The First Congregational Church of Greenwich
It is with a great deal of excitement that we announce a new pastor as part of the team here at First Congregational Church! Rev. Ronald E. Halvorsen begins February 1st as our Minister of Pastoral Care.
Ron is a graduate of Yale Divinity School and was ordained by the United Church of Christ in 1997. He has served on the staffs of the First Presbyterian Church and The Congregational Church, both of New Canaan. Ron has had extensive chaplaincy training at Yale New Haven Hospital, New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and Norwalk Hospital and has served as the Chaplain and Bereavement Counselor of Mid-Fairfield Hospice. He is a Board Certified Chaplain with the Association of Professional Chaplains.
Ron has been responsible for a large Stephen Ministry program in New Canaan and values being with people at all phases and stages of life. Ron will work for the church for fifteen hours per week and his primary function will be to monitor, oversee and coordinate the pastoral care ministries of our church. He will also share in the leadership of worship on a regular basis as one of our pastors.
Prior to his call to ministry, Ron received his BSCE (Civil Engineering) from Tufts University and an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. He and his wife Gail have been married for 38 years and make their home in New Canaan where they have lived for the past 20 years. They have two grown sons, Mark and Christopher, who both live in Darien. Christopher is married to Andrea and they have a two year old daughter, Kalle.
Special thanks goes to the Search Committee: Beth Beam (chair), Melanie Garnett, Dale Greene, Pete Kneen, Nancy Morris, Dale Myer, Beth Rollins, and Dan Videtto.
Ron brings many gifts to ministry along with a wide array of experiences and expertise.
He is a person of deep faith and compassion. Susie has known Ron for over a decade and we are very eager to welcome Ron to the pastoral team here at the church. What a blessing it will be to have Ron in our midst!
Please join me in offering Ron a warm welcome into our church home of caring!
February Worship Schedule
Sunday, February 5
Sunday, February 12
Sunday, February 19
Sunday, February 26
Radio and Internet
The Sunday morning worship is broadcast live over the radio and internet. Tune in to WGCH 1490 am Radio or log onto www.wgch.com and click on “Listen Live.” The Sunday morning worship order can be found on our website at www.fccog.org .
Growing as God's Design
Between December 19 and January 18, First Church has received 22 additional pledges of support for our 2006 Stewardship campaign.
As of January 18, the total amount pledged had reached $893,767, which appears to bring the campaign within reach of the $925,000 target originally established by the Stewardship Committee. (To be conservative, the Budget Committee decided to use a lower number in their presentation at the Annual Meeting.)
A complete list of the members and friends from whom 2006 Stewardship pledges had been received by January 18 (excluding those who have asked to remain anonymous) is included in the financial addendum to the 2005 Annual Report. If you name is not on the list, it's not too late.
Family Focus Group
What's on your mind? If you are interested in examining the array of issues confronting today's families join one of our focus groups. These conversations are open to anyone who is intrigued by family dynamics and has opinions to share or questions to ask. A series of meeting times will be scheduled in February and March. Please let Aaron Sinay know if you are interested in participating in any of these family groups.
Nights Off! and the Women’s Fellowship Upcoming Events
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 13 - Just in time for Valentines Day, NIGHTS OFF! will present an evening of relaxation in the church lounge from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Everyone is welcome to drop in and exchange favorite tips and ideas for relaxing and pampering ourselves while enjoying some special treats and beverages. We'll explore the benefits of music and aromatherapy in relaxation, and more! As always, all are welcome. Please join us in the fight against the midwinter blahs!
MONDAY, MARCH 6 - In conjunction with Just Books Too of Old Greenwich, the Women's Fellowship, NIGHTS OFF! and HATS OFF welcome author, Greg Mortenson, to discuss his latest book, Three Cups of Tea, a riveting and timely exploration of the creation of schools in Afghanistan. This event is open to the general public and will be a popular one! Coffee, tea and snacks will be served in the church auditorium following the discussion.
From the Parish Nurse
Matters of the Heart…..That's the focus of many health educators this February, and in observance of National Heart Month, here are some statistics to convince us that we are among those who should heed advice from the medical experts. Cardiovascular disease (including heart disease and stroke) is the number one cause of death for Americans, claiming more than 930,000 lives each year. Nearly 150,000 of these deaths are in Americans under age 65. Blacks, Hispanics and Asians are not exempt, and in many cases have a higher risk. And women are just as much at risk as men, giving new meaning to "equal opportunity".
There are some risk factors for heart disease that we cannot change (age, heredity, race, medical history). Then there are risk factors we can do something about (diet, cholesterol, blood pressure, exercise, weight, smoking, stress). It is wise for us to examine these changeable risk factors and resolve to improve our habits. While it can seem overwhelming to consider them all, focusing in on a few small changes can have exponential benefits. That's because these factors are so interrelated, that improving one factor, will inevitably improve some others. Fortunately, the very actions that can improve our cardiovascular health will also reduce our risk of other ailments such as diabetes, osteoporosis and cancer. For example, eating more green leafy vegetables can prevent colon cancer and most likely lead to weight loss. Likewise, making time for a weight-bearing aerobic exercise will help prevent osteoporosis, and likely reduce weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, and stress. What a deal!
The American Heart Association has helpful campaigns designed to motivate us to change for the better, available through their web site: www.americanheart.org . Other helpful sites are: www.deliciousdecisions.org and www.everydaychoices.org.
This month the FCCOG Wellness Committee is sponsoring a delicious way to improve your cardiovascular health. At Cooking for the Heart on Tuesday, February 21, 6:30 to 8:30 PM, one can dine on heart-healthy cuisine while listening to Dr. Christopher Howes, Greenwich Hospital's interventional cardiologist, as he encourages us to develop heart-healthy lifestyles and explains the latest procedures available for treatment of heart conditions. Participants are encouraged to bring a prepared heart-healthy dish to share, recipes provided. To attend or volunteer to cook, call me at extension 21. (Snow date: Thursday, March 2)
I would love to share more information on the many changeable risk factors mentioned above. Please come see me in room 203 for support with these changes, or for blood pressure screening, an important component of heart fitness. May God grant us the wisdom to recognize our shortcomings, and the willpower and energy to change them. Amen.
February Parish Nurse Hours:
Thank You, Ginny Breismeister!
It is not often that we have the opportunity to thank someone for thirteen - a lucky number for us - years of service. But our Annual Meeting on January 26th provided us with the opportunity to do just that and thank Virginia Breismeister for a wonderful and creative term of service as our Chairperson of Religious Education, overseeing the JPF, Confirmation, SPF, and CPF Task Forces in addition to the Church School Task Force under the umbrella of Ministries to Children and Families.
Across her years, Ginny saw her own children participate in the full gamut of our programs, and since then has continued to be in touch with our church school families listening to their concerns, and helping us formulate programs in response to these learnings. In addition, she has strongly supported the inclusion of children and young people into all aspects of our church life. Today, we are well aware of their place in our church family, and when they are absent we recognize the void.
Beyond the church, Ginny has accompanied them to Silver Lake, Maine, Hungary, the Holy Land and Honduras serving as their nurse and as their friend, seeing them grow and discover their faith in many different settings. Here within the walls of First Church, Ginny's efforts have visible as our ministry to children and families has grown. While Ginny's mark on our time together has included worship, education and mission, it has also included opportunities for fellowship. She and her family have welcomed our young people and their advisors into their home for memorable times of fellowship hosting SPF Christmas parties and breakfast after our Easter Sunrise services.
We cannot begin to thank Ginny for all she has done. we are much indebted for the love and care that has been spread among us. As we move into 2006, it is with thanksgiving and in the trust that she will not be a stranger.
Thank you, Gene Waggaman!
At this year's Annual Meeting we heard from Gene Waggaman, our Benevolence Steward, as to the actions and allocations made this past year by the Christian Outreach Committee. What many do not understand, is that we also heard from a dear friend, personally and faithfully committed to interpreting Jesus' teaching, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." by putting it into action.
Gene's life and his commitment to many social needs in our area model this belief. But more than that, he has given of himself - of his time and his talents to helping First Congregational Church be a church which learns about need, and who then respond to need as volunteers, as good neighbors, and with our dollars. As Benevolence Steward, and as Treasurer of our Christian Outreach Committee for many years, Gene has done so in an understated, but most effective manner. Tours of local agencies who receive our support, Hunger Walks, and Mission Fairs are all his hallmarks. Through them we have come face to face with those we help, entered into dialogue and learned from them. We have cooked for the New Covenant House Soup Kitchen, and enabled many of our congregation to volunteer with local agencies. In addition, we have sent many - several hundred of our church family to H.O.M.E. Coop in Maine, and abroad to Turkey, Zimbabwe, Hungary, and Honduras.
Gene's quiet and effective manner - of getting things done and of including all who will come has been a gift to our church and so many others of God's children. We wish him the best as he continues his love of outreach locally, and we will learn from the many things he taught us. It has been a gift to have him with us on the Christian Outreach Committee. We have all been truly blessed.
Family Forums Continue
First Church Director of Family Life, Aaron Sinay, and the Church School have collaborated to present a panel discussion on the issues of sports and social activities for preschool and early elementary aged children. Specifically, how do these experiences uphold and enhance family values; what are the implications as children grow up; and how can parents be sure their children have healthy experiences. This is the second in a series of forums aimed to help parents along the journey of faithful parenting. Come join the lively discussion on Wednesday, February 1 at 7:30 in Room 103.
Second Graders and their Families Learn about the Sacrament of Communion
Through a three part program, parents and their children learn about the meaning of communion through discussion and teaching, personal expression in the process of making a family communion banner and participation in a special worship service during which some children take communion for the first time. The service is on Saturday at 5 PM in the Meetinghouse and everyone is invited.
When our delegation to Honduras arrive at their destination, among the many necessities they will deliver to AIEH, will be carefully packed "Healthy Valentines". These "goodie bags" of toothpaste, toothbrush and vitamins will be made especially personal by the valentines cards our children have made for each bag. Both the Church School and Preschool classes have participated in the project.
In addition to the Healthy Valentines, the Church School obtained Bible Story books in Spanish for the Church School in Honduras as well as some special school supplies - colored pencils, construction paper and bulletin board borders.
Our children love to learn about the children in Honduras and will really appreciate the photos that will come back showing the children receiving their gifts.
JANUARY 25 - 2nd Grade Parents Communion 101 Room 203 at 7:30 PM
JANUARY 29 - Regular Church School; Second Grade Communion Banner Workshop During Class Time With Susie
FEBRUARY 1 - Parents Forum "Children at Play" in Room 103 at 7:30 PM - Panel discussion
FEBRUARY 4 - Special Church School Family Communion Service at 5 PM in Meetinghouse
FEBRUARY 5 - Regular Church School; 5th Grade cooks for Soup Kitchen during class
FEBRUARY 19 - Family Worship; No Church School FEBRUARY 26 - Regular Church School
The Senior Pilgrim Fellowship's Mission Trip to Honduras
Since the New Year, the travelers of the SPF mission trip to Honduras have been growing increasingly more excited as our departure date nears. While we prepare ourselves for a beautiful and challenging adventure we are still soliciting donations of medical, dental, and school supplies to be carried by our youth to Honduras. A complete list of supplies we are seeking is available below.
In Honduras, our young people will primarily be living and working in the small mountain village of Subirana. We will labor to complete the Nutrition Center, funded by First Church in partnership with AIEH (Evangelical and Reformed Church of Honduras). In addition, we will be working on the building of a new church in town. When our work is through, we will then drive across the beautiful countryside to Copan Ruinas near the Guatemalan border. Here we will enjoy a chance for a stunning history lesson at the National Park at the site of Mayan Ruins.
Flying into and departing from San Pedro Sula, a vibrant city in the Northwest corner of Honduras, we will be able to the local flavor, including the famous Guamilito Market, as well as the leadership of the church to about its efforts both in the field of medicine and beyond. Our whole trip will stretch over six exciting days.
We are so excited for our adventure and thank you all for your support, prayers, and donations! Please join us for a Second Hour presentation March 5 to learn more about our trip and see photos of our youth at work abroad.
Susie and Anna
Sunday Afternoons Live -
There is a faithful audience for First Church's winter music series, Sunday Afternoons Live; we would love to see it grow. These programs are a wonderful opportunity to expose children to fine music making. If your children are learning to play the piano or a stringed instrument, this year's offerings are perfect for them. Younger ones might only manage half of the program, but our artists have assured me that they would rather have fidgeting children than none at all. We ask for a $ 10.00 donation per person, and $ 20.00 for a family of any size.
February 5 Diane Fanning, piano
February 12 Grupo los Santos, Latin-American influenced jazz ensemble
February 19 Eight Strings and a Whistle, Susan Gilchrest, flute, Ina Litera, viola, and Matthew Goeke, cello
February 26 Susan Heitkin, violin, and Christine Diwyk, piano
March 5 Cathy Tao Yin, piano
Pastoral Needs and Hospital Visitation
Please call us, so we can call (on) you. If you don’t, there is a good chance we will not know you are in the hospital or have a special need.
Hospitals have changed their information systems because they face legal issues with respect to confidentiality. Information once available to clergy is no longer accessible to us.
We need your help in two ways:
1) If you - or someone you know - is in the hospital, please call the church office and share that information. (637.1791)
2) When you are admitted to the hospital, please let the intake specialist know that you are a member of First Congregational Church of Greenwich and that you would like us to know you are in the hospital.
You are important to us and we do not want to
overlook you or your family’s special needs. Please let us know or have someone
contact us as soon as possible. With Ron Halvorsen joining our pastoral team, we
want to be there for you with our care and support.
The Members of The First Congregational Church of Greenwich, Ministers
David D. Young, Senior Pastor
Sunday Service of Worship - 10