The First Congregational Church of Greenwich

Meetinghouse Monthly

June, 2003

The Pastors' Column

Living the Whole Story
by Susan M. Craig

Recently I heard someone commenting about how tiring this year has been, particularly with all the issues we have faced, decisions we have made, and hard work we have done. And I thought to myself…true. Yet at the same time, I found myself thinking that that is not the whole story.

We have done good work this year. Important work - and important planning and preparation for our future as a congregation. That work has taken place in the format of committees, surveys, letters written, and a series of Second Hours where together we have thought, and spoken, struggled and grown as a congregation entering an unfamiliar aspect of our life together.

But I would repeat, that is not the whole story. The whole story of this year has included a congregation gathered as we as a nation went to war, the whole congregation gathered as we went out to Honduras, served the people of the H.O.M.E. community, took part in Rebuilding Together, and the Hunger Walk. We worshiped together and celebrated the joy of Easter morning on the beach and in the Meetinghouse. The good news of that morning goes way beyond words, and is at the heart of who we are, is the firm foundation upon which we stand.
Because we know Jesus Christ came that we might know God's love is really what we are about and we have celebrated that with our children on Recognition before their Flower Cross, on Music Sunday as we received glorious gifts of music, and heard people's truths declared in song and spoken words, and on Heritage Sunday as we celebrated and remembered the rich history we have shared together.

Last weekend we celebrated Tom Stiers' ministry among us, which encompasses so very much. And as we look forward with warm wishes and high hopes for him and his future plans, I would like to invite us to realize that we too hold wishes and hopes for our next step. Yes there is work to be done, but by and as a community, a congregation gathered, who live and celebrate what they believe in as the world turns and brings the gifts and challenges of life before us.

Let us live our faith as joyful Christians. Let us discover over and over what it means to gather as a congregation who share a faith and fellowship which none can destroy. Christ came that we might do that.

Alleluia, Amen.


Dear Friends,

This last weekend I had a chance to take my first paddle down the Housatonic River in a raft. I have done the ten mile river trip many times in a canoe, but the raft was a new experience. I heartily recommend it to all of you - nice weather would make it even better. New adventures are good for the soul. As I paddled along with the SPF on what has become our traditional Memorial Day retreat I realized what a full year this has been. We should be very proud of our Senior Highs. They have worked and sung, acted and traveled, planned and led worship, giving untold hours of commitment to First Church. In the last six weeks they have cooked for the soup kitchen, walked for hunger, done the Easter Sunrise Service, taken part as teachers in Recognition Sunday and sung with the Youth Choir at Confirmation and on Music Sunday. At the suggestion of our Rock Band, Selfless Delicacy, they held a concert and bake sale to benefit the children of Honduras and raised over $1600.

June is a time of Thanksgiving, not only for our young people, but for the SPF Task Force, the Board of Directors, the SPF Presidents, for all those who make the Youth Program possible. This year I give special thanks to Aaron Sinay who has led the JPF. June 15th is Aaron's last day with us and I hope that you will join the JPF and SPF at Coffee Hour as we wish him well. Aaron will be moving to Boston in the fall to begin graduate school in education. I would also like to thank the advisors of the entire Youth Program for their continuing nurture of our young people. They are listed below, if you have a chance, give one or more of them a hug and join me in thanking them. As summer days approach, stay cool,


The Advisors of the Youth Program

Bill Bausch
Debbie Bocchino
Ginny Breismeister, Task Force Chair
Brad Craig
Susie Craig
Libby Craig
Steve Crawford
Bobby Fortunato
Barbara Ghnassia
Phoebe Griffith
Tim Holman
Betsy Kreuter
Clem Lepoutre
Joe McBride
Rick Nelli
Lisa Norrgard
Carolyn Paulus
Aaron Sinay
Charlee Tufts
Rick Woodman
Josh Ziac
Jona Ziac

Farewell Tom

"I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers."
Ephesians 1:16

Dear Friends:

This past weekend's celebration of my twenty-nine years of ministry among you was a reunion of the style that has marked my years. The celebration was a mirror of the ministry of the lay leadership and the ordained leadership of this congregation that has provided such outstanding teamwork over the years. At the conclusion of Sunday's worship service I wanted to invite both the former and current lay and ordained staff to join me for the benediction. This is representative of the team that has enabled us to be who we are. The Holy Spirit has richly blessed all of us together. I will carry that mental picture with me as I move into my transition in September.

I want to thank Lucy Hedrick and her wonderful committee members and the home team that created such a warm and loving spirit for the celebration. It is that kind of spirit that has made First Church such a marvelous congregation. How can I find words to thank John Stansell, Mark Swicegood, Carolyn Diamond, and Carolyn Paulus and the choirs for the heavenly music? It was greatness of Music Sunday all over again! I am also deeply in debt to Brigitta S. Remole, William T. Federici, and David Taylor for their inspiring message and to Dale Greene for her uplifting prayer.

After the roasting and toasting under the tent I am more aware of my shortcomings. I am considering giving up wearing any of my current ties for the summer. But seriously from my daughter's use of a David Letterman
type list to point out ten of my weaknesses to Kathryn Lepoutre's remembrances of our common ministry with St. Catherine's and the late Father Vincent O Conner - I joined with you in the humorous celebration of our time together. Diana Grupe-Svalgard's presentation of her portrait of me was appreciated. The proclamation by our First Selectman Dick Bergstresser that May 31, 2003 was "Reverend Dr. Thomas L. Stiers Day in the town of Greenwich" touched me deeply.

I thank you for your wonderful generosity in providing funds for a scholarship in my honor which will enable new generations of pastors to be trained. Finally my ministry at First Church has always been supported and encouraged by my wife and my two daughters and their families, my brother Chuck and his family and Brenda's sister and her family. For their help and support I am extremely grateful.

With gratitude for our ministry and mission during these years together, I look forward to sharing these next three months with you,


Thank you from Lucy Hedrick

I am indebted to so many "angels" for a great deal of help. Thanks to Robin Loughman and Mark Swicegood for helping with writing and designing the invitation and to David Birkic for arranging the printing. Pat Myer's terrific team of angels stuffed and mailed the invites, and Wendy Reynolds kept track of all the RSVPs and contributions to the Thomas L. Stiers Endowed Scholarship Fund. Chuck Ainsworth chaired the Scholarship Fund initiative. Janet Klingner assembled the written greetings for Tom, Beth Rollins ably negotiated with caterers, and Steve Sotzing haggled with tent companies. Bill and Mary Bausch and Bob Small helped with set-up and sound, and Judy Chapman prepared Saturday's name tags by hand. Decorations were decided with insight from Marti Easton, Loretta Stagen and Frosty Friedman. Alice Ell and Winkie Delmhorst coordinated beds & breakfasts for out-of-towners. Picnic check-in was provided by Betsy Moore, Joyce Nye and Lynn Montanari, and appetizers were recruited by Pam Grunow and Debbie Lacivita. Beverages were ably coordinated by Rick Woodman and Brad Craig, while desserts were chaired by Betsy Kreuter and Lori Romano. Saturday's and Sunday's programs were prepared by Mark Swicegood, and the evening's slide show was assembled by Sally Colegrove and Aaron Sinay. Sunday's post-service Reception was chaired by Frosty Friedman. We are especially grateful to our talented emcees, Stu McCalley and Art Delmhorst. Thanks to everyone else who pitched in and helped all of the committee chairs. Thanks also to all members of the clergy and FCC staff whose efforts were essential to mounting an event of this magnitude. This special event Chairman's best friend was Robin Loughman, who repeatedly asked, "What can I do to help?" and who kept me calm, focused and relatively typo-free. Last but not least, thanks to Tom Stiers for 29 years of love and service to his flock and to whom these celebrations are dedicated.

Catered Collyer Catering of Stamford
Decorations from Party & Paper Warehouse, Stamford
Tent, extra tables & chairs from Northeast Tent, Stamford
Floral centerpieces by Loretta Stagen Floral Design Studio, Stamford
Cakes by Judy Provoost of Old Greenwich and
Music by the Tod Hedrick Jazz Quartet and the
Off-Sounders, Chris Pankratz, director
Special song lyrics were written by Harry Woodman

A Photo Directory Thank You!

Thanks to the dozens of volunteers who organized, registered, recruited, stamped and scheduled, we have a brand new Photo Directory that will help all of us connect faces with names. Special recognition goes to our church staff, to Photo Directory Committee members Peggy Beecher, Mary Durland, Susan Gilbert and Judy Nelli, and to design and photography experts Meg Sherman and Peggy Briggs...all of whom helped guide this project to the finish line!

If you have not been able to pick up your directory at Coffee Hour, please look for it in the mail. Any directory listing corrections should be directed to Mary Babbidge in the Church Office.

Many of you have asked about the outstanding photo of First Church that appears on the cover. Credit goes to Tom Ragland, who has generously helped us chronicle our church life on film. Notice, no power lines!

Robin Loughman
Photo Directory Committee Chair

Beach Services

The informal beach services begin on Sunday, June 8 at 8 am. They are held beside the Queen Anne Building at Greenwich Point. There is no charge for out-of-town worshipers to enter the beach. In case of rain, the service is held in the Meetinghouse. A white paper on the signboard in front of the church indicates a change in the location.

Quilt Raffle Thanks

The Women’s Fellowship would like to thank all the generous people who bought tickets for the May 7 Quilt Raffle. The lucky winner of this year’s beautiful “Double Wedding Ring” quilt was the Lovallo family. Lauren, one of the family’s three teens active in First Church’s programs, filled out the tickets for her mother, Renate. The profit from the raffle ($2,960) will help fund our allocations to our many outreach projects. In addition, we thank the Kettle Quilters for all the time and effort they spent in creating the fabulous heirloom.

Eagle Scouts Honored

Congratulations to the following Boy Scouts of Troop 3 who received the highest honor of Scouting during a ceremony at the church on June 1:

Morgan Bennett
Matthew Crane
Sean Hudock
Zachary Mahone
Michael Nash
Michael O'Neill
Andrew Packard

Neighbor to Neighbor

A Letter from

Dear Susie and the Christian Outreach Committee,

Neighbor to Neighbor is truly in debt to First Congregational Church. Your monthly First Church/First Sunday food drive brings in critical food supplies on a regular basis. Then there is the 99 for One where many of your members either donate or act as street captains collecting food in their neighborhoods each week.

Your recent Lenten project Hunger Knows No Season/Color/Zip Code is just another example of your congregation’s commitment to reaching out to those in need and making difference. What a remarkable neighbor you are in our community. I wish I had been personally able to walk with all who joined in the walk through Old Greenwich and then joined in the service of dedication at the end.

The work we do at Neighbor to Neighbor is only possible because of the generosity and efforts of people like you. Unfortunately, the need for our services has been increasing dramatically. We are up 46% over this time last year and we do not see things getting better. I was working at Neighbor this morning when a woman came in to make a donation. We thank her and she replied that she was there now because at one time she had been on the other side and had received assistance.

Please pass on to your congregation not only our gratitude but also the gratitude of the approximately 425 individuals who receive food from us each month.

Sandra Carr Motland, President

Interim Senior Pastor Search Committee Report

The search for an interim senior pastor was begun very recently and I wanted to give you a brief update. The Church Committee has directed us to find someone who could act as the senior pastor for a period of time, for two reasons: first, many denominations (including the United Church of Christ ) have found that a specially trained person in interim ministry is extraordinarily important in a transition from a long serving pastor to a new pastor.

Second, the search for a permanent pastor usually takes 18 to 24 months to successfully complete its objective.
Our committee has started the task by enlisting help from the UCC and by doing some networking on our own. We have 7 resumes in hand at the moment, plus a tape of a sermon given by another ( this provided by a member of our congregation ) all trained to be interim ministers. We are looking for individuals who have been associated with large churches and churches with active committees and organizations such as ours.

When we started, we were told that there were some 70 ministers in Connecticut who have been trained in interim ministry. We found, however, that of those, 40 were employed, and another 20 had experience with much smaller churches. Thus, our networking has not only involved Connecticut, but literally from Florida to California.

As I said, this process is just beginning, but we are gratified that we seem to have some genuine interest from some very good candidates.

Gerald Isaacson, Chairman
Interim Pastor Search Committee

Information Regarding Your Rights to Privacy Regarding Health Care Facility Admission

On April 14, 2003 the Federal Government put into effect a new law entitled the “Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act” (HIPAA), which is intended to protect patient confidentiality in health care facilities. If you are admitted to Greenwich Hospital you will be asked if you choose to include a religious affiliation as part of your medical record. You will be given the opportunity to specify your affiliation with our specific parish/congregation. You will also be asked if you give permission for your clergy to be notified of your admission.

HIPAA also requires of all hospitals and health care facilities that patients be asked upon admission if they choose to “opt out” of the hospital directory, i.e. the official list of inpatients that will be made available to the public for any purpose. Patients will be informed that if they choose to opt out, no one, including their clergy and their family members calling from the outside will know that they are here or be connected by telephone. In order for us to be able to care for you in a time of crisis or illness, please be very clear about your wishes.

Aaron's Almost Goodbye!

At Coffee Hour on Sunday, June 15 we will honor Aaron Sinay who is heading to Boston for a very exciting Graduate Program in August. Although we will still have the benefit of his work on a part time basis for several more weeks, this is his last Sunday as full time staff. So, please join us to wish him well.

Feeling Dizzy?

by Dee Coover

In the past couple of months, I have had several individuals ask me about "dizziness" - how common the symptom is, and is the condition "serious"? It is interesting to note that the question has been posed most often during "Stroke Awareness Month" - stroke is a complication of high blood pressure, a condition that can be accompanied by dizziness.

How about you? Have you ever had an occasion when you've felt an "unpleasant sense of imbalance", or a "spinning sensation" inside your head? Maybe when you were hurrying and turned quickly, you sensed a feeling of "dizziness" or "being off kilter"? Perhaps you attributed the experience to getting "older", or the side effect of a new medication, or just feeling "under the weather" or "stressed-out" that day. You are not alone -- at one time or another, most everyone has experienced "dizziness" which might be described as an unpleasant feeling of being off-balance or having a sense of "spinning" within your brain with a quick change of position of the head or body. From an article in a recent nursing journal, I learned that, "dizziness is the fourth most common complaint given by seniors when visiting their primary care providers."

Dizziness is a sensation that can happen to most anyone, in any age group. Please note, dizziness is a symptom that warrants further investigation if it continues to occur. The cause may be as simple as being dehydrated or as serious as signifying changes in circulation or nerve function in the brain. The symptom often is a side effect of medications, especially in preparations that lower blood pressure, are used to treat depression and anxiety, or are found in sedatives, and over-the-counter drugs to treat colds or allergies. Side effects of some eye drops to treat glaucoma produce dizziness. Alcohol often causes dizziness, and in combination with the medication types identified above, can enhance the side effects. The importance of carefully reading the fine print on drug labels cannot be overstated.

Dizziness may signal disease-related changes in the sensory organs that affect spatial orientation and balance, or alterations in circulation to the central nervous system and brain. During the hot months of the year, dizziness may occur as a result of hot environments - more specifically, dehydration can produce lowered blood pressure due to loss of body fluids through increased perspiration with activity - and, in some cases, with exposure to heat over an extended period of time without replenishment of fluids. Also, during those long stretches of summer heat, the incidence of heat prostration is increased. Being outside in the sun and heat can lead to sunstroke and with this condition, vertigo, a very unpleasant sense of dizziness, and possibly nausea.

Low blood sugar frequently can produce a number of symptoms including dizziness. Low blood sugar occurs when too many hours lapse between meals, especially between dinner at 6 pm and breakfast at 8 am - and maybe even later if you take medications that require 0.5 to 1 hour time before eating.

So many possible causes for 'dizziness'. Besides the unpleasantness of the symptom, the condition can lead to falls and potential disability. Next month's article will address some of the strategies that can be employed for prevention of dizziness -- particularly for prevention of falls or other consequences of this condition. If you have any questions about dizziness, please contact Dee Coover, RNC, at (203) 637-1791 x21 anytime. Your Parish Nurse "is in" all day Sundays, Wednesdays, and Tuesday mornings.

Another New Pair of Shoes

by Aaron J. Sinay

It has been almost ten months since I told a Children's Story about my new shoes. At that point, I was just starting my time here at First Church and was a little nervous about what was to come. The children, too, were starting some new things. The school year was about to commence and new clothes and shoes were being purchased. For that matter, we can all relate to the tension and excitement of trying new things. As I said then and feel now, those new shoes were exciting yet unfamiliar; there would be a certain breaking-in period.

What does it take to make a good pair of shoes? Starting with high quality materials is always important. Having a good design for their function as well as their appearance is another crucial concern. And lastly, putting these all together in an organized manner is the final component. Each part is necessary and must complement the others. The sole protects the feet and offers stability and traction to navigate the way just as the youth and various committees and groups guided and supported me as I found my way this year. The main portion provides warmth and security as does this strong faith community. The tongue allows for flexibility and adjusts as the feet change like the church staff's ability to adjust and adapt to the individual gifts of each member. The laces hold it all together, just as the Holy Spirit guides and binds us together. As a shoe is designed and built to protect, support and help us on our paths, this church is there for each of us on our individual roads. Each of us is fulfilling a role in this vital faith journey.

As Robert Frost looked down the paths diverged in a wood, I wonder what shoes he was wearing. Probably boots. As a farmer and a poet, he most likely contemplated his selection of footgear. He knew the importance of each decision and the necessity of making the decision. As we walk down our chosen paths we know that we shall not pass this way again. But, isn't that wonderful! We draw from our experiences on each path, appreciating our past and looking at each new potential path with enthusiasm. We move continuously forward and celebrate the wonders of our past and the excitement of the future.

Know that my time here has been a very important path in my life. You have helped me to learn and to grow. The community I have felt at the Parish Life events, the JPF and SPF trips, and in our worship together has been wonderful. The opportunity to share this year with you has been a true blessing. The staff has been ever mindful ever committed to the ministry of this congregation. All of their gifts and support have made my experience here wonderful. Thank you!

This year has been a year of shopping for new shoes. Thank you all for allowing me the time to research graduate programs in Boston. And now I will be trying on some new shoes at Boston University and Wheelock College. As I don't quite know where I will be living please feel free to contact me via email at . I will miss you all and would love to hear from you.

Love and peace,


June Worship Schedule

Sunday, June 8
Beach Services Begin
Rev. Thomas L. Stiers
“The Art of Gratitude”

Sunday, June 15
Harold W. Attridge, Dean
Yale Divinity School

Sunday, June 22
Rev. Kitty Garlid
“How much is enough?”

June 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, unless otherwise indicated.. The June offerings are:

June 8 Rizek Abusharr, former Director of the Jerusalem International YMCA will be our guest speaker at the Second Hour. He will discuss his role in the Peace Kindergarten, a multi-religious effort made up of 150 Arab, Jewish and Christian children in age from 2 to 5 years old.

June 15 Ann Zwicker Kerr, head of the Leadership Council for Churches for Middle East Peace, will be with us to discuss Middle East peace issues.