Gifts for Louison House

January Service

On January 21, we will bring gifts to church to support the Louison House shelter. These gifts are for families moving into permanent housing after a stay at Louison House. Some suggestions are paper products, cleaning supplies, kitchen items and diapers.Thank you for your caring and generosity.

Black Lives Matter to God

Worship Service

The sacred icon used in the photo is entitled "Our Lady Mother of Ferguson and All Those Killed by Gun Violence," written by Mark Dukes.

The sacred icon used in the photo is entitled “Our Lady Mother of Ferguson and All Those Killed by Gun Violence,” written by Mark Dukes.

Black Lives Matter to God is a community worship service and concert featuring the music of social justice string quartet New Muse 4tet. Through a mixture of classical strings, poetry, preaching, and song in Community Hall, the experience will draw attention to racial injustice in America. New Muse 4tet is founded by musician Gwen Laster and inspired by the movement for Black Lives.

 

Songs and Sounds of Solidarity

The 4 Freedoms Coalition presents an interfaith celebration of compassion, justice and respect for all peoples. The event is free and open to all on Sunday, January 7 with a 1 pm Open House, and 2 pm concert at First Church of Christ on Park Square, 27 East Street in downtown Pittsfield. For more information go to 4freedomscoalition.org.

Annual Holiday Hymn Sing and Poetry Reading

Our service on December 31 will be our annual holiday hymn sing and poetry reading. It will take place in Community Hall at our usual 10 am start time. The Deacon at the Door for the 31st is Margaret McComish.

Christmas Eve Service

We hope you will join us on Christmas Eve ( Sunday, 12/24) for our special and well-attended Christmas Eve service at 5:00 pm.  We anticipate the beauty of our Sanctuary with the floral and greenery decor set-up by the Currie family each year, for whom we are thankful. We encourage carpooling for this service, as our lot is small and we have many attendees that evening.  Later arrivals should be prepared to park in locations other than the church lot.  Carols and Scripture, as well as our moving candlelight ceremony will be part of the evening. Following the service, join us for a time of Wassail fellowship in Community Hall.

A time of quiet meditation in the Sanctuary is being offered on Christmas Eve morning, Dec. 24, 10-11 am, in lieu of a traditional Sunday morning service on that date.There is no service at First Church on Christmas Day.

You Can Be An Angel!

Once again the Outreach Team is sponsoring the Angel Tree for Christmas season. Both the Salvation Army and Louison House family shelter have submitted holiday gift requests.  Please take a gift tag from the tree in the west entrance lobby and be sure to sign it out on the clipboard so we know who has which tag.

The gifts are due back by Thursday,  December 14, and can be put around the tree or left in the church office.

The tag will tell you whether to wrap the gift or not.  YOU ARE NOT OBLIGATED TO GET EVERYTHING LISTED ON THE TAG – ONLY DO WHAT YOU CAN!  These are suggestions of what types of items would be needed.

If you would rather give a cash or check donation please leave it in the church office clearly labeled for the Angel Tree.  It will be used to buy bus passes or gift certificates or fill in where items may be needed.  This is totally a local effort to benefit families right here in northern Berkshire!

Do help by being an ‘angel’ to bring joy to others this season! It can be a fun family holiday project!

Thank you!

Marilyn Faulkner

Christmas Music Events

Lessons and Carols
The Williams College Lessons and Carols Christmas Service at Thompson Chapel is coming up soon. This much-loved annual event is scheduled for both Dec. 9th and 10th. For detailed information, please click here.

North County Chorale and All Saints Bell Choir
Under the direction of Michael Daunis, the North County Chorale and the All Saints Bell Choir will perform at a North County Christmas event on Sunday., Dec. 10 at 3:00 pm, First Congregational Church, Main street, in North Adams. Members of congregations from northern Berkshire and southern Vermont are members of the North County Chorale as well as local soloists. There is no cost to attend the event as it is a “freewill offering” to benefit the Berkshire Food Project, which provides a healthy, full-course meal to the community, five days per week.

Through the Dark Night with John of the Cross

A webcast with James Finley

Center for Action and Contemplation Invites You
Join a webcast with James Finley. In a live video webcast, James helps us navigate periods of darkness and doubt, deepening our desire for and openness to union with Love.
Through the Dark Night with John of the Cross
Thursday, December 14, 2017
4:00-6:00 p.m. US PST / 7:00-9:00 p.m. US EST

Register for as little as $1 at cac.org.

God has to work in the soul in secret and in darkness because if we fully knew what was happening, and what Mystery, transformation, God, and Grace will eventually ask of us, we would either try to take charge or stop the whole process. —John of the Cross

In a live webcast on the Feast of St. John of the Cross, James Finley explores the 16th century Spanish mystic’s life and writings. John went through a purifying process of the Dark Night of the Soul. His description of this experience helps us navigate our own times of darkness and unknowing, coming to a profound knowing of God’s presence in our lives. Through reflections on John’s texts, Ascent of Mount CarmelThe Dark Night of the Soul and Spiritual Canticle, Jim shares how our powerlessness in prayer is gradually transformed into contemplative intimacy with God. John believed that Infinite Love is the architect of our hearts. We are made in such a way that nothing less than an infinite union with Infinite Love will do. The Dark Night deepens our desire and openness to this love.

James Finley is a core faculty member of the Center for Action and Contemplation. His written and recorded teachings include Jesus & Buddha, Following the Mystics through the Narrow Gate, Merton’s Palace of Nowhere, The Contemplative Heart, and Christian Meditation. Jim is a clinical psychologist in private practice with his wife in Santa Monica, California.

Join the live webcast to participate in the conversation; during the live event, you will be able to submit questions for Jim to consider. Registration includes access to the online replay.

This webcast will be streamed from St. Monica Catholic Community Church, Jim’s home church. We are so grateful for their hospitality!

Art exhibit centered on addiction at MCLA Design Lab

 

This event falls outside the official purview of the First Church…or does it? On many, many Sundays, Pastor Mark asks that we hold in our hearts the unnamed people who have prayers that are too vulnerable to be named, such as addiction—a growing problem in our community.

Common Folk Artist Collective is starting a new tradition.  And they invite all:

Join us for the “closing” ceremony of To Bless The Space Between Us at The Design Lab an exhibit showcasing work that responds to the theme of addiction. We will symbolically bless the work as it moves to a new home (tbd). If you are interested in purchasing any of the pieces (if they are for sale), you will be able to take them home with you that night. If you have work to submit, please bring it with you.

Our goal with this nomadic exhibit is to tour it around the community and build over time. We are hoping that this exhibit ebbs and flows, changes and grows, much like the process for recovery. Bring art that you’d like to submit or ideas of where the exhibit should go next. Feel free to submit work that is in progress.

Common Folk’s mission is to inspire creativity, support local and emerging creators, and positively contribute to our community. This exhibit meets all aspects of our mission.

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Red Cross Blood Drive 11/27

Consider giving blood at the Red Cross blood drive on Monday, November 27 from 1–5 p.m. in the Hall.

Some facts about blood: (from the American Red Cross)

 

  • Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.
  • Approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U.S.
  • Nearly 7,000 units of platelets and 10,000 units of plasma are needed daily in the U.S.
  • Nearly 21 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S.
  • The average red blood cell transfusion is approximately 3 pints.
  • The blood type most often requested by hospitals is type O.
  • The blood used in an emergency is already on the shelves before the event occurs.
  • It is estimated that sickle cell disease affects 90,000 to 100,000 people in the U.S. About 1,000 babies are born with the disease each year. Sickle cell patients can require frequent blood transfusions throughout their lives.
  • According to the American Cancer Society, more than 1.69 million people are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in 2017. Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment.
  • A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.

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Talking Criminal Justice Reform with Hinds and Barrett

Moderated by Sherwood Guernsey, this October 30 conversation at the Water Street Grill with Senator Adam Hinds and newly chosen Democratic State Representative candidate John Barrett delved into the topic of criminal justice reform

This discussion is a part of a series organized in collaboration with three faith communities: First Congregational Church Williamstown, Street. John’s Episcopal Church Williamstown, and Congregation Beth Israel North Adams.

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The Great Pie Palooza and Party

Supporting the Berkshire  Food Project

Mark November 19, 2017 on your calendar – the day we donate pies for the Berkshire Food Project’s Thanksgiving feast…. and at the same time enjoy tasting a variety of home-made specialties during Second Hour.

This year our party will celebrate the successful completion of our recent capital campaign, so we will honor the members and friends of the church who contributed. 

 

Here’s how the Pie Palooza part will work:

Your Job: Bring in or drop off two pies of any kind (homemade or commercially baked) at church (Community Hall) on the morning of Sunday, November 19, 2017 – any time between 9am and 11am. Pie #1 will be sent to the Food Project. If you wish to enter the Pie Palooza contest, your Pie #2 will be sampled by the congregation during Second Hour@The Meetinghouse. Be sure your Pie #1 does not need refrigeration and that it is in a pie plate/tin that you do not want back.

Gluten free pies are welcome – we will have a special table for that category. 

Fame that awaits you and your pie! The recipes of the winning contest pies will appear in the Church Newsletter and on the website. In addition, the bakers will be declared “First Church Pie Champions.”

The Congregation’s Job: You do not have to bring a pie to be a judge/taster – everyone is welcome. Each person who attends will sample and judge several of the contest pies. (Whipped cream and cheese will be available for enhancement of these samples.) Prior to tasting your samples you will be issued a “voting chip.” Each pie will be assigned a “voting chip receptacle.”  After sampling, place your chip in the receptacle of the pie you feel is best.

Help Needed: Lots of people come to this fun event, and we need a lot of pies, so everyone has a chance to sample at least two or three. Please roll up your sleeves and get out your pastry recipes and let us know your plans for bringing pies by contacting Carolyn Behr at 458-5557 or carolynbehr@gmail.com or Susan Clarke at 458-5075 or susan.clarke@firstchurchwiliamstown.org.

We will need pie cutters, coffee makers, table decorators, and a clean-up crew. To volunteer contact Carolyn or Susan as noted above.

IMPORTANT:

By Massachusetts state law, we cannot accept for the Berkshire Food Project pickled or home-canned foods, pates, custards, whipped cream or cream pies, or cheesecakes.

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Lecture and Tea

Lecture and Tea

Still Life: Tea Set, ca. 1781–83, painting by Jean-Étienne Liotard

Still Life: Tea Set, ca. 1781–83, painting by Jean-Étienne Liotard

Also on October 22, from 2-4 pm, there is a tea with a lecture given by Colleen Janz of the Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum. The lecture focuses on Susan’s life and contributions. The tea includes tea, tea sandwiches, desserts and a free teacup and saucer from the event. The event takes place at The Firehouse Cafe in Adams. Tickets are $25 and are limited. For reservations contact info@celebratesusanbanthony.org or by calling Carleen at 413-281-0089.

“Great Hymns of the Reformation”

Berkshire Chapter of American Guild of Organists to present “Great Hymns of the Reformation” Sunday, Oct. 22, at 3:00 p.m.

The Berkshire Chapter of the American Guild of Organists will present “Great Hymns of the Reformation” at Zion Lutheran Church, Pittsfield. The program is offered to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation as well as to celebrate the redesign of the worship space of the church. A reception will follow the performance. The concert is free and open to the public. A free will offering will be taken to benefit programs of the church and of the Berkshire Chapter. Zion Lutheran Church is fully handicapped accessible.

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Saturday – ABC Clothing Sale!

Since 2015 ABC has stood for A Better Community. The ABC Clothing Sale’s mission is to benefit local charitable organizations that serve at-risk youth and families by addressing hunger, poverty, and inequality in our communities.  The sale also continues the commitment to recycle and reuse clothing and household linens.

This weekend is time for the huge ABC Clothing Sale again, held in Community Hall, this Saturday, September 30th, from 9 am to 2 pm. A huge selection of fall clothing, coats and jackets, shoes,and accessories for women and men will be sold at excellent prices. All money raised by the sale goes to supporting charities in our Berkshire Community. Come early as the line forms well before opening time. Car pooling will help.

Kitchen Packing Help Needed Sunday

If you can spare a little time after church this Sunday, we could use some more hands for the process of putting kitchen items in storage, for the duration of the kitchen project. Pizza will be served to those kind souls who show up to help. Please let Kay Sherman or Beth Davis know if you are able to be present.

 

 

Important Reminder!

Anyone who is storing food in the church kitchen refrigerator/freezer needs to have all their food items cleared out by Friday, 9/28. Anything left after 9/28 will be thrown away. The freezer is full of food, so whoever owns it needs to make other arrangements. Thank you.

Also remember that some kitchen items are available to church members who might want them – make an offer and you haul:

  • The two metal, freestanding cabinets in the kitchen – free, due to condition
  • The large kitchen refrigerator
  • A 30 cup electric coffee percolator
  • The wooden cabinets currently on the kitchen walls
  • The two butcher block wood block tables that are currently at the center of the kitchen.

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Search for Audio-Visual Help

Our Stewardship  Team is searching for someone who would like to become our Audio-Visual person.  We are in need of a knowledgeable and interested tech person to step forward and assist with the church’s need for setting up sound and visuals for various events that occur.  The A/V person would work closely with Building Manager Steve McMahon, and would need to be on-call as needed.  If you are interested, please contact the church office or Steve McMahon at building@firstchurchwilliamstown.org

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It’s about the Fellowship, not about the Food!


Dear Church,

As I write this, we expect the kitchen to go “off-line” in October and November.  But Please DO stay after worship to say hello to new and old friends, in our usual Sunday tradition.  However, our coffee and other beverage offerings will be limited for the duration of the kitchen project, as we will have no stove, water or clean-up capabilities.  Thanks for understanding.

— Lynn Chick

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Fall Small Groups!

Luncheon of the Boating Party,

Small Groups are starting up again this October! What that means is that we are creating intentional opportunities to gather with a group of people outside of a church setting to connect, learn, and grow together. This year, Rev. Mark will lead one special small group (a mini education and action campaign around criminal justice reform), but most of all we are creating opportunities simply for people to hang out. No agenda, no assignment, just show up with a dish to share and ready to get to know some of your neighbors and church family deeper. And really, that’s part of what this whole church thing is about, right?

“Luncheon of the Boating Party,” Pierre-Auguste Renoir 1880–1881, The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. (Please note that no “Boating Party” small groups are planned for this fall, but boy! wouldn’t that be swell for next year!

Criminal Justice Reform Mini Education and Action Campaign
with Rev. Mark and friends,
October 5, 12, 19, & 26, 7:00 p.m.

This four week group will explore issues of criminal justice and reform on a local and statewide level through 1) a panel featuring Williams faculty and staff reflecting on Williams’s course at the Berkshire County House of Corrections, 2) Discussion of excerpts from Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow 3) A meeting with local elected officials to learn about statewide criminal justice reform efforts and 4) an action for justice to be determined. This group meets at The Water Street Grill (123 Water Street) on Thursdays at 7pm, October 5, 12, 19, and 26. To register for this group, click this link here.

Potluck Hang-Out
Monica Mackey’s house
October 14th, 5:30 p.m.

Bring a dish for an informal opportunity to hang out with one another. We’ll eat buffet style, get to know each other more, and if the weather is good, we’ll spill out onto the porches. All ages welcome. To register for this group, click this link here.

Getting Together Potluck
Jinx Tong’s Home
October 27, 6:00 p.m.

Bring a favorite dish you’d like to share and break bread together, getting to know one another better at a friendly potluck. To register for this group, click this link here.

TGIF! Small Plate Fridays
Elm Street
Fridays October 13, 20 & 27, 6:00–8:00 p.m.

Hey! It’s the end of the work week, and time to say hello! Bring a small plate, an hors d’oevre, or just a comfort food that you love. We’ll share what shows up and get to know each other a little better. All are welcome at the home of Steve and Lynn Chick, 124 Elm Street, Williamstown. To register for this group, click this link here.

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Renewing the Meetinghouse

250th Campaign to Renew the Meetinghouse

It’s not too late to be a part of our 250th Campaign to Renew the Meetinghouse! Thanks very much to the nearly 60 households who have already made a gift or pledge to the campaign. We are blessed to have so many members who give their time and talents to make this church a vibrant part of the community and deeply value those contributions. But if you haven’t already, we hope you will consider making a financial gift of any size to this important investment in the future of our building. We’ll accept gifts at any point, but hope to wrap up the campaign in September. Thanks for all you do for First Congregational Church!

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