Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 9.42.37 AM

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Second Sunday in Advent

One Worship Service Only

Worship 10:00 am in the Meetinghouse

Screen Shot 2018-12-06 at 9.14.28 AM

Life Among the Believers

Musical greetings, beloved believer! Everyone around here is looking forward to this Sunday’s Cantata! There’ll be just the one worship service at 10:00 a.m. Katie Jones, Director of Vocal Choirs asked if we could move up the Candle of Joy to the Second Sunday of Advent, so, far be it from me to waylay joy! For we need a little joy right this very minute! We will joyfully light the Candle of Joy on our Advent wreath, as we wait in joy for the Messiah’s birthday on December 25th.

This past Sunday, Rev. Borchetta and I wore our blue stoles for Advent, and someone asked about the meaning of blue. FCC uses purple for both Advent and Lent, but as a way to differentiate the seasons, T and I chose to wear blue. From time to time people do notice the liturgical colors and ask about their significance. Let me provide this interesting - and long - explanation, condensed from the United Church of Christ website,, Liturgical Colors and the Seasons of the Church Year:

The use of colors to differentiate liturgical seasons became a common practice in the Western church in about the fourth century. At first, usages varied considerably but by the 12th century Pope Innocent III systematized the use of five colors: Purple, White, Black, Red and Green To these the Western church added Blue and Gold, colors used in some Western rites before the 12th century.

Briefly, the colors express emotions and ideas that are associated with each of the seasons of the liturgical year. Purple is the ancient royal color and therefore a symbol of the sovereignty of Christ. Purple is also associated with repentance from sin. White and Gold symbolize the brightness of day. Black is the traditional color of mourning in some cultures. Red evokes the color of blood, and therefore is the color of martyrs and of Christ's death on the Cross. Red also symbolizes fire, and therefore is the color of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Confirmation, and Ordination. Green is the color of growth. Blue is the color of the sky and in some rites honors Mary.

Congregations in the United Church of Christ have the freedom to use any combination of colors (or no particular colors) as seems best to them. The use of traditional colors, however, connects us to the wider Body of Christ and provides worship planners with visual aids that mark the transition from one season to another. Colors can be used in altar and pulpit decorations, vestments, banners and tapestries.

Purple is normally Advent's liturgical color, associated both with the sovereignty of Christ and with penitence. Deep Blue is also sometimes used to distinguish the season from Lent. As the color of the night sky, Blue symbolizes Christ who in one ancient Advent song is called the "Dayspring" or source of day. As the color associated with Mary, Blue also reminds us that during Advent the church waits with Mary for the birth of Jesus. The traditional colors of the Christmas season are White or Gold, symbolizing joy in the light of day.

The season following Epiphany spreads the Good News of Christ from its source in the Jewish community to all nations on earth. The traditional liturgical color for both seasons, Green, is the color of growth.

Lent is symbolized by the color Purple, though the season is bracketed by the mourning Black of Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. As an alternative to Purple, some churches have begun to use brown, beige or gray (the colors of rough unbleached cloth like burlap) to reflect the season's mood of penitence and simplicity. The somber colors are a reminder of the unbleached "sackcloth" worn by mourners and penitents in the Jewish tradition.

The liturgical color for the Easter season is celebratory White or Gold. When the season ends on Pentecost Sunday, White is replaced with Red. This color reminds the congregation of fire - the symbol of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost is the longest season of the liturgical year. It explores the mission of the church and uses the color of Green, symbolizing growth.

If you didn’t already know or assume much of this, I hope you found the explanation helpful.

Surrounding you, the congregation, Branford, the United States, the world in JOY, singing Joy to the World, the Lord Is Come; let earth receive her King; let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven, and heaven and nature sing. Joy be with you, blessed believer.

See you at the Christmas Cantata!

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 (203) 488-7201, ext. 107; cell (860) 304-1054


Life Among the Believers Conversations

We’re holding 2 more life among the believers conversations following the Discernment Team’s report and recommendations. On December 16th, we’ll focus on the church’s endowments. And, on January 6th we’ll discuss the staff recommendations. We hope you’ll stay for the remaining two. 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

Ideas given from Life Among the Believers 12/2/18 Conversation on Church Mission

1) Emphasis to get Branford people out of homelessness cycle; Financial counseling
2) Single parents (feeling of isolation) FCC has a lot of experience; bring families together, listen to their needs; Grandparent project
3) Is there a way to leverage endowment? Loans? Rent subsidy? Repairs?
4) Should we have committees? A. Leverage with others B. Open church for meetings, host meetings run by others, share building as an asset C. Work with other churches - Interfaith - Take-A-Vet-Fishing as a model & resource
5) Have one focus (can’t be all things to all people) - one major mission with plenty of offshoots
6) Use of Building as Outreach
7) Follow-up following Branford Builds Project in May 2019
8) Build internal community
In terms of actual mission, being Christ’s hand, feet, and heart, it appears there are 4 ideas that have come forth: emphasis on homelessness, single parents and other families in need, Branford Builds, work with other churches in their mission projects. The congregation will discuss this again at the Annual Meeting on January 27th, and hopefully look to adopt a focus mission. ~ Rev. Suz


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.

Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 10.05.22 AM

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!

Screen Shot 2018-10-31 at 1.02.01 PM

The sun shined bright on another successful Christmas Fair. All the time and talents so many have shared during the year creating a wide variety of handmade gifts that filled Pilgrim Hall with a festive feel of holiday giving. As of today the total amount of money collected is $12,010 with expectations of about $500 more coming in from the Silent Auction. Just remember this is the gross amount and expenses will be deducted to have our net profit.

A big thank you to everyone who created so much for the Fair. A big thank you to all the volunteers who spent their day working at the Fair, including the Confirmation class and family and friends of the church. All was not work but with much fellowship among the workers and the community members. Christmas is coming soon.

Fair Committee

wreath 13089c

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.

poinsettia 13205c

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!

mitten tree 2259c

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.

Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 9.50.41 AM

Christmas Offering

At Christmastime, we at First Congregational Church remember the joy and promise that the birth of the Christ Child brings to us. We also reflect on the blessings of another year. The annual Christmas Offering is an opportunity for our Church family to share its gifts and continue its mission.

Two thirds of this year’s Christmas Offering will be given to the Ministers’ Compassion Fund, which furnishes our ministers with resources to provide emergency relief to people in Branford who are in need when other avenues of assistance are unavailable.

One third of the donations will go to the Asian Rural Institute (ARI). The mission of ARI is to help develop sustainable agricultural solutions to rural poverty. Through ARI, individuals are trained in hands-on skills that they can take back to their villages and use to improve the lives of people in their homelands.

You are warmly invited to join us for worship on Sunday, December 23 at 8:00 or 10:00 AM and then return for our traditional Christmas Eve Service which will be held at 5:00 PM on Monday, December 24th.
As you share gifts with family and friends this Christmas, please reflect prayerfully on the gift of Jesus Christ to you, and help spread this gift through your offering donation. May God bless you and your family this holiday season.


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

Screen Shot 2018-09-03 at 7.50.01 AM

Here's the link to Rev. Suz' sermon "Are You Awake!?" from December 2nd. It's a good wake up for Advent! Read it here!>>>>

Screen Shot 2018-09-20 at 9.40.53 AM

Intergenerational Activities

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.

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

Screen Shot 2018-10-11 at 11.57.22 AM


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

December 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 joyful Cantata
More opportunities to share with others through the Giving and Mitten Trees
Our church building offering space for community dinners and events

We pray for…
Immediate efforts to treat the refugees humanely
Moments of peace and quiet in this busy season
The Bush family and the nation as it grieves the loss of a President

We grieve with…
Folks experiencing the holidays without loved ones

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 9 – 10:00 am service only
10:00 am Worship Service & Cantata for Advent Meetinghouse
11:00 am Music Board Meeting Room 25
11:30 am CE Meeting Russel Room
2:00 pm Branford Messiah Chorus Rehearsal Meetinghouse

Monday, December 10
7:00 pm Stewardship Board Meeting Room 25

Tuesday, December 11
6:00 pm Intergenerational Gingerbread Making Pilgrim Hall
7:00 pm Mission Board Meeting All Purpose Room
7:00 pm Diaconate Meeting Russel Room
7:00 pm Bell Rehearsal Sanctuary

Thursday, December 13
10:00 am Knitting, Purling, Praying Russel Room
5:30 pm Branford Counseling Center Holiday Dinner Pilgrim Hall & Kitchen
7:00 pm Choir Rehearsal Sanctuary

Sunday, December 16
8:00 am Worship Service Walker Chapel
10:00 am Worship Service Meetinghouse
11:30 am Life Among the Believers Pilgrim Hall
2:00 pm Branford Messiah Chorus Rehearsal Meetinghouse
4:00 pm Confirmation Class Pine Room
6:00 pm High School Youth Group Pilgrim Hall & Kitchen

events 6877a

Looking Ahead

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; bring fresh produce for the last Sunday of the





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.

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 5.39.35 PM

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 

Powered by Mad Mimi®A GoDaddy® company