Friday, September 16, 2011

9/11/01 Plus 10: Between Memory and Hope

When something terrible happens… something of a horrible magnitude… the memory that surrounds that event seems to be permanently etched in our minds… often in minute detail.

I can still remember when I first heard that President Kennedy had been assassinated… or what I was doing when I was told that the Space Shuttle Challenger had exploded… or who I was with when I heard of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Where were you on the morning of September 11, 2001?

What were you doing when you heard the towers had fallen? What’s your memory of that terrible day… 10 years ago?
As I considered what I might share with you in this Service of Remembrance… I thought I’d re-visit some of my own memories of that time…

Whenever a tragedy strikes… whenever bad things happen to good people… we hear the question... and it’s one that we may have even asked ourselves... "Where is God in all of this?"

I’d like to tell you the answer to that question that I discovered when I took a trip to New York City three months after the towers fell... God was present at Ground Zero for me that day… in a very powerful way.
It was a gray day when I emerged from the subway station at the intersection of West and Chambers. There were a few others like me... clearly tourists... clearly there on a sort of pilgrimage. Quietly we made our way to Broadway and then to Saint Paul's Chapel where the fence around the church has been transformed into a shrine... a "people's memorial".

Posters... flowers... prayer beads and pictures of sacred images were hanging everywhere. One poster still stands out in my memory very clearly… it had a picture of a lovely 20-something woman on it… with big bold letters pleading… “Have you seen Carla?”

People were standing in hushed silence… as though we were in church… some places 5 and 6 deep… looking at everything there. It was quite moving… But for me the most powerful encounters of the day were yet to come.
After walking by St. Paul's Chapel... I came upon a table set up on the sidewalk covered with books and pamphlets and stuff. Not really an unusual sight in New York City... there are often tables on the sidewalk covered with items for sale… incense… watches…or art of various expressions and quality. But this was clearly different. Over the table was a sign that read... "Prayer Station"...

I stopped to talk to one of the young women who were standing there. Jennifer couldn’t have been much older than Erin at the time. She told me how the "Prayer Station" was sponsored by an organization called: Youth With A Mission... For the 3 month anniversary there were over 200 kids from 18-25 at various "Prayer Stations" in the area… just trying to be a friendly face for people working and visiting around Ground Zero.

Jennifer had come all the way from Vancouver, BC to pray with anyone who needed it. She realized that she didn't have any special skills to offer... but she felt the need to do something... What she could give was her time and her prayers... and so... after raising all the money she needed to get to NY and back… there she stood.

She and her friends had just prayed with a man from France. His wife had died when the tower collapsed to the ground. The woman had traveled to NYC to see a former college classmate and was to have met her at a coffee shop in the World Trade Center that terrible morning. This was the first chance he had to come to the place where his wife died.

We chatted a bit... and prayed together... then I continued down Broadway. I hadn't gone more than a few feet when for some reason I looked up. There on the building across the street hung a huge banner... several stories tall... Its message was simple... "Fear is not the only force at work in the world today."

I couldn't help but stop and pause a moment in silent awe when I read that banner just after being with a young woman who had traveled over 3000 miles simply to pray with strangers on the streets of New York City.
And then I met Tony. In front of the fence that surrounds Trinity Church… Tony... Steve... and Ike had set themselves up with rickety chairs and plastic milk crates… "Shoes shined... Shoes shined…." they called out as people walked by. I thought… "Well what the heck... this is New York… and my shoes sure could use a shine." So I sat down at Tony's chair.

This African American man in his early thirties went on and on in his jovial jiving manner about how he had a Ph.D in "Shoe-ology." "You'll see…" he said... “this’ll be the best shine these shoes’ll ever have... because I'm the Shoe Doctor.” And as he buffed and polished he told me how he and his friends have been shining shoes at that spot for 17 years.

They were there that Tuesday September 11... Tony said he lost a lot of friends that day... He stopped for a moment and looked in the direction of where the towers once stood… “After all… “ he said quietly… “you don't shine someone's shoes for 17 years and not become friends."

He spoke of how he and Steve and Ike ran to help the victims after the first tower collapsed... "What else could we do? You can't just run away and leave people like that." And then he told me how it felt to run like Hell in the other direction when the second tower started to collapse.

Before I left him I asked Tony how he was doing. "It's pretty rough sometimes with the nightmares and stuff... But I have my faith to help me through... I know the love of God is in me." And then… standing right there on the street he began to recite from memory the following poem… in a catchy rap beat that I couldn’t possibly imitate:

"I greet this day with love in my heart...From now on I behold every creature with love and I am born again.
I love the sun because it warms my bones,
but I also love the rain because it cleans my spirit.
I love the light because it shows me the way,
but I love also the darkness because it shows to me the stars.
I welcome happiness because it makes my heart larger,
but I endure also sorrow because it opens my soul.
I welcome rewards because I deserve them,
but I welcome also difficulties
because they challenge me for new horizons.

I greet this day with love in my heart.
With love I demolish the wall of suspiciousness and hate
which humans have built in their hearts.
In its place I make bridges with my love to enter in their souls.

I greet this day with love in my heart.
And how will I speak?
I will laud mine enemies and they will become friends;
I will encourage my friends and they will become brothers.
Always I will dig for reasons to applaud;
never will I search for excuses to gossip.
When I am tempted to criticize I will bite my tongue.
When I am moved to praise I will shout from the roofs.

I greet this day with love in my heart.
Everyone I meet, I silently greet and say “I love you.”
Though soundless these words, they glow in my eyes,
they unknit my forehead, they bring a smile on my lips,
everything reflects in my voice, and my heart opens.
From now on I love the whole human kind.
From this moment every speck of hate leaves my veins.
I have no time but to love.

I greet this day with love in my heart.
I love what I am.
I love those that love me.
I love those that hate me.
I love that which I do.
I love.

A few months after my first visit to Ground Zero I happened to be in Lower Manhattan again for a conference… Gone were the Prayer Stations on the sidewalk and the banner on the side of the building… and as I walked by the place where I had met Tony… instead of three make-shift shoeshine stands… there were only 2… Steve and Ike were still there… still shining shoes.

I asked about Tony… I wanted to thank him for his powerful witness of hope… but they looked at me kind of puzzled. Tony? They’d never heard of a Tony… for years it’s only been the two of them shining shoes on that spot.

10 years later… I still believe that I met God that day on the streets of New York City… I prayed with HER… HE shined my shoes… “…the best shine they’ll ever have.”
All these years later our memories are still vivid… the pictures… the stories… can still bring us to tears. But more than re-living the memories on this 10th anniversary… I invite you to pledge to actively live in hope that a better world is possible.

This past week… a colleague of mine sent me a copy of the 9/11 Commemorative Pledge… He’d heard about it through the Baptist Peace Fellowship…

“As a Christian and an American, on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks I commit myself to work for building peace in my community and the world, and to love my neighbors by standing against hate and fear.”

"Fear is not the only force at work in the world today." My friends… our country is best served by our efforts to overcome evil with good…

As disciples… as students of Jesus Christ… we aren’t called to do everything that Jesus did… We’re called to do everything that we do in the same manner that Jesus did everything that he did.

Our country is best served by our efforts to live a compassionate life… Recently a “friend” of a “friend” on Facebook wrote: “…If you remember everyone banded together after 9/11, but a lot of that fellowship has long been forgotten. What we need is to change internally… not just for the moment… but for the long haul.”

How can we do that? Well… Tony’s already told us… Greet this day… and every day with love in your hearts.

If we do nothing more… or less… than that… then neither Christ… nor the victims of September 11th… nor any victim of hatred and terror in any time or any place… will have died in vain. Amen.

Monday, August 8, 2011

12 Steps to a Compassionate Life

FCCB 8/7/11

Romans 10:5-15

We give you thanks, O God of Sacred Stories, for the witness of Holy Scripture. Through it you nurture our imaginations, touch our feelings, increase our awareness and challenge our assumptions. Bless, we pray, our hearing of your word this day. Speak to each of us, speak to all of us. And grant that by the power of your Spirit we may be hearers and doers of your word. Amen.

12 Steps to a Compassionate Life

Last Sunday after my niece had opened all of her gifts at her bridal shower… my sisters and I were chatting together when one of them looked admiringly at her feet during a lull in the conversation… and announced that she’d just had her first ever pedicure. Girl talk! Seems her daughter felt it was about time she indulged herself… and she was showing off her beautiful feet.
“As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’”… For the apostle Paul… it’s not polished toenails that make feet beautiful… but the way those feet embody the compassion that Jesus lived.

As disciples of Jesus Christ… trying to live as HIS hands and feet and heart and mind… we’re called to daily proclaim the gospel… keeping in mind Francis of Assisi’s advice… to use words only when absolutely necessary.
Recently I’ve been reading a book by the religion historian, Karen Armstrong titled: “12 Steps to a Compassionate Life.” The book came out of her project to gather together religious leaders and great thinkers from around the world to create what she calls a Charter for Compassion ( … It’s her goal to offer guidance and support to those who are committed to making the world a better place.

Armstrong opens by saying… “One of the chief tasks of our time must surely be to build a global community in which all peoples can live together in mutual respect; yet religion, which should be making a major contribution, is seen as part of the problem.

All faiths insist that compassion is the test of true spirituality and that it brings us into relation(ship) with the transcendence we call God, Brahman, Nirvana, or Dao. Each has formulated its own version of what is sometimes called the Golden Rule... Further they all insist that you cannot confine your benevolence to your own group; you must have concern for everybody – even your enemies…”(Armstrong; pg. 4)

She goes on to say… “…it has become imperative to apply the Golden Rule globally, ensuring that all peoples are treated as we would wish to be treated ourselves. If our religious and ethical traditions fail to address this challenge, they will fail the test of our time…” (Armstrong; pg. 5)

Well… after following the news for the last few weeks… nationally and internationally… listening to stories of wars and famine… of entrenched polarity and economic instability… and the widening gap between those who have and those who don’t… I think these words are especially timely.
As Christians we acknowledge that Jesus is our Lord every time we re-affirm the promises of our baptism… or gather around this table to share a simple meal.

But along with confessing that Jesus is our Lord with our lips… we need to follow in the same direction as His beautiful footsteps… and apply the rule of His life to our own lives. Living faithfully is more than the rote repetition of a particular set of words… Living faithfully means deciding to live by them every day.

Beautiful are the feet that strive to live out His values and stay focused on the vision of God’s Good Life… for everyone… that He gave His life to reveal…

Beautiful are the feet that daily try to be like Him… the embodiment of compassion… the Golden Rule with a human face… using words only when absolutely necessary.

Compassion is more than just being kind to people we happen to meet… It’s love that’s actively looking for areas of suffering around us… and trying to do something about it.

Compassion is more than treating others with respect… it involves a willingness to open our hearts and minds enough to “make a place for the other”… to get to know them better… even our enemies… open to letting OUR opinions and attitudes be transformed by THEIR needs and experiences.
I could go on and on about each of the 12 steps to a compassionate life… but that would eventually bore you with too much information. I’m sure that much of what I’ve read… and have become so enthused about… will show up in my messages over the next few weeks.

And sometime this Fall I hope to start a monthly discussion group to study the book in more depth… as well as examine the particular spiritual practice that it recommends.

Now I am not for a minute implying that we are somehow compassion-deficient and in need of a series of special instructions to remedy this ungodly condition… because as far as I’m concerned… week after week this church is filled with beautiful feet. As one responder to our Ministry Assessment survey wrote… “We live up to our name!”…as Grace at the Crossroads.

Week after week we gather together to strengthen and encourage one another to risk living a compassionate life… not only for our own salvation… for our own sense of wholeness and well-being… but for everyone’s sake… for the sake of all of God’s creation.

This congregation is full of beautiful feet that have brought good news to countless others over the years… and I suspect will continue to do so for many more generations to come. But even beautiful feet find it refreshing to indulge in a pedicure every once in a while… especially considering the burdens that are placed on them every day.

Even beautiful feet need time to be renewed… and sometimes re-directed whenever we get distracted by our me-first automatic response to any threat… real or imagined… or succumb to the temptation to hatred and bitterness.

The Golden Rule is a method to be put into daily practice… to intentionally do at least one act of kindness every day…
…to refrain from that remark or gesture that dismisses or demeans another person…
…to make every effort to change negative thought patterns…
…and to nightly look back on our day to see how we’ve done… and resolve to do better tomorrow…
… Empathy… forgiveness… and concern for everybody… even for ourselves… is what being compassionate looks like.
Armstrong’s concluding words are a reminder that… “the attempt to become a compassionate human being is a lifelong project… Nearly every day we will fail… but we cannot give up…”(Armstrong; pg. 192)

“…You will have to work at.. (it)… continuously for the rest of your life… learning more about compassion (from other traditions and belief systems)… surveying your world anew (to see where there is suffering to tend to)… struggling with self-hatred and discouragement…”

“…Never mind loving your enemies…” she writes “…sometimes loving our nearest and dearest selflessly and patiently will be a struggle!…” (Armstrong; pg. 192)

“… Compassion is possible…” she concludes… and “…even if we achieve only a fraction of this enlightenment and leave the world marginally better because we have lived in it… our lives will have been worthwhile. There is no more to be said. We know what we have to do. This is the end of the book… but our work is just beginning.” (Armstrong; pg. 193)
“As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’”… who go into each week in peace… to love and serve our God through loving and serving all of God’s creation. Amen.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Reflections from the UCC General Synod

I had a great time at General Synod… I want to thank you for making it possible for me to attend and represent our Quiet Corner of CT.

Even though each morning began with 6:30a.m. breakfast meetings and the days were so hot and humid my glasses fogged up the instant I stepped out of the convention center… it was a wonderful opportunity to make new friends from all over the country.

There was awesome music… powerful worship… informative workshops… soul-stirring testimonies… and messy and sometimes difficult discussions… all of which is the church at its best.

I was so happy to see over 200 youth and young adults actively participating in the life of the wider church… from teens to twenty-somethings… they got us up and moving with their music… and touched us with their prayers and wisdom. Their synod experience is bound to have a lasting impact on their lives… and the way they will live their faith.

But it wasn’t all work and no play… one evening several of us took the trolley to the end of the line and had a great time with some of the locals in Ybor City.

Back in the exhibit hall you could get anything from books on anything to do with the life of the church… to hand crafted stoles and tee shirts with the God Is Still Speaking “comma” logo. And there were information booths from several seminaries… as well as the many different specialized ministries that are part of the UCC.

It was at one of those booths that I was reminded of just how small a world we live in. I was speaking to a representative of the UCC Insurance Board… when she noticed that I was from CT. She asked what church I served… and when I told her… I thought she was going to cry…

You see… over 30 years ago… Priscilla Shoup was a young student minister shadowing Rev. Chuck Iloff… who was the pastor here at the time. She remembers Ruth Briere… and Susan Ennis… and told me how Ralph Seguine had taught her how to pray.

Those are just a few of the blessed moments I experienced at Synod. Again… thank you for the opportunity!
Well… I’ve already told you about a few of the highlights of my experience at Synod… Now I’d like to share some of the words that have both challenged and inspired me while I was there…

After an afternoon full of educational sessions on the business that the gathered delegates were expected accomplish over the next 4 days… General Synod 28 officially opened with worship on Friday evening… One of those to offer a personal testimony that evening was the Rev. Susan Smith… pastor of Advent UCC in Columbus, OH…

With a wry smile… and twinkle in her eyes… she told us how her friends had strongly discouraged her from accepting the call to serve that congregation… It was a dying church of only 5 members when she agreed to be their pastor… Now there are well over 300 !…

Rev. Smith told us how her mother used to read her the same bedtime story every single night… Night after night she’d listen to the story of The Little Engine That Could…

She’s convinced that that nightly ritual of “I think I can… I think I can… I think I can…” transformed into “I knew I could… I knew I could… I knew I could...” became the foundation of her perseverance in ministry… in spite of all odds against that congregation succeeding.

It wasn’t until Rev. Smith decided to read that same story to her children that she realized that the little engine had actually said… “I thought I could… I thought I could…” as it made its way OVER the top of the mountain and down the other side… Her mother admitted to changing the words… Seems she felt they were too wishy washy… after all… with God ALL THINGS are possible!

Later that same evening… referring to the statement on the pin he was wearing that said… “Jesus didn’t reject people. Neither do we.” … the Rev. Josh Longbottom… the long-haired… twenty-something associate pastor at Plymouth Congregational Church in Lawrence, Kansas reminded us that… as Christ’s disciples… we’re called to extend our extravagant welcome even to “the weirdos and the freakies… to the ugly and the stinky…”
Saturday started off with a keynote address from Leonard Pitts… a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist… and member of a UCC church. For him… Jesus is God’s way of showing us how the power of one can move many.

Speaking about our call to be witnesses of Jesus Christ… Pitts reminded us that throughout history there have been those people whose ideas and visions were once thought to be absolutely outrageous… and even crazy…

Yet these crazy people were able to bring about tremendous change for good in the world… crazy people like… Lincoln… Ghandi… and Martin Luther King, Jr… just to name a few.

But he wonders if Christians these days just aren’t crazy enough… We have a tendency to focus our energies and attentions on what we can’t do anymore… on all the reasons why our churches are declining… When we do that… we overlook the amazing possibilities that are right in front of our noses.

“People of faith have been far too guilty… for far too long… for thinking far too small…” he told us… But we live in a world that desperately needs us to think and act big.

To shrug our shoulders and blow off the problems that plague our neighbors near and far as “just the way it is”… is NOT a faithful response. “When did our imaginations… as people of faith… become shrunken?”… he asked us. Only when we’re prepared to fail gloriously is there any hope of success.

Then later that day… in a workshop titled: “Being a Movement” … one of my seminary classmates commented that churches have a unique role in setting a prophetic view of what’s possible… and that as Christians it’s our responsibility to build the movement that Jesus began… That’s what it means to be a disciple.
Sunday’s preacher… the Rev. Laurinda Hafner… of Coral Gables Congregational Church… reminded us that the mission of the church isn’t to enlarge its membership… but to love the world in every possible way… as God did… and as God does! We are called to be a movement of living water… a movement of hope in the desert.
Monday… the Fourth of July… was a working holiday for us… But before we got down and dirty with some of our most difficult resolution discussions… we were addressed by the Rev. Geoffrey Black… the General Minister and President of the UCC.

He urged us all to go back to our churches after Synod and take on what he called… “Big… Holy… Audacious Goals” that would enable us to become a growing church… and a growing movement…
…to be widely recognized as witnesses to the gospel…
…to become catalysts for excellence in ministry…
…and a church that’s relevant and reflective of the demographics of this nation…

“Set big goals…” he told us… “but don’t fear to act!” We are called not only to perceive the new thing that God is doing among us… but to pursue it as well.
Then… after it was all over… after all the early morning caucuses and evening committee meetings…
…after debating and voting on 7 resolutions and electing new officers to lead our UCC churches into the future…
…after the last vender had left the exhibit hall…
General Synod 28 ended as it began… with worship… with a time to give thanks to the mighty God we serve… who continues to do a new thing… for us and through us.

The Rev. Elizabeth Clement of Atlanta, GA invited… well… no… it was more like she CHALLENGED us to…
… imagine what could be possible in our churches when we dare to bring our lives together as God’s people and care for one another above all else…
…imagine what could be possible when we put aside fear and blame and scarcity in favor of holding the life-giving tension that is in diversity and difference…
…in refreshment and transformation…
…in what is... and what is possible in GOD’S own imagination…

She invited us to imagine a world where the loudest Christian voice is not one of hatred and intolerance… but an alternative voice of compassion and support for all God’s children… then she challenged us to go back to our home churches and make it so.

18 The LORD says, "Forget what happened before,
and do not think about the past.
19 Look at the new thing I am going to do.
It is already happening. Don't you see it?...
(…now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?...)

My friends… God will be what tomorrow requires… What are the ministries that you feel we’re being invited to explore?

Where do you think God is calling us to be His Grace in the coming year?

What are some Big… Holy… Audacious Goals that will help us grow as a community of disciples?

Imagine what’s possible!


Sunday, September 12, 2010

70th Anniversary

The story of the formation of this church lives out the truth to that children’s rhyme I just shared. The church is not a building… the church is its people.

After the building of the First Trinitarian Congregational Church was destroyed in the 1938 hurricane… the people of that church and the people of the First Baptist Church of Christ decided to be a community of faith together… so on September 8, 1940 the Articles of Federation were signed… and the Federated Church of Christ was born…

See Federated Church Timeline here

But the church doesn’t exist in a vacuum… its community… as well as its faith… is constantly changing and taking shape within the wider story of the world…

So some other things that also happened in 1940 were:

  • FDR was re-elected to an unprecedented third term as President of the United States
  • WWII continued with Hitler’s German army occupying France and bombing London
  • And Elmer Fudd became Disney’s newest animated character

From 1940… our timeline jumps ahead to 1950; that was the year that:

  • Senator Joe McCarthy began his anti-communist hearings and many reputations were ruined when their names were placed on his “blacklist”.
  • China invaded Tibet and the Dalai Lama was forced into exile in India.
  • And… the comic strip “Peanuts” was published for the first time.

The Federated Church of Christ was 10 years old…

  • The Rev. C. Paul Bush, Jr. was pastor…
  • according to a handwritten scrap of paper that I found in some of Frances Lasch’s records… that year the kitchen… bathrooms… and furnace were installed in this building.
  • and a young couple came to have their daughter baptized; today we recognize Peg Wasstrom and celebrate her 60 years of membership.

1955; that was the year that:

  • Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on the bus to a white woman
  • Disneyland theme park opened in Anaheim, CA
  • and Hurricane Diane caused massive flooding in northeastern CT… it tore down the big green metal bridge that used to cross the river between Brooklyn and Danielson… and much of Putnam as well as other communities in the area were covered by several feet of water.

The Federated Church of Christ was 15 years old…

  • The Rev. Edith Wolfe was pastor…
  • The very first Interfaith Thanksgiving Service was celebrated with our neighbors at Temple Beth Israel in Danielson
  • the Annual Report notes that on Sept. 11, 1955 the lights in this sanctuary were lit for the first time.
  • And Mo Girard and Betty Gallup joined the church.

Today we celebrate their 55 years of membership.

1960, that was the year that:

  • John Fitzgerald Kennedy… an Irish Catholic from Boston… was elected Pres.
  • A rock and roll band begins performing under its new name: The Beatles
  • the 50 star American flag was officially flown for the first time in Philadelphia following Hawaii’s statehood

The Federated Church of Christ was 20 years old…

  • Rev. Charles Ihloff was pastor…
  • the entire operating budget of the church was less than $10,000
  • the Women’s Group focused their efforts on the needs of African Christians…
  • And George and Paula Frechette joined the church; today we celebrate their 50 years of membership

1965; that was the year that:

  • the first American combat troops were sent to Vietnam
  • Martin Luther King Jr. led nearly 25,000 civil rights activists on a 4 day march from Selma to Montgomery, AL
  • the Pillsbury Dough Boy was created

The Federated Church of Christ was 25 years old…

  • Rev. Charles Ihloff was still the pastor…
  • the organ underwent a significant cleaning and overhaul…
  • a young high school student by the name of Ned Ross was organist…
  • And Ruth Briere joined the church; today we celebrate her 45 years of membership.

1970, that was the year that:

  • the first episode of the soap opera “All My Children” aired
  • the first Earth Day celebration was held
  • 4 unarmed students were killed at Kent State University by Ohio National Guardsmen during an anti-war demonstration

The Federated Church of Christ was 30 years old

  • Rev. Charles Ihloff was STILL the pastor
  • the Sunday School program was a joint experience with the children from the Trinity Episcopal Church across the way
  • the church actually took in $1,000 more than it spent in expenses
  • And Jim and Lucy Stuyniski joined the church; today we celebrate their 40 years of membership.

1975; that was the year that:

  • Construction began on the Alaska Oil Pipeline
  • a very young Bill Gates founded Microsoft
  • the Red Sox won the Pennant

The Federated Church of Christ was 35 years old; the church was in between pastors that year, and a brochure created to present to perspective pastors records that:

  • average Sunday attendance was between 50 and 60
  • a good percentage of our members are willing to assume responsibility in both Church and Town affairs…
  • and there is an active Women’s Group with approx. 25 in attendance at meetings
  • That year Paul Adams, Sr., Garland Thoman and Mary Ann Thoman joined the church; today we celebrate their 35 years of membership.

1990; that was the year that:

  • Nelson Mandela was released after being in a South African prison for 27 years.
  • the Hubble Space telescope was launched into orbit
  • Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets died at 53

The Federated Church of Christ was 50 years old…

  • Rev. Bob diQuattro was pastor…
  • Donna Salmon was the editor of the newsletter
  • a series of Neighborhood meetings were held hosted by various members of the church
  • conversation focused on the church’s self-image and what they envisioned for the future (hmmmmm sounds like history that’s worth repeating?)
  • And Tom Rukstela, Marilyn Perry, Dennis Timberman and Wendy Timberman joined the church; today we celebrate their 20 years of membership.

1995; that was the year that:

  • the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was bombed.
  • the Internet auction site… eBay… was founded.
  • the final Calvin & Hobbes cartoon strip was published.

The Federated Church of Christ was 55 years old…

  • Rev. Bob diQuattro was still pastor.
  • Ellen Majonen enriched the worship life of the church as organist.
  • Clarence Salmon was Head Deacon.
  • And Hal Malstrom and Ivar MacDonald joined the church; today we celebrate their 15 years of membership

2000; that was the year that:

  • Y2K did not shut down the computers of the world as predicted.
  • Charles Schulz died and the final Peanuts comic strip was published.
  • George W. Bush defeated Al Gore in one of the closest presidential races in history.

The Federated Church of Christ was 60 years old…

  • Rev. Linda Kay Stone was the pastor
  • the Williams House was dedicated in honor of its donor and long time member, Cath Williams
  • the outside of the Chapel building was spruced up with 2 coats of paint
  • and the church had to decide what to do about all those bats in its belfry!
  • And Arlene Becker and Jean Burdick joined the church; today we celebrate their 10 years of membership.

2005; that was the year that:

  • Pope John Paul II died.
  • Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and much of the Gulf coast.
  • terrorist bombings in London brought their transportation system to a near standstill… and temporarily changed the sightseeing plans of our own Mark and Cindy Rollins who were vacationing there.

The Federated Church of Christ was 65 years old…

  • Rev. Paulette Harwood was pastor.
  • the church’s website was launched.
  • our Hopes and Dreams quilt was completed and hung in the sanctuary
  • we celebrated our 50th Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service with our friends at Temple Beth Israel
  • And that was the year that Alex Adams, Tracy Benson, Erin Harwood, Marshall Lambert, Dylan Leeder, Krista Leeder and Rob Leeder joined the church; today we celebrate their 5 years of membership.

2010; today we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Federated Church of Christ.

  • our sanctuary has gotten a much needed facelift, we’re soon to begin our undercroft project, upgrading the kitchen that was installed 60 years ago, and next month we will open our Second Chances Thrift Shop.
  • we’ve wrestled with some tough questions, and we really miss the people we love who aren’t with us on Sunday mornings.
  • But through it all, our mission remains the same; to do the best we can, no matter how insignificantly small it may seem, to feed people of all ages, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

What will we look like in 5 years when we celebrate our 75th anniversary? Who knows!

Maybe it’s time to repeat a bit of our past and hold a few Neighborhood meetings to discuss that question.

But no matter what the future has in store for us, I know that God will still be at work within and among us as our community continues to change and grow. Amen.

Church Rededication

We had a church rededication ceremony this past weekend, September 5, 2010.
The inside of the church had a new ceiling put in, and was completely repainted. There was a ribbon-cutting ceremony as part of the rededication; check our Flickr account.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

This blog for the Federated Church of Christ in Brooklyn CT was initiated Sunday, February 10, 2008.