Sunday, November 18, 2018

Please Note - Only One Service of Worship today!

Worship at 10:00am in the Meetinghouse

Celebration of Susan Trucksess' Ministry to Follow

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Hallelujah….an exhortation to praise God or a spontaneous expression of joy, thanks, and praise toward God. From Hillel, the Hebrew imperative verb to praise, and Yah, a name for God. Used 24 times in the psalms and once very dramatically in the New Testament Book of the Revelation when the multitude celebrates God’s triumph over the Whore of Babylon (good news indeed). Often sung as alleluia in Christian circles.

Hallelujah…which will be a musical acclamation woven throughout our worship service on Sunday. Not the Handel chorus so familiar to us in Christmas and Easter Messiah concerts , but Leonard Cohen’s version which has been called the “baseline of secular hymns” and which has been performed in endless versions, in endless settings, and sung by everyone from Bob Dylan to Bon Jovi and Bono. You’ll recognize it, although perhaps not as coming from FCCB’s musical repertoire.

Cohen wrote it in 1984, during a low period in his life, supposedly sitting it on the floor in his underwear, banging his head in misery and frustration. It has interesting rhythms and a dark melancholy tone to it, plus some rather dicey Scriptural references to King David and Samson (undone heroes seeking divine favor after transgressions), and it contains some rather disturbing lyrics depicting sex and violence. We won’t be hearing those in full, but rather our own adaptation which is more uplifting in keeping with Cohen’s underlying intent.

Cohen himself insisted that it was a rather joyous song in which “even though it all went wrong/ I’ll stand before the Lord of Song/With nothing on my lips but Hallelujah. Hallelujah, Hallelujah!”

As I come to the end of my ministry in your midst, I am taken with the overall movement of the hymn when it declares There is a blaze of light in every word/It doesn’t matter what you heard/The holy or the broken Hallelujah.

May it be our song and our acclamation on Sunday, and every day, proclaiming that in the midst of the darkness, cruelty, disaster, degradation, disappointment and despair which we experience in the world, there is still a prior place for hope, perseverance, goodness, beauty, truth and love. Holy or broken, there is still Hallelujah.

I hope you will want to join the choir on Sunday and lift your own Hallelujahs…. for the faithfulness of God, for the healing of the whole holy world, and for our life together and our shared ministry over the last many years (We exist because we exchange). Praise God!

Peace and blessing,

Susan PT

Susan Power Trucksess
Associate Pastor

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On November 25th our church family will be offering our gifts in thanksgiving for all that we have been given. As you begin preparations to celebrate your good fortune with family and friends this holiday, please remember our Branford neighbors who are not as fortunate.

Your generous offering will benefit the Community Dining Room, the Branford Food Pantry, and the Branford Counseling Center Fuel Assistance Program. All three of these local organizations do so much to help Branford’s neighbors in need.

Serve the LORD with gladness and make this Thanksgiving a way to bless his name!

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From the Board of Christian Education

The Sunday school has gotten off to a great start. We have Franklin Brown teaching the 1st-4th graders and Linda Mitchell teaching Pre-K and K. We need some substitutes, though! We have a curriculum that we follow so all the planning is done for you. If you are willing to be on our list, please put your name and number on the pew pads with the comment, Sunday School Sub. Thank you for supporting our children, and our church!

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Saturday, December 1, 2018

9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

This year is our 91st Church Fair and we know it will be enjoyed by all. The Fair has always been the single most important fellowship event of the year, bringing together the members of the congregation. There are countless ways for everyone, young and old, to volunteer and participate in this worthy and memorable event. It’s also a great time for new members to become acquainted and for old members to get reacquainted.


As a tradition, the men of the Church have provided a delicious lunch. This year’s offerings will include quiche, hot dogs, hamburgers, homemade clam chowder and soups and our famous Swedish logs. Email if you’d like to help.

CURIOSITY SHOP Linda Marchesseault 203-481-3902
Clean out your closets and bring us your “curiosities”: kitchenware, knickknacks, curtains and materials, candles, pictures or any “curious” whatever you may find!!!

TOYS, GAMES, Nancy Jakubiak 203-481-3881
This room is filled with your new and gently-used toys, stuffed animals, games, baby equipment, children’s books, movies and computer games. Puzzles, too! Please help by donating clean items in good condition. Parents and grandparents are welcome to shop here as well as the kids!!

JEWELRY Lynne Hoadley 203-488-1527
Clean out your drawers and jewelry boxes. We are looking for women’s and men’s jewelry, scarves, gloves, ties, belts, pocketbooks and accessories.

SILENT AUCTION Lil Sakai 203-208-0406
Donate a service to the Fair or come the day of the Fair to bid on the services being offered. Some suggestions are: make a dinner, babysitting, pet sitting, computer lessons, homemade bread, household chores, boat cruise, weekend at vacation home, musical services, tutoring services or a special creation of your own. Be imaginative!

COOKIE WALK Peggy Keck 203-481-6507
Newly introduced last year and sold-out by 11:30a.m., we look forward to another successful Cookie Walk this year! Shoppers can stroll the "Cookie Walk" and fill a box with homemade cookies. Choose from all your holiday favorites at one low price. Cookies make a great hostess gift or will be enjoyed by you and your family in a wink of an eye.

HANDMADE GIFTS Carol Rutt 203-488-3349
Your own creations and crafts are greatly appreciated. Hand-knitted and crocheted items, handbags, hats and scarves, vests, aprons and hand-fashioned jewelry. There is something for everyone on your list.

The Wine Pull was a huge success last year! Donated bottles of wine will be on display--all dressed in handsome knitted sweaters so the labels cannot be seen. Some of the bottles will be inexpensive, some will be in the middle price range, some will be above average, and some will be expensive. For $10 dollars, you can select a bottle for yourself or for a gift. The wine and value will be a surprise!

CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS Elaine Keith 203-488-0350
This year we will offer beautiful handcrafted wreaths, pine cone trees, cork ornaments and much more created by members of the church. Creative gifts your family and friends will love.

BOOKS/MUSIC Nancy Beccia 203-483-1268
Clear off those shelves and donate your used books, children’s books, records, cassette tapes, CDs and videos. Sheet music - vocal, religious and instrumental -is also welcome. Please, no old encyclopedia sets or old dictionaries. Thanks!

GOLDEN NUGGET Betsy Gay, Kathy Fox, Barbara Colley
This is the time to donate those nice items that you don’t use anymore and that take up space in your china closet and your attic -- glass, crystal, china, silver, pewter, brass, collectibles, artwork and whatever other treasures you can donate.

SET UP/BREAKDOWN Paul Chaplin 203 481-3902
We are looking for a few strong muscles to move tables up and down the stairs and to help carry the boxes to the different departments on Thursday night to set up each room and clean-up on Saturday after the fair.

HOMEMADE GRAB ‘N GO Susan McColl 203-640-2529
Who has time to cook during these busy days of Christmas? Take home a single piece of pie, container of baked beans, chili, mac & cheese, etc. for yourself and/or your family. Make your favorite recipe and drop it off at the Church the day before the Fair. Some suggestions are: cakes, pies, breads, jams and jellies, sauces, relishes, vinegars. Please label ingredients, especially nuts and raisins. Call Susan if you’d like to volunteer.

CHRISTMAS REVISITED Carol Hoadley 203-488-4530
Rummage through your boxes of ornaments and decorations and drop off those you don’t need anymore. While you’re at the fair, check out the beauties from Christmas past.

CHRISTMAS GREENS Lisa O’Brien 203-483-5682
Decorating wreaths is a labor of love for several of the gardeners and flower designers in the church. Donations of holly, pine and any other decorative greenery, along with natural embellishments like pods and unusual cones are always needed. Come help on Wednesday or Friday morning prior to the fair to make swags and decorate the wreaths.

You can never have enough chocolate!! Our church members will be busy making various flavors of fudge. Surely you’ll find a favorite. We welcome your sweet confection creations as well.

Beautiful personalized Christmas tree ornaments…perfect as teacher’s gifts. Decorating a specialty.

Ways To Help At The Christmas Fair December 1

• Donate items to Golden Nuggets, Books/Music, Children’s Toys/Games, Jewelry, or Christmas Revisited, or Curiosity. Please note we cannot accept old TV sets or baby toys, strollers, bassinettes, playpens for Christmas Fair donations. Thank you!

• Stage open for donations on 11/11/18. Please, no clothing, shoes or TVs.

Donate a bottle of wine for the Wine Pull.

• Make handcrafted items, baked goods and/or candy.

• Donate your time, vacation home, gift basket, service/talent or special dinner or dessert for the Silent Auction.

• Decorate wreaths and swags.

• Work in the kitchen – Gents only, please.

• Volunteer the day of the fair.

• Help with set-up before and clean-up after the fair.

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The Christmas Fair Cookie Walk is happening once again this year and we’re looking for folks, a/k/a Cookie Elves, who are willing to bake and donate two big batches (6-10 dozen) of Christmas cookies! The sign-up sheet is posted on the bulletin board in Pilgrim Hall along with an informational sheet for each elf. Contact Peggy Keck with any questions.

Also posted on the bulletin board in Pilgrim Hall is a wish list for the fair—items we are asking to be donated to help different areas of the fair. Check it out!

Please pick up a sign to place in your yard and/or a flyer to post where you work or play. These are located near the office reception area.

Timeline for 91st Annual Church Christmas Fair

SUNDAY, November 11, 2018
Stage will be open for donated items.

WEDNESDAY, November 28, 2018
10:00a.m. – Meet in Pilgrim Hall to make swags.
Bring gloves and pruners.

THURSDAY, November 29, 2018
6:00p.m. – Help set-up tables, signs, etc. throughout the whole church. Stop on your way home from work.

FRIDAY, November 30, 2018
9:00a.m. Set-up the departments, decorate wreaths. Bring a potluck lunch to share at noon.

SATURDAY, December 1, 2018 – The Fair
9:00a.m. to 2:00p.m.
Come shop, eat and volunteer! At 2:00p,m.,
help us clean-up and put everything away.

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Donate a Wreath

In Memory/Honor of: _______________________________

Given by: _________________________________________

Cost: $12.00 – These wreaths will adorn the Meetinghouse for the Holiday Season. Make checks payable to FCC-B. Please drop this form in the collection plate. Thank you.

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Did you miss Rev. Suz' sermon "This Little Light of Mine"? You can read it here>>>

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This Little Light

Remember the words to that old hymn....This Little Light Of Mine I'm gonna let it shine? And the verse Out there in the dark I'm gonna let it shine?

With so much darkness in the world today, there is such a great need to let our lights a living church Making Christ's Love Known in Word and Action as well as individually. This new section of the eSpire will feature articles on Peace and Justice issues. Some will be calls to action, some will be thought-provoking, some will challenge you. With some you may disagree. Please let me know if you have articles you would like to share.
Betsy Hyde

Good folksongs can express Biblical truths, as in Gordon Lightfoot’s Summertime Dream: “And the house you live in will never fall down, if you pity the stranger who stands by your gate.” The Bible reminds us, as people of God, to welcome the stranger. The Refugee Welcome Committee (RWC) of Branford was gathered from this church, from other churches, and from the secular community in response to the desperate need of millions of refugees worldwide. A dedicated core group has remained active despite the harsh, politically motivated swerve away from the American tradition of welcoming immigrants.

Over the last three years, we have worked to do our part in co-sponsorship with the Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS) of New Haven to welcome refugees to Branford. Our first family, a mom and five-year-old twins arrived from Iraq, where the husband and father had died of a heart attack while being pursued by a gang bent on revenging his help to American forces. We housed them (Thanks, Bob Zettergren!), fed them, helped them to begin to learn English, made them feel safe, saw to their healthcare, and spent many hours and much labor with transportation and basic friendliness.

Then, in the face of the ban on refugees, we welcomed a family who had moved to Branford, a mom and dad and four children from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In their months-long flight from tribal warfare, the father had been shot twice! We worked with the local soccer organization to get the children involved. We found donated furniture to improve their living standard. We did our best to have them become part of our community.

Under a surviving immigration program called the Special Immigrant Visa Program, we co-sponsored a couple from Kabul, Afghanistan. We found appropriate housing, provided for healthcare, arranged for participation in English for Speakers of Other Languages education at Branford High School, got them access to the Branford Food Bank, helped to find employment, and spent untold hours in transportation, assistance with daily living needs, and struggling with bureaucracy.

There have of course been difficulties along the way. Frustrations arise from language difficulties, from vast cultural differences, from perceived entitlement (sort of like raising a teenager!). Viewed as a whole, however, I think that there is not a person who has worked with us who does not participate in the joy of knowing that we, in our small way, have made an immeasurable improvement in the lives of people who desperately needed us. Two of our families have moved to Texas, to be near relatives and to benefit from the lower cost of living and better employment opportunities. We continue to help our Afghan couple as we can, and to the extent that we should.

When our church started this effort, we did no fund-raising, because we didn’t need to! Donations came in from across the country as people learned what we were endeavoring to do. Also, our church’s endowment funds have been generous! We have had enough to do what needed to be done.

What is the future of the RWC? The current core of the Committee, ranging in age from 70 to 86, is old and tired, but no less passionate about our responsibility to welcome the stranger. Is there a group of younger, vigorous people who will pick up the mantle? Our committee encompasses a treasure trove of experience which we will love to share, and IRIS will provide excellent training and guidance. I have faith that the people of God will continue to let our light shine!
Bill Hall
Chair RWC

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From your Stewardship Committee

We’re almost three quarters into the year and we’ve almost received three quarters of your pledges. Keep your pledges coming in please.

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Carol's Corner

Have you ever wondered how Branford came to be settled? It started in the town of Wethersfield in 1638 where a dispute was going on in their church. Some wanted the minister to leave and some wanted him to stay. Rev. John Davenport went up from New Haven to listen to both sides and made his decision. In effect he said, “Those of you who don’t like him why don’t you move. There is a nice piece of land east of New Haven with a small friendly tribe of Native Americans who want help against marauding hostile tribes.” They were only ten families with their sachem Sowheog. Some men went down and purchased Totokett for “11 coats of trucking clothing and one coat of English cloth, made in the English fashion.” In 1644, 37 families arrived, of which 34 were from Wethersfield and three from New Haven. Some came down by boat on the Connecticut River and others walked, driving their domestic animals. There is no date recorded when the change was made from Totokett to Branford.
Carol Hoadley

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Intergenerational Activities

Tuesday, December 4
Painting Night from 5:30-8pm
The folks from Fired Up will come over and host a painting night. The painting will be pre-determined. They will supply all of the materials. There will be slight fee for this evening (TBA)

Tuesday, December 11
Gingerbread Making Night Extreme from 6-8pm
The folks from the Christmas fair will be helping our youth decorate gingerbread houses!!

Note: We are working with the folks from Sanctuary Kitchen to have an intergenerational cooking event in Pilgrim Hall. They will do a cooking demonstration by refugee Chefs and then we will eat together. (DATE TBA)

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A new approach for ALL to participate in the coffee hour after the 10:00 AM service when we greet each other, share a cup of coffee and meet new friends.

Each month a group will be asked to donate a snack or treat and when possible serve coffee.

In November those members whose last name begins with E, F, or G 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!

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 November, if your last name begins with E, F, or G, send an email if you can serve one Sunday during the month. For this month report to Rowena Gatta at We’re counting on everyone to serve at least one coffee hour.

If you have any other questions, email. text or call me. 203-483-8039
Deanna O’Connell

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

November 11th & 25th
December 2nd & 16th
January 6th & 13th
February 3rd & 24th
March 3rd & 17th
April 7th & 28th
May 5th (5:30pm start) Youth Group Tool Time

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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.

The meetings will be as follows:
December 5, 5:30-Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
January 8, 5:30-Biography or memoir of your choice
February 6. 5:30-Sourdough by Robin Sloan

Everyone is welcome. We meet in the Russel Room.

Barbara Colley

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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

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For Our Prayers This Week

We give thanks for…
The day ahead dedicated to giving thanks for blessings and bounty
The commitment and pledges of many members and friends to our church as it seeks to be a worthy part of the Body of Christ in the world
The many who have served First Congregational from its earliest days and who will lead it into its future

We pray for….
All those in California who have faced and are still facing great losses in life and property from raging wild fires
Our nation as it seeks to live out right principles and freedoms
Enough food and drink to go around for those who sit beyond the reach of our own dinner tables

Ongoing prayers for…
Lou Bocciarelli, Linda Mitchell, 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.

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Life Among the Believers

Sunday, November 18 – Thanksgiving Service & Susan Power Trucksess’ Farewell
10:00 am Worship Service Meetinghouse
11:00 am Retirement Party for Susan Power Trucksess Pilgrim Hall

Monday, November 19
Office OPEN

Tuesday, November 20
10:00 am Staff Meeting Russel Room
7:00 pm Bell Rehearsal Sanctuary

Wednesday, November 21
Office open 9:00 am – 12:00 pm

Thursday, November 22 – Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 23

Sunday, November 25 – The Holy Baptism of Jacob and Tessa van den Pol
8:00 am Worship Service Walker Chapel
10:00 am Worship Service Meetinghouse
6:00 pm High School Youth Group Pilgrim Hall

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Looking Ahead

November 25: The Holy Baptism of Jacob and Tessa van den Pol, Kelly Martens’ twins,
Bruncheon Reception after (email if you can help)

November 26 – November 30: Preparation for the Christmas Fair
December 1: Church Christmas Fair from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm – Support our 91st church fair!
December 2: First Sunday of Advent; Holy Communion
Life Among the Believers in Pilgrim Hall at 11:30 am
December 4: Intergenerational Painting Night in Pilgrim Hall at 5:30 pm
December 6: Branford Rotary Club Holiday Dinner in Pilgrim Hall
December 8: Take-A-Vet Fishing Holiday Lunch in Pilgrim Hall
December 9: Second Sunday of Advent; Life Among the Believers in Pilgrim Hall at 11:30 am
December 11: Intergenerational Gingerbread Making in Pilgrim Hall at 6:00 pm
December 13: Branford Counseling Center Holiday Dinner in Pilgrim Hall at 5:30 pm
December 16: Third Sunday of Advent; A Cantata for Advent in the Meetinghouse at 10:00 am




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 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 will now only be sold after worship on Sundays.

 Big Y  Stop and Shop 

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