The First Congregational Church of Greenwich

Meetinghouse Monthly

November, 2004

Excitement, Expectancy and Thanksgiving
by Ralph E. Ahlberg

Believe me! Excitement, expectancy and thanksgiving will abound within the Meetinghouse and among the people of First Church during November!

Word has already reached you that our hard-working Search Committee will bring its candidate to preach his candidacy sermon on Harvest Sunday, November 21. As one who has had the privilege of speaking with him recently, personally I feel an assured enthusiasm that your enthusiasm will match my own. He is a truly outstanding candidate with long credentials of competence and skill in ministry. Our staff and lay leaders are now at work to assure that the arrangements for Harvest Sunday will allow a great and celebrative day. Mark that weekend on your calendars with red and a few exclamations points! It will be an historic time in the life of this congregation!

But don't wait until the 21 to experience some excitement. On November 2 I will welcome Dr. Ian Markham, Dean of Hartford Seminary as he joins us in worship and leads a Second Hour at 11: 30 am. This young and exciting Englishman has recently published a book entitled, A Theology of Engagement. He will help all of us to discover the value of our "mainline" Christian approach to understanding and expositing our faith. An extraordinary teacher with a strong sense of humor, it should make for another exciting Sunday.

November is also a month for remembering to give thanks for the many mercies and privileges that are ours in this great nation. For the privilege of voting, for example, or for the benefit of clear, clean water, as Kelly Stone reminded our children on a recent Sunday. Beside the great American festival of Thanksgiving, a gift of our rich Pilgrim/Puritan heritage, we will observe a Harvest Sunday when we collect food for the poor of our surrounding community. Also, this month we will receive a visit from HOME, the name given a community of Christians living in Maine, who many from our congregation have come to know well. Our members have returned to Greenwich deeply impressed by their witness and work. This month, once again representatives of HOME will be in Greenwich and we will have the opportunity to meet them and share in their mission.

Finally, though it seems the fall season has flown by, the last Sunday of November will be the First Sunday of Advent. Soon the rich traditions and messages of that expectant and rich season of preparing our hearts and minds for the entry of Christ into our world will be upon us. And it begins in November!

All of which means that we as a congregation come now to a new month of genuine excitement, expectancy and thanksgiving!

Call to Special
Congregational Meeting

A special meeting of the Congregation is hereby called for Sunday, November 21, 2004 following the 10:00 am Worship Service. The meeting will be held in the Meetinghouse:

- to hear and act upon the recommendation of the Senior Pastor Search Committee to call a new Senior Pastor;

- and to transact such other business as may properly come before the meeting.

Shirley Flierl
Church Clerk

"The Best Blood Drive in Town"

Thus quoted a regular donor, who said he never misses this one! First Church welcomed 53 donors into the auditorium (nine of them church members) and collected 47 units of life-saving blood on October 16. Many thanks go to our two wonderful guest pianists, Lee Turner and George Stockbridge, whose music soothed the donors, staff and volunteers. Kudos also go to the 25 members of the Women's Fellowship who welcomed, served and brought an amazing array of treats (devilled eggs always a favorite) for everyone's feasting. If you missed this one, try to make it next October. But before then, you can donate blood every 56 days and it seems there's always a shortage. Call the Greenwich Red Cross at 869-8444 or log onto the Red Cross website ( to find the schedule of local blood drives.

Odd Jobs to help Hurricane Victims in Florida

Members of the Junior Pilgrim Fellowship want to help people in Florida affected by the brutal weather this past August and September. On Sunday, Nov. 7, our young people hope to offer you their leaf-racking, window-washing, hedge-clipping, odd-job-doing skills for donations. If you have an odd job that two or three middle-schoolers could help with around your home, please contact Ashley Grant at 637-1791 ext. 26 or via email, This is a great opportunity to share your blessings with others and reap the benefits in chores done that you can't find the time to do or with which you need assistance. Your donations will be allocated through Wider Church Ministries of the United Church of Christ, Emergency USA (hurricane recovery). Of course, in addition to your support in this project, your prayers for those who have lost so much are deeply appreciated.

Christmas Tree Sales Coming Soon

The holidays are just around the corner and that means the Annual First Church Christmas Tree sale isnít far behind. For all of you who wish to volunteer: the tree racks will be set up on November 20 in the morning. The trees arrive and sales will begin on Saturday, November 27. Many hands are needed to unload and organize the the trees. Please call Betsy Kreuter to volunteer or see her at coffee hour.

First Church
First Sunday

On Sunday, November 7, First Church will have the barrel out for our regular food collection for our local pantries. Our church is one of three in this community that are now having monthly food drives and it makes a big difference for the 225+ families who are now being served each month at Neighbor to Neighbor here in town. Suggested items this month are canned soup, canned vegetables and fruit, cereal (always!), and boxes of rice.

Nights Off Has Begun!

The first Meeting of "Nights Off" was a great success and we have chosen "Traveling Mercies" by Ann Lamott as our book selection for the November meeting. The books are available in the Church Office. Our next meeting will be on Monday November 15th at 7:30 pm in the lounge. All are welcome.

Watch the Women's fellowship bulletin board for further details. Call Debbie LaCivita at 698-0179 if you have any questions.

The H.O.M.E. Craft Fair is
Coming to First Church!

Saturday, November 20 from 10 - 4 pm
Sunday, November 21 from 9-10 pm, and 11pm -1 pm.

Start your Christmas shopping early and come support our neighbors from H.O.M.E. Coop in Maine. H.O.M.E., which stands for Homeworkers Organized for More Employment, is a cooperative community dedicated to economic and social reconstruction. It began in 1970 in rural Maine as an outlet for home workers' crafts. H.O.M.E. has expanded to include a free health clinic, soup kitchen, food bank, homeless shelters, a learning center with daycare, literacy and G.E.D. tutoring, alternative high school and college-level programs; job and craft training; pottery, leather, and weaving shops; recovery barn, greenhouse, and farmers' market, sawmill and shingle mill.

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. You can reach her at 531-9434.

Flu Vaccine
Let's Keep it in Perspective
by Sue Asselin, Parish Nurse

As you can probably imagine, it has been an interesting month, trying to follow the latest on the influenza vaccine availability. It's clear that the shortage occurred when British authorities shut down the manufacturer that made half of the US vaccine supply. What's not so clear is what to do about it, as a nation, and as individuals. At first the Center for Disease Control (CDC) called for voluntary rationing. Now it looks like the government is taking a much stronger role, intervening to redistribute the vaccine. Initially, only the clinics that had the misfortune of ordering Chiron vaccine, including our clinic here at First Church, were canceled. One week after the shortage came to light, even the clinics that purchased the vaccine from the right place began to cancel or postpone, in order to help get the vaccine where it can benefit the most people.

One can't help but imagine what would have happened if we had received the vaccine here at First Church. I don't think we could have proceeded with a clinic. Even with health criteria prioritizing, we would be faced with ethical dilemmas about where church staff and members fall into place versus the general community. I believe we would have likely come to the conclusion that we should turn over our supply to the Town of Greenwich Health Department. I have faith that they will get the limited supply where it will benefit the most people.

Might I suggest we do not panic, and since we have no control over the shortage, we remember that Jesus said "and so I tell you do not worry. Can any of you live a bit longer by worrying about it?" (Luke 12:22-25). He was speaking of food and clothing, but I think it applies to medical provisions as well. Let us focus on the things that we can control. If you think you need the vaccine, take practical measures to find it. Keep up with current clinic information; some excellent sources are listed below. Call your primary physician, and consider checking in weekly, in case their supply situation has changed. If you don't meet the new criteria for vaccine, forego the shot so that existing vaccine can go to people who are at greatest risk from serious complications of influenza. The nasal-spray flu vaccine is an option for healthy individuals, ages 5 to 49 years of age (not recommended for healthcare workers taking care of severely immuno-compromised people when they are in a protective environment and cannot be given to pregnant women). As news of nasal-spray vaccine availability develops it will be posted on the bulletin boards at church.

Let's remember that influenza is just one of the many respiratory infections that we could contract. It just happens to be one for which there is a vaccination. Even so, each year the vaccine protects against the three most common strains of influenza, not all strains. Under normal circumstances, if the vaccine is available, it's prudent to get it. But if not, we must rely on other ways of preventing the spread of the flu, which we really should be practicing all along, because of all the other viruses and bacteria we are exposed to. This is an opportunity to heighten our awareness, improve our practices, and maybe even cut down on the number of respiratory infections we pass along.

Who should be vaccinated?

New CDC Guidelines: If you're in a high-risk group listed below, continue to seek vaccination, but also practice good preventative habits.

  • People 65 years of age and older
  • Children ages 6 months to 23 months
  • People 2 to 64 years of age with underlying medical conditions including: chronic lung or heart disorders (such as heart disease and asthma), chronic metabolic diseases (including diabetes), kidney diseases, blood disorders (such as sickle cell anemia), or weakened immune systems, including persons with HIV/AIDS
  • Women who will be pregnant during the flu season (Nov through March)
  • Children ages 6 months to 18 years, on chronic aspirin therapy
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • Household members and out-of-home caregivers of infants under 6 months old (Children under the age of 6 months cannot be vaccinated.)
  • Healthcare workers who provide direct, hands-on care to patients

Information sources:
Greenwich Department of Health Flu Clinic Phone Line: 622-3774
City of Stamford Flu Hotline: 276-4948
American Lung Association website:
Your Parish Nurse, Sue Asselin, ext 21, Tuesdays, Thursdays and many Sundays

Prudent Practices for All
To prevent the spread of flu and other respiratory infections:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, paying attention to fingernails and jewelry. This is especially important after being in public, or with someone who is ill, after coughing or sneezing, and before eating. Use paper towels or, at home change you hand towel at least daily. The alcohol-based hand gels are very effective at killing germs and are a great alternative when you're on the go.
  • When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, then dispose of it. If no tissue is available, cough into you upper arm, rather than your hands.
  • Frequently clean commonly touched items like door knobs, phones and faucets.
  • Do not share items that go in the mouth.
  • Make an effort not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if you develop fever, cough, and body aches.
  • Call your doctor if you develop these symptoms. If treated early, some anti-viral medications can lessen the effects of influenza.
  • Boost your immunity with a well-balanced diet (consider a multivitamin) & sleep.
  • Love thy neighbor. When you help a person who has the flu, by running an errand for them, you are not only helping them, but also sparing others from potential exposure. Of course, proceed with common sense, noting above tips.

Volunteers Needed

The Rummage Room needs volunteers -- men and women -- for a variety of jobs: cashiers, pricers, stockers. Weekly shifts are 2 hours or more with flexible schedules available. No experience is needed and training will be provided. Come and try it out to see if this might work for you. For more information, call 637-1875 to talk with one of the co-managers, Maria or Debi.

This is Our Time

Stewardship 2005

As of October 15, First Church has received 160 pledges of financial support toward the 2005 Stewardship campaign. The Board of Trustees gratefully acknowledge the pledge commitments that have been received since the beginning of the campaign from the following members and friends (omitting those who wish to remain anonymous):

Mr. & Mrs. Charles Ainsworth
Mr. & Mrs. Eckhard Albrecht
Mr. & Mrs. Robert Alden
Mr. & Mrs. Mark Anderson
Dr. Karen Arms
Selma Ash
Mr. & Mrs. David Ayres
Mr & Mrs. Robert Bailey
Mr. & Mrs. Nofal Barbar
Mr. & Mrs. William Bausch
Mr. & Mrs. Gary Berner
Janet Blasberg
Dr. & Mrs. Walter Bloes
Mr. & Mrs. William Bonnell
Mary Alice Braddock
Mr. Mrs. Donald Breismeister
Auddy Brooks
Mr. & Mrs. Edward Bryant
Mr. & Mrs. Robert Burdick
Virginia Burgess
Mr. & Mrs. Robert Button
J. Robert Carey
Mr. & Mrs. Curtis Carlson
Mr. & Mrs. Adolph Clausi
Thelma Colegrove
April Condon
David Cowles
Mr. & Mrs. Peter Dadzis
Mr. & Mrs Thomas Davidson
Marga DeNatale
Mr & Mrs Dana Dolloff
Mary Durland
Betty Edgar
Mr. & Mrs Dave Erickson
Susan Eveland
Joyce Ferris
Mr. & Mrs. George Fisk
Annette Baker Fox
Diana Frazier
Joyce French
Mr. & Mrs. Donald Friedman
Lynn Mickert Friend
Mr. & Mrs. Yves Gaden
Mr. & Mrs. Richard Geismar
Mr. & Mrs. Paul Ghaffari
Lile Gibbons
Reginald Gisborne
Mr. & Mrs. Bruce Glover
Gatherine Goff
Mr. & Mrs Robert Goodchild
Louise Guy
Stephanie Hanbury-Brown
Lucy Hedrick
Armond Heerman

Robyn Helmer
Mr. & Mrs. Richard Hermance
Lenore Hill
Mr. & Mrs. Kevin Hoffman
Mr. & Mrs. Richmond Hopkins
Mr. & Mrs. Richard Hornbeck
Newton Hoyt
Jon Hunt
Mr. & Mrs Joseph Hunt
Jane Ives
Mr. & Mrs Robert Janelli
Jean Jankovich
Audrey Jensen
Charles Johnson
Mr. & Mrs. Marc Johnson
Mr. & Mrs Wayne Jostrand
Dorothy Keyes
Mr. & Mrs. Kevin Kimberlin
]Mr. & Mrs. Roland Klingner
Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Krempecki
Mr. & Mrs. Alexander Kulchuk
Mr. & Mrs. Charles Leigh
Mr. & Mrs. John Leinbach
Mr. & Mrs Richard Lewis
Virginia Liddel
Ruth Lindegrin
Barbara Littlefield
Mr. & Mrs. Charles Livingston
Mr. & Mrs. Dana Low
Mr. & Mrs. John Maarbjerg
Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Mallory
Barbara Martin
Carol Mawhinney
Eleanor Mawhinney
Tim Maxwell
Patricia McCarter
Mr. & Mrs. Marc Merlin
Mr. & Mrs. Jan Meyer
Christopher Mill
Mr. & Mrs. Earl Moore
Mr. & Mrs. James Morris, Jr.
Mr. & Mrs. Dale Myer
Patricia Myer
Alison Nadler
Richard Nelli
Mr. & Mrs. John Norrgard
Mr. & Mrs. Paul O'Gorman
Mr. & Mrs. Kenneth Olson
Mr. & Mrs. Kenneth Olsson
Mr. & Mrs. Gary Oztemel
Nancy Palamarcuik
Richard Peebles
Mr. & Mrs. William Penwell
Mr. & Mrs. Robert Phelps
Mr. & Mrs. William Phyfe
Mr. & Mrs. Frank Preucil
Michael Pugh
Sandra Radosh
Mary Ranta
Mr. & Mrs. Harlan Reynolds
Mr. & Mrs. Fred Richards
Mr. & Mrs. Arthur Robinson
Mr. & Mrs. Joe Rogers
Beth Rollins
Lori Romano
Mr. & Mrs. Michael Russell
Beth Ryder
Mr. & Mrs. Leonard Saari
Mr. & Mrs. Christy Sadler
Mr. & Mrs. William Sandberg
Mr. & Mrs. Peter Schieferdecker
Charlotte Schmidt-Fellner
Jaclyn Schofield
Mr.& Mrs. Robert Schroeder
Mr. & Mrs. John Seel
Mr. & Mrs. Stuart Serenbetz
Mr. & Mrs. John Shaw
Mr. & Mrs. Peter Simpson
William Sisley
Betty Sleath
Mr. & Mrs. David SLoan
Mr. & Mrs. Stephen Sotzing
Mr. & Mrs. John Standish
Mr. & Mrs. Carl Stanley
Drs. Thomas & Brenda Stiers
Martha Stisser
Charles Sweatt
Mr. & Mrs. Andrew Tedford
Mr. & Mrs. Hans-Georg Thalheim
Turhan Tirana
Joan Torelli
Dr. & Mrs. Michael Urban
Barbara Van Buren
William Vanneman
Mr. & Mrs. Peter Wall
Dwight Warren
Mr. & Mrs. Jefferson Watkins
Mr. & Mrs. Robert Weeks
Mr. & Mrs. Arthur Weigner
Lynn White Montanari
Mr. & Mrs. Webb Williams
Sandra Wilson
Nancy Wolf
Margaret York
Mr. & Mrs. Kirk Young
Mro & Mrs. John Ziac
Mr. & Mrs. Josh Ziac

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,
Senior Organist
Mark Swicegood, Associate Organist/Director
Carolyn Diamond, Associate Musician
Susan Asselin, Parish Nurse
Libby White, Director of Preschool
Thomas L. Stiers and Sally Colegrove,
Pastors Emeriti

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.