Sunday February 10, 2019

5th Sunday after Epiphany

Worship 8:00 am in the Chapel

Worship 10:00 am in the Meetinghouse

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Life Among the Believers

Greetings, Beloved Comma! Ha, you had to be in worship last Sunday to get that. I mentioned how each of us can be called God’s comma. Try to remember that today, wherever you are, with whatever is going on in your life. After worship someone was sharing of a prior beloved professor of theirs who died, and I mentioned his death as a comma, but how it feels like a period to the one who has been left. They said, “no, it’s a comma. He influenced my life so much that he will always be a part of who I am. But, it’s a sad comma.” I thought that was beautifully expressed.

Speaking of the heavenly comma, the Sanctuary Choir will sing a very lovely anthem this Sunday called Homeward Bound. The scripture is Luke 5:1-11, when Jesus calls his first disciples, the fishermen. Jesus offers them a new way to fish, and asks that they follow him to learn about it. He’d like for them to make their home in him. The choral anthem is about returning home: set me free to find my calling, and I'll return to you somehow. Without Jesus, we may not get very far in life, we may even come up empty-handed, just like those fishermen experienced when they came in from a long hard night with no fish. But, with Jesus in their boat, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break! He then tells them from now on they’ll be catching people the same way. Imagine! They left everything and followed him. So, our singing will include How Great Thou Art, and I Love to Tell the Story.

I was visiting someone on Tuesday who shared that they spend a lot of time talking with God, which is always a great thing to hear! The person then said they don’t listen nearly as much as they should! I then shared this story about a little girl who was sitting on a bench in the park, talking to God. When she was finished, she got up and ran off, then suddenly stopped, ran back to the bench to take a seat, because she remembered that she hadn’t given God a chance to speak. So, she listened. The person I visited really loved that and said the story would definitely stay with them. Don’t get up too soon!

Speaking of prayer, we church staff alternate who opens our weekly staff meeting. We either provide a prayer, poem, piece of music, piece of art, or recently Sophy opened with a portion of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I have a dream speech. This past Tuesday it was John Woods’ turn, and he likes to play a piece of music on his phone. Today he sensitively offered, “The Prayer” (Carole Bayer Sager/David Foster): I pray you’ll be our eyes, and watch us where we go. And help us to be wise, in times when we don’t know. Let this be our prayer, when we lose our way. Lead us to a place, guide us with your grace, to a place where we’ll be safe. I pray we’ll find your light, and hold it in our hearts, when stars go out each night; let this be our prayer, when shadows fill our day. Lead us to a place, guide us with your grace, give us faith so we’ll be safe. We ask that life be kind, and watch us from above, we hope each soul will find another soul to love. Let this be our prayer, just like every child, need to find a place, guide us with your grace, give us faith so we’ll be safe.

Here’s to the prayer, the fish, and the comma, comma, comma.

Making Christ’s Love Known in Word and Action
Rev. Suz, Interim Senior Minister
(~happy to visit with you in your home, church office, cafe, a walk~)

Black History Month, also known as African-American History Month in the U.S., is an annual observance in Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It began as a way for remembering important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. It is celebrated annually in the United States and Canada in February, as well as in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Republic of Ireland in October.
Black History Month often sparks an annual debate about the continued usefulness and fairness of a designated month dedicated to the history of one race. Criticisms include questions over whether it is appropriate to confine the celebration of black history to one month, as opposed to integration of black history into the mainstream education the rest of the year. Another criticism is that contrary to the original inspiration for Black History Month, which was a desire to redress the manner in which American schools failed to represent black historical figures as anything other than slaves or colonial subjects, Black History Month reduces complex historical figures to overly simplified objects of hero worship. Other critics refer to the celebration as racist.

Actor and director Morgan Freeman and actress Stacey Dash have criticized the concept of declaring only one month as Black History Month. Freeman noted, "I don't want a Black history month. Black history is American history.” (~ Wikipedia submitted by Rev. Suz)


March 5: Shrove Tuesday Pancake Dinner at 6 pm in Pilgrim Hall

March 6: Ash Wednesday 7 pm service in Walker Chapel

March 13, 20, and 27 Lenten Supper Series: Wilderness Wanderings at 6 pm in Pilgrim Hall - look for sign-ups to bring soup; followed by a 6:30 pm-7:30 pm program

April 3: Seder at 6 pm in Pilgrim Hall

April 18: Maundy Thursday service at 7 pm in Pilgrim Hall

April 19: Good Friday Ecumenical service
beginning at Noon at St. Mary’s

April 21: Easter Sunday Sunrise Service at 6 am
at Killam’s Point, Love’s Beach;
9 am and 11 am services in the Church Meetinghouse


Pastoral Search Committee

The Board of Deacons is charged by the FCCB By-Laws with beginning the search for a Senior Minister by forming a Pastoral Search Committee. The Pastoral Search Committee must be comprised of 7 to 12 active church members including 1 member from of the Board of Deacons and 1 member from the Stewardship Board. This committee will conduct a search for a suitable candidate and recommend that candidate to the Board of Deacons. If the Board of Deacons accepts the recommendation, it will recommend the candidate to the Church Council. If the Church Council accepts the recommendation, it will be presented to the congregation for approval.

It is clear that the Pastoral Search Committee will perform a vital role for the church in selecting a ministerial candidate who best fills the needs and desires of our church. A pastoral search is a lengthy process that is expected to take a year or 2 beginning with the creation of a church profile to share with prospective candidates.
The Board of Deacons will select members that represent various age and interest groups so that the Pastoral Search Committee will reflect the diversity of our church membership. If you would like to be considered for this very important task, please give your written request to any Deacon and understand that not all requests can be honored.

First Congregational Church Board of Deacons
Nancy Beccia Alfred Mahan
Mary Dallas Linda Marchesseault
Margot Hardenbergh Richard Radune
Wayne Jacobson


From our 375th committee:

We want to thank all those who helped with our most successful event this past Sunday, "Theocracy to Democracy." We thank Rev. Personette for welcoming the 100 guests, John for taking down all those chairs the next day, and all our guests. The program was recorded and will be scheduled to run on BCTV shortly. We’ll keep you posted. Our next talk is scheduled for May “The Professor and the Preacher on the Great Awakening”

In the meantime, please send your memories of our church to us. You can use this email: Also ask your family and friends to send in theirs.


Time Out, by Jennifer McCaughtry

It can be challenging as a parent of a teenager in today’s tech world. I subscribe to this weekly newsletter called “Screenagers." It is written by a mother of a teen and she provides some education and recommendations for parents in today’s world. In the most recent newsletter she discusses exposing our children to a wide variety of activities (some even “adult”) to help them mature. I try to do this with my daughter, to expose her to all our community has to offer. Some things she loves and some she doesn't, and not everything has to cost money. We have attended a folk singer concert, volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House, girls UCONN basketball games, the middle school plays, High school plays, volunteered at the food pantry and visited the nursing home I used to work at are just a few.


Carol’s Corner

The first church built in Totokett was in Center Cemetery and was probably opened for worship in the fall of 1644. It was enlarged in 1679 and abandoned in 1700. A new and larger structure was built on the town green where the Baptist Church now stands. Again the church outgrew the building and a new one was built in 1744. This church faced South Main Street where it lasted about 100 years. Our present church building was built in 1843, remodeled in 1868, added onto in 1954 and again in 1990.

Rev. John Sherman left in 1646 and Rev. Abraham Pierson became our settled minister for the next 20 years. In June 1667, Rev. Pierson and perhaps half of the Branford community left and founded a new colony in New Jersey. They named it Newark. At some point in Rev. Pierson’s ministry here the name Totokett was changed to Branford but was never put in the records. It is believed that Branford was named for Brentford, a town seven miles west of London.

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Is God still speaking? Are you a comma or a period in God's conversation? If you missed Rev. Suz' sermon from February 3, you can read it here.

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What Shall We Bring?

From your Stewardship Board:

Thanks to those members and friends who have submitted their pledges for the Church in 2019. We have received $180,475 from 108 pledging units to date and appreciate your support.

If you have not yet pledged, please remember to do so either in church, online at the website, or by email to

We are well on the way to our goal of $200,000, yet need your support to make it happen. Please help us reach our goal.


2019 Church Offering Envelope Boxes

The Offering Envelopes have officially arrived! Envelope boxes can be found in Pilgrim Hall on the piano or in the Meetinghouse as you enter through the blue doors.

This Little Light

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 15, 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.


Hospitality in February

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 any one Sunday and when possible serve coffee. In February all those who whose last name beginning with N, O, P, are asked to bring a snack or treat and serve one Sunday in February.

In March those members whose last name begins with R, are asked to bring a snack or treat any 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 March, if your last name begins with R, send me an email if you can serve one Sunday during the month.

If you have any other questions, email, text or call me. 203-483-8039
Deanna O’Connell


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.

March (exact date TBA) – The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Everyone is welcome. We meet in the Russel Room.

Barbara Colley


Confirmation Calendar

February 24 4:00-5:30 Sacraments
March 4 4:00-5:30 Justice and Peace
March 18 4:00-5:30 Make up class if snow day or Topic TBD
April 7 4:00-5:30 The Faith Journey Continues
April 28 4:00-5:30 Confirmation at 10:00 am Service


High School Youth Group Calendar

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

February 10th & 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

Sophy will be out of the office this Friday, February 1st


As we're now into the winter season, there may be an occasion in which we'll need to cancel church. Please look to Channel 3 news for announcements of church closings.


For Our Prayers This Week

We give thanks for...
Warmer weather
For those who struggle to deliver humanitarian aid to those caught in war-torn nations

We pray for...
Reason to prevail in the decisions of the U.S. and Russia to break a pact limiting nuclear arms
Those affected by torrential rains and mudslides on the west coast
FCCB preparations for the upcoming Lenten season beginning March 5th

Ongoing prayers for…
Nancy Dougherty, Mattea Fraenza, Cyndie Neely, Nancy Johnson, Bob Zettergren & family, 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, February 10
8:00 am Worship Service Walker Chapel
10:00 am Worship Service Meetinghouse
11:00 am Music Board Meeting Room 25
6:00 pm High School Youth Group Pilgrim Hall & Kitchen

Monday, February 11
7:00 pm Stewardship Board Meeting Room 25

Tuesday, February 12
7:00 pm Bell Rehearsal Sanctuary
7:00 pm Diaconate Meeting Russel Room

Wednesday, February 13
6:00 pm Mission Committee Meeting All Purpose Room

Thursday, February 14
10:00 am Knitting, Purling, Praying Russel Room
7:00 pm Choir Rehearsal Sanctuary

Friday, February 15
9:00 am Committee of Church Governance Meeting Russel Room

Saturday, February 16
5:30 pm Branford Folk Music Society Pilgrim Hall

Sunday, February 17
8:00 am Worship Service Walker Chapel
10:00 am Worship Service Meetinghouse




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 2019 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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