The First Congregational Church of Greenwich
The Pastors’ Column
by Ralph E. Ahlberg
The Apostle Paul argues in one of
his letters to the Corinthians that the church is like a body with many parts,
all of which contribute to the whole. I marvel at the accuracy of that image as
I think about this venerable Body of Christ, the First Congregational Church of
Greenwich! From those early members who struggled and argued with Joseph Morgan
an early eighteenth century minister about the location of the Meeting House (he
finally resigned) to those contemporary members who add to the wholeness and
effectiveness of our Body of Christ today, we have much for which to be
One such member who has recently added to the interest I have in First Church is
Robert E. Button. He's written an autobiography entitled, Enigma in Many Keys:
The Life and Letters of a WW II Intelligence Officer. During the early part of
the summer, I got to know Bob through his contributions as the organist at our
8:00 A.M. Beach services. Then I learned of his recently published book and read
it with increasing interest and appreciation. I've not known anyone, for
example, who had tea with the granddaughter of Charles Dickens. Nor did I know
the derivation of a "cock and bull story" though I'd heard the expression a
thousand times. But even less did I know about the contributions of committed
allies gathered to break codes and garner information vital to winning the war
in Europe. Nor had I before experienced, however vicariously, what it was like
to be an American officer living in wartime London. Bob gives us a great "read"
and an opportunity for growth in our understanding of a significant slice of
history. And all this comes from a member of our community and one who with his
spouse Decima enriches our common life.
So, as we return from whatever the pleasures of summer that have kept us apart,
let us return with appreciation for so many vital and interesting members who
compose this rich community of faith called First Church. As community is at the
heart of who and what we are, so as the Body of Christ composed of many members,
we need you. An exciting program year waits. Beginning in September, the church
school and its teachers will return to nurture the life of our children's faith.
The church building and grounds will have received important improvements. From
the new floors in the pre-school to a much needed repaving of the parking lot,
care will have been taken to provide a safe setting for us in which to learn and
worship. You will want to be a part of Homecoming Sunday on September 19th that
is described elsewhere in this issue of the Meetinghouse Monthly. But don't wait
until then. A warm welcome is always present at First Church!
Sunday, September 5
The Cost of Discipleship
Susan M. Craig
Sunday, September 12
A Seeking God
Ralph E. Ahlberg
Sunday, September 19
Susan M. Craig
Sunday, September 26
Knowing the Difference Between Right and Wrong
Ralph E. Ahlberg
Around the Church
Welcome Home and Bring a Friend to…
A Neighborhood of Nations
Sunday, September 19
11:15 am on the Church Lawn
The great fun, music, and food of the annual First Church Homecoming Picnic are
truly blessings to share with new and old friends. With this year's
international theme, we hope that members of First Church will share aspects of
the cultures and traditions represented among us. This is also a wonderful
opportunity to celebrate the diversity of our communities, which means inviting
neighbors and friends to share their unique traditions during the festivities.
Bring flags of your heritage; wear traditional dress; prepare special ethnic
dishes to give your neighborhood a taste of your heritage.
Of course, the American flare will be among the others represented, which
assures you a delicious meal of hamburgers and hotdogs with all the trimmings,
refreshing beverages, supplemented by the variety of salads and deserts provided
by fellow picnickers. There will be musical entertainment, fun activities for
children, and endless fellowship.
A Taste of the Nations
A table will be arranged with your contributions of ethnic and specialty foods.
Labels will indicate the dish and its presumed origin. Picnickers can sample
foods from all many nations. So, please prepare something to share for others to
have a taste of the nation/culture close to your heart and stomach.
The band features: Whendi Cook, Daniel Broderick, Bobby Fortunato, Jona Ziac and
Tickets are available in the Church Office Monday through Friday and will be
sold at Coffee Hour on Sundays, August 29, September 5, 12, and 19.* Advance
tickets are $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and children, and $20 max for
families. Tickets purchased the day of the event will be $1 more, with a $25
maximum for families.
*To help with planning food purchases for "A Neighborhood of Nations" Picnic,
advanced notice or ticket purchases would be greatly appreciated!
We ask everyone to please bring a salad or desert to share: Last name A to K
bring deserts for 10; Last name L to Z bring salads for 10
CALL FOR CHARCOAL GRILLS: If you have a charcoal grill that you would loan
to the church for the Homecoming Picnic, please call Ashley Grant, 637-1791 ext.
Inviting and Welcoming
September is a wonderful month for
inviting friends, neighbors and associates to come see if First Church is right
for them! There is a lot of excitement in the air as our program year gets
rolling. Children can explore church school right at the beginning of the year.
Our Homecoming Picnic on September 19 is full of fun and fellowship. So bring a
friend to church this month!
You may also have noticed that our Statement of Welcome is now more visible to
visitors. Our Statement of Welcome clearly defines our desire to be fully
inclusive to ALL. The full Statement of Welcome is printed inside the red books,
which are passed each week. The second paragraph of the Statement is printed as
a welcome at the beginning of the Sunday Bulletin. The full Statement is posted
on our website (www.fccog.org), is printed in the Homecoming Booklet and will be
posted in a few prominent places in the church. We hope ALL visitors will be
welcomed by each of us, and feel fully welcome to participate in all aspects of
life at First Church.
Rick Derr, Senior Deacon
Women’s Fellowship Cruise
Women's Fellowship is hosting a
beautiful Autumn cruise along the Greenwich coastline following church on
Sunday, October 3, from 12:15 to 3:15 pm. The cruise is being run and catered by
Fjord Fisheries in Cos Cob. The cost is $75 per person. Call church office to
make reservations (637-1791). Paid reservations will guarantee a spot. All
reservations must be paid for by September 12, 2004. If enough people are
interested, child care activities might be organized back at the church. The
capacity for this luncheon is 100-112 people. This cruise is a fundraiser for
the Women’s Fellowship to benefit church programs and is open to anyone - men,
women and guests!
Calling All Ninth Graders
If you are going to be a freshman
in high school this fall, this is your year for Confirmation Class. We need to
hear from you-especially if you were not in JPF or Pastor's Class last year. We
may not have your correct mailing address. Confirmation Class meets on Tuesday
evenings from Oct. 5 - May 3. The class is open to all ninth graders whether or
not they have ever come to our Church School programs. For more information,
call Susie Craig in the Church Office.
All middle school
students--Sunday, September 12 at 5 pm in Room 103 Junior Pilgrim Fellowship
kicks off its new year. Come and Join the Fun!! Bring your friends. Parents pick
up at 6:15 pm.
Middle School Programs
7th and 8th graders are invited to
the Pastors' Class, during the 10:00 am service on Sundays. Join us as we look
at the parts of worship services, the differences and get to know the pastors
and peers. 6th graders are invited to Church School class in the undercroft.
The JPF (Junior Pilgrim Fellowship) group focuses on fellowship, service and
activities for 6th, 7th and 8th graders. We meet on Sundays. Sometimes in the
evening from 5-6:15 pm in the Youth Room. Sometimes we stay after the morning
worship service for lunch and games. We also offer "Drop In" on Wednesday
afternoons from 3:30-5 pm. This is a time for middle-schoolers to hang out, do
home work, read, play games, work on crafts, etc. Snacks are provided.
12 Sun JPF Starts (5:00-6:15 pm) in Room 103.
19 Sun JPF (Homecoming Picnic)
22 Wed Drop In (3:30-5:00 pm) in Room 103
26 Sun JPF (5 pm)
29 Wed Drop In (3:30 pm)
19 Pastors' Class starts in the Lounge
26 Pastors' Class
Welcome to SPF 2004-2005!
Senior Pilgrim Fellowship (SPF) is
our youth program for senior high school students. The SPF meets for a time of
Fellowship and fun on Sunday evenings from 7 to 9 pm in the Youth Room. This
group seeks to actively engage the world around them by holding discussions of
current events that impact the lives of young people, while sharing our lives
with each other. SPF would like to extent a warm welcome to all High School
students (particularly 9th graders), we hope you will join us for our first
official SPF meeting on Sunday, September 5 at 7 pm in the Youth Room! We also
look forward to your presence at the Fall Lock-in on Friday, September 24, this
will be a great opportunity for new SPF members to get to know returning SPF
Here are a few important SPF dates for your calendar.
29 12:30 pm SPF Board Meeting for current Board Members
5 First SPF Meeting! 7 pm
12 SPF Meeting 7 pm
19 SPF Meeting 7 pm
24 Fall Lock-In 6 pm - 9 am
26 SPF Meeting 7 pm
The activities of this group are
directed by student leaders, supported by lay advisors and coordinated by Kelly
J. Stone. If you would like more information about SPF please contact Kelly at
email@example.com or (203) 637-1791 x15.
First Church Garden
Please come and help with the
harvest so we can continue to distribute fresh produce to our needy neighbors
through such organizations as Neighbor to Neighbor and Yerwood Center. No
experience is necessary!
By mid-August, the garden has provided crops of lettue, Swiss chard, scallions,
beets, beet greens, eggplants, peppers, cucumbers, and early tomatoes. In
September we hope to harvest zucchini, yellow crookneck, and butternut squash.
Please come join the First Church Growers for the Hungry by signing up during
Coffee Hour for a Tuesday shift from 5 - 7 pm or for a Saturday time slot
between 8:30 - 11 am. You can also sign up by calling Marge York at 637.4207.
You will receive a reminder call. Please note that we have changed our work
schedule form Thursdays to Tuesdays. If another day is better for you, please
call Don Walton at 637.0213 to make arrangements.
The garden is at the Walton’s at 36 Old Wagon Road, Old Greenwich. If you have
questions, need directions, or have to cancel, please call Don or Marge.
Thanks to the many people who have contributed their time and labor of love to
this endeavor to privde fresh food for others in our community.
**** CHURCH SCHOOL REOPENS ****
SEPTEMBER 19, 2004
*****CHILD CARE IN ROOM 104****
Due to redecorating in the Preschool,
Baby and Toddler child care are in Room 104
( Lower Level at the bottom of the stairs )
until Homecoming Sunday.
END OF AUGUST - Special 2004 -
SEPTEMBER 2 - 7:30 pm Church School Task Force
SEPTEMBER 9 - 6:00 pm TEACHER TRAINING &
SEPTEMBER 12 - Dedication of Teachers in Worship;
Teacher's Meeting for Baby and Toddler
Nurseries, 3's and 4's after worship; Preschool Open House for First Church
Families incoming 2005-06.
SEPTEMBER 16 - Children's Choir Rally
SEPTEMBER 19 - Homecoming Sunday
9:30 am Church School registration
10:00 am Classes begin.
SEPTEMBER 22 - Regular Church School.
Cherub Choir rehearsals begin.
SEPTEMBER 26 - Regular Church School
Full Of Important Information For
First Church Families
* The Church School Calendar for the entire 2004- 05 year.
* Names & phone numbers of all the teaching teams by grade.
* Photos from 2003-04 church school events.
* Introduction to this year's theme "Things that Make for Peace."
* Cherub, Children's and Youth Choir Information.
* Baby and Toddler Nursery Procedures
And much more!
Our Parish Nurse
Ministers to Children Too
A big thank you to Susan Asselin
who presented a series of health and safety lessons for our children during
Sunday worship in August. These get togethers will continue in her office, Room
203 on Sundays, September 5 and 12 after the children's sermon.
God Will Provide!
by John Stansell
Over the summer, I have marveled
at the good-sized group that appears to sing in the Chancel Choir Sunday after
Sunday. The smallest number I experienced was twelve, enough to be the Easter
choir in many a small UCC congregation, as I like to remind the singers. Then
the thought came to me: God has indeed always provided us with a fine choir! So
why should I ever feel anxious about whether or not we will have sufficient
singers. Will not God provide?
As our fall program commences, it might be time for many of you to consider
whether you yourself are being called to be part of God's plan for the Chancel
Choir of First Church. (I suspect the call is going to basses in particular, as
that is a place of particular need in our ranks.) Some of you know that you have
the talents needed, while others might have doubts. Talk to me about that. I am
always available for a kind, private assessment of your potential. Believe me, I
have great patience and respect for persons of every skill level who desire to
be part of our music ministry. Also you can be confident that our Choir is a
welcoming community. They will be very supportive of your efforts.
God will also reward you for your participation in Choir. Sure, it takes a
certain amount of commitment, but particularly those faithful summer singers
will tell you that they are blessed many times over. Just ask one!
Rehearsals begin Thursday, September 9, 7:30 pm in the Choir Room.
All 6th through 12th graders who like to sing.
Our fabulous Youth Choir will begin rehearsals on Sunday, September 26 from
11:15 - 12:15. We will rehearse weekly following the service and will sing in
church approximately once per month, including major holidays. We look forward
to welcoming back former members and to increasing our ranks this year, so bring
a friend. Please come and give it a try. If you have any questions feel free to
call Carolyn Paulus at 357-9661.
The Palmer Handbells resume their fall rehearsal schedule on Thursday, September
23 at 8:45 am. Please speak to Mark Swicegood if you are interested.
This year, 2004, marks the
twelfth season of First Church's Annual Organ Oktoberfest. Hour-long recitals
are held in the Meetinghouse, followed by a reception to greet the performers.
Tentative 2004 Schedule
Wednesdays at 8 pm. & Sundays at 4 pm.
Wednesday, October 6
Ignace Michels, Bruges, Belgium
Sunday, October 17
Mark Swicegood, John Stansell & friends
Wednesday, October 27
Gail Archer, New York City
Autumn……a Time of
by Sue Asselin, RN
Ah, September, in many ways a time
for new beginnings. In regards to nature, we think of spring as the season of
renewal, but in regards to our lives, it is more often the autumn that brings a
time of new beginnings. September signifies the start of the school year, the
church program year, and in many cases even the fiscal year. It's a great time
to start a new good habit (or drop a bad one). So forget New Years Day! Make a
resolution to start a healthy habit today. Then, together, let's try to
incorporate these habits into our busy fall schedules.
What kind of healthy habit, you say? The possibilities are endless. Some are
simpler than others. How about walking 3 times a week, drinking 8 glasses of
water a day, or cutting down on our salt intake? Or, take small steps and start
by parking further away from your destination, using the stairs instead of the
elevator, or substituting water for a soft drink. Even changes like these can
have a great effect over time. Other changes are more complex, like starting a
low fat, low cholesterol, low sodium diet (aka a heart healthy diet, which I
have copies of, as well as cook books to share). They will likely take more
effort, more information, and more support.
When it comes to our health and happiness, most of us have room for improvement.
So, think about your goals, and then choose an intervention that will start you
in the right direction. Chances are you already know what you need to do. If you
need ideas on what to do or how to get started, come and talk with me. I am here
for both informational and moral support.
Don't leave the kids out. Back-to-school time is a great time to implement some
healthy changes in their lunch boxes. For more suggestions on this topic try
these web sites:
Let's address stress for a moment:
Too much stress can be detrimental to our physical, mental and spiritual well
being. Meditation on scripture and group Bible study are wonderful
stress-reducers. Participating in a creative activity that brings you pleasure,
such as gardening, singing, or sewing, is a great way to relieve stress. Because
we are such social beings, talking with a friend can multiply our joys and
diminish our burdens. Isn't it a blessing that many of these activities can be
found right here at church? Many of our groups and clubs fulfill a number of
these needs simultaneously. Often they have the added blessing of benefiting the
community. So go ahead, join "Hats Off", participate in a Bible study, become a
quilter, join the choir, or any of the numerous fun, charitable and vital
activities First Church has to offer. Try something new, and even better, invite
a friend and share the joy. It will likely nurture your mind, body, and soul,
and surely benefit the life of the church as well.
To help the Wellness Committee plan programs wisely, please take a moment to
fill out your Health Related Needs Survey found in your July Meetinghouse
Monthly. If you already have, thank you! Additional copies can be found in the
church office reception area as well as the Parish Nurse's office. Your ideas
for promoting the well being of the congregation are welcomed and encouraged.
As I savor these last few days of summer, I also look forward to First Church
becoming busy with the onset of autumn programs. Surely these activities will
also bring many of you to visit me in room 203. Until then, have a blessed REST
of the summer.
September Parish Nurse hours:
Tuesdays and Thursdays: 9 am - 5 pm
Sundays: Sep 5th, 12th, and 19th, 9 am - 1 pm
A Children's Health and Safety
mini-series is going on right now through September 12, each Sunday during
Worship Service, just after the Children's Sermon, in the Parish Nurse's office,
The Twenty-Seventh Annual
All Church Retreat at Silver Lake
October 8-10, 2004 (Columbus Day
Downtime. Do you remember what
downtime is? Webster defines "downtime" as "the time during which a machine,
factory, etc. is shut down for repairs or the like." Some of us need downtime
for our bodies. Some for our minds. Some for our spirits. We want to laugh, to
be still, to play, to write, to hike, to think, to pray, or to simple observe
silence. Here is our chance for all sorts of repair or the like!
|Hiking at Bear Mountain
||Sitting by the lake
|Strolls around camp
||Campfires under the stars
|Community worship on Sunday
|Visiting the wineries
|Games & Activities for Children
||Movies & Discussions
Join Ralph, Susie, Ashley, John,
Rosemary, Jenny and Kelly on October 8-10 at Silver Lake Conference Center and
enjoy "downtime." Consider this: time to relax amid beautiful fall foliage of
Western Connecticut; time away from practice schedules and work distractions;
intentional time with family and friends; time for conversation; time for good
food; time to write that letter that you have been meaning send; time to pray
without shortchanging God because you just do not have the time. Commission
yourself to experience downtime, for repair of your body, mind, or spirit.
Cost: $100 for adults
$75 for those under 18
(Family maximum -- $325)
Scholarships are available, see
Susie or Ashley.
All Church Retreat
_____________________________________ Phone _________________________
Names of members of your family
with children's ages
Enclosed is my check for
________________ Preferred accommodations
Musical instruments played
______________ family room ____________
dorm room ____________
Make checks payable to First
Congregational Church. Your reservation will be complete only when we receive
your check. Mail check to Donna White, First Congregational Church, 108 Sound
Beach Ave., Old Greenwich, CT 06870.
The Members of The First
Congregational Church of Greenwich, Ministers
Ralph Ahlberg, Interim Senior Pastor
Susan M. Craig, Senior Associate Pastor
M. Ashley Grant, Associate Pastor and Director of Middle School Ministries
Kelly Stone, SPF Director
Rosemary Lamie and Jennifer Lepoutre,
Church School Coordinators
John Stansell, Director of Music,
Mark Swicegood, Associate Organist/Director
Carolyn Diamond, Associate Musician
Susan Asselin, Parish Nurse
Libby White, Director of Preschool
Thomas L. Stiers and Sally Colegrove,
Dr. Reniery España, Dir. of Medical Services, AIEH
Sunday Services of Worship - 8 & 10 am
Church School - 10 am
Nursery Care provided during the
10 am Service.
The 10 am Service is broadcast live
on WGCH 1490 am Radio.