FCC Bristol launched a Capital Campaign on July 1 to raise substantial funding toward the restoration of the Gothic windows and the repair and painting of the plaster in the sanctuary. We invite every member and visitor to our church to make a pledge toward the restoration of our sanctuary — the beating heart of our church family. While our progress to date has been inspiring, we still have a long way to go.
In addition to the pledge commitments made by some members of the congregation and funding drawn from Endowment Fund earnings, a $10,000 grant award from the Felicia Fund, a family fund in Providence, RI, was received. Additional grants are being submitted to Rhode Island granting entities.
Pledges of any size are welcome and all pledges can be paid in over a 3 year period. If you have not yet made your pledge, we urge you to consider doing so. Our commitment to restoring our sanctuary will provide a more welcoming message to visitors and members alike and help keep our sanctuary at the center of our spiritual growth and fellowship. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Caroline Jacobus, Chair of Stewardship.
On Sunday, September 12, FCC held its intergenerational worship service welcoming all its children, families, and members to celebrate the kick-off of our FCC Sunday School Year! Balloons were flying over every pew, rainbow-colored frogs (more on that, below) were peaking out from the balcony, the pulpit, and every other hiding place as our students, teachers and members of the Christian Education Committee were commissioned to carry out the church school ministry with love, respect and a commitment to nurture our children and to seek Christ’s way of peace and justice for all. The Children’s Sermon focused on F.R.O.G. — “Fully rely on God” — as a way of meeting life’s challenges and encouraged the children to find as many of the frogs hiding in the sanctuary as they could. The service also included a commemoration of 9/11 and a sermon on the building blocks of the Christian Community, including among others: Love, Prayer, Courage, Jesus, and Awe. The service was followed by an an All-Church Picnic on the front lawn under sunny skies.
Since the first days of the evacuation of at-risk Afghan families and Americans in August to Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily, Italy, the Board of Deacons at FCC Bristol and members of the congregation have responded to the humanitarian needs of these refugees with donations of more than $1,600 toward the provision of personal and sanitary items. In doing so, they have sought to fulfill one of the important missions of our Christian faith and therefore of our church community to reach out and assist those whose lives have been upended by war, terrorism, and displacement. Deacons wish to thank all those who have contributed to this mission, which has now been closed.
Throughout these weeks, we have been working with volunteers to Operation Allies Refuge to help the thousands of refugees arriving at the Naval base in Sicily. We were fortunate to be able to work through the daughter of one of our Deacons, whose husband is stationed at NAS Sigonella, serving as a Navy Seabee. Members of military families in conjunction with the U.S.O. were volunteering their time, money, and energy to collect and purchase items needed by the evacuees.
Just as the light began to fade in the sky last Saturday, we carried out the huge film screen and set it up on the lawn, followed by the chairs and the popcorn machine — which Susan Brosnihan lovingly cleaned and restored. We don’t often get the chance to see a film out in the open air — And with so many of good friends.
Then Bob Evans started the Looney Tunes cartoons and we were on our way! Bugs Bunny. Daffy Duck. Porky Pig. Elmer Fudd. Tweety. Sylvester. Wile E. Coyote. Bringing back memories for the oldsters among us. Before long, it was time for the feature film, which few of us, young or old, had ever seen and didn’t know what to expect: “Upside Down.” This is a fascinating film for all ages. By following the life of little Riley as she grows from a newborn to a toddler and a little girl, it explores how our emotions, memories, dreams, relationships, and lived experience form our personality and our ability to handle all the challenges that life throws at us. Heavy stuff, you say? This film uses bright, dynamic, zany and comic cartoon characters — Joy, Sadness, Anger and other emotions, to dramatize the inner life of this little girl and all of the other players in her life, showing both the sources of strength and weakness that interplay within each of us as we move through our lives. Most powerful for Riley were the loving relationships she and her parents had formed, helping her survive some of life’s most traumatic experiences. This is a film that can be appreciated on many levels and was definitely a big hit with the audience.
I got the chance to give Marina a big hug for the first time in 18 months. And she got the chance to ask me about my new grand-daughter. It was like that for everyone who came. The evening of August 11 found FCC members enjoying an Ice Cream Social hosted by the Christian Education Team. The weather was perfect, every mouthful was satisfying, and sharing news with friends filled the soul.
Some years ago, members of several East Bay churches organized a program called Ecumenical Meals. This program or mission was created to supply recipients of other home delivered meal programs with meals on the weekends when their regular meal programs did not operate.
First Congregational Church in Bristol is one of three participants in this mission. We participate by creating and delivering appealing and nutritious meals four months during the year alternating with the other member churches.
We consider our participation in this mission an honor and a tangible way to put Jesus’ words into action. If you would like to join in this ministry either as a cook or a driver, please contact Lynne and Chuck Ramos at firstname.lastname@example.org or 401-253-8074.
So many of us are joyful to return to the sanctuary, able to worship together in person and catch up with the news from dear friends. But returning to the sanctuary has also put straight in front of our eyes the sad shape of our worship space – the major cracks in the plaster at just about every window that resulted when the old and sagging foundations were jacked back up in 2011, and also the dull and flaking paint on walls and ceiling, and the missing window putty and deteriorating Gothic windows.
The Facilities Committee has advised us that these repairs cannot be put off any longer. So we have launched the 2021 Capital Campaign to raise the funds for these two projects. The target goal being requested from the whole congregation in the form of pledges is $80,000. This represents 20% of the total cost of $385,000 for the two projects, as determined by quotes from experienced contractors.
The FCC Bristol congregation has a long history of devoted commitment to maintaining the campus of our church, most recently by raising $1.2Million in 2010-2014 toward restoring the foundations and many other systems in the church and Guiteras House. In 2019, you again generously supported the restoration of the Narthex at a cost of $20,000. Thank you.
You will soon receive a request and pledge card in the mail for the 2021 Capital Campaign. A donation of any size is welcome and can be paid over 3 years or sooner, as you wish. You can contribute a dollar amount or make a gift of stocks, bonds, or other assets. We are also making available the opportunity to use the restoration of each of the 10 Gothic windows as a way for church families to commemorate or memorialize a loved one: by funding the restoration of one window at a cost of $7,500 (or $2,500 in each of 3 years) you can have a permanent memorial plaque affixed to the sill of the window of your choice.
We already have pledges from the congregation of more than $40,000 and have received a grant award of $10,000 from the Felicia Fund. Other grants are being pursued. $60,000 has been identified by our Treasurer from Endowment Fund earnings for these projects.
We have all been touched in life-affirming ways in our sanctuary. And we each have a stake in ensuring that our sanctuary is repaired and made strong for the future. We ask you to prayerfully consider the value of our church sanctuary in your life and in the life of the Bristol community and to make a pledge toward the 2021 Capital Campaign. We are grateful for all you have contributed to the church over the years and will be grateful for a donation of any size to help meet our current capital needs.
June 13, 2021 was “Graduation Sunday” at FCC Bristol. The in-person congregation and live-stream viewers celebrated this milestone in the lives of our five high school graduates: Ella Drawbridge, Zoe Fournier-Swire, Mikey McGowan-Roach, Alyssa Wheeler, and Erica Wheeler.
Rev. Deborah invited those present to step up to the chancel to receive the congratulations of the congregation along with gifts of shawls that had been hand-knitted and blessed by the members of the Prayer Shawl Ministry. Present to receive their good wishes and shawls were Zoe Fournier-Swire and Mikey McGowan-Roach. Jen Johnson, Adria Sartrys and Ruth Fisher presented the gifts from the Prayer Shawl Ministry.
Erika Wheeler was the valedictorian of the Mt. Hope High School graduating class. Several of the other FCC Bristol graduating seniors were among the highest academic achievers in the class.
Congratulations to each of these young women as their achievements are recognized and they move on to the new challenges and rewards in their lives.
After after 15 months and much work by the Reopening Committee to keep everyone safe, FCC Bristol’s doors opened up on Sunday June 6th and we were able to come back together in person. It was a joy to just be able hear the liturgist read the scripture lesson, to listen to the minister’s sermon, and to hear friends voices and catch up on the news – in person, even if we were all still wearing masks and social distancing, in an effort to safeguard any who may not have yet been able to be vaccinated or who were concerned about COVID-19 variants.
It brought back to mind the old children’s rhyme:
Here is the church.
Here is the steeple.
Open the doors
And see all the people.
Live-stream services, available through the website home page, will continue to be offered every Sunday to anyone who wishes to join the service from home.
High Street passersby at FCC Bristol on the afternoon of Saturday, June 5th saw children of all ages racing around the front lawn, passing through the obstacle course (including a challenging water barrier!) laid out by Susan Brosnihan, chalking up the sidewalks with artwork (I’m looking at you, Natty), practicing their baseball swing, tossing bean bags to win corn hole points, and other outdoor games. The tantalizing smell of grilling hot dogs and other yummy refreshments drifted across the lawn. The laughter and screeches of children and adults filled the air. It was an exciting start to summer on a lovely, sunny day.