The First Congregational Church of Greenwich
Excitement, Expectancy and
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!
"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 (www.bloodct.org.htm) 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, firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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
Saturday, November 20 from 10 - 4
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.
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.
Prudent Practices for
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
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):
The Members of The First
Congregational Church of Greenwich, Ministers