First Congregational Church

February 2, 2020

Fourth Sunday after Epiphany

Holy Communion

Worship at 10 am in the Meetinghouse


Call to Special Meeting

To be held directly following the service on Sunday, February 9,2020. The purpose will be to receive the recommendation of the former Land and Building Committee, now the Operations Team, to authorize an amount not to exceed $400,000 from the FES fund, to re-shingle the roof of the Educational wing of the church building.

Nora Vetrano


Life Among the Believers

From the Moderator - Thanks!

At our Annual Meeting this past Sunday, our Church completed over two years of work as we approved the By-laws that codify our new FCCB organization. The meeting was direct democracy at its best, with opinions stated freely, and amendments voted openly. Thanks to all who participated!

Special thanks are due to those hard-working, caring, and faithful members who have spent so very many hours struggling to bring our church governance into line with the reality of Christian life in an increasingly secular society. Starting with the Situational Support Consultation in the summer of 2017, proceeding to the wonderful insights from the Discernment Team which were organized by the Committee on Church Governance, and then the codification of that organization by the By-laws Committee, our Congregation has now approved those By-laws. The continued guidance and enthusiastic encouragement from our Interim Senior Minister, Rev. Suzanne Personette, has been invaluable.

Untold hundreds of person-hours, faithful interaction among talented and faithful members of the Congregation, and respectful exchanges of ideas in the Congregation assembled at informational, special, and annual meetings have led us to this starting point in our exercise of Congregational polity. The path forward will not always be smooth, but I have faith that, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it will be successful.

Our Pastoral Search Committee is approaching the culmination of the process which, with the blessings of God, will result in the selection of our new Settled Senior Minister.

And onward we must!

In faith,
Bill Hall, Moderator

Screen Shot 2020-01-30 at 9.23.19 AM

Life Among the Believers II

Hello, beloved! And, thank you to Moderator Bill Hall for his letter above. Many thanks also go to Bill Hall for his calm, steady, even, and intelligent leadership. So, FCCB, we have all prepared the way for a new day at FCCB, and for new settled ministry. In the not too distant future, the wind will change, I’ll pop open my umbrella and fly away where I’m needed next.

Until then, beloved, please, please sign up to be Liturgist some Sunday! The sign-up sheet is on the bulletin board in Pilgrim Hall. If you’re antsy to do it and want to come in and talk about it and what’s involved, I’d love to meet with you. Might God be nudging you to try a new thing, such as worship leadership? We need liturgists.

I shared the good news this past Sunday, and you’ve seen it for yourself in the email that went out to welcome our new Christian Education Coordinator, Kerry Stewart. She’ll be in worship this Sunday, February 2. We’ll next see her in worship on February 9, at which time she’ll head down with the Sunday School classes. Depending on the outcome of her knee surgery scheduled for February 3, she’ll either begin her office hours the week of February 9 or she’ll begin them February 19. Her family had a prior commitment to be away over February 16.

Kerry is hoping you’ll wear your nametag! If we’re able to just go ahead and do this each Sunday, by the time your new settled minister begins it will be a habit. And, even though regular members and friends attend on Sunday morning, they sometimes go blank on someone’s name, so it’s helpful to be able to glance down at a nametag.

Deanna O’Connell did a magnificent job with the bulletin board in Pilgrim Hall that highlights our Shrove Tuesday Pancake Dinner on February 25 from 5-7pm. To be given an indication of how much food to buy and prepare, etc., we’ve posted a sign-up sheet on the board, or you may call the office, or even sign up below in the Shrove Tuesday article below. Let us know if you can come! Thanks! There’s no cost.

It’s wonderful news that FCCB will continue to hold Killam’s Point Day Camp, which will be held this summer between July 6 - July 31. Stay tuned for more information,

Following last Sunday’s service a member shared that earlier that morning in his Jesus Calling book of devotions, by Sarah Young, the reading had been exactly what I’d preached, to give up the illusion of expecting a problem-free life. Instead of seeking a pain-free world, to spend those energies seeking Jesus. I, too, have that wonderful book of devotions, and it says, “In fact, My Light shines most brightly through believers who trust Me in the dark.” Amen.

This Sunday’s scripture, Matthew 5:1-12, has us up on the mountain with Jesus and his disciples to receive the beginning of the long Sermon on the Mount, which begins with The Beatitudes. There’s speculation that the sermon teachings were for his disciples, and not for the crowd at this point. Needless to say, the messages now belong with the followers of Jesus. How blessed we are to be in receipt of them. Blessed are you, reader, blessed are you, FCCB. We’ll share the blessing of Holy Communion, while the Sanctuary Choir sings an invitation, “Come to the Table.” Our gorgeous youth choir will open our service with “Jesus, Name Above All Names,” and our Sanctuary Choir will sing “Sing a Joyful Song,” by Mary Lynn Lightfoot, for the anthem.

We didn’t have a random act of kindness to share during that portion of our liturgy on Sunday (ha, how can that be?), but Barbara Colley had passed along a lovely poem earlier in the week, which I read in that spot:

“Small Kindnesses”
by Danusha Lameris
I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk
down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs
to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you”
when someone sneezes, a leftover
from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.
And sometimes, when you spill lemons
from your grocery bag, someone else will help you
pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.
We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,
and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile
at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress
to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder,
and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.
We have so little of each other, now. So far
from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these
fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here,
have my seat,” “Go ahead—you first,” “I like your hat.”

These are some lovely examples to be on the look-out for. We’d love to hear you share of a kindness offered to you, or something you witnessed, or something you offered yourself. Let’s keep that light shining and spreading, FCCB.

49’ers or the Chiefs? (or commercials, Jennifer Lopez and Shakira)

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


Kerry Stewart - Our New Christian Education Coordinator

I am so glad to be in service and in partnership with your church and congregation!

I come to you by way of North Haven Congregational Church where I have been an active member since we moved to the area in 2001. I have held many volunteer positions including the Music Committee, Deacon/ Worship Mission Team, Outreach, and Faith Formation Mission Team. I have served as a Sunday School teacher on and off since I was in High School. I will always stand by some of the best bible studies I have ever attended and been part of are the Sunday School classes of 8-11 year old's. Their perspective is so sharp and honest. It is always great conversation!

My best time at NHCC was the 9 months I served as the Interim Ministry for Children Coordinator. We had just had someone leave the position and were still searching for a permanent person to fill the position. I found myself saying yes before I had even thought about it. God does work in mysterious and wonderful ways!! It was challenging and fulfilling in a way I never expected and I was hooked. I started to see where my next path could take me. Fast forward to 2019 and God's call came stronger and louder. I have started working towards my Faith Formation Leadership Program Certificate with the Southern New England Conference of the UCC. I have also started classes at Pathways Theological Education, Inc, which is an extension of the Southeast Conference of the UCC.

I truly believe that children are the present of the church. If we invest in them now, we can change the world by putting kind, loving, empathetic, service minded children into the world and as they grow they become young adults with those inherent beliefs and ideals. I also believe that when we stop learning, we stop growing. I look forward to opportunities to work with members and friends of this church of all ages!

I have also been a very active member of the Tres Dias of Fairfield Community. It is a wonderful ecumenical group that celebrates all the ways we are similar, looks past the things that make us different and focuses on God's incredible love for us all and the unmerited Grace he shows us every day. If you come to visit me in my office at the church, the banner from my most recent weekend will be hanging on the wall. I encourage you to ask me about it! It is a wonderful and uplifting story! It is a lay led movement that encourages church leaders and allows us all to deepen our daily faith walk.

My background is in the business end of the Dental field where I have been working since High School and came into professionally upon completion of my Associate's Degree in Business. While working, I did go on to complete my Bachelor's Degree also in Business at SCSU. My current position at a dental office in Monroe is a hard one to leave, as I have been there for 15 1/2 years. It is another family for me. I will miss my coworkers and patients very much, but in order to grow, sometimes we have to move and make those leaps of faith.

My life has always been centered around the church, especially my social life. It has always been a place I have been happy to call home. I love to read, whether it be an actual book, an e-book or an audio book. I do have a couple of book clubs I am part of, one of which is a bible study club. We are currently working our way through the bible in one year with a chronological bible with devotions. I love podcasts and learning about people's stories. Memoirs, biographies and true stories are by far my favorites. I am an avid knitter and always seem to have a project going. This has been especially helpful as I have been nursing along this knee injury since mid-December! I love to cook and bake and am very much enjoying how much my children now like to join me. I am also involved Girl Scouts in Hamden as the leader of my daughter's Brownie troop. This is my third year leading the troop and I love to watch these girls grow and it is one of my favorite ways to spend a Saturday morning.

I live in Hamden with my husband of nearly 23 years, Eben and our two children Logan, age 11 and Eliza, age 9. We love game nights, traveling as a family, especially to the beach! Cape Cod is our happy place and a week we all look forward to every year. We all love movies, especially documentaries and experiential learning like museums, especially living museums. We are also all homebodies and love just curling up together, everyone with their own activity and hanging in the same room.

I will be generally keeping office hours of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9-2 and Sundays from 8:30-12. I will be present for worship and Sunday School on Sunday's and for special events during the evenings. I will be there for the Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper with a table of children's activities. My hours may change due to these evening activities or due to continuing education hours as well. Please feel free to call me at the church or email me at

I look forward to getting to know you all. The first half of February will not have me working my full schedule due to surgery on my knee and some travel that was preplanned prior to accepting this position. By February 19th I'll be in full swing!

In Peace,



Ever Building CCCLXXV Book

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 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.


Community Dining Room

Hi everyone,

Six times a year we have a unique opportunity to serve our neighbors-in-need in the Branford area by preparing and serving 40-60 wholesome and delicious, hot midday meals at the  Community Dining Room on Harrison Ave. Our volunteer team is one of many that contribute to a daily work schedule at the CDR. It's coordinated through the First Congregational Church of Branford and we welcome anyone who would like to help!

First Sunday of even-numbered months 
Thanks to each of you who turned out last time!

Sunday, February 2nd, is our next service date at the  Community Dining Room.

Start time is 9:30am for prepping. After your morning church service is fine too.
If you're serving only, please come by 11:45am. 
We do need more servers! for typically 50-60 meals. 
And of course, we clean up and do dishes…and are done by 1:30/1:45

Thank you, and we look forward to seeing you as always! 



Ray Luhn
CDR Service Coordinator
First Congregational Church of Branford

15994714 1146938478736919 4365188648680984972 o

Shrove Tuesday Pancake Dinner

Indulge with decadent toppings, sprinkles, whipped cream, chocolate chips, strawberries!

Gluten free pancakes available.

February 25th, Tuesday

Pilgrim Hall

5- 7 PM


All are Welcome

RSVP: call the office or sign up here

2020 Soups On
Screen Shot 2018-09-03 at 7.50.01 AM

Here's the sermon from Sunday January 26th -I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.




In February those members whose last name begins with N,O and P 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 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.

Deanna O’Connell


Boxes of offering envelopes for the New Year are in Pilgrim Hall.


First Congregational Church of Branford

Church Directory

Help us Stay Connected!

Have you moved?

Changed your phone number or email address?

Want to add a cell phone to your listing?

Not currently listed in the church directory but would like to be?

Here’s your chance to help us all stay connected! Just complete the “Connection Card” (below) to provide us with your contact information or use this card to update the information currently in our church directory. Connection Cards will available during morning worship on January 5th, in the office, or you can email your contact information to

*Please note the addition of “Birthday & Anniversary”. If you’d like, provide us with your birthday & wedding anniversary date(s) so that we can all share in your special day!

Missy Van Vliet
Church Secretary

(Please return your completed cards by February 11th)

Screen Shot 2020-01-02 at 8.47.19 AM

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.


Book Group

Here is a list of the books we have chosen:
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 altar flowers are given in tenderness for the beloved congregation.

For Our Prayers This Week...

We give thanks for...
All of the efforts that went into FCCB’s 376th Annual Meeting, with particular thanks to
Moderator Bill Hall, the Discernment Team, the Committee on Church Governance,
and the By-laws committee
All of Wayne Jacobsen’s work in creating a fabulous memento, the FCCB 375th History
Betsy Hyde’s hard work in creating a new website for Killam’s Point; we also thank Betsy,
Kathy Fox, and Dawn Perrotti, FCCB, and the Evans Fund for creating a new
Killam’s Point Day Camp experience for this summer, July 6 - July 31
Our new Christian Education Coordinator, Kerry Stewart
The Service of Installation for The Rev. Dr. Heather Arcovitch as Senior Pastor of the
North Madison Congregational Church, UCC Sunday February 2, 2020, 2pm

We pray for…
Those who have been stricken with the coronavirus, that it can be contained, and a drug
found to help
The 6 in 1,000 CT residents reported as victims of fraud (New Haven Register)
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: Wilton Congregational Church, Inc.; Federated Church of Willington; First Congregational Church of Willimantic; First Congregational Church UCC, Williamstown, MA; First Congregational Church of Williamsburg, MA; Grace Union Church, UCC, Wilbraham, MA; Wilbraham United Church; First Congregational Church UCC, Whitman, MA; Village Congregational Church UCC, Whitinsville, MA; First Congregational Church, Whately, MA First Church in Weymouth; Pilgrim Congregational Church, UCC, Weymouth, MA

We grieve with...
John Semahoro and family in the loss of his stepmom, Nyakiza, who passed away January
22nd. Prayers for John as he travels for burial in Uganda, Africa.
Donna Giddings and family in the loss of her Aunt Maryanna Giddings Macy, who died on
January 9, 2020. Tragically, Donna is requesting prayers for the family of her cousin, Deborah, who was a recent victim of gun violence in Oklahoma. Prayers for God’s love and
Hal Barringham and family in the recent death of his father-in-law.
The family of church member Jane Byers, 94, who passed away on January 2, 2020.

Ongoing prayers for…
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, February 2
10:00 am Worship Service Meetinghouse
11:15 am Worship Team Meeting Russel Room

Monday, February 3

Tuesday, February 4
2:00 pm Bridge Club Pilgrim Hall
7:00 pm Bell Choir Rehearsal Sanctuary

Wednesday, February 5
5:30 pm Lotus Yoga Pilgrim Hall
7:00 pm Book Group Russel Room

Thursday, February 6
10:00 am Knitting, Purling, Praying Russel Room
7:00 pm Choir Rehearsal Sanctuary

Friday, February 7

Saturday, February 8
8:00 pm Branford Folk Music Society Pilgrim Hall

Sunday, February 9
10:00 am Worship Service Meetinghouse
3:00 pm Musical Art Society of Branford Concert Pilgrim Hall


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

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, 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.

Powered by Mad Mimi®A GoDaddy® company