Finally, after two years of pandemic-induced social distancing — with Christmas carols lightly ringing over the tables in the DeWolf Chapel — the 93rd Harvest Moon Festival was BACK! On November 19th, from early in the morning until late in the afternoon, there was something special in the air. Perhaps it was the joy of finally being able to meet up, face to face, to share the gentle pleasantries of friendship. Perhaps it was the return of the Vermont cheddar mice, or the busy back-and-forth of an honest-to-goodness Silent Auction. Or was it that vision of Santa pulling at the oars of a donated kayak, or youngsters trying out that special bicycle?
Or was it the excitement of children (and quite a few adults) running to whisper their list of hoped-for presents into Santa’s ear. Christmas is coming and who knows that might appear under the tree on Christmas morning.
We are sending out a big THANK YOU to all of the hard-working volunteers, vendors, generous merchants and others who donated Silent Auction items, and all who came to support the church by attending the Harvest Moon Bazaar. You all helped make this the most successful Bazaar ever!
“Jesus said: “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). The presence of the light reminds us of Jesus’ coming into our world and into our lives. The light is carried into the worship service as a symbol of Jesus’ coming into the presence of the worshiping community. Many congregations use two candles on the altar to point out that Jesus was both a human being and God. At the end of the service, the light is carried out into the world to show that Jesus Christ is for all people everywhere; The acolyte leaves the worship service at the pastor’s direction, carrying out the lighted candlelighter. This symbolizes the light of Jesus Christ going out into the world where believers are to serve.” (From Worship Matters: A United Methodist Guide to Worship Work, Vol. II by E. Byron Anderson:
Each Sunday at the start of our worship service, our team of acolytes carry in the light that is Jesus’ presence. They light the altar candles and then climb to the chancel to light the candelabra on either side of the pulpit. At the end of the service, they return to carry that symbolic light out into the world, just as we parishioners are urged to carry the love and service of our faith out into the world. Most Sundays, our acolyte comes from the team of youth members of the church. Sometimes, a Deacon will carry out this important function.
We offer our heartfelt thanks to each and every acolyte. Special thanks to Katie Evans, Natty Quezada-Grant, Teddy Brosnihan, Avery Walsh, and Kara and Julia Pisasale.
November 4 saw workers from the New Outlook Historic Window Preservation and Restoration studio up on ladders scraping, in-filling, and priming the frames of two of our sanctuary windows.
Bill Letoile, CEO of New Outlook, also provided a totally preserved section of one of our windows so that we could check out the quality of their work. We know its the old window, but now it looks like new and it is so sturdy that it will last another 100 years. As soon as the glazing compound has dried, we’ll bring it out for you all to see it.
The total cost of preserving all of the sanctuary windows is $321,915, plus any small additional costs for extras that are needed, such as replacing broken glass or pulleys, or so that we can open some of the window sashes. So far we have raised $112,000 in pledges and another $101,000 in identified church assets. That leaves about $110,000 that is needed to complete the windows preservation project. Please consider making a donation, below, via PayPal or credit card. Or contact Caroline Jacobus or Sally Evans to discuss a pledge, which can be paid over 3 years. Thank you.
The worship service on Sunday, October 30, 2022 was heart-filling in so many ways. In addition to the resounding organ music provided by our new Minister of Music, Nikita Sabinski, and a warm and welcoming Time with the Children provided by Reverend Deborah, we were lifted up by the joyful children’s whimsical Halloween costumes. In addition to the witches, Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader and other ghoulies, we were treated to a feisty yellow Baby Shark who good-naturedly sat down right next to the minister. Way to go, Raymond!
Right after the Time with Children, Marina Temple provided the Moment for Stewardship, sharing her and her family’s experiences serving as members of the congregation over many decades. During that time, Marina and her parents have taken on many roles. For many years, Marina has added her lovely voice to the choir and volunteered on a host of service projects such as the Church Cleanup, shown below.
The sermon, on this lead-up to the November 13 Stewardship Sunday, was provided by the Rev. Dr. David Cleaver-Bartholomew, the Minister of Stewardship and Donor Relations at the Southern New England United Church of Christ central administration. Preaching on “Stewardship and God’s Mission,” Dr. Cleaver-Bartholomew underscored the central message that “Stewardship” is not a process of encouraging financial pledges from parishioners in order to fund the annual budget. Rather it is an essential factor in the church — through all of its members and staff — carrying out God’s Mission of Love and Service. Throughout each year we are encouraged to give our Time, Talent, and Treasure to the church and wider community so that, as a community of faith, we can be the hands of God and the heart of God which work to bring the Kingdom of Heaven into reality on earth.
Our annual stewardship drive for First Congregational Church of Bristol calls on each of us to consider how we can personally dedicate our resources to support the various ministries of FCC and live out the love and justice of Jesus.
This year’s Stewardship campaign theme is “From Bread and Cup to Faith and Giving.” It challenges us to make the connection between our experience of God and our generosity as disciples. During this 2022 Stewardship Campaign, we are called to remember the power of our God to fill our inner emptiness – to feed our needy spirit. And, beyond that, we are asked to consider what our response to this act of infinite caring should be.
Are we encouraged to meet God’s extraordinary gifts – of His Son, of radical and all-inclusive Love, of eternal Life – with a gratefulness that opens us up to caring for all the world? That triggers a generosity that seeks to meet the needs of the vulnerable around us? If we are enmeshed in an infinite web of reciprocity – of the giving and receiving of Love, what is the right, the commensurate response?
We deeply appreciate the commitment of each of our members through these recent difficult times. Your committed donations throughout the year have enabled us to help members and the greater community through hard times and bring God’s love into their lives.
FCC needs you, your support to our church financially, as well as your contributions of time and talent, as our community continues to spread the love and justice of Jesus through our ministries. We ask you to bring your pledge card to church on Stewardship Sunday, November 13, 2022 or get it to the Church Office at any time. Thank you.
This past Sunday, instead of worshiping in the Sanctuary, more than 30 members of the congregation put their faith into action by carrying out service projects throughout the Bristol community. Members from age 7 to well into their 80s donned their orange “Church Has Left the Building” vests and fanned out into the community to perform a variety of tasks.
Some picked up litter at Independence Park and along the streets of the town. Others went to members homes and helped them with gardening tasks that they needed help with. Others worked on the church grounds.
As they returned to the church after finishing their chosen tasks, there were smiles on everyone’s face. It feels good to be out in the fresh air doing something that helps someone else.
On 9/22/2022, parishioners from the Window Preservation and Capital Campaign committees visited the New Outlook Historic Window Preservation and Restoration studio to see the progress being made in the preservation of our sanctuary windows. Bill Letoile, CEO of New Outlook, gave us a thorough tour of the caring and professional process they undertake for each window sash they repair. They start by steaming each wooden frame in a custom-built humidifier, sized to take our sanctuary’s extra-large window sashes. When the wood is moist enough to reduce splintering and cracking, they remove all of the paint, glazing points, glazing putty and window glass. Then they repair the damaged wood with special wood epoxy, shape and sand the surfaces, prime the wood, re-install the glass with new points and putty, and finish paint the sash.
We were able to see one of the big sashes steaming in the humidifying box. We were also able to see one of the most damaged sashes taken from the South facade of the sanctuary — a lozenge-shaped top window sash — at the point where the wood frame had been repaired and primed. It was like new! An amazing job of preservation. We can feel really good about the care that is being taken to preserve each one of our historic sanctuary windows.
We will soon be bringing one of these sashes back to the church so that you can see how terrific it looks. Making our sanctuary a fresh, clean, well-cared for space is part of our Mission to welcome both the members of our church family and the wider community. By preserving the windows, repairing the plaster that was cracked when the foundations were repaired in 2011, painting the sanctuary and replacing the frayed carpeting, we will transform our sanctuary into a place where people will want to gather, have weddings, celebrate our “togetherness.” The total cost of preserving all of the sanctuary windows is $321,915, plus any small additional costs for extras that are needed, such as replacing broken glass or pulleys, or so that we can open some of the window sashes. So far we have raised $112,000 in pledges and another $101,000 in identified church assets. That leaves about $110,000 that is needed to complete the windows preservation project. Please consider making a donation, below, via PayPal or credit card. Or contact Caroline Jacobus or Sally Evans to discuss a pledge, which can be paid over 3 years. Thank you.
Rally Day on September 18 marked the coming together of the church family for the start of the new School Year. The worship service was led by the children of the church and included the Commissioning of our Church School by all the children, youth, parents, teachers, and members of the congregation. It also included a joyful sermon entitled “The Color of Color” which dramatized a clashing war between all of the colors on the color wheel — finally resolved, after a terrific rain storm, into the symbol of hope and love which we all recognize as the Rainbow.
Following the church service, the entire congregation moved to the outside courtyard where the Christian Education Committee had set up a delicious end-of-summer picnic on the lawn. It was a fun — and joyful — day for all.