The First Congregational Church of Greenwich
Welcome David Young
To My New Church Family:
Michelle and I greet all of you with our warmest wishes and blessings! As many of you know, our family will be separated for the next few months until our middle child, Amanda, graduates from high school in Battle Creek. Ashley and I are so excited to finally be in your presence after what has been a transition filled with deep sadness and incredible gladness. We are deeply grateful for the warm reception and hospitality with which we have been met. So many of you have offered help and assistance as we begin the process of settling in to our new home and church home. Thank You!
Among the joys I feel in our arrival, is a strong sense that in our ministry together God will be present in our unfolding future. How appreciative I am of Ralph Ahlberg, Susie Craig, Ashley Grant, John Stansell and the entire staff for all they have done and are doing to support the magnificent ministry of First Church. I am excited to join in the cooperative spirit of working along side all of you as together we discern where and how God is leading us.
I will officially be in the office March 1 and will begin preaching on Sunday, March 6. Worship is central to our life together and it will be a very high priority for me.
Caring for each other personally is an essential part of being connected as the body of Christ and I look forward to developing pastoral relationships and friendships in the coming days and months. Anything you can do to assist us in learning names along with knowing your needs or concerns will be greatly appreciated.
I am convinced God has brought us to this place…at this time…to be with all of you. Back in November, on the Sunday you extended a call for me to come and serve among you, we focused on the “Gratitude Attitude.” And I for one am so grateful for the opportunity to finally be in Greenwich as one who ministers with you!
I am truly looking forward to seeing many of you in church this coming Sunday and more importantly for beginning our new life together! With much anticipation!
David D. Young,
March Worship Schedule
Sunday, March 6
Sunday, March 13
Sunday, March 20
Thursday, March 24
Friday, March 25
Sunday, March 27
First Church/First Sunday
On Sunday, March 6, 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 pasta.
The Rummage Room
The Rummage Room, sponsored by the Women's Fellowship, needs your "gently used" items to sell at their thrift shop, which supports their many outreach programs. Donations should be in good condition -- good enough that you would be willing to give them to a friend. Items needed include clothing and shoes for all ages, linens, china, glassware, sportswear, books, small electric equipment in working condition, videos, DVDs, CDs, jewelry, small furniture, bric-a-brac, antique items, kitchenware, etc. The shop is located at 191 Sound Beach Ave. and is open for donations from 9 - 5 on Monday through Thursday, Friday from 9-1, and Saturdays from 9:30 - 1. Call the shop at 637-1875 for more information on specific items you might wish to donate.
Silver Lake Summer Camp
Registration for Summer Camp at Silver Lake Conference Center has begun. The schedule is posted on the Outdoor Ministry bulletin board across from the Lounge. You can also access the information and register online if you go to www.ctucc.org and click on "Silver Lake." Conferences look very interesting for this summer, so don't wait to sign up. If you have questions, contact Ashley Grant. Also, Brad and Susie Craig are planning "Hammer & Nail" in August for 10th graders through post-High. Senior High youth should register asap if they hope to attend.
"Living the Questions"
A Lenten Bible Study You’re not too late to join the "Living the Questions" study and discussion group, which meets in the senior pastor's office each Sunday morning throughout Lent from 8:45-9:45 am. This multi-media study hopes to expose people to "ideas and concepts that have been taught in seminaries for generations that don’t get taught or discussed in our churches." It is "for those who are yearning for something more than the shallow platitudes that pass for theology in many churches." "Living the Questions" seeks not to provide easy answers, but to be a resource for people who are in the midst of a life-long conversation about the mysteries of faith and life." Please call or email Rev. Ashley Grant or Marty Berlin (course facilitator) so we can plan for your coming and email you some course materials. Ashley is at 637-1791 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Marty is at 637-2186 and email@example.com. Marty is bringing the coffee.
No matter what the groundhog said on February 2, the First Church Growers for the Hungry are getting ready for Spring. First Congregational Church Garden Project is moving into 2005. The deer fencing has survived the winter storms, and as soon as the ground dries out a bit, we will need rakers, stakers, and planters. Questions? Need more information? Please call Marge York at 637-4207 to volunteer or Don at 637-0213. Please see the Sunday bulletin for the latest garden news.
Maundy Thursday Seder
March 24, 2005 6:00 pm
On the Thursday during Holy Week, we gather to celebrate the last supper that Jesus shared with his disciples before his arrest and crucifixion. We will ask the four questions which tell the salvation story and will use Passover prayers to begin our worship. Our common meal (Seder) will be the setting for worship in word and song. The symbolic meal will include matzos (unleavened bread), soup, dried and fresh fruit. The Parish Life Committee host the meal, and clergy and deacons lead worship. All ages are welcome. Please sign up in the front office. And if you are interested in helping with the event, contact Ashley Grant.
Music and Meditations for Good Friday
The Chancel Choir, augmented by guest choristers, and our pastors will lead a service of Music and Meditations for Good Friday at 8 pm on March 23. The music will be selections from Part II of Handel’s Messiah. Carolyn Paulus, soprano, Holly Sorensen, mezzo-soprano, and David Browning, tenor, will be the soloists. David Young, Susie Craig and Ashley Grant will provide meditations on the Passion texts. Somber reflections in a contemplative atmosphere and powerful music set the stage for the glorious sounds and message of Easter Day. As one congregant said of the Ash Wednesday service here, “It’s so rich!” Consider giving yourself a rich Holy Week gift.
Over the course of February we of the Christian Outreach Committee have been able to be in dialogue with many of you in the congregation regarding the findings of our trip to Honduras. After eight years of a very productive relationship supporting the church particularly in the area of nutrition and medical services, we are encountering a period of change and restructuring which has significantly affected the operation of the clinics we funded.
In an effort to understand these changes, a delegation of four from First Church-- Fred Laffan, Lisa Norrgard, Juliana Pugliese and I--traveled to Honduras in early January to speak first hand to our partners in the church. We were able to meet first hand with the staff of the clinics and with our missionaries. After hearing from them, we proceeded to take part in a meeting with the church, its officers, our Latin American Executive from Global Ministries, and Rev. David Gaewski, Conference Minister from Maine. What we discovered in our conversations, was a clear reprioritization of needs within the church, with medical services being almost the last priority. The financial burdens of the medical services on the budget of the church was one cause for this change. The immense debt carried by the church is also a factor. On top of that, the church, which has long been in critical need, is now taking action to repair its churches, expand its seminary training , and meet the needs of its pastors.
In our meetings we were able to express our great concern for the staff members who had been cut back, including Dr. Espana, and our concern for the lack of medical care currently available. We also learned about the very limited supplies of medicine available, and the resultant lowered traffic in the clinics. Our partnership with Honduras is clearly at a point of great concern. This situation was discussed by the Christian Outreach Committee in consultation with the travelers to Honduras. After much thought, it was voted unanimously that we continue our support and work doubly hard to see where the church is going over the course of this year, and how we may play a part in the continued provision of medical care, medications, and other needs as requested by the church.
There are different opinions as to what we should do next. There is unanimity on the point that we need to be actively involved not only in supporting medical care, but in an ongoing dialogue with the church as they live into their new structure. Recently the decision of the Christian Outreach Committee was reported upon at Annual Meeting. It was also supported unanimously at the February Church Committee meeting.
A new task force which will report to the Christian Outreach Committee is being formed to work with the Evangelical and Reformed Church of Honduras, expressing our hopes and our concerns and exploring new possibilities across the course of this next year. We have invested a great deal in the work of the church in Honduras. Their participation with us has expanded our faith. While things seem rocky at the present, we want to work hard to see what can be done, to work with them as they move into their future. Anyone interested in being part of this process is welcome. The future holds many possibilities. We may choose to leave Honduras one year hence, or find other ways to fund and run the clinics. We may also find good solutions that work for all involved. It is too soon to accurately assess this change in structure. Therefore, it is our choice to continue in faith. The following are our goals for this Lenten Offering. You will see that they provide for medical care, the provision of medications, and support other concerns of the church. Your input, your help, and your prayers are needed as we move into this new year.
May God be with us as we continue to discover the gifts and the challenges of being in partnership. Amen.
2005 Lenten Offering
Our Goals: $15,000
As we have for the past two years, we will again divide the proceeds of this year's Lenten Offering between Honduras and local agencies serving the hungry of Fairfield County. A brief recap of our goals follows:
Hunger: With continuing challenges to our state's economy and a steady increase in immigration into many of our cities, more and more families and individuals find themselves in need of help in securing their basic nutrition needs. We work with agencies that operate both the regional Food Bank and several area food pantries, staying in constant contact so that we stay apprised of changing needs. We have heard that demand continues to rise, even as disasters of global scale draw funding that normally remain local. This one-two punch of rising need and declining donations leaves these agencies struggling to keep their shelves full. The monies we raise through the Offering will be used by these agencies to purchase basic foodstuffs, at prices far lower than we can attain.
Our gifts will be magnified many times over through this buying power, and these agencies will be able to purchase exactly those items most in demand.
Honduras: Susie's update covers our knowledge of developments quite thoroughly. What is becoming clear is that there is a deep concern within our congregation as to where these changes are leading, and a fear that monies raised may not be used where most needed.
The Outreach Committee, anticipating (and sharing!) these concerns, thus designed priorities for the Lenten Offering proceeds. These will be made very clear to our partners in Honduras, who have proven completely reliable in dedicating our funding to the projects we choose. If for any reason a staff position or project we support is not realized, they will contact us for further instruction. We have a high degree of confidence in the integrity of this arrangement. Because we focused the majority of the priorities on medical staff and medicines, we strongly urge the people of First Church to avoid taking a wait-and-see approach. Instead, please know that your Lenten donation, whether in Stamford or San Pedro Sul, will be used to attend to basic-and urgent-human need.
The Honduras priorities are:
Medical Staff: $17,000 This will pay the salary of the existing doctor in Subirana, and will ensure the funding of the nurse and pharmacist in Pinalejo.
Bulk Medicines: $6,000 Both locations are nearly out of all medical supplies, and in debt to local pharmaceutical companies. Our funding will provide low-cost medicines, as well as support transportation costs if we are able to arrange for medical teams to visit our clinics. Each $400 we spend on MAP boxes of critical medicines purchases $10,000 worth of pharmaceuticals.
Pastoral Housing: $4,000 Some of the church's rural pastors are living in one room dwellings in reprehensible condition. This contribution will allow the completion of one pastor's home.
Camp Survey $3,000 Our partner church would like to build a Christian camp to provide children and families a peaceful respite from the day-to-day hardships of their homes and villages. This donation will fund a survey of the proposed property, and allow for initial rough design.
Please bear in mind that any donor may choose to designate either Hunger or Honduras when making an offering. Any donation without instructions will be divided evenly between the two efforts.
Note: Because of developments in Honduras, $12,000 raised from our 2004 effort was not spent as originally intended. Those funds will thus be mixed with this year's proceeds and applied to the goals listed above.
Middle School Programs
JPF (Junior Pilgrim Fellowship) focuses on fellowship, service, and activities for 6th, 7th and 8th graders. You and your friends are always welcome!
Wednesdays, March 2 and 9
Pastor's Class - We are well into the Lenten season, which points us in the direction of Holy Week and Easter. We look forward to a unit on Islam beginning April 3.
March in the Church School
Traditional 3rd Grade Bible Breakfast
Looking ahead to April
Last month many of us "observed" National Heart Month, among other significant events. I'd like to take a few moments to continue along that cardiovascular theme to address blood pressure. Sometimes checking our blood pressure becomes so routine that we forget the significance of the numbers. High blood pressure or hypertension is easily detected with a simple and painless cuff (sphygmomanometer) reading. Hypertension is dangerous because it makes the heart work harder to pump blood to the body. Unresolved, it can cause an enlarged heart (which can lead to heart failure), a bulge in an artery wall (aneurysm), and hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis). Further complications of these blood vessel changes include heart attack, stroke, kidney failure and vision trouble. Hypertension is so prevalent that I believe we tend to forget the seriousness of these possible consequences. (Or maybe we'd just like to forget.) I'm not trying to depress you, just to impress upon you the importance of controlling your blood pressure. As always, we are challenged to take care of our awesome God-given bodies.
Blood pressure is a measurement of the pressure in the arteries at a given moment, and can vary throughout the day. The upper reading is the pressure in the artery during systole or contraction of the heart, thus called the systolic pressure. The lower reading is the pressure in the artery during diastole or resting of the heart (between contractions), thus called the diastolic pressure. The latest guidelines place many more people in the danger zone. Ideally, systolic pressure should be below 120, and diastolic pressure should be below 80. We read this as "120 over 80" and write it as "120/80". Blood pressure readings 120-139/80-89 are classified as pre-hypertension. Readings 140/90 and higher are classified as hypertension. Because hypertension usually has no symptoms, it is important to monitor your blood pressure. People with no history of high blood pressure should have it checked at least once a year.
About now we're all ready for some good news: There are several ways to lower blood pressure including weight control, smoking cessation, alcohol moderation, low-salt and high-fiber diet, aerobic exercise, and medications. (Okay, I didn't say they'd be easy.) Come see me for information and support on any of these topics. More good news: It is especially easy for you to have your blood pressure checked because you have a Parish Nurse! (See hours below.) Also, throughout this town, every day of the week, there is a free screening clinic, sponsored by either Greenwich Hospital or Greenwich Public Health Department. So let's all strive to be under pressure, under 120/80 that is, or at least our personal best.
March Parish Nurse Hours:
CPR-Defibrillator Refresher Course
Saturday April 2, 10:00 am- a one hour refresher course will be held here at church for individuals who are currently certified in CPR with AED (automatic external defibrillator). This will provide you an opportunity to reacquaint yourself with the equipment and participate in a drill. The cost of this first class is covered by the church. Space is limited, so please register with Sue Asselin, Parish Nurse at ext 21.
If this class fills quickly we will arrange for a second. The Wellness Committee welcomes feedback regarding convenient times for you to "refresh" your skills.
If you are interested in becoming certified, let Sue or a member of the Wellness Committee know, as we will consider holding a certification class as well.
The Members of The First
Congregational Church of Greenwich, Ministers
Sunday Services of Worship - 8 &