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Sunday, December 2, 2018

First Sunday in Advent

Worship 8:00 am in Walker Chapel
Worship 10:00 am in the Meetinghouse

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Life Among the Believers

Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.

~ Maori Proverb

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;

those who lived in a land of deep darkness, on them light has shined.

~ Isaiah 9:2 him was life, and the life was the light of all people.

~ John 1:4

Hello, light in the darkness believer!

December 2nd is the First Sunday of Advent. In Advent we remember the time when people waited for the long-expected Messiah - in deepest night his coming shall be, when all the world is despairing... [he'll] come as a baby weak and poor, to bring all hearts together, he opens wide the heavenly door and lives now inside us forever. ~ Marty Haugen. On Sunday we’ll light the Candle of HOPE on our Advent wreath. We’ll place our hope again upon a brand new baby who wants to loves us, and who wants to be loved by us. If your life is feeling bleak at this moment, and/or you are in fear, confusion, and/or upset over national and world events, hope on for the light that shines in the darkness. May Advent touch down in your heart, and in the world’s heart. Behold the Hope of the Christ child.

Light Shines: A crowdfunding campaign begun by two Muslim groups raised over $55,000 for the victims of the October 27 synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh. The funds are intended to help defray medical and burial costs. Sponsoring organizations said they’re trying to send a message from the Muslim community that there is no place for this kind of hatred and violence in America. (~The Hill, October 28)

I’d like to introduce a new component to our worship service, and we’ll see how it goes long-term. This Sunday following our candlelighting we’ll replace our Gathering Prayer with a section called Kindness Wins (Moment of Kindness). I’ll make an invitation for anyone to share of a kindness they themselves either received or gave, or it could be a kindness they observed. I hope someone’s hand will raise! In a world where you can be anything, be kind. ~ Jennifer Dukes Lee

I think it’s time for me to tell the story of the journey of the font. You may have come to the Meetinghouse one Sunday morning and noted the baptismal font in its usual place, lectern side, next to the window, only to come the next time to see it right in front of the middle section of our pews - and nothing was said about it! It had been moved for the baptism on October 14th. It seemed important to bring the font to the people, to have it more centrally located, since baptism is central to our Christian faith. It’s the doorway through which someone becomes a Christian. What a great reminder to have it front and center! On Baptism Day God says to the candidate, family, sponsors, friends, church community, I love this person!, and because I love this person, so ought you love this person, and help bring them up in the faith. It takes a village to raise a good Christian! I had spoken with the Deacons and they approved the move to its current location. I then asked John Woods and Joe Cutrona if they could make the move with the church dolly. Believe me, it was still an ordeal because we think the font probably weighs a half ton! Joe suggested we run a contest to guess the weight of the font! Come close sometime and take a look at it, and touch it. You’ll see inscribed on its cover, In Memoriam Deacon William Van Wilgen 1884-1945; and on the side of the font: In Memoriam Rev. Theophilus S. Devitt, Ph.D., D.D. Minister To This Church 1893-1909. Let’s do what Jesus and John the Baptist said, Go and baptize!

I wish you and us, and all the world, a most blessed Advent.
Light shines!

See you at the Fair this Saturday, 9a-2p!

Making Christ’s Love Known in Word and Action,
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


Life Among the Believers Conversations

We’re holding three life among the believers conversations following the Discernment Team’s report and recommendations. The first conversation will take place this Sunday at 11:30am in the Meetinghouse. Each area of the report will get its own focus, so we’d like to stay focused on the particular area that day. For instance, on December 2nd, we’ll focus on our joy, what our community feels led to do as a community, mission-wise. On December 16th, we’ll focus on the church’s endowments. And, on January 6th we’ll discuss the staff recommendations. It’s pretty important to attend all 3, so we hope you’ll stay for each one. In these conversations, which Dave Reif and Kathy Fox will facilitate, please know that you’ll have a chance to talk and to be heard. ~ Rev. Suz

(Kathy Fox passed along this article below, and she, Dave, and I thought it might assist us in our mission conversation on December 2.


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.

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Saturday, December 1, 2018

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

The countdown is on!




• CUT GREENS (Leave by Chapel doors)


• TREASURES (Drop off on stage)


Questions? Call Deanna (203-483-8039) or Elaine (203-488-0350)


Timeline for 91st Annual Church Christmas Fair

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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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.

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The choir needs you!

If you want to sing with the choir for the Christmas Eve 5pm service, please join us for two rehearsals on December 13th and December 20th from 7-8pm. We will be singing carols and two anthems. The choir would love to have anyone interested in singing join us for this joyous service no matter their age or experience in a choir!

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Community Dining Room Service Day!

Hi everyone,

Six times a year we have a unique opportunity to serve our  neighbors-in-need  in the Branford area by preparing and serving 50-60 wholesome and delicious, hot midday meals at the Community Dining Room. Our volunteer team is one of many that contribute to a daily work schedule at the CDR. It's coordinated through the First Congregational Church of Branford and we welcome anyone who would like to help!

Sunday, December 2nd is our next service date at the  Community  Dining  Room. Start time is 9:30am  for prepping. After your morning church service is fine too. If you're serving only, please come by  11:45 am.  We do need more servers  for 50-60 meals.  And of course we clean up and do dishes…and are done by 1:30/1:45 pm.

Thank you, and we look forward to seeing you as always!

Regards, Ray
CDR Service Coordinator, FCCB
PS: Yes, for High School Students - this counts for your Community Service hours! Bring your forms to get credit. Feel free to share this message with a friend, or send me their email to add to the list.

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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 FCCB. Please drop this form in the collection plate. Thank you.

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Donate a Poinsettia

o IN MEMORY OF…………………………...……………………...……………………

o IN HONOR OF ………………………………………………………………………….
CONTACT NAME……………………………………………………..……………………………
o Deliver my plant to a homebound person
o I will take my plant home after worship December 24th

Cost: $12.00—Please make checks payable to First Congregational Church and note Poinsettia in the memo line.
Please drop this form in the collection plate or at the Church office.
Deadline 12/16/2018

giving tree

The First Congregational Church of Branford, in co-operation with the Branford Counseling Center, will be collecting Christmas presents for families in need. As in previous years there will be a tree in Pilgrim Hall decorated with “wish list” ornaments. Please select an ornament and purchase the listed gift. PLEASE DO NOT WRAP THE GIFTS. Bring the un-wrapped gift with the ornament attached and return it under the tree. The tree will be in Pilgrim Hall on Sunday, December 2nd. All gifts must be returned to the church on or before December 16th. Thank you for your generosity in fulfilling the wishes of the Center’s children!

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December 2 – December 16
We are collecting new mittens, gloves, hats and scarves to be distributed
in Branford by the Branford Counseling Center.
The tree will be located by the reception desk.


Hospitality in December

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 December all those who whose last name beginning with H, I, J, or K are asked to bring a snack or treat and serve one Sunday in December. This month servers and snacks are needed December 2, 16, and 23rd.

In January those members whose last name begins with L and M 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.

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

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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)


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

December 2nd & 16th
January 6th & 13th
February 3rd & 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


For Our Prayers This Week

We give thanks for…
The success of the 91st Annual Christmas Fair and the enthusiasm and energy of all who made it happen
More opportunities to share with others through the Giving and Mitten Trees
Seasonal joys and activities in the Church, along with the coming Cantata
The end of the recent California wildfires and missing people being found alive

We pray for…
Advent blessings to abound
Immediate efforts to treat the refugees humanely

We grieve with…
The Cudgma family at the loss of Steve’s father, Jack, on November 10th

Ongoing prayers for…
Nancy Johnson, 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.

Life Among the Believers

Sunday, December 2 – First Sunday of Advent, Holy Communion
8:00 am Worship Service Walker Chapel
9:00 am CE Board Meeting Russel Room
9:30 am Community Dining Room Meal Community Dining Room
10:00 am Worship Service Meetinghouse
11:30 am Life Among the Believers Pilgrim Hall
4:00 pm Confirmation Class All Purpose Room
6:00 pm High School Youth Group Pilgrim Hall & Kitchen

Tuesday, December 4
10:00 am Staff Meeting Russel Room
3:00 pm 375th Committee Meeting Pilgrim Hall
5:30 pm Intergenerational Painting Night Pilgrim Hall
7:00 pm Land & Building Meeting Room 25
7:00 pm Bell Rehearsal Sanctuary

Wednesday, December 5
5:00 pm Book Group Russel Room

Thursday, December 6
5:00 pm Branford Rotary Club Holiday Dinner Pilgrim Hall & Kitchen
7:00 pm Choir Rehearsal Sanctuary

Friday, December 7
10:00 am TAVF Veteran’s Christmas Party Preparation Kitchen

Saturday, December 8
10:00 am TAVF Veteran’s Christmas Party Pilgrim Hall & Kitchen

Sunday, December 9 – 10:00 am service only
**10:00 am Worship Service & Cantata for Advent Meetinghouse
11:00 am Music Board Meeting Room 25

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Looking Ahead

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; Life Among the Believers in Pilgrim Hall, 11:30 am
December 21: Branford Messiah Performance at 7:30 pm in the Meetinghouse
December 24: Christmas Eve Service at 5:00 pm in the Meetinghouse
December 27: Knitting, Purling, praying at 10:00 am in the Russel Room
December 30: First Sunday after Christmas; please bring fresh produce for the last Sunday of the month!




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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