The First Congregational Church of Darien

United Church of Christ

A community of faith since 1737


“So as I embark on a new journey, I want you to know that each and every one of you has helped me grow too.  I’ve grown in my faith and most importantly, I have grown in my family too.  That’s what I think of FCC, an extended family in which I could spend every Sunday and more.  Thank you all for everything you have done for me over these years.  This has truly been a life changing experience.”


With those tender words in the Flash, Kate Nelson bid us adieu a few weeks ago. Actually, this Sunday is her final farewell, with gifts and tributes, hugs and smiles. In fact, all of the service will refer to Kate and our mission in Christian education.


Feels so sad, doesn’t it?  Except that we also have exciting news about our new Church School Director.  Her name is Mary Jo Colman and I will introduce her to the children and to all on Welcome Back Sunday.  May I tell you a bit about her?


Mary Jo comes to us with a love of children and learning.  She is a lead teacher and curriculum specialist at the United Methodist Preschool in New Canaan. She routinely thinks outside the box with new and developmentally exciting curriculum that she designs.  She has a background in dance, and is fluent in Spanish and conversational Japanese. Mary Jo is raising three of her own teenage children.  She is from Dobbs Ferry, New York and lives not so far away from us in Norwalk.


After conducting two probing interviews–including Kate Nelson, Karen Brennan, Caroline Burke, and myself–we were all impressed with the gifts Mary Jo brings. She’s energetic, warm, and approachable. Her easy laugh makes Mary Jo accessible. Yet she is intent to get things right and not settle with half-measures. After reviewing our curriculum, at the second interview, we talked in detail about her commitment to imparting the Christian story with our young to form their faith.


Like Kate, Mary Jo was raised Roman Catholic, but has visited several churches searching for a church home.  She grasps the nature servant leadership, how the love of Christ compels us as leaders to put others’ well-being ahead of our own. She is a dedicated teacher to children, and understands her role in empowering our Church School teachers and hearing the hopes and concerns of our parents.


With her creative, artistic bent I cannot wait to see what she does with Children’s Sunday next spring.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, and do everything we can to welcome her as she begins on Tuesday, and gets the lay of the FCC land.


Think of it. Between adding Carlos Moya as our Sexton, who takes real pride in making our building shine; Gary Morello as our Interim Youth Minister, who has already made a dramatic impact on youth and parents; and now Mary Jo Colman as Church School Director, we’re putting ourselves in a great posture for ministry. All indicators point to a super year ahead, with Welcome Back Sunday not far off.

2 thoughts on “HELLO, GOODBYE!”

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