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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org