We had a bunch of fun!

February 21 was the day of FCC Bristol’s annual Senior Luncheon, hosted by the Deacons Committee. More than 40 senior members and friends of the congregation gathered at noon to catch up, share stories, give thanks and enjoy a delicious meal provided by CP’s Catering of Bristol.

Everyone was especially happy to see our dear friend Sue, whose unexpected presence made everyone grateful. Another member whom we were so glad to see was Mike. Our members from the “Atria Aquidneck contingent” — Anne, Charlotte, Grace and Bob — were also mobbed with friends who wanted to hear their latest news and just spend some time with them. They follow us on-line each Sunday with our live-stream services, but we wish we could visit with them in person more often.

Many thanks to the Deacons for all their loving efforts to plan this fun fellowship event. We are grateful for any time we can get together — an even more so when there is yummy food provided.

Groundhog Band Celebrates 30th Birthday with Joyful Noise

February 4th was FCC Bristol’s 30th Annual Groundhog Day Celebration. Masterfully conducted by our own Maestro, H. Bennett Burnham, 20 musicians led the congregation in praising the Lord with a joyful song. Strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion — accompanied by Director of Music Nikita Sabinski — were played by members and friends of the congregation, ranging in age from at least aged 9 to some in their 80s.

The words of Psalm 92 were proclaimed: “O LORD . . . at the works of your hands I sing for joy” and the musicians raised their instruments. And the gathered worshipers raised their voices. And the old, rousing favorites rang out through the sanctuary: ”Lord, I Want to Be a Christian,” “Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken,” “Holy, Holy, Holy,” “My Faith Looks Up to Thee,” “America the Beautiful,” “Joyful, Joyful,” culminating in a hand-clapping rendition of “O When the Saints Go Marching In.”

Worship closed with the Prayer of Dedication which challenged us all: ”Help us to see and appreciate the diversity, beauty and transformative powers of all music and the arts as they lift our spirits and send us on our way rejoicing.”

Bringing the Light to Christmas Eve

This year, the Christmas Eve worship service filled hearts with the light of the coming celebration of the birth of the Messiah. The congregation shared in the singing of the old Christmas carols.

The Rev. Dr. Nancy Soukup told the children the story of the shepherd Hannah, with her trusted sheepdog Gideon, who saw the stars in the sky that led Hannah and the other shepherds to the manger where the new Messiah had been born. Meanwhile, back in the fields, Gideon, the rest of the sheep, and Shadow the Wolf, had their own Christmas enlightenment, learning to listen to each other and better understand what each cherished. 

After sharing Communion, Cara Massey sang a solo “O Holy Night” in the darkened sanctuary as the Deacons lighted each parishioner’s candle, bringing the light of Christmas into the world. After the congregation sang “Silent Night,” Rev. Soukup blessed all with wise words, urging those present to go out and carry on the work of Christmas — which was to spread the beauty of Christmas. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL.

Cookie Walk Brought Out the Elves

Cookies . . . Cookies . . . Everywhere COOKIES! On Saturday, December 16, Bristol’s Annual Cookie Walk attracted a huge clientele. Church members generously brought their hundreds and hundreds of home-baked cookies to support this fundraiser. 

And, sneaking in on the night before were a gathering of special Christmas Elves who baked and decorated cookies all night long. At least that is what I heard . . .

A Choral Christmas Gift . . . followed by Potluck

On Sunday, December 17, the children of the Church School Choir and the members of the Adult Choir joined their talents to give us a rousing choral presentation of Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit from Saint Nicholas,” better known as “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

Following this special worship service, the congregation joined in a Fellowship Potluck luncheon. Members brought delicious dishes and the Fellowship Committee and Deacons cooked up a feast which was enjoyed by everyone.

Alternative Christmas shows God’s Love

To the strains of the joyful Community String Project musicians, FCC Bristol parishioners and many members of the greater Bristol community gathered after church on Sunday, December 10 to share their love and help others through the annual Alternative Christmas event. By making donations to 8 area nonprofits either as Christmas gifts or in honor of a loved one, scores of attendees took this opportunity to support their favorite charitable causes while sending a message of love to dear ones.

All Dressed Up for Christmas

Once again the year rolls around to the joyful anticipation of Christ’s birth. The crew gathers on the first Saturday of Advent, pulling out the boxes of ornaments, garlands, bows and candles. Setting up the Christmas tree, placing evergreens and candles in each window, hanging the garlands and bows from the Choir loft and the balconies, fixing the wreaths on the doors and the memorial tablets. But, best of all, setting up the welcoming Nativity scene in the Narthex. The little lamb is the most eager and comes right up to the manger.

South Facade Windows Fully Preserved, Thanks to Many

The sanctuary windows on the south facade of the church have all been restored and installed. Check them out. They look like new!

The wood framing, which was so dry and had virtually no paint, was reinvigorated through New Outlooks’ amazing preservation process. The glass, which took quite a while to access, now fits perfectly. Each pane was custom cut to ensure the most airtight fit. We are so pleased with the “new” old windows.

We are grateful for all of the support that has been given by church members, by the Champlin Foundation, the Felicia Fund, and the Fidelity Charitable-Flanagan Fund. This support has funded the major portion of the window preservation effort. After the New Year, the Capital Campaign Committee will be planning out and starting the funding effort to complete the preservation of the sanctuary’s North and West facade windows.

94th Harvest Moon Bazaar is Huge Success!

So many people! So many crafts! So much food! So much fun! FCC Bristol’s 94th Harvest Moon Bazaar was busy all day on November 18 with people dropping in to search out holiday food and gifts.

The biggest Silent Auction ever. Vendors galore with a great diversity of products. Hats, mittens, scarves and shawls hand-knitted by the church’s Prayer Shawl Ministry. Attic Treasures donated by church members. A Bake Sale offering pies, cakes, cookies and other yummy goodies. Plants and holiday arrangements. Tea and Tarts for those with small appetites. Lobster rolls, chili, sandwiches and desserts for those with larger appetites. And last but not least, Santa and our new minister, the Rev. Dr. Nancy Hamlin Soukup were there with our trusty photographer Ron and his sidekick Bob.

See you all again at the Cookie Walk in December!

Whelks Band Performs for FCC Congregation

During morning worship, the Whelks band accompanied the First Congregational Church choir in Keith Christopher’s “Poor Wayfaring Stranger.” For the Postlude, they sang Gillian Welch’s gentle and haunting “Dear Someone.”

The Whelks are an acoustic trio hailing from Warren and Tiverton, RI, consisting of Peri DeLorenzo on fiddle, Mark Dobbyn on guitar, and Erin Lobb Mason on upright bass. They play a mix of swing, country, old time, bluegrass, Irish, folk, and their own original songs, all dressed up in glorious three part harmony.

The Whelks will be performing on November 26 at the SEMAP Event at Buzzard’s Bay Brewing, 12-4pm. You can learn more about this talented group at https://www.whelkswhelkswhelks.com/