A spiritual home to people from different places, faiths, and journeys, Darien’s First Congregational Church is a vibrant community—a place where families and individuals join together to worship God, care for one another, serve others and celebrate life in all of its expressions.
When we gather together, something special happens. Hearts are healed. Hope is restored. Faith grows. And relationships are forged that stand the test of time. We then scatter and share Christ’s love with others both within our community and throughout the world—just as we have for nearly three centuries.
We cannot do all we hear God calling us to do in this sweet spot of our journey without the pledged support of everyone.
Vibrant Youth Programs — Our Church School is a warm, welcoming place on Sunday mornings as over 40 children ages one month to 15 years, gather for a fun and innovative bible‐ centered program. Our 8th grade Confirmation program and robust Youth Group provide a foundation for all until college.
Meaningful Service Opportunities and Outreach — Whether cooking or serving dinner at a local shelter, traveling to the Dominican Republic and to Maryland to build houses, or delivering holiday meals, we roll up our sleeves and serve.
The New Evans Center — The repurposing of 11 Brookside increases the size and scope of our campus. By the spring of 2016, we will be able to cross the road and enter a beautiful, bright space that will provide a community meeting room, a dedicated youth center, and housing for an Associate Minister. The building will be dedicated to Pastor Emeritus Ron Evans and his wife Janet, who served the church from 1985 to 2007.
Fellowship — Abundant and generous hospitality are a staple of our community of faith. As we gather for worship, service or special events, we forge life‐long friendships that enrich our connections to God.
The heartfelt Step Talks our own gave last autumn, inviting us to pledge, impressed me. As I will say to anyone who will listen, stewardship and pledging are far more about faith than they are about money. I heard abundant faith in those Step Talks. Did you notice that two were by tried and true members and two by non-member fellow disciples? If we only enforce membership boundaries, we become like a club. But when it is also about discipleship, it rounds out into something more expansive, and more open to God.
Guess what. Projecting ourselves forward into 2015 isn’t only about “strategic planning”, but also faith, and our openness to God’s Spirit leading us in Congregational fashion. So I share Terry Brewer’s Step Talk, co-chair of our Pledge Committee, and a lover of our Church. He gave it one Sunday, despite his feeling ill. Not everyone was present to hear him. Listen for how the Holy Spirit crackles within it, sending us in new directions:
“I’ve been thinking about what makes this place special. What it is that makes me want to help keep the lights on here at the First Congregational Church. What is it for me? Is it the soaring musical gifts bestowed on us by Amy, and Dan, and Max, and our terrific choir? Is it the tear in the eye of our senior pastor, who wears his heart on his sleeve?
Is it the special sense of community I get when I look around and see so many really good people present? Is it the fact that I feel I am maybe a slightly better person when I am here? Yes, it’s all these things and many more. In fact, I imagine it’s a different and unique mix of elements for each one of us, But I bet there’s at least one element that each of our lists would have in common: the open arms of welcome we all find here.
As Don Longbottom used to say, ‘Wherever you are in life’s journey, you are welcome here.’ That’s a mouthful, and it’s not said lightly. It is the same extravagant welcome that has characterized this place for 270 years as prior generations have taken their places in these pews and looked around and looked within themselves, just as we do today.
When I think about this welcome, I always think of our electric side door, the one that opens wide in silent welcome whenever we approach. To me it says, ‘Come in, you’re welcome here. Take some time, take a seat, take stock of things. Stay as long as you can.’ These doors speak to me of unchanging inclusiveness and love…things that are worth sacrificing to preserve. I have a brief prayer. Please bow your heads with me.
Dear Lord, thank you for this lovely place. It isn’t grand. In fact it’s quite plain. But, it’s warm in the winter here and cool in summer. And our simple, empty cross gives mute testimony to Christian love for all who will listen for it. May all here who are able to, experience the unique joy that comes only through giving. And may our gifts keep this place strong and healthy so that its doors continue swinging wide in welcome long after we are all gone from here. Amen”
Great words for us as one year hinges into the next!
Karen and Kevin Post
Sarah and Ethan Blaszczak and son Bennett
Regan Walsh and Rick Hayes
Lauren and Harris Swenson, children Lindsley and Andrew
Brooke Nichols and Jim Cusick
Cynthia and Roland Clough and children Ryan and Erika