The First Congregational Church of Greenwich
"Have you not
known? Have you not heard?
These words of Isaiah carry both excitement and anticipation. The word was out about something special worth knowing.
Such is the case here at First Congregational Church as we approach the upcoming fall season. I am catching the enthusiasm that is mounting with the coming of Homecoming Sunday on September 11.
Greenwich and the church are feeling more and more like home - and although this is our first fall here - there is something very reassuring in celebrating Homecoming Sunday.
In his book, The Mature Mind, Harvey Overstreet writes, "For the things we may have lost, we need to go home again." Whether we are approaching this fall for the first time or the fiftieth, whether we have been away most of the summer or at church every Sunday - perhaps many of us need a bit of renewal and "homecoming" for the year ahead. And so, I hope everyone who is able will make a special effort to help kick things off on Sunday the 11th in worship and by planning to stay for the Homecoming Picnic afterward on the church lawn. The theme for the picnic is "On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!" And I'll be preaching on a twist of that with a sermon called: "On Your Mark, Get Set, Grow!"
Then for the next four Sundays we will delve into a Sermon Series entitled: "Questioning Liturgy". Some of you may have noticed an evolution in our worship order during recent months. Worship is at the center of our life together and I am very excited about exploring it theologically with you on these fall Sundays. We will look at some of the changes of our liturgy and why we do what we do in worship. The schedule will be as follows:
This Sermon Series will allow us to look at important worship issues for a sustained period of time. Each Sunday will be a complete experience unto itself, but each subsequent sermon will build on the previous one. Thus, those who come all four weeks will benefit from the synergy and gain more than the sum of the parts.
On Sunday, September 25, we will hold a Second Hour in the Auditorium with the worship staff to have a dialogue with those in attendance about worship and liturgy.
This fall offers so much here at the church and I hope you will get involved in ways that are meaningful to you and helpful to others. Please read through the newsletter to discover how you might participate. Isaiah's word again fits our situation (40:31):
"They who wait
upon the Lord shall renew their strength,
So, having received the word, come and add your enthusiasm to our life together this fall. As you do, perhaps you will (re)discover a deep truth of our faith, that in the giving of self is also the gaining of self.
Comin' Home Together,
Homecoming Sunday September 11
September Worship Schedule
Radio and Internet
Calling All Children Choristers
The Children's Choir, under the direction of John Stansell, will begin rehearsals on Wednesday, September 14, at 5:00 p.m. in the Choir Room, followed at 6:00 by our pizza supper. The choir is for children in grades three through six. One can pre-register on Homecoming Sunday at Church School sign-up or simply come on the fourteenth. We have a good time and a good reputation! The children improve as singers and learn a lot about worship and the church. Many will be part of Noye's Fludde, but we will be working on a lot of other music from the very first rehearsal. Encourage your children to participate!
Note: We will participate again this year in the Central Connecticut Choristers Guild Festival which will take place on Saturday, March 4, 2006, 9:00 - 3:30, at United Congregational in Bridgeport.
Calling All Singers!!
The Chancel Choir wants you! This friendly group knows the joys of making music together and of serving the church. Choristers often comment that they leave rehearsal feeling invigorated and spiritually uplifted. Some read music very well, others less so, many have only average voices, but everyone learns his/her part and the result is often glorious!
Can't come every week? Few choir members can. But we work several weeks in advance. And only a large membership ensures that we have sufficient numbers each Sunday.
Rehearsals are Thursdays from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. in the third floor choir room. (That's directly above the lounge, if you've never been there.) We begin September 8.
Do come! We will welcome you! If you want to speak with John Stansell beforehand, don't hesitate to call him at the church, 637-1791, extension 22, Tuesday through Friday. (He says most people underestimate their own ability to sing.)
Plans underway for Noye's Fludde
Members of the Music Committee and others have been busy for several months already preparing for the November 5 and 6 performances of Benjamin Britten's chancel opera NOYE'S FLUDDE. This 50-minute-long work, a great community-building First Church tradition, has delighted participants and audiences every four years since the late 1960's. If you have been part of this in years past, you will probably be ready to sign up again at the FLUDDE RALLY right after church on Sunday, September 18th, in the Auditorium. If the concept is new to you, plan to come to the rally, catch a little bit of the video of our 2001 performance, learn more of the details and get ready to GET ON BOARD.
Almost anyone can be an animal on our ark. Starting about kindergarten age, up to and including senior citizens, ours has always been a multi-generational menagerie. The singing parts are easily learned by rote. Animal rehearsals begin after church on October 1st. In true show-biz fashion the rehearsal schedule intensifies for the last week, October 30 to November 4. Complete rehearsal schedules will be available at the rally.
Recruiting for many of the more specialized roles has been underway for some time, but on the 18th we will be filling any vacancies for prop boys, gossips, dancers, and behind-the-scenes personnel. There's something for everyone!
If you want more information now, feel free to call John Stansell at the church office, Tuesday through Friday, 637-1791, ext. 22.
Get Ready, Set and Go
Church School classes begin on Homecoming Sunday. Registration will be in the Auditorium beginning at 9:30 am. Classes will meet at 10 am.
This year our Church School theme will be "Living our Faith Everyday". We come ready to live our faith sharing in our Sunday morning worship and classroom experiences, but also as people who want to take their faith beyond the doors of the Meetinghouse. We are the church wherever we find ourselves - at school, in the workplace, in our neighborhoods, on the sports fields, and in our relationships with our friends. So, too, we are the church as we live with the joys and concerns of our communities and the world.
Surely we all hope to live faithfully everyday, but are we intentional? Do we think about what it means to live our faith every day? This year will be one of sharing with our children different ways in a day that we might be mindful of our faith, such as…
Saying a prayer
Each class will have a binder - a faith binder - in which our children will be able to put a prayer, a picture, a note, a collage, anything that represents something they have done during the week to remind themselves to Live Our Faith Everyday. This could be something they do as part of their classroom worship.
We also plan to have information in every Sunday bulletin about the Church School lesson or activity for that Sunday and the week beyond and to have relevant articles in the Meetinghouse Monthly. In these ways, we hope to help our families have dialogue that continues our church school lessons at home.
The "Ministry to Children and Families" 2005-2006 handbook was mailed in August. Please call or stop by if you did not receive one. It is filled with many details about our programs this year for children from infants through 8th grade as well as introductory information on our programs for High School students. If you know other families who would like to know about our Church School program, please call the Church Office and we will send information to them.
Change - a Consistent Fact of Life
Life is full of changes, and here at First Congregational Church, we are not exempt from this reality. We must deal with people we love and appreciate, moving on, hopefully to a new place and purpose where someone else can benefit from their talents and presence.
This month I will personally feel the loss of Mary Bausch, our Wellness Committee Chairperson, as she and Bill move on to undoubtedly contribute to a new community in Maine. She has supported me in my Parish Nurse role, and advocated for the Wellness Committee programs. Mary, I thank you for your friendship, assistance, and encouragement. Beyond my small corner of the church, you and Bill leave some big shoes to fill, but with God's help, we will endeavor to do just that.
This feels an appropriate time to thank all of the Wellness Committee members and to appeal for new membership as we enter into a new program year of 2005-2006. The current members are: Ginny Breismeister, Rosemary Calderalo, Ruth Davidson, Joyce Ferris, Paul Kretschmann, Betsy Kreuter, Ginge Liddel, Tina Marshall Birkic, Pat Myer, Ruth Reed, Darleyne Sandreuter and Jean Watkins. I thank you all for your efforts and support.
The mission of the Wellness Committee is to promote the health and well-being of the First Congregational Church parishioners and the surrounding community. This is done through a variety of programs and services, in cooperation with the staff, the congregants, and community resources.
The Wellness Committee acts as an advisory board to the Parish Nurse, meeting approximately every other month. Members offer ideas and insights, and assist with promotion and implementation of Wellness programs such as educational events, screening events, and safety initiatives. Several members have a medical background, and assist with taking blood pressures on some Sundays when the Parish Nurse is not available.
We welcome anyone who has an interest in our mission to join us. A medical background sometimes leads people to us, but is not required. Varied talents will ensure our creativity and success. I invite anyone who feels called to promote the wellness of the congregation to join the Wellness Committee. Please contact me at extension 21 to become a member or to learn more.
"Now you are the body of Christ,
Living the Questions
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. The series will also be held on Tuesday evenings at 7:30 pm beginning September 27. Please speak to Marty Berlin or Marge York for more information.
The Historical Committee spent a lot of time getting organized last year and is looking forward to a productive and adventurous year as they delve into our church’s history. They met with local historians and archival professionals and have established a plan for how to organize and store materials, sorted through many books, examined archival techniques and developed categories of First Church materials.
A top priority is preserving our photographic materials and other images. There will be several dates when the committee and volunteers may assist with the sorting and cataloguing the years of images. Any help with this task is appreciated. Many of you have a great knowledge of our church history and will know many of the people in the photos. So, join the trip down Memory Lane and share your stories with your friends on The Historical Committee. Project dates will be determined and posted.
The Historical Committee’s first fall meeting is Sunday, September 18 at 11:30 in the Lounge. All are welcome.
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 or by phone 629-1562.
"Hats Off" is Coming!!!
This fall we hope you will consider being part of our women's book group, "Hats Off". We read a wide variety of books, share our life journeys, and also travel from time to time.
Why the name "Hats Off"? Because, we choose to spend time together, removing the many hats we wear, the many responsibilities we carry, and simply being women together. We meet from 9:45 to 11:30 am Thursday mornings and will begin on October 6. If you need childcare, speak to Susie Craig and we will see what we can arrange. We want everyone to be welcome.
Over the course of this summer we are reading Empire Falls by Richard Russo, an interesting study of values and relationships as viewed during the era of small mill towns in Maine with their wealthy mill owners, and struggling citizenry inviting us into their lives. Pick up a copy in the Church Office.
All are welcome - members of First Congregational Church, neighbors, and friends. While we meet frequently, there is also much latitude as we all have different schedules and availabilities. We hope to see you on October 6! Please call Susie Craig if you have any questions.
Nights Off! returns in September! The date is the third Monday of the month, September 19, at 7:30. We will meet in the Lounge to share some snacks while we catch up on events of the summer and brainstorm about upcoming activities. In our first year we enjoyed book discussions, including one by a well-known author, played some board games, and threw a few parties. Most of all, we had a great time of fellowship just getting to know each other better. All women attending First Church are welcome - as are any friends. No reservations neccessary. Hope to see you on the 19th!
Special Apartment For Rent
The upstairs apartment at 106 Sound Beach Avenue will be available as of September 1. This is in the gray house adjacent to the rear of the Parish House. Because of its proximity to the church buildings, the Memory Garden, and the church lawns, we feel it would be best occupied by someone in the First Church family. The apartment consists of a spacious living room, small office, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom. The front porch is shared with the downstairs apartment. Monthly rent is $1,650 plus utilities and we maintain a no-pets policy. If you know of someone in the congregation who would be interested in the apartment, please call George Handley at the church office, extension 29.
Walk & Worship
Meet Sue Asselin, Parish Nurse in room 203 for a brisk walk, followed by a time of devotion and a healthful snack. Rain or shine. Starts September 13. RSVP appreciated, ext 21.
First Church/First Sunday
On Sunday, September 4, First Church will have the barrel out for our regular food collection for the fall season. Remember, we collect non-perishable food for our local food pantry, Neighbor to Neighbor, on the first Sunday of each month all year long. NtN has been closed for the last two weeks of August, so many families will be anxious to pick up supplemental food right after Labor Day. Please be generous with gifts of cereal, canned fruit and peanut butter this month.
Typing Volunteers Needed
With September coming up and the church coming back to a full church schedule, we are looking for some volunteers who will help with typing the sermons. We can set you up on a computer here, or if you like you can take hand written manuscripts home and use your own computer (compatible with Word).
If you have any interest, please contact Donna White at ext. 14 or e-mail email@example.com .
Members of The First Congregational Church of Greenwich, Ministers
Services of Worship - 8 & 10 am