FCC Bristol participates in Flag Day

Friday, June 14, 2024 marked Bristol’s celebration of Flag Day, focusing on our community’s appreciation of the unity, liberty and justice to which our nation is dedicated. The celebration started at 5:00pm in the auditorium of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church where leaders of the Bristol community, including our minister, the Rev. Dr. Nancy Hamlin Soukup, along with Rei Battcher, Historian/Librarian, and Dr. Catherine Zipf, Executive Director, both of the Bristol Historical & Preservation Society, read the entire Declaration of Independence, first published on July 4, 1776. Written for multiple audiences and for a variety of goals, this document served “to declare the causes which impel them to the separation” from the colonies’ motherland, England.

The declaration sets forth the basic foundational beliefs which drove the American colonies to seek independence from the despotic government of Britain, among them: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The document goes on to list the long train of injuries and usurpations, “all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.”

At 6:00pm, the ceremonious raising of the flag on the Town Commons took place, followed by the recognition of Town leaders and Fourth of July Committee members back at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. FCC Bristol members Rev. Nancy, Bennett and Charlotte Burnham, State Senator Susan Donovan, and Caroline Jacobus were among the participants.

Our Children are Inspiring!

Children’s Sunday and Teacher Appreciation Day, June 9, was a joyful celebration of FCC Bristol’s children, their many talents, and the Christian Education program that so many members work together to carry out. Guided by Rev. Nancy, Sandy Patterson, Lindsey Harrington, and their teachers, the children have devoted themselves each Sunday to better understanding the joyful message of God’s love for the world. As a part of each lesson, the children have had fun creating crafts linked to each week’s Bible theme.

The worship service was filled with favorite childhood hymns that hold a special place for all. The prelude and postlude were brilliantly played by Liam Donovan and Brady Halt Harcourt. Bible readings were delivered by Brady, Xochitl (Natty) Quezada-Grant, and Teddy Brosnihan. Following the readings, special pins were awarded to each of our Sunday School students. Our three faithful acolytes, Katie Evans, Natty, and Teddy were recognized for their service each Sunday, and our teachers were each given a beautiful and colorful daisy plant.

Graduating seniors Leah Dieterich and Logan Sartrys received shawls lovingly knitted by members of our Prayer Shawl Ministry to take with them to college. Seniors Elsa White and Julia Allen also received shawls.

The sermon, delivered by Rev. Nancy, was filled with stories and the optimism of new beginnings in God’s great Creation. Following the service, the Christian Education Committee hosted the All-Church Picnic. The grill was ably manned by Ron Gamon and Paul Temple. The tables were filled. And everyone enjoyed the spread of summer favorites, topped off by cake.

Many hands make light work

Sunny skies . . . a fresh breeze . . . flowers blooming! What’s not to like? Saturday, June 8 was Spring Clean Up Day at FCC Bristol. Some 11 stalwart landscapers tackled the pruning and weeding that are needed periodically to keep our church grounds looking their best. Fortunately, we are blessed to have members with some great gardening, arborist, and clean-up skills.

Many thanks to Sandy and Charlie, Roger and Donna, Jim S., Ron G., John T., Marina and Paul, Karen and Caroline. It didn’t take nearly as long as we thought it would. We had fun working together. And it looked pretty nice when we were done. A good day’s work.


Since Pentecost is celebrated as the day when the Holy Spirit descended upon Christ’s disciples, it was the right day to launch FCC Bristol’s new 350 Fund. The vision for the 350 Fund is that it enables FCC members to grow in caring for God’s world by expanding mission outreach and raising $350,000 toward the restoration of our sanctuary by FCC Bristol’s 350th Anniversary in 2030.

The excitement and ideas generated during the two congregational gatherings this spring are beginning to generate real action. The July 4th Float Project is moving forward, pledges and donations are starting to come in, strategic planning for the full six-year 350 Fund campaign of mission and sanctuary restoration has begun.

  • The 350 Fund was officially launched on Pentecost Sunday, May 19, 2024, with a vision of building community in Bristol through expanded collaborative mission projects and raising $350,000 by 2030 to restore the sanctuary as a meeting place for all.
  • Already, pledges have been received totaling 8.9% ($31,000) of the $350,000 goal. Two donations have already been received totaling $1,350. All pledges can be paid over 4 years or earlier, as desired.
  • On the day of its announcement, the July 4th Float Project received the services of an architect who is a church member and who is experienced in designing floats. And we have located a flatbed trailer that we think will be donated for our use on July 4, 2025.
  • FCC will also be providing free bottles of water and bathroom use, and other drinks for sale during the July 4th parade.
  • Responses regarding which 350 FUND projects church members are interested in joining have started to come in. The form for indicating interest in various projects is located on the backside of the 5/19/2024 350 Fund solicitation letter. Here’s the project form again. Feel free to respond by email or hard copy to Caroline or to the office:

NAME ___________________________________

[ ] Musical events [ ] Selling citrus, coffee or other

[ ] 20 Week Club [ ] Turkey Dinner

[ ] Antiques “Roadshow” Appraisal [ ] Celebrity Auction

[ ] Medical Educ. & Access [ ] Walkathon

[ ] Babysitting/Mowing [ ] July 4th Church Float

[ ] Every Sunday Breakfast [ ] “Art on the Fence”

Or share an idea you might have: ________________________________________________

If you have not yet submitted your completed 350 Fund pledge card and project form, we encourage you to think about how your participation in one or more of the projects or pledge of a financial gift can contribute to building a stronger Bristol community and change lives, including your life, for the better. The 350 Fund celebrates the key role that FCC Bristol has played in the Bristol community over the past centuries. But even more, it celebrates how the members of FCC Bristol hope and dream and commit to making the lives of our neighbors and our own lives better in the coming years. Thank you.

More New Members!

We are so happy! The Bailey family, who have been attending FCC Bristol for over a year, finally learned that they will be able to stay in the Bristol area. That was what they needed to know. This past Sunday, Shawn and Carolina and their daughters Bronwyn and Tekla officially joined the church. Their eldest daughter Sophia is in New York pursuing a law degree.

The Baileys became official members of the church during morning worship. Rev. Soukup asked all Deacons, both currently and past serving, to come up to the chancel to join the Bailey family in carrying out the Welcoming ceremony. It made quite an impressive group. The Minister, the Bailey family, all of the Deacons and the congregation joined in declaring their promises to one another, using the words of the 1629 Salem Church Covenant:

We covenant with the Lord and with one another and do bind ourselves in the presence of God, to walk together in all the ways that are revealed to us by God, as the Word is made known to us. Amen.

Pentecost Spirit launches FCC’s 350 FUND

Pentecost Sunday, May 19, 2024, marked not only the celebration of the birthday of the church, when the Spirit of the Lord descended in wind and fire upon the followers of Jesus Christ. It also marked the launch of FCC’s new 350 FUND campaign, a six-year effort to better serve Bristol’s wider community through collaborative mission programming and the restoration of the sanctuary as a meeting place for all. Pentecost was described in the book of Acts as a day declared by God when “your sons and your daughters shall … see visions, and your old ones shall dream dreams.” And since we at FCC Bristol have been “dreaming dreams” about our future, Pentecost seemed like the perfect date to celebrate our new plans.

This spring, members of the congregation have been exploring how our church could live into our mission of serving others and expand the number and ways we were able to help people, by seeking out partnerships with other community organizations to provide spaces for needed services, or by starting new service projects run by our own church members. We also explored ways in which we could build on already existing uses for our buildings, and to explore new ones. We discovered that expanding our missions and making better use of our historic buildings held the potential for revitalizing our church and making a real difference in the lives of those around us.

The 350 FUND seeks to inaugurate new mission projects and to raise $350,000 by FCC Bristol’s 350th Anniversary in 2030 to fund the new initiatives as well as the repair and painting of the sanctuary for expanded public use. Caroline Jacobus, chair of the 350 FUND campaign, displayed our campaign fundraising tracker with the help of Chuck Ramos. Even before the official launch, almost 10% of the total goal has been pledged.

Jim Sapp, Chair of the Facilities Committee, described one of our new projects — the building of a large, light-weight model of the 1856 FCC Bristol stone church as a float for the July 4th Parade in 2025. This float will be designed so that it can be easily reassembled every year. Both parishioners and interested members of the wider community are invited to join the team. Whether you already have construction or painting skills, or want to learn a few, you are invited.

The Rev. Dr. Nancy Soukup blessed a second exterior sign, inviting everyone to join with us in our efforts to build and strengthen the wider Bristol community. This sign was hung by the congregation as one of our first acts of outreach. We have plans to reach out in other ways to learn from others what the current needs of the community are and how we might be able to help meet them.

Join us. Together we can make a difference for the entire Bristol community. That is FCC Bristol’s dream. Come help make that dream a reality.

To learn more about the 350 FUND, go here.

New members join our family

Sunday, May 5, 2024 was a special day for FCCBristol. It marked the day when Susan and Glenn Donovan and Sue and Tony Morettini officially joined our family. Both couples have been joyfully serving since Day 1, six months ago, as talented members of our church choir. The Rev. Dr. Nancy H. Soukup and members of the Board of Deacons Doug Harrington, Grace Steere, Katherine Harcourt, Chuck Ramos and Jen Johnson officiated.

The Donovans are joining their son Glenn and his wife Erin, along with grandchildren Ellie, Liam and Grace, who have been active members of the congregation since 2017. We are so happy to have these loving and caring people as members of our church family.

FCC Members go to Disney World, singing with HS Choir

Over this past Spring vacation, several members of our FCC Bristol family flew down to Disney World as part of the Mount Hope High School Chorus presentation. Ellie Donovan, Avery Walsh, Nattie Grant and Kara Pisasole sang in the high school choral group while Lindsey Walsh, Erin Donovan and Grace Donovan went along for the ride.

Nattie is second from the left in the first row. See if you can pick out the other girls from the church.

Lindsey said that listening to the chorus and their beautiful voices was the highlight of the trip for her, followed by some amazing rides, perfect weather, magical nighttime shows and delicious food.  Sounds like it was a lot of fun. Just the way to start Spring!

Capital Campaign Progress and Next Steps

On Sunday, April 7, 2024, the Chair of the Capital Campaign to raise funding for the preservation of the Sanctuary, Caroline Jacobus, provided the following report and invitation to the congregation:

A few Sundays ago, on what Rev. Soukup called “Mothering Sunday” – we were all asked to think back to what each of us considered to be our “first” church, the church in which we grew from a toddler to a child, perhaps from a child to a teenager, the church where we first heard the stories about Jesus and God’s plan for His people. I would ask you to remember more – to remember what you did within those church walls and classrooms and sanctuaries. I remember making little plaster figurines at Christmas time for my own personal creche. That was 3rd grade in Sunday School. Do you remember hearing the stories in Sunday School about how angry God was because of his disappointment with the Israelites, but then His forgiving them. That was a helpful message in my childhood. I remember Youth Fellowship meetings and parties, ski trips and even plays we used to put on. Lots of fun. That’s how I met my husband. But I remember other things – the visiting pastor from Africa who stayed with our church, the annual musical that our parents wrote and put on as a fundraiser to pay for needed community services, the challenging issues we, as teenagers, were asked to consider. YOU remember other activities from YOUR early church years. Most of them took place within the walls of the church. At FCC Bristol, we gather in this building not only to hear God’s message on Sundays, but to make music at Saturday night Coffee Houses, to show films, to share our lives with each other at Fellowship Hour or potlucks, to raise funding through Craft Fairs, Bazaars, Cookie Walks. All of these experiences take place because we, the people who ARE this church, have a HOME, a place to make things happen. We have these walls – these windows. Even this ceiling with its flakey paint.

As a relative newcomer to FCC Bristol, I can honestly say that I am a bit in awe of all of you. Numbering over 100 parishioners, you not only carry out all of these activities and events each year, each month and each week. But when the need arises – when rotten sills are discovered, when the 2-foot thick stone walls slowly sink and the plaster cracks, or the massive sanctuary windows dry out with age and the glass panes start falling out, you raise your hands, roll up your sleeves, dig into your pockets, create your Action Plan, and get the job done. In the early 2000s, major structural deterioration of the sanctuary foundations and other major building challenges jump-started a $1.2M effort to keep the church from falling down. You built new foundations and a new basement, repaired the bell tower, roofs, gutters, plumbing, repaired the DeWolf Room acoustics, put in new landscaping, made upgrades to the Wardwell Room and the Sunday School wing, upgraded electrics and so much more, both at the church and the Guiteras House. In 2019, the Narthex project raised an additional $20,000 to make repairs to the tile flooring, plumbing, plaster, and painting, and to add beautiful new lighting fixtures. In 2021, we launched the Capital Campaign to preserve the windows in the sanctuary. Since then, the church – led by our Facilities Committee, has tackled repairs and replacements of the Sunday School and Guiteras roofs, new audio-video systems, electronic and plumbing upgrades, and the creation of the rental unit on the second floor of the Guiteras House which is currently bringing in monthly long-term income.

I am here this morning to report on the progress of the most recent Capital Campaign, focusing on the preservation of the Sanctuary windows. Starting in 2021, the church has raised funding totaling $147,400, primarily through pledges and grants, and contracted with New Outlook Historic Window Restoration, to cover the cost of preserving the windows on the South facade of the sanctuary. These were by far the most damaged windows. These windows are now back to their original state, including the ability to be opened! With these restorations, including tight-fitting etched glass panes, we will no longer have uninvited winter breezes blowing into the building. This should lower our heating costs in addition to looking beautiful.

Today I am not only reporting on what has been accomplished in our most recent capital effort, but the Church Council, the Sanctuary Construction Committee and the Capital Campaign Committee want to hear from you what you think the next steps should be. We would like you to freely share your views on what you believe the church’s priorities should be and what you want from the church. This moment is a particularly auspicious one for our church, because in 6 years FCC Bristol will be celebrating its 350th anniversary, just as the Town of Bristol will be celebrating its 350th anniversary – since the town’s founding in 1680 was only made possible because of the founding of FCC Bristol. We hope that our church – and our sanctuary – will be playing a major role in these municipal celebrations. We will be playing our part, as we have throughout the past 350 years, fulfilling our mission to the wider community. Toward this end, the Council, Sanctuary Construction Committee and Capital Campaign Committee are inviting everyone to two congregational gatherings. The first will be next Saturday morning, April 13, in the DeWolf Room from 10:00am to 12:30pm and the second will be Saturday morning, May 4, from 10:00am- 12:00noon. These will provide an opportunity for you to share your views on what about FCC is important to you, what new missions may be needed, and what the next steps should be. Refreshments will be provided. We’ll be sending out a MailChimp reminder. If you aren’t sure if the Church Office has your email address, would you see me after church so that I can get your best email address. Thank you.

Come to Two Congregational Gatherings

You are invited to two Congregational Gatherings on Saturday, April 13, 2024 from 10:00am – 12:30pm and Saturday, May 4, 2024 from 10:00am – 12:00 noon to discuss future priorities for FCC Bristol.

The Church Council, Capital Campaign Committee and Sanctuary Construction Committee invite the full congregation and all friends of FCC Bristol to come together in the DeWolf Room on two Saturday mornings this spring to share your views on what about FCC is important to you and what the next steps should be.

We would like you to freely share your views on what you believe the church’s priorities should be, what dreams you have for FCC and what you want from the church. This moment is particularly auspicious because in 6 years FCC Bristol will be celebrating its 350th Anniversary, just as the Town of Bristol will be celebrating its 350th anniversary.  FCC is Bristol’s “founding church.”  Back in 1680, it was required that a house of worship exist before a municipality could be established.
If you can’t make the 4/13 meeting, don’t worry.  We’ll catch you up on 5/4 on what was decided at the earlier meeting and move forward. If you are unable to attend either meeting, please feel free to Email your thoughts to the committee via Caroline Jacobus here.
Questions?  Email Caroline Jacobus here.