The First Congregational Church of Greenwich
The Honduras Container is
We’re gearing up to full speed!
The momentum has begun - spread
the word!! We need your help with this awesome undertaking!
We’ve accomplished truly amazing things as a congregation for our good friends
in Honduras. What was a just a dream has become an amazing reality with your
incredible support. In just a few years, First Church has established medical
clinics, hostels, housing, nutrition centers and agricultural support projects.
We have contributed thousands of dollars in much needed medical, dental and
school supplies. The effects of our efforts have been dramatic not only in the
multitudes of grateful individuals who have benefited, but also the far-reaching
This new venture is an idea sprung from our latest mission trip to Honduras. Our
travel team researched a multitude of needs, both in areas we are already
engaged and in new parts of the country. Designed to further support and nurture
our projects presently in place this project will also enable First Church to
show enthusiasm in new project areas.. What a wonderful way to get your whole
family and friends involved too!!
From furniture to forks, toys to playground equipment, medical equipment to
kitchen supplies, and even a much needed diesel truck for Dr. Espana.. This is a
fantastic opportunity to further support our Subirana Medical and Nutrition
Centers, El Japon Children’s Daycare Center and El Junco mountain village
school. Please check our wish list for items needed!
WHAT: Donations for transport to our Honduran friends via Container shipment.
See the back of this sheet for items “wished for”. We ask that all items donated
be new or gently used – please use your discretion!
The Wish List has been posted!!
Check out the Outreach Bulletin Board and the church office. It will also be
posted on the church website.
WHEN: Donation drops will be welcome 9:00 am - 12:00am Saturday mornings in May:
1, 8, 15, and 22. For larger items please call beforehand to arrange your drop
off time or if you need your donation picked up. Smaller items will be accepted
during the week.
WHERE: Donations will be accepted at First Church and temporarily stored until
the container’s shipment in June.
HOW: Items should be dropped of with a detailed list of what is being included
for customs documentation.
VOLUNTEERS: We also need strong-bodied volunteers and pickup trucks to help
Saturday mornings in May with the donation drop offs.
Contact Lisa Norrgard through the church office 637-1791 for additional
May Worship Schedule
Church School Recognition
Susan M. Craig, preaching
Sunday, May 9
Susan M. Craig, preaching
Sunday, May 16
Service of Installation
Dale Peterson, preaching
Sunday, May 30
Heritage and Memorial Day Sunday
Ralph E. Ahlberg, preaching
New Parish Nurse - Susan Asselin,
We are delighted to announce that
Susan Asselin, RN, has been hired to be our new Parish Nurse. Susan has worked
with Dee Coover in Home Care at Greenwich Hospital, serving as a Case Manager
and Triage Nurse. After a BS in Community Public Health at UMass-Amherst, she
received her nursing degree in 1989, and has worked in home care and critical
care nursing in the Springfield, MA area until she moved here in 1995. Susan
lives with her family in Riverside. We know the congregation will be impressed
with her warmth and spirituality as well as her clinical skills and community
health education interest and experience. Susan plans to start in her new
position with us on May 18. Please look for "The Nurse Is In" sign on Sunday,
May 23 and welcome her personally to our church family.
First Church/First Sunday
On Sunday, May 2, we will have the
barrel out to collect food for our local food pantries. Suggested items for this
month are: grape jelly, macaroni & cheese (not-microwaveable), and tomato or
spaghetti sauce. Remember to buy regular sizes of these items, since the
majority of families served in this area have an average of 2-3 members
First Church Growers for the
another way to express our faith
The Garden project is well on its way. Last Year, Brad Craig and Bill Bausch
staked out the garden. Now, Donna Kelly is coordinating volunteers, who have
already installed the fencing, laid out the garden, rototilled, and raked 10
garden plots. Lettuce and onions are in the ground, and soon the tomatoes,
cucumbers, and other vegetables will be planted. Individuals and families are
invited to share their time and labor for this effort. Contact Donna at 661-6085
to volunteer or Don Walton with your questions 637-0213.
Church School Recognition Sunday
A Service of Thanksgiving for
Teachers, Children, and their Parents
May 2, 2004 in the Meetinghouse
We look forward to worshipping with our congregation at the 10 AM service. Some
special notes follow:
Our Baby and Toddler Nurseries will be open as usual.
All Choirs will sing - Chancel, Youth, Children's, Cherub and the Teacher &
Task Force Recognition Sunday Choir
Third Graders receive their Bibles and Invite you to share their celebration
cake at Coffee Hour in the Memory Garden - weather permitting.
Everyone is invited to bring a
garden flower for our traditional flower cross.
WHY WE NEED YOUR PARENT SURVEYS
The Church School Task Force is responsible for the Christian education and
participation in the life of First Church for the youngest members of our
congregation. Periodically we solicit input from our parents, teachers and
children about our programs. Most recently the Task Force has been discussing
communion for families. We would like to have the input of our families before
we provide a report to the Church Committee on this topic.
First Church supports the right of private judgment for families regarding their
children and the age at which they begin to receive communion. Some of our
children participate in communion at a young age and some wait until the time of
Confirmation. Currently, the sacrament of communion is formally introduced in
the second grade. The children learn about the ceremony and the history behind
it. It is the policy of First Church that communion is taken by children when
accompanied by their parent(s) until confirmation, usually in ninth grade.
Also, in May, we will be planning for the Church School 2004-05 program year.
Our planning includes programming for parents and family activities, including
the summer. We are very interested in your ideas, questions, comments, hopes and
TEACHER RECRUITMENT UPDATE
Rejoice with us for the members who have already decided to teach our children
next year and prayerfully consider whether or not this is your year to step into
a Church School class to teach and learn! Remember the last day of Church School
is May 9th which is Confirmation Sunday for our Ninth Graders.
Celebrating the Church School
Teaching Teams 2004 - 2005
We are hoping to have all these filled by May 2. Are you willing?
Lori Griffin and Eileen Griffin
Erlinda and Larry Haviland
Cynthia De Riemer
Kate and Lisa Phyfe
Mary Ann Assing
Adult Christian Education
The Wild, Wild Word: Bible Study
102 on "Marriage." During the month of May on Wednesdays at 9 am or 6:30 pm,
join Ashley in the Lounge for a timely exploration of relationships and marriage
through: stories and passages from Bible; various articles and readings,
including the CT Conference Resolution on Same-Sex Marriage; personal reflection
and group discussions. Underlying questions for the study include: What are our
assumptions? What does God intend (then and now)and how do we know? What's going
on around us--culture and media? In what ways does our Open and Affirming status
speak to our perspective on relationships, in general, and marriage, in
For the first meeting (May 5), read Genesis 29:15-30; Deuteronomy 24:1-5; and
Ruth 4:1-16. All are welcome. If you need childcare during this time, please
call Ashley so that can be arranged. 637-1791 ext. 26.
Middle School Programs
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. During the
month of May, 6th, 7th and 8th graders are welcome to "drop in" and hang out in
the youth room from 3:30-5:00 pm. You can bring a friend; do homework; read a
book; work on a craft; or play boardgames. There will also be snacks.
Saturday, May 1 You are invited to
go with Ashley to hear the band "Zehnder" at First Presbyterian Church of
Greenwich. Advisors are needed. Sign up.
Sunday 2 Regular JPF Meeting
Wednesday 5 3:30-5:00 pm Youth
Room Drop In
Sunday 9 Fun! Fun! Fun! Wear play
clothes. Regular time.
Wednesday 12 3:30-5:00 pm Youth
Room Drop In
Sunday 16 Hunger Walk in the
afternoon, no evening meeting JPF.
8th graders are invited to the H.O.M.E. memory potluck at 6:00 pm.
Wednesday 19 3:30-5:00 pm Youth
Room Drop In
Sunday 23 Last Regular JPF Meeting
of the Year!!
Wednesday 26 3:30-5:00 pm Youth
Room Drop In
M. Ashley Grant
Thomas Merton became a Trappist
monk when he was about 26, and he lived at Our Lady of Gethsemani Abbey in
Trappist, Kentucky. The way I imagine Merton from his writings and from the
photographs of biographers begins with a straw hat, shading a man with tanned,
leathery skin. His contemplative lifestyle consisted of prayer, worship, work,
eating, sleeping and prolific writing, all of which create one's impression of
him. The lifestyle that seems so focused and isolated was not about individual
gain, but rather about community. Merton says, "we do not exist for ourselves,"
which resonates in the mere existence and survival of the Gethsemani community,
producing what they need and can sell from the resources of the land and the
gifts and talents of the members.
Still, the functioning community is only the surface; beneath the daily tasks,
words spoken, efforts made, most would say that God's will to call and grace to
lead each person enable and inspire community. I imagine Merton working in the
garden, under that straw hat, smelling of dirt turned up at his feet and on his
hands, feeling the tight, tired strength in his joints while surveying those
Sister Marie Ahearn lives at the farm north of the main H.O.M.E campus in
Orland, Maine. She's a feisty character, accustom to struggle in many arenas:
political, financial, social, environmental, etc. While Rick Nelli, Sam
Crihfield, Philip Thalheim and I worked alongside of Marie on Wednesday, I could
not help but associate her with Merton as she raised up from her work to
appreciate what was being accomplished. We were disassembling an old fence,
ravaged by a wind storm. I love places where material resources almost never
lose their potential, which was the case in our project, salvaging the heavy
wire mesh, the weathered lumber and posts, and the hinges of the fence.
As we worked and rested, I asked Marie about life on their farm. She, Lucy, and
Ellen have built most of it with the help of volunteer groups, like the many
from First Church. Every morning, she and Ellen feed the animals before the
community gathers for breakfast and prayer; afterwards, its back to work either
caring for the farm or the current residents. Over the past 28 years, Marie has
seen growth and transformation of the place and the people whom God leads to it.
From those suffering with Alzheimer's to young families who cannot survive with
assistance from government programs to those who are simply unwanted and alone,
they become vital members of this community. We were part of the community
during our brief stay, existing not for ourselves, but for the good of the
By working together, we grow to appreciate the process toward accomplishing a
task, the compromise as an expression of unity, and the gratification of what we
did together that we could not do alone. Beneath the accomplishments--the fruits
of our labor-- we might find the answer to the question: why do we help and
receive help? "Our actions are not ours alone, they belong to God," reflects
Merton. Realizing the presence and motivation of God's grace, I hope we feel
challenged to join in the many efforts of community that First Church supports:
Rebuilding Together, First Church Growers (garden project), the Hunger Walk,
filling the Container for Honduras, and Parish Life events.
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. You can reach her at
MUSIC SUNDAY 2004
All of the musicians here at First Church are busy preparing for May 23rd, Music
Sunday 2004, when all of their forces will be brought together for this annual
worship celebration. From our youngest Cherubs, under the direction of Holly
Beneville, who will be singing "Over My Head," an African-American spiritual, to
the adults in the Chancel Choir, who will offer among other selections "God Is
Gone Up" by the 20th century English composer Gerald Finzi, all the participants
will strive to take us on an upward journey. The lectionary readings indicating
this heavenward path will be those for the Feast of the Ascension that we will
"Sweet Chariot," in an arrangement by Ken Berg, will be the contribution of the
Youth Choir with Carolyn Paulus directing. This beloved spiritual is based on
the Old Testament ascension of Elijah in a whirlwind on a chariot of fire. The
Palmer Handbells under Mark Swicegood's direction will bring their special
excitement to the worship with "Celebration" by Hart Morris. Additional
selections by the Chancel Choir will be "O Clap Your Hands," a setting of Psalm
47 by John Rutter, "Coelos ascendit hodie" by Charles Villiers Stanford sung
antiphonally as the introit, and "Go Out With Joy" by Hank Beebe at the
During the service we will dedicate the seven-foot Kawai grand piano in the
Meetinghouse. This piano and its refurbishment were a gift to the church from
Robert Blackmore in memory of his wife Joan. Mark and John will use the piano at
the prelude in a piano-organ duet, "Dialog" by Leo Sowerby.
Music Sunday worship is at the usual 10:00 o'clock hour, but do arrive early to
get a good seat and hear the preludes. As is our tradition we will gather on the
church lawn after the service for strawberries and croissants and the May Pole
The text of the Children's Choir anthem, "See the Conqueror," with music
composed by John Stansell for this occasion, suggests that in the Ascension of
Christ "we by faith behold our own." Perhaps, by grace, the worship on Music
Sunday will give us a foretaste of that. Be sure to come and be "LIFTED UP!"
One of the unsung heroines of the Duke University Chorale event was Angela
Stevens. Her name was inadvertently left out of the thank-you in the last MHM.
Angela coordinated the overnight housing for the college students. Our thanks,
belatedly, to Angela, with apologies for the omission!
Maypole dancers needed! If you are a child in the younger elementary grades,
please plan on joining us for the Maypole dance on Music Sunday. We will
rehearse on Friday afternoon, May 21, after school at 3:30. It would be great if
you could attend this rehearsal, but if you can not, please come on Sunday. All
are welcome whether you have danced the Maypole before or this is your first
time. The Maypole dancers will meet at 11:00 in the Undercroft on Music Sunday,
May 23. Remember, church school will no longer be in session so check your
calendar. Please indicate your interest on the sign-up in the church office.
Questions? call Sarah Thalheim at 637-9670.
WALK FOR HUNGER
The Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County
May 16, 2004
Meet on the First Church front lawn for a gentle 2 mile walk along the sidewalks
of Old Greenwich, followed by a brief ceremony to dedicate our Food Offering
Pre- and Post-Walk Music by "Selfless Delicacy"
Strollers and Dogs welcomed!
Nonperishable Staple Foods (Canned Stews, Soups, Tuna, Pasta, etc.)
Cash or Checks to fund local Food Banks
All who are unable to participate in the Walk are encouraged to bring Food or
Cash to First Church on or before May 16 for inclusion in our Food Offering.
For more information, visit the Outreach Committee booth at coffee hour
or call Chris Hartwell at 637-2833.
|Summer is an especially
difficult time for local food banks and pantries. Demand peaks as
children are home from school (no longer receiving subsidized
breakfasts and lunches), and supplies ebb as donors go on vacation.
Additional funding and non-perishable food contributions at this time
of year are critical to meet the increased needs of our hungry
Report to the Congregation
The April Report to the
Congregation outlined our solicitation efforts and the process of sorting
candidates into “Active,” “Pending” and “Rejected” categories. This report will
focus on what is done when a candidate is placed on the “Active” list to start
creating a positive impression of First Church of Greenwich. After being advised
that we deeply appreciate the time and effort required to consider our
opportunity, a package of materials is sent to them by Priority Mail that is
designed to both acquaint the person with our congregation, our programs, our
church and our community … and to impress them with First Congregational
Church’s rich history and unlimited potential. The package contains:
A comb-bound copy of our Church
A “First Church Looks to the
Future” booklet (prepared by the committee)
The 2003 Annual Report,
Treasurer’s Report & Financials
A “Children’s Ministries” brochure
A Women’s Fellowship Yearbook
A “Shelter Strong Campaign
The “Stained Glass Windows of
Reprints of sermons by Ralph
Ahlberg, Susie Craig and Ashley Grant
Copies of the February and March
A copy of the mid-February
Meetinghouse up to the Minute Newsletter “Order of Service” programs from two
So far, the package has had the
desired effect and the recipients report that they are quite impressed. As one
of our Active candidates put it when asked if he was still interested after
looking over the materials … “You’d have to be crazy not to be!”
Our plan is to continue to narrow our focus by studying the Ministerial Profiles
and comparing the strengths of the Active candidates to the job description and
list of desired attributes we developed in our Church Profile. We will stay in
touch with the most attractive candidates at least once every two weeks and try
to plan our contacts so that we garner a bit more information, and impart a bit
more information, with each exposure. At some point we will send a “scouting
party” (as Ralph calls them) to hear the top candidates preach and invite the
best-of-the-best to come to Greenwich and meet with the entire committee. At
that time we may also ask some of the key lay leaders to meet with the
candidate. We will firm up our plans in this regard as we get closer to that
stage of the process.
Based on the number and quality of candidates already in the Active category,
the committee isn’t concerned about finding someone who can do the job and do it
well. We continue to be blessed with an abundance of candidates who appear to be
well educated, experienced and have a wide range of talents and interests. The
challenge we feel is finding someone with whom the congregation can form a
meaningful and enduring relationship. As stated in our job description, “A
person whose warmth and goodness are an inspiration and comfort to the
congregation … a spiritual leader who not only inspires us with charisma and
intelligence from the pulpit but who acts daily on his/her Christian faith and
challenges the congregation to do the same.”
There seems to be a tremendous amount of pent up positive energy in our church
today. Part of it is because of the faith-lifting ministry being brought to us
by Ralph, Susie and Ashley. Hopefully, another part is because we are all making
plans for how we will help the new pastor once he/she comes aboard … because
regardless of how talented they may be, they can’t make a difference in our
lives, our church and our community without our unstinting acceptance and
The Senior Pastor Search Committee
The Members of The First
Congregational Church of Greenwich, Ministers
First Congregational Church
of Greenwich www.fccog.org
108 Sound Beach Avenue, Old Greenwich, Connecticut 203.637.1791
Ministers: The Members of The First Congregational Church of Greenwich
Interim Senior Pastor: Ralph E. Ahlberg
Senior Associate Pastor: Susan M. Craig
Associate Pastor and Director of Middle School Ministries: M. Ashley Grant
Parish Associate and SPF Coordinator: Kelly J. Stone
Church School Coordinators: Rosemary Lamie and Jennifer Lepoutre
Director of Music/ Senior Organist: John Stansell
Associate Organist/Director: Mark Swicegood
Associate Musician: Carolyn Diamond
Pastors Emeriti: Dr. Thomas L. Stiers and Sally Colegrove
Director of Medical Services, AIEH in Honduras: Dr. Reniery España