Sunday January 27, 2019

375th Annual Meeting of First Congregational Church

11:00am in the Meetinghouse

Only One Service of Worship
10:00am in the Meetinghouse


Call to the Annual Meeting of the First Congregational Church

The 375th Annual meeting of the First Congregational Church of Branford will be held on Sunday, January 27, 2019, following the 10 am service. The purposes of the meeting will be:

• To transfer $30,000 of the moneys realized from the 2013 sale of the Manse from the First Ecclesiastical Society Fund to the 2019 Operating Budget to offset ministerial housing compensation costs
• To act upon the proposed FCCB budget for 2019
• To receive the annual reports of officers, boards, committees and organizations affiliated with FCCB
• To receive the report of the Discernment Committee and approve or reject the Committee’s recommendations
• To elect officers, board and committee members and delegates of the church for 2019
• To take any other action that may properly come before this meeting

2018 Annual Reports will be available in Pilgrim Hall Sunday.

Annual Reports are available on our website for viewing or downloading at the following link:

The Annual Meeting of the Child Development Center of the First Congregational Church will also be held on January 27th, immediately before the FCC Annual Meeting.


Moderator’s Message

This Sunday FCCB will hold its annual meeting. While every meeting is significant in its own way and speaks to where our church is during that year, this gathering is particularly important.

The meeting of 2019 is the 375th time that we have gathered to transact the business of this church. Think about that for a moment. For almost four centuries, FCCB’s members have gathered on a Sunday to think about and pray on what they want their church to look like during the coming years. They have met and planned as the church no longer ran the town’s government and as the Connecticut colony moved to statehood. They have met and planned as slavery was abolished – including here in Connecticut – and as civil rights movements gained new rights for American citizens, including our members. They have met and planned through a revolution, a civil war, two world wars, Vietnam and other conflicts. And yet, in the face of all those challenges, we are still here, as we have found new ways to organize ourselves and to serve the community.

This year’s meeting occurs in another time of change. All of us recognize that the church – both FCCB and the larger religious world – faces challenges. Membership is decreasing as attending church plays a smaller role in people’s lives. Most churches have a decreased and aging group of volunteers on whom to call. Fewer parents bring their children to Sunday School or youth activities. Finances have become more difficult. And, for many years, we have talked about those challenges as we pass deficit budgets and the nominating committee struggles to find people to serve on our boards.

We have a chance this year to face those difficulties squarely and to take positive action. A group of respected and active members of the church, who became known as the Discernment Team, was asked by Council to study the concerns which FCCB faces and to propose solutions. To start the process, Reverend Personette held a series of small group meetings to hear members’ views of what we can do to make FCCB more stable and effective. The Discernment Team took the results of those listening sessions and spent several months putting together a group of recommendations. On three more occasions, the team met with the congregation to discuss their recommendations and hear further comment.

On Sunday, the congregation will get an opportunity to consider and act upon accepting those recommendations as a strategic plan to guide us as the church moves into the new year and beyond. Council has endorsed the plan and I urge the congregation to do the same. For a long time, we have talked about the issues the recommendations address; we now have a chance to do something more than talk and worry. Yes, there will be implementation issues and those details will be left to the congregation, lay and ministerial leadership, and the church’s committees to address down the road. But we need to take the first step and commit to the broad vision.

Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the recommendations of the report, it is important that you attend the meeting, speak and vote. There will only be one service that day at 10:00 am, so that people will not have to return to church after the early service. We will be voting by paper ballot, so that you can express your views in private. But be there and participate. This meeting will determine the future of the church we all care about and love.

Dave Reif,

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Life Among the Believers

Greetings, Beloved Member/Friend of FCCB. I pray this day finds you at peace, that it is well with your soul, as the hymn goes.

I enjoyed my time with the good people of N. Guilford Congregational Church on 1/13, but I missed you! Rev. Matt McCaffrey shared that you gave him a very warm welcome. Thank you for that. When you receive this eSpire I will just be getting back from vacation time tomorrow, January 25. It was just a staycation, but those are nice, too! I appreciate being given the time, so thank you.

We’ll reunite this Sunday where we’ll hear how Abraham and Sarah walked by faith, not by sight. We’ll hear a little about that in Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-12. The sermon title is, I Would Walk 1,000 Miles. We’ll sing Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah, Make Me a Blessing, and one of your favorites, Shine, Jesus, Shine. We’re blessed to hear from our Children’s Choir. They’ll sing Come, Now is the Time to Worship. Our Sanctuary Choir will rouse us with Guide My Feet, Lord! Perfect for the the theme of the day, perfect for our 375th Annual Meeting!

I know it’s a bit of an abrupt transition, but I just can’t but think about the enormous loss of life due to opioid overdoses. My husband’s best friend’s 27 year old son died two years ago this month from one. Last week there were 2 such deaths of loved ones in our congregation, as well as a request of a community member who asked me to bless the ashes of her son who had died from a fentanyl overdose. The Hartford Courant has reported that the rate of these deaths in Connecticut have the second highest percentage increase out of 28 states, just behind New York. Our country has a problem, our state has a problem. I wonder sometimes if churches might get together to discuss how we can collaborate in efforts to keep youth in our communities safe, healthy, and drug free. Don’t you just want to take all youth under your wing to bless and protect them, to fill them up with so much love and joy that they couldn’t get any higher - they’d have no need to use.

In an effort to try to reach any of our teens or teens you know who are life-stressed (and who isn’t??), you might want to check out a free 3 year old mobile app from then 14 year old tech wiz, Amanda Southworth, called AnxietyHelper, a tool for people dealing with everything from depression to panic attacks. The app now serves more than 68,000 users. Parents, check it out.

As we walk into our 376th year, let us be reminded to walk by faith, not by sight. We may not know and see the future ahead, but we can venture out and walk it in faith.

Making Christ’s Love Known in Word and Action
We’re here when you need us,
Rev. Suz, Interim Senior Minister
(~happy to visit with you in your home, church office, cafe, a walk~)

“The secret of change is to focus not on fighting the old,
but on building the new”.
~ Socrates


Life Among the Believers Staffing Conversation 1/6/19

1) Office staff - Part-time, except Sexton
2) $50-60K estimated savings
3) Concern
a. Youth are the future of our church
b. Youth outreach programs are well known and well received
c. Pool of youth participating has shrunk considerably
4) In the past we’ve had vibrant programming without ordained leadership
a. Youth programming would continue under a different model
b. Need someone to be SS Coordinator and teach SS
5) Cutting staff may lead to people leaving & reduction in pledges
6) Loss, grieving change
7) Need qualified people within our resources
8) Need to advertise that we’re a presence within our community
a. Advertise our music program
9 ) Should vote by paper ballot


REMINDER: Please make sure to bring in your donated fresh produce for the Community Dining Room on January 27th!

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What Shall We Bring?

From your Stewardship Board:

Thanks to those members and friends who have submitted their pledges for the Church in 2019. We have received $180,475 from 108 pledging units to date and appreciate your support.

If you have not yet pledged, please remember to do so either in church, online at the website, or by email to

We are well on the way to our goal of $200,000, yet need your support to make it happen. Please help us reach our goal.

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Theocracy to Democracy

Sunday, Feb. 3rd 2:30pm
Pilgrim Hall

Brief Description
Historian, author and legal scholar, Scott Gerber, currently a visiting professor at Brown University, will deliver a lecture on the historical transition from a church based government to a democratically based government in Connecticut in the early 1800s. He will be joined by Professor Linda Meyer of The Quinnipiac University School of Law. The lecture will take place in Pilgrim Hall at 2:30 PM, Sunday, 3 February. (Snow date: 10 February.)

The presentation is free; all are welcome as we start the celebration of our 375th birthday of the Town and the Church.

There will be refreshments, and we promise to get you out before kickoff……


2019 Church Offering Envelope Boxes

The Offering Envelopes have officially arrived! Envelope boxes can be found in Pilgrim Hall on the piano or in the Meetinghouse as you enter through the blue doors.

This Little Light

Branford Builds

The First Congregational Church of Branford has received a nice monetary donation from one of its parishioners along with a request that the money be used to assist folks in Branford. Specifically, the funds will be used to make repairs to homes whose owners do not have the resources to pay for needed work.

Applications will be accepted until February 1, 2019. Each application will then be reviewed and a site visit made prior to selecting projects to complete. Work selected depends on budget and time available. Submission of this application does not guarantee that any work will be done on your home. Work groups will consist of home improvement contractors, experienced workers, and volunteers.

Applications will be available at the reception desk in front of the church office. Applications should be submitted to the Mission Board of the First Congregational Church, 1009 Main Street, Branford, or emailed to Upon review of the application, more information may be required and a home visit scheduled.


Hospitality in February

In February those members whose last name begins with N, O and P are asked to bring a snack or treat and serve coffee one Sunday during the month. That means you are asked to bring food and serve coffee only once during the year!

If you have any questions, email, text or call me.
Deanna O’Connell


Book Group

The Book group has decided that for the winter, until the time changes in the spring, we will continue to meet at 5:30 pm.

February 6. 5:30-Sourdough by Robin Sloan
March (exact date TBA) – The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Everyone is welcome. We meet in the Russel Room.

Barbara Colley


Confirmation Calendar

February 3 3:00-4:30 History of FCCB with Carol Hoadley
February 24 4:00-5:30 Sacraments
March 4 4:00-5:30 Justice and Peace
March 18 4:00-5:30 Make up class if snow day or Topic TBD
April 7 4:00-5:30 The Faith Journey Continues
April 28 4:00-5:30 Confirmation at 10:00 am Service


High School Youth Group Calendar

(All times will be 6:00-7:30 unless noted otherwise)

February 10th & 24th
March 3rd & 17th
April 7th & 28th
May 5th (5:30pm start) Youth Group Tool Time


New Email Address for Church Office

To contact the church, please email

Office Hours

Tuesday to Thursday: 9 am – 2 pm

Friday: 9 am – 12 pm

Sophy will be out of the office starting 1/24, but will return on 1/29.


As we're now into the winter season, there may be an occasion in which we'll need to cancel church. Please look to Channel 3 news for announcements of church closings.


We give thanks for...
All those who’ve served their terms on committees and boards over these past years, including our Moderator
Those who’ve accepted nominations to serve the church, including our new Moderator

We pray for...
The church as it looks at the year past and into the future
Thoughtful and prayerful deliberations at the annual meeting
The many federal workers who are currently working unpaid or temporarily furloughed and finding it difficult to meet their financial obligations

We grieve with...
The family of Jim Bolan and Donna Giddings in the loss of their nephew, Jimi Bolan, on January 4th
The family of Paul Boileau after his sudden death on January 15th

Ongoing prayers for…
Mattea Fraenza, Julia Novaco & children, Lou Bocciarelli, Nancy Johnson, Cyndie Neely, Bob Zettergren & family, Jeff Buggee, Marge Nalewajek (Meghan St. Pierre's mother), Norm Roberts, Ella Furjes, and her mom, Gwen (Jennifer and Mareyna McCaughtry’s friends), Grace Chaplin (Paul’s mom), Judy Whittaker, Cory Martens (Kelly Marten’s brother), Rick Barker, Jim Bolan, Betsy & Peter Boynton, Edward DeFrancesco, Dormer Family, Robert & Margaret Gehm (parents of Nancy Gehm), Martha Hickman (Lil Sakai’s mom), Alison Hobbie (Betsy Gay’s daughter), John D. Kelly (Mindy Yester’s brother), Ethel Marchesseault (Linda’s mother), The Family of Sharon Reynolds, Sylvia O’Brien, Debbie Pearl (friend of Lil Sakai), George Spear, and Lou Wells.

Life Among the Believers

Sunday, January 27
10:00 am Worship Service Meetinghouse
11:00 am Annual Church Meeting Meetinghouse

Tuesday, January 29
10:00 am Staff Meeting Russel Room
7:00 pm Bell Rehearsal Sanctuary

Thursday, January 31
7:00 pm Choir Rehearsal Sanctuary

Sunday, February 3
8:00 am Worship Service Walker Chapel
10:00 am Worship Service Meetinghouse
11:15 am CE Board Meeting Russel Room
2:00 pm 375th Event: Theocracy to Democracy Pilgrim Hall
3:00 pm Confirmation Class - History of FCCB with Carol Hoadley Pine Room




Our weekly worship service is recorded and replayed on BCTV
Channel 18 or 1070 for Comcast customers,
Channel 6004 for Frontier customers
at 5:30pm on Sundays.

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Sanctuary Flowers

The 2019 Sanctuary Flower chart has now been placed on the bulletin board where the board minutes used to be located, outside of the Russel Room.

Please come and fill in the dates!

A $35 donation to the flower fund is suggested.


Check Out The Church Facebook Page

This is a public page for everyone to be able to see everything going on at OUR church.

Please be reminded that this page is open to the public and therefore no pictures should be shared of children unless the parents are asked specifically. The FCCB Youth Ministries CLOSED GROUP is where pictures including children can be posted.

Click the link below to be brought right to the page and like it! And be sure to share with your friends.


Amazon Smiles Donations

PLEASE shop at, and First Congregational Church can receive donations from AmazonSmile.

StartWithaSmile at for your purchases and Amazon donates to First Congregational Church.

Information Regarding The eSpire

• The deadline for an article to be published in the weekly e-spire is 12pm on Tuesdays.
• There is no longer a monthly paper spire. Those who have requested a paper copy now receive a copy of the weekly e-spire in the mail.
• The e-spire is only mailed out weekly if it can be done in a timely fashion.

Are You Connected?

Make sure you get all emails and updates from First Congregational Church. It’s easy and automatic to sign up for our email list – just go to and there is a sign-up form. Don’t miss another issue!

The eSpire is now available on our website at

Grocery Cards

Grocery Cards will now only be sold after worship on Sundays.

 Big Y  Stop and Shop 

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