Thanks to our hardworking Deacons, the Seniors at FCC Bristol again enjoyed their Valentine’s Day Luncheon after a multi-year COVID hiatus. Favored with a bright, sunny day, the occasion brought many hugs and kisses for friends who had not been seen for a while, as well as for friends seen every Sunday. Travelers from Portsmouth’s Atria senior community, including Anne Archibald, Charlotte Griffith, and Grace and Bob Wilson were warmly welcomed. The presence of others who have been kept away due to health issues was deeply appreciated. Many thanks to all the Deacons and especially to Bob Evans who took care of the catering arrangements and Grace Steere who handled the lovely (and tasty) decorations. Everyone enjoyed the high-paced news-sharing and the delicious food. Lots of laughter and exclamations. It feels good to break bread with dearly-loved friends.
Is it the energy of Spring beginning to percolate or, perhaps, a response to the long months of COVID “quiet” that is inspiring our Deacons and church members to look to “doing” new things?
On Friday, February 10, 2023, more than 30 parishioners gathered for a Potluck supper and a brainstorming session, gathering ideas about the future of the church. Led by Deacon Bob Evans, each table was given a huge sheet of paper and encouraged to list out any and all ideas they had, regardless of cost. Some ideas were big — like building new space for new activities. Some ideas were smaller — like creating a new brochure for the church or getting names tags. Other ideas lay somewhere in between, like hiring new staff or rolling out a community Music program, or expanding our hands-on Mission projects to better meet the needs of the wider community.
All the sheets of paper were hung up on the DeWolf Chapel stage and everyone attending the worship service on Sunday got the chance to look over the many ideas that were offered. These will be organized and made available to all. Future meetings are planned to discuss our options and prioritize which ones to focus on, which ones seem most “do-able” in the near-term and which ones need more planning for the future. You will be hearing more about this in the weeks to come.
During the December 18, 2022 worship service, the children of the congregation presented a “new” Christmas Pageant story. We are used to seeing the annual reenactment of the journey to Bethlehem, the birth of the Christ Child, and the worshipful gathering of the shepherds and the three Wise Men. This year the children, guided by Bob Evans, presented a “play within a play,” which told the story of one youthful actor’s search for the real meaning of Christmas and how he found it at a Christmas pageant rehearsal. A reluctant young man takes on the role of Joseph to help out a youth group rehearsing their Christmas presentation. And in the process, he comes to understand God’s gift of life, love and happiness — offered to everyone in the form of God’s Son Jesus Christ who came to remove our sins so that we could more lovingly live life on earth and one day join God in Heaven.
During our February 12, 2022 worship service, the FCC congregation welcomed two new members, Janine Beausoleil and Eleanor Ingraham. The Rev. Jack Jones, serving in place of the Rev. Deborah Tate Breault who was on leave, carried out the receiving of members through Affirmation of Baptism. Ellie and Janine have been attending services at FCC for many months and have become much appreciated and beloved friends. They, along with their colleague Cliff Gustafson, frequently serve as Greeters in the Narthex, offering a hand of greeting and handing out the bulletin for the worship service. They received an ovation from the congregation upon becoming members. Welcome, Janine and Eleanor.
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!
“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.
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.
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.
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.