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Sunday September 17, 2017

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Worship Service 8:00 am Walker Chapel

Worship Service 10:00 Meetinghouse

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Ponderings…..rallying on the path

It’s hard to know what to call this coming Sunday. Rally Day invokes the atmosphere of the first football game of the season. Homecoming or Welcome Home (as some churches name it) implies that we have all been away for months, which is not true – not true for God or for the many who regularly worshipped at 9:00am or volunteered at Killam’s Point camps or sold Grocery Cards or participated in Board and committee activities.

So we’ll stick with Rally Day for the occasion of celebrating being back in full swing at FCC – with a picnic to boot! But where are we this Rally Day? Things have recently changed yet again in terms of pastoral leadership. We’re in another transition – an Interim Interim some of us are labeling it.

What shall we do in this time period? What is the path we should be on? Perhaps an image from the spiritual world will help us. The Quaker author Richard J. Foster in his classic book Celebration of Discipline suggests we visualize the following scenario.

There is a long narrow ridge with a sheer drop-off on either side. The chasm to the right has been called the way of moralism. In this chasm we sincerely will ourselves to do the Right thing. We strive ever so hard to do our best – applying principles, setting standards, evaluating goals, measuring results. Such behavior may look effective and good on the outside, but it can lack heart, generosity and compassion.

The chasm on the left looks entirely differently. It looks like moral bankruptcy, marked by an absence of any human strivings. People who fall into this gorge simply give up. The situation seems so sad, so depleted, so wearying that they just stop trying. They fall away and leave it to others to carry on.

But, friends, fear not of falling into one pit or another for on the ridge there is a path. It is the path of the spiritual life – the life centered in God and Jesus Christ. The path of trusting in the grace of God working in our midst in this place and time (as God does in all places and times). It is the path that leads to inner transformation, to new possibilities, to new growth, to further deepening, to healing. God has a purpose for FCC and God’s spirit will fill us and lead us forward.

God’s grace is always a gift. We cannot demand it. We cannot create it, but we can stay on the path, veering neither to the right nor to the left, and thus be in position to receive the gift. When we stay on course, the blessings of God will come upon us and mold us into the people and the congregation we are meant to be, part of the body of Christ in the world. This is a lovely time to be faithful, generous, forgiving, dedicated, trusting and hopeful.

So let’s gather on Rally Day, at 8:00 or 10:00, and celebrate our being called together, such a disparate group of people, to stay on the path toward whatever God is leading us, finding ways to talk and listen to each other (but I am getting ahead of myself for that is Sunday’s sermon – the puzzling wonderment of Babel). Hope to see many of you as we rally.
Peace and blessing,

Susan PT
Susan Power Trucksess, Associate Minister

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Responding to Disaster

In our relative safety here in Branford, we watch in horror the unfolding of the unbelievable damage caused by Hurricane Harvey as it whirls around inflicting more and more death, hardship, and loss.

What can we do – as individuals and as a community? There are many good ways to respond, but the Mission Board, with the approval of Council, has opened the way for us at FCC to respond as a church, through the church – to carry out our commission to care for the least, the most vulnerable, the most needy.

The Mission Board has established a special offering opportunity to provide financial aid to victims of Hurricane Harvey through the UCC Disaster Ministries. Contributions will be received for the next 3 weeks – from September 3rd – September 17th, and they will be forwarded to the _Emergency USA Fund for Hurricane Harvey Relief._

The UCC Disaster Ministries has already geared up for “long-term recovery work in the region and contributions for Harvey survivors means providing community support for holistic recovery, repairing house and home for families and children and restoring dignity for the most vulnerable who have lost everything in the wake of this catastrophic event.”

This agency of our denomination promises that 100% of the funds received will be used in direct emergency relief efforts.

All kinds of individual responses are welcome and needed, but for our congregation to respond as a congregation would be a sign of our vitality, our compassion, and our Christian commitment to meeting the needs of God’s world. The Mission Board will designate some moneys, but we believe much more will be forthcoming from our members and friends when we work as a body of believers.

2000 years ago the Apostle Paul pleaded with believers and stable churches to make a “collection” for others in need as proof of their love (II Corinthians 8:24). Can we do less?

As a good way to show our love, we can contribute through our church to the efforts of the wider church of Jesus Christ. Gifts may be made out to First Congregational Church marked for Hurricane Harvey in the notation line, and put in the collection plates on Sundays or delivered or mailed to the church office.

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Fall Programs and Activities at FCCB

Knitting Purling and Praying

Knitters, crafters, women who want to create, converse (which is different than “gossip”) and pray….come join our Knitting, Purling and Praying group which meets (usually) on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of each month. We resume our gatherings on Thursday, September 14 and 28 from 10:00 to 11:15 in the Russel Room. We create prayer shawls, mission project donations, baby blankets and even gifts for folks we love. No entrance exam or quality check required; just come! We’d love to see you there.

Sisters in the Spirit

Join us for an evening of food (vegetarian) for body and soul and conversation on Wednesday, October 11th from 6:00 – 8:00 when we meet with another woman who will share with us her story of her faith life and practices as she lives them out in an everyday existence very much like ours. Our guest will be Rachana Sampat, who was born and educated in India, has several graduate degrees, moved to the US with her husband, raises two children, works from home for a large international technology firm, speaks 5 Indian languages….. and is a devout Hindu. Sign up soon as we can only accommodate 30. Donation of $10.00 is requested.

Practicing Joy Together

A new offering in which a small group of interested persons will meet together monthly to explore or grow in understanding and appreciation of some of the age-old “spiritual practices” which have shaped Christians for centuries. We will spend time learning about various exercises, experience them together and then commit to practicing them on our own until hopefully they become part of our daily lives. Not so much a matter of learning mechanics, but rather a way to make space for God in our busy worlds. Begins Tuesday, Sept. 19th from 6:00-7:30 pm in the Russel Room. Talk to Susan PT if you are interested, or just come.

Friendly Visitors

As folks in our congregation age or experience more physical limitations, we continue to seek ways to remain in contact and conversation with them. Friendly Visitors make phone calls, send cards, drop by for a chat, share news from the church in an easy 1:1 way. We could use a few more volunteers in this outreach ministry. Talk to Susan PT if you have a few minutes each month to be a friend to someone who is not able to participate in our common life as easily as she or he used to do.

Stephen Ministry

Our 7 Stephen Ministers remain active and available to meet with folks who are experiencing particular challenges in life and would like to have someone accompany them through a difficult time. No one needs to walk alone and we are here to help. Speak to Lil Sakai or Susan PT if you have a concern and want some support. Bearing one another’s burdens is our purpose and goal.

Bible Study at Evergreen Woods

As part of our outreach into the greater community, our weekly Bible study at Evergreen Woods resumes on September 28th. We will look at the 4 great themes in Scripture: God is with us, God is most concerned with the least of these; God loves us; God is always bigger than we think. Sounds simple? But what a way to build your life on! Perhaps someone would like to join us in this study?

Family Group Night

This group is for families with youth of ALL ages. They will have an opportunity for fellowship, fun, service, and creative faith growing activities. This group will meet twice a month on Tuesday nights from 5:15-7:00.

Teen Talk (with adult program Practicing Joy Together)

This is an opportunity for teens from our church grades 8 and above to come together and talk about issues that are relevant for their lives today. They will be held from 6:00-7:30 in the church kitchen. There will be a program run by The Reverend Susan Trucksess in the Russel Room for adults called "Practicing Joy Together".

High School Youth Group

This group is for teens in grades 9-12 and open to the community. Many of these teens will attend the mission trip in June, however, you do not have to be a part of the mission trip to attend the get togethers. A series of speakers, discussions relevant to today's teen, and service opportunities will be presented. Groups begin at 6:00 and end at 7:30 on Sunday nights.

Music Programs

The music program at FCC has a vibrant music program. For kids, there is the youth choir that meets Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. For adults, those who sing are welcome to join the senior choir, which meets at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday nights. The senior choir also presents a cantata and special music for Easter.

For those who do not like to sing, the adult bell choir meets at 7 p.m. on Tuesday night and typically plays once a month. Youth Bells will be rehearsing on Tuesdays at 4:15 just prior to Family group night. Any student in grades 5-12 (or those with prior ringing experience) are welcome to join our group. Beginner chimes will be scheduled at the convenience of families with students in grades 2-4.

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Sisters in the Spirit

Join us for an evening of food (vegetarian) for body and soul and conversation on Wednesday, October 11th from 6:00 – 8:00 when we meet with another woman who will share with us her story of her faith life and practices as she lives them out in an everyday existence very much like ours. Our guest will be Rachana Sampat, who was born and educated in India, has several graduate degrees, moved to the US with her husband, raises two children, works from home for a large international technology firm, speaks 5 Indian languages….. and is a devout Hindu. Sign up soon as we can only accommodate 30. Donation of $10.00 is requested.

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Practicing Joy Together - Another Opportunity to Strengthen

Beginning September 19th

Discipline.....Exercise...practice, practice, practice!

How do those words strike you? Perhaps as important, worthwhile, noble activities...but not too joyful? Not something we would choose to do eagerly?

Well, I am hoping that a few of us would like to gather together to re-think and experience
the value of doing practices - spiritual practices - together as a group.

I am eager to join with some others to begin Practicing Joy Together, a communal activity where we would meet periodically to explore or grow in understanding and appreciation of some of the age-old "spiritual disciplines" that have shaped Christians for centuries. We would spend some time learning more about various exercises, and then commit to practicing them together and on our own until hopefully they became part of our daily lives.

We could think of spiritual exercises as demanding sweat, blood and tears (as hours in the gym do for many of us). Or we could envision them as....
* Making space for God in our busy worlds
* Clearing away the clutter which weighs us down so much of the time
* Seeking first the Kingdom of God
* Keeping company with Jesus
* Training in faithfulness.

Any one of these intentions sounds pretty joyful, exciting, expansive, doesn't it? And while spiritual disciplines are most often thought of as done individually, there is extra benefit when practiced in community. As one pastor puts it, "When we do things with others, it makes up for our own shortcomings [and lapses]."

Guided by a book called Joy Together, I envision us meeting once a month to consider such things as Thankfulness, Contemplative Prayer and Scriptural Reading, Hospitality, Sabbath, Fasting - and other less structured practices which we do almost without thinking.

Our first meeting would be on Tuesday, September 19th from 6-7:30. That is the same time that Teen Talk will be held, so parents of youth attending that meeting would be free to join us while they wait for their offspring. At that time we will consider future meeting times.

All are welcome - all who are eager to tap into God's wisdom amidst the accelerating pace of life.

Talk to me if you are interested, or just come and we will talk then. SPT

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Christmas Fair Workshops

Would you believe it? Volunteering at your church and other institutions are good for your health and makes you better able to resist losing some of your cognitive skills. Engaging in stimulating activities keeps your mind alert. (as reported in Woman’s Day magazine)

The Fair crafters are meeting during September and October to create items to sell at the Fair. We meet every other Monday to talk about possible projects, share good conversation, and even enjoy a lite lunch. I’ll provide soup and bread. Come to 37 Ark Road September 11th at noon to join the group. Call Deanna O’Connell at 203-483-8039 or doconnell28@comcast.net with any questions.

Fair Workshops
September 11th and 25th
October 9th and 23rd
37 Ark Road
12:00- 2:00 pm
Deanna O’Connell
doconnell28@comcast.net

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Can you help the Hospitality Committee?

Even if you don’t serve coffee/tea on Sunday or bake the cookies, you can greatly help – buy a $25 Shop Rite gift card to donate to the Committee. This money would buy milk, drinks for the kids, and possibly snacks. Here’s another win-win situation. You are not only giving needed support to Hospitality but buying the gift card helps support the church. Just ask Julia or the members who sell on Sunday to give to the appropriate people. Thank you for your support.

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Knitting, Purling, Praying

Knitters, crafters, women who want to converse (which is different than “gossip”) and pray….come join our Knitting, Purling and Praying group which meets (usually) on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of each month. We resume our gatherings on Thursday, September 14 and 28 from 10:00 to 11:15 in the Russel Room. We create prayer shawls, mission project donations, baby blankets and even gifts for folks we love. No entrance exam or quality check required; just come! We’d love to see you there

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Ireland Trip

I am heading up another trip to Ireland. We will have an informational meeting Monday, September 18th at 7:00pm in the Russel Room. If you are interested, please contact Theresa ahead of the meeting. The trip will be in April.

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Lead Deacon

The Lead Deacon for the Month of September is Al Russell.
Al can be reached via phone at: 203-488-2733.

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Sanctuary Flowers

The Sanctuary Flower chart has been replaced with a much nicer chart and is displayed for now on the bulletin board where the board minutes used to be located.

Please come and fill in the rest of the dates!

A $35 donation to the flower fund is suggested, unless the flowers are from your garden!

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For Our Prayers This Week

We give thanks for…
A reason to celebrate our church life on Rally Day
Acts of generosity and courage during the recent devastating natural catastrophes
The ongoing cycle of seasons, each with their own beauty and tempo

We pray for…
Those in the beginning stages of recovery from hurricanes, wildfires and floods
Those fleeing political oppression, ethnic cleansing, starvation and epidemics

We grieve with…
Kathy Castellon and family at the death of her father, Harry Anderson, who died Sept. 5th
Those who’ve lost loved ones, homes and livelihoods

Ongoing prayers for…
Betsy & Peter Boynton, Jeff Buggee, Rick Buggee (Jeff’s brother), Daria Carlson, Mary Collins (Betsy Dorsi’s sister), Edward DeFrancesco, Dormer Family, Eleanor Eadie (Emily Fielding’s sister), Robert & Margaret Gehm (parents of Nancy Gehm), Judy Hotz, Rachael Leihbacher (Spencer Buggee’s godmother), Laci Lewis (Betsy Dorsi’s student), Earl Lind, Frank Malinconico, Joe Mele (Jen McCaughtry’s uncle), Dawn Neely (friend of Jen McCaughtry), Mary, Kirsten & Rosabelle (Sharon Reynolds’ niece and family), Barbara Mehring, Paul K. Miller (Sean McGraw’s friend), Rose & Tom Moore (mother & brother of Sharon Reynolds), Terri Northcutt (friend of Lil Sakai), Sylvia O’Brien, Debbie Pearl (friend of Lil Sakai), Nancy Power (Susan Trucksess’ sister), George Spear, John Woods and family, and Janet Young.

The Lead Deacon for the Month of September is Al Russell.
Al can be reached via phone: 203-488-2733.

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Church Calendar

Sunday, September 17
8:00 am Worship Service Walker Chapel
10:00 am Worship Service/New Members Meetinghouse
11:30 am Rally Day Killam’s Point
1:00 pm Family Day Town Green

Monday, September 18
7:00 pm Ireland Informational Meeting Russel Room

Tuesday, September 19
10:00 am Staff Meeting Russel Room
6:00 pm Practicing Joy Together Pilgrim Hall
6:30 pm Teen Talk Kitchen
7:00 pm Finance Board Meeting Room 18

Wednesday, September 20
11:00 am Evergreen Woods Bible Study Evergreen Woods

Thursday, September 21
9:30 am CDC Happy Feet Pilgrim Hall
7:00 pm Bridge Lessons Pilgrim Hall
7:00 pm Sanctuary Choir Meetinghouse

Friday, September 22

Saturday, September 23
7:00 am TAVF Branford Yacht Club
8:00 am Educational & Art Fair Town Green

Sunday, September 24
8:00 am Worship Service Walker Chapel
10:00 am Worship Service Meetinghouse
6:00 pm Mandatory Mission Trip Meeting Meetinghouse/Pilgrim Hall

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Notifications

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Check Out The Church Facebook Page

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Click the link below to be brought right to the page and like it! And be sure to share with your friends.

https://www.facebook.com/FirstCongregationalBranford/

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Amazon Smiles Donations

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StartWithaSmile at smile.amazon.com/ch/06-6042800 for your purchases and Amazon donates to First Congregational Church.

Information Regarding The eSpire

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Grocery Cards

Grocery cards are on sale Sundays after service or in the church office,
Monday-Thursday 9:00-3:00 pm.

 Big Y  Stop and Shop  Shop Rite 

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