For a copy of the 2021 Annual Stewardship Pledge form, CLICK HERE.
Annual Stewardship Message
Dear Members & Friends,
I have written a lot of stewardship letters in my time as a minister. I’ve always tried to be creative with them, but of course, the normal needs of churches don’t typically change all that much from one year to the next. I’ve usually talked about where we are as a congregation and where we’re headed. I’ve lifted up our theme for the year, our vision, our upcoming plans and programs, and, naturally, our need to continue funding it all. Writing a stewardship letter is an important part of the work that needs doing in the early fall of any normal year.
But of course, this year is anything but normal. Who could have imagined that we would need to close our doors to worship way back in the spring, and that they would still be closed? Who could have imagined the virus that has rampaged around the world, or the social isolation and wearing of masks that has become the new normal for our lives? I don’t remember who said it, but it is so true: The future is what happens while we are making other plans.
However, given these are not normal times, if anything, our current circumstances call for even more faithfulness and support from us than usual. We are not simply launching into another new church year. We are holding our scattered congregation together against that day when we can once again gather in person. We are experiencing new forms of online connection for worship and fellowship, while we wait to return to our beautiful sanctuary. We are keeping the flames of our beloved First Congregational Church alive, while we wait for that great day when warm hugs, joyful singing, and face to face fellowship (over some of Ethel Parker’s delicious cakes) are once again possible.
If we look back in our faith history, the Jewish Diaspora comes to mind. The word means dispersion or scattering, and it refers to the scattering of the Israelites among the nations after they were taken into exile. What we’re dealing with now is very different than what they dealt with back then. But, in a similar way, our pandemic has left many of us feeling scattered, isolated and alone. What we need in our time is not all that much different than what they needed in theirs. We need to trust in the Lord. We need a determination to hold on to our faith and keep our traditions alive. We need to maintain our identity and our enthusiasm as a worshipping Christian community and do all in our power to nurture our connections with one another as members and friends.
In that light, I ask you to think deeply and seriously about your response to this year’s stewardship campaign. Our church is precious and irreplaceable. Our high calling in these unprecedented times is to keep our faith community together until that time we can be together in fact, and not just on Facebook. Whether we are together or apart, our calling is to remain faithful and strong, and so we’ve chosen that as our theme for this year. If you are unable to pledge this year, you are no less a beloved member of our community. But if you are able, please consider continuing or increasing the loving and generous support you have blessed us with in the past.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Kevin M. Pleas and the Stewardship Committee
History of Stewardship themes:
“Weaving the Fabric of Life” at First Congregational Church has been an ongoing project…weaving our beliefs with our missions of outreach to each other and the community. We continue to volunteer weekly with Special Olympics Young Athletes Program, at UpReach Therapeutic Riding Center making meals, and New Horizons. Our expanded food support for children through Blessing in a Backpack and our Food Closet is growing exponentially, as is the demand for coat, boots, mittens and hats. Dress A Girl Around the World has benefitted from over 50 dresses made by our Quilting Ministry for girls at risk, and continues to sew monthly and enjoy the comraderie and fellowship. Hats, prayer shawls, and bavaclavas have been knit for Seafarers’ Mission, Helping Hands, Greater Manchester Mental Health Center, among many. Snack, soups and cookies are lovingly made by congregants to bring a little lift to our members’ spirits in time of stress. Your continued financial support of First Church ensures that we can still provide for these supportive services to our community in 2020.
“God’s Work, Our Hands” is more appropo than ever in 2019! Our numbers of involved volunteers are increasing to service our expanding Outreach efforts…this year adding the Special Olympics Young Athletes Program on Thursday nights; the 21st Century Church visionary program; UpReach monthly meals; expanded food programs; and more coats, boots, hats and mittens for the elementary schools. Pledge letters were sent to all members and active friends at the end of September and are due back by November 2nd, as we project our budgetary needs for 2019.
The 2018 Campaign… “God’s Love is Generous, Love Back Generously”…kicked off in the fall of 2017. The generosity of our members and friends ensured a year full of expanded Outreach projects, and the completion of some building maintenance with a new floor and bathroom in the youth area of the rec room.
Our 2017 message, our ministries and our membership had all grown in faith. So it seemed appropriate, in seeking your generous contributions of support, that “Growing in Faith Together” should be our theme for 2017’s stewardship campaign. As our Growing in Faith Together campaign moved forward, we thank you all for taking to heart the vital importance of our beloved First Church.
“It is my time at First Church that helps me "recharge" my spirit with faith and hope for the coming week!”
“A path which leads me forward in a journey of grace and love with my family, friends, and community."
“Cherished elements of core traditions live on at First Church…”
“I hope others will find such joy when they come here.”
Eleanor Flint Campbell
“We treasure our many friends and colleagues in this wonderful congregation.”
Susan and Bruce Felmly
“I love First Church because of my involvement with Women's Connection.”
"We visited several churches after moving to Manchester. In our worship at First Church we were overwhelmed by the great preaching, the magnificent music and the very welcoming congregation. We feel truly blessed to have been led to membership at First Church."
Ross and Marion Palmes
Visitors are always welcome at First Church! Masks are recommended in the offices if you are not fully vaccinated, following CDC Guidelines.
The Food Closet is available Monday-Friday 9-12noon. Should you need anything relating to the office, please call, or email Linda Bonetti, Lauren Henderson, Rev. Carolyn Keilig, or Rev. Barbara Papagian.
We are back and live!
Join us on Sundays at 10am to worship with Rev. Carolyn Keilig!
[CLICK HERE] to send a Prayer Request to Rev. Barbara Papagian by 8:30am Friday.
We will no longer offer a virtual service.
Rev. Barbara will be sending out periodic inspirational messages via The FCC Friday Link on the 1st and 3nd Fridays of the month. To sign up, send your email to Rev. Barbara by [CLICKING HERE]. We pray that everyone stays safe, obeys the rules, and keeps in phone or email contact with all those in need of kindness and an encouraging word.
The Stewardship Committee has mailed the 2022 Pledge Forms. Our goal this year is to hear from everyone. Please pledge if you are able, but we understand that some have limited resources. We strive to get a reply from 100% of the 200 letters mailed, knowing that we reached you.
Update: We met with Reopening Committee on 9/23. We’re now going to sell our crafts after Worship on 12/5! More details coming! There will be a “preview” set up on 11/14!!!
Thanks to everyone who has helped us thus far...keep enjoying your crafting as we look forward to this new date to sell crafts. Contact Pam LeBlanc (email@example.com) or Peggy Neveu (firstname.lastname@example.org) to talk about how you can get involved!
*PLEASE READ OUR REOPENING INFORMATION*
ReOpening Protocol 9/20/21
Being able to worship together again on Sunday mornings is not only spiritually fulfilling but paramount in being able to reconnect with one another and with God.
In light of this, the Re-Opening committee will continue to meet and adjust our Covid protocols.
In concurrence with the Church Council and the Deacons,
we believe that our established protocols will help ensure all our members and visitors will stay safe while worshipping with us and will allow us to continue to worship in-person each Sunday!
At the same time, we are aware that our church family includes children who are unable to be vaccinated,
as well as those whose vaccination status is compromised because of health issues.
Recognizing the increasing number of Covid cases in the Manchester area, including breakthrough cases of those who are vaccinated, we urge you to follow the protocols that have been established.
Let's continue to gather safely every Sunday and find the strength and guidance from God that we all need during these uncertain times.
Masks are strongly urged to protect everyone, following CDC recommendations.
Social distancing indoors should be practiced. (Feel free to greet one another outdoors)
If ramp access is needed, please ring the bell.
Offerings may be left in the box located in the narthex and plates by the exit doors.
Hand sanitizer and wipes will be available.
People may seat themselves in open pews.
The Cradle Room is available but not staffed.
We look forward to seeing everyone but urge you not to congregate inside the building at this time.
Thank you, The ReOpening Task Force, 9/16/21
Congratulations to Terri Pattee...Queen of Bingo this month!
Donate with Women's Connection to the Memory Garden in memory of Barbara Hebert.
The ladies had a blast at Mack's Orchard apple picking 10/3 after worship.
The NHUCC Women’s Fellowship Fall Gathering is Wednesday, October 13, 2021 at the Congregational church of Laconia, UCC.
The deadline for Holiday Cards for Soldiers is October 17th.
All members and friends are asked to submit a photo for our internal "Photo Directory" to be published this fall. Email them to Lauren at LHenderson@FCCManchesterNH.org, or call the office to arrange to come in to take a photo. On Sundays, talk with Bill Jones or Pam LeBlanc about getting a photo taken.
The Outreach Committee is collecting boots and sneakers (unisex style, youth 12-13 and 1-4) for Bakersville School. Please drop them off in the church office with your name. There's a sign up sheet on the office window.
It’s Angel Tree time, and this year the Outreach Committee has an exciting twist. Instead of gift cards or gifts we would like to distribute filled Christmas Stockings! Please pick up your stocking to fill with $30 of gifts, wrapped or unwrapped (no food or candy, please).
[CLICK HERE] to enjoy our current videos on Vimeo. Recently Adam has been recording some select pieces for your enjoyment. Also check out "I Believe", Jeffrey Frye's original "We are Unbroken (After All)"; "Weave" sung by our choir during the Dress A Girl Around the World Blessing and Stewardship Sunday service; and other unique and enjoyable FCC musical moments!!
The Open & Affirming Committee generally meets via zoom on the 4th Sunday at 1pm. Contact Carol Soucy for more information and summer meeting times.
See the order of worship at First Church for the Sunday Service, including the Scripture Reading. Learn more...
The Sunday News & FCC Friday Link
What’s happening this week in the life of First Church? Click on the FCC Friday Link to see what happening around First Congregational Church!
Bulletins and Sunday News will be available at all in-person services.
What’s happening this month at First Church? Learn more...
Women's Connection Cookbook
only $12.50 each
!See a member of Women's Connection or call the office for your copy of our favorite recipes
Thanks to everyone who pitched in to work on the Memory Garden! Our tranquil space for personal reflection and healing is available to you outside the Chapel doors. Donations to the Memory Garden can be sent directly to FCC with "Memory Garden" in the memo.
First Congregational Church
508 Union Street, Manchester, NH 03104