The First Congregational Church of Greenwich
"Thank God! What better words to shape our
minds, or fit our tongue, or grace our pen? No prayer is shorter to say, sweeter
to hear, grander to think on , more fruitful to practice."
I know it is not yet Thanksgiving, but it soon will be. And these prompting words of St. Augustine are fitting for us not only at Thanksgiving time, but also all through the year. Gratitude for all the gifts of life is at the heart of our Christian pilgrimage.
Our forbearers in the faith, who ventured to the New World to seek religious freedom, knew the need for giving thanks to God for everything - and especially the basics of life. The pilgrims understood how essential the things of sustenance were for their survival (things many of us take for granted in contemporary life). Recent natural disasters around the globe and in the southern United States have helped remind us of just how important the basics of food, water, housing and electricity are for all of God's children.
Along with our prayers of thanksgiving during this time of the year, let us season our thoughts with concern and compassion for those who struggle for the basics of survival on a daily basis. And I hope we will continue to reach out in tangible ways that are helpful in the coming days and months.
This weekend signifies the coming of another flood…Noah's Flood! Anticipation is running high and so many talents, along with many, many hours - all are contributing to what promises to be a very special time in the life of our church. Gratitude for such an outpouring of gifts runs through the midst of rehearsals and performances - as God takes our human lives and mingles them together in movement and music as the ancient story is presented for us in our time and place.
Harvest Sunday will be here in a few weeks and that too, will be an opportunity for us to pour out our thanks! And then on Tuesday, November 22nd at 7:30 p.m., I have been invited to preach at the ecumenical Thanksgiving Service to be held at Saint Michael's Catholic Church.
May these full and special weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, along with every week of our lives, be ones in which we "praise God from whom all blessings flow…" Each one of us has so much to be thankful for. And our church family has been richly blessed by God's overflowing goodness.
Thanks be to God now and always!
Noye's Fludde tickets still available
Tickets for the Saturday evening or Sunday afternoon performance of Benjamin Britten's Noye's Fludde are still available in the church office. They're free. An offering will be received at each performance. No tickets are required for the Sunday morning worship performance, though a big crowd is anticipated. Patrons will receive priority seating. For a program listing if desired, last minute patron contributions will be received at the church office through noon on November 2. We will see to it that you get your tickets.
Dear Members of First Congregational Church.
We would like to formally thank you for your support and assistance in helping us secure a new home here in Greenwich! Without the commitment of the church and the leadership of the Trustees this would not have been possible, and we are deeply grateful.
It has been many months since our journey with you began. In fact, it has been over a year since the Search Committee indicated they would like us to come for a service of call. From then until now we have been met with kindness, concern and best wishes and we are so pleased to be here. We closed on the house at 81 Riverside Avenue in mid-September, and while we still have some boxes to sort through; it is beginning to feel like home.
We are so excited to finally be "settling in" and becoming part of the community! Our hearts are overflowing with gratitude. You made provision for us to stay at 15 Forest Avenue since arriving in February. And you leveraged a significant portion of church resources to be used in joint ownership of the house at 81 Riverside Avenue. And you have helped us feel so welcome in the church family.
You should know that three of your Trustees have gone above and beyond the normal volunteering that church members are called upon to offer. Frosty Friedman (chair), Steve Sotzing (Vice-Chair), and Bobbie Hopkins have given so many hours of their time and expertise to make this possible. And to them we are exceedingly thankful.
With the coming celebration of the Installation Service our hearts are bursting with joy! The future is so full of potential for us as a church and we truly look forward to working with you as God leads us into all that lies ahead!
With deepest appreciation,
David and Michelle Young
From the Parish Nurse
The Wellness Committee has a lot going on this month. Here are some of the highlights:
Life Line Screenings will be at our church on Tuesday, November 8, providing testing for aneurysm, stroke-risk, peripheral arterial disease, and osteoporosis. To book one of the few remaining appointments, call 800-324-1851. For more information, call the same number, check the literature rack, or contact your Parish Nurse, Sue Asselin.
Walk & Worship is on its last lap. Yes, we'll be winding down for the season, and our last walk will be on November 8th. We've had a glorious fall, and hope that many of you can join us in our final weeks. We enjoy an invigorating walk, followed by devotion and a healthful snack. We meet rain or shine, and have an indoor activity planned in case of inclement weather. Participants are sure to leave replenished and relaxed. RSVP's appreciated, ext 21. Look for this program again in the spring.
Second Hour following the worship service on November 13 will help unravel the mystery of Medicare Part D, prescription drug coverage. Seniors with Medicare are receiving letters from the government instructing them to choose a plan. What are the out-of-pocket expenses? What is covered under Medicare Part D and what is not? How can individuals choose the best plan for their situation, and what if they change their mind in the future? What is the penalty for not choosing a plan by May 15, 2006? Join Sam Deibler, Director of the Greenwich Commission on Aging, as he answers these questions and more.
A weekly bereavement support group will begin on Tuesday, November 15 from 4:00-5:30 PM. For some, the loss of a loved one may be fairly recent. For others, the holidays may cause grief to resurface in new ways. Sue Asselin, Parish Nurse will facilitate this series extending through December 13. If you think this program could benefit you or a loved one, please speak to Reverend David Young, Reverend Susie Craig, or Sue Asselin.
Lastly, I must address my least favorite topic (because of the uncertainty). The date of the flu vaccine clinic is still undecided due to a delay in vaccine supply. I've postponed submitting this article, in hopes of obtaining some definitive information. It's difficult to publicize such an event, without confidence of having the vaccine. When we have a confirmed supply, the Wellness Committee will schedule a clinic, and spread the word in many ways. Please look for updated information on the FCCOG web site, in weekly bulletins, and on the Wellness Committee bulletin board (outside the lounge). You may also call the church's main office to ask for the latest information. You may wish to locate another clinic by going to the following web site: www.findaflushot.com .
Chili Helpers Needed
As the winter months approach what sounds better than a bowl of hot chili to warm you?
Our church for over 15 years has been providing a hot chili lunch on the 1st of each month at the community soup kitchen at the Yerwood Center in Stamford.
The cost of the chili ingredients is underwritten by a church family but we need YOU to help make the meal happen. Organize a group of friends or family (5-7 people) to shop and prepare the chili lunch (shopping list and instructions provided) the Saturday or Sunday before it is served on the 1st Monday of the month and YOU will be an important part of helping those in need of nourishment and fellowship.
Contact Michelle Young (344-1340 or firstname.lastname@example.org) to volunteer to help in this worthwhile outreach activity of our church.
Fall/Early Winter Itinerary
NIGHTS OFF! offers the women of First Church the opportunity to meet once a month with an agenda that is, simply, fellowship - in various formats. While we usually meet every third Monday of the month at 7:30 pm in the church lounge, for November thru January we are "varying the format" as follows:
November 14 - We will attend the The Family Stone, a holiday movie that was filmed right here in Riverside!
December 19 - Christmas party at the home of Kathy Riley
January 23 - We will meet downstairs in the kitchen off the Daniel's Center because…..we are making pie crusts! Actually, we will be receiving cooking lessons from some of First Church's best pastry chefs. We will then try our collective hands at making some pies which will be served later that week at our Annual Meeting. We may actually learn to use those food processors that are collecting dust in our kitchens!
Please check the Meetinghouse Monthly, the church bulletin, and the Women's Fellowship bulletin board for details about these upcoming events. Any questions, please call or e-mail Debbie LaCivita at 698-0179 or email@example.com .
Christmas Tree Sales
Christmas Tree sales are around the corner. The tree racks will be set up November 26 at 9 am. The 600 trees arrive December 3 ready to be unloaded at 8 am. For members unfamiliar with our tree sale - this is a fundraiser for our Outreach budget. We usually sell 600 trees, 250 wreaths, and 30 bundles of pine roping. Tree sales occur Saturday and Sunday, December 3,4,10,11,17 and 18 from 9 - 4:30 pm. This event is a great way for all members to pitch in and help in a variety of ways. of course, we really need big, strong, men. Sign ups for 2 1/2 hour shifts starting mid-November at coffee hour. Come on along and get into the Christmas spirit. Any questions, please call Betsy Kreuter at 698-3016.
During the 2nd and 3rd weeks in November there will be books on a table outside the Lounge, available for those who would like to have them. These books were previously in storage around the church and are no longer needed or wanted by the staff or the Historical Committee. Please take whatever you or your family might want.
The Historical Committee
"Lively Faith … Faithful Lives"
On October 21 and 22, the Connecticut Conference of the UCC gathered for its Annual Meeting in Waterbury, CT hosted by the Naugatuck Valley Association and the First Congregational Church of Waterbury. First Church was represented at the meeting by Pat Mendelsohn, Frosty Friedman, Lois and Marty Berlin, Rick Derr, Rev. David Young, and Rev. Susie Craig.
For the first time this year, the traditional 2 ½ day meeting was split into two 1 ½ day meetings. In May the Conference took up the resolutions from member churches, which gathers the most media attention. The business matters of the Conference were handled at this meeting in October. Also, on Friday afternoon there were twenty valuable workshops for laity and clergy, offering opportunities to share ideas and experiences with other churches, as well as hear stimulating and inspirational new ideas from specialists from around the country.
The theme of the meeting was "Lively Faith … Faithful Lives". The inspirational leader for the weekend was Rev. Anthony Robinson, UCC pastor and nationally known author. He spoke three times during the weekend about the challenges facing all established churches in the 21st century in the post-modern age, and suggested ways to strengthen congregations and their leaders to transform our churches to meet these challenges.
Our Conference Minister, Rev. Dr. Davida Foy Crabtree, addressed the gathered churches on Friday evening. While she did not shrink from the reality of difficult financial times at the conference level, she was very optimistic and upbeat about our ability to handle three very large challenges facing the Conference over the next two years: 1.) Responding to the Gulf Coast hurricanes with help for Central Congregational Church in New Orleans and Back Bay Mission in Biloxi, MS; 2.) Preparing for the 50th anniversary General Synod of the UCC to be held in Hartford in June, 2007, and 3.) Raising at least $8 million, and hopefully $12 million, to extend and enhance the ministry of Silver Lake Conference Center.
In the business portions of the meeting, the 2006 Budget for the CT Conference was presented and approved, officers were elected for the coming year, and the Conference considered and approved the recommendation for "Now for the Future: The Campaign for Silver Lake Conference Center". The campaign is intended to raise at least $8 million, and hopefully as much as $12 million, to enable Silver Lake to serve the needs of our youth and adults of the conference both now and for the future. Included in the total plan are: critically needed deferred maintenance projects, new and renovated facilities to better handle smaller groups for retreats, modifications to make all facilities wheelchair accessible, improvements to energy efficiency and maintenance, modified and new facilities more suitable to accommodating adults for retreats (yes, including semi-private bedrooms and baths), a new dining center for the retreat season, expanded dining space and other needed spaces for summer season. The $8 million basic goal includes the highest priority projects to be completed in phase one. However, the real goal will be the $12 million challenge goal, so that the entire plan can be implemented to prepare Silver Lake for the needs of the congregations of the conference for the next 30+ years. We will be hearing much more about this important project in 2006.
One of the most moving moments of the meeting was hearing from Rev. Wilmer Brown, Pastor of Central Congregational Church in New Orleans, and Rev. Shari Prestemon, Executive Director of Back Bay Mission in Biloxi, MS. Reverend Brown's church is "scattered, but it is doing well". It's "buildings are in bad shape, but its members are not". Rev. Prestemon told how the wonderful ministry of the UCC's Back Bay Mission to the neediest folks of Biloxi was growing and thriving until Katrina hit. Now 75% of its buildings are uninhabitable, 50% of the staff has decided not to return because their homes were destroyed, and the other 50% are dealing with the pain of overwhelming loss. But as a piece of corrugated roofing with the spray-painted words "We Will Return" which has replaced the mission's missing main sign quickly conveys, the Mission continues to do its work and will rebuild, with the help of UCC churches nationwide. Even the visiting delegates from the Kyung-Ki Presbetery of South Korea, long-time ecumenical partners with the CT Conference, brought with them $1,000 which they had raised for the rebuilding of Back Bay Mission. The CT Conference has committed to tithe 10% of the Now for the Future capital campaign to Back Bay Mission.
And importantly, at many points throughout the weekend, we were able to worship together as a conference, as a gathering of churches and as individuals with a common mission to do God's Will.
Our CT Conference is made up of wonderful, caring folks, just like us, from churches small and large around the state, and our Conference Staff are dedicated, inspirational servants of Christ. We are blest to be a part of this organization, and we must not forget our important role as one of the larger churches in this conference. It was inspirational just to be present at this gathering.
You can read much more about the Annual Meeting by going to http://www.ctucc.org .
Council for Youth and Young Adult Ministries
In October I had a most wonderful opportunity to participate in the National UCC setting by representing Connecticut on the Council for Youth and Young Adult Ministries (CYYAM). With almost 20 other young people, I traveled to Cleveland to meet with the Council members elected by General Synod this summer. Having never before participated in the National setting of the UCC, I was able to get new sense of how the UCC is organized on its multiple levels: local church, association, conference, and national.
My colleagues on the Council were from all over the country representing a huge geographic and cultural spectrum. We came together to identify the challenges in providing effective ministry to youth and young adults and develop strategies to address those challenges. It was inspiring to hear such a wealth of faith stories, as we each came from a particular tradition. Yet, we were bound together by the principles that sets the UCC apart from other denominations: Extravagant welcome, justice, and respect for diversity- whether it be theology, race, sexual orientation, gender, or politics. Our time together left me with a greater sense of how wonderful it is to be part of a denomination that both respects so much difference, and still gathers around a historic faith tradition in hopes of making a positive impact in this world.
I would be amiss if I didn't mention my pride of representing Connecticut. The chapel in the National Office is called the Amistad Chapel and folks around there don't hesitate to remind you about how the UCC has always been ahead of its time for justice, as was the case in the famous Amistad event here at home in CT.
As a young adult active in church life, I have great hope that CYYAM will be able to address the challenges that leaves so many of our churches without a young adult population. As First Church seeks to be more welcoming to all people, as does the UCC in general, it is my hope that everyone, regardless of ages, will be able to find the spiritual nourishment within our churches that makes faith communities so valuable.
Ministry to Children and Families
Parenting Forums Begin
Raising Our Children in
November Sundays in the Church School
November 6 - We will all be in the Meetinghouse to participate as the congregation in the "Noyes Fludde" production.
November 13 - Regular Church School; however our high school teachers who are Confirmands (9th Grade) will be on their retreat.
November 20 - HARVEST SUNDAY - Family Worship in the Meetinghouse, food donations are brought forward during the service; followed by an extended celebratory Coffee Hour with special refreshments and an opportunity to enjoy the crafts from the HOME Coop in Maine.
November 27 - Regular Church School followed by a Teachers' Meeting (all grades) to plan our Advent/Christmas worship services and classroom activities.
Living our Faith Every Day
In keeping with our theme, to keep our faith alive and ticking in all we say and do, we would encourage you and your family to come and see the amazing production of Noye's Fludde - translated into modern English, as Noah's Flood. This age old becomes new again with each production across the history of First Church. How do we come to know our God, in the midst of floods and hardship, it is important for our children, and for us all to realize we are loved by a saving God, who would take care of us and bring us to dry land. This marvelous experience provides a way for faith to become breakfast table conversation, and remain an important part of our church family experience. Hope to see you there!
Susie Craig and Rosemary Lamie
First Church Growers for the Hungry
We have been blessed with 66 great volunteers who tilled, dug, planted, weeded, cultivated, and harvested the Church Garden. The bounty has been distributed to Neighbor to Neighbor, Pilgrim Towers, St. Luke’s Life Works, and New Covenant House. The harvest is now complete. We thought that all members of the Church should have a final report on the Garden production results. All of the items listed below are first quality, vine-ripened, fresh, nutritious vegetables. Any of the items which did not meet first quality standards have been consumed in destructive quality control testing. The Church Garden has been a blessing for many hungry people. Our sincere thanks to all for your participation in this effort to help feed our hungry neighbors.
2005 Crop Pounds Sugar snap peas 39 Leaf lettuce 16 Swiss chard 62 Beet greens 58 Beets 110 Eggplant 40 Sweet peppers 49 Butternut squash 78 Zuchini squash 122 Big Boy tomatoes 450 (904 Tomatoes) String beans 37
Now is the time to clear away the old vines, remove the stakes, add lime and fertilizer and rototill the ground. Saturday, November 5 is the day, beginning at 9 am. Rain date is Saturday, November 12.
Prayer Shawl Ministry
Mark your calendars now. The Prayer Shawl Ministry meets on Wednesday, November 16 and December 14 at 10 am in the Lounge. All members and those interested are encouraged to attend. For those unable to knit, attaching fringe might be the job for you. Fellowship, prayers and refreshments ensure a fun time. Donations always welcome.
Before and After
The Before & After Program, is an extended day program at the First Church Preschool at the First Congregational Church in Old Greenwich.
Children in the 4 year old program at the preschool participate in this unique learning environment which focuses on specific curriculum topics in music, science and mathematics, literature and language activities. Each 9 week session is centered a theme. The theme this session is dragons. The children have been learning the difference between reality and make believe, made a dragon out of paper mache, built a castle in the classroom, and learn about stain glass windows.
Registration for all preschool programs are now taking place for the 2006 - 2007 school year. For more information, call 637-5430.
List of children in photo: Paige Sangston, Kiera Hekking, Callum Abernathy, Hayden Witmer, Gregor Webster, Charlie Linehan, Rose Duckworth, Kieran Mackay, Mary Duffy
Growing as God’s Design
As of October 25, First Church has received 140 pledges of financial support toward our 2006 Stewardship campaign. The Board of Trustees gratefully acknowledge the pledge commitments that have been received since the beginning of the campaign from the following members and friends, as well as those who wish to remain anonymous:
Office Hours for Aaron Sinay
Aaron Sinay, new Director of Family Life, will have office hours on Thursdays 5:30-7:30. His office is on the second floor above the main kitchen and he can be reached via email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (Extension 26, Home 629-1562).
A look ahead....
Sunday, December 4 - Advent Craft Fair and Workshop Handel’s Messiah - A tradition at First Church, Saturday, December 17 and Sunday, December 18, 4 pm
The Members of The First Congregational Church of Greenwich, Ministers
Ministers David D. Young, Senior
Thomas L. Stiers and Sally Colegrove, Pastors Emeriti
Sunday Services of Worship - 8 &