The Monday AM Women's Study group meets from 9:30-11am in the Church Library. If you have any questions about this study please speak with Pastor Jen.
Monday PM Adult Study - 5:00-6:30pm in the Youth Room(childcare provided)
We are in our reading of the Gospel According to Luke. We are trying to complete two chapters a week, so this will be a 12-week study.
Thursday AM Bible Study - 10-11am - Pastor's Study every week
Join Pastor Bryn or Pastor Jen to study the lectionary scripture for an upcoming Sunday sermon. This is a chance to learn more about the text in its historical and literary context, as well as to prayerfully explore what wisdom it might hold for you that will help you relate its message to your personal life and faith journey. No previous Bible knowledge is presumed or expected. All are welcome!
Saturday AM Men's Fellowship - 8-9am - Fellowship Hall every week
Join this group of faithful men who gather together for breakfast and study. Each week brings a new menu and new facilitators who lead the group through book and video studies, scripture passages, and other topics related to our faith.
Saturday AM Women's Fellowship - 8:30-9:30am - Youth Room every week
Join this group of faithful women from 8:30 to 9:30 in the Youth Room. Gathering together for conversation, study, laughter, and prayer, this group draws the women of our church closer to one another and to God. (If you know you will need child care, please let us know in advance and we will do our best to provide it in the Nursery.)
Too busy for a weekly class?
Try these on-line spiritual exercises to revive your soul...
For a chance to learn about various visualizations, meditations and prayer practices to heal your spiritual exhaustion, renew your faith, and help you better understand what type of prayer best connects you to your source in God - explore some quiet, centering prayer exercises on your own. This on-line curriculum draws on the work of Rev. Flora Slosson Wuellner and her book Feed My Shepherds: Spiritual Healing and Renewal for Those in Christian Leadership.
If you would like more information, click here, or speak to one of our pastors at 203-775-1259 or e-mail the church at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We always welcome your suggestions about what you would like to study.
So if you have ideas or questions please contact either Rev. Bryn Smallwood-Garcia or Rev. Jennifer Whipple at 775-1259 (Bryn@uccb.org or Jennifer@uccb.org). We hope to hear from you all!!
Copies of Books from our Recent Book Studies are available in the Church Library to borrow. Those titles include:
Speaking Christian, by Marcus Borg
Convictions, by Marcus Borg
A New Kind of Christianity, by Brian McLaren
The Irresistible Revolution: Living As An Ordinary Radical by Shane Claiborne
Change the World: Recovering the Message and Mission of Jesus (group study guide) by Mike Slaughter
Room to Grow: Meditations on Trying to Live As a Christian by Martin Copenhaver
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande
Bold and Brazen: Exploring Biblical Prophets by Barbara Essex
The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz
The Road to Character by David Brooks
Christianity and World Religions by Adam Hamilton
Bad Girls of the Bible by Barbara J. Essex
Red Letter Christians: A Citizen's Guide to Faith and Politics by Tony Campolo
Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott
Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening, by Diana Butler Bass
The Heart of Christianity by Marcus Borg
Love Wins by Rob Bell
29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life by Cami Walker
Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom
The Faith Club: A Muslim, a Christian, a Jew - Three Women Search for Understanding by Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka
Advent Conspiracy: Can Christmas Still Change the World by Rick McKinley, Chris Seay, and Greg Holder
Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World: Finding Intimacy With God in the Busyness of Life by Joanna Weaver
Having a Mary Spirit in a Martha World: Allowing God to Change Us from the Inside Out by Joanna Weaver
Other Recent Studies Include: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande The Shack by William Young The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd The Noticer: Sometimes All a Person Needs is a Little Perspective by Andy Andrews How to Talk So Teens Will Listen and Listen So Teens Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
Children are central to the life and ministry of our church. Our entire church family is enthusiastically involved in the education and care of the children in our congregation. That is why we are committed to offering many opportunities for children and their families to be involved in worship, celebration and education. Children are also free to remain in worship with their parents, though most have more fun and get more out of the Sunday School environment. There is no mandatory class time until Confirmation.
We encourage all children to participate in church school, and visiting children are always welcome. Our lively and growing church school program is attended by 70 children in classes ranging from nursery care through middle school. We offer classes during both services during the regular school year and during the second service during the summer months. For more detailed information, including a description of curriculum, please visit our Church School page.
All children aged two and younger are welcome in our nursery. Miss Debbie is our nursery care provider and takes wonderful care of our smallest children. Children may be entrusted to the nursery staff before the service begins or brought down at any time during the service. Nursery care is available at all church services and generally during other church functions.
Worship is the central act of our congregation. Families are encouraged to worship together. Children of pre-school age and older begin their worship in the sanctuary, remaining with their families until the second hymn, when children are invited to process to their church school class. During their time in the sanctuary the children participate in the Time for Children where they come up to the front and join in a message focused on developing their faith. Children's worship bulletins, which contain games and activities related to the scripture lesson, are available from the ushers.
We have many programs for children and their families to share in the life of the church. Church school registration kicks off each September with a Pancake Breakfast attended by children and their teachers, all dressed in their pajamas. The Instant Christmas Pageant, potluck dinner and caroling throughout the community are always a highlight. Summer picnics, evening Campfire Vespers, Stations of the Cross and church dinners are a few of the many other opportunities available.
Vacation Church School
The Brookfield Vacation Church School is a long held and wonderful tradition in our town. We take an active role in the planning and leadership of this week-long program each summer along with the other churches of our community.
The JYF focuses on working together and playing together as a group. We help out in worship. We reach out to the community through projects. We play together, and have fun relating our lives to Bible stories through skits, games, and outreach projects.
The SYF seeks to make a difference - in their own lives as well as the lives of others by helping out in worship, offering their time to help church members and pitching in on church projects. We also spend time together in conversation and play surrounding contemporary issues and fellowship.
Baptism is a sacred celebration, promise and new beginning shared in the midst of the gathered community. Baptism is a mark of being a part of God's family. We are blessed to be able to welcome all those who see Christian Baptism for themselves or their children. Scheduling of Baptisms should be arranged with the ministers of the church.
Our youth in the ninth grade and above are invited to participate in our confirmation program, an opportunity to confirm Baptismal vows.
Our program is a multi-faceted opportunity to become a known and confessed follower of Jesus Christ. Along with their participation in regular class sessions each confirmand works one on one with an adult mentor following a self-guided program with studies in the following areas:
Worship and Spiritual Growth
Study and Learning
Service and Caring
Friendship and Fellowship
Never Ending Education (Adult Education)
While much focus is placed on the education of children, we believe Christian formation begins at birth and continues throughout our lives. Confirmation is therefore seen as a beginning point instead of as a culmination of learning. Opportunities in Christian discipleship and learning are offered for adults throughout the week. To learn more, visit our Adult Education page, call the church office, see Crossways, or email us at email@example.com.
History of the Congregational Church of Brookfield
Privilege Meetings were held in homes in the Parish of Newbury.
Parish of Newbury boundaries settled. Land was taken from New Milford, Danbury and Newtown.
28 Sept 1757
The first church was formally dedicated and Rev. Thomas Brooks was ordained as the first settled Pastor.
The meetinghouse was seated with those over 50 years of aged seated in front; all other seated by last year’s list. Rev. Thomas Brooks was given the pew left of the pulpit.
The men started petitioning the government for town privileges.
Brooks signed his allegiance to the Declaration of Independence. Two of his sons fought in the Revolutionary War.
Rev. Brooks was paid in wheat and Indian corn
Fifty-five members declared themselves to be Episcopalians.
The Parish of Newbury was incorporated as the town of Brookfield, named for Rev. Thomas Brooks
Rev. Thomas Brooks dies and is buried in Land’s End Cemetery.
Hymn books were purchased.
A permanent fund is started
The Missionary and Charitable Society was started
There was the Female Chartable Society
Lucia Ruggles Holman & her brother, Samuel Ruggles, with their spouses, left for The Hawaiian Islands as missionary. Lucia became the first American woman to circumnavigate the globe when she returned home
Sunday School was first mentioned in the records
A steeple was added to the first meetinghouse. There was no bell in the steeple. Horse sheds were added in the back of the meetinghouse.
Two missionary societies were formed: one for Men – Gentleman’s Society and one for women – The Ladie’s Association.
The meetinghouse was seated by age with free seats for the destitute
A new bell was added to the Town House across the street from the Meetinghouse. This bell was used by the Episcopal Church and us to call worshippers to church.
1830 to 1920
The church supported the temperance movement
The first parsonage was built by members of the church. Rev. Dan C. Curtiss was the first minister to live here.
The Present building was dedicated and a bell was added to the steeple.
The members voted to put lights in the church.
The second parsonage was built and Rev. Asa C. Pierce was the first minister to live here.
Voted to take a collection every Sunday morning.
A new pipe organ was purchased. A boy was hired to pump the organ for 10 cents a Sunday
Mrs. Pierce organized The Women’s Foreign Mission Society.
The interior of the meetinghouse is completely redone.
Rev. Pierce dies quite suddenly at the parsonage. This happened on a Sunday.
Mrs. Pierce dies at the parsonage. She had been given life use of the parsonage. They are both buried in Central Cemetery.
The pews were made free
The First Ecumenical Thanksgiving held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
The Church wagon was started. They picked up people that needed a way to church
The church was incorporated and became The Congregational Church of Brookfield.
This was the year that regular Ecumenical Thanksgiving services were held with St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.
Began using individual communion cups for communion.
Mrs. Eliza G. Fairchild Peck was the first woman to be elected to the Ecclesiastical Society.
The church voted to change the order of worship. The opening should include a doxology or similar music and the Confession of Faith read by the congregation.
Sequa-centennial celebration was held and the chapel (Brook’s Hall) was added.
A loving cup was presented to Deacon Alfred Somers for his 50 years of service as a Deacon. This was the year that the church began using collection envelopes.
The First Ecclesiastical Society and the Congregational Church of Brookfield became one.
Rev. Harry & Rose Martin resigned and left as missionaries to Peking China.
Clarence Vroman purchased a Stanley Steamer as the church wagon. This was the last year the church wagon was used.
A cement walk was built by the Men’s Club in front of the church.
The Brookfield Improvement Society put in streetlights in Brookfield Center.
Miss Florence Vroman was the first woman Auditor was voted into office.
A Children’s Day Service was held.
Electricity was put in the church, chapel and parsonage.
The present Austin Organ was installed at the cost of $3000. A concert was held in celebration of the event.
The first telephone was put in the parsonage.
All public events were cancelled because of the Spanish influenza epidemic.
The first Every Member Canvas was held. The Committee on New Members was enlarged to help arrange for autos for pastoral calls.
Christmas eve should be the night for the Christian exercises of the Sunday School.
Steam heat was put in the parsonage.
Two chemical toilets were placed in back of the church
Lightning struck the steeple and lightning rods were added.
The church voted to increase the budget by 15% or $75.00.
Because of daylight savings time, it was decided to have Church School and Church one half hour earlier.
A Union Easter service was held with St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
When the weather was too cold, services were held in the Chapel.
The Chapel kitchen was added (the old kitchen upstairs)
An oil burner was put in the church for heat. The Young People’s Fellowship was added.
The blinds in the church were opened and curtains were put in.
New cushions were put in the pews.
The first Summer Bible school was held.
For the first time the annual reports printed and distributed.
Hot water was made available at the church. The Alpha Iota Pilgrim Fellowship was stared for the youth.
For the first time there were two Easter services.
Agnes Johnson was responsible for establishing the Book of Remembrance.
Women’s Fellowship was started along with the Men’s Laymen’s Fellowship.
Planning stages were started for the Silver Lake Conference Center. The first Holiday Tea was held.
A Junior High Fellowship was started
The church voted against joining the United Church of Christ.
The Board of Deaconesses was started
A resolution was passed that all were equal regardless of race or creed.
Two Sunday worship services were held. The cement walk was broken up.
More votes were taken about joining the United Church of Christ. The vote was in the affirmative in October. The Alva Miller fund was established.
A new hanging sign was put on the front lawn of the church.
The first fair was held. The money raised went for the people of Biafra. FISH was started with the churches of Brookfield.
Chapel became Brook’s Hall.
The Board of Deacons and the Board of Deaconesses became one. The iron railings were put in next to the front walk.
Palms were handed out on Palm Sunday for the first time. The room above the old kitchen was made into a music room.
For the cease-fire, the church was rung by anyone that would like to -- It took all afternoon. CROP walk was held in Brookfield.
To clean out the barn, a Church auction was held. Sold everything including the kitchen sink.
The youth raised money for the Heifer project. A women’s evening group began. Weekly coffee hours were started after church.
Traffic lights were install outside the church. For the Bicentennial, a Colonial Worship was held. The Mission’s committee put up the first Mission Tree. Midday meals were served in Fellowship Hall to the seniors in town. Storm windows and an attic fan were installed.
Clarence Anderson was voted Deacon Emeritus. The youth groups held their first Rock-A-Thon. The First Do-It-Yourself Christmas pageant was held.
Mystery property was found in Bethel and was sold. There was the first printing of Lucia Ruggles Holman’s Journal.
The Littlest Bell Choir was formed. When the furnace broke down, services were held in Fellowship Hall.
St. Nicholas/Kris Kringle program was started.
The Reach line was put in along with “The Good Word” program. Friendship Circle was started.
The 225th anniversary of the church was held. A time capsule was put together. It was decided to have it opened on the 250th anniversary of the church.
There was a complete reconditioning of the meetinghouse.
Lightning struck the steeple again. Lenten Lunches were held.
“Winter Privilege” meetings were once again held. White doves were placed on the Christmas Tree in Brook’s Hall for all those that were Baptized during the year.
A handicap ramp was added to the entrance of Brook’s Hall. The first computer was used in the office.
The town celebrated its 200th anniversary with an Ecumenical Colonial worship service in our meetinghouse. An Alleluia choir and a K-2nd grade choirs were formed.
The outside of the meetinghouse was painted and the windows could be opened for the first time in many years.
The parking lot was enlarged, paved and lights were put in. The Chinese Alliance Church began meeting here.
The church, parsonage, barn and cottage were all added to the National Register of Historic Places.
A youth hand bell choir was started. The Confirmation Program was changed to include mentors. The Memorial Garden was dedicated.
The first 8:00 a.m. Sunday worship service was held in the Memorial Garden. The Serendippers group began.
The Youth went to John’s Island to work.
The entire front of the church was rebuilt. The closet to the rear of the meetinghouse was removed to make a larger entryway.
Rev. M. Sargent Desmond was named Pastor Emeritus. Stephen’s Ministry program was started.
New by laws were voted on and bread visitations were begun. New Hymnals were purchased.
A special service was held at Land’s End Cemetery on the 200th anniversary of the death of Rev. Thomas Brooks. A dinner was held and former members of the 1964 youth group were invited back to open the time capsule. The Parish Nurses program was started.
The church and offices were air-conditioned. An Ecumenical Service was held here – Worship 2000.
A lift was added to the entry next to the office. The barn was completely renovated.
On the 245th anniversary of the church, a dinner was held and all former clergy were invited back. The cottage renovation was begun. A refugee family will be housed there.
Tom Eaker made the Stewardship boxes in the shape of the church for the “Winter Privilege Meetings. First Annual Variety Show was held.
Voted to write a church statement on Open and Affirming. “God Is Still Speaking,” movie and dinner program.
Church School (aka Sunday School) takes place during both Sunday services. We offer age-graded classes from preschool up through 8th grade at the 10:30 service. A “one-room schoolhouse” class for preschool through 6th grade is offered at the 8:30 service.
We encourage all children, including those who are just visiting, to participate in these fun and lively classes. Children are also free to remain in worship with their parents, though most have more fun and get more out of the Sunday School environment. There is no mandatory class time until Confirmation.
Following is a summary of what children of different ages can expect when they go to Church School.
Pre-k and kindergarten: Our youngest students follow a “lite” version of the rotational model curriculum (described below) without leaving their regular classroom.
1st through 4th graders: The children in this age group are divided into two groups: 1st/2nd grade and 3rd/4th grade and learn key Bible stories and what it means to be a Christian. Their curriculum is a workshop model rotating through six classes: art, science, games, kitchen, computers, and storytelling. These classes take place in different classrooms week to week. The church school coordinator is in the hallways to help steer the children to the right classroom when they leave worship.
5th and 6th graders: These grades are combined in a single class and are currently working through a curriculum called “Spark: Activate Faith.” Designed to be taught over two years, this interactive program focuses on key stories from the Bible with hand-outs and activities that promote reflection and discussion. (This curriculum, with some modification, is also used for Sunday School at the 8:30 service.)
7th and 8th graders: Our older Church School participants partake in an exciting lectionary-based curriculum called “Feasting on The Word.”
Each of the age groups above are taught by a small team of volunteer teachers dedicated to that age group who get to know the children throughout the year.
Most classes take place in our Church School wing, which is on the “middle” floor of the church. Most Sundays children start with the adults in the Meetinghouse and are “dismissed” before the sermon to go downstairs to their Sunday school classrooms.
The first Sunday of each month our children begin in their own “junior worship” called Children’s Chapel which takes place in our Fellowship Hall.
Each lesson is taught in such a way that no one will feel lost because they may have missed a week or are new to the church.
During the summer, Church School takes place only at the 10:30 service, and the children usually enjoy more games and activities during class time. Children often enjoy attending our summer 8:30 worship, which is a casual service under the trees at our Outdoor Chapel.
Also, on the occasional Sunday, there will be no Church school so that our children can participate in special programs taking place during worship, such as our Christmas pageant. In such cases, the church’s email will alert families beforehand and there will be announcement at the beginning of worship.
If you would like more information about our Sunday school, please call the church office at (203) 775-1259.
The Discipleship Programis a multi-faceted exposure to the opportunity to become a known and confessed follower of Jesus the Christ. Each person in the program follows a self-guided program with an adult mentor choosing tasks and studies in the following areas:
Worship and Spiritual Growth: Attending churches, outlining sermons, joining in worship leadership, evaluating worship materials, and providing creative worship resources are a few of the options in this area. Study and Learning: In a tutorial mode with your mentor, you will study several modules on Church life, history, Bible, Sacraments and the like, on a schedule of meetings you set up between you. In discussion, sharing, reacting, and exploration you will seek to "grow in wisdom ... and in favor with God and others." Service and Caring: Through projects in the church and the community you will take steps to be a change agent in areas needing changes. The Intervention in our world of God's Word in Jesus is the motivation for mission and social action by his church. In hands on tasks of caring you can choose to make a difference by visits, labor, self giving, and other actions.
Friendship and Fellowship: "Getting to Know You" is another task of the program as we seek to get to know the whole church, and the segment of the church that is meeting needs you feel in yourself. The Youth Fellowships, Choirs, and other groups in church provide an arena for peer support and even positive pressure among committed and covenanted Christians.
Each confirmand also meets with the other confirmands in their class to learn more together as a group. Together the confirmands participate in retreats and other opportunities to explore faith and to discover more along their own faith journeys. The confirmation program is for youth in 9th grade and older. It begins in September and ends in June.
For more info Contact Jennifer Whipple by email here
People often ask how they can get involved in the church, perhaps with the intention of eventually joining the church. The answer is really quite simple, just come...
Come share in worship
Come join in the fellowship
Come and become a part of the ministry
Many assume they must join first and then become involved. That of course makes little sense. It would be akin to marrying your spouse first and then beginning the dating process. Our invitation and hope is that you will come and find out more about us and our ministries.
Joining in covenant membership is a statement that, yes, this is the place and the people among whom we make our faith home. Joining says that “you are a part of us” and “we are a part of you.” It also means you become a voting "shareholder" in the business of the congregation, and that you have made a commitment to attend church regularly, to serve on a church committee or outreach ministry where you feel called and where you are able to participate, to attempt to increase your faith through regular prayer and study, and to pledge a portion of your income to the work and ministries of our church.
We welcome new members three times a year: our ninth-grade confirmation class joins late in the spring and adult members typically join at one of two "new member" Sunday worship services -- one in late spring and the other in the fall. Prior to joining, you will want to attend a "Visitors Gathering," to meet some of our church leaders and other "inquirers" like yourself, and to get more information about our church. We always welcome your questions, and we invite you to make an appointment to talk privately with a pastor if you prefer. After you join, you will have one of the 12 deacons assigned to your family, who would welcome you to call on him or her if you are ever in need.
For more information about joining the Congregational Church of Brookfield, please call the church office at 203-775-1259.
Bell choir to perform Sunday night in Brookfield By Sandra Diamond Fox CONTRIBUTING WRITER Article Last Updated: 05/17/2008 03:53:51 AM EDT
BROOKFIELD -- If you happen to be walking near the Congregational Church of Brookfield on Sunday evening, you may wonder what's making the beautiful sound coming from inside.
Could it be a violin?
What about a harp?
Perhaps an accordion?
It's none of those, and probably nothing else you're thinking of either.
It's the sound of English hand bells being played at the church's bell choir concert, which begins at 7 p.m. at the church on Whisconier Road. The event is free and open to the public.
A hand bell is a bronze instrument that ranges in size from 2 to 12 inches. The larger the bell, the deeper the sound it produces. The bells are designed to be played in an ensemble with others.
Although the first hand bells were developed in 17th century England, they didn't become popular in the United States until the late 1960s.
The 250-year-old church has had a hand bell choir for the past 40 years, and this is the second concert they're performing in at the church.
"We have a total of 31 members and four separate choirs," said Toni Sullivan, 58, of Newtown, church music director and organist. "We have a leveled program that allows people with whatever knowledge they have to join it."
The choir is intergenerational, with members ranging from 9 years old to those in their late-60s. Several of the ringers are married couples and others are sets of parents and children.
Aside from playing in church concerts and services, the choir performs throughout the year at a variety of assisted living facilities and town events. Members have also traveled to college campuses across the east coast to take part in area festivals that have about 900 hand bell players performing in them.
"Hand bells produce a sound that's unlike anything most people have ever heard before," Sullivan said.
This is due to the large diversity of musical sounds the bells can produce, such as African, meditative and chimes, as well as marching and hymn tunes and music box notes, she said.
Of the 13 songs the bell choirs are playing at the concert, listeners will be able to hum along to some tunes they may recognize, such as "Jesus Loves Me" and "He's got the whole world in his hands."
According to hand bell director Jean Dorrell, 49, what makes the bells so unique is that it requires a team effort to play them.
"You need at least nine people to play a song," she said. "Each ringer is only responsible for making a few notes."
All choir members must therefore work together to coordinate the exact timing of each person's rings, she said.
"That's what makes it so challenging," said Dorrell, a Brookfield resident.
Another reason hand bells are not as commonly used as other musical instruments is because they're very expensive. Based upon the size of the bells, prices range from $150 all the way to $950. A five-octave set costs $19,500.
The bell choir provides a great social outlet for its members.
"From all the time we spend throughout the year practicing and performing, we've all really become close," Dorrell said.
Church member Michael Anastas, a New Milford resident whose wife plays in the choir, said the music completely captivates anyone listening to it.
"It produces such an ethereal and heavenly sound," he said. "The resonance of it plays in your mind long after each song has ended."
On May 15, 2005 our congregation accepted our Open and Affirming (ONA) statement. It was an important day for this church as it helped us understand more clearly where we are as a congregation on this topic.
As we are now an ONA church, we must decide on how we live this out and what steps are appropriate for this church family. The ONA facilitators have met and made some recommendations to church council on possible actions to be taken. These include additions to our letterhead, brochures and other printed material, an update to our website and a possible addition to signage.
"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so, some have entertained angels unawares." The Letter to the Hebrews 13:2
It's hard to imagine a more urgent time for our church to reach out to show holy hospitality to our brothers and sisters in need than right now. Each day, it seems the international refugee crisis gets worse -- most recently, with war in Syria driving thousands of frightened families to flee their homes, and their home country.
During worship each Sunday last October, we heard some powerful testimonials (see videos below) from former leaders of our Refugee Resettlement Ministry who have helped to offer our UCC "extravagant welcome" to a wide variety of refugee families -- from our first West African couple, Annie and Lloyd, more than a decade ago, to our most recent Iraqi family, Ahmed and Wedyan, in 2013.
By March 2016, we had a new Syrian family living in our Cottage. Although it was but a temporary stay by a family being resettled by another group in Bethel, it energized and excited our growing team -- which now includes partners in ministry from Valley Presbyterian Church in Brookfield. By May that family was able to find other housing in the area. Also, we had recruited enough volunteers to be able to host our own new family. They arrived safety in New Haven on June 2, and in 24 hours (just on the eve of Ramadan), they were settled into our Cottage with the chance to make a fresh start in this free country.
What a joy it has been over the past weeks to get to know this family -- especially to play with their small children and to see the eldest start Kindergarten across the street at Center School. On so many sunny days, I hear their laughter outside my office window as they play on our swing set with child care volunteers as their parents study English down the hall in the Church School Wing with our faithful ESL volunteer tutors.
This year, we will mark our October 2 World Communion Sunday with a special "in between" program to Greet Our Refugees at 9:30am in Fellowship Hall where the entire church community can welcome and get to know our current Syrian family and hear their stories. (Their English gets better and better each day, as does our Arabic!)
Over the years, some of the most faithful acts of Christian service to others that I have had the privilege to observe here at the Congregational Church of Brookfield have been through our Refugee Resettlement Ministry. But more than that, I consider them impressive acts of patriotism as well. One of our Vietnam Veterans donated to their house a brand new American flag, in a spirit of our United Church of Christ "extravagant welcome."
After all, when our Pilgrim ancestors first came to the shores of New England in 1620, they were also refugees -- fleeing religious and political oppression in their homeland in England. It is in deep in our Congregational DNA to do this kind of work -- it is a powerful testimony to our faith heritage.
I hope you will also be inspired, and feel called, to join in this important ministry with us.
Rev. Bryn Smallwood-Garcia, Senior Pastor
An update from Refugee Resettlement Ministry…
MSNBC LIVE WITH TAMRON HALL 11/18/15
Refugee screening: ‘US has the most rigorous process in the... Chris George, Executive Director of ‘Integrated Refugees and Immigrant Services’ of New Haven, Connecticut talks to Tamron Hall about concerns over the refugee screening process. Duration: 3:51 Click here to view.
Where Ahmed and family are now, in 2015.
Wedyan became a Certified Nurses Aide in 2014, and is currently working at Danbury Hospital. She has also been taking courses at Naugatuck Community College, in order to prepare her for higher education in this country. Most recently, she got accepted to the Nursing program offered by the hospital to become a full-fledged nurse! She is well on her way to achieving her dream, and of using her God-given talents to help others in the way that seems right to her. This is something that has always been important to her.
Ahmed is working for Praxair in Danbury. He started out in their credit and collections department, and has recently been promoted to Business Analyst dealing with marketing and strategy. On his free time, he enjoys taking care of his chickens and his expansive yard.
Both Nail and Rahmah are doing well at Huckleberry Hill. Nail enjoys Cub Scouts and learning about the outdoors, and Rahmah is also involved in scouting, and also loves to draw.
Ahmed’s mother arrived to live with them in 2013. She helps out by taking care of the children when both their parents are at work, and by providing sumptuous meals for the entire family!
Wedyan’s cousin came to this country in 2014, and is also living with them. The rather spacious house they purchased here in Brookfield has been a blessing to the whole family! He worked for Macy’s as a seasonal employee when he first arrived here, and now works for Danbury Hospital. He is also taking courses at Naugatuck Community College, in an effort to move himself up in the working world in this country. When he can, he is Ahmed’s right-hand man, helping out with yard work and tree work.
They have all found ways to give back to their new community, and are working on becoming all that they were meant to be, enjoying the freedom to grow and learn that is such a blessing of living in our wonderful country!
2013 Refugee Resettlement Ministry
Ahmed began this update for me when he said, “We’ve been here just about a month, and so much has happened since then!” How true it is, thanks to the generosity of our volunteers, and to Ahmed and his family’s willingness to embrace their new lives in this country.
Wedyan has been working hard to perfect her English, and is hoping to be a Certified Nurses Aide and eventually a nurse someday. However, she wisely wants to work somewhere first in order to improve her English, before taking a certification course that may require her to have a greater command of the language. She is an excellent cook, an avid gardener (stop by sometime to see the new vegetable garden next to the cottage!), and a wonderful hostess to all who come to visit.
Ahmed passed his road test, and is looking for a car. He has put together a very impressive resume, with input from some members of the church who have knowledge in this area. He has been to an interviewing workshop, and several interviews. Both he and Wedyan are excited to find jobs, and we are still pursuing a variety of options for them.
The children are enjoying their new school, with Nail in Kindergarten and his sister Rahmah in pre-school. They were tutored in English over the summer, and are now using their new language with each other, and with friends on the playground! How fun it is to see children learning by leaps and bounds, and enjoying their time with anyone who will communicate and play with them!!
The biggest hurdle they had to overcome was Wedyan’s medical situation. In early August, they were told that she has a carcinoid tumor in her bronchial tubes, and that it is cancerous. Thankfully, it is a slow-growing tumor that will not spread, but it needs to be removed. Although it is quite scary to have to face such a serious medical issue in a new country far away from their friends and family, both Wedyan and Ahmed are being very brave and positive. They are happy that she will now be able to get the medical care she needs. Wedyan is home now, recovering from her surgery. Our volunteers have gone above and beyond the call of duty to be their new friends and family, spending countless hours at the hospital in New Haven and showing them all the love and support that they need and deserve in order to help them through this difficult time.
One thing that I am continually amazed at as I work with this ministry is how truly special and amazing our volunteers are! From babysitting at 6:30 am at the last minute, to spending three hours at a health clinic waiting for all of them to see the doctor, our volunteers continue to go above and beyond to help this wonderful family get what they need as they go about starting new lives in a foreign country. I feel so proud of this church, and blessed to be able to work with so many unbelievably special people….people from both Connecticut and Iraq!
A special thanks to all the volunteers for all you are doing, and to Ahmed, Wedyan, Nail and Rahmah for sharing their warmth and hearts with all of us! Please continue to pray for the employment needs of this family, and for their beautiful children as they continue to adapt to their new home in a new country.
In His love, Sue Waschak, 2013 Refugee Resettlement Coordinator
2010 Refugee Resettlement Ministry
When IRIS (Integrated Refugee and Immigration Services) asked our church for emergency help in January, our congregation responded immediately. Our Cottage became a temporary home for a mother and her three children from West Africa. Within hours of our request, many donated enough staples and canned goods to see the family through the worst January weather in Connecticut history - and way beyond. Even more important for the family is the support and sanctuary given by our church. We would like to thank you for your help with childcare and transportation. Our volunteers enjoyed getting to know this lively, delightful family over the months that they were with us, and we can celebrate that we were able to get them a fresh start in the United States.
Thank you -
Jen Wurst & Patty Buchan, 2010 Refugee Resettlement Coordinators
A one-to-one lay ministry in which the Stephen Ministers do the caring and God does the curing. A program of our congregation that equips lay persons to provide distinctly Christian care to those who are experiencing crises, difficulties and problems in life. A ministry named after Stephen, the first deacon in the early church, commissioned by the Apostles to provide comfort and care in the Christian community. Stephen Ministries is a transdenominational Christian organization based in S1. Louis, Missouri, and serving congregations for over 25 years with training, caring, and administrative resources.
HOW DOES THE STEPHEN MINISTRY WORK AT OUR CHURCH?
The Stephen Ministry training program prepares interested men and women to become Stephen ministers through 50 hours of training (broken into twenty 2 1/2 hour sessions) including instruction in:
crisis theory and intervention
use of prayer and the Bible
specialized topics such as: grief, divorce, hospitalization, etc.
Following training, the Stephen Minister is commissioned by our church into active, caring ministers. They usually visit their care receiver one hour per week and spend two hours twice each month in supervision and continuing education. Stephen Ministers work in continued consultation with the pastoral and leadership staff.
STEPHEN MINISTERS ARE:
Lay men and women from our congregation who have developed their gifts for bringing the concern and care of Christ's community to people in need.
Dedicated Christians commissioned by our church to confidential, in-depth caring.
People who come from all walks of life, age ranges, and backgrounds.
Caring Christians who have a desire to be with you in a time of need, grief or crisis.
Committed Christians who pray with and for you seeking to share Christ's love and support.
STEPHEN MINISTERS ARE NOT:
Professional counselors or psychologists.
Experts in law, finance, church doctrine, etc.
Free babysitters or housekeepers.
WHAT KINDS OF NEEDS DOES STEPHEN MINISTRY ADDRESS?
People who are hospitalized.
People who are grieving the loss of a loved one.
People who are depressed.
People who are separated or in the process of divorce.
People who are terminally ill, along with their families.
People who have lost their job.
People in the process of moving.
People experiencing the birth of a child.
People who are in trouble with the law.
People who are shut-in, or lonely.
People with sick or handicapped children.
People who are experiencing a life crisis.
DOES THE STEPHEN MINISTRY REPLACE PASTORAL MINISTRY?
The Stephen Ministry Program is not meant to replace the role of the pastor. Rather, the pastor(s) work together with the Stephen Ministers as part of their pastoral ministry, and therefore greatly increase the caregiving that can be accomplished. All assignments of Stephen Ministers are made under the guidance and supervision of the pastor(s). Stephen Ministry is CONFIDENTIAL ministry, and those receiving care can be sure that their identity and what goes on in the caring relationship will remain private.
Cindy’s Ministry Share 7/26 and 8/2
Stephen Ministry “equips and empowers lay caregivers--Stephen Ministers--to provide high-quality, confidential, Christ-centered care to people who are hurting.” That is the definition.
But this ministry is so much more transformative than I ever imagined.
Previously, I have shared how I was very reluctant and almost laughed at God for calling me, but earthly-angel Marion Miller had confidence in me that I did not see.
First, the training helped me learn how to express compassion without owning another person’s journey. This has strengthened me as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, teacher, friend, and as a perceived enemy.
God is the cure-giver and we are sent as spiritual companions to others as well as ourselves.
And that spiritual companionship—hard work at times—is full of blessings. I have felt nothing but deep, humble honor to journey with those the leaders/pastors have prayerfully placed in my care.
And every one-to-one care relationship is different. Through mine, I have learned to broaden my definition of spirituality and spiritual strength.
Each person receiving care is unique and their steps to healing are in their time and their choice as we caregivers practice the ministry of prayerful, listening presence.
This has led me to keep up my own spiritual strength (that seems to go up and down like a rollercoaster) through personal devotions, adult study, Women’s Fellowship, choir, and regular Stephen Ministry meetings.
At our safe-confidential meetings we support each other not only in our own care-giving ministry, but also for the challenges that arise in our own lives.
Prayers are one phone call/email away.
I have been involved with many programs/ministries at this church—all blessings.
And at the heart of my growth here as been Stephen Ministry.
I have repeatedly found through my fellow ministers the strength to quiet that ever-loud daily voice telling me to “Pull myself up by my own bootstraps” and replace it with God loved us (even me) so much that God sent Jesus and earthly spiritual companions. God created us to be in community through the good and hard times.
Finally, I’ve learned that healing spiritually is the KING PIN that helps all other healing (emotional/mental/physical) to take place. Sometimes we need to take the time to heal and dust off the fruits of the Spirit already inside and allowed be allowed to grow so we can give generously of ourselves again.
Please support the ministry by keeping the Stephen Ministers and their care-receivers in prayer; consider becoming a Stephen Minister; and most importantly, accept care when we need it.
Please call the church office for more information. (203) 775-1259
At a Congregational Meeting held on Sunday, May 17, we voted to reallocate some of the money originally set aside for the parsonage to the Fellowship Hall kitchen project and to the air conditioning of the church school wing. After consultation with the Parsonage Task Force, under the leadership of John Morrison, it was determined that the parsonage renovation can be completed under the estimated budget. This is in part due to the efforts of our dedicated volunteers, "Morrison's Miracle Workers," who work every Tuesday morning at the parsonage.
Since the estimates for the completion of the kitchen and the air conditioning projects came in higher than previously thought, we voted to increase those budgets, while decreasing the parsonage budget. The kitchen budget will now be $75,000 instead of $50,000, and the air conditioning project (which will now include individual controls for each room and will have the ability to supplement the heating system for greater efficiency) will now be an amount not to exceed $85,000 instead of $40,000. This will keep the total money allotted for all four projects at $525,000 which was approved by the congregation.
It is wonderful to hear our restored and enhanced organ each Sunday and to know that one of the campaign projects is finished. The concert celebrating the completion of the organ was magnificent. Besides playing a variety of music which showcased what our organ is now able to do, Ron Ebrecht demonstrated the new sounds our organ can make as well as explaining which pipes and sounds are original to the organ.
This summer should bring substantial progress on the other projects. An Open House Hospitality Time after church is planned for a Sunday at the end of June so that the congregation will have an opportunity to tour the parsonage and see the work being done there. Everyone driving by the parsonage is impressed with how the outside looks and now we’ll be able to see the inside.
Dave Goral, Project Manager
250th Anniversary Campaign
Our Organ –
As Jen said a few weeks ago “How do you like what we’ve done with the place?” Some of you may feel that the Meetinghouse looks strange with the facade pipes removed, while others are enjoying the opportunity to see the workings of our organ as well as the green wall with the stenciling which is normally not visible. Regardless of how you feel, this is a sign of great progress. The organ re-builders from Austin have been hard at work. Multiple new windchests have been installed to handle the many new pipes. Pipes are being mounted to every solid surface available. Did you see the wooden flute pipes hanging on the side wall? When all of the pipes are in there will be very little available space behind the facade. The entire main windchest is being re-wired and all of the felt stops are being replaced. When work is completed, we may have a few stuck notes once in a while, and we shouldn't blame Toni. We’ve been warned that this is typical until everything gets settled in a little. The work has gone on much longer than expected, but the Austin workers are being very thorough in making sure that everything is carefully restored. Final voicing for our space and for our particular set of 781 organ pipes plus electronic stops will take place in January.
Dave Goral, Program Manager
What a joy it is to report to the congregation that during the six months since the solicitation portion of the campaign ended, much progress has been made. The projects are proceeding under the guidance of Dave Goral and his team of project managers.
A great deal of the work on the organ is being done in Hartford before the onsite work begins. The Austin Organ Company is working with us to minimize the impact on our worship services.
Plans for the air conditioning of the Church School wing are being drawn up and our hope is that air conditioning will be working by this summer.
A committee is researching exactly how best to improve our Fellowship Hall kitchen. They are hoping to have the actual work done during the summer of 2009.
Obviously the parsonage is the most complicated of the four projects, but much work is being done behind the scenes. The committee is trying to put in balance the needs of the church and the responsibility we have as owners of the beautiful historical home.
As of the middle of March, we are thrilled to report that over 46% of the money pledged to the campaign has already been collected. It is important that money is gathered in a timely fashion so that work on all the projects can continue. The congregation’s response to the 250th Anniversary Campaign was amazing. How exciting it is to see the work being done as a result!
Thank you for your continuing support and commitment.
Nancy Vodra, Chair of the 250th Anniversary Campaign
Dave Goral, Campaign Projects Manager
Walt Fisher, Communications Chair
The parsonage committee has met a number of times to put together a proposal for the outside renovations of the building. The purpose of this proposal is to bring it for review and approval with the Brookfield Historical Society. The application for review was submitted to the Historical Society in February in order to have it on the agenda for discussion in March.
While the planning for the outside work has been taking place, a workgroup has been busy in the basement shoring up the structure. Temporary supports that had been in place for a number of years have been replaced with permanent lally columns to stiffen and level the first floor.
Review of how to implement this project has occurred, and they are in the process of obtaining quotes. The goal of this project is to complete it for summer of 2008. The intent is to air condition all of the classrooms in the school wing as well as the spaces downstairs in Fellowship Hall.
Fellowship Hall Kitchen
This committee has just begun discussions on their project. Based of the balance of funding between projects, the goal of this group is to have a detailed plan created by the end of summer of 2008, with implementation and construction occurring in summer of 2009. The intent of this plan is that once the work begins, it will all be completed as quickly as possible to minimize the unavailability of the kitchen.
Work continues on site at Austin Organs in Hartford rebuilding the console that will replace ours, as well as the new pipe construction. When the actual work in our Church begins in early summer, changes will take place over a period of time. There will be times when some ranks of the organ will not work but the rest of the organ will remain playable. Austin is trying to minimize the amount of time that the organ can not be played at all. The project is expected to be completed this summer.
Dave Goral, Program Manager
We are overjoyed at our campaign pledged amount of $605,065.26!!!Now we are on to the implementation phase of the campaign. A group of church members has been appointed to provide oversight to the four major projects. They will review project specifications; implement and complete projects in a professional, efficient, and cost-effective manner; and keep the congregation informed about progress and schedules. This group is called the Project Implementation Advisory Group, with the following members: Tom Eaker, Moderator Dave Goral, Program Manager (reporting to Church Council) Bob Lambert Mike Matson Rev. Bryn Smallwood-Garcia, Pastor Dennis Stone Rev. Jennifer Whipple, Associate Pastor In addition to this group, there will be four project managers reporting to Dave Goral, Program Manager: Air Conditioning – Mike Marron Kitchen Renovation – Robin Murphy Organ – Virginia Van Horne Parsonage – John Morrison In the past few months, there have been reports in CrossWays about some of our project developments. The parsonage group is working closely with the Brookfield Historic Commission to ensure that all work meets guidelines. The Austin Organ Company in Hartford is re-building the necessary manual console and new organ pipes are being handcrafted. Updates will be provided for the kitchen and air-conditioning projects as design specifications are completed. We want to thank all those who are participating on the Advisory Group and project teams. The projects cannot be completed without their dedication. Thank you for doing your part in fulfilling pledge commitments, so all phases of the campaign can move forward.
Report of the program manager January 2008
Pledges from our generous membership are still being received, the total crossing the six-hundred thousand mark. The total pledge amount is now $600,015 and of course twenty six cents! Here are project updates on the parsonage and organ.
The parsonage group continues to work with the Brookfield Historic Commission to ensure that all work completed on the exterior meets the historic commission guidelines. This presents a significant challenge for the group to find materials that can maintain the historic character of the house but hopefully be more energy efficient and lower maintenance. The group is currently preparing drawings of the exterior elevations and a proposed materials list to present to the historic commission early next year.
In late November a meeting was held at Austin Organs in Hartford for the purpose of reviewing the design of the console and pipe layout. With a few minor changes a design was approved which allows Austin to begin construction of various secondary windchests to accommodate the additional pipes. A review was also made of the construction progress to date. The three manual console which will eventually replace our two manual is in the process of being rebuilt. The internal key switches have been rebuilt, and at the time of the meeting, an Austin worker was carefully adjusting the touch of each key. The console is also being prepared to receive the electronic switching mechanisms that will replace the old mechanical switches. The electronics will probably not be installed for a few months. Work has also begun on building the pneumatic actuators that control all of the actions in the windchest. Since Austin Organs still maintains the same design for these actuators as they did in 1916 when our organ was built, they can make a direct swap for these devices in our instrument. One of the most exciting things seen in the review was the racks of new pipes that had just been hand fabricated for our organ. The pipes still need to go through the “voicing” process to get their sound perfect. The tour of the Austin Factory gave me a great appreciation of the artisans who are involved in the renovation of our pipe organ.