What’s Up with Pastor Todd 2-18-19

On Sunday, Feb. 17, the Silent Task Force will meet with the folks who have volunteered to host and lead home worship during the Silent Period. The Silent Period begins after the March 3 Legacy Service and will continue into the fall of this year. During this time we will have a variety of worship experiences, community reflections, training and service opportunities to prepare us to restart in a new Stamford location. You can find the schedule for the Silent Period at www.fccstamford.org.

The overview of the worship schedule for the Silent Period is:

  • 2 Sundays/month “All Together Worship”: We will gather “all together” for a time of worship, reflection, and training in restart skills in various locations around the community including some familiar spaces: FCC parlor, FCC dining hall, Ferguson Library, Avon Theater, UCONN Stamford, UUC Stamford. If you have suggestions for All Together Worship locations, contact Maureen Matthews (mmatth81@gmail.com). See the schedule for locations and times.
  • 1 Sunday/month: Home Worship. Informal worship in homes. The following people have volunteered to host home worship: Jen & Rob Godzeno (for kids and families faith formation focused home church), Pam Shadford, Jean & Bob Meyer, Peter Birch, Anne Mochulsky & Paul Bingaman, Pam Riley, Lori & Stu Constantine, Charlotte Smith. The following people have volunteered to lead home worship:  John Jelliffe, Denise Moumene, Maureen Matthews, Steve Ayres, Andrew Laro (faith formation one). If you would like either to host or to lead home worship, contact Maureen Matthews.
  • 1 Sunday/month: U-Pick Worship. You pick a growing, innovative church to visit for worship. Take notes. What worked? What didn’t work? Kids should go to Sunday school. What did they like? What didn’t they like? We will share our discoveries in All Together Worship. See Website for church visit suggestions, also to coordinate rides.
  • 5th Sundays: Service Worship. We gather informally and then engage the community to promote our restart. Examples: picnic in the park and hand out hotdogs, walk in the cancer walk and hand out water bottles, rent booth at Pride in the Park (Norwalk) and hand out swag, etc.

More to come. Stay tuned.

What’s Up with Pastor Todd 2-12-19

This past Sunday the congregation unanimously approved six separate motions that reorganized our previous boards into six (or seven, counting the Archiving Sub-committee) restart task forces: Legacy Task Force, Space Task Force, Search Task Force, Cleaning Task Force, Silence Task Force, Mission Task Force. The remaining administrative functions are shifted to an Advisory Committee Advisory Committee. Members of the Advisory Committee are: Jill Winger, Nicoline Sawabini, Ellen Taylor, Stuart Constantine, John Jelliffe, Cindy Richardson and Maureen Matthews. Church officer roles remain as they were under previous by-laws. These changes better align our organizational structure with the work needed to do restart. It really feels like the congregation is coming together around our restart mission. It feels good to be together. I hear an echo of Luke’s description of the church in its infancy: “All who believed were together” (Acts: 2:44).

We spent a fair amount of time clarifying the “Silent Period,” which will begin after the March 3 Legacy Service. Responsibility for planning and executing the Silent Period falls to the Silence Task Force: Maureen M, Rob G, Jen G, Pastor Todd. The purpose of the silent period is to create a shift in energy toward a deeper engagement with our spiritual lives and the lives of those in the Stamford community. This shift will prepare us for our “soft opening” in a new space in September 2019. You can find more details about the Silent Period including a worship schedule at http://www.fccstamford.org.

Worship Resources for Epiphany 7C February 24, 2019

*Call to Worship                                                                                                      

Years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached a sermon called “Love Your Enemies.” This was not the first time he had preached on this topic. Year after year he preached “Love Your Enemies.” And then by his example, he showed us what love your enemies means. Most of us are not called to the level of sacrifice Dr. King made, but every one of us is called to break the chain of hate with the disruptive power of love. Worship is our radical act of disruptive love. Let’s get to it.

Prayer of Confession

God, we are so conditioned to respond in kind. We are so worried that when the reckoning comes, we will find ourselves left with the short end of the stick. And not without reason. The powerful take and take and lie and lie and oppress and oppress seemingly without consequence. Teach us to love with skill. Teach us to love with precision. Teach us to love with abandon, trusting that when we step into the ocean of your abundant love we will receive the blessings of your abundant life. Amen.

*Prayer of Dedication

Holy God, we bring before you tokens of our intention to break the chains of hate with the power of love. Help us to grow in our giving so that we will continue to grow in our loving and in our living. Amen.

What’s Up with Pastor Todd 2/7/19

What’s Up with Pastor Todd 2-7-19

We had a productive series of meetings this past weekend with our search consultants from Griffith Coaching. About 30 people met in small groups to give their input into the restart pastor search process. Thanks to Nicoline and Stu for hosting a full day of meetings at their house!

Jim Griffith and Sally Morgenthaler will share a summary report based on the information they gathered. This will be the basis for creating a church profile which will then be circulated nationally within the UCC and on other job boards that are mostly likely to produce a good match with the goals and values of FCC Stamford. Griffith Coaching provides services throughout the search process up to and including onboarding the new pastor. Let search chairs Rob Godzeno and Nicoline Sawabini know if you have any questions.

This Sunday we will commission the restart task forces that were formed last fall following our all church retreat. During that retreat, we developed our restart plan. The task forces were developed to organize and execute different pieces of that plan. For the past three months, the task forces have been hard at work. A lot has already been accomplished in a short time.

Following worship we will have a congregational meeting to hear updates from the task forces and to continue the shift toward a more nimble, streamlined organizational structure that will better support restart.

The Legacy Task Force has been meeting weekly to plan the March 3 Legacy Service. Invitations have been sent out, and the events for that weekend are coming together nicely. Invite your friends. You won’t want to miss this historic occasion.

Worship Resources for Epiphany 6C February 17, 2019

*Call to Worship

Why are you here? Are you looking for a different life? A better life? Do you wish you were taller? Richer? Younger? Happier? Are you longing for friends or more meaningful work? What would happen if you embraced your life? What would happen if you just welcomed whatever life brings your way? Should we accept the things we can’t change or change the things we can’t accept? One thing is certain: life is full of blessing and suffering. Let’s bring all of our life to God in worship.

Prayer of Confession         

God of blessing, God of woe, we confess we often wish we were somewhere else with someone else doing something else. Bring us into this place among these people in this moment. Gather our scattered thoughts. Heal our broken lives. Amen.

*Prayer of Dedication

Holy God, we dedicate ourselves to hearing you teaching and putting it into practice. Give us the wisdom of poverty and abundance, hunger and fullness, ridicule and praise. Amen.

Worship Resources for Epiphany 5C February 10, 2019

*Call to Worship

Jesus said, “I came that you might have life and have it abundantly.” This is the house of abundant life. This is the place where we connect with that which cannot be contained within four walls, within the confines of our skin and bones, within the limits even of our wildest dreams. So be ready to be blown away. It may not be now. It may not be today. It will likely be when you least expect it, in an unguarded moment, washing the dishes, driving the car, sitting in the waiting room, and suddenly you’re astonished at the immensity of the miracle that is you. Let’s worship the one who gives us the only gift worth having: abundant, limitless life.

Prayer of Confession         

Jesus, you have come to the lakeshore and invited us to set out into the deep waters where both peril and promise can be found. We confess we don’t want to abandon our small boat. We don’t want to seek other seas. Much of the time we like what we know well enough. But something deep in our hearts calls us to live in the fullness that is our birthright. Remove all barriers. Remove all resistance. Fill our sails. Guide us home. Amen.

*Prayer of Dedication

God, we offer you these tokens of our gratitude for the abundant life you’ve given us. Amen.

Show Up!

Pastor’s Page Feb. 2019

This month we are preparing to say goodbye to First Congregational Church of Stamford as we have known it. Really, as the world has known it for the past 384 years. It’s a big deal. On March 2-3 we will be celebrating a Legacy Weekend in which we will ritually close the church.

You remember that old cliche “When God closes a door he opens a window?”

We are going to be testing the truth of that statement.

Let’s be clear: we are choosing a strategic death trusting that by intentionally letting go of what was we are creating a space in which God can give birth to something new. As a congregation we are doing what from the beginning has been the defining practice of Christians: imitating Christ. Jesus gave himself over to death on a cross trusting that God would raise him up to new life. And God did. Jesus told his disciples that this would be their path as well: “Those who lose their life for my sake and the sake of the gospel will find it.”

Our current plan is to reopen in a new location with a new name in the autumn of this year. In the meantime, we will be going into a “Silent Period” during which we will be engaged in community outreach and creative worship experiences around the city.

So for the next several weeks I encourage you to show up! Show up for worship. Show up for Discovery Weekend February 3. Show up to commission the restart task forces February 10. Show up for Healing Service February 17. Show up for Baptism Sunday February 24. Show up! The folks who stayed close to Jesus on Good Friday had front row seats to his resurrection Easter morning.

Worship Resources for Epiphany 4C February 3, 2019

*Call to Worship                                                                                                   Public opinion blows this way and that. You’re a hero one minute and a villain the next. While that may be the way of politics, it’s not the way of Jesus. How can we ground ourselves in what is really real, really true, and really good? One way to start is through the ancient practices of worship. Let the storms of the world blow, in here we’re calm, centered, and ready for God’s word of truth.

Prayer of Confession

Holy God, we confess our fascination with palace intrigue and political fights. It’s easy to get caught up in the latest outrage. We admit we are all too ready to point out the faults of others, but are reluctant to look into the mirror of your truth. Give us the courage to deal with the log in our own eye before we go searching for the speck in our neighbor’s. Give us clean hearts so that when we are faced with injustice, we can speak to it with a clear voice. Show us where we need to get into good trouble. Amen.

*Prayer of Dedication

We pray that no one would ever have to put their lives on the line for the cause of justice, but we recognize that sometimes you call Christians to do just that. We dedicate these offerings not simply as tools of charity but as tokens of our commitment to justice. Amen.