The First Congregational Church of Greenwich
June Worship Schedule
Please Note: Beach Services begin June 5 at 8 am at Greenwich Point.
Speaking Pastorally by Susan M. Craig
As I sit down to write, we are entering the first few days of the season of Pentecost. Pentecost, in our lives as a congregation has always been a celebration, a celebration where we remember the Holy Spirit empowering the disciples to go forward, after Jesus' resurrection and ascension, into the world founding the church. You could also describe this holiday as a birthday party for the Church Universal.
Let us think for a moment about birthday parties. What are they, but markers along the way in the midst of all the days of our lives. Well, Pentecost is somewhat the same. On the day of Pentecost we mark the act of sending forth the disciples to found the church. But then comes the season of Pentecost, the longest season in the church year. Pentecost begins in May and continues until the first Sunday of Advent, which this year will be the last Sunday in November. With that in mind, I would like to call us to realize the amazing nature of the season of Pentecost. In many Christian traditions it is referred to as Ordinary time, the season in which we consider Jesus’ life and teachings, and what it means to be the church in the world today. It is an important time, not a time to be carried away with traditional celebrations, but rather to let our faith carry us in the "dailyness" of our lives… and that can be wondrous.
As we enter the season of Pentecost, I would like to hold up the possibility of our recognizing the wonder of God's gift of each new day, upon day, upon day. If you have ever met, or ever do meet someone whose life has been threatened by illness or accident, they can tell you about the amazing gift of time to live. What it can mean to be able to get up in the morning and go outside to greet the new day - to look at a garden, to receive a phone call from your child, or share a cup of coffee with a friend, or run with your dog. You know about this. We all do. But, do we ever consider its meaning. Think back to the way your day began this very day. Pentecost offers us the opportunity to realize and offer thanksgiving for each moment, planned or unplanned, that God has made possible. Circumstances unfold in which we may be givers, or receivers, we may feel joy and see beauty, or we may grieve and feel loss. All of it is part of the rich mix of what it means to be human; and all of it is part of the rich mix of life Jesus came and experienced among us, and about which and for which he taught us.
Pentecost is our season to live and realize our faith, to live and realize what it means to be a church family, and what it means to be a child of God. This ordinary season has the potential to be an extraordinary gift, for it includes the heights and depths of all we do and say, not obscured by plans and holiday expectations.
On May 17 you celebrated Ashley and me and our time among you. We celebrated a time of important living together. Across that time there were feelings of fear and anxiety, of anger and sadness, and there was also the experience of getting back up on our feet and continuing on as the church. We rediscovered ourselves as a congregation with a rich history, and a congregation who cares deeply about one another, and the world beyond our doors. In the ordinariness of what it means to be human and live lives that include change, we rediscovered what it means to be the First Congregational Church of Greenwich - regardless of whose name is on the masthead. Ashley and I worked hard through those days, and we loved those days - with all the mix of daily living that filled the hours. It was our privilege and our honor to walk with you.
There are not words to thank you for our fine celebration. The hearts and life stories that gathered in the Auditorium with us that night will stay with us as a lasting time of rejoicing over what it means to share our lives and our faith with one another. God has blessed us richly as a congregation.
Now, thanks be to God, we have welcomed a new pastor into our midst. David Young has come among us, and our ordinary living has expanded, adding a new lens through which to see ourselves and to view the road ahead. In this month, David's family will finally join us, for real. My prayer for us this June and across this season of Pentecost is that we might live each of these coming days fully, taking time to notice those things left more visible by ordinary time, welcoming one another, walking with one another, and discovering God at our sides.
Amen! Alleluia! And many, many thanks.
Beach Services Resume
"A time for sun, and a time for
Beginning on June 5, at 8:00 am, First Congregational Church will resume our summer Beach Services at Todd's Point in Greenwich, in front of the Queen Anne Building. Bring your beach chair, come casually dressed, as we gather in song and prayer to hear the word of God, and gather at the Lord's table. God's children of all ages gather for this morning worship, and friends and neighbors are always welcome. When you arrive at the gatehouse simply tell the guard that you are here for the worship service. In case of rain, a white piece of paper will be taped to our church sign on Sound Beach Avenue indicating that worship will be in the Meetinghouse instead of at the beach. (However, with the overhang on the Queen Anne building, we are quite brave when it comes to the weather.)
We are blessed here in Old Greenwich with the opportunity to gather on the beach. The sound of the waves washing on the shore, and the warmth of the gentle sunshine on our backs bring us together in the ambiance of the summer season and call us to praise God. May God be with you as you enter into this summer season.
Connecticut Conference of the UCC - Spring Annual Meeting
May 14, 2005 - Wallingford, CT
Unbeknownst to many members of First Church, our own delegation headed to Wallingford, CT, May 14 for the Spring Annual Meeting of the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ. Dr. Young, Susie Craig, Brad Craig, Anna Paskausky, and Tim Garlid, our youth delegate, all left Greenwich early in the morning to attend a fabulous day of workshops and worship, including a keynote address from the UCC President and Minister General, John Thomas. John Thomas originally hails from Stamford, and attended Silver Lake in his youth. His address lifted up some of the more controversial issues to be raised this summer at General Synod, in Atlanta, GA. He eloquently framed the upcoming hot-topic resolutions regarding same-gendered marriage and the Israeli-Palestinian crisis as matters of citizenship, and the need to break down barriers of 'other' and be more truly inclusive, as Jesus was.
Our delegates enjoyed attending workshops on various topics related to church issues here in Connecticut. Susie Craig also presented a well-attended workshop about sustained Christian outreach. Tim Garlid represented our youth in a special forum with John Thomas designed specifically for young people.
We were also treated to various worship services throughout the day, including choir music, handbells, interpretative dance, and storytelling.
We also enjoyed a lively spotlight on Silver Lake Conference Center, which is pushing forward into a new era with Co-Directors Tim and Anne Hughes. They presented a heart-felt slide show, complete with testimony from various people touched by Silver Lake's ministry over the years, including John Thomas, and Davida Crabtree, our CT Conference Minister. Their hope was to raise awareness of Silver Lake's increasingly pressing maintenance needs and raise the capital to make Silver Lake a more comfortable and suitable place for adults, smaller groups and families. This did, however, publicly thank First Church's Women's Fellowship for the wonderful furniture donated recently.
The God is Still Speaking campaign launched by the national UCC this year was clearly heard throughout the day. At this lively meeting it was easy to recognize that the Spirit still moves among us, leading us to be ever more united as followers of Christ. As our delegates headed home, we were reminded of this as we drove past a large black and red billboard on Interstate 95 that stated simply, "God doesn't exclude, neither do we. The United Church of Christ." It was a poignant reminder that while we have a great task of emulating Jesus by including all God's people at the table, God is still with us, guiding us, inspiring us, and leading us ever homeward.
General Synod 2005
by Ashley Grant and Adam Eckhart
Our church is part of something much larger. In light of the United Church of Christ's (U.C.C.) General Synod 2005 and the fact that the Fairfield West Association is sending two members of First Congregational Church of Greenwich as delegates to the Synod, here's a little insight into the life of the U.C.C. and an event that draws together the larger body of the church.
The United Church of Christ is the Protestant denomination to which our church belongs. It's a tradition that began when, in 1957, the Congregational Christian Church and Evangelical & Reformed Church united (thus the name United Church of Christ). One of the U.C.C.'s defining qualities is its four settings: the local church, association, conference, and national setting. Local churches are gathered into associations; associations comprise a conferences (which are often organized by state); and conferences are in regular communication with the national setting, headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio.
One wonderful aspect of the U.C.C. is that it doesn't see its structure as a hierarchy. The national setting doesn't tell the conferences, associations, and local churches what to do or believe. Rather, you could say the opposite is true--primarily, members of local churches guide the ministry and work of the national setting.
How do local church members guide the U.C.C.'s national ministry? Through General Synods, held every two years, each time in a different city.
General Synod consists of approximately 700 delegates, most of whom are selected by associations to represent the diversity of local churches. Delegate choices reflect a balance of characteristics such as age, gender, ethnicity, and role in the church (general or ordained). Delegates gather at Synod in order to revise, discuss, and vote on resolutions that have been submitted in advance. Delegates and Synod visitors can participate in the many events surrounding the parliamentary process: workshops, Bible studies, keynote speakers, and worship.
This July 1-6, Atlanta, Georgia will host General Synod 2005. I will be attending General Synod as a delegate for the Fairfield West Association of the Connecticut Conference. Philip Thalheim, an active member of the Senior Pilgrim Fellowship, is also a delegate for our association. Adam Eckhart, my husband (and Associate Pastor of The First United Church of Christ, Congregational of Milford) will attend as a visitor. I suppose our son David will also be a "visitor."
If you have access to the internet, you can learn much more about General Synod by going to www.ucc.org/synod. General Synod 2007 will be held in Hartford and will offer our church some opportunities to help host our sisters and brothers in Christ from around the country (you can already sign up to help plan Synod 2007 by heading to www.ctucc.org/synod2007/). Synod 2007 will also celebrate the 50th birthday of the United Church of Christ!
First Church/First Sunday
On Sunday, June 5, First Church will have the barrel out for our regular food collection. Neighbor to Neighbor now has over 280 local families approved by the town's Department of Social Services to use the food pantry every week. Any donations are great, but most needed items at this time are cereal, canned tuna and rice.
Bible Stories Alive!
WHEN? Every Sunday in June and July after the Children's Sermon
WHERE? In the Undercroft
WHO? Preschool & Elementary School Children
(Middle & High School Students are welcome to help)
Come and explore the stories of our faith as we sing, paint, re-enact, and see videos of the stories that shape us as people of faith.
Children are welcome to come casually!
Reliable, Experienced Child Care Available!
Several of our High School members are available for babysitting and have given us their names to be shared so if you would like this information please call Rosemary (ext 20) or Anna Paskausky (ext 15). If any other students would like their name added to the Availability List, also call and let us know.
Church School Teachers and Task Force Update
As of this writing, we have 73 volunteer teachers which is remarkable. However, we still need just two more adults - one each in third and fourth grade. We extend the warmest appreciation to those who have committed and to the few more who will! We are also excited to say that we will have an "artist in residence" this year. Mrs. Deb Bonnell has offered to work with some of our older classes on specific projects.
We are also pleased to report that we have four new Church School Task Force members: Jeanne Ebersole, Janet Hoekstra, Gail Khosla and Deb Wheelock.
Happy Summer to all.
Looking for the Person Within
by Sue Asselin, Parish Nurse
Last month we had an enlightening evening with Dr. Stephen Jones as he taught us ways to "keep our brains young." This program revealed a great deal of interest in the topic of brain health. I think that's because our minds encompass so much of our beings (including our personalities, our memories, and our ability to communicate) that we're understandably afraid of losing any part of it.
For individuals experiencing some loss of mental function, or those dealing with someone who has such a deficit, many emotions such as fear, denial, anger, frustration, and depression can be overwhelming. I would urge these people not to deal with this alone. Prayer can provide guidance, perseverance, and patience (and much more). And, caring people can provide support in both formal and informal settings. There are several support groups in town that provide information and understanding. Some are for individuals affected with memory loss, some are for people with aphasia (more on this below), and other groups are for their caregivers. Please visit me if you would like to learn more, or would simply like to talk about your concerns.
June is National Aphasia Awareness Month. Over one million people nationwide are disabled by aphasia, a language-processing disorder that impairs a person's ability to speak or understand speech. Aphasia manifests itself differently in different people, but generally the individual's intelligence is intact. It is often caused by a stroke or head injury, but can also accompany some forms of dementia. Resource information for people with aphasia and their families is available from the National Aphasia Association, www.aphasia.org .
When we encounter a person with communication difficulties or compromised mental function, we can best serve them by offering respect, patience, and acceptance. Specific tips for speaking to aphasic individuals are on the Wellness Committee bulletin board. Indicating with gestures and offering choices are generally helpful techniques. But just looking into an individual's eyes may be the most meaningful exchange there is. It says "I'm not afraid to make contact with you." If a picture is worth a thousand words, then an accepting gaze must be worth a million. We can empower someone by sincerely looking past the barriers for the person within.
This month, the Wellness Committee invites you to a video screening of an emotive play about one man's struggle with memory loss:
I'm Still Here!
Presented by Greenwich Adult Day Care and the Alzheimer's Association, the screening will be followed by a discussion with Dr. John Zeisel, writer and director of the play, and Dr. Stephen Jones, Director of Greenwich Hospital's Center for Healthy Aging. A small reception will follow, and RSVPs to Sue Asselin (ext 21) are appreciated.
June Parish Nurse Hours:
Tuesdays and Thursdays 9-5
The Aphasia Community Group's poet-in-residence, Rabbi Leonard Zion, suffered a stroke in May, 2001. During the course of his recovery with aphasia, he found poetry as a vehicle for expression. Here is one of Rabbi Zion's poems:
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.
The Flood Is Coming!
One of First Church's great traditions is our presentation of Benjamin Britten's chancel opera NOYE'S FLUDDE every four years. For those who love this production and remember the 2001 performances, it may be hard to believe that the time is almost upon us again. Indeed the dates have been set for the first weekend in November, Saturday and Sunday, the 5th and 6th.
It is not too early to be thinking about "the Flood" as we often refer to it. Rehearsals for animals (children and adults of all ages are encouraged to get on board) begin after worship on October 2nd, and with the exception of Columbus Day weekend continue until the performance dates. Beginning Sunday, October 30th, the rehearsal schedule intensifies. As with all theatrical productions, there is a lot of work, but the rewards are great indeed. As much as possible, don't make family travel plans during this month of preparation.
This great community builder has something for everyone. Noah (local son Tom Woodman returns in this role) and his wife are played by professional singers, but there are the roles of Noah's three sons and their wives and Mrs. Noah's rowdy girlfriends, the Gossips, to be filled. The roles of the Raven and the Dove are filled by dancing students. Raindrops and waves are represented by young dancers of different ages. There are parts for students of string instruments as well as for descant and treble recorder players. Three or four strong youngsters are needed as prop boys and girls. Please let John Stansell know of people who qualify for these parts. Any boys (unchanged voices) and girls with solo potential should be particularly brought to his attention for the principal roles. These people will have a great advantage if they start learning their parts this summer.
If you are new to First Church and would like to know more, just call John at the church office, 637-1791, extension 22. He'll get you fired up.
The Members of The First Congregational Church of Greenwich, Ministers
David D. Young, Senior Pastor
Sunday Services of Worship - 8
& 10 am