Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 9.42.37 AM

Sunday December 22, 2019

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Worship at 10 am in the Meetinghouse


There will be no eSpire next week. We wish a very Merry Christmas to all!

Screen Shot 2019-12-19 at 10.53.08 AM

Life Among the Believers

Advent greetings, Beloved, as we approach the Sunday of Love. Can you take a moment and let that Love sink right in? Doesn’t it feel awesome to know that God loves you, no matter what? It’s not always easy to receive unconditional love from our family and friends, and, boy, can that ever sting. But, God’s Love is so much Greater, Beloved. Thank you, God, Creator, Father/Mother, Accepter, Redeemer. Thank you for filling our heart with Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love, in anticipation to receive you again as a newborn babe. We can’t wait to hold you, Precious, Holy One. Born to us, our Emmanuel.

We’re blessed to have Cheryl Tripp and her children, Scarletrose and Sebastian, light The Love Candle on this fourth and last Sunday of Advent. We’ll sing “Of the Father’s Love Begotten,” “O Holy Night,” and “Good Christian Friends, Rejoice.” Our Sanctuary Choir will sing “Prepare Thyself, Zion,” by Bach. Scripture readings are Genesis 1:1-4 and John 1:1-5,14. The sermon title is “In the Beginning (A Love Story),” something I wrote long ago.

Here’s another story that needs some Love. My 89 year old Aunt and I, along with my siblings, share Christmas cards, but I hadn’t spoken on the phone with Aunt Donna for some time. Divorced since she was 30, she lives alone in a house in South Bend, Indiana, a home she’s lived in for over 60 years. She called me this past Sunday evening, as I was coming home from our adorable Christmas pageant, and spectacular Christmas Cantata that morning. She first shared that she wanted to update her directory. She then told me that her health hasn’t been good. She has known for some time that she needs to move into a nursing home. The plan had been that when a daughter and son-in-law moved back to the area that there would be a mother-in-law suite in the house. That didn’t happen. And, they’re in Indianapolis, 2.5 hours away. She doesn’t see Elizabeth very much, and her other daughter, who is very busy with her dental practice, rarely calls, or has time for her. She lost her eldest daughter, Sande, many years ago. Donna doesn’t feel the winter is the right time to sell her house, and she’s hesitant, after being entirely independent for close to 60 years, to abide by the rules of a nursing home. She says on her street alone there are 5 elderly women living alone in their home for this very reason. But, Donna, now battling the addition of vertigo, needs help. Near the end of our conversation when I said, “You need someone to care for you now, to give you some tender, loving care,” she was quiet, then said she had to get off the phone because she was going to start to cry. My heart broke for her, and for all elderly persons who are in similar situations. We need tender, loving care when our body, and our mind break down. I pray for my Aunt, I pray for myself in how this is going to inform me going forward. I pray that God touches Donna’s children in such a way that they will have a desire to take care of their mother. Isn’t this what Love is all about? Come, Lord, Jesus, to my Aunt who walks in darkness. Shine your loving light.

And now, beloved, here are some last questions to help you welcome the Christ child:

From Manger and Mystery: An Advent Adventure, Marilyn Brown Oden, 1999
When did you most feel the presence of God this week?
When did you least feel the presence of God this week?
God gave Mary a precious gift. What special gift has God given you? How are you able to fulfill that gift, that vocation, in your occupation or your leisure time?
Reflect on a time when you walked in darkness, and the darkness did not overcome you.

What might you do so your Christmas giving could become a remembrance and honoring of the Christ child?

This is Betsy Dorsi’s prayer under her booklet devotional for Week Four, Love:
Everpresent and everloving God, as we pray and prepare for your rebirth, help us be more loving every day. Help us follow your example of love by placing our hope in you, by working for peace and justice, by sharing our joy, by living your love. Help us to bring Jesus to everyone we meet so everyone may know the love God has for them. Amen.

May you rest in the love that new days will bring God’s new blessings.

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

As seen in the periodical, The Christian Century

(submitted by Rev. Suz)

Fred Rogers, whose life is showcased in the movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, with Tom Hanks playing Rogers, was a seminary-trained Presbyterian minister who regularly appeared before church elders in order to keep up his ministerial standing. Before each episode of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, he would pray, “Let some word that is heard be thine.” The central message of his program for children - that they are loved just the way they are - was his expression of the Christian gospel. Rogers didn’t speak overtly about faith on the TV program, believing that he taught the faith through example rather than words. (CNN, November 23, 2019).

Half of Protestant pastors say a member of their congregation has been personally affected by opioid abuse, according to a survey released in November by LifeWay Research. Of 1,000 pastors and priests interviewed, 66 percent said a family member of someone in their congregation has been personally affected by opioid abuse, while 55 percent say they know of someone outside the church who is struggling with opioids. Fifty-two percent said misuse of opioids affects a member of their church. Knowledge of abuse is more prevalent in churches located in the Northeast than the Midwest and West (Baptist News Global, November 20, 2019).

Copyright © 2019 by the Christian Century. Reprinted by permission from the December 18, 2019 issue of the Christian Century. Subscriptions: $65/yr. from P. O. Box 429, Congers, NY 10920–0429. (800) 208-4097.


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.

Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 9.50.41 AM

Christmas Offering

At Christmastime, we at First Congregational Church Branford (FCCB) remember the joy and promise that the birth of the Christ Child brings to us. We also reflect on the blessings of another year. The annual Christmas Offering is an opportunity for our Church family to share its gifts and continue its mission.

Throughout the Bible, God shows a special concern for the poor, disadvantaged and needy. We believe that he expects his followers to do the same. Guided by scripture, the FCCB Mission Board has prayerfully discerned the recipients of this year’s Christmas Offering:
• One half will be given to the Branford Food Pantry, which supplies groceries and meals to Branford residents who are in need.
• One half of the donations will go to Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services (IRIS) in New Haven to support refugees and asylum seekers, to embrace our nation’s noble tradition of welcoming the persecuted.

Matthew 25:35-36 (NIV)
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me…

Deuteronomy 10:18-19 (NIV)
He loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.

As you acknowledge the gift of Jesus Christ to you, please help spread the joy of his birth through your offering donation. You may place the special Christmas Offering envelope in the offering plate during the December 22nd, 24th or 29th worship services. May God bless you and your family this Christmas season.


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.


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!

Screen Shot 2019-12-04 at 3.03.29 PM



In December those members whose last name begins with H, I, J or K 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!

In January, if your last name begins with L or M, send me an email if you can serve one Sunday during the month.

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.

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

Screen Shot 2019-12-19 at 3.52.35 PM


The brown 4 tray Cambro Food Carrier FCCB owns has gone missing. If you have seen it recently or know who might have borrowed it, can you please contact the Church Office (Phone: 203/488-7201 or email and pass the information on.

Land & Building


Book Group

Here is a list of the books we have chosen:
January 8 – Biography or memoir of your choice
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 Coen, Ellerie & Kayla Widmeyer’s birthdays,
from the Widmeyer Family.

The poinsettias are in celebration of the birth of our Lord.

For Our Prayers This Week...

We give thanks for...
God coming to earth as the Christ child
Carolers who visit shut-ins and others for whom travel is difficult

We pray for...
Our Pastoral Search Committee
Our next Settled Minister and family (whoever they are, wherever they are, surrounded in love)
Those who are grieving the loss of a loved one(s) this Christmas
Migrant children still separated from their families by border authorities

Connecticut UCC Conference Churches we lift up this week...
Glastonbury, Buckingham Congregational UCC; First Church of Christ Congregational, Glastonbury; Goshen, Church of Christ Congregational; First Congregational Church of Granby, UCC; Granby, South Congregational Church, UCC

We grieve with…
Linda Mitchell & family in the loss of her aunt, Joann Farrell, who passed away on
December 16, 2019

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, December 22
10:00 am Worship Service Meetinghouse
2:30 pm Pastoral Search Committee Russel Room
5:00 pm Branford Messiah Concert Meetinghouse

Monday, December 23

Tuesday, December 24
2:00 pm Bridge Club Pilgrim Hall
4:00 pm Human Resources Board Meeting Russel Room
5:00 pm, Christmas Eve Service Meetinghouse

Wednesday, December 25/Christmas Day

Thursday, December 26
10:00 am Knitting, Purling, Praying Russel Room

Friday, December 27

Saturday, December 28

Sunday, December 29
10:00 am Worship Service Meetinghouse

events 6877a

December 22: 5:00 pm, Branford Messiah Concert

December 24: 5:00 pm, Christmas Eve Service

December 25 Merry Christmas


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

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 5.39.35 PM

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.


Screen Shot 2019-07-24 at 3.29.38 PM
Screen Shot 2019-07-24 at 3.29.27 PM


 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.

Powered by Mad Mimi®A GoDaddy® company