The First Congregational Church of Greenwich

Meetinghouse Monthly

March, 2003

Trusting God’s Promises
by Susan M. Craig

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.

Across the forty days of this season we will be looking at the promises God has made to humanity throughout scripture, concluding with the promise expressed in the living, dying, and rising again of Jesus Christ. If we think about it, the promises which begin with the covenant God made with Noah through to the time of Christ are the foundation of our faith - a foundation we can count upon especially in times such as these.

I was thinking about this last Wednesday as we were returning by bus from our trip to Honduras. As we drove through the darkness and snow, Bobby Fortunato sang the song "Tasks" to our group. While its words speak to the joyous news of Easter morning, more importantly, they speak to us who have come into this world since Jesus' time and who try to live with the challenges of our time. I would include here for your own thinking some of the words.

"People, he had a promise to bring
And new life for us all.
Now death where is thy sting?
He is risen.
People we have nothing to fear.
He has triumphed o'er the grave
Love lives in us always,
Just as he told us."

This is our goal, this is our task
We don't hide it behind a mask.
We won't try to turn our backs on what you
Taught us.
This is our life, this is our time.
We've got to go and cross the line
We've got to say what's on our mind
Cause these are our tasks, these are our tasks.

There is much that we do not know about our future. But we do know that God is with us and that God's promises are real. For this reason I would like to invite us during these weeks to look to the stories of our faith, in particular to the gospel writers of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Each of them had their own understanding of Jesus' life - and of the ultimate promise his life left for us. This season, I pray that we might each be able to find time for reading, for prayer, and have the chance to encounter God's promises in our own lives. Amen.

March Worship Schedule

Sunday, March 2
8 am & 10 am in the Meetinghouse
Dale Bishop, Executive Minister,
Wider Church Ministries
“Looking into the Face of Jesus”
Communion served

Sunday, March 9
8 am & 10 am in the Meetinghouse
Rabbi Mitch Hurvitz
Sunday, March 16
8 am & 10 am in the Meetinghouse
Rev. Sally Colegrove
The Honduras Mission Group

Sunday, March 23
8 am & 10 am in the Meetinghouse
Rev. Thomas L. Stiers
“After the Flood: Remember”

Sunday, March 30
8 am & 10 am in the Meetinghouse
Rev. Thomas L. Stiers
“After the Flood: Lifted Up”

Save the Dates
Tom Stiers Retirement Celebrations
May 31 and June 1, 2003
Details will follow!

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

Note of thanks to the congregation

Dear Friends,
Thank you so much for remembering my 50th birthday and the 25th Anniversary of my joining the staff at First Church. It has been an honor and privilege to serve First Church, first as the Director of Youth Ministries, then as Assistant Pastor, followed by Associate Pastor and now as Senior Associate. The years have flown. I have loved every minute of this position. We are blessed by a congregation with wide interests and talents. It has been and continues to be a joy to serve you. The ship's clock is a wonderful gift, one I will always treasure. Each time it rings the ship's hours it recalls both my love of the sea and the rich time we have spent together,
Grace and peace,
Sally

A Note of Appreciation

Bob and Decima Button wish to thank all the brothers and sisters who extended care and assistance and to those who sent food to us during our recent incapacity. This, for us, lends even greater meaning to the phrase “church family.”

John Garlid, Soloist for March 30

On Sunday, March 30th, John Garlid will sing the treble solo with The Chancel Choir in Mendelssohn's "Hear My Prayer" at the 10 a.m. worship service. Whereas in the past we have had a soprano as soloist for this beloved short cantata, in England it is considered a standard for trebles (boy sopranos). John recently performed the piece with the choir of Christ Church, Greenwich, where for several years he has participated in the boy choir program. (His older brother Tim had also been part of that choir.) Many will remember his performance as Sem in our November 2001 production of Benjamin Britten's Noye's Fludde. He was also one of Jacob's sons in the recent SPF production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. John's parents are First Church members Peter and Kitty Garlid.

First Church/First Sunday

Don't forget to bring your non-perishable food offerings for our local pantries on Sunday, March 2. Bags will be available at church the Sunday before. Most needed items are canned fruit, cereal and jello/pudding. Neighbor to Neighbor in Greenwich is experiencing a 46% increase since last year in the amount of supplemental food distributed. Your donations are critical.

Help Needed: Chili Cookers

Coordinators needed to round up a group of 5-7 people to shop for (a 2 hour commitment) and cook up (a 1-2 hour duty) the chili pots for First Church's monthly offering to the New Covenant House Community Kitchen. You can gather up your family with another, or a group of friends or ask your committee to pitch in once this year. Dates available for the first weekend of the month in APRIL, JUNE, JULY, AUGUST and SEPTEMBER. Please call Mary Bausch with your pledge to step in here and help -- 622-0309 or m.k.bausch@juno.com.

Quilting Marathon Continues

We made a good start quilting our Memory quilt, but we still need a lot more stitching. Come for an hour, come for the morning, come for the afternoon, come for the day. Bring a thimble and your favorite needle. No previous quilting experience necessary. Our regular quilting day is Monday beginning at 9 am in Room 203. Call to make sure that somebody else is quilting at the same time: mornings, Barbara Norrgard 637-3703, Margaret Phyfe 637-0181, Claire Webber 637-4154; afternoons, Betsy Kreuter 698-3016, Joan Jewell 322-8448.

Volunteers Needed

Meal-On Wheels needs volunteer drivers. Please call Elizabeth Collins at 869-1312, mornings between 9 and 1.

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.

Acting Wilde

The Acting Company of Greenwich announces their spring production of Oscar Wilde's delightful romantic comedy of manners, Lady Windermere's Fan. It is directed by Dianne O'Neill and produced by Pat Larrabee. It will be in the auditorium of the church. Show dates are March 21*- 22, 28 - 29 - 30**, and April 4 - 5. For reservations please call (203) 863-1919. Fridays and Saturdays are at 8 pm.
*Friday, March 21st, is cabaret! Bring your own food and non-alcoholic drinks. **The Sunday matinee, March 30th, is at 2 pm. Tickets are $12, with $5 for seniors only at the March 30th matinee.

20/30s Group

Looking for something more in the church? For information about the 20/30s group activities and special events please contact Aaron Sinay at 637-1791 ext. 23 or aarons@fccog.org.

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:

March 2 - Dale Bishop, Executive Minister of Wider Church Ministries for the UCC, discusses current Mid-East issues.
March 16 - The Honduras Travel Group will share the news and stories from the recent trip.
March 23 - Inspiring Generosity - Amy Beveridge discusses how you can be God’s steward.
Protecting our Water Supply - Don Walton discusses timely legislation and how you can make a difference.
March 30 - Catching up on Sleep - Dr. Stuart McCalley, director of The Sleep Laboratory at Greenwich Hospital will talk about sleep and answer your questions.

Parish Nurse

Childhood Immunization
by Jillien Orozco

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.

For further information, check out these reliable sources: the National Network for Immunization Information (www.immunizationinfo.org) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (www.aap.org).

Dee Coover, Parish Nurse, is available at ext. 21 (203-637-1791) all day Sunday and Wednesday, and Tuesday mornings.

Musical Notes

How to Judge What's Good
by John Stansell

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 this event.

When I hear our Children's Choir sing, it confirms for me the importance of an organized choir in the Christian development of our young people. It was in this choir that the seeds were planted that bore fruit in the SPF's production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" in January. Schedules are hectic and families face many hard choices. I pray that many of you will choose to support the Children's Choir by attending the Festival Worship, bringing your children to show them what participation in choir can yield.

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.

Please speak to a JPF member about sponsoring their fast.

We are looking for volunteers to assist with the Saturday program and help with our Break-fast time on Saturday night. Speak to Aaron if you are interested in helping out. Look for more information from our group as we move forward.

The JPF group focuses on fellowship, service and activities for 6th, 7th and 8th graders. We meet on Sunday evenings 5-6:15 pm in the Youth Room.

Sunday, March 2, Cook for Soup Kitchen @ 12:30; No evening JPF
9 JPF departs @ 4:30 for Darien
16 JPF @ 5:00 in the Youth Room
23 JPF @ 5:00 in the Youth Room
30 JPF @ 5:00 in the Youth Room

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 alike.

We have a number of ideas to discuss and we have volunteers among our innumerable head ushers who have agreed to launch a new campaign for Ushering. To learn the basics of what constitutes a good usher, we will ask you to take an informal lesson in ushering etiquette. We want ushering that reflects the traditions of such stalwart ushers as Warren Dennison, who understands and appreciates this vital part of church stewardship.

We will welcome people. We will greet them. We will accompany them to a pew before handing them a bulletin.

ALL ARE WELCOME, whether you have ushered before or not.
If you plan on participating, please call Peter Flierl at 637-1784 or e-mail him at flierlp@nyackhospital.org.
You can also call Aaron Sinay at 637-1791 ext 23 or e-mail him at aarons@fccog.org.

Heed the call! Join the planning! Be an usher!

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.

"Beneath the huge canopy, Davis had 1,500 people hanging on his every word. A master of timing, he measured some sentences drop by drop, poured others out like water from a pitcher." Bruce Watson Smithsonian Magazine

Considered by many to be the father of family tales, Donald Davis grew up in a family of traditional storytellers who have lived on the same North Carolina land since 1781. Davis says he "didn't learn stories, I just absorbed them." After twenty years' service as a United Methodist minister, Davis became a full-time storyteller, now giving more than three hundred performances a year. He has served as guest host of American Public Radio's "Good Evening," and appeared on CNN and "Nightline." He is author of several books and numerous storytelling cassettes and CD's.

Further information is available by calling Perrot Library at 637-8802.

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 perpetuity.

Many have found that executing a planned gift to the Church, rather than, or in addition to, making a provision in their Will for a bequest to go to the Church after they are gone, brings not only a higher level of personal satisfaction while they are still around to enjoy the feeling but also significant money-saving tax benefits. The First Church Pooled Income Fund or a UCC Charitable Gift Annuity naming First Church as the ultimate beneficiary are but two alternative planned giving vehicles you can choose from. In any case, the income beneficiaries you name when your gift is made, which could include yourself and/or other family members, are guaranteed to receive income earned on the invested value of your gift for the rest of their lives. Only after your designated income beneficiaries are all gone will the principal of your gift, by then probably appreciated in value, go to First Church.

Call Dana Low, First Church Director of Planned Giving, at (203) 637-9315 if you would like more information about any of this, or if you think you may have reached the point of moving from thinking about it to doing something about it. Remember, when that time does come, you have to take the initiative. Do it! You'll be glad you did.

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.

Our campers will enjoy trips to Tod's Point, music, dance and movement, nature, arts and crafts, science and water play. They will also participate in fun filled theme weeks each session. All campers will have a special cookout the last day of each session!

Those interested in Counselor in Training, CIT (entering 10th grade in fall) or Counselor (entering 12th grade in fall) positions should contact Tim Holman, Director, at (203) 637-5430.

The Women’s Fellowship Presents

"THE GIFT OF TIME"

A WEEKEND RETREAT APRIL 4-6, 2003
SILVER LAKE
CONFERENCE CENTER

I wish I had the opportunity to chat with...

I would just love to sit for one hour and read...

If only I could spend time doing...

I wish I had time to just
do nothing



Does any of this sound familiar? Yes?

The Women’s Fellowship may have the answer to your wish.

Come for the entire weekend or just for what you can fit in. Bring along a friend. We will gather on Friday evening for a potluck dinner, followed by relaxing around the fire. There we hope to get acquainted and begin our program. Other than Friday evening, all meals are provided.

On Saturday morning we will take a look at how we spend our time, how we'd like to spend it, and the decisions underlying our hectic lives. It will be a time to think and talk all together and in small groups.

Then, in the afternoon we will enjoy wonderfully free time - hiking, shopping for antiques, playing board games, reading or even napping by the fire.

On Saturday evening we are planning a special evensong service with Susie Craig which will provide the spiritual highlight of our special weekend together. Our retreat will officially end with breakfast on Sunday morning after which you are welcome to take a walk and enjoy the beauty of the lake, or go on your way to whatever awaits you - a leisurely drive home, or a rush back into our harried schedules!

Space is limited so please reserve soon, using the form below. The cost is $75. Just drop it off in the Church office or mail it to The Women's Fellowship, FCCOG.

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.

Judy Nelli
Church Clerk

Our Lenten Projects

Honduras 2003

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,
Hunger Knows No Color,
Hunger Knows No Zip Code

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.

#1. In the area of education, there is much to be learned about Hunger. Too many of us are unaware that hunger is very present in our communities and on the rise. Did you know that:

*Two years ago 47,000 meals were served to people in need
*Last year over 82,000 meals were served
*Our Food Bank has struggled to keep food on the shelves
*Neighbor to Neighbor has also been without resources
*There are many who do not yet know about 99 for 1
*Summer is the season of greatest need in our area for hunger

On February 23rd we held a Second Hour with local food agencies sharing their thoughts and concerns. We asked questions and discovered.

#2 We want to learn more about good nutrition - to keep our own families healthy and to respond to those in need. Food offerings should include foods necessary for good nutrition, and not simply be an opportunity to clean out our closets.

#3 We hope to expand the number of neighborhoods participating in 99 for 1 - This is a food collection program begun with the understanding that for every 99 families in our area, there is 1 who is hungry. If we all could share on a weekly basis, this need could be diminished, if not met. Look for the maps of our area, and see if you can help.
#4 Poster Project

With the help of photographers from our congregation, and the artwork of our children, we hope to create posters using the theme "Hunger Know No Season…" which will help raise awareness of this issue right here. Lent will be a time for the art work and photography to be collected. The distribution and display of posters will be directed to two goals - to raise awareness about this issue, and to reach those who are hungry and direct them to the appropriate organizations of assistance. Speak to Susie Craig or any member of the Christian Outreach Committee if you would like to take part.

#5 April 6th Walk for Hunger and Celebration Service

Beginning at Tod's Point all our congregation are invited to "Walk for Hunger". Our children will be collecting pledges for each mile walked. Families with younger children using strollers are invited to walk as well with the conclusion of the walk being at First Church. There we will hold in a worship service for hunger - in which all houses of worship and friends in our communities will be welcome to take part. Food distribution agencies will be on hand with their trucks to receive a food offering which we hope will top the scales with good nutrition for those in need.

This year is a first step to reduce hunger locally. We hope each member of our congregation can find a way to take part. We are very pleased that this is a hands-on opportunity. Your feedback as we get underway is welcome.

Easter Sunday will conclude our Lenten Project - yet we hope that "ripple effects" will continue throughout the year. Your Lenten Offering this year can be directed locally or internationally, or can be split. Offering envelopes will be included in the April Meetinghouse Monthly and will be available in pew racks in the Meetinghouse. May God bless our Lenten journey.

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