Trusting God’s Promises
As we come into the season of
Lent, it is clear we continue to live through challenging times, times that have
the potential to overwhelm with the degree of unknown we face in many realms -
in regard to the questions of war or peace, to the realities of a suffering
economy, to the unknowns as to the future plans for First Church, and to the
expected and unexpected events in our own lives. It is to this reality that our
Lenten theme "God's Promises" speaks.
March Worship Schedule
Save the Dates
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Note of thanks to the congregation
First Church/First Sunday
Help Needed: Chili Cookers
Quilting Marathon Continues
March 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 March offerings are:
When Dee Coover asked me to contribute this month's article, I paused to determine a topic of high interest to our church community's parents. An issue that surfaces in both my professional life as a pediatric nurse and my personal life as mommy to a four-year-old, is the issue of immunizations. We can all recall those dreaded office visits for "shots" and thus dealing with a whiny, uncomfortable child for the next day or two. Should I immunize my child? What are the benefits? The risks? Are all these vaccines really necessary anymore? The answer is an indisputable yes.
The Dec 2002 issue of Contemporary Kids, a parental supplement to Contemporary Pediatrics, a pediatricians' informational source, offers many powerful examples of why we must vaccinate our children. A visit to an older cemetery provides a sad reminder of how childhood was once a dangerous time of life as illness was very common and many children died of disease. Today serious illness is rare in American children and the single most important factor is widespread childhood immunization. Pertussis (whooping cough) is a lung infection that can cause children to have prolonged coughing spells so intense that children find it hard to breathe and may vomit. This may go on for weeks and is very contagious. Widespread immunization had dramatically decreased the number of cases but since the 1970's more teens and adults have been ill, who can pass pertussis on to infants, who are at most risk to become seriously ill. Polio, once associated with iron lungs, wheelchairs, and leg braces, is thankfully not of current concern as children are now immunized. Meningitis, an inflammation of the membranes around the brain and spinal cord, can result in brain damage, deafness and death. In 1987, three years before the availability of the Hib vaccine for infants, 40 out of every 100,000 infants were affected. Infections in infants caused by Hepatitis A and B viruses can cause liver damage and liver cancer in adulthood.
Each year the specialists at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics decide what vaccines to recommend for children. This is the schedule printed in your pediatrician's office. How can parents be assured that these vaccines are safe? Before any vaccine can be given to children, the manufacturer must test it thousands of times to prove that is does no harm and really does prevent infection. Once the US Food and Drug Administration licenses the vaccine for use, the manufacturers continue to check its safety through reports from parents and health-care providers of any side-effects: fever, crying, convulsions, or serious illness. According to this journal, the system has determined that none of the vaccines have been shown to cause serious illness.
Vaccines do cause mild reactions as the body is creating antibodies to fight the mild or inactive form of the disease given in the injection. The vaccine form of the disease does not make the child very ill because the infectious agent cannot multiply. Children may be irritable or feverish for a day or two. A cold washcloth on the sore arm or a dose of acetominophen is helpful. If the child is then exposed to the actual disease, his body will quickly react to the disease with the antibodies he created when exposed to the vaccine. The immune system can attack and kill the disease causing bacteria or virus immediately, before the germ can multiply in the body. Making sure that your children receive the appropriate immunization on the routine schedule is the single most important precaution you can take to keep them well. By protecting them, you also protect your other family members and our community. So get the immunizations along with lots of love and hugs, and maybe a sticker or lollipop, too.
Dee Coover, Parish Nurse, is available at ext. 21 (203-637-1791) all day Sunday and Wednesday, and Tuesday mornings.
How to Judge What's Good
The first day of freshman English class at Vanderbilt University left a lasting impression on me. The professor was dealing with the question of "what makes something beautiful?" He discussed Joyce Kilmer's "Trees," a poem I had learned to treasure when I was younger. He criticized the poem mostly on the basis of mixed metaphors. How can the tree whose "hungry mouth is pressed against the earth's breast" be the same one that wears "a nest of robins in her hair"? The idea that "Trees" was not beautiful was as distressing to me as the time my piano teacher, also our church's organist, dismissed one of my father's favorite songs as sentimental, Victorian rubbish. All of this put me on a path toward an elitist attitude in things artistic, further nurtured by my organ teacher at Juilliard. For him there was only his taste and bad taste.
In a recent sermon that Tom Stiers gave at an 8 a.m. service he talked about discernment, the ability to tell the true from the false, things of value from things of no worth at all. I suppose that my education has given me a certain degree of discernment, at least when it comes to music. But how helpful is this to me in my work, in the day-to-day preparation to enable a congregation in its worship?
An ancient Gregorian chant, a hymn-tune from the German Reformation, an English cathedral hymn, a Swedish folk melody, a spiritual, a gospel hymn and a camp song must all be judged by different standards. There are surely stronger and weaker examples of each of those. For the purposes of my work, the most important thing is that the song or hymn be appropriate to the setting, supportive of the theme of the service or meeting, and speak to the people singing and/or listening.
As I look at new music that comes across my desk, I often find a piece that to me is clearly a cheap, commercial imitation of some legitimate artistic expression. I will not consider it. On the other hand, I am sometimes asked to do worship songs that I judge unworthy, only to find that they have spoken meaningfully to quite a few people. At the same time, the excellent poetry of one of my favorites, "Come Down, O Love Divine" (Pilgrim Hymnal # 239), may not speak to some people at all.
I hope I don't have my teacher's elitist attitude. Too many of life's realities have cured me of that. I like rather the motto of Peter Schickele (a.k.a. P. D. Q. Bach) on his public radio program Schickele Mix: "If it sounds good, it IS good."
This article has not resolved the problem posed by its title, but it has gotten some of my thoughts in front of you. With God's help, I will continue making musical choices for the congregation, and pray that they are fitting vehicles for our common worship.
Children's Choir Festival
On Saturday, March 1st, our
Children's Choir will take part in the Annual Fairfield County Children's Choir
Festival at First Congregational Church in Ridgefield. The all-day event will
culminate in a Festival Worship Service at 3:00 p.m., to which the public is
invited. You have heard our choir singing many of the selections throughout the
season. Now plan to come hear them in a larger group. If you do, you will be
caught up in the excitement that the children feel about their participation in
Middle School Programs
Help JPF help others…sponsor a 30-Hour Famine participant!
This month the JPF will join the
JPF of the First Congregational Church of Darien in the 30-Hour Famine project.
This national youth campaign is designed to raise money for and awareness of
worldwide hunger. The JPF will learn about different countries and cultures as
they move toward our big event on March 28th, a 30-hour lock in at church where
they will fast in an effort to raise money.
Working on Welcoming with the Ushering Committee
Peter Flierl and other head ushers
are holding a special meeting on Sunday, March 16th at 11:15 am in the
Meetinghouse, to discuss, and perhaps, re-invent the ushering system. We wish to
create the opportunity for members, also known as ministers, of First Church to
become dedicated ushers who provide an appropriate welcome to members and guests
An Evening with Donald Davis
Perrot Memorial Library, Old
Greenwich, is sponsoring a program by Donald Davis, the premier American
storyteller, on Thursday evening, April 24, 7:30 p.m. in the Auditorium of First
Church. Tickets, which are free to adults and children in fifth grade and older,
are available on a first come, first serve basis at the Perrot Library Radcliffe
Wing Desk. Younger children will not be admitted.
Keep Your Plans Up to Date
There have been many changes in
the estate tax laws over the past few years. Coupled with the big drop in the
stock markets, your plans may no longer be optimized to achieve your goals for
your family and favorite charities. Moreover, if you are reviewing your estate
and have not included a bequest to First Church, why not consider doing so now?
Modifying your estate plan to support First Church is easy, quick and will give
you the satisfaction of knowing that you will have provided for your church in
First Church Day Camp
First Church Day Camp is open to
children preschool through second grade (ages 3-8) regardless of religious
affiliation. We offer 2 three-week sessions running from June 30th - July 18th
for the first session, and July 21st - August 8th for the second session.
Minimum registration is a 3-week session. For additional information please
contact First Church Preschool office at (203) 637-5430.
The Women’s Fellowship
WOMEN'S FELLOWSHIP RETREAT, APRIL 4TH - 6TH
Name:_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Address:_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Telephone:_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Cell phone:_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
_ _ _ _I plan to spend the weekend, Friday evening through Sunday mid-day -or-
_ _ _ _I plan to arrive on:_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _and leave on:_ _ _ _ _ _ _
_ _ _ _ I can drive myself and _ _ _ _ others -or- _ _ _ _ I need help with transportation
Any special request:
CALL TO SPECIAL CONGREGATIONAL MEETING
A special meeting of the Congregation is hereby called for 11:30am on Sunday, March 9, 2003. The meeting will be held in the Meetinghouse:
·To hear and act upon the recommendation of the Church Committee for an amendment to the By-Laws to Article III, Covenant of Faith, to change the first two paragraphs to coincide with the language regularly used during our Reception of New Members, and to insert a sentence of welcome and inclusion to all, to read as follows:
"We believe in the freedom and responsibility of the individual soul and the right of private judgment. We join in fellowship with other congregations of the United Church of Christ in declaring our steadfast allegiance to the faith which our forebears confessed, which from age to age has found its expression in the historic creeds of the Church Universal and of our communion, and in affirming our loyalty to the basic principles of our representative democracy. We hereby set forth the things most surely believed among us concerning faith, polity and fellowship:
We believe in God, infinite in wisdom, goodness and love, and in Jesus Christ His Son, our Lord and Savior, who for us and our salvation, lived and died and rose again, and liveth evermore; and in the Holy Spirit who renews, comforts and inspires us. We are united in striving to know the will of God as taught in the Holy Scriptures and in our purpose to walk in the ways of the Lord, made known or to be made known to us. As Jesus accepted, welcomed, included and embraced all people without exception, so do we accept all who join with us in our search to walk in the ways of the Lord. We hold it to be the mission of the Church of Christ to proclaim the gospel to all people, exalting the worship of God and laboring for the promotion of justice, the reign of peace and the realization of human understanding. Depending on the continued guidance of the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth, we work and pray for the transformation of the world into the Kingdom of God. And we look with faith for the triumph of righteousness and the life everlasting.";
· To hear and act upon the recommendation of the Church Committee and the Inclusiveness Task Force to adopt a Statement of Welcome;
and to transact such other business as may properly come before the meeting.
Our Lenten Projects
The shy smile of a child receiving a valentine, mountains covered in clouds, the central plaza of San Pedro Sula bustling at 6:30 in the morning as the church bells ring, a new clinic high in the mountains, MAP boxes piled high in the AIEH office, these are some of the images and memories which have returned with the thirty-eight members of Honduras 2003, the travel team which left First Church on February 13 and returned on February 19th. Their mission this year was four-fold: deliver $150,000 worth of medicine and school supplies donated by members of the congregation and the community to the people of Honduras, visit the mountain villages on a friendship and educational visit for the members of the Senior Pilgrim Fellowship, attend and participate in the dedication of the new clinic at Subirana, and research the needs and wishes of our friends in Honduras as we look forward to the future of the international portion of our Lenten Mission Project. The group returns with their mission accomplished.
After an early departure from First Church at 4:00 am on February 13 the Senior Pilgrim Fellowship, their advisors and the mission research team from the Christian Outreach committee flew to Miami and on to San Pedro Sula where they were greeted at the airport by recently retired, and now volunteer, Dr. Joyce Baker. The first destination, even before cleaning up at the hotel, was to deliver the medicine to the Central Pharmacy at AIEH. Waiting there to greet the group were Rev. Feliciano Rivera, President of the Sinod of the Evangelical and Reformed Church of Honduras and Allan Wills and Josue Rivera, two of the young people who have visited First Church. There was great rejoicing at the gift of medications and vitamins.
The clinic at Pinalejo, now called the Central Medical Clinic, was visited on Friday morning and was a base camp as three separate teams set off into the mountains. Members of the SPF went with Sally Colegrove to the village of El Junco, the small, very poor village which had sent the group a letter last year hoping that they might help the village to put a roof on their school. The SPF had raised the money through their stage productions and had sent $2000 to the village through Dr. Reniary Espana. They climbed the mountain to not only see the roof, but also the school in action - all of the children and their teacher were there and had prepared songs to thank the young people. The other two groups, one led by Susie Craig and one led by Bobby Fortunato and Lynn O'Gorman, visited schools in Montanitas and Rio Blanco which had received gifts from our preschool of school supplies, personal hygiene supplies and red school bags in previous visits. This year the three groups carried new school supplies to the students and teachers from our preschool and church school families.
Saturday was a highpoint, not only in elevation, but also in emotion as the new clinic at Subirana was dedicated. It was a beautiful day and after a four-hour character building drive up into the mountains, including fording rivers without bridges by car, the group was greeted by the sight of the beautiful building surrounded by tents for the dedication. Gathered on the clinic porch were all of the members of the Sinod board, all of the AIEH board, members of the Subirana community and the pastor of the Subirana church. It was a wonderful celebration with presentations to our church from the dignitaries and finally a ribbon cutting ceremony and a tour of the new facility. There were many damp eyes as the group walked into the clinic for the first time and family members found the rooms which they had donated.
There are many stories to tell, this is only a preliminary article. On Monday and Tuesday the research team from the Christian Outreach Committee, led by Susie Craig, worked with members of the Sinod and of AIEH to begin the process of discerning this year's dream. They visited a campsite on Lake Yojoa and met with Dr. Espana to hear about current needs. While they did their research Sally and the SPF visited the Mayan ruins at Copan, some of the most important Mayan archeological discoveries in the country. There is much work and thought still to come. Watch the next issue of the Meetinghouse Monthly for an update. Also, plan to attend the worship service on March 16th when the group will take part in the sermon and then will present a second hour with slides so that everyone can see the clinic dedication and hear about this year's project.
Hunger Knows No Season,
This year First Church is doing
something new! We have chosen to share our Lenten Offering with needs found
locally as well as internationally. After careful study, our Christian Outreach
Committee has decided to respond to the needs surrounding Hunger in
Fairfield County. If you assume this will be an opportunity to respond with your
dollars, you are correct. But there is much more to this subject about which we
want to tell you and have you experience.