Community Ministry

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25: 34-40

Financial Assistance

The FCC Deacon’s Discretionary Fund is a means by which FCC is able to help those in financial need. We can help out with one-time emergency funds to support people both in our congregation and in the community. This helps individuals to cover utility, food, medical and rent fees they are unable to pay. This fund is also used to support local nonprofits, such as the East Bay Food Pantry. We welcome requests from those in need, from both our congregation and from our community at large. We have funds from grants and money donated. This gives us the opportunity to assist those in acute, temporary, monetary distress, in a discrete and dignified setting. Decisions made regarding requests are made by 3 Deacons who can refer back to the Pastor should they have a question or concern.

If you are in need of assistance, please call the church office at 401-253-7288 or email at office@FCCBristol.org. If you would like to donate to this fund, make your check out to the FCC, and note on the “memo” line that it is for the Pastor Discretionary Fund.

The Deacon’s Scholarship Fund allows FCC to provide one scholarship to a non-member senior graduate of the Mt. Hope High School, and many college scholarships for members and their relatives. This Fund also provides for an annual Women’s Retreat whereby women from FCC and the community gather for a weekend with a spiritual facilitator to lead us through the workshop agenda. Deacons are also able to pay for Summer Internships for students wanting to volunteer their time for further exposure to their field of interest.

Deacon’s Social and Spiritual Support

The Board of Deacons also provides social and spiritual support to members and the wider community. As spiritual lay leaders, Deacons seek to model how to live a Christian life. We seek to serve all we come in contact with, whether in our Church community or elsewhere. We are invested in deepening relationships and building community in spirit. And in so doing, we hope to spread Jesus’ word on how to best live Christian lives as he taught and died for us to know.

Deacons are specifically invested in working with our Pastor to provide a spiritual, faith-based experience for our congregants and community. We assist our Pastor with all services, setting up and serving communion every month. Deacons are involved with weddings, funerals, memorial services, baptisms, confirmation, and receiving of new members. We connect with those unable to attend church services, and regularly deliver Christmas poinsettias and Easter lilies. There are always two Deacons to greet you when you come to attend Sunday service.

Deacons sponsor church Fellowship gatherings of all kinds: the Annual Church picnic, the Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper, the Women’s Retreat in the spring, the summer Ice Cream Social at Colt State Park, the Christmas Pageant Church Supper, and many more. There is even a Wednesday night Cribbage Club.

Good Night Lights

Every Monday night First Congregational Church “Good Night Lighters” travel to the Squantum Association in East Providence to send a good night signal to children at Hasbro Children’s Hospital.

At 8:30pm, as full darkness descends, they pull out their flashlights and all together beam them toward the wing in the hospital that houses children with cancer. In answer to this silent message of love, the children flash on their own lights and beam them back to their anonymous, faithful friends. Exciting – you bet. Heart-warming – without a doubt. It’s a bit addictive. Anyone is welcome to join the Good Night Lights group. Participants may travel independently to rendezvous at the Squantum Association, or contact Steve Brosnihan (401-253-5909) or Dyan Vaughan to make carpool arrangements. Those interested in getting on the email roster for GNL should contact Steve at: stevebfly@msn.com.

Prayer Shawl Circle

The Prayer Shawl Ministry Circle of FCC was gathered on March 28, 2005 and has met once a month over the past 15 years. The wonderfully talented and caring women of this circle have crafted well over 500 prayer shawls and baby blankets since our beginning! These shawls and blankets are given with love and prayers to members of FCC, folks in our Bristol community, across our state and country, and even overseas. What a touching reminder of God’s ever expanding love, capable of touching and comforting those nearby, those far away, and every one in between!

Our circle meets on the First Tuesday of each month from 6:30-8 pm, on ZOOM right now. We light a candle and gather with prayer, which flows into our knitting, crocheting, and fellowship. As each shawl or blanket is completed, it is passed around our circle and each person infuses the shawl with her own special blessing. In this way, each shawl carries the love and blessing of its maker and also the prayers of the whole circle. This is truly an experience of giving that blesses the giver as much as the one who receives!

This warm and welcoming group would like to invite you to join us in our ministry if you enjoy knitting and/or crocheting – don’t worry if you are just learning, so are we! Also, if you know of someone who would benefit from a prayer shawl, please don’t hesitate to speak to any of the members of our group. We appreciate your continued prayers of support for this ministry.

Dolphins Ministry

More than 15 years ago, members of the congregation felt the need to come together in healing prayer in response to needs among church members, friends, the community and the world. The Dolphins Ministry was named after one of the members recounted her personal story of being caught in a boat with her family when a hurricane swept over them. In their frenzy, they looked overboard and saw a pod of dolphins swimming alongside their boat. Just having this supportive group surrounding them gave them courage and calmed them. The dolphins stayed with the boat all the way back to the safety of the shore. In a like manner, the members of the Dolphins Ministry seek to be present for those in need of spiritual comfort. The members of this ministry feel called to use their prayers to bring God’s healing power to anyone whose needs are brought to them. In the process, they have strengthened their own faith and formed strong bonds of friendship with fellow members. You are invited to join this group by contacting the church office.

The Church Has Left the Building

Each year in October, the children, youth and adults of the congregation come together at the hour for regular worship, don their orange “visibility” vests, and march out the front doors of the sanctuary to worship God in a different way – by serving the Bristol community through The Church Has Left the Building project. Everyone heads out into the town and to specific sites, to help to pick up, clean up, harvest, organize, cut and stack, and perform whatever tasks are requested. We want to increase our presence in the community, to help out, and to make improvements where needed. Some may scour the streets, picking up litter. Others may go to Franklin Court for Assisted Living to rake up leaves or tidy the gardens for winter, or into the facility to organize the hundreds of books in the resident library. There are many ways that we can show kindness and respect for our Bristol community — and TCHLTB Sunday is one day when we can come together, have some fun, and spread our love. Anyone is invited to join us.

East Bay Food Pantry & Thrift Shop

Learn about, support, or volunteer at the East Bay Food Pantry, which was founded by our congregation in 2009. Since then it has gone on to become a totally separate 501(c)(3) organization and is doing wonderful work. The Mission of the East Bay Food Pantry is to engage, educate and empower the East Bay in creating a hunger-free community. This is what Jesus has to do with justice! The East Bay Food Pantry & Thrift Shop is located at 532 Wood Street, Bristol; (401) 396-9490; info@eastbayfoodpantry.org

Ecumenical Meals

Every Saturday, to supplement Meals on Wheels offerings, volunteer chefs and drivers from FCC Bristol and two other collaborating houses of worship prepare complete dinners for Bristol and Warren seniors. Each quarter of the year, FCC takes on one month of Saturdays and members of the congregation cook a full dinner and dessert for each senior on the list, numbering about 10, which other volunteers deliver directly to the homes of the recipients. Some “chefs” team up with a dessert maker to spread out the fun. If you would like to volunteer one Saturday, just call the church office and let us know.

Roots & Cures Film Series

How do we learn, when the subject is so hurtful? How do we open our ears and our hearts to hear the brutal truths of the past . . . and the present? What can we say that will heal and bring about positive change? After 400 years of destructive injustice to African Americans in our nation, the United States stands at a hinge point of history. Will the awakening of so many millions to the inequalities that racism has built into our social structures move our nation toward a more just and humane society? To the redress of past wrongs?

Over 4 Wednesday evenings in October 2020, in the middle of the pandemic and uproar over the killings of Breyonna Taylor, Ahmed Arbery, and George Floyd, the Peace & Justice Task Force of the First Congregational Church invited the Bristol community to take part in a 4-week film and discussion series on the experience of African Americans and other minorities in the USA. The series included the viewing and discussion of the two award-winning documentary films Traces of the Trade and The Color of Fear.

In the feature documentary Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North (2008), filmmaker Katrina Browne discovers that her New England ancestors were the largest slave-trading family in U.S. history. She and nine cousins retrace the route of the Triangle Trade and gain powerful new perspectives on the black/white divide. Browne tells the story of her Bristol forebears, the largest slave-trading family in U.S. history.

The Color of Fear (1994) is an insightful, groundbreaking film about the state of race relations in America as seen through the eyes of eight North American men of African, Asian, European, and Latino descent. In a series of intelligent, emotional and dramatic confrontations, the men reveal the pain and scars that racism has caused them. What emerges is a deeper sense of understanding and trust. This is the dialogue most of us fear, but hope will happen sometime in our lifetime.

Service Trip – Spring

For many years a group from our church, including both adults and youth members, has traveled on a service trip. Recent trips have been to Washington, DC (2012 & 2016) and New York City (2014 & 2019). Participants worked in soup kitchens, served meals to homeless people, and joined other service activities with sightseeing and fellowship.

Looking Upwards

FCCBristol is blessed to have been offered the opportunity to work with the Middletown-based nonprofit Looking Upwards, a social service agency founded in 1978, through their use of our facilities to provide services during the pandemic. FCCBristol has numerous ties to the Looking Upwards program. Members of our congregation serve as staff on this program; a number of our church’s families have used the services of the program. The mission of Looking Upwards is to promote the growth and independence of children and adults of all abilities so they may realize their potential and live fulfilling lives. The program provides adults with developmental disabilities vocational and day enrichment services to support them in living fulfilling lives, realizing such dreams as achieving a satisfying home life, gratifying work, enjoyment of relationships and participation in the wider community. Looking Upwards also provides services for children and families facing diverse challenges, providing creative approaches to early childhood development as well as supporting success at home and in the community. To their partnership with families Looking Upwards’ specialists bring expertise in behavior management, child development, behavioral health, and autism and other developmental disabilities.

Other Ministries that meet at FCC Bristol

  • Overeaters Anonymous meets weekly at FCC Bristol. It is a twelve-step program founded in 1960 for people with problems related to food including, but not limited to, compulsive overeaters, those with binge eating disorder, bulimics and anorexics. Call the church office for further details.
  • Bristol County Chorus meets every Monday from 7-9pm.