lent 7894c

March 1, 2020

First Sunday in Lent

Holy Communion

Worship at 10 am in the Meetinghouse

Screen Shot 2020-02-26 at 6.15.12 PM

Life Among the Believers

Well, that’s a little frightening, isn’t it, Beloved? But, have no fear, your heavenly God above, and Jesus himself are there to encourage you as the Tempter comes to you - each and every day, right?? We can get through those encounters unharmed if we’re prepared. We know that Jesus recites scripture to get him through, and he confronts Satan directly by saying, “get behind me, Satan.” That’s a good one to remember when something not very good for you begins to entice you.

We’ve entered Lent’s 40 days and 40 nights of preparation on the way to the cross, as we once again hear and live the story of love and pain, compassion and fear. How might you like to prepare this year? Devote time each day to quiet reflection, prayer, or fasting? You might decide to let go of or limit one or two things that tempt you to live by your own will: depending on your cell phone, computer, daily news, need for attention. I encourage you to choose some kind of discipline, and to keep it through Lent. What’s God calling you to do/do without this Lent? Choir Director Katie Jones passed along something she’d seen online, “40 Simple Practices for Lent: Field Notes with Sarah Bessey.” Here’s a sampling of the next 7 days, beginning with Day 2 (Day 1 was Ash Wednesday).:

Day 2: Download an app like “Common Prayer” or pick up a prayer book like Eastertide by Phyllis Tickle and begin to pray the daily offices at morning, midday, and evening. Do this throughout Lent.

Day 3: Choose something to fast throughout Lent to remind you of your dependence on God. Something like the traditional meat or alcohol, sugar or caffeine or even social media. (One year, my friend gave up sleeping in. Another friend gave up complaining, another gave up cynicism, another unnecessary spending.) Be creative and honest about your dependencies. Look for ways to channel that energy into something generative and healing. P.S. you don’t have to fast on Sundays!

Day 4: Pray for your friends and for your enemy/ies by name. Bless them, one by one. Think of the person you most struggle to love and pray for them as a beloved child of God.

Day 5: If you normally listen to a podcast or music or watch TV, choose silence for the day.

Day 6: Unfollow or mute five social media accounts that make you feel angry, afraid, or envious.

Day 7: Read Psalm 51 three times out loud in a different Bible translation than you usually read.

This Sunday’s March 1 Worship, with Holy Communion, is The First Sunday in Lent. Our Youth Choir brings our Introit, “What Wondrous Love.” The Sanctuary Choir’s anthem is “Beneath the Cross,” arr. By R.E. Schram, and during Communion they’ll sing J. Althouse’s “One Bread, One Body.” Joe Cutrona is the liturgist and we’ll offer “A Tempter and Lay Reader Dialogue,” followed by the Gospel Lesson Luke 4:1-13. The sermon title is “On Whom or What Do You Rely?”

Oh, Sexton John Woods had told me last August about a new coffee shop that was opening in Deep River called The Nest, that is operated by those with special needs. Ken and I finally made it there last Saturday, and it is now our new favorite place! It is adorable inside, and so cozy. There’s a huge tree painted on one wall, and a large nest built in on another wall. On each table is a small cardboard sandwich board that reads on one side: Our Mission: We strive to change the lives of young adults with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities by creating employment and social opportunities. We also take the lead to increase acceptance that these young adults are valuable community members. a little compassion. The other side: The Nest Coffee House welcomes and includes people of all abilities, identities, and backgrounds. We believe that a diverse and fully inclusive community creates a better world for us all. We ask for your patience, understanding, and compassion, as our staff strives to provide you with the best experience possible at The Nest. understanding starts here They have a great website: https://thenestcoffeehouse.org John said, “there should be more around the state, and country.” There should be! I invite you to support The Nest, 162 Main St., Deep River.

Sure would like for you to sign up for liturgist in Sunday worship. And, repeatedly! I usually send a draft of the worship service a week in advance to the liturgist, and I highlight the liturgist’s part in the bulletin. What’s involved is to lead the printed Call to Celebration, lead the printed Gathering Prayer, ask for Joys and Concerns, ask for someone to share A Random Act of Kindness, offer a prayer (one you write or find online or find in our hymnal or offer extemporaneously), closing with the printed Lord’s Prayer. The liturgist also invites the congregation to give an offering, collects the plates with the minister from the ushers, places them on the communion table, then leads the printed Prayer of Dedication, and at the end, gives the printed Commissioning, “And all God’s people said…” That’s all there is to it. And, the minister is there to help and encourage. We had a new liturgist this past Sunday who had felt the nudge to sign-up. How about you? You are needed. The sign-up sheet is in Pilgrim Hall, or you can email me or call the church.

We pray for those random or deliberate acts of kindness:
Dear Lord, help us to see and respond to the needs of others and to fully appreciate the kindnesses shown to us by friends, family, or even strangers. Amen.

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

As seen in the periodical, The Christian Century

(submitted by Rev. Suz)

There’s a Facebook page for people who are homeless to keep in touch with each other and provide support, with 1,200 members and counting. Increasingly, people who are homeless have smart phones through which they can access social media. They use the Facebook page to share ideas about how to survive on the streets and to mitigate their loneliness. Started three years ago by a man who used to be homeless, the rules are simple: be kind and respectful; no racism; no solicitation; everyone needs to feel safe. Some nurses, doctors, and social workers are in the group as well to provide support (Los Angeles Times, January 22).

Children living in poor highland farming communities and along the ‘dry corridor’ running through Central America are bearing the brunt of a severe drought. Guatemala, which has one of the world’s highest rates of child malnutrition, recorded more than 15,300 cases of acute malnutrition in children under five last year, up nearly 24 percent from 2018. Guatemala’s farmers are reeling from a series of prolonged droughts in recent years and from a lengthy heat wave last year as climate change brings drier conditions and erratic rainfall. (Reuters, January 21).

Copyright © 2020 by the Christian Century. Reprinted by permission from the February 26, 2020 issue of the Christian Century. Subscriptions: $65/yr. from P. O. Box 429, Congers, NY 10920–0429. (800) 208-4097. Christiancentury.org


Christian Education Chat with Kerry

It is officially Lent, a time of the church year for reflection and prayer. Our 2nd-6th grade Sunday School class is working on a project for the season of Lent challenging them to give of themselves with their actions and they are tracking what they are doing day to day. They have been challenged, on a daily basis, to pick one of these options:
• Say an extra prayer for someone else
• Help someone else.
• To do something good that was hard for them to do.
• To do something that they are supposed to do without being told.

It is a tall order for them, and I have faith that they will be successful! On each Sunday during Lent, there will be an opportunity for them to write down one or two things they did on a poster in the hallway downstairs, to encourage all of us!

This coming Sunday, March 1st, is Communion Sunday. In both classrooms the children will be learning about the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes. It is a great reminder of those who we are all supposed to be helping in this world; a great reminder about following Jesus by asking “What Would Jesus Do? Who would he help?”

Starting this coming Wednesday, March 4 we have the Lenten Study Series: Our Lenten Journey: The Way to Christ and continuing Wednesdays through Lent. There are some wonderful speakers and activities planned. In addition to the speakers, I will be there with age appropriate activities that go with the theme for the evening. These will be available after dinner during the program portion of the evening. Please plan to join us for these family friendly evenings.

Finally, I would like to challenge us all to fast during Lent. This does not mean what you may think. If you are considering a fast of any kind during Lent as a symbol or act of devotion, I encourage us to use some of these wise words from Pope Francis. Consider fasting in these ways:
• Fast from hurting words and say kind words.
• Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.
• Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.
• Fast from worries and have trust in God.

I am sending a weekly email to our families involved in the Sunday School. If you would like to receive this email weekly, please email me at kerry@firstcongregationalbranford.org.

In Peace,
Kerry Stewart
Christian Education Coordinator


FCCB's Five Week Lenten Series

Our Lenten Journey: The Way to Christ

Week One, March 4, 6:00-6:30 pm, soup dinner

followed by program from 6:30 pm-7:30 pm

The Way to Christ through Prayer (journal exercise)

“Wherever two or more of you are gathered in my name, I am in your midst”. This scripture text is the theme of the Upper Room devotional magazine. Daily scripture-based devotions, written by Christians from around the world, are compiled into bi-monthly booklets and shared internationally. Together, each day, Christians around the world reflect on the same scripture and insightful devotion. Christ is there in the prayer and reflection of his followers, as individually they gather together in his name. Come, join us for a time of devotion through reflecting upon the questions Rev. Suz has chosen from the back of the Upper Room booklet. Each participant will be given a journal and a “religious pencil” on March 4 to use through the series. You may then bring the journal and pencil to use for each of the various programs on the 5 Wednesdays, which concludes with another Upper Room journal exercise on April 1. There’ll be a time to share within a small group what you’ve written, but no one is required to share. Come join us on our Lenten Journey as we gather to grow on our way to Christ.

Kerry Stewart, our Christian Education Coordinator, will be there with age appropriate activities for children that will be available after dinner during the program.

The free dinners will consist of a soup, salad, and bread dinner at 6:00 with the program beginning at 6:30. Members can help make these events special by sharing your talent or time. Do you have a favorite soup recipe? Would you make a salad or bring some bread? We also need help setting up Pilgrim Hall before the dinner and doing clean up after the program.

You can sign up to help for each of the weekly dinners online at: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/20f0b48aaa62fa1fa7-lenten1

For more information, contact Jennifer McCaughtry at (618) 954-8439 or grantland_pooh@hotmail.com.

Please join us on this Lenten Journey and share the way forward!


Ever Building CCCLXXV Book

Congratulations, Wayne! You’ve compiled, written and illustrated a remarkable book. It’s a history, it’s a gathering of stories, and the drawings are cute, clever and cunning. As Karen Jensen, Blackstone Librarian, said, “Wow, what a wonderful publication!”.

Copies of the book are available for $10 each for this run. The next one, they’ll cost $18.

Please order by email 375@firstcongregationalbranford.org and send your checks made out to FCCB, with “375 book” in the memo. Or, see Margot Hardenbergh roaming around after coffee hour, or whenever.

Screen Shot 2020-02-27 at 10.09.12 AM

Scholarship Program

The purpose of the First Congregational Church of Branford Scholarship program is to provide some financial aid to needy and worthy young men and women who are members or are children or grandchildren of members of The First Congregational Church of Branford (FCCB). Applicants for a scholarship grant must be a senior at a private or public secondary school, who are planning to attend a post-secondary school. Scholarship grants are given to the recipients for use during their first year of post-secondary education and are paid in two halves. The first half of the grant is paid to a recipient after confirmation of the school the recipient will be attending. The second half is paid to a recipient after the recipient provides to the Scholarship Committee a copy of their first semester transcript, showing they have achieved at least a “C” average. Applications are available in the office. The deadline  is April 1, 2020.

Screen Shot 2018-09-03 at 7.50.01 AM

Here is the sermon from February 23, in case you missed it! Read...>>>



In March those members whose last name begins with R 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 April, if your last name begins with S or T, 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

(note date changes for March and April)
Here is a list of the books we have chosen:
March 5 – Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
April 2 – Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
May 6 – The Library by Susan Orlean

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

Barbara Colley


New Office Hours as of February 25, 2020

Tuesday & Wednesday 5:30 – 8:00pm

Thursday 9:00am – 4:00pm, Friday 8:00am – 1:00pm


Birthdays and Anniversaries

Happy Birthday to Parker Buggee on March 1st.

For Our Prayers This Week...

We give thanks for...
When we seek to stand with our neighbors in the many fights for justice
For the hope and promise that comes with the beginning of Lent, and to rejoice in the glorious news that Lent and Easter are messages of God’s enormous love for us
FCCB’s Lenten dinner and programming

We pray for…
For the many suffering from influenza and other viruses this season
Those who struggle with mental illness
Our Pastoral Search Committee
Our next Settled Minister and family (whoever they are, wherever they are, surrounded in love)

In honor of our covenant as a church conference, please pray for these Southern New England Conference churches this week: First Congregational Church of the UCC, Wellfleet, MA; Wellesley Hills Congregational Church, UCC; The Wellesley Congregational Church; United Church of Christ Federated, Webster, MA; Armenian Memorial Church, Watertown, MA; First Congregational Church, Watertown, CT; First Congregational Church of Waterbury, Inc.; Hopeville Church, Waterbury, CT; Mill Plain Union Church, Waterbury, CT; First Congregational Church of Washington; First Congregational Church of Warwick UCC; Trinitarian Congregational Church, Warwick, MA

Ongoing prayers for…
A family member of Lisa Ingram who works for Paychex, a service FCCB uses (bookkeeper, Pat Carroll), Weston Margaroff (age 5, friend of Lois Hoadley Kolligian), 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, March 1
10:00 am Worship Service with Holy Communion Meetinghouse
11:15 am Worship Team Meeting Russel Room

Tuesday, March 3
2:00 pm Bridge Club Pilgrim Hall
7:00 pm Bell Choir Rehearsal Sanctuary

Wednesday, March 4
5:30 pm Lotus Yoga All Purpose Room
6:00 pm Lenten Family Dinner & Program Pilgrim Hall

Thursday, March 5
7:00 pm Book Group Russel Room

Friday, March 6

Saturday, March 7

Sunday, March 8
10:00 am Worship Service Meetinghouse

Looking Ahead:

March 4, 6:00pm-7:30pm: Soup & Bread; Lenten Series: The Way to Christ through Prayer (journal exercise)

March 8: Daylight Savings Time ends, spring forward one hour

March 11, 6:00pm-7:30pm: Soup & Bread; Lenten Series: The Way to Focus on the Goal (Speaker: Soccer Coach)

March 18, 6:00pm-7:30pm: Soup & Bread; Lenten Series: The Way to Christ One Day at a Time (Speaker: from Alcoholics Anonymous)

March 25, 6:00pm-7:30pm: Soup & Bread; Lenten Series: The Way to Christ through Community (Speaker: Kerry Stewart, FCCB C.E. Coordinator)

April 1, 6:00pm-7:30pm: Soup & Bread; Lenten Series: The Way to Christ through Prayer (journal exercise)

April 5, 10:00am, Meetinghouse: Palm Sunday Worship and Holy Communion

April 6, 7:00pm, Pilgrim Hall: Maundy Thursday Service

April 10, Noon-3pm, Good Friday Service, Town Green Churches

April 12, 10:00am, Meetinghouse: Easter Sunday Worship

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 smile.amazon.com, and First Congregational Church can receive donations from AmazonSmile.

StartWithaSmile at smile.amazon.com/ch/06-6042800 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 office@firstcongregationalbranford.org
• 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