humorous setting of an actual recipe from Julia Child. In the second program, one of two without piano, Constantin Popescu and Friends will present three sonatas by Rossini for the unusual combination of violin, viola, cello and bass. They will be playing historical instruments from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. As this year's jazz component, we are hearing the locally well-known Joyce DiCamillo Trio. The Hartford-based Woodland Scholars under the direction of Larry Allen make a return visit to First Church. Their exquisite sound finds a happy environment in our acoustically excellent Auditorium.

Veterans of past SAL seasons need no encouragement. They know the high quality of performances we have and the magical atmosphere of our candlelit Auditorium. Why not join them and experience what they know? The concerts begin at 4:00 p.m., with tea, hot chocolate and cookies served from 3:30. There is no admission charge, though we do ask for a $ 10.00 per person donation. See you on the 12th!

Volunteer for SAL

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 Sunday afternoon, January 12. 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. Please call Hilary Lawrence at 637-1214 to volunteer. Don’t miss these lovely performances.

The Senior Pilgrim Fellowship proudly presents

The Biblical saga of Joseph and his coat of many colors comes to vibrant life in this delightful musical parable. Joseph, played by Tom Oppedisano and Jay Anderson in alternate performances, is blessed with prophetic dreams, and is his father Jacob's favorite son. When he is sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, 11 of the young men of the Senior Pilgrim Fellowship, and taken to Egypt, Joseph endures a series of adventures in which his spirit and humanity are continually challenged. He is purchased by Potiphar, played by our own Dr. John Stansell and lands in jail after resisting the amorous advances of Mrs. Potiphar, played by Emily LaCivita. When news of Joseph's gift of interpreting dreams reaches Pharoh, an Elvis impersonator played by Rick Woodman, Joseph is well on his way to becoming second in command of the nation of Egypt.

Set to an engaging cornucopia of musical styles, from country-western and calypso to pop and rock and roll, this Old Testament tale emerges both timely and timeless. The score is by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, musical direction is by Carolyn Paulus and stage direction by Sally Colegrove. Our accompaniest is Mark Swicegood, percussionist is Bobby Fortunato and our band consists of members of the SPF.

Plan to be with us on Superbowl weekend for a super First Church event. The proceeds from "Joseph" will help the Senior Pilgrim Fellowship with their mission trips in 2003.

January 23, 24 and 25
At 7:30 PM
In the Auditorium
First Congregational Church
108 Sound Beach Avenue, Old Greenwich
Ticket donation: $10.00 for adults
$8.00 for under 12 or over 65
Tickets are available in the Church Office beginning January 6th.

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
Aaron J. Sinay, Director of Middle School Ministries
Rosemary Lamie and Jennifer Lepoutre, Church School Coordinators
John Stansell, Director of Music, Senior Organist
Mark Swicegood, Associate Organist/Director
Carolyn Diamond, Associate Musician
Dee Coover, Parish Nurse
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.

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