The First Congregational Church of Darien

United Church of Christ

A community of faith since 1737

Category Archives: Community







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20151122_095335An old tradition is back!  Come before or after the 10:00 service on Sunday, November 19 to shop for things to enhance your Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.   The Fair is put on by the Women’s Association.

We will have your favorite offerings:

  • Bake Sale
  • Jewelry Table
  • Raffle for some beautiful wreathes and other holiday items
  • Jumble Sale
  • Dove Box Sign Up
  • Cabot Cheddar Cheese for sale
  • Craft, Knitting and Crochet creations
  • Wonderful Bakery Bread from Beldotti’s bakery
  • Table Floral arrangements


We need your help to make this a success.  Please think about what you can contribute. We are collecting contributions for the Jewelry and Jumble sales in boxes at the front of the stage in Parish Hall.  (Jumble items are used household items that are small (think toaster size or less).  If you are baking or making soup or other savories, put some in the freezer to contribute to the Bake Sale.

We will be making craft and food items for the Fair.  Watch for dates for crafting mornings.  Also, Wednesday, November 8 we will be making quiches to sell at the Fair.  This is our “Nite Owls” night so we’ll bake quiche and then eat some for dinner.

More details, dates and order forms will follow.


Debbie Nelson

Talking to Children about Death 2

IMPORTANT MESSAGE from Reverend Sara

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Dear Members and Friends of United Congregational Church:

We are blessed to be a blessing. And the day after I preached about this same spiritual endeavor, we were blessed again.

About 5:30 AM Monday morning, a portion of the ceiling of Pilgrim Hall collapsed. Shirley and Bill Neighbors found it when they arrived at 8:30 AM Monday morning.

The section that fell – all in one piece – was directly over the stage – and the area where we serve food. This event – while a costly mess which interrupts our life here – could have been very tragic if it had happened any other time. We are all grateful no one was hurt. We are blessed.

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Our primary building contractor, Dahill Contruction, already has a team on site with engineers, electrician, haz mat specialists, and contractors working on this complicated situation. This original piece of ceiling is made of 93 year old plaster and metal lathe attached to wooden furring strips attached to the joists under the floor of the sanctuary. The part we see (or used to) are the acoustic tiles glued to the plaster. All of that fell and hit the stage and directly in front of the stage. It left a big mess. The clean-up will be worse than the repair.

Given the age of our building, they are testing the area for asbestos and lead – we will know that by week’s end we hope. So in the meantime – all entrances to the ENTIRE LOWER LEVEL are closed and covered. NO ONE is allowed on the LOWER LEVEL – including Pilgrim Hall and the kitchen and the NPUOI Offices and Class rooms….until we know what we are dealing with.

Dahill assures us that the building is structurally sound. The sanctuary is safe. They will check other portions of the Pilgrim Hall ceiling to make sure it is safe. If not, those portions will be repaired as well.

I have kept our Executive Board, Board of Trustees and Board of Deacons – and the NPUOI Board of Directors – apprised of the situation. The Food staff met last night to access how we keep our Hospitality Hour, Food Pantry, Feel the Warmth, and Emergency Shelter. We had to get creative. But we have a good plan for this week – and we will continue our ministries (including Worship, Children’s Choir and Confirmation), and we will continue to feed and house our neighbors. Depending on the length of the clean up and repair in Pilgrim Hall, we will modifying our plan daily. But for right now:

· The Emergency Shelter will be in the Chapel – pews are being removed (which we had to do anyway) and our rental church will use chairs.
· The Food Pantry will use only what they can get at the CT Food Bank – and will pass pre-made bags out to our neighbors in our Narthex.
· The Feel the Warmth meal will be a to-go meal – handed out in the Narthex. We will try and find an alternative location to cook and serve our hot meal since our kitchen is closed.
· ESL will be on main level.
· Hospitality Hour will be in the Guild Room.
· Sunday School will be on third floor.
· Worship will continue to be on the sanctuary.

Our aim is to clean-up the mess, repair the hall, and be ready for our closing date of May 1.

And along the way, we will give God thanks that we have the ability, the resources, and our good people to handle this accident.

We will carry on… and we will remain blessed…..Reverend Sara

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TWO RIVAL COACHES, ONE FAITH — Special Turkey Bowl Huddle Event

In a world that seems to be making all of us rivals — we are delighted to announce a Darien FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) event that is taking place next Monday, November 21. The week of Turkey Bowl, Darien and New Canaan will come together under ONE faith to show our community that even though we may compete, our faith ALWAYS brings us together. We pray this message can touch the world!

Please join us for a very special Turkey Bowl Huddle with special guests Darien Coach Rob Trifone and New Canaan Coach Lou Marinelli.
Come hear about friendship, respect, sportsmanship, and faith.

Monday, November 21, 7-8 PM
Darien United Methodist Church, 345 Middlesex Ave.

All high school students from both Darien & New Canaan welcome. Please invite friends. Alumni and parents welcome too.


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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!!



My beloved cycle team,

Thank you for taking the time to consider joining an incredible CYCLE event on Saturday, June 18, 2016 from 12:00-2:00 pm at the Mamaroneck Equinox.  This is going to be an extremely emotional and powerful event.  We advise you to arrive 15-30 minutes before the event begins so you can get ready to RIDE!  The purpose of this ride is to support the young people BOTH here in America and in Africa.  The monies raised from this event will go directly to the needs of our young people here and around the world.

Team, we live in a world of approximately seven billion people in which two billion live in poverty, countless millions live in a state of war, and everywhere human beings are struggling to find and keep meaningful purpose in their lives. And that’s where YOU matter!  To share the power of love with everyone, everywhere!

C. S. Lewis said this:

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

I believe, deeply, that we ALWAYS have to dream big!  If our dreams are only visions that we know 100% we can attain — than we have forgotten to invite God into the situation.

Over the past 4 years of our lives we have been on an incredible journey together as a cycling community.  This event will truly honor the time and investment we have given to each other.  Please, be  apart of this event on June 18.  My life is dedicated to serving the next generation.  I’m inviting you to come along this journey with me.  Please feel free to share with others if they would like to contribute to our cause.

Here are the logistics:

  1. Each BIKE is $225 to reserve.  However, if you feel inspired to give more — that would be such a gift to the youth and me! You need to go to the secure link listed below to donate:
  2. Once you have made the donation, please email me RIGHT AWAY so I can reserve your BIKE.  Once the bikes are sold out, they are sold out!
  3. Please come to the event ready to give all you have. We will laugh, cry and sweat all in one day!!!
  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all who decide to be a part of this event!

Lastly, I want to announce that this event will most likely be my last class in Mamaroneck.  My life’s journey has taken me to Fairfield County, which I’m SO grateful for.  My wife and I are beyond happy — we are ecstatic!  As a result, we will truly be honoring our time together.  Your presence and commitment to this ride means the world to me.

We are riding for the young people in our world — come out to this event and ride with me one last time!

Love always,



On Sunday, Jan. 24 at 11:15 a.m. The First Congregational Church of Darien will host an open and frank discussion about the Islam faith and traditions.  All are welcome to attend.  The discussion will be held in Parish Hall, 14 Brookside Road, Darien.

“You can’t go a day without hearing about Islam,” says Gary Morello, Associate Minister at First Congregational Church. “So we’ve invited our Muslim friends to join us to answer questions and dialogue with us.” Organizers hope the panel will help the community understand when this religion began, what its core beliefs are, how the Sunni split happened, and much more.

First Congregational hopes the Darien community will come learn more about the Islam faith and how Islam connects to Christianity (hint:  Mary is a rock star in the Koran). Light refreshments and childcare will be provided.  To learn more, visit