Sunday April 29, 2018

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Worship Service 8:00 a.m., Walker Chapel

Worship Service 10:00 a.m., Meetinghouse

The Rev. Suzanne Personette preaching
Readings: John 15:1-8


Don't forget - Fresh Salad Sunday

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Life Among the Believers

Hello, Beloved Believer!

Thank you so much for my vacation last week during Spring Break. It was awesome! Ken, Abe, and I went to Costa Rica, where a cousin of mine, and her husband, are living. I’ll tell a little about it at the beginning of the message this Sunday. It’s wonderful to have Julia Novaco back in the office from her trip to Ireland with Rev. Theresa Borchetta. I’m sure the other church members who went on that trip were just as awed and pleased as Julia! Rev. Theresa returns from her vacation this week, and will be in church this Sunday. Thank you to Rev. Susan Power Trucksess for serving as the solo pastor last week!

I heard it through the grapevine. Not only was that a song recorded by Motown Records in 1966, I think it typifies a church community. You know the expression means to receive communication (okay, gossip, too). We’re all so well-connected in the church that when one person hears something, it’s going to flow through the grapevine - for better or for worse! But, it’s the connection that is so integral to our community, and we give thanks to the Vinegrower for that connection. Sunday’s scripture, if you haven’t guessed by now, is John 15:1-8, Jesus the True Vine. I am the vine, you are the branches. And, what lovely branches you are! Maybe we’ll look a little at each of our own branches to see what is bearing fruit, and what isn’t - what could stand to be removed (with God’s help) - all in an effort to keep the grapevine lush, healthy, and growing!

We’ll sing “We’re Marching to Zion,” and Katie Jones will lead our closing hymn, “Shalom, My Friends, Shalom” in a 3 part round - fun! Our Sanctuary Choir will sing “Grace.” I’ll share some time with our youth, after which they’ll leave for Sunday School and learn about the value in speaking up in unfair situations (Numbers 27:1-11).

Following worship at 8am and 10am, we’ll be holding our first ever Spring Fling in Pilgrim Hall! See further into the eSpire for details. We’re busy here on the grapevine - - we’re also holding an Inquirer’s class for those looking into church membership at FCCB. Our Deacons have approved June 17 as New Member Sunday. Yay!

Life Among the Believers 6 Small Group Sharings and 2 all-church Gatherings

(No Sign-Ups, Just Show Up! to one)

MAY 2: 7pm, Pine;

May6: 11:30am, Pine;

May 7: 2pm, Russel;

May 10: 7pm Russel;

May 17: 10:00am, Russel;

May 20: 11:30 am, Russel

~ Youth Welcome ~

Two all-church gatherings to share the results from the small groups:

June 3: 11:30am, Pilgrim

June 10: 11:30am, Pilgrim

I hope everyone will be able to find one meeting to attend; and hopefully,
commit to attend the two gatherings on June 3 and June 10.
(Childcare will be available May 6, May 20, June 3, June 10.)

As poet Mary Oliver says, "Go easy, be filled with light, and shine."
See you shining believers at 8a and 10a this Sunday!

Grapevine Grace,
Rev. Suz, Interim Senior Minister
Office Hours: T-Th 9am-3pm (or 1p-3p visits) if evening mtg., 3pm-9pm; church (203) 488-7201, ext. 107; cell (860) 304-1054


Sisters in the Spirit

Wednesday, May 9th; 6:00 – 8:00; Pilgrim Hall

The journey of our guest, Patty Nuelsen, has been formed primarily by her faith and her sense of social justice as represented by quotations from two spiritual writers who speak of life with God from two different but intersection perspectives and passions:

The feeling remains that God is on the journey too.
St Teresa of Avila

[Liberation theology] seeks to act with the poor to tap their wisdom
in changing their life and livelihood. We act with the
poor and oppressed through their own eyes, not with those of an outsider.
Leonardo Boff, Liberation theologian

Come, be part of this conversation with another Sister in the Spirit, who serves as the Director of Development of the New Haven/Leon, Nic. Sister City Project and worships with both a Roman Catholic community and a UCC congregation.

Please make a reservation on the sign-up sheet or call the church office.


Shoreline Hero!

FCCB's Hal Barringham has been named one of the 2018 Shoreline heroes as a Branford Fire Dept. Lieutenant firefighter. Click the link below for the full article from the Sound newspaper.


Spring Fling Sale

To welcome our spring season, we will have a Spring Fling sale in Pilgrim Hall on April 29 and May 6 after the 8a.m. and 10a.m. services. Plants from Vaiuso Farms can be pre-ordered and we will offer homemade fudge and handcrafted items for Mother's Day. Please plan to join in on the spring celebration! Do your Mother's Day shopping with us!

Make sure you return your payment and order form to the church office by April 29th

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Celebrate Mother’s Day at FCC Branford with a gift for The Branford Diaper Bank.

The Branford Diaper Bank provides diapers once a month to Branford residents. It is a collaboration between the Community Dining Room, Branford Early Learning Center, and Branford Counseling Center.
The goal of The Diaper Bank is to “ensure that all children in Branford have an adequate supply of diapers and raise community awareness around diapers being a basic necessity that is not available for all children.”

Diapers (especially sizes 4, 5 or 6), wipes, grocery cards, or monetary donations are all welcome.

Donations may be brought to the church office during the week of May 6th, mailed in, or brought to our Mother’s Day collections after both services on May 13th. Checks should be made to FCC Branford with Diaper Bank in the memo line.

Thank You From the Mission Board

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I am sharing with you an opportunity to have family fun and support a good cause.

On May 6th, KidsHugs is holding their annual Kids Ride for Kids.

KidsHugs is a shoreline nonprofit that offers support for families who have a parent with a serious illness.

The ride takes place at Jacobs Beach in Guilford and is a great time for the kids to get outside and be active.

Here is the link for registration and to receive more information:

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Dawn Perrotti -
(Killam’s Point Day Camp Director)

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It's my pleasure to invite you all to our annual Volunteer Recognition Reception & "Luau Party" at the beautiful Owenego Inn.

This is about you, and your willingness to serve others, and it's a chance for us to say Thank You for your time and your caring! What better way to usher in Spring...which will most surely have arrived by then!

I encourage anyone who has helped us out at the CDR since late 2016 (some of you didn't make it last time) to please join us for a fun evening together at the Owenego, a local favorite venue overlooking the Long Island Sound.

Please RSVP as soon as you can, preferably by April 20 so I can let our CDR Volunteer Coordinator, Courtney Rosenberg know how many to expect from our group.

Looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible!
Parents are welcome to join their kids.

Yours in service,
Ray Luhn


2018 Nature Programs on Killam's Point

In cooperation with the Branford Land Trust, our church will host four events open to the public giving all who attend the opportunity to enjoy the Point and to learn about how we interact with nature. Space is limited so to register for attendance, please call 203 747 4184.

May 19, 1:00 pm. Spring on the Pointl
Join environmental advocates from the Land Trust for a walk on the Point's trails. Observe and identify the trees, flowers and creatures native to one of the shoreline's most beautiful preserves.

June 7, 7;00 pm. Protect Our Valuable Neighbors, Horseshoe Crabs
Martha Rice will describe the work being done with horseshoe crabs to learn how to protect the species and the research project of Sacred Heart University. Tag a crab and marvel at its complexity.

August 18, 9:00 am. Summer on the Point
Martha Rice will share her extensive knowledge of the Point. Hike the trails as Summer fades. Birds are preparing for migration, fish are in a feeding frenzy and the Point shimmers as Fall approaches.

October 14, 1:00 pm. A Virtual Treasure Hunt

Educator and environmentalist Jim Goggin will lead a family oriented walk that will feature why the Point is so special. Bring your instant cameras and binoculars for an unusual afternoon.


Ed Ochman Memorial Bench

In April of 2017 Take a Vet Fishing, Camp Totokett, FCCB, the Ochman Family and many many more lost a dear friend, Husband, Father, and avid fisherman.

Ed was a major part of TAVF since its beginning in 2007. To say he put his heart and soul into TAVF does not do him justice. He arrived before most, stayed later than most and worked hard in between. He taught many of the vets how to fish and helped untangle lines, putting bait on for them also. Ed was also the idea behind teaching the art of fly tying to visually impaired veterans, YES Ed taught blind vets how to tie flies. He taught this over the winter recruiting others to help from Trout Unlimited and the D.E.E.P.

While many of you knew Ed as part of TAVF he also played a very big role in Camp Totokett for decades. He was a major donor to Camp Totokett. Ed, who worked in Yale NH Hospital as a Respiratory Therapist used one of his weeks’ vacation to volunteer at Camp Totokett where he ran the fishing program every year. The Kids of Camp Totokett fondly knew him as "Mr. Ed" who could be spotted each day jumping from the wall to rocks in his trademark hat with the fish sticking out of it, to help a child land a fish or just untangle a line. He seemed to be everywhere. He also made sure to get pictures of each child with his or her prize catch. He also brought volunteers to help. Ed was always there for everyone.

Ed was also a C.A.R.E. (CT Aquatics Resource Educator) certified fishing instructor for the State of CT. Teaching children all over the state how to fish and appreciate the outdoors. He worked with kids in the "No child left inside" program, also helped the state with the fish restocking program. Ed was a dedicated sportsman. Most of the fish Ed caught were returned after he caught them. He is truly missed.

In order to remember Ed we are raising funds to install an 8' powder coated steel bench by the seawall at Killam's Point where Ed spent some memorable times. It will have a plaque dedicated to Ed and two fishing rod holders mounted flush into the concrete pad, so someone who may want to wet a line can do it from Ed's bench. We can't think of a better way to remember Ed and honor his memory. If you would like to see a picture or have questions please see Jeff Buggee. We plan to dedicate the bench in late summer or early fall, and all will be invited, everyone will be notified of the date.

God Speed Ed, and "Tight Lines"

The cost of the bench is $1,978.00. All donations are welcome and nothing is too small. Please make your check payable to the First Congregational Church with a note on the memo line "Ed Ochman Memorial Bench".

Please mail to:
First Congregational Church

ATT. Take a Vet Fishing
1009 Main Street
Branford, CT 06405


Can you help the Hospitality Committee?

Even if you don’t serve coffee/tea on Sunday or bake the cookies, you can greatly help – buy a $25 Shop Rite gift card to donate to the Committee. This money would buy milk, drinks for the kids, and possibly snacks. Here’s another win-win situation. You are not only giving needed support to Hospitality but buying the gift card helps support the church. Just ask Julia or the members who sell on Sunday to give to the appropriate people. Thank you for your support.

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Lead Deacon

The Lead Deacon for the Month of April is Jeff Buggee.
Jeff can be reached via phone: 203-415-6322 or
email at


For Our Prayers This Week

We give thanks for......
Hal Barringham’s service to the community as Branford’s firefighter of the year
The efforts of those involved in the Spring Fling Sale
The safe return of all those who traveled during spring break

We pray for.....
Children and youth who are being bullied; and those who feel the need to bully
Children and youth who are feeling hopeless and consider suicide
The courage of youth to speak out in the face of suffering they witness

We grieve with…..
The family of Barbara Mehring who died on April 18th
Norb Church upon the death of his father, Norbert Church Sr., on April 8th

Families of victims of airplane crashes, gunshot wounds, chemical weapons, and other tragedies

Ongoing prayers for…
Jim Bolan, Betsy & Peter Boynton, Rick Buggee, Daria Carlson, Edward DeFrancesco, John Paul Dineen, Dormer Family, Eleanor Eadie (Emily Fielding’s sister), Robert & Margaret Gehm (parents of Nancy Gehm), Mary Gundersen (Lynda Barker’s mother), Martha Hickman (Lil Sakai’s mom), Alison Hobbie (Betsy Gay’s daughter), Frank Malinconico, Ethel Marchesseault (Linda’s mother), Joe Mele (Jen McCaughtry’s uncle), Maria & Adam Melillo, Mary, Kirsten & Rosabelle (Sharon Reynolds’ niece and family), Rose & Tom Moore (mother & brother of Sharon Reynolds), Sylvia O’Brien, Debbie Pearl (friend of Lil Sakai), Lincoln Shaw (Frank Shaw’s brother), George Spear, Lou Wells, and Janet Young.


Church Calendar

Sunday, April 29 – Fresh Salad Collection
8:00 am Worship Service Walker Chapel
9:00 am Spring Fling Sale Pilgrim Hall
10:00 am Worship Service Meetinghouse
11:00 am Spring Fling Sale Pilgrim Hall
11:00 am Youth Choir Rehearsal Music Room
11:30 am Inquirers Class Russel Room
12:00 pm CDC – Outside Function All Purpose Room

Monday, April 30
10:00 am Branford Transition Program All Purpose Room

Tuesday, May 1
12:00 pm Staff Meeting Russel Room
6:00 pm Retired Member Dinner Pilgrim Hall
7:00 pm Land & Building Meeting Room 25
7:00 pm Adult Bell Rehearsal Sanctuary

Wednesday, May 2
11:00 am Evergreen Woods Bible Study Evergreen Woods
7:00 pm Book Group Russel Room
7:00 pm Life Among the Believers Pine Room

Thursday, May 3
9:00 am Life Line Screening Pilgrim Hall
10:30 am CDC – Happy Feet Pilgrim Hall
6:30 pm National Day of Prayer Town Green
7:00 pm Bridge Club Pilgrim Hall

Friday, May 4
10:00 am Branford Transition Program All Purpose Room

Saturday, May 5

Sunday, May 6
8:00 am Worship Service Walker Chapel
9:00 am Spring Fling Sale Pilgrim Hall
10:00 am Worship Service Meetinghouse
11:00 am Spring Fling Sale Pilgrim Hall
11:00 am Youth Choir Rehearsal Music Room
11:30 am Life Among the Believers Pine Room
6:00 pm High School Youth Group Starbucks

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Sanctuary Flowers

The 2018 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 are on sale Sundays after service or in the church office,
Monday-Thursday 9:00-3:00 pm.

 Big Y  Stop and Shop  Shop Rite 

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