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Sunday December 8, 2019

Second Sunday of Advent

Worship at 10 am in the Meetinghouse


First Congregational Church of Branford

92nd Annual Christmas Fair

Saturday December 7th 9am - 2pm

Handmade gifts, wreaths, baked goods, cookie walk, and breakfast/lunch will be served.

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Life Among the Believers

Peaceful greetings to you, Beloved. On Sunday, Jeff Buggee and Linda Mitchell will light the second candle on our Advent wreath, the Candle of Peace. The Candle of Hope, which we lit last week, will already bear light, and Jeff and Linda will take the light from Hope to light Peace. The Advent wreath candles work together. The Christ child, whose light we light on Christmas Eve, bears the gifts of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. That’s what he’s coming to bring you and me.

In the midst of this busy season, with all of its plans, meals, parties, guests, families, concerts, shopping, lights, wreaths, trees, ornaments, decorating, baking, carols and bells, cards and notes and stories, movies, TV specials, laughter and tears, how about taking a moment, right now - do not pass go to read the rest of the eSpire - close your eyes and think for just a moment of the place Hope, Peace, Joy, Love play in your life, then take another moment to thank God and Jesus for loving you so much that they are going to break into your world to once again offer you those very gifts. In particular, in the 12-8 through 12-14 week, receive the gift of Peace.

But, you don’t have to wait! You can stop at any moment and take a breath. Sit in the silence. Usher in the Peace that the Christ child gives; choose peace over chaos; encourage a let peace begin with me attitude - and then send it out into our world. Stop and be still.

On Sunday, while we’ll see the return of John the Baptist as he prepares the way for the Messiah (Mark 1:1-8, and we’ll read Isaiah 40:1-11, in which there’s a prophecy of a voice crying out in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord), the sermon will include a time of relaxation for your beautiful soul to prepare the way for peace. Peace on the outside has to begin with peace on the inside, right?? The sermon title is “Preparing the Way.” In the midst of it we’ll sing “Come and Fill our Hearts” (With Your Peace) from the Taize community. The words will be printed in the bulletin.

And, oh, how we will be rich in music! The Sanctuary and Youth Choirs will offer the Introit with “Shine Advent Candle,” by Jean Schafferman. The Sanctuary Choir has quite a meaningful anthem called “The Holly and the Ivy,” arr. R. Shephard. Our Bell Choir will ring “German Carol Medley.” Together we’ll sing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” and “Silent Night, Holy Night,” and “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light.”

But, first, beloved, TA DA DA: THERE IS FCCB’S 92ND ANNUAL CHRISTMAS FAIR this Saturday, December 7, 2019, 9am - 2pm! And, oh, what a spectacle it will be! We give thanks for the hours and hours and hours our fair organizers and workers have put into this fair, and we give thanks for all of the congregation and friends’ contributions. Elaine Keith has coordinated another amazing event for the church, and our elf hats are off to her! Come and support the fair, as well as the fairs happening at our sister Baptist and Episcopal churches on the Green.

As Advent festivities help us prepare to welcome the Christ child, you could also ask yourself these questions:

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?
Think about holiness. What does it mean to you? How do you experience it in your life?

This is Betsy Dorsi’s prayer under her booklet devotional for Week Two, Peace:
During this second week of Advent, Lord, help us to remember that your Law is love. Help us to enjoy peace of mind and heart that comes from being loving people who love their God and their neighbor and themselves. Help us to feel the greatest peace of all, that which comes from knowing we are your own sons and daughters. Amen.

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

Fair thee well!

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


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.

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FCCB Stewardship Campaign Update

Continuing along the way!

As of December 3rd, the 2020 FCCB Stewardship Campaign has received:

73 pledges totaling $138,815 in commitments

If you have yet to submit your pledge, please complete the pledge card that was sent to you in the mail or fill out a card located in the pews. You can put them in the collection plate during the offering or mail them to the office (1009 Main Street, Branford, CT 06405, Attention: Stewardship). If you have any questions, please email me at cmarsh14@aol.comand I will do my best to help. You can also reach out to Rev Suz at

Sharing this simple act of gratitude, of sharing your gifts, is a true sign of God’s grace that shows us all the way to a future of faith.

Chip Marsh
Stewardship Chair

giving tree

December 1st - December 15th

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 1st. All gifts must be returned to the church on or before December 15th. Thank you for your generosity in fulfilling the wishes of the Center’s children!

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December 1st – December 15th

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.


Donate a Wreath

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In Memory/Honor of: _______________________________

Given by: _________________________________________

Cost: $12.00 – These wreaths will adorn the Meetinghouse for the Holiday Season. Make checks payable to FCCB and note Wreath in the memo line. Please drop this form in the collection plate. Thank you.

Donate a Poinsettia

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In memory of…………………...……………………...……………………….

In honor of……………………………………………………………………….

(Please indicate name(s) as they should appear in the bulletin)

Contact name…………………………………….………………………………….


Please check one:

Deliver my plant to a homebound person

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 12/15/2019

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Saturday, 12/7/19, from 9a.m. until 2p.m.

We are celebrating our 92nd 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.

Ways to help at our 12/7/19 Christmas Fair

• Donate items to Golden Nuggets, Books/Music, Children’s Toys/Games, Jewelry or Curiosity.

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

• Donate a bottle of wine for the Wine Toss.

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

• Donate new or re-gifted items for our basket raffle.

• 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.

• Cut your evergreens and drop them off outside the Chapel door.

• Come to the Fair!

Here are our festive departments and committee chairs!

Cookie Walk Carol Titcomb 203-488-3088
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/Eleanor Radune
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.

Wine Toss Bud Beccia 203-483-1268
We’re doing something a little different this year. Donated bottles of wine will be on display--all dressed and trimmed in either red or white ribbon, signifying red or white wine. 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. Simply aim and toss a ring toward your bottle of choice. 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
Again, this year we will offer beautiful handcrafted wreaths, table top Christmas 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 Rosalie DeCrosta
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.

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.

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

Luncheon Jim Boak
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 at 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.

Basket Raffle 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!


The Choir has been busy working on this year’s cantata, “Candles and Carols” since October of this year and will be presenting it on December 15th during the 10 am worship service. We will be joined by a few members of the community and a chamber ensemble, and I hope you can all attend and bring a friend! But this week we have a special musical treat! The youth choir and Sanctuary Choir will be joining forces and singing our Introit, a song titled “Shine Advent Candle.” This anthem incorporates part of “O Come O Come Emmanuel” and a new melody that sings of the advent candle turning our darkness into light. The children are very excited to join the adult choir, and I am excited to continue our advent journey with this celebration of song.

~Katie Jones

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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

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What do you want for Christmas? Let Rev. Suz share her sermon from December 1st with you. Read more >>>


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 memory of Sandra Chisholm by Teresa Sander.

For Our Prayers This Week...

We give thanks for...
The Season of Advent
The amazing and astounding Christmas Fair 2019, and the success we know it will be, and for all of its workers!
The blessing of the FCCB 2020 Stewardship Season
Those who work as First Responders
The many DOT workers who mobilize to clear roads and parking lots

We pray for...
Our Pastoral Search Committee
Our next Settled Minister and family (whoever they are, wherever they are, surrounded in love)
Those grieving for the nine passengers killed when a plane crashed in South Dakota on Saturday
Those suffering after a shooting in New Orleans Sunday left 10 people injured
Those grieving or suffering after several mass shootings in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Illinois left 5 dead and 20 injured on Sunday

Connecticut UCC Conference Churches we lift up this week...
East Woodstock Congregational Church UCC; Congregational Church of Easton Inc UCC; Ellington Congregational Church UCC; Enfield Congregational Church UCC; First Congregational Church in Essex UCC

We grieve with…
Debbie Laudano and family in the loss of her ex-husband’s father, Tony Laudano, on November 23, 2019.

Ongoing prayers for…
Don Potter, Patti Zettergren, Kristen & her husband (Susan Power Trucksess’ daughter and son-in-law), Frank Barron, William Chisholm (Teresa Sander’s Grandfather), George Spear, Janet Young, Jo-Ann Farrell (Linda Mitchell’s Aunt), Jean Andros, 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), Rick Barker, 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 8, Second Sunday of Advent
10:00 am Worship Service Meetinghouse
11:00 am Music Board Meeting Room 25
2:00 pm Messiah Rehearsal Meetinghouse
6:00 pm Youth Group Meeting Pilgrim Hall

Monday, December 9
7:00 pm Stewardship Board Meeting Room 25

Tuesday, December 10
2:00 pm Bridge Club Sanctuary
5:30 pm Branford Counseling Center Holiday Dinner Pilgrim Hall
7:00 pm Diaconate Meeting Russel Room
7:00 pm Bell Choir Rehearsal Sanctuary

Wednesday, December 11
8:30 am WIC Program All Purpose Room
5:30 pm Lotus Yoga All Purpose Room

Thursday, December 12
7:00 am Rotary Holiday Senior Dinner Pilgrim Hall
10:00 am Knitting, Purling, Praying Russel Room
7:00 pm Choir Rehearsal Sanctuary

Friday, December 13

Saturday, December 14
10:00 am TAVF Christmas Luncheon for Vets Pilgrim Hall
8:00 Branford Folk Music Society Pilgrim Hall

Sunday, December 15, Christmas Cantata
10:00 am Worship Service Meetinghouse
2:00 pm Messiah Rehearsal Meetinghouse
5:30 pm Christmas Nativity Pageant Meetinghouse

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December 8: 6:00 – 8:00 pm, Youth Group Meeting
December 15: 10:00 am, Christmas Cantata
5:30 pm, Christmas Nativity Pageant
December 22 The Messiah Concert 5:00pm
December 24: 5:00 pm, Christmas Eve Service


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

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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.


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 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.

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