Beginning Sunday, November 1, we will be worshiping using Zoom. The weather has turned colder so it is no longer feasible to worship outdoors. Please see Mary's Weekly Greeting email for connection or call in information (or call anyone who receives the email for the information). The service will be recorded and posted to our YouTube site as soon as it is available and a link to the recording will posted here.
Grace and peace to you and yours! Our stewardship season is underway, and each of us is now being asked to prayerfully determine how we will support our beloved church in 2021. The coronavirus pandemic hit churches of all denominations hard this year on top of our longstanding struggles with declining attendance and diminished resources. Despite these challenges, I believe that there is still a place for churches like ours in the 21st century. The question we have to ask ourselves, though, is how committed we are to remaining a worshiping community in Stoughton in the years to come.
Before anyone fills out a pledge card, though, each of us must ask ourselves if we are committed to maintaining this particular faith community that God has entrusted to us. Do we want our church to remain an active place of worship here in Stoughton - a place where we, and those who will come after us, are led and encouraged to embrace diversity and welcome the stranger, to reject intolerance and stand up for love, and to worship the God of our understanding?
If the answer is yes, the next question becomes, what must we do to make it happen? What will it take for our church to remain viable as we emerge from the pandemic, and will we be able to do what’s necessary to ensure its survival? It won’t be easy. It might involve sharing the same worship space with another church as two separate congregations. It might involve merging with another church and becoming an entirely new entity. It might involve worshiping in a different location than the one we’re in now.
If we want to continue as the United Church of Christ in Stoughton it will definitely mean change. It will mean that we may have to give up our individual preferences for the sake of the greater good. It will take all of us, working and praying together, to discern the future that God has for our church, so that it will live and prosper. What I am sure of more than anything is that God will be with us through it all, because there is no end to God’s faithfulness.
With trust in God and gratitude for each of you,
We will be taking prayer requests in advance of the service. You may email them to me at email@example.com or via text (774-571-7307). We will use first names only when they are read during the service in order to protect your privacy.
Let us continue to pray for one another and for the world that is in such turmoil. Let us hold fast to our faith and feel the love of our community that is always with us even when we are apart. Let us be grateful that, even in the midst of sickness and suffering, God is always doing something new.
Thanks be to God for this good news!
A Message from the Safe Reopening Task Force
It has been wonderful to be together for outdoor worship over the course of these past few weeks. The weather has cooperated with us and we are all grateful to be able to worship God surrounded by the beauty of nature. Although it would be so nice to continue to worship outside for a few more weeks, Mother Nature will have the final say on that. Once the temperature drops below 55 it will be too chilly for outdoor services. Mother Nature has had her say..... the snow clinched it!
It has been difficult for us to determine how and where to hold worship after that. Our immediate priority is to keep our church family safe and healthy, and the recent uptick in Covid-19 cases in Massachusetts, while slight, is concerning. Although we are all experiencing “pandemic fatigue,” and want more than anything for our lives to regain some semblance of normalcy, we cannot let our guard down now. We’re dealing with a lethal virus that is not widely understood by public health experts and the medical community. It has caused the deaths of over 220,000 Americans and the disability of thousands of others. It is clear that there is no risk- free way to gather in a building until there is a proven, tested, and effective vaccine along with adequate testing and contact tracing.
The Safe Reopening Task Force along with Church Council has considered the wants and needs of our church in light of current public health data. After much prayerful discussion, Church Council voted earlier in October to delay our return to sanctuary worship until at least January 1, 2021.
While we believe this is the right decision, it’s also a hard one. We are a close-knit community and it brings us joy to be together in person on Sundays. Seeing one another for worship on Zoom will obviously not be the same. But we are convinced that taking this step to delay our return to the sanctuary will ensure that when we do gather inside the building again, we will all be present and accounted for.
We ask that you pray for our church and for Pastor Mary as we weather some extraordinarily difficult times. Remember that God is faithful, we have a lot of love in our church family, and the pandemic will not last forever. Thanks be to God!
Ed Porter, Russ Clough, Kevin Monahan, Marcia Olson, John Baglole, and Pastor Mary
We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our daily routines as well as long range plans. Our first hope is that you are all safe and healthy. If you are in need, please know that your church family is there to assist in any way we can.
The church also needs your continued financial support if we are to find new ways to minister to the wider community, worship together and care for one another. Even though our spiritual life has been also been disrupted, the reality is that life goes on and we still have bills to pay.
If you are able, we encourage you to continue to send your pledges and/or contributions in the following ways:
- • Write a check: Mail it to First Congregational Church of Stoughton 76 Pierce Street Stoughton, MA 02072 ATTN: Offerings Clerk
- • Pay Online: Go to the church website at http://www.uccstoughton.org/. Click on Online Giving and then choose the Contribute Securely Online Now option. Fill in the boxes as directed. (This, by the way, is an excellent way to ensure that your support continues year-round...not just in these trying times.)
Thank you for your generosity.
The Board of Trustees
We are very blessed
We send a hearty thank you to John Baglole for setting up our outdoor worship services each week and helping with the music, and for his faithful maintenance of the church computer systems. We once again thank Marcia Olson for her continued and successful efforts in selling Attic Treasures on Facebook Marketplace. Marcia has been assisted by Stephanie Clough, and has raised over $5,500 for our church. We also thank Carrie Sievers for the seasonal decorations she has placed in the Church Office - it makes a difference! Thanks, too, to all those who lovingly made casseroles for our MainSpring serve date in October and to Charlene Smith for her faithfulness in coordinating this important outreach. We are very blessed!
Wednesday Phone Prayer Service
Pastor Mary will be hosting a brief prayer service by way of a conference call each Wednesday morning at 10:00 until we are able to resume our in-person gatherings. Dial 1-857-444-0744 and when prompted, enter conference code 817429. There will be a scripture reading and time for the sharing of our prayer concerns.
ATTIC TREASURES ONLINE ALL SUMMER –
Don’t miss out!
We have been posting selected donations to Attic Treasures on Facebook Marketplace - and you can shop now! Go to Facebook Marketplace and type Marcia Olson in the Search Marketplace box. Check back frequently as items will be posted throughout the summer. And many of them are snatched up quickly! https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/109554902404443/
Over these past 7 months as we have tried to navigate in a virtual world, communicating mostly by email, text messages and Zoom meetings, it is easy to lose track of regular work schedules as one day blends into the next with no clear boundaries between work and home life. And that is certainly true of our pastor. Church Council would like to remind the congregation that Pastor Mary’s contract with the church calls for a 3/4 work schedule. Pastor Mary has gone above and beyond her contracted hours as she has worked to help our church stay together as a worshiping community in this “new normal.” We are, of course, very grateful for her dedication to our church and we encourage her to take the time off she has earned to rest, recharge and spend time with her family. And we must do our part by respecting her “off” time. Pastor Mary will continue to lead worship on Sundays, except when she is on vacation or study leave, and will attend board and committee meetings as needed. She will always be available in the event of an emergency but her response to non-urgent matters may not be immediate. We ask that you keep Pastor Mary in your prayers.
Thanks from the Heart
We are so grateful to Charlene Smith who has so faithfully coordinated dinners for Mainspring House for the past several years. These dinners are a vital part of our mission to feed the hungry and Charlene and her team made sure that our church provided and served delicious casseroles, salad and dessert every two months without fail. Charlene has some big shoes to fill, so we are also grateful that the entire Keenan family has stepped up to keep this ministry humming along!
CHURCH FAIR POSTPONED UNTIL SPRING 2021
We have been diligently following news of the latest COVID-19 guidelines issued by our state, local, and public health officials in hopes we would be able to safely hold an outdoor church fair in September. Unfortunately there has been an uptick in the state’s positivity rate and Governor Baker has restricted outside gatherings to no more than 50 people. Safety has to be our top concern, so we decided to postpone our outside church fair until next spring. The date will be decided early in the new year. While this is disappointing as the church fair is our largest fundraiser, there is still much we can do to hold some of our activities online and prepare for the spring fair as well.
Here’s how you can help:
ATTIC TREASURES ONLINE – Don’t miss out! We have been posting selected items to Attic Treasures on Facebook Marketplace - and you can shop now! Go to Facebook Marketplace (https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/109554902404443/) and type “Marcia Olson” in the Search Marketplace box. Check back frequently as items will be posted throughout the rest of the year. And many of them are snatched up quickly! We will also be posting knit goods, jewelry and seasonal items for sale online as well. If you have any holiday crafts to donate, let Marcia know. Helpers are always welcome for pricing and sorting items.
DONATE: Do you have some Stoughton-themed items or a gift card to a local Stoughton eatery, let Leanne Kerman know so she can stuff the Stoughton Raffle Basket for the spring. Have you been knitting (mittens, scarves, hats, blankets)? Tell Maurine Upton and Susan Hill. We will be trying to sell some items online and that mitten tree will still need some trimming! Do you need to make room for more baubles in your jewelry box and have some jewelry to donate? Marcia Olson or Donna Connor will gladly accept it. And Marcia Olson will happily take the Attic Treasures you have unearthed while being stuck at home during quarantine throughout the fall and winter. Email Marcia at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 781-344-9547 to make arrangements for drop off.
Ways to stay connected:
Worship on-line Sunday: We will continue to worship at 10:00 in the church parking lot as long as the weather cooperates. We will transition to worship via Zoom once it is too cold to be outside and will provide you with the access information at that time. You will have the option to call in to the Zoom worship services instead of using video if that is easier for you. We know that God will be glorified no matter how or where we worship!
On Wednesday mornings at 10:00 AM Pastor Mary leads a 30-minute conference call Prayer Service. Dial 1- 253-215-8782 and when prompted, enter conference code 862 2469 5175. There is a scripture reading and a time for the sharing of our prayer concerns. This weekly gathering is open to all, so if you have a friend who might find this opportunity helpful, please share the information.
Pastor Mary has set up a private Facebook group called UCC Stoughton Prayer. No one sees the posts except group members, so it is a safe place to share your prayer requests, pray for others in our community, or just vent. If you have a Facebook account and would like to join the group let Pastor Mary know.
Also remember to check our church Facebook page and church website (http://www.uccstoughton.org/).
Church Council has been meeting on the 2nd Monday of each month at 7:00 pm via Zoom. These meetings are open to everyone, not just Council members. If you would like to attend, please contact Pastor Mary and she will send you the link to the meeting. If you prefer to call in by telephone, dial 1-646-876-9923 and enter Meeting ID: 837 8927 2962
Food Pantry Collection
Food Pantry: Donations are still urgently needed. You can drop off your non-perishable food donations each Tuesday morning at the Ilse Marks Food Pantry, 103 Pleasant St. between 8:30-10:30 AM. Or you can contact director Suzanne Blacker (781-341-1994) to arrange for a drop off at a different time.
As you might expect we will not be having any regular meetings until we get an "all clear" to do so, but Bevely Richard has been very busy organizing squares into sets to be sewn together as blocks of four. These blocks will at some time be organized into a design for the face of a quilt. If you have a sewing machine, some time to give us, and the desire to be a part of this ministry, let Janet Clough know and she will see that you will get the blocks of fabric, some direction, some thread if you need it, and be ready to sew. Even if you can only handle a small amount, all is greatly appreciated. Call Janet at 781-344-3860 or via email at email@example.com for more information.
Prayer Shawl Ministry
Although we cannot yet meet in person, we encourage you all to continue to knit prayer shawls for those who need to feel God’s loving care wrapped around them. You can also work on knit goods for the church fair.
December 16 (Wed): Mainspring House: This is this next date we are scheduled to provide dinner for Brockton’s homeless shelter. We do not know yet if their volunteer server program will still be suspended, but food donations are still needed to serve this most vulnerable population. If you can make a casserole or make a monetary donation to defray the cost of salad and dessert, please contact Charlene Smith by June 1 CJTS107@comcast.net Arrangements can be made to get you a casserole baking pan and recipe as well as schedule a time to pick up your casserole.
When we are able to resume worship.. If you would like to have flowers on the altar in memory of someone or in honor of a person or event.
For more information email the church office at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Janet Clough at 781-344-3860
10:00 AM in the Sanctuary
After worship in the
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