The First Congregational Church of Greenwich
While it is true that too much rest or idleness is not good for us, it is equally true that too much work and busyness (with no rest) are not good for us either. It has been well said,
So many people have been working so hard over the past year or two that as we have fully shifted to summer with the heat and humidity, so too, has the church cycle moved to a welcomed slower pace. Without the enormous efforts of numerous volunteers in this church, we would not be so well positioned for the future.
While we are very sad to say "Good-bye" to Ashley Grant on July 31, she along with the rest of the staff and so many of you have brought the church to a very good place in its history - poised and ready for the next season of its growth. For many, it may seem as though there has been little time for rest and taking a break. Howard Thurman in his book, The Centering Moment, shares this insight (which was used in our Call to Worship July 17):
"To rest in the presence of God" - I like that! Since we can all be prone to laziness…and at the same time can feel guilty for being lazy, the notion of resting in the presence of God does not seem like a waste of time at all. In fact, it sounds absolutely wonderful if we would be renewed and restored for producing "a bountiful crop." Our lives will have more meaning and we will be more fruitful for God if we take time to rest…to rest in the presence and love of God.
This summer take a break from the flurry of your life's activities…rest…and allow God to restore your soul (Psalm 23:3). And then be ready once again to offer your life up to God's work in the world in service through and beyond the church. Rest, but don't rest too long…rest but don't rust…and remember…there's no federal subsidy for leaving the soil of your soul dormant for the coming year!
Wishing you renewal,
August Worship Schedule
Sunday, August 7
Sunday, August 14
Sunday, August 21
Sunday, August 28
Radio and Internet
Living the Questions
Wisdom is asking the
questions for which there may be no answers
The "Living the Questions" series returns this fall. The eight sessions begin on Sunday, September 25, 8:30-9:30 am in the church lounge. This well-received series, begun last spring, will continue to ask participants to probe and ask questions about our faith journey.
"Living the Questions" is a combination discussion seminar and a viewing of segments of a DVD video. The video contains a series of short comments from many of the contemporary theologians and religious commentators of our time. After viewing the video, a general discussion follows facilitated by Marty Berlin and one of the ministerial staff.
The issues and concepts discussed in the DVDs and written material may challenge people's world view and understanding of the divine. The seminar intends to be only a tool to open conversation, give progressively-minded Christians an opportunity to network and give them the assurance that they may not be alone in their beliefs. "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 of faith and life.
In addition to the Sunday morning seminar, we are planning to go to Round Hill Community Church on Friday, November 4 at 8:00 pm to hear a lecture by Frederick Buechner. Buechner, parish pastor and contemporary theologian, has authored many works on religious topics and has also authored best selling fiction. After the lecture, we plan to convene one evening the following week to discuss our experience and enjoy a light supper, time and place to be announced.
Please join us (coffee and doughnut holes provided) for any or all of the sessions, no sign-up required. We will need to sign up for the Buechner lecture and discussion evening.
Prayer Shawl Ministry
Our plan is to knit (or crochet) beautiful shawls to give to people who are in need of healing and support. They may be experiencing severe illness, the loss of a loved one or difficulty with a life transition. Our hope is that the prayer shawl will embrace its recipient with comforting warmth and affirm our congregation’s love and support.Drop in for more information and instruction:
Donations of knitting needles (11,13), crochet hooks (size H), leftover yarn (Lion Brand Homespun) and money for supplies will be greatly appreciated and can be left at the church office.
Penny Lehman, 637-4585
Noye's Fludde Personnel:
To identify ASAP:
Help John Stansell fill these roles with young people from our congregation!
Call him at 637-1791, ext. 22.
Remember: "animal" rehearsals begin October 1,
Our theme this year is "Ready, Set, Go!" We need volunteers for this awesome annual event that kicks off the program year for First Congregational Church. If you have helped with the picnic in past years, we could use your expertise. If you have willing hands and an itch for fun and fellowship, look no further. This is also a perfect opportunity for new and newish members to get to know the community and for us to know you.
Tasks include: entertainment, decorations, food planning and purchasing, publicity, tickets, children's activities, and set-up and service. Sign up for the Homecoming Picnic Committee in the Front Office. Contact Anna at 637-1791 ext. 15 with your questions and ideas.
Church School Begins Homecoming Sunday
Watch your mail toward the end of August when you will receive the new handbook for our Ministry to Children and Families. Everything you need to know about Sunday mornings in the Church School will be included.
The Family Registration form will be included.
Just fill it out and return to the Church ASAP.
WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING EVERYONE IN SEPTEMBER!
Mark Your Calendars
Wednesday, August 31, 7:30 PM - Church School Task Force Meeting
Thursday, September 1, 7:00 PM - Teacher Training
Sunday, September 11, 9:30 AM - In person
Sunday, September 18, 9:30 AM - Registration
Sunday, September 25, 10:00 AM - Regular Church School
Sunday, October 2, 10:00 AM - World Communion Sunday
(3rd Grade - Pastors' Class attend worship; 3's - 2nd Grade in Regular Church School)
And On the Seventh Day
Summertime is a season for catching up . . . for rest, relaxation and recreation. But sometimes the summer can be just as exhausting as the "busy months" that lead up to or follow this hot season filled with outdoor activity.
With longer daylight hours, more activity is crammed into early morning or evening hours, beyond the long workday. Time management studies show that the number of hours in a "usual or routine" work week frequently exceeds 50 hours/week for many people. Fatigue can increase even further as we spend extra hours on the job and at home, just getting ready to take time off from our usual work schedule. In addition, hot weather temperatures can significantly slow the already fatigued bodies that we take on vacation.
Life is about balance and values. Our Creator engineered our bodies to have periods of rest to recuperate, build bone and to repair worn tissue. There are body processes that must have "down time" in order to prepare the mechanism to function at peak capacity when the individual is awake. Granted, disciplining the body as athletes do, can increase endurance. Yet, even for the best of athletes, such as a professional baseball pitcher, rest is a requirement for optimal functioning. Using Holy Scripture as a guide for use of our physical and mental resources, familiar verses from Ecclesiastes 3 offer practical and spiritual direction: ". . .for everything, there is a season.", and ". . .everyone should eat and drink and enjoy themselves in return for all their labors -- it is a gift from God."
As Americans, most of us have not achieved a good balance between labor and rest in our lives. This is clearly evidenced by the prevalence of serious illnesses; such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer; much earlier in our lives than our grandparents lives. Research findings reveal that the incidence of these conditions continues to rise. Each of these disorders can be linked to stress, sometimes from overexertion with less than adequate rest, or perhaps from a lack of a recreational outlet or exercise routine. Together, these conditions cause the greatest number of deaths each year in the United States, and cause disability that costs Americans billions of dollars in health care expenses.
Be leery of artificial means of staying awake. There is no substitute for sleep, so when our bodies cry out for rest, we should comply. There are many medications that claim to extend our capabilities. (Many have their legitimate usefulness, but are sometimes misused for their stimulating effects). There is deep concern about the ramifications of having preparations that can stretch time commitments even further than we routinely do today. A principle law of physics still remains the same: matter, when stretched, doesn't have the depth or capacity that it once did. In other words, you can only stretch an elastic band just so far before it loses its original flexibility and function, and snaps.
So, in these last weeks of summer, while there is yet an opportunity . . . take time to unwind, time to relax and renew your body and mind, and time to refresh your inner spirit. Why not invite someone you care about to join you!
August Parish Nurse Hours:
General Syond 25
I had the privilege to attend the UCC General Synod in Atlanta with Ashley this past July 1-5. It was an eye-opening experience to see the great power that our denomination has as well as the enormous rifts within its membership. I was greatly impressed by the broad cross-section of the world present at this biennial meeting; no minority group was absent and all seemed to voice their unique concerns at some point during the five days. The preaching that the hosting Southern Conference displayed was magnificent and drastically different from the typical fare at our own FCCOG (I can't recall the last time the congregation was asked for a "Hallelujah"). The array of workshops offered to those interested in learning about the future of the church and where some want to steer it was also informative
As with many of you, the hot topic of Synod was same sex marriage. This received a disproportionate amount of press coverage and sparked the most debate of all the resolutions brought before the body. As Peter Jennings probably informed you, the vote was definitely favorable. This will have far reaching effects on many congregations within the UCC, and while more people may join churches that endorse this resolution, some people and churches will also leave our denomination.
As expected, most resolutions were past by the body, and so, the UCC will now recommend to its member churches many courses of action on a variety of global issues. A complete summary of the passed resolutions and elections can be found at www.ucc.org.
I rejoice along with Philip in reporting that the word of God was surely heard among the delegation at General Synod 25 and acted upon. "God Is Still Speaking," the United Church of Christ's theme, evolved beyond the publicity campaign that many of us have glimpsed on television commercials or the occasional billboard along highway 95. That which was and is intended to draw in strangers resonated among the synod as we encountered matters of faith that sounded like political statements or ethical questions or justice imperatives. The day after Synod, I left convinced that the Holy Spirit had guided our community building and decision-making.
General Synod 25 invigorated my passion for the UCC. Sometimes in our local church setting we lose sight of the larger body of believers, in which we participate. We short-change the possibilities of the Gospel when our mindset is: "us"-First Congregational Church of Greenwich or First Congregational Church of Darien or of Norwalk or of Milford-against the world. John Thomas (General Minister and President of the UCC), Bernice Powell Jackson, Andrew Young, Walter Brueggeman, William Sloan Coffin and others proclaimed the mighty connections of the UCC's Gospel action in the world. In their forthright Gospel telling, they expressed their passion for the UCC and conviction that more is possible if we lean in and listen and go out to serve.
The 50th anniversary General Synod 2007 will be held in Hartford, CT! There will be many opportunities for our church to participate in the fellowship, worship, and decision-making. You can sign up to help at http://www.ctconfucc.org/synod 2007/index.html
First Church/First Sunday
On Sunday, August 7, First Church will have the barrel out for our regular food collection. The shelves at our local food pantry are pretty empty. Please be generous this month as local families in need with children struggle more during the summer months with children around all day. Summer is always a challenge for our local food pantries, since there are very few community food drives. Most needed items are cereal, peanut butter & jelly, rice and pudding products. Look for sales! (If you'll be away during our regular collection Sundays this summer, please leave your donation at the church office whenever you think of it.)
Members of The First Congregational Church of Greenwich, Ministers
Services of Worship - 8 & 10 am