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.
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!
On the Fourth Sunday in Advent, the children and other members of the church gave us all the precious gift of their reenactment of the Christmas Story. Directed by Susan Brosnihan and using a script created by Rhonda Waters, baby Raymond made his acting debut as Jesus in the manger, surrounded by his parents Lindsey and Doug, the choir of Angels, talented Sheep, caring Shepherds, wicked King Herod, and wise Magi. Pastor Deborah and Bob Evans narrated the timeless tale, interspersed with Christmas Carols that brought joy to everyone’s heart. The full service, including this glorious Christmas Story, can be seen here.
The Board of Deacons at First Congregational Church in Bristol was filled with joy to be able to once again sponsor an in-person Alternative Christmas Giving Event on Sunday December 5th. Representatives were present from eight organizations: The Tomorrow Fund, Heifer International, The East Bay Animal Shelter, The Matthew Patton Foundation, The East Bay Food Pantry, S.H.A.R.E., The Community String Project and R.E.S.T. Those attending the event generously donated more than $6500 as “alternate Christmas gifts” to their family and friends as a way to further the work of these organizations.
Anyone who was unable to attend this event and who wishes to make a contribution, may contact the church office at 253-7288 for more information.
What a wonderful gift was given by the children of the Sunday School during last Sunday’s Stewardship worship service. Based upon an original production written by Susan Brosnihan using this year’s UCC Stewardship theme “Rooted in Love,” all of the children presented the dramatized story of “Seed and the Stewards of the Garden.”
Incorporating the foundational setting of the Garden of Eden, sad little Seed asks for God’s help to grow. The Stewards of the Garden — Earth, Rain and Sun — are called out to answer Seed’s prayer. But the results are mixed. One of the Earth stewards seems just too busy to help out little Seed. Fortunately another of the Earth stewards is happy to give Seed all the earth needed to give Seed a healthy blanket of soil to grow in.
Now what was needed was some water. But when one of the Rain stewards came by, she had a different use for all her water. She didn’t have much water to spare, so she only gave Seed a splattering of water. Not looking too good for little Seed. Fortunately another Rain steward came by and happily gave Seed all of the pure rainwater that Seed needed. Even when all of Rain’s water was used up, Rain wasn’t worried: “There’s more where that came from. God always finds a way!”
Finally it was time for the Sun to rise, bringing the light and warmth that Seed needed to grow to the fullest potential, a beautiful tree providing shade, shelter and food for all. Firmly rooted in LOVE.
Many thanks to all of the Sunday School children for all of the hard work you put in to bring us this powerful message. And many thanks to Susan Brosnihan and the Sunday School teachers who supported the children in their loving mission.
On Sunday, November 7th, First Congregational Church celebrated All Saints Day, through a service of remembrance for eight members of the church who had passed away since January 2019. Rev. Deborah Breault lit a candle as each name was read, and this was followed by the ringing of a chime. Those members of our church family included:
Janet Gruenwald December 31, 1923 – January 24, 2019
Deborah Pratt Wiacek October 27, 1942 – August 24, 2019
Muriel C. Spence November 10, 1924 – February 17, 2019
Gladys L. Usher December 16, 1929 – September 27, 2019
Robert Bescherer May 23, 1926 – August 18, 2020
Eloise Stalk August 2, 2931 – October 7, 2020
Lester Warren Cory July 25, 1939 – April 24, 2020
Edward “Ned” Wilbur September 23, 1937 – January 25, 2021
Parishioners were then invited to light other candles in the sanctuary in memory of their own loved ones who have passed.
This special service also included a tribute to military Veterans, in anticipation of Veterans Day on November 11th. Deacons read a moving poem which honored veterans, and members of the congregation recognized all veterans who were present.
After worship last Sunday, October 31, the sun was shining, the children were dancing around the front lawn in their Halloween costumes, and everyone was enjoying the opportunity to visit and catch up, as well as the cider and donuts. The bright autumn foliage was swaying in the breeze and everyone was happy to just be together.
The start of the fall Stewardship campaign, with its focus this year on the phrase “Rooted in Love,” has brought everyone’s attention to the strong ties each of us develops through our loving church relationships. Whether through weekly worship, through Sunday School, through service on the Council, Board of Deacons, one of the church committees, Ecumenical Meals, the Coffee House, the Prayer Shawl Ministry, the Dolphin Ministry, or other ministries at FCC, every time we come together to do God’s work in the world, we are nurtured through the deepening faith that results when we are rooted in love.
On Sunday morning, October 17th, two dozen FCC members, from first graders to seniors (and even one cute puppy dog), put on their orange service vests, said a prayer of thanks, and marched off with plastic garbage bags and gloves — ready to clean up the town.
“Church Has Left the Building” has been a project of the congregation for many years. In years past, we have done both indoor and outdoor projects. We have gone into local organizations to carry out requested projects, such as visiting Franklin Court to clean up their gardens or organize their library. This year, to keep everyone safe from COVID, we focused on outdoor projects. Under bright, sunny skies, with light breezes blowing the autumn foliage, teams of parishioners went to Independence Park, Rockwell Park, the Town Common and High Street to pick up every scrap of litter and every tossed beverage container we could find. After an hour, we gathered back at the church to tell the stories of our journeys and enjoy some refreshments. One group told of a kind householder who came out to offer freshly fried apple fritters. Yum!
Showing the love of Christ to our neighbors and our neighborhood is our mission, every day of the year. “The Church Has Left the Building” is one way that we show that love. We look forward to it every year.
At a Potluck Supper on Friday, October 1, members of the congregation embarked on a journey to explore the past history of the First Congregational Church in Bristol, as a way to better focus our efforts on the present and plan for the future. FCC Bristol has played a central role in our community from its gathering in 1680. Back in the 17th c., a town could not be formed until there was a “settled pastor.” That condition was met in 1680 when Bristol’s first church was gathered. FCC was Bristol’s only church from 1680-1720. In a broad overview of the role that FCC has played in the history of our community, right up to the coming of our new pastor, Deborah Tate Breault, participants were able to better appreciate the core values of the church and its relationship to the greater community. This was followed by a small group deep dive into the strengths and “growing edges” of our most recent 5 pastorates. It also began a dialogue about how organizations deal with challenges from within and without, and what are the forward-looking intentions of the church family. We are planning a greater exploration of these central issues at future “Telling Our Stories” events. This initiative originated with Pastor Deborah and was sponsored by the Church Council.
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.