This page shows approximately one year of newsletters. For older editions, downloadable pdf versions are available below the divider on this page.

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&&— September Edition —&&

Dear Church, Why is contemplative prayer so needed in our time? What good does the mystic generate in a world of climate crisis, racial trauma, and violence? And truly, if contemplative prayer does not have something to offer in a reality in which neo-Nazis march unhooded in Charlottesville, Virgina, in 2017, then contemplative prayer doesn’t … read on

September marks a new beginning for those heading back to school either as students or educators. For First Congregational Church, September marks the culmination of several important parts of church life. First, on September 9, we’ll welcome hundreds (maybe thousands) of community members into the church for our annual tag sale. This remarkable environmental effort … read on

September will be a particularly busy one beginning with Pastor Mark’s report back from his participation at Snowmass. His message is titled “New Contemplative Exchange”. This was heard Sunday, August 27th. On Sunday, September 3rd we’ll have a theme worship service, “Racism and Undoing White Supremacy”. Another big day is the 10th when we’ll have … read on

From Beth Davis & our Education Team:   Family Trip to Lickety Split, Sunday, September 3rd: Parents, please meet in the library immediately following the service.  Saturday, September 9th: Childcare will be available during the Tag Sale. The library and nursery will be open for children of volunteers to play during the Tag Sale. Please … read on

We have only a week more before our annual tag sale, church’s biggest fundraiser. We need your help with the preparation and especially the day of—SEPTEMBER 9th. One hour, two, or more of your help will ensure that the work is completed in time and that the burden of this gigantic task doesn’t fall on … read on

Our church, like many others in this county, encounters people in emergency need of food, gas or lodging, nearly every month. Often they have lost their jobs, relationships have ended and homes are broken, they are hungry, with children, and out of funds. Our church office receives those who are in need of help. The … read on

As many are aware, we are planning for a new kitchen, which will enhance our ability to serve people in need and to partner with the community through hospitality. Inspired by the example of beloved members Mary Flynt and Arletta Currie, our active congregation members use the kitchen as an important part of the hospitality … read on

Again this year the Outreach Team funded two Northern Berkshire high school students for an 8 week mentored work program under the supervision of the Berkshire County Regional Employment Board. Mitch Maynard, a rising senior at Mt Greylock Regional High School, worked at Gordon’s Garage in Clarksburg as an auto mechanic and Kiersten Thomann, a … read on

Hello Neighbor! In an effort to help us to know each other a little better, the Vitality Task Force has created a visual aid! Check out the HELLO NEIGHBOR map on the bulletin board in Community Hall. Put your name and address on the board and place a flag on the map near where you … read on

Dear Church, A group of 19 FCC members and friends gathered at the Gala for brunch on August 13th. We enjoyed good food and lots of lively conversation. Many thanks to our hostess, Jinx Tong. In September, we will join the rest of the congregation at the annual frittata lunch in Fellowship Hall on Sunday … read on

Think of our Shawl Ministry, and think third Sunday, every other month: September, November, January, March and May. Anyone, knitters or non-knitters, are invited to our first meeting Sunday morning, September 17, at 9:00 am in the Library. Come to learn about the ministry, the focus and purpose, what yarns we use, what “pass and … read on

Save the Date: September 10th, Annual Frittata Brunch! Our Annual Frittata Brunch is Sunday, September 10th after the service, in Community Hall. Please come Sunday, bring a frittata to share, and stay for delicious food and fellowship. Below is a simple recipe for making a frittata, (an Italian-style omelet,) along with substitution ideas and general … read on

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 … read on

&&— August Edition —&&

Dear Church, This August I have the privilege of attending something called the “New Contemplatives Exchange.” It is hosted at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado. The heart of this gathering is to gather elders in the contemplative movement alongside younger, newer contemplatives, and to listen together to what the Spirit is doing in our … read on

The news lately has got me reflecting. I am discouraged by our governments handling of human matters. I find myself getting angry about the social injustice and prejudice which the present government shows toward many people, especially those from other cultures, religions, races and the poor. I find that when I watch the news in … read on

Summer is slower time, but I’d like to convey that the Deacons are enthusiastically supporting all our upcoming events, and encouraging everyone to enjoy all that is taking place in the next month. We will be hearing from Pastor Mark about his week with the Richard Rohr experience. Margaret Oxtoby will be preaching August 13th … read on

Help Needed! Come one, come all and join us in the cool basement rooms. Annie, Cynthia and Jody (the Tag Sale Team), and volunteers have neatly put away nearly all Tag Sale donations, but we still have things which need cleaning as they are often sent to us often looking very dirty and smelly. Volunteers … read on

The Capital Campaign Committee is making good progress but are still short of $250,000 in support of the 250th anniversary. Deep thanks to the 48 individuals and families who have already made gifts or pledges. We encourage everyone to participate in this important effort for our church. We hope to wrap up the campaign in … read on

The first Brunch Bunch met after church at The Gala on July 9th. Why? Just for fun, good food, lots of conversation and a chance to get to know each other better. Carolyn and Bob Behr were our host family for the 18 First Church members who joined in. We hope to make the Sunday … read on

Soon you will see a bulletin board in Community Hall exhibiting a large local map. Along the sides of the map are places for you to add your name and street address. Then you will place a numbered flag on the map near the location of your home. In this way, we can see who … read on

Every week after services we gather in Community Hall for conversation and friendship. And thanks to many helping hands we enjoy lemonade or coffee and some delectable snacks with our conversation! A special shout out to these folks who have stepped forward to make this happen. Jean Vankin purchases the lemonade and perishables each week … read on

When writing your newsletter article or creating content for a permanent page on the website, first take a few things into account: This website is full of pictures. We have endeavored to put at least one picture on each page of the website. In addition, each newsletter article has a picture associated with it. Please … read on

A StillSpeaking Journey Through the Holy Land A Two Week Trip to Israel, Palestine, and Jordan Led by Rev. Carol Hallman, United Church of Christ December 29, 2017 to January 11, 2018 $3,992 per person Deadline to register August 29, 2017 On this adventure we will not only have the opportunity to walk in the … read on

&&— July Edition —&&

Off to the United Church of Christ’s General Synod! Dear Church, On this July’s cusp, I’m heading to Baltimore for the United Church of Christ’s General Synod. Just as our local church has their annual meeting; our local association (or group of churches) and state conferences have theirs; so, too, does the national United Church … read on

Summer is my favorite time of year in the Berkshires. Between the pristine days and the culture-packed nights, I can’t imagine a better place to spend the season. Mark’s summer sermons, tied to the culture on view in the region, greatly enhance the art offerings. Hoping you will be in town enough to take advantage … read on

During June the Deacons helped with the memorial services of Annette Triquere and Curt Tong. Both services were generously attended. Pastor Mark preached two sermons inspired by the Nick Cave MassMoCA exhibit, Until, in June. In July he’ll be using the Lex and Love exhibit of Meleko Mokgosi, at the Williams College Museum of Art, … read on

StorySLAM coming up July 28th at the Clark! Organized in conjunction with the Clark, this StorySLAM celebrates community storytelling alongside the Clark’s recent As In Nature exhibition of Helen Frankenthaler paintings. StorySLAM is a public storytelling contest. Members of the Williamstown community and beyond are invited to hear and tell stories that center around the … read on

Delegates Report from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut UCC Annual Meeting: Our First Congregational Church delegates Sam and Elizabeth Smith represented us at this year’s annual meeting. This year’s meeting proved to be a historic one, in that the three conferences of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut voted on a resolution to move toward forming one … read on

March in the July 4th Parade with the Church! Our town’s upcoming July 4th parade is an opportunity for us to show our community what’s happening at the First Congregational Church. I hope that many of you will participate in the walk. The theme of this year’s parade is “Hats Off to America” and I … read on

Summer Sunday School “Take Out”: There are two types of “Summer Sunday School” take-out boxes for you to keep: For independent readers, The Keepsake Bible; and for children who enjoy being read to, The Children of God Storybook Bible, by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. These are beautiful books and rich spiritual resources; pick yours up at … read on

Help Needed! Come one, come all and join us in the cool basement rooms. Annie, Cynthia and Jody (the Tag Sale Team), and volunteers have neatly put away nearly all Tag Sale donations, but we still have those microwaves, refrigerators and fans which need cleaning as they are often sent to us often looking very … read on

l,” taking inspiration from both local art exhibitions, performances, and the Bible. Sunday, June 25th will focus on racism, Jesus’s exorcism of a demon-possessed man, and artist Nick Cave’s MASS MoCA exhibition Until, specifically Cave’s provocative re-appropriation of blackface lawn jockeys as a part of his work. Each subsequent week will hold up biblical themes … read on

First “Sunday Brunch Bunch,” July 9th, 11:30 am, at Gala Our church family members have such interesting stories to tell. Do you know: Who studied under one of the most famous Christian theologians? Who wrote a medical dictionary? Who oversaw the destruction of the U.S. stockpile of chemical weapons? Who started the local CSA? We’d … read on

Summer is one of the busiest times around at First Church. Between Tag Sale prep and storage, ABC Sales prep, Starlight and Minerva Theater classes, scheduled rental uses of the kitchen, hall and rooms, we are experiencing a shortage of available space here in our building. If you are planning on using space at the … read on

&&— June Edition —&&

Emerging as One Dear Church, Several weeks ago, our worship service centered around John 17 and Jesus’ final prayer in John’s gospel, in which he prays to the Father that “all may be one, as you are in me and I am in you.” Jesus’ vision of oneness for his followers comes first from the … read on

“To have faith” is a phrase that we use often when we are trying to encourage others to believe that what they are hoping will happen, does actually happen; or to give ourselves confidence that what we are hoping for, will happen. I am constantly telling myself “to have faith”, telling my children the same … read on

This will be a busy month for the First Congregational Church! Jazz+Matisse=Church was our service in Community Hall on May 21st. Christopher Bakriges, composer of the music, and Gwen Laster on violin brought an entirely refreshing approach to worship, Mark gave the sermon, “Holy Artist, Holy Space”, and the congregation was invited to make Matisse … read on

Our Church Outreach Team has been contributing to both summer and winter youth employment programs through the Berkshire Regional Employment Board for three years. We do so as means to fight the ravages of poverty, hunger and unemployment. We do so to give disadvantaged youth a chance in life by offering a job. We believe … read on

On Williams commencement day, Sunday, June 4th, we will not be holding services here at First Church. This special Communion service with our friends at St. John’s celebrates Creation, and a gratitude and caring for nature. This Communion Service will begin at 8 am overlooking the Clark Reflecting Pool. Please join us at The Clark … read on

For those of you who participated in the Matisse Jazz Worship service on May 21st, please know that we owe thanks to the careful and time-consuming effort of Beth Davis who glued the cutouts everyone made for the Matisse mural. The mural is now all in place and hanging in the church offices hallway. Please … read on

Did you ever wonder who keeps the plants and flowers on our church grounds so lovely? It is thanks to Phil Smith! Please give him a thank you for his dedication next time you see him. He is truly our tireless Master Gardener!

At First Church, we are proud of our own. It is our custom to honor those who have been working hard to achieve a degree at this time of year. We are pleased to congratulate the following graduates from all levels of their education (each graduate is listed in alphabetical order of the member who … read on

Greetings First Congregational Church! As we have for the past two years, we will be a presence at the Williamstown July 4th Parade. Thank you to Jody Green who has volunteered to be the point person for First Church joining the July 4th parade this year. If you want to march, carry a banner, or … read on

&&— May Edition —&&

Dear Church, We approach that transition point in our small but bustling town: that point at which the college and church calendar speeds towards the finish line and we gear up for the summer arts and tourism season. It’s an exciting moment in Williamstown’s life, I’ve found: like you, I’ve been checking to see what … read on

The focus for this month for this co-moderator has been patience (true confession: patience is something I need to work on pretty much every month — its not one of my strong suits, that’s why I am paired with Jody as co-moderator.) This point in our kitchen renovation feels like one of those films of … read on

We hope you were able to join us on Sunday, April 23rd, at 7pm, in the sanctuary to hear six finalists compete for this year’s William Sloane Coffin Prize for Passionate Public Speaking. The 2017 finalists are Megan Maher ’17, Zoe Dutton ’19, Jeffrey Rubel ’17, Mariama Ndiaye ’17, Ben Williams ‘17.5, and Valeria Sosa … read on

Bible Study on Sundays – Looking Ahead Why should a Progressive congregation do Bible Study? Rev. Mark Sandlin has something to say about that: “Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem – humbly riding into town, bouncing around on the back of a previously unridden ass as people gathered to greet him singing and shouting, “Blessed is the … read on

Our Shawl Ministry was started in May 2004. Our guide is the book Knitting Into The Mystery, by Susan Izard and Susan Jorgenson. Much of our knitting is done in private, but we meet periodically to knit and pray corporately. Meetings open with prayer as we gather to knit. We review names of persons who … read on

Doors in Sanctuary Area Another reminder: We have had, by legal requirement, fire safety door closure devices put on all the doors in the Sanctuary foyer area. Although it is new for us to experience all of these doors being closed, it is a safety precaution in the event of a fire. The doors can … read on

We all need to be reminded from time to time to be welcoming to strangers. One way to do that is to wear name tags, so that new comers can find out who we are without asking. Our name tag kiosk gets a lot of use. If you come in on a Sunday and do … read on

The time for our biggest Church fund raiser is fast approaching. May is when we collect donations from Williams’ students to recycle and reuse/resell in the fall. Since it is our biggest fund raiser (last year we earned about $21,000+ put toward our budget) and we need everyone’s help with the collection of student donations. … read on

On May 7th at 11:15 am, First Church will offer a screening of “An American Conscience: The Reinhold Niebuhr Story“, a new PBS documentary by Martin Doblmeier. This 2nd Hour features a special screening event of a new PBS documentary and film by Martin Doblmeier, An American Conscience: The Reinhold Niebuhr Story. Niebuhr was a … read on

&&— April Edition —&&

Dear Church, Easter approaches, along with our church’s spiritual pilgrimage into the heart of the Christian mystery. We will mark this pilgrimage, as we always do, through worship, song, preaching, prayer, fellowship, and celebrating youth. Here are a snapshot of upcoming weeks, an invitation to allow the familiar story take you to unfamiliar places, and … read on

One of the advantages and joys of being co-moderator is that by spending more time at the church I learn about how special the members of this church are. The church members who give their time and talents to Koinonia feel particularly like unsung heroes this month. They go about their work quietly but effectively … read on

April is another busy month for the First Congregational Church! Rev. Mark is running a series of new member classes, with 10 people considering joining the Church. They will bring us new members of the Sunday School as well. The class covers the basics of congregational polity, is reading Barbara Brown Taylor’s book, An Altar … read on

Today, immigrants and refugees worried about deportation are increasingly turning to their faith for refuge. You’ve heard the term sanctuary city, but now, 450 Churches across the country are offering sanctuary to immigrants. Sanctuary is when faith communities offer safe havens — and they’ve been doing that from the beginning of the Old Testament, to … read on

Call for Cookies! Our church annually hosts a reception following the William Sloane Coffin Speaking Competition. This year’s competition will take place on Sunday, April 23rd. If you can bake cookies, bars or fruit breads for this event, contact Carolyn Behr at 413-458-5557 or e-mail

Exciting news! The kitchen project that we planned more than a year ago is finally about to start. We are looking forward to a modern, efficient space that will make work easier for our volunteers and attract additional community groups. The official first day of renovation will be April 4, 2017 and before then our … read on

Super Saturday On March 18th five of us from First Church Williamstown (Jina Ford, Jody Green, Sam & Elizabeth Smith, and Lynn Chick) attended Super Saturday, an all-day workshop and gathering sponsored jointly by the Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island Conferences of the UCC. There were over 600 attendees and more than 50 workshops to … read on

We all remember Curt Tong’s smiling face in our sanctuary. These stories will remind us what a wonderful man he was in his prime as a basketball coach at Williams college. Media Tributes to Our Beloved Friend Curt Tong From WBUR‘s “Only A Game: Remembering Curt Tong: The Coach Who Cut -and taught– Tim Layden” … read on

Record of Pledge Contributions 2016 2017 Needed monthly $15,868.00 $16,990.00 Needed (January 1st – March 31st)* $47,604.00 $50,970.00 Received (from January 1st – March 31st) $42,432.75 $44,455.00 *Including prepaid amounts: $18,702.18 & $20,684.87 respectively 2016 Pledge shortfall: $3,519 (Received toward shortfall as of March 31st, 2017) $2,358 We have received pledge contributions through the first … read on

&&— March Edition —&&

Dear Church, The following are remarks I made at last month’s “Reviving Our Hearts for Justice” event. On short notice, just around 100 people filled Community Hall to hear speakers, poetry, and music, all with the express purpose of drawing soulful sustenance for the work of justice and peace needed in our time. We sense … read on

As I write this co-moderator’s letter, the sun is shining and the temperature is warm, almost feels like Spring. These harbingers of Spring brings with them feelings of joy and anticipation.  The happenings at church lately  bring about that same joyous feelings of excitement. There is continuous energy at church  within the teams, with the … read on

Handel did not write the Messiah as a piece of Christmas music. We know this for a couple of reasons. First, if you pay close attention to the words of the Messiah in the libretto (the text of the music) written by Charles Jennens, you’ll discover that only the first part of the composition has … read on

We are so grateful for the wonderful leadership of Lynn Chick the last two years. Her constant support and enthusiasm has made the work of our team a pleasure. We  welcome Carrie Waara as the new member. After three years of amazing service to our congregation by providing hospitality and refreshments at Coffee Hour, Carrie … read on

The Making of A Racist. In this powerful memoir, Charles Dew, the Ephraim Williams Professor of American History at Williams College, and one of America’s most respected historians of the South — particularly its history of slavery — turns the focus on his own life, which began not in the halls of enlightenment but in … read on

Community Hall was decked out in purple and green for the 2017 Mardi Gras Pancake Brunch on February 26. Volunteers set tables, flipped pancakes, served sausages, cleared tables, and helped clean up – a big effort that paid off for the Williamstown Food Pantry. Approximately one hundred diners, sporting colorful Mardi Gras beads, enthusiastically filled … read on

Our Shawl Ministry was started in May 2004. Our guide is the book Knitting Into The Mystery, by Susan Izard and Susan Jorgenson. Much of our knitting is done in private, but we meet periodically to knit and pray corporately. Meetings open with prayer as we gather to knit. We review names of persons who … read on

New Members Classes Coming Up! Are you interested in taking a deeper dive into your experience of church? Consider joining Rev. Mark for three classes to become a “new member.” Membership technically grants votes at annual meeting, but even more, is a symbolic way of committing to journeying in one’s spiritual life with First Congregational … read on

Habitat for Humanity is presenting an I Love Lucy spoof, on Friday, March 10th, 2017 at 6:00 pm, as a fundraising event. Take a walk down memory lane with Lucy, Ricky, Fred, and Ethel when the Drury Stage Comedy Troupe presents Trouble at the Tropicabana, an audience participation murder mystery by Tony Schwartz and Marylou … read on

First Church retains our strong Covenant with Northern Berkshire Habitat for Humanity. There is a lot going on this month at our local Habitat for Humanity affiliate. Kelly Bourdeau will be moving in with her two children this month in the newly renovated house at 813 West Shaft Road. Kitchen and bathroom fixtures are now … read on

Small Groups are an opportunity in our church to dive deeper into relationship and study than is possible on a Sunday morning. We meet in the intimacy of each other’s homes, over beverages, dessert, or dinner. This Lent we will have multiple small group options. Here are two, with one or two more to be … read on

Record of Pledge Contributions 2016 2017 Needed monthly $15,868.00 $16,990.00 Received (as of January 31st)* $42,432.75 $44,455.00 *Including prepaid amounts: $18,702.18 & $20,684.87 respectively 2016 Pledge shortfall: $3,519 (Received toward shortfall as of February 19th, 2017) $2,238 Thank you for your generous contributions!  The church greatly depends on your continuous financial support. Convenient Giving – … read on

&&— January/February Edition —&&

Our time is a time of epochal change, in which everything is in motion. Some of it is horrifying and heartbreaking. The ugliness of our country’s long-existing shadow side of racism and xenophobia is erupting for the whole world to see. Institutions are eroding, along with people’s trust in them. Capitalism’s excesses and inequalities are … read on

In this unsettled time, First Congregational’s holiday traditions brought comfort and continuity. From the Christmas pageant’s wonderful balance between young and old and inspiration and humor to our beautiful Christmas eve service with Pastor Mark’s terrific meditation, the holidays were a time of reflection and renewal. Gratitude goes to the Currie family for the lovely … read on

Singing “Messiah” for Lent on March 12th If you were around Williamstown a year ago December, you may recall the “sing along” Messiah we presented as an Advent worship service. You might also have been aware of, or participated in another Messiah at St. John’s church a few weeks earlier. If you’ve been around a … read on

On Sunday, February 26 members of the community are invited to a pancake brunch in Community Hall after worship service to celebrate Mardi Gras or Shrove Tuesday. The meal will celebrate the season before Lent begins. Pancakes with delicious toppings and sausage will be served from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm. A donation of $5 … read on

Upcoming After the Worship Service Dates: Sunday, January 31st: Annual Meeting following worship, with Sunday school extended till the end of the meeting.  During the annual meeting students will meet in the youth chapel to share dramatic stories developed in class.  Please stay for the all church pot luck lunch following the meeting and Sunday … read on

Part of the Minister of Music’s Annual Report contribution were dropped from the final version of the Annual Report that you all read.  This was an error.  Here is the full and complete music report, along with the corrected names for the 2016 Senior and Junior Choir members: A wonderfully active year in the musical … read on

Our church covenant with Habitat for Humanity in part states: to render loving service toward all people; and to strive for righteousness, justice and peace. On the other hand Northern Berkshire Habitat for Humanity States: Our mission is to build safe and decent housing for families. So children can have healthy, safe homes where they … read on

This article is in three parts, the first from Gail M. Burns, our former Office Administrator, the second from Rev. Carrie Bail, our former pastor, and the third from Susan Puddester, current President of the the Board of Higher Ground. From Gail M. Burns, former Office Administrator and Assistant to the Pastor at First Church, … read on

My friends have all been asking, “What was it like?” The Women’s March was amazing. On a global level, we saw the world join us, marching in cities around the world, as far as Antarctica. But as we drove down to Washington on the Friday before the march, we did not know about this. We … read on

The first Angel Tree was created by The Salvation Army in 1979 by Majors Charles and Shirley White when they worked with a Lynchburg, Virginia shopping mall to provide clothing and toys for children at Christmastime.  They placed the cards on a Christmas tree at the mall to allow shoppers to select children to help. … read on

Record of Pledge Contributions 2015 2016 Needed monthly $18,746 $15,868 Needed (January 1st – December 31st) $224,952 $190,420 Received (January 1st – December 31st) $222,312* $186,901* *Including prepaid amounts: $21,089.59 & $18,702.19 respectively 2016 Pledge shortfall: (Received toward shortfall as of December 31st, 2016) $3,519 After all contributions were received for 2016, we tied with … read on

&&— December Edition —&&

Dear Church, Blessed Advent to you. The Latin meaning of Advent is “coming.” As I have mentioned in sermons, it’s not so much a cute baby that we’re waiting for, but God’s realm of peace, justice, and wholeness. As Richard Rohr says, we need an adult Christ at Christmas, rather than simply a baby Jesus. … read on

Rev. Mark’s sermon has been on my mind since Sunday morning, November 27th. He referenced the Book of Isaiah 2 where it was said “and he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up … read on

Outreach desperately needs your help in this year’s stewardship drive. For recently arrived immigrants, the homeless, those without jobs, and those needing food for their families, life was difficult before November 8, 2016. So, your Board of Outreach, consistent with Christ’s teachings and the mission of this Church, has spent many, many hours seeking ways … read on

Advent and Christmas at First Congregational Church of Williamstown November 27th, 10am Worship: First Sunday of Advent, followed by Tree-decorating for Habitat for Humanity Tree showcase. December 3rd, 2-6pm: Habitat for Humanity Tree Showcase and Holiday Walk – All Ages Welcome. December 4th, 10am Worship: Second Sunday of Advent. December 7th, 6pm: Taizé Song and … read on

Pledge season has come again, a time for reflection on priorities both in our personal lives and in the church.  I am here representing the Stewardship Ministry Team. The Stewardship Ministry Team’s focus is on financial support and administrative operations to preserve and enhance the assets of the Church. In doing so we facilitate the … read on

Despite the first heavy snowfall of the season, nearly a hundred people braved the weather and gathered after the worship service on November 20th for the sixth annual Great Pie Palooza. This year’s event included a celebration of the completion of our beautiful new Community Hall. During a short presentation to begin the festivities, Rev. … read on

Reading aloud to children from birth to kindergarten has many benefits, for it stimulates early brain development and elevates IQ. A smarter child means academic success and a way out of poverty.  If parents read to their children daily, from birth until kindergarten, the children will greatly increase their literacy.  Books which are heavy on … read on

Hi, I’m Leon Aalberts I’m kind of a newbie around here. I joined the choir after I moved here a couple of years ago and sat next to Phil Smith.  In his gracious way Phil welcomed me and asked about my life and interests. Answer #1 – I like kids and at that point I … read on

Once again the Outreach Ministry Team is sponsoring the Angel Tree for Christmas. Both the Salvation Army and Louison House family shelter have submitted holiday gift requests, and are represented on the tree. Please take a gift request from the tree in the west entrance lobby and be sure to sign it out on the … read on

Record of Pledge Contributions 2015 2016 Needed monthly $18,746 $15,868 Needed (January 1st – October 31st) $187,460 $158,680 Received (January 1st – October 31st) $198,260* $164,091* *Including prepaid amounts: $21,089.59 & $18,702.19 respectively 2015 Pledge shortfall: (Received toward shortfall as of November 20, 2016) $2,598.22 We have received pledge contributions through the month of October … read on

&&— November Edition —&&

Dear Church, We’re so busy! Being busy becomes, in our culture, a badge of importance. “How are you doing?”, we ask, followed by the inevitable: “I’m so busy!”. To which we, the other busy people, nod in understanding. And it’s true: we are busy, and we’re about ready to head into a busy season as … read on

As we move through our first year as co-moderators, Jody and I are learning how cyclical the Church year is not just spiritually but also administratively. November means its time to evaluate the past and consider the future and we deeply hope you will be a part of that self-reflection. At the risk of being … read on

The Stewardship Ministry Team learned that Community Hall is almost done!  We are still having trouble with some of the lights, which don’t fit our decor, and there are alarm wires that need to be put right.   Also this month Patrick’s Quality Painting and Roofing sealed the top of the steeple so that we should … read on

Each year the Church, as an employer, is responsible for giving all staff direction on how to best accomplish their jobs. Part of this process lies with the Committee on Pastoral Ministries (COPM). The COPM is still interested in hearing your opinion on the work of our Church and our pastor.  Please send your comments … read on

2016 ABC Clothing Sale Distributes $16,000 in Grants The Steering Committee of the ABC Clothing Sale is pleased to announce unrestricted cash donations of $4,000 each to the following: The Elizabeth Freeman Center – provides life-saving, life renewing help to survivors of domestic and sexual violence and to their families. Louison House – Family Life Support Center … read on

Sally Sussman asks everyone to remember our church food pantry basket located in the main foyer.  As winter approaches, we are especially mindful of the nutritional needs of others. See below for more information about what to give. How to give is easy! Just bring your non-perishable donations to the Food Pantry Basket in the … read on

Shawl Ministry has become a tradition at First Church. Our guide is the book Knitting Into The Mystery, by Susan Izard and Susan Jorgenson. Much of our knitting is done in private, but we meet periodically to knit and pray corporately. The goal of the ministry is to knit shawls in a contemplative way and … read on

Coffee fellowship hour just got more fun! On Sunday, November 13, 2016, outreach will sponsor “coffee hour at Images”, followed by a film about the plight of Syrian refugees, entitled Salam Neighbor. Here’s the plan: Right after the Sunday service, everyone is invited to coffee hour at images Cinema. We will walk down the street … read on

Nicolas C. Howe of the Williams College Environmental Studies Program will address the issue of Sacred Space in a Secular World at First Church’s Second Hour, November 6th, 11:20 am.  He will discuss how American environmentalists have navigated the religious/secular divide in battles over wilderness preservation. His book Landscape of the Secular: Law, Religion and … read on

Don’t miss an exceptional and unforgettable afternoon of songs, stories, jokes, and musical craftsmanship in a cozy, intimate setting at Caretaker Farm. Cindy Mangsen and Steve Gillette exemplify the best in contemporary and traditional folk music, with a diverse repertoire that includes Cindy’s haunting renditions of Child ballads, Steve’s classic originals, an array of hilarious … read on

– Mark November 20, 2016 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 it will be a bigger party than usual – to celebrate the church’s recent renovation of Community … read on

A new church directory is in the works. In order for this volunteer organization to work properly, we want everyone’s most current information for the directory, so please complete the information form available to you in the church office, or via e-mail request (just e-mail, and a copy will be e-mailed to you to … read on

&&— October Edition —&&

Dear Church, This October marks the beginning of another round of small groups. Small groups are opportunities to go deeper: in relationship with one another, in engagement around a specific theme or text. I view small groups as part of the church’s heart, because it’s in people’s living rooms — over potlucks or desserts — … read on

This is the time of year when I love to go walking in the woods, shuffling my feet in the leaves and allow my senses to enjoy Fall’s palate of sights, smells and sounds. Yesterday my husband and I went to Hopkins Forest and after a long walk, settled at the bottom under the grape … read on

Our church building is a hive of activity.  Between large special events, two yoga classes, Music Together class, Anonymous Group meetings, Church Team meetings, Second Hours, seasonal celebrations like Pie Palooza, Rainbow Seniors meetings and all the other requests that come up monthly, we have a very busy building! This year we are will also … read on

Over the past twenty plus years the ABC Clothing Sale has grown to be an eagerly anticipated annual event. Normally held on the last Saturday of September, the sale fills the whole First Congregational Church and has something for everyone: gently-used name brand clothing, boots and shoes in all sizes, jewelry, purses and backpacks, and … read on

We are pleased to announce the inaugural program of the Markgraf Memorial Organ Series.   The series is designed to feature the church’s fine pipe organ and to honor the memory of Hodge and Nancy Markgraf, long-time dedicated members of the congregation and supporters of music at the church.   This year’s recital will be held on … read on

The month of October will bring us several small group opportunities. Small groups are an important ministry of our church. They allow us to connect with each other in the intimate setting of each other’s homes. They also allow an opportunity to explore themes of spirituality and justice together. This October’s group offerings take on … read on

With the loss of the parking spaces along the now-closed part of Chapin Hall Drive, we are seeing more cars in the church parking lot. Please remember that if you park in the church lot you need a church sticker on your car. Stickers are obtainable (for free) in the church office. If you have … read on

The annual tag sale is coming to a close although Annie, Cynthia and Jody continue to offer for sale through Craigslist and E-Bay a few remaining items. Our mission has been to add to the church’s budget and try to recycle the donations. We believe in our church’s mission to recycle and reuse to reduce … read on

Record of Pledge Contributions 2015 2016 Needed monthly $18,746 $15,868 Needed (January – September 30, 2016) $168,714 $142,812 Received (January – September 30, 2016) $188,919* $117,624* *Including prepaid amounts: $21,089.59 & $18,702.19 respectively 2015 Pledge shortfall: $2,643.50 Received toward shortfall as of September 30, 2016: $2,598.22 We have received pledge contributions through the month of … read on

&&— September Edition —&&

An Invitation to Journey with John’s Gospel Blessed fall, church! Together, we are about to embark on a year reading, studying, praying, and hearing, John’s gospel. Yup, that’s right, an entire academic year. We’ll take time off for Advent and Lent and a few other Sundays, but for most of the year we’ll dive, deep, … read on

Our focus session at the June Church Council meeting was something we termed “Church without Guilt.”  Jody and I are very sensitive to the potential for volunteer burnout among the incredible members of this church.  One of the most important messages we (along with Pastor Mark) hope to convey is that its perfectly acceptable for … read on

Rev. Mark and local artist/musician Karl Mullen are planning a special community gathering on September 25th: A concert to end gun violence. It will be held in Community Hall at 4pm on that day. In 2007, Congress designated 9/25 as the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims. We live in a time of tragic … read on

Sunday School Notes: Upcoming family & youth events: Sunday, September 4th, 10:00 am Worship Service and last day of Summer Sunday school followed by family walk to Lickety Split. Wednesday, September 7th, 7:00 – 8:30 pm, Education and Fellowship Team meeting, parlor.* Thursday, September 8th, 3:15 – 4:30 pm, Jr Choir begins Sunday, September 11th, 10:00 … read on

Beginning … again Our church “program year” begins after Labor Day.  After a summer hiatus for the choir, filled admirably with (very!) special music by our own vocal soloists, instrumentalists, and “instant” men’s and women’s choirs, the round of regular rehearsals resumes. This is an excellent time to JOIN a choir.  Maybe you have always … read on

Get Your Fritatta On! Our annual Frittata breakfast comes up on Sunday, September 11th – and we need bakers to bake those frittatas, or brings fruit bowls bread or rolls, as we welcome back students to the new school year. If you would like to help with this fun and tasty event, please contact Jina Ford … read on

September 9th is our annual Tag Sale date this year! Community Hall has been filling with items since Monday, August 22nd. As always, the Tag Sale effort relies on your volunteer time and assistance. There are many jobs that can be done, many of which do not involve heavy lifting. If you have some free … read on

Fall will soon be upon us followed by thoughts of knitting warm, loving prayer shawls during the church year. This is an invitation to new knitters to join the Shawl Ministry knitters Sunday, September 18th, at 9 am in the church parlor.  The program consists of a Gathering Prayer, time for knitting, discussion and a … read on

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