The First Congregational Church of Greenwich
Speaking Pastorally by David D. Young
"There is joy because one understands that
it is God's world, and since everything is in God's hands what right have we to
What a joy this spring season is with new life bursting out all around us! Eastertide is the most uplifting and joyous season of the Christian year as we celebrate the new life Christ offers us each and every day!
New life touches us within and without and we rejoice with Ashley Grant and her husband Adam as they have welcomed their new son, David Addison Grant Eckhart, into the world and into their family! On behalf of all us, best wishes and congratulations are extended to this wonderful young family.
How good it is to be part of the body! Having been here for about two months now, I am beginning to feel very much a part of First Congregational Church. And for that I am grateful.
Many of you know what it is to move from the known to the unknown, from the familiar to the unfamiliar. Such movements in life are times of both anxiety and excitement. And such transitions provide possibilities for reflection and growth. Lately, I have been wondering why I am feeling so connected here in such a short period of time. And it occurred to me that while we do not yet share a long personal history, we do share a long corporate history - namely the Christian tradition of a common faith.
It is a real blessing to have people to "be with" and to be a part of the body of Christ. I give thanks to God for new opportunities to form common histories. During the month of May there are scheduled times which can shift a new and uncertain phase of our lives into a wonderful experience of getting better acquainted (see the dates and times listed elsewhere in the newsletter.) Your warmth and welcome are deeply appreciated!
The Apostle Paul understood our connectedness "in Christ" well. Ad so has one of my favorite seminary professors, Robert McAffee Brown:
Grateful for new life and new growth,
May Worship Schedule
Please Note: The 8 am service will not be held after May 1 until the beach services begin in June.
Women’s Fellowship Spring Luncheon
Wednesday, May 4
Chris Franco, President of the Greenwich Point Conservancy will discuss the history of Greenwich Point during the Tod Years
First Church/First Sunday
On Sunday, May 1, First Church will have the barrel out for our regular food collection. Our local pantry at Neighbor to Neighbor provides peanut butter (creamy is preferred) and jelly to most of the 125 families served during the first week of every month. Let's make this a "PB & J" month to help stock the shelves! (Any other donations will be great, too.)
Important Information About Stock Gifts to First Church
All those in the habit of giving securities to First Church, and all those who may be thinking about doing so, please note that information pertaining to the accounts the Church maintains to receive such gifts will change on May 1, 2005. Please contact Kirk Young at the Church, extension 32, for details.
Nights Off! will meet on Monday, May 23 at Tod's Point. This is the Monday before Memorial Day, so all Women's Fellowship members can attend without any payment required at the gate.
In the event of inclement weather, we will meet in the church lounge for an evening of board games. Meeting time: 7 pm if at the beach, 7:30 if in the church lounge. Appetizers and beverages are great additions but not required. To the beach location - Drive past the Old Greenwich Yacht Club and the Windsurfer's Beach to the parking lot leading onto the walking path around the point. Park and walk around the first curve on the path. You will hear us! Anyone who does not live in Greenwich can call Debbie Lacivita at 698-0179 to arrange transportation.
Congratulations to Two First Church Members
At the April session of the Representative Town Meeting of Greenwich, two First Congregational Church Members were elected to important posts in the town. Mary Bausch to the Commission on Aging and Susie Craig to the Board of Ethics. It seems to me that we not only owe them our congratulations, but our thanks as well. In the spirit of the Lesson from Matthew on April 17, these two would not shout about it, but they are performing a great volunteer service to the town as are all the others who serve.
Church School News
Teacher Recruitment Continues
Where does the church school go after May 15?
Thank you for our Peace Banner and Celebration
First Church Summer Day Camp
We are now accepting registrations for the First Church Summer Day Camp. The Summer Camp is open to children ages 3 through children entering 1st grade. The camp offers 3 two weeks sessions: June 27 – July 8, July 11 – July 22, and July 25 – August 5. Campers will participate in fun filled theme weeks: The Rain Forest, The Circus, and Below the Ocean and Outer Space. Campers will also enjoy music activities, creative movement, sports, and arts & crafts. Campers will also be going to the beach at Tod’s Point. For information on how to register, please contact Libby White, Preschool Director at email@example.com or 637-5430.
Women’s Fellowship Luncheon
There is still time to sign up for the WF Spring Luncheon on Wednesday, May 4. The cost is $10. Chris Franco will speak on the history of Greenwich Point from the “Tod Years.” The quilt will be awarded and new officers introduced. You still have an opportunity to purchase tickets at the Rummage Room or at the Luncheon for only $2.50.
Christian Outreach: The Lenten Offering, Hunger & Honduras
The Offering: Once again, the remarkable people of First Church have responded with generosity and compassion to the annual Lenten appeal. The breakdown of giving, perhaps not the final numbers but close, are as follows:
When we add the monies raised last year which we had held back until we better understood developments within AIEH, our 2005 spending budget is now"
For Honduras: $32,126
Our thanks and prayers go out to the many contributors who help our church make a profound difference in people's lives, both at home and abroad. And we give thanks to the First Church family who challenged us with the Honduras matching gift.
Hunger: Outreach will determine the distribution of monies raised at its May meeting, but we may all rest assured that the cash donations we will make to local food banks and pantries will be amplified many times in buying power for those in need. These agencies are gifted with personnel who know how to buy in bulk at vastly reduced prices, seriously increasing the poundage that each dollar can purchase.
Reports from those who serve the hungry are consistently disturbing. They report a steady increase in demand for free and reduced-price foodstuffs, and seem most often to point to a continued challenging economy and a rising immigrant population as key factors underlying demand. And now that summer approaches the problem will focus on children: so many area kids benefit from school lunch and breakfast programs, but have no source of nutrition during the summer recess. As donations tend to drop off in the summer as well, the problem can become acute. Our timing will help several area providers insure that children and their families will continue to enjoy both sufficient quantity and quality of meals during this traditionally lean period.
Honduras: At its April meeting, the Outreach Committee has directed the first of the 2005 to be sent to Honduras. Our instructions to AIEH are to apply this first gift as follows:
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.
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.
This represents a slight reordering of our priorities, as we had earmarked as Priority Two $6,000 for the purchase of medical supplies and to potentially support the efforts of medical brigades organized to provide care in and around the facilities we have helped to create. We have learned that Department of Medical Services (DMS) has a large number of mission groups headed their way over the next few months, so we will postpone our efforts in this area until September. As we continue to verify changing needs in Honduras, we anticipate spending the balance of this year's budget on those medicines and medics, and on a survey and site plan ($3,000) for a Christian Camp high on Synod's wish list. We will hold the balance in abeyance until we see what additional need may develop, such as underwriting the expense for some of our members to visit AIEH to continue to delve into our work there and carrying MAP boxes filled with medical supplies.
The Honduras Task Force: This group has met twice thus far, and will continue to meet at least monthly until we have resolved the nature of our Lenten project for 2006 and beyond. This body, responsive to Christian Outreach and headed by the great work of Fred Laffan, is charged with developing as much information as possible about the changes within our partner church and its social agencies. This is also the group that will explore alternatives to that partnership. The Task Force reports monthly to Christian Outreach, and Outreach will ultimately make final recommendations to the Church Committee. At the moment, the possibilities being explored, though many and varied, break down into three possible general outcomes:
Stay the Course in Honduras: With new missionaries (The Hansons) in place and closely associated with DMS, coupled with more regular and deeper communication with AIEH and Synod, we may opt to recommend that we continue our work in Honduras in support of the work already done. This scenario would likely see us supporting operating expenses such as salaries for some time to come, as it is clear that AIEH/DMS will be under funded for the foreseeable future. We would also attempt to ensure that our facilities are finished and maintained, and that sufficient medical and dental supplies are available on a far more consistent basis than has been the case in the past year or so.
Change Course, Stay in Honduras: Were this to be our recommendation, it would entail a wide range of possible new directions in support of the needful populations for who we originally built the clinics, nutrition centers and hostels. We may find another partner there, a nonprofit that could assist with fund raising, procuring government grants and ensuring that all facilities are adequately staffed on a year-round basis. We are investigating the possibility of coordinated visits by medical brigades who could supplement the work done by locals, and possibly permanently reduce the cost of year-round permanent staffing. Part of our work will be to get a sense of what is important to members of our congregation as it relates to this project: do we benefit from an emphasis on partnering with our sister church, or do we think we would make a more efficient and lasting impact by dealing with a secular partner?
Change Course, Move Elsewhere: In this scenario, the Outreach Committee could recommend that it is time to move on from Honduras. As many of you will recall, it had been the tradition of this church to identify and support an international mission for a period of three years, and then to move on. This worked well, though very differently from the Honduras experience, for many years. There was never really a conscious decision made to change that practice. Rather, the enthusiasm generated by our work in Honduras, the outpouring of love and material goods in the wake of Hurricane Mitch, the ability to send mission groups, including our young people, all led us to extend and deepen our mission in Honduras. But with our loss of longstanding contacts there, including the director of DMS with whom we worked so closely, it may be time to explore needs in other parts of the world. We may even opt to suggest a domestic US mission project.
Clearly, the Task Force has much work ahead of it, but we are all buoyed by the wonderful and consistent support by this congregation of all things Outreach. We have a deep faith in the process that is opening before us, and every confidence that we will find a solution that works. We will continue to update the members of First Church as we develop more and better information.
If, in the meantime, you would like the opportunity to learn more, or discuss what we know to date, please feel free to contact Gene Waggaman, Fred Laffan, or any other member of Outreach.
So much of what we do depends upon our brainpower, easily taken for granted, as we use it every second of the day. It is amazing how intricate and complex our neurological systems really are, and what unique individuals God has created us to be. I marvel at the swift ability of the brain to assimilate data, process it and physically act upon it each time I watch Mark Swicegood play the organ. It is probably not until something in this process breaks down that we learn to appreciate it fully. Even as our physical beings slow down, we have our memories to let us relive significant moments. We cannot even take that for granted, and so we must thank God for what memories we have.
"Maintain Your Brain" is the phrase coined by the Alzheimer's Association for their current campaign to promote brain health and hopefully reduce the risk of dementia. Below are some highlights of their recommendations. More detail is offered on their web site at www.alz.org
Stay Mentally Active: Research has shown that keeping the brain active, in a variety of ways, maintains connections among brain cells and may even generate new brain cells. Reading, writing, crossword puzzles, attending lectures and plays, playing games, and gardening are all ways to exercise your brain.
Stay Physically Active: In addition to its other benefits, regular aerobic exercise maintains good blood flow to the brain, and encourages new brain cells. It reduces the risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes, which are risk factors for Alzheimer's and other dementias. Prevent head trauma by using helmets and seat belts, as head injuries are linked to the later development of dementias.
Remain Socially Involved: Socially active people and those with close relationships have been shown to have a lower risk of developing dementia. What's more, socializing makes physical or mental exercise more enjoyable. Here at church we are blessed to have our connections with each other and our groups like Hats Off, Nights Off, multiple choirs, and the many missions and committees that call us together.
Adopt a Brain-Healthy Diet: Don't despair - This is not a new diet, this mirrors recommendations for lowering the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Reducing fat and cholesterol intake, and increasing dark-skinned fruits and vegetables are part of the diet, as well as including cold-water fish (halibut, mackerel, salmon, trout, tuna) and certain nuts (almonds, pecans, and walnuts).
"Maintain Your Brain" is also the inspiration behind a wellness event scheduled here at First Congregational Church. In cooperation with the Alzheimer's Association, we'll present a discussion on brain function, including what is a "normal" memory and what should cause concern, and ways to preserve memory and maximize cognitive function. Please join us:
May Parish Nurse Hours:
As it often does, Music Sunday falls on the Feast of Pentecost this year, the celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit and often referred to as the "birthday of the church." So in hymn and anthem and instrumental music our Meetinghouse will be filled with sounds in celebration of the ABUNDANT SPIRIT. The Chancel Choir, joined by solo treble Charlie Baird, will feature a mystical setting by Andrew Carter of the ancient text "Come, Holy Ghost, Our Souls Inspire." On a lighter note, the adults will also offer William Dawson's wonderful arrangement of the spiritual "Ev'ry Time I Feel the Spirit." The Children's Choir will open the service with an Introit, and also sing a setting of "This Little Light of Mine" as witness to life filled with the Spirit. Carolyn Paulus will direct The Youth Choir in the beautiful motet by Thomas Tallis, "If Ye Love Me." The Cherub Choir, under the direction of Holly Beneville and accompanied by Debbie Berner, will sing "Veni, Sancte Spiritus" by Michael Bedford. Mark Swicegood will conduct The Palmer Handbells in "Spirit of Joy" by Robert Noland and Dr. David Young will offer a meditation on the significance of music in worship.
The service begins at 10 a.m., preceded by an extended prelude including our wonderful new Flute Choir (arrive early!) and followed by our traditional croissants-and-strawberries coffee hour on the front lawn, prepared by our Music Committee. As usual there will be a Maypole Dance, but with a new twist. You won't want to miss any of the excitement of Music Sunday 2005!
The Historical Committee is Reconvened!
At the urging of our former interim pastor, Ralph Ahlberg; the encouragement of Senior Pastor David Young; the leadership of Aaron Sinay and the commitment of several church members, the Historical Committee is back on track. Work has begun on identifying appropriate storage space and protocol for the myriad historical materials we have in our church.
The Committee has invited Susan Richardson, former Town historian and Amy Braitsch, current Greenwich Archivist to address their specialty topics on separate occasions for the committee. At this time the committee members are educating themselves on what is historical and what is just old as well as proper storage techniques. They are also gathering much of the historical materials in one central place to begin to quantify the size of the task ahead.
As Ralph Ahlberg said in a recent interview, "First Congregational has precious records in disarray; not sequential or even in one place. I also think there are some very special holdings that people should be able to see like the communion chalice dating back to the 1700's." Fortunately, Ahlberg, who has just written the history of Second Congregational Church, is interested in helping First Church as well. The Historical Committee is sure to take him up on his offer.
The Historical Committee has many tasks ahead and looks forward to sharing their findings. If you are interested in becoming involved with the committee or would like to help with a specific task please contact Aaron Sinay via email firstname.lastname@example.org .
In order to give you a chance to get to know Rev. David Young better, and for him to start to know you, we will be holding four sessions in May just for that purpose. Come meet David in a causal atmosphere at one of these four opportunities. At each session there will be time for one-on-one conversation, as well as time for a group question and answer session. Light refreshments will be served.
Please join Rev. Young at the session that is most convenient for you:
We hope one of these dates and times will be convenient for you to meet Rev. Young.
First Church has just completed the task of transition in the pastoral leadership of the church. A long and thoughtful search has brought the joy of the new ministry of Dr. David Young to us. This congregation was blessed during the transition, not only by the fine leadership of Rev. Ralph Ahlberg, but by the amazing amount of work done by Revs. Susie Craig and Ashley Grant. Inspiring, steady and true, they were the foundation "rocks" that made what could have become a very difficult time apparently seamless. To honor Susie and Ashley, there will be a special potluck appreciation dinner on Tuesday, May 17 at 6:00 pm. Please mark your calendars and sign-up in the church office or coffee hours, for an evening of great food, fun, and a chance to say "thank you" in this special celebration.
Mary Jane Penwell & Wendy Reynolds
The Members of The First Congregational Church of Greenwich, Ministers
David D. Young, Senior Pastor
Sunday Services of Worship - 8
& 10 am