93rd Harvest Moon Bazaar — Best Ever!

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!

With Thanks to our Acolytes

“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.

Windows Preservation Moves Forward

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.

Donate here

October 30 Stewardship Service Brings Guests — Scary & Inspiring

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.

That was really fun . . .

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.

Visit to Windows Preservation Studio

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.

Donate here

Rally Day 2022 — Filled with Rainbows

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.

Sanctuary Windows Preservation Begins!

After months of careful preparation, our Sanctuary windows preservation project is off to an exciting start. On Friday, August 12, a team of professionals from New Outlook Historic Window Restoration and Preservation firm began Phase 1 by removing the 10 sashes that make up the two windows on the South facade of the sanctuary closest to the DeWolf Chapel doorway. These were taken to the New Outlook studio in Swansea where they will be painstakingly preserved. As their CEO Bill Letoile stated, the first windows in any project constitute a learning phases, when his workers discover the particular quirks of this building. Along the way, they learned that certain sashes were held in by 3 inch screws, hidden by the paint. They also learned that:

The window’s wooden frame is in relatively good shape, i.e. not rotten.

There was no damage done during sash removal.

We lost no glass window panes.

Some of the sashes can be opened and some are fixed.

The windows that were removed represent 2 of the 7 windows on the South facade (Phase 1). In addition, there are 8 windows to be repaired on the North facade of the sanctuary (Phase2) and 9 windows — smaller — to be repaired on the West facade facing High Street (Phase 3). The total cost of the Sanctuary Windows Preservation project is $321,915. To date, we have raised or identified funding totaling $210,000. We are grateful to the families and friends of FCCBristol who have pledged toward the windows preservation project. Our stewardship of this historic building enables our congregation to welcome our Bristol community and members of the wider community into our family to carry out God’s mission of love.

We need your help to finish this project

We still have $111,915 to raise to complete the preservation of our sanctuary windows. Please consider all of the work that our church family undertakes to care for its members and for the wider community — and the role that our church building plays in carrying out that work: the weekly worship, weddings, baptisms, funerals, fellowship events, teaching and other activities by church members that take place in the sanctuary. And please make a donation. A pledge or gift of any size will be gratefully received. We are offering the option of having a personalized memorial plaque installed at the base of any sanctuary window for a donation of $7,500. All gifts toward this project can be paid over a 3-year period.

Donate here

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.