The First Congregational Church of Darien

United Church of Christ

A community of faith since 1737

Category Archives: Mission
FCC, it is with great enthusiasm that I share with you the opportunities to serve on a mission trip this summer!  As many of you know, Africa holds a special place in my soul.  Something forever changed in me when I went there.  Next year, summer 2018, I want to extend the invitation to anyone from our church who would like to travel to Kenya.  By far, going to Kenya, was one of the best decisions of my life.  This opportunity is open to ALL members.
This summer we will be doing both a global and local mission trip.  The global mission trip is open to everyone while the local mission trip is specific to youth only.  Please see below for more information on both trips:
Global Mission Trip to Africa, Kenya for Adults and Youth
Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of its program year, Crossing Thresholds will be holding a mission trip to Africa next year from June 22-July 4, 2018.  Gary Morello will be leading a group of adults and youth from FCC on this special trip this summer in which we will be joining other Americans in Kenya as well.
As part of Crossing Thresholds’ ten-year anniversary (2018), next summer we will take on our biggest challenge to date — The Big Build. On this trip, we will set out to build an entire school for 300+ kids in a mere 10 days. It will be the most labor intensive and demanding trip in our 10-year history. But at the same time, it will be an incredibly exciting, satisfying, and rewarding experience for those who take on the challenge. Here are the pertinent details:
The cost of the Africa trip will be $2,200 per person not including your airline ticket.  The GREAT News is that you can raise your money for the trip through programs such as: First Giving and Go Fund Me.  If you reach out to people who care about you and ask them to support this life-changing endeavor you will be shocked how quickly this can get funded.  In addition, we can raise money to help build this school!!!!
The Kibera slum is home to roughly one million people. This unauthorized settlement on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya is the densest slum in Africa, and the second largest slum in the world. Since the Kenyan Government does not recognize the residents’ right to live there, they do not provide local infrastructure. There is no sewage system, few schools, and even fewer medical facilities. CT has been bringing volunteers to work in Kibera since 2008, and leading work trips to assist our school-building projects on the ground.
Please see the “Welcome Packet” for more information, and “Crossing Thresholds” for more information about CT, or, visit FCCD’s website for more information  Kenya Mission Trip
Local Mission Trip to Wrightsville, PA
This summer we are once again planning a Youth Mission trip for our high school students.  Rising 9th graders through those in college are eligible to participate.
As we always do, our plan is to travel the week following the end of school, which is June 17-June 23.  Our hope is to go to Wrightsville, PA with Group Mission Trips.  Gary will be leading this trip with other adults.
However, school ends this year on Thursday, June 14 and because we do live in the Northeast, if we do get more than two snow days, we will delay our trip to the following week, June 24-June 30.  To be safe, we have spaces held for that trip which is in Virginia Beach, VA.  Karen Brennan will lead this trip with Christine Geeding and other adults if we go during this time.
The cost of the local trip will be $464 per person and a $50 deposit to hold your spot is due on Monday, January 1, 2018.
We will need two adult female chaperones and two adult male chaperones to accompany the kids on the trip, and large SUVs.  If your child is going to on the trip, please consider giving of your time to join us.  We promise you will not be disappointed!  Working side by side our amazing youth is one of the most rewarding things you can do and we cannot do these trips without adult support.
For more information on either trip please contact:
The Reverend Gary Morello
First Congregational Church of Darien
(914) 217-3448

See these pdf files below for more information and application.

Africa Welcome Packet

Crossing Thresholds Brochure


Global Mission Trip to Africa, Kenya for Adults and Youth, led by Rev. Gary Morello. 

These documents will explain the mission trip this summer!

Crossing Thresholds Brochure

Africa Welcome Packet



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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,




Christmas Dove Boxes delivered to families

Totals on Doves are: 74 Dove Boxes delivered to two Agencies in Stamford on Sunday, December 13, 2015 by our Confirmation Class. The Congregation also donated over $400 in Green Dove donations to help support P2P Scholarships and Emergency Funds.


1,000 pound food challenge – 2016

The 1,000 pound food challenge is on!!!  During the months of January and February, the FCC Board of Outreach has set a goal to collect 1,000 pounds of food for our local shelters:  The Open Door Shelter (Norwalk Emergency Shelter) and Shelter for the Homeless.  Please help us reach our goal during these cold months when food is needed most but donations are down!  If every family in the Congregation donated 5 lbs. of non-perishables throughout the month of January & February, 2016, we would surpass this goal!

Collection baskets are located on the stage in Parish Hall or you may leave donations near the pulpit in the sanctuary.  We welcome your donations of non-perishable food items particularly, hearty soups pasta, pasta sauce, canned vegetables and fruits, peanut butter, tuna fish, rice, beans and the occasional cake mix & icing for special occasions.   Watch the Scale in Parish Hall rise as we attempt to meet or surpass this goal. THANK YOU!


Help the Open Door Shelter (Norwalk Emergency Shelter)

We will be cooking on Sunday, January 24th after the service (11:00 am) in the church kitchen, and serving on Monday, January 25th from 11:45 to 2:00 at the Open Door Shelter (4 Merritt Street, Norwalk).  Please contact Heather Raker to help at either time.  Many hands make light work – very rewarding!


An update on the Red Cross Blood Drive on December, 2015:


We would like to thank the Congregation and surrounding community for the donations to the Red Cross Blood drive held on December 2, 2015 in our own Parish Hall. The Red Cross goal was 18 pints of blood and they actually collected 29 pints, which has been their highest collection to date. The result is 87 potential lives were saved with this collection.  WELL DONE!


The Darien House Tour:  Homes with Heart

Darien House Tour 2015

NEED SILENT AUCTION ITEMS – Anyone with connections to Events (sporting, theatre, Television) or Restaurants, Services (interior Design, Art, landscaping) please contact please contact Anna Denoyer at

Planning is now underway for the second Darien House Tour:  Homes with Heart which will take place on June 2nd with a celebratory after party on June 3rd.  Proceeds will benefit Darien’s Thriving Youth Initiative, The Community Fund of Darien’s new program that seeks to address the issues of youth mental health in our community, as well as approximately 20 other local non-profit organizations.  We are looking for fabulous donations for our silent auction!!!  Please contact Heather Raker ( or Anna Denoyer (, if you can assist with this event.  Next meeting date for the Committee is Weds. January 20th, 2016 – 9:30am, Parish Hall.  Please join us!  


The Board of Christian Outreach thanks you for your support!

Gayle Appleby, Lindsay Atha, Tracey Berry, Yvette Borecki, Anna Denoyer, Joanne Gabriel, Lora Grassilli, Vince Hough, Annette Madden-Kline, Wendy Mulligan, Heather Raker, Charlie Wetmore

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

Cecile and I will be in the tropics for Thanksgiving Day.  We’ll miss turkey with all of the trimmings. But we won’t miss Black Friday, neither the actual thing nor the idea of the thing. So I had an idea. What if the USA were to spend half of what we usually spend on Black Friday and to use the rest to resettle Syrian refugees?


Of course, that won’t happen. But that trifle of a sacrifice would probably be more than enough than to give a pretty great start to refugees displaced by pure evil.  We won’t be receiving offerings for them quite yet, what with being in the middle of our pledge season, and then preparing to go build homes in Central America.


But eventually we need to do something.  We all know that. I learned all I need to know about fleeing Syrian refugees in this 6 minute clip from Samaritan’s Purse. It is very simple. No dead babies on the shore. Just look at their faces and think of your own family. My family came to these shores in 1705, also persecuted first in Switzerland, then in Germany. But nothing like what these people now endure.

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Relocating millions of Syrian lives is not a matter to be resolved easily or soon.  This issue is not going away. Until that day when we can do more, we can pray.


Almighty eternal God, source of all compassion,

the promise of your mercy and saving help fills our hearts with hope.

Hear the cries of the people of Syria;

bring healing to those suffering from the violence,

and comfort to those mourning the dead.

Empower and encourage Syria’s neighbors

in their care and welcome for refugees.

Convert the hearts of those who have taken up arms,

and strengthen the resolve of those committed to peace.


O God of hope and Father of mercy,

your Holy Spirit inspires us to look beyond ourselves and our own needs.

Inspire leaders to choose peace over violence

and to seek reconciliation with enemies.

Inspire the Church around the world with compassion for the people of Syria,

and fill us with hope for a future of peace built on justice for all.

We ask this through Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace and Light of the World,

who lives and reigns for ever and ever.



Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. See you on Sunday, our Thanksgiving Sunday, as we welcome 11 new members, and pledge from our blessings for our church.

Pledge brochure headerA 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.

Thank you for being part of the 2016 Pledge Drive!

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.

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This week we kick off the preparations for our Fall Fair to be held Sunday, November 22nd from 9:30 to 2:00. This is the only fund raiser we hold to raise money for our association. Did you all see the new chairs in the library that the Women’s Association donated this year?
Craft Days and Evenings are scheduled, so dig out you glue guns and join me in the kitchen where we will make wonderful items to sell at the Fair.
Craft Days:  Tuesdays 12:00-2:00. October 13, 20, 27
                                                                      November 3, 10, 17
Craft Evenings: Thursdays 6:00-8:00October 15, 22, 29
                                                                              November 5, 12
Bake Nights are on Thursday and Friday, November 19 and 20. We will make delicious pies and quiches for the bake sale and for us to enjoy eatingon Friday. Please plan to join in the fun!
Fall is a great time to do a closet clean out! We need items for our jumble sale, so clean out your gift closet and donate new or gently used items. The Jumble is a great place for the children to shop for gifts for friends and family.
The Vintage Jewelry area is another wonderful place to shop for both adults and children. Sift through your jewelry boxes and drawers to find pieces you no longer wear to donate. I have found several favorite pieces there!
There will be boxes on the stage for you to place your donated Jumble and Jewelry items.
Check the Women’s Association’s bulletin board for additional news.