The First Congregational Church of Darien

United Church of Christ

A community of faith since 1737

Category Archives: Faith

Holy Week (3)

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.

 

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 uccdarien.org/.

OUR CHURCH, THROUGH OTHERS’ EYES
Jon Bigelow, chair, Associate Minister Search Committee
 
For a church as for any institution, it is enlightening to step back and see how others view us. We had an opportunity to do just that during the recent search that led to calling Gary Morello as our Associate Minister.  I’ve borrowed this space, while Dale is in Costa Rica on the Habitat for Humanity work trip, to share some of what we heard.
 
To post the position in the UCC network, we crafted a 30-page profile of First Congregational Church: our demographics, theological leanings, worship, history, organization, finances, mission work, the challenges we see in our community and our aspirations for addressing them.  (A copy is available in the church office.)
 
As we interviewed candidates from around the country, we received feedback about what the Profile and our answers to their questions told them about our church.  What did they say?
 
They were often surprised that our church, in its ByLaws, commits 10% of all pledges to outreach, and also has a history of including a 10% mission component in capital campaigns.  They were further impressed at the breadth of our involvement in the community, for example that we serve up to 200 meals each month at the Norwalk Emergency Shelter and help keep the pantry filled on a weekly basis, and remarked on the amounts we have raised through the Darien House Tour and, before that, the Antiques Show.  Clearly this commitment of time and treasure to outreach in the community goes beyond that of many churches.
 
We were praised for our practice of regularly conducting mission trips for our youth.  We heard positive comments on our Come As You Are services to attract more worshippers and accommodate busy schedules, and on our commitment to music and initiatives such as Jazz Sunday.
 
More broadly, much time was spent discussing our concerns for the stresses of growing up in (or, for that matter, being an adult in) the high-achiever, high-expectation environment that is Darien.  Ministry here comes with special opportunities but also special challenges, and candidates were pleased to see the attention we pay to this issue.
 
Candidates noted our inclusive tone, and our ability to rebound from past difficulties within the congregation.  And hats off to our Communications Committee: We were complimented on our social media presence, incorporating Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as well as our website.
 
In short, a key reason we attracted a strong pool of candidates (at a time when fewer divinity school graduates enter parish ministry) is because they saw in First Congregational Church of Darien a community of people working hard to make a difference.  There is more for us to accomplish, of course.  But-even as we begin 2016 with Gary on board, many new members, an energized youth program, an adult work trip underway and youth mission trips planned for summer, the Evans Center about to open, and a slate of special services and events in coming weeks-it is worth celebrating the progress we are making.

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More information here:

17 people from our Church are leaving Saturday for Guanacaste, Costa Rica, where they will live and work building homes for local residents. We wish them “buen viaje” and Godspeed. 20160103_102306_opt

Be sure to watch this charming annual event at FCC – our Christmas Pageant!

FCCDarien Christmas Pagent 2014 from First Congregational Darien on Vimeo.

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Christmas Eve Family Services
4:00 and 5:30 pm
Our family services are exuberant, lively, and have a family-friendly atmosphere. Our junior choir will sing at the 4 p.m. service.
10:00 pm – Service of Lessons and Carols
(Musical Prelude begins at 9:30 p.m.)
A classic, quiet, and contemplative Christmas Eve service accompanied by our Senior Choir

Join Us As We Celebrate Advent!

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Sunday, December 7
Second Sunday of Advent
Worship Services at
8:30 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.
Lighting of the Second Advent Candle

Christmas Pageant Rehearsal
11th hour

Sunday, December 7
Advent Workshop, 4:00 -6:00 p.m.
4:00 Arts and Crafts, 5:00 Christmas Carols, 5:30 Potluck Supper

Sunday, December 14
Third Sunday of Advent
Worship Services at 8:30 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.
Lighting of the Third Advent Candle

Christmas Pageant
11th hour, Sunday, December 14

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Candlelight Concert 7:00 p.m.
Don’t miss this special, annual tradition.
All are welcome to attend!

Sunday, December 21
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Worship Service at 8:30 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.
Lighting of the Fourth Advent Candle

Wednesday, December 24
Christmas Eve
Family Service, 4:00 p.m.
Family Service, 5:30 p.m.
Candlelight Service, 10:00 p.m.

At Thanksgiving time stands still in an over-the-river-and-through-the-woods kind of way. We need to slow down, look back, and let our souls catch up with the frenetic pace that our bodies orbit within.  Perhaps that repose is why everyone seemed so happy last Sunday, our Thanksgiving Sunday.  But so much shifts this Sunday, the first of Advent.

Advent is the story of grace, the grace of receiving a gift.   Advent prepares us to receive the gift to end all gifts. It’s odd how consumerism prattles endlessly about our giving each other gifts at Christmas.  It’s peculiar how we go on and on about how “the true spirit of Christmas is giving”.  In a roundabout sense it is.  But it’s God’s giving and our receiving.

Beginning this Sunday, we gather to celebrate the advent of a God who comes to us in order to give us what we cannot give ourselves, what we cannot give each other.  That saving gift of God making us whole now and for all time is God’s freely to give.  We can’t earn it.  We don’t deserve it.  So the mood of Advent is an advanced state of receptivity.

I mean, I really enjoy things like the Dove Boxes at Christmas.  Cecile and I took one and look forward to assembling a seasonal food kit to make a festive celebration for a family. But it would get us closer to the true spirit of Christmas if we were receiving them rather than giving them. Why? Because being in charge and in control is a bit too precious to us. When we are the givers, we are in charge and in control, unlike when our lives unravel.

Advent is about emptying our hands and our hearts of everything occupying them so we can receive the one thing needful.  Advent is more about relinquishing efforts to achieve, to do, to make our mark in the world.  Have you ever noticed how eager people in our church are to give when a typhoon hits the Philippines or a family finds itself in trouble? Compare that with how reluctant we are to receive when hit with ill fortune or tribulation. We are good at giving (prove me right with your pledges!), but not so good at receiving.

Advent really is an unusual challenge for hard-charging, achieving types like us.  Unlike Joseph and Mary, we don’t have to pray to God for food, housing or clothing, all biblical concerns. We can solve most of our needs by opening our checkbooks. We’re go-getters!

But Advent speaks of a people whose need is so great, whose darkness is so very deep, whose emptiness is so vast, they turn their gaze heavenward, unable to help themselves. Their hope is not found in the closed circle that is the comings and goings of their lives.

That’s why we need Advent to prepare for Christmas. After all, we are mostly used to solving our problems by ourselves.  We approach God with open hearts and open hands, marking our own neediness, not that of others. In Bethlehem, we kneel before God in Christ, to worship and receive the one gift around which every other gift gets arranged.

Advent puts achievement aside and puts the gift of God in Christ front and center.  Deep, lasting real hope comes from the outside. So come, begin the journey with us on Sunday.