October 1, 2020 – Darien, Conn. – First Congregational Church of Darien welcomes Reverend Denise Terry, who will preach her first sermon this Sunday, October 4 at the 9:00 a.m. service outside on the lawn at 14 Brookside Road in Darien. Beginning on Sunday, October 11, the church will resume its 8:30 and 10:00 services inside the meetinghouse, with full COVID safety protocols in place and attendance by advance registration.
Reverend Terry brings a wealth of experience as both a minister and an international business consultant and teacher. Most recently, she was the Senior Minister at East Granby Congregational Church, and she has previously served churches in Montana and Florida in both Interim and Settled Minister positions. After a first career in accounting and business administration and several years of teaching accounting internationally, she earned a degree in Theology from UCONN and a Master of Divinity from Andover Newton Theological School and was ordained in the United Church of Christ in 1998. She was born in Providence, Rhode Island and raised in Connecticut. For more details, see her video greeting and introduction.
At First Congregational Church of Darien, she will serve as Interim Senior Minister, following the retirement of long-time pastor Dale Rosenberger last month, and she notes that she has a particular affinity for interim ministry.
“Times of pastoral transition are opportunities for the church to pause and reflect on their history and accomplishments, while also preparing for new leadership,” says Reverend Terry. “This is an important time for the church to come together to voice a shared understanding of what God is calling the congregation to do, and to be. I am so excited to be here, and I can’t wait to get to know the church and the Darien community.”
Church moderator Gary Holmes commented, “Reverend Terry is a woman of great faith, emotional depth and intelligence, and we know she will make valuable contributions to our church and our town. She will play two roles, preaching and providing pastoral care, and working with us to plan and prepare for our future over the next year or more. This period will be an exciting time for us as we rediscover what we love about the church and where we want to focus in the coming years. This is an excellent opportunity for all new and old members, as well as prospective members and guests, to come see what is new and be part of this important forward-looking conversation.”
Residents of Darien, Norwalk, Stamford, and surrounding communities are invited to join us to meet Denise on Sunday, October 4 at 9:00 a.m. outdoors, or via livestream on the church’s Facebook page. From Sunday, October 11 onward, interested members and visitors can register on the church’s website to join worship indoors in the meetinghouse at 8:30 or 10:00 a.m., or join the 10:00 a.m. service only via livestream on our new online platform (see website for details.)
First Congregational Church has played a significant role in the Darien community since its earliest days. The church has a rich history dating back to at least 1730, when area families began worshiping outside the Stamford Parish. In 1737 the Connecticut legislature, petitioned by 80 families, formed an Ecclesiastical Society separate from Stamford to be called Middlesex Parish. In 1739 a meeting was held in the John Bates homestead, now known as the Bates-Scofield House of the Museum of Darien, to raise taxes to build a meetinghouse.
In 1744 our church was officially organized as the Church of Christ in Middlesex; the community called its first “settled minister” with the ordination of Moses Mather, a man of 19 years who was teaching at Yale College; and the first meetinghouse, a white wood frame building, was built. Well-situated on the King’s Highway, the post route between New York and Boston, the meetinghouse was not only the first center of Christian worship for the community, it also served the spiritual needs of countless travelers.
This year, on the occasion of the 200th birthday of the Town of Darien, the church published a lively new narrative with stories and vignettes from the history of the church and its role in the founding and development of the community.
In recent years, longtime ministers Ron Evans and Dale Rosenberger have been community leaders, organizing the Good Friday multi-denominational cross walk through town and the reconciliation march this spring, in conjunction with other members of the clergy in town. The church’s leadership and volunteers have worked closely with social service organizations that the church supports throughout lower Fairfield County, such as Inspirica, Building One Community, Liberation Programs, Person-to-Person, and others.