Penelope’s Baptism

Penelope Layne Pires, daughter of Dylan Pires and Trisha Rapoza of Newport, RI, was baptized into the congregational family of First Congregational Church in Bristol on Sunday, June 12, 2022. Pastor Deborah Tate Breault performed the sacrament followed by a march of welcome with Penelope in her arms through the aisles of the sanctuary as the congregation sang the hymn “Child of Blessing, Child of Promise.” The first verse goes:

Child of blessing, child of promise, baptized with the Spirit’s sign;

With this water God has sealed you unto love and grace divine.

Welcome to our family, Penelope, Trisha, Dylan and your extended family.

Fun on FCC Clean-Up Day

Church members who showed up to help clean up the church building and grounds on Saturday, June 18 had a good time. Working with friends and making big improvements felt great and made a big difference in how our church looks for both members and passers-by in the community.

Members of the Facilities Committee tackled the painting of all of the Gothic-arched sets of double doors leading into the Narthex and into the DeWolf Chapel. That’s a lot of molding! They also painted the new bulkhead doors leading into the basement below the sanctuary.

A second group worked on weeding and cutting back shrubs and overgrown trees. They say that all that bending, pulling and stretching will keep us limber. Maybe. But it certainly made for a lot of fun with friends.

A third group worked in the kitchen pantry, sorting it all out to make it easier for volunteers to set up the many fellowship events sponsored by the church.

Many hands make light work. And good friends.

Tongues of Flame, Children’s Sunday & a Church Picnic

On June 5 FCC Bristol celebrated Pentecost, the “birthday” of the Christian church, the anniversary of the day when tongues of flame came down from Heaven and filled Christ’s disciples with the Holy Spirit. This enabled them to speak in all of the many languages of the world at that time to tell the Good News of Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection. We recreated the flames and a great babel of languages and then gave thanks on this Children’s Sunday with a joyful end-of-year recognition of the children and teachers of our Sunday School program. The Sunday School at FCC Bristol was started in 1816 as the first religious programming for children in Bristol.

Following Sunday worship, the congregation spilled out onto the courtyard lawn for the All-Church Picnic — along with some Birthday cake, of course! Hosted by the Christian Education Committee, with Paul Temple at the grill and Lindsey Walsh making sure that everything ran smoothly, a great time was had by all.

Dedication of Sowams Heritage Area Historic Marker

The front lawn of the First Congregational Church in Bristol was filled with parishioners after the Palm Sunday service on April 10. The long-awaited dedication of the Sowams Heritage Area historic marker, erected in front of the church, brought out members of all ages on a lovely, sunny spring day.

Dr. David Weed, representing the Sowams Heritage Area organization, thanked the church for welcoming the installation of the historic marker on its property. He described the role of the project in the creation of 53 markers all around Rhode Island and Massachusetts, stretching from Providence down to Bristol and east as far as Swansea. These markers trace different aspects of the history of the Pokanoket indigenous people who lived in the Sowams area for thousands of years before Europeans came to the Narragansett shores, as well as the first steps of the 17th century colonial occupation.

You’ll find a web page from the marker installation event at https://sowamsheritagearea.org/wp/early-bristol-marker-placed-at-the-1st-congregational-church/

It includes a link to an eight-minute video at https://youtu.be/sd1vx_ylHjc

We’ll miss you, Bette-Ann

On Sunday, March 27th at the Fellowship Hour following worship, the congregation took the opportunity to celebrate our dear friend, Bette-Ann Kile who has been a member of First Congregational Church for so many decades that no one can keep count! She has worn so many hats over the years and given so much to the church family. Thank you for all your loving service, Bette-Ann. We know you will be in good hands as you move to Pennsylvania to be closer to your family. But we will sure miss you! Stay safe and come back to visit us often.

FCC Celebrates Pastor Hilary’s Installation

Members of FCC Bristol drove out to central Connecticut on Sunday, March 13 to celebrate the Installation of the Rev. Hilary McClellan as the primary pastor of the joint churches Higganum Congregational Church and The First Congregational Church of Haddam, members of the United Church of Christ. The Rev. Mary Aberg and Susan Brosnihan participated in the service. Lenny Aberg, Anne Archibald, Teddy Brosnihan, Donna and Roger Dubord, Caroline Jacobus, and Anne Roussel joined with a packed sanctuary in Higganum, CT, in worship and the installation of Pastor Hilary, followed by a splendid luncheon. Three of Hilary’s children — Max, Oliver, and Athena — were among the congregation, as were friends from Maine, parishioners of both Connecticut Valley churches, representatives from the Southern New England Conference of the UCC, and a joint choir that filled the sanctuary with joyful song. Susan and Anne thoughtfully brought our FCC Bristol “Angel” Banner, as you can see in the photo. This was a celebration that filled the sanctuary with love and gratitude for the many blessings and talents Pastor Hilary has brought to many congregations throughout the years of her ministry.

If you would like to send your congratulations to Pastor Hilary, she can be reached through the Church Office at fcchaddam@gmail.com

Ash Wednesday Labyrinth

Members of the congregation arrived throughout the day on March 2 to receive the ashes and prayers from the Rev. Deborah Tate Breault and to walk the colorful labyrinth laid out on the floor of the DeWolf Chapel. Walking the labyrinth provides an organized opportunity for reflection and meditation as the Lenten Season begins.

Pastor Deborah provided the contemplative musical accompaniment by playing the frame drum, a personal spiritual practice to which she has devoted years of commitment. In previous years she was a member of the “Mob of Angels,” an original women’s frame drum group led by master drummer Layne Redmond in New York City in the 1990s.

FCC Food Fest was a great success!

As the last bag of yummy pasta dinners was carried out the DeWolf Room door on Saturday, February 19, the second year of FCC’s Food Fest came to a close. This new fundraiser was dreamed up as a COVID-safe alternative to our church’s traditional Harvest Moon Bazaar. Our dearest hope is that we will be able to hold our popular Bazaar when November 2022 rolls around. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.

Everyone involved in the 4 Food Fest take-out dinner events had fun. Fortunately they are all pretty good cooks, too. Many thanks to Chris Johnson, our FCC Chef Extraordinaire! Thanks to Jen Johnson and Ruth Fisher who chaired and organized all the events, including the Mini-Bazaar, Bake Sale and Holiday Arrangements. For all our cooks, workers, crafters, bakers, and floral arrangers — Many thanks for the long hours, the delicious food, the beautiful gifts and inventive holiday decorations: Chris & Jen Johnson, Ruth Fisher, Sug Grant, Sally & Bob Evans, Caroline & Robert Jacobus, Charlotte Burnham, and Sandie Campbell.

Becoming More Deeply Rooted Through Our Stewardship Pledge

We are each like the tree that is rooted by the stream. We yearn for the water and reach out to it. We grow when we take into ourselves the nourishment of God’s love and mercy. We are, each one of us, rooted in this complex ecosystem of faith that is our community at FCC-Bristol. Out of this ecosystem, we take for ourselves, when we are in need. And we give to others, when we have what others need.

Whether through Sunday School or worship, through Fellowship events or the everyday path of neighbor helping neighbor, through the Prayer Shawl Ministry, Ecumenical Meals, the Dolphin Ministry, the Coffeehouse, and more, FCC-Bristol has played a central role in the lives of its member families and the wider community. How then do we respond to the central value that we place on our church? How do we recognize how rooted we all are in the life and love of this church? Through our pledges of time, talent and treasure.

In loving response to all that the church means in your life and in the life of your family, we ask you to prayerfully make a pledge toward the church’s 2022 budget that roots you deeper into the love of God and God’s mission in our world. Please bring your pledge card to church or get it to the Church Office at any time.

Thank you.

Your Stewardship Committee

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service

Candles flickering, banks of red poinsettias, lighted garlands tied with bright red bows swooping along the balcony wainscoting, the pews filled with friends and families — all listening to a Bach prelude as everyone waited for the “Nine Lessons and Carols” service to begin.

The Christ Candle was lighted by the Evans family, and with the reading of the Prophecy from Isaiah and the singing of the first Carol, the retelling of the birth of the Christ Child began. In a tradition that began in 1926 at King’s College Chapel at Cambridge University in England, nine scripture readings alternating with nine carols once again told the hopeful story of the Birth Foretold, Mary and Elizabeth, the Birth of Jesus, the Shepherds and Angels, the Visit of the Wise Men, the Word Become Flesh, the final Declaration and Christmas Blessing by Rev. Breault, and the Closing Carol of Joy.

We wish you all a Joyful Christmas and a Healthy and Happy New Year!