First Church is committed to being a church that cares about the world around us and our brothers and sisters in the Greater New Britain community who are less fortunate.
A majority of our mission funds are given to the United Church of Christ’s Missionary Society of Connecticut, which disburses these funds to areas in need in the United States and around the world.
We will have tags available for our “gift tree” on Sunday December 1st. Once again, we will participate in the “Adopt-A-Family” program, sponsored by the Friendship Service Center. Look for our “gift tree” in the Narthex during Advent, for giving ideas. By providing gifts, which will be given to clients in their Outreach program, we can help families in our community have a joyous holiday. Please return unwrapped items by Sunday, December 15th. Thank you!
This year, the “Christmas Offering” that is received on Christmas Eve has been designated to go to “Holy Joe’s Café”; a project that helps to provide coffee for service people. United Church of Christ military chaplains found an old way to invite U.S. soldiers into a safe and informal place where they can receive spiritual care and good coffee. By offering a place to come, relax, and talk with chaplains, the “Coffee House and Café Ministries” provide our military personnel with a place where they can be emotionally and spiritually renewed and have a moment of peace as well as a good cup of coffee. It opens doors to communication and allows troops to begin to heal their concerns and relieve their burdens related to the home front or their deployment. Thanks to donations, 151 Chaplains were able to participate in this mission. This offering is collected at the Christmas Eve, December 24th, service and there is a special envelope marked “Christmas Offering” in your box of giving envelopes. If you do not have these, a special envelope will be included in the bulletin for you to use.
In December we are asking members to continue to bring in nonperishable foods for holiday meals. This would include such items as gravy, canned fruit and vegetables, pie crusts and filling, dessert mixes, boxed stuffing, rice, potato mixes and any other “fixings” you can think of sharing. As always, any and all donations are welcome Sunday and during office hours.
Thank you to all who brought in holiday food items for the Friendship Center baskets and the Osgood Food Pantry collection during November. We had planned on filling four baskets and we were able to fill five. Thank you also to the staff at First Church, who chipped in and provided 24 items to “fill a box” and feed a family for Thanksgiving. We could not support these missions without your help.
Thank you to Lois MacFarlane, Joyce Anderson and Amanda Costa, with Evelyn and Raelyn, for baking during the month of November. Breads will be needed for December 22nd and all Sundays after. Many thanks go out to all who’ve signed up to revive and support this wonderful ministry. We try to have two welcome breads on hand each Sunday, to be given out to visitors, returning members or those having difficulty in their lives. Any kind of homemade bread is appreciated, from yeast breads to sweet breads to bread from mixes.
FOOD MINISTRY AND DINNER DISCUSSION
Our Food Ministry, which benefits the Prudence Crandall Center, will be meeting again on Thursday, December 19th. Church members will first meet at 10 am to prep for the meal and reconvene from 5-7 pm, to prepare a meal together for residents and themselves. Following meal making, members stay for fellowship, conversation and dinner together. If you cannot make it to prepare food, you are still welcome to join us for dinner. Other upcoming dates are January 16th, February 20th, March 19th, April 16th, May 21st, June 18th and July 16th. This is a wonderful opportunity to put our faith into action!
“Shawls . . . made for centuries, universal and embracing, symbolic and inclusive, unconditionally loving, God. They wrap, enfold, comfort, cover, give solace, mother, hug, shelter and beautify. Those who have received these shawls have been uplifted and affirmed, as if given wings to fly above their troubles” ~Janet Severi Bristow, 1998
Prayer Shawls were blessed on Sunday, September 15th. They are for those in our congregation who are ill or grieving and they are also for people outside our membership. If you have a family member or friend who you think might appreciate a soft, warm symbol of God’s love, please let Rev. Margret, Lois MacFarlane or Kristine Lewko know and they will get you one. If you have time to knit, we have donated yarn, in the church office. The shawls need to be a rectangle, approximately 18 to 24 inches wide and 60 to 72 inches long. Please see Rev. Margret or Lois MacFarlane for more information or if you’d like to participate in this outreach.
THE CHRISTMAS FUND, for the Veterans of the Cross and the Emergency Fund
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”John 1:5
For over 100 years, the Christmas Fund for the Veterans of the Cross and the Emergency Fund has been a way to ensure that a light of love and hope will always shine for faithful servants of our church who find themselves facing unforeseen financial need. Year after year, United Church of Christ (UCC) members and congregations have reached out in kindness, compassion, and gratitude to those who have faithfully shepherded our Church.
In 2018, UCC congregations and members generously contributed a total of 2,539,471 to the Christmas Fund. This enabled the United Church Board for Ministerial Assistance(UCBMA), the charitable arm of the Pension Boards, to provide, on behalf of the whole Church, Supplementation of Small Annuities, Retiree Health Premium Supplementation, Emergency Grants, and Christmas “Thank You” Gift Checks to over 1,000 individuals and families in need.
The recipients of your gifts are persons who have faithfully served the church for many years. And now, in their time of need, you can be the church to them. We invite and encourage you to join thousands of UCC members and congregations who will support this year’s appeal and trust the light is surely coming.
On behalf of the hundreds of clergy, lay employees and their families whose lives were touched by your support of the Christmas Fund Offering, we offer our sincere thanks for your generosity!
The Pension Boards—United Church of Christ, Inc.
And United Church Board for Ministerial Assistance
This year we will receive this special UCC offering on Sunday, December 22nd
On a more “hands on” level, we are a dedicated supporter of the Osgood Food Pantry. Through the generous food donations of our members, we strive to make the lives of those struggling with food insecurity a little bit easier. We have also been a long time supporter of Rebuilding Together (www.rebuildingtogether.org). This past year, through the Florence Morgan Fund, we gave a monetary amount at the level of a Platinum Sponsor and on Rebuilding Day sent a team of parishioners to help with the repair projects of a local homeowner.
The Friendship Service Center (www.friendshipservicecenter.org) has been a special organization to First Church members for many years. Our Annual Sneaker Sunday raises money for them and with a walk through Walnut Hill Park on that day, we try to raise awareness of the needs of the homeless in our city. We also participate in their Adopt-A-Family program and donate Thanksgiving food baskets and Christmas gifts.
This Fund’s charge is to distribute income from investments for foreign needs and for local and United States needs. This Fund can be added to at any time. It was begun in 1935 and small bequests were added over the years by women of the church who saw a special need for such a fund. Donations are carefully and happily distributed, usually twice a year.
Our projects for distribution overseas come from requests we make for unbudgeted needs through the United Church Board of World Ministries. Special needs of women and children are often considered before general needs. We pray that our choices over the years have done the most good where truly needed.
In May of 2016, members of the Caroline Aston Fund committee met to distribute to both local and overseas organizations including the Prudence Crandall Center, Holmes PTA Go Tri Committee and Global Ministries. In an excerpt from a thank you note from Global Ministries, Rev. Jane Sullivan-Davis wrote, “Global Ministries sincerely thanks you for your gifts. As indicated, your donation will be used to support the Armenian Missionary Association of America, the Youth Internet Café in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Tilda Evangelical Hospital in India, the Orthodox Initiative in Jordan, Melel Xojobal in Mexico and Dumaguete Kalauman Development Center Building Project in the Philippines. Gifts like yours are vital to Global Ministries as we all work together with international partners in God’s Global mission. We are very grateful!”. Contributions to local organizations included the Hungerford Nature Center, Literacy Volunteers, MOMS / Nurturing Families, the New Britain Plan to End Homelessness, the New Britain Public Library, Pathways Senderos, Prudence Crandall Center, Warm the Children and the YWCA Strive Program.