First Congregational Church

January 12, 2020

The Second Sunday of Epiphany

The Baptism of Christ

Worship at 10 am in the Meetinghouse

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Life Among the Believers

Greetings, Beloved! I call you beloved because this is the Sunday when God calls his son Beloved for the first time. As scripture reveals, Jesus emerges from the waters of baptism, the heavens opened and Jesus saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove alighting on him, and a voice from Heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

We are in the season of Epiphany, a season of signs that point to the appearance of God as a human being in Jesus Christ. In last week’s scripture, the star was such a sign. In the Baptism of Christ, the dove and the voice are both signs of the divinity of Christ.

You have an extra treat this Sunday. In honor of the New Haven East Consociation’s Annual Pulpit Rotation, a practice that has been in place for over 15 years, FCCB welcomes the Rev. Vance Taylor to its pulpit. Vance is Pastor of North Branford Congregational Church, and a former member and Associate Pastor of FCCB. Vance lives in North Madison with his wife, Bethany, and has two children and two grandchildren who reside on the west coast. Welcome back, Vance! I’ll be worshiping with the congregation of North Haven Congregational UCC.

Rev. Taylor will preach on Matthew 3:1-17 (The Baptism of Christ) and Acts 10:34-43 (when Gentiles hear the Good News of what God has done in Jesus Christ), and his sermon title is “The First Shall Be First!” The Sanctuary Choir returns following a well-deserved break and they’ll sing “Peace Like a River,” by J. Raney. Deacon Linda Marchesseault volunteered to be our Liturgist because Vance is one of her favorite people, and he married her and Paul Chaplin.

Our dear Puerto Rican brothers and sisters have endured another natural disaster in two consecutive earthquakes. Photos show real devastation on top of the mess still around from the hurricanes. FCCB has been very generous in its Thanksgiving and Christmas offerings. If you’re able to make an additional offering to benefit victims of these earthquakes, in addition to your regular church offering, we’ll be receiving those gifts this Sunday January 12 and next Sunday January 19. Those funds will be sent to the United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries, Puerto Rico Recovery Relief. Please mark Puerto Rico on your check and/or envelope provided in the pew and place in the offering plate or mail it in to the church. Thank you, church.

The Call to the 376th Annual Meeting will be going out soon. Make a note that the meeting will be held Sunday January 26 following worship.

A reminder to be on the lookout for A Random Act of Kindness to share following Joys and Concerns this Sunday. Perhaps you have or will witness one, perhaps you offered one, or one was done for your benefit. Come and tell! Epiphany is the season of light, when we’re extra mindful of following the light and bearing the light. Share the Light that Shines in the darkness, beloved. May the Light Shine upon you, today and always.

Making Christ’s Love Known in Word and Action,
Rev. Suz, Interim Minister

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New Logo for New Conference Unveiled

The First Congregational Church Branford is no longer part of the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ. Three UCC New England Conferences (Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island) have merged and we are now part of the Southern New England Conference.
The Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ has a new logo designed to symbolize the Conference's vision: "Living the Love and Justice of Jesus."

That phrase is a distillation of the Conference's overall Vision and Mission Statement.

The logo features four hearts arranged to form a cross. Each of the hearts represents one of the four main values of the Conference: Making Disciples of Jesus, Making God's Love and Justice Real, Bringing New Life as Agents of Change, and Forming Covenant Partnerships. Each heart is in a different color - all drawn from the national United Church of Christ's brand guidelines - and those colors will be used on the Conference website and in other publications to draw connections between various ministries and the part of the vision to which they relate.

"We are really excited about this logo as an expression of what the new Conference stands for," said Tiffany Vail, Associate Conference Minister for Communications.

A number of concepts were considered for the logo. One idea was to have three strands coming together into one piece - such as in a rope or braid - to represent the three historic Conferences (Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island) joining together. Another idea was to use ship's sails or a lighthouse to connect with the Pilgrims and the Amistad which are part of the histories of the Conferences.

"In the end, we decided to move away from those ideas, because they were about looking back, rather than looking forward," Vail said. "This logo represents who we are today, and who we are striving to become as a new Conference."

The logo was designed by Erin Murphy, who attends the South Congregational Church UCC in Pittsfield, MA. Murphy is the part-time Marketing Coordinator/Graphic Designer at IS183 Art School of the Berkshires, and also does freelance work. She can be reached through her website.

The logo and guidelines for its use will be made available to churches early in the new year.

The new Conference officially comes into being on Jan. 1.

The new Conference website may be viewed here.

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FCCB Stewardship Campaign Update

Continuing along the way!

As of December 31st, the 2020 FCCB Stewardship Campaign has received:

91 pledges totaling $157,385 in commitments

If you have yet to submit your pledge, please complete the pledge card that was sent to you in the mail or fill out a card located in the pews or at the office. You can put them in the collection plate during the offering or mail them to the office (1009 Main Street, Branford, CT 06405, Attention: Stewardship). If you have any questions, please email me at and I will do my best to help. You can also reach out to Rev Suz at

The 2020 budget is currently being drafted for consideration and action by the Congregation at our Annual Meeting on January 26th. Please remember that our pledges make up a significant portion of our church income and that every pledge makes a difference.

Sharing this simple act of gratitude, of sharing your gifts, is a true sign of God’s grace that shows us all the way to a future of faith. Thank you for your commitment!

Chip Marsh
Stewardship Chair


Boxes of offering envelopes for the New Year are in Pilgrim Hall.


First Congregational Church of Branford

Church Directory

Help us Stay Connected!

Have you moved?

Changed your phone number or email address?

Want to add a cell phone to your listing?

Not currently listed in the church directory but would like to be?

Here’s your chance to help us all stay connected! Just complete the “Connection Card” (below) to provide us with your contact information or use this card to update the information currently in our church directory. Connection Cards will available during morning worship on January 5th, in the office, or you can email your contact information to

*Please note the addition of “Birthday & Anniversary”. If you’d like, provide us with your birthday & wedding anniversary date(s) so that we can all share in your special day!

Missy Van Vliet
Church Secretary

(Please return your completed cards by February 11th)

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Church Cancellations

As we prepare to enter the Winter season, there may be an occasion in which we'll need to cancel church, or a church-related activity. Please look to Channel 3 news for announcements of church closings.

If possible, there will also be a notification on Facebook, on our website and we will try to send out an eSpire notification if worship is cancelled.


Ever Building CCCLXXV

We are taking orders for copies of our history and memories book, entitled Ever Building CCCLXXV, celebrating our 375 years of serving our community.

Publication will cost $10 each and is planned for mid-January. Sign-up sheets for copies and for patrons are available in the back right of the sanctuary. Look for the posters with sample pages.

Sponsors are welcome. There are three levels: Puritan at $1-$24, Usher at $25 - $99 and Diaconate at $100 plus level. Please indicate if you’d like your donation to be in memory of or in honor of someone. Or you can send your wishes, both for copies and for sponsorship, to

375th committee: David Colley, Margot Hardenbergh, Carol Hoadley, Wayne Jacobson, Deanna O’Connell and Richard Radune.

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"Would we do whatever the star asks of us? Journey a thousand miles on a camel? Find a new job, volunteer for something new, journey to church every Sunday!, forgive someone, get into a 12-step program of recovery for alcohol, drug, gambling or sex addiction, feed the hungry at the Food Pantry, find a way to support refugees, pray for peace…. Wherever the star leads, right?? To look up and wherever it has stopped, look and see - maybe that is where you’re supposed to be, doing what God wants you to do. Follow the star."
Read more here.....


If you have not received recent e-Spires, or would like to subscribe to our weekly newsletters, please let the office know and we’d be happy to help!




In January those members whose last name begins with L or M are asked to bring a snack or treat one Sunday and serve coffee one Sunday during the month. That means you are asked to bring food and serve coffee once during the year! John has the coffee ready for us each Sunday.

Each month supplies will be available in the kitchen: milk, half & half, sugar and juice for the children.

In February, if your last name begins with N, O or P, send me an email if you can serve one Sunday during the month.

If you have any other questions, email, text or call me.

Deanna O’Connell


Book Group

Here is a list of the books we have chosen:
February 5 – The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See
March 4 – Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
April 1 – Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Please plan on joining us when you can. We meet in the Russel Room, usually at 7 PM.

Barbara Colley


The flowers in our sanctuary are given in celebration of Family and Friends’ Birthdays, from Sue Miller.

For Our Prayers This Week...

We give thanks for...
The signs of the appearance of Christ in our daily lives
Random acts of kindness
Those in our communities who learn CPR and Basic First aid in order to be there for others
when needed.

We pray for…
The leadership of our country to utilize gifted peacekeepers in tense international relations
Our troops to remain safe
Puerto Ricans (citizens of the United States since 1917) in the aftermath of two consecutive earthquakes. May the U.S. send aid immediately!
The people of Australia where wildfires have killed 2 dozen people, millions of wildlife, and
cause the largest evacuation in the nation's history
Our Pastoral Search Committee
Our next Settled Minister and family (whoever they are, wherever they are, surrounded in

Ongoing prayers for…
Rick Barker, Don Potter, Frank Barron, William Chisholm (Teresa Sander’s Grandfather), George Spear, Janet Young, Jean Andros, Marie Donofrio, Colin & Justin Williams (Linda Mitchell’s cousins), Bill Mayer (friend of Linda Mitchell), Grace Chaplin (Paul’s mother), Nancy Dougherty, Joseph Arnson (Take-A-Vet Fishing Volunteer Care Member), Wayne Childs, Marge Nalewajek (Meghan St. Pierre's mother), Ella Furjes, and her mom, Gwen (Jennifer and Mareyna McCaughtry’s friends), Cory Martens (Kelly Marten’s brother), Jim Bolan, Rose & Tom Moore (Sharon Reynold’s Mom & brother), Betsy Boynton, Edward DeFrancesco, Dormer Family, Robert & Margaret Gehm (parents of Nancy Gehm), Martha Hickman (Lil Sakai’s mom), Alison Hobbie (Betsy Gay’s daughter), Ethel Marchesseault (Linda’s mother), Sylvia O’Brien, Debbie Pearl (friend of Lil Sakai), and Lou Wells.

Life Among the Believers

Sunday, January 12
10:00 am Worship Service Meetinghouse
11:00 am Music Board Meeting Room 25

Monday, January 13
9:00 am CDC Music Class Pilgrim Hall

Tuesday, January 14
9:00 am CDC Crossfit Class Pilgrim Hall
2:00 pm Bridge Club Pilgrim Hall
7:00 pm Diaconate Meeting Russel Room
7:00 pm Bell Choir Rehearsal Sanctuary

Wednesday, January 15
8:30 am WIC Program All Purpose Room
5:30 pm Lotus Yoga Pilgrim Hall
7:00 pm Church Council All Purpose Room

Thursday, January 16
8:30 am WIC Program All Purpose Room
3:30 pm KPMT Meeting Russel Room
7:00 pm Choir Rehearsal Sanctuary

Friday, January 17
3:00 pm CDC Music Event Pilgrim Hall

Saturday, January 18

Sunday, January 19
10:00 am Worship Service Meetinghouse


New Email Address for Church Office

To contact the church, please email

New Office Hours as of November 4, 2019

Tuesday - Thursday: 9:00am – 3:00pm

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Sunday Flower Chart

If you’re able to contribute $35 for flowers, please consider signing up on the bulletin board outside of the Russel Room, or call or send an e-mail and Missy will sign up for you. Include who/what you would like the flowers to be in honor/memory/celebration of. Thank you so much for keeping our altar adorned, and our flower fund supported!

The Upper Room daily devotional booklets are very good! Pick up a free copy in either the narthex, Pilgrim Hall, or outside of the Russel Room. It has two months of devotions, and our sexton, John Woods then puts out the next two-month supply.



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 Big Y  Stop and Shop 

Did You Know… FCC Branford makes 5% of every dollar on the grocery cards we sell?

If you buy a $100 grocery card, you get $100 in groceries, and FCC gets $5! It’s that easy. This currently adds up to about $2000 income annually for FCC and could easily be more. We offer both $50 and $100 Stop and Shop cards and $50 and $100 Big Y cards. Cards are sold after worship every Sunday. Why not try it out and help support FCC?


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.


Check Out The Church Facebook Page

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

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.
• Email articles to
• 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.

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