Beginning Sunday, August 30, we will be worshiping outside in the church parking lot, which we hope to continue until mid-October, weather permitting. Our Safe Reopening team has established safety guidelines for these services that include a mask requirement and mandatory social distancing. However, we understand that not all people are ready to regather and encourage you to discern your own acceptable level of risk. If you have any questions or concerns please call me.
Dear Friends, I pray that you are all well and are enjoying early autumn, one of my favorite times of year. As you know, our church has been holding Sunday services outside in the parking lot since the end of August and currently, we plan to continue doing this through October 11. Even though we are hardy New Englanders, it simply will not be practical to hold worship outdoors after this point. At our most recent meeting, Church Council decided to resume sanctuary worship this fall although the exact date has not yet been decided. We are continually monitoring public health data and recommendations from government and denominational officials in order to make decisions regarding worship that are based on science rather than speculation. I will keep you informed of any new developments in my weekly emails and on our Facebook page and church website.
The Safe Reopening Task Force that Council convened several months ago to formulate a strategy for resumption of in-person worship is working on a set of guidelines that will be distributed once they are complete. The practices we have already implemented for our outdoor services will be further refined to ensure the safety of the sanctuary worship environment. This may prove to be frustrating at times as it will require changes to our traditional experience of church. Nonetheless, anyone who chooses to attend in-person worship will need to follow these guidelines for the good of all. New norms will be essential to our ability to navigate the new normal.
I remain steadfast in my desire to provide our church family with ways to worship that will, first and foremost, be safe and that will also allow us to express our faith in meaningful ways. The purpose of worship - whether it’s in the sanctuary, the parking lot, or virtually - is not to satisfy our own preferences but to allow the gospel teachings of love of God and neighbor to flourish in our lives, to help us bear one another’s burdens, and to grow in our service to the world. I am always available to speak with you about our reopening plans or any other issue. You are welcome to call/text my cell phone, 774-571-7307, or email me at email@example.com.
Grace and peace,
We will be taking prayer requests in advance of the service. You may email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
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 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 $5,000 for our church. We also thank the Safe Reopening Team (Russ Clough, Ed Porter, Kevin Monahan, Marcia Olson, John Baglole, and Pastor Mary) for their efforts in establishing safety guidelines for our current and future worship services. We particularly thank Russ Clough for marking off the orange circles in the driveway so that we may stay appropriately social-distanced during outdoor worship. 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/
Pastor Appreciation Day
“In Timothy 1 (5:17), Paul began the concept of clergy appreciation when he stated that the elders of the church are worthy of double honor. He reiterated this idea in Thessalonians 1 (5: 12-13) when he stated that those who work hard among you should be held in the highest regard for their work” (holidayscalenar.com).
Pastor Appreciation Day is October 11 and it’s a perfect opportunity for us to let Pastor Mary know how much we value her ministry at UCC Stoughton, especially this year when the coronavirus pandemic has brought many new challenges. Pastor Mary, thank you for serving our church family so well with caring and compassion, and for being such a great example of living a life of faith. We pray that God gives you strength and replenishes your spirit. And we pray that God always gives us a grateful heart for all you do for us and our faith community.
Rev. Adam Isbitsky
We extend our congratulations and blessings to former church member Adam Isbitsky, who has begun his ministry as the pastor of Ballard Vale United Church in Andover. Adam and his husband David Clark are living in the church parsonage. May Adam and his new congregation do great things for God’s Kingdom!
Praying Without Ceasing: Spiritual Practices
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you!” [1 Thessalonians 5: 17 – 18]
Rooting ourselves in prayer helps us stay centered in God in the midst of our busy lives. God doesn’t need our prayers; we need to pray. Prayer opens our hearts and minds to connect more deeply to God and to the Spirit. Prayer helps us cultivate the peace of Christ within our hearts.
To help foster this attitude of prayer, Pastor Mary is collaborating with three colleagues to offer a program on spiritual practices to be shared with members of our church, Wollaston Congregational Church, Quincy Point Congregational Church, and Lakeville United Church of Christ. The pastors will take turns leading the weekly Zoom classes and hope it will be fun for our congregations to meet, converse, and pray together.
This program will offer study and practice in different forms of prayer. Some may be familiar and some may be new. There is an optional companion book we will be referencing through the program. You do NOT need the book in order to participate but if you would like to purchase it, it’s called “A Good Life: Benedict’s Guide to Everyday Joy” by Robert Benson.
Please watch for more details coming soon!
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.
APPLE PIES: It just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without a delicious apple pie! While we are still trying to work out the details of being able to provide prepaid apple pies, please let Charlene Smith know if you would be able to help with peeling and preparing the apples. And if you were planning to bake for the September fair, please consider a monetary donation to defray the cost of the ingredients. Save those other yummy treats for our bake table in the spring.
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 email@example.com or call 781-344-9547 to make arrangements for drop off.
Ways to stay connected:
On Wednesday mornings at 10:00 AM Pastor Mary leads a 30-minute conference call Prayer Service. Dial 1- 857-444-0744 and when prompted, enter conference code 817429. 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 Monday evening 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
October 21 (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 email@example.com or contact Janet Clough at 781-344-3860
10:00 AM in the Sanctuary
After worship in the
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