The First Congregational Church of Darien

United Church of Christ

A community of faith since 1737

Category Archives: Church News

Talking to Children about Death 2

Holy Week (3)

Click on photo to see report.

new ceiling



Food for Everyday Order Form

This new effort is the Women’s Association Fall Fund Raiser

Choose from entrées, bakery goods, or soups.  These items will be cooked in our kitchen, ready for pick-up on November 20, after church, in time for holiday meals, or for freezing. Orders due by Monday, Nov. 14.

All instructions are on the order form. Something new! Try it out…


From Dale:

News about the remediation and restoration of our spiritual home. Everything has suddenly opened up in this process. This shot gazes into where our ceiling used to be. As you notice the temporary support trestle to the right (newer, treated upright wood) you can see how utterly failed that truss is, sagging badly. The floor you see at is the “dance floor” of plywood on the scaffolding, soaring upward through the vaulted space. The ceiling came out double-bagged in 1,100 airtight Hefty bags, placed in an airtight special container on our lawn. Six hard-working Latinos performed this formidable feat.

We had to remediate a very small amount of asbestos in the skim coat on our ceiling, which was removed according to stringent and costly CT code on abatement. Our airspace is now being checked to make sure it is absent of all asbestos. Getting ready to import the massive steel I-beams to marry to the trusses at the lowest point of deflection, before we put on a new lighter drywall ceiling.

Obviously, we remain in the posture of inviting your prayers. This was architecture/ construction from 1830s America, such a different era.

Photos Feb. 19, 2017

20170219_112548 20170219_112600


Photos below from summer 2016




View of scaffolding from pulpit


Downstairs view toward front doors


“floor” built for work on ceiling


Another view of the “floor”. See chandelier for orientation!


MRP update 1


Does anyone remember this ditty of a hymn back from the ‘70s, complete with hand motions?

“The church is not a building;
the church is not a steeple;
the church is not a resting place;
the church is a people.”

It uproariously concludes, “I am the church! You are the church! We are the church together!”

All of this will be tested mightily in months ahead. For we’ve learned the timbers in our historic Meetinghouse roof and ceiling are structurally unsound and need rebuilding. Before I detail that, the upshot of this sudden news is that we are unable to occupy the Meetinghouse at all, until after reconstruction. Right now, we are still assessing the instability looming overhead in our sanctuary. So for the months ahead we plan to worship Sunday mornings in our Parish Hall.

I take a deep breath to say all of that to you. And if you are like me, no little shock must register within you to realize that we are temporarily turned out of the space that is our spiritual home.

A few details might help. Four crossbeams invisibly connect the 39 foot wide expanse overhead in our Meetinghouse. More than one is compromised, with dramatic fissures visible to the eye.  We see, for example, displacement in one beam with an offset of four inches. As though that is not bad enough, the pins holding our 1950’s plaster ceiling to these joists are losing their hold. We remain in the diagnostic phase, removing blown-in insulation, finishing our assessment. Much remediation is required.  We don’t know how long this will take or how much it will cost.

Our building engineer, not someone prone to drama, calls these structural deficits “major failures.”  Obviously, the integrity of these beams and joints supporting our roof and ceiling are key to our well-being below.  And, of course, that is something we will never risk and trifle with.

That is probably enough technical information for now.  This is hard news to take as FCC, Darien has lately been on a nice roll. But pause with me to be grateful in different directions before we cave into discouragement.  We owe thanks to our Nursery School and Board of Stewards whose collaboration initiated the hiring of the building engineer firm, GNCB, whose reputation and expertise is being demonstrated to us these days with clear information and recommendations.

Also, please note that we approach a slower season in the church calendar and a prime time of year to schedule construction.  If a capital campaign is necessary to defray these expenses, we avoided such a campaign as we rebuilt the Evans Center and can approach the challenge afresh.

Most importantly, these serious problems were detected before any unwitting collapse of our sub-roof structures that could have potentially led to the harm of our members and visitors.  For all of these reasons, we give God thanks and praise.  Remember, in our 272 history, our beloved FCC, Darien has endured a Revolutionary War, a Civil War, and two World Wars.   We are made of sturdy stuff to meet this challenge head on, make the necessary corrections, and to carry on for all of the reasons the Lord placed us here: to praise God and serve our neighbor.

As for now, all of our scheduled weddings planned are offsite, thanks be to God. I am notifying our families with baptisms pending of our new realities as I also invite their unity and resilience with us.  If you need a memorial service, other churches in town have already promised us use of their worship spaces—with open and eager arms extended to us—should the occasion arise.

A local pastor wrote, “these issues have the power to galvanize a congregation and lead people deeper into mission.”  That was precisely how Council reacted last night upon hearing the news. Yes, they were as stunned with me.  Yes, they hurt with me as our mother church hurts.  But we shed a tear or two, cleared our eyes, and resolved to find the path to put us right back on track.  Our leadership’s energy is poised, pointing toward the light, rather than indulging in dejection.

Let’s keep squarely before us the installation of our Associate Pastor, Gary Morello, this Sunday, May 22, one service at 10 am, welcoming a guest preacher, Gary’s friends and family.  May our joy go undimmed!  If you wish to discuss any of this, we invite you to an information session at 9 am in the Morehouse Room where the Moderator, Chair of Stewards, and I eagerly await you.

Resolving to keep you informed, we ask your prayers and seek your support as it matters most.

Faithfully yours,

Dale Rosenberger, Senior Minister













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Mission Moment

We are pleased to welcome Carrie Bernier, church member and executive director of The Community Fund of Darien, who will speak about The Thriving Youth Initiative during our Mission Moment.  

The Thriving Youth Initiative seeks to promote healthy development among Darien’s youth in response to recent alarming trends evident in The Community Fund of Darien’s survey of teens over the past seven years.  Results show that substance abuse is on the rise among teens and that resilience/resistance skills seem to be declining. Tragically, over the past summer, Darien experienced an unprecedented number of untimely deaths of young adults and adults – five deaths in six weeks.

The Thriving Youth Initiative will dedicate $100,000 each year over the next five years to implement a strategic prevention plan to reduce substance abuse and improve mental health among Darien’s 12- to 17-year olds and their parents. With the additional donation made possible by The Darien House Tour, The Community Fund of Darien will expand prevention efforts into the preschool and elementary school populations. The First Congregational Church of Darien is happy to support this effort to build in our children the skills needed, including resilience, self-esteem and coping, for a lifetime of healthy decisions.

The Thriving Youth Initiative has been selected by the Board of Outreach as the lead beneficiary for The 2016 Darien House Tour:  Homes with Heart.


The June 2nd Darien House Tour:  Homes with Heart requires over 100 volunteers on the day of the event to staff a shift at our featured homes. Volunteers can attend the tour during non-shift hours for $30 – less than half price!  And those who help during the party may attend the party for a discounted price of $50.  We truly need your help to make this event his success so that we can raise over $60,000 for our beneficiaries. Please sign up at – click on the volunteer link.  Did we mention how much fun you’ll have?

Oh and speaking of fun, the June 3rd Celebratory Party with a Purpose will be great fun!!  Buy your tickets now and encourage your friends to come.  We are looking for great church member turnout!  Tickets are $75.  Financial assistance happily provided upon request – confidentially email  In addition to cocktails, fabulous food by Polly, and fun music, we will have many great silent auction items for you to bid on.  How about a stay at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo Florida? Or the Mayflower Inn in Washington, CT?  Or perhaps the Hermitage Club in Vermont?  Maybe you’d rather stay close by and attend Shakespeare on the Sound as a VIP? Or the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards?  Or the Daily Show with Trevor Noah?  Or perhaps you’d just like a fun ride in a fire truck!  Dale will even come bless your home!!  We’ve got all this and much more!!

One last thing … looking for a little artwork to spice up your home?  The house tour will feature artists through “Art with Heart”.  Artwork will be on display at one of our tour homes and at the Wee Burn Country Club on June 2nd.  THEN, we will have a reception at the church on June 4th from 4 to 7 pm!  A portion of proceeds go to the tour!


There are many ways to “Spring into Service” in May!

Open Door Shelter!

We will be cooking on Thursday May 19th at 8:00 am at the church and serving on Friday May 20th at 11:45 am at the Open Door Shelter in Norwalk.  Email Heather Raker at to help!


Many thanks to those who helped pick up and sort food yesterday (5/13/2016) for the Person 2 Person Food Postal Food Drive.

Many thanks to those who helped to build with Habitat for Humanity yesterday!

And many thanks to all of you who are working hard to make our annual outreach fundraiser a success!!



You celebrationsunday (1)are invited to a special Sunday service to celebrate a wonderful year for all our young people and our church community.  A traditional service with fun and flare is being planned by the Board of Christian Education to celebrate our children ages newborn through college.  Gary Morello will deliver the sermon and we’ll honor our Church School teachers, and recognize our graduating high school and college graduates.  An ice cream social for all will follow the service on the church lawn. The Youth Group will welcome back graduates at 12:00 p.m. with a BBQ outside the new Youth Room.  We have much to give thanks for and celebrate — we hope you’ll join us!