Weekly Newsletter
Week of April 14th - April 20th
Gilead Congregational Church, UCC

Meetings and Services this week:

Wednesday, April 14th:
-8:45 a.m. Hunger Action Team on Zoom
-9:30 a.m. Bible Study on Zoom
-10:30 a.m. Book Discussion Group in the Fellowship Hall

Thursday, April 15th:
-7:00 p.m. Council on Zoom

Sunday, April 18th:
-10:00 a.m. Worship Service in the Sanctuary and live-streamed on our Gilead Church Facebook Page and YouTube
God is Still Speaking
 About Us:

Reverend Dr. Denise Esslinger  
Minister of Music:
Andrey Stolyarov

Minister of Communication and Technology:
Lisa Cox
Administrative Assistant:
Sally Fritsche

Worship: 10:00 a.m. in the Sanctuary and on our Gilead Church Facebook Page and YouTube Channel

Gathered: 1748
Meeting House: 1838
Fellowship Hall: 2008
We are an Open & Affirming Church
Sunday Worship Services
We have resumed in-person worship on Sunday mornings. Safety protocols, similar to those we used last fall, will be in place and are detailed below. Our Deacons will continue to closely monitor public health recommendations and update our protocols as soon as we safely can.

Know that we’ll continue to live-stream services on our Facebook page and YouTube for those who prefer to stay home and information on how to connect on-line is provided in the block below. 

Our Deacons also made the decision that on Sunday, April 25th, we will move our worship services outside to our Garden of Remembrance. Our hope is that being outside will be safer, as well as allow as many people who would like to attend in-person to join us since we can spread out in the field beyond the garden. We'll still ask people to sign up, so we can keep a list of those present, if ever needed, for contact tracing purposes. We invite people to bring your own chairs. We will also follow our safety protocols of requiring face masks and social distancing and invite the gathered community to join in our prayers, but not in our singing.

If you would like to join us for our 10 a.m. worship service this Sunday, April 18th, please sign up on the link below. Our service is limited in seating due to social distancing.

This Sunday, April 18th we welcome Bruce Langevin as our guest preacher. Bruce has been a member of the GCC for almost 20 years. He is a member of the Men's Fellowship Committee, the Stewardship Committee and has been a Sunday School teacher for various age groups for many years. Bruce is a physical therapist and owner of Bolton Physical Therapy committed to providing individualized care for all. He is an avid Yankees fan! Bruce is married to Annette and has an 18 year old daughter, Jenna, and a 15 year old son, Jared.
Our Deacons have prepared the following indoor protocols for us to follow for worship in our Sanctuary:
1)    Participation will be limited to 50 people in the Sanctuary. Although public health guidelines permit a larger number of participants, maintaining a six-foot social distance, in our sanctuary, limits us to 50 participants.
2)    We ask those attending to sign up using the on-line link prior to the service. This is to keep an accurate record of people in attendance, if needed, for contact tracing. When it is needed, we’ll make plans to conduct a second service.
3)   Please enter the church via the parking lot entrance. A Deacon will check you in and an usher will direct you to your space to sit.
4)    Participants are asked NOT to attend if they have any flu-like symptoms or if anyone in the household has tested positive for COVID-19.
5)    Face masks are required for the entire service. 
6)   There will be no congregational singing. Speaking the unison prayers softly while masked will be okay. No Communion or offering plates will be shared or passed during the service. For services with Communion, you are invited to bring your own Communion. Our Deacons will also have some packets prepared that you can take, if you'd like, as you enter the Sanctuary.
7)   To ensure proper ventilation, the front and back doors will usually remain open, so we suggest that you dress accordingly.
8)   Please provide announcements, joys, or prayer concerns to Pastor Denise by email in advance of the service, or in writing as you arrive. Please remember that this service will be open to the public for online viewing.
9)   Our Board of Christian Education is planning some opportunities for our young people during worship. Watch for more information on these. 

If you have any questions about these protocols, please reach out to one of our Deacons (Amy Destine, Todd Helweg, Jon Kimball (Chair), David Kline, Jim Ledbetter, Lynn Lukach, Ginny Miller, Teresa Olio, and Margot Sheehan) or speak with Pastor Denise.
Live Streaming of Services Continues

We will continue to live stream our worship services at 10:00 a.m.

You can join us live on either YouTube or Facebook. You will also be able to view the video’s on either platform after the service. Please use one of the links below for access to our Live Stream:
YouTube link:  www.bit.ly/GileadChurchUCC Note: Please click on subscribe to be notified of future live streams or new video’s.

Welcome to our New Minister of Music
This past Sunday, April 11th, we welcomed our new Minister of Music, Andrey Stolyarov (pictured above). Andrey is a Russian-born American composer, conductor, singer, and educator.

Andrey's compositions have been performed nationally and internationally, with recent commissions by CONCORA, the Young New Yorker’s Chorus, the Bassless Trio, and the Alturas Duo. He has studied with a variety of renowned composers, including Steven Sametz, Paul Salerni, Gilda Lyons, Robert Carl, David Macbride, Ken Steen, Larry Alan Smith, Ofer Ben-Amots, Jan Jirasek, Steven Stucky, Tania León, and Aaron Jay Kernis. Andrey has served as Director of Music at West Avon Congregational Church in Avon, CT and Co-director of The Hartford New Music Festival. He is an adjunct professor at The Hartt School and Capital Community College, and is a private vocal instructor. He is an active professional singer currently performing with Voce, CONCORA, and the Composers’ Choir. For more information, look for Andrey on YoutubeSoundcloudBandcamp, or visit www.andreystolyarov.com.

We are happy to have Andrey with us and excited for all of the musical gifts he brings!

Pastoral Transition Update

The Interim Pastor Selection Committee is moving ahead to secure an interim pastor for our church.  We’ve now received four profiles from qualified candidates, and we expect to receive at least one more.  All of these candidates come to us through our Area Conference Minister from the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ.   All are qualified pastors with special training in interim ministry, and have experience working with churches in transition, like ours.  Most are currently serving other churches in an interim capacity, so their availability date is one of our focus items.

Interviewing candidates is a two-step process.  We start with a screening interview, using Zoom.  This is an informal exchange for our committee and the candidate to get to know each other.  We’ve conducted one screening interview to date, and have three more scheduled over the next week.   After we finish the screening interviews, we will schedule in-person interviews with selected candidates. We’ll adhere to the guidelines for masks and physical distancing.     

We intend this process to be as transparent as possible and to have you walk this new path with us. To that end, please feel free to contact either Jon or Ginny with any questions or comments. We promise to be responsive and to keep these updates coming.

Ginny Miller and Jon Kimball
Co-chairs, Interim Pastor Selection Committee

Welcome to our new Interim Administrative Assistant!

We welcome Tonya Maurer (pictured below) as our new Interim Administrative Assistant. Tonya comes to us as a seasoned professional with extensive experience in managing and coordinating complex initiatives, projects, events and programs. Tonya joined the Gilead Congregational Church as a member earlier this year; and her mom (Ginny Grabowski) has been a member for the last 4 years. She and her husband Cole (of 33 years) have been Amston residents for 18 years along with various furry kids. Tonya will be starting this Monday, April 19th and will work with Sally for two weeks, prior to Sally's retirement at the end of April. Welcome, Tonya!
Let's Celebrate Sally!

With Sally’s retirement at the end of April, our Board of Trustees will be recognizing her with a gift for her 19 years with us as our Administrative Assistant. We are so grateful for all Sally has done over the years to make the Gilead Church the friendly and well run church that we are! Given the times we are living in, Sally has requested that in lieu of a public gathering that she would enjoy receiving cards and notes from us. If you’d like to send Sally a note sharing a word of thanks and perhaps a memory too, you can send it to her home at: 46 Castlerock Lane, Bolton, CT 06043. Sally’s last day with us with be Thursday, April 29th. Thank you, Sally, for all of your years with us. We wish you God’s blessings on your retirement!

Happy Easter! Happy Spring!
Church World Service Blankets

Please consider honoring the special women in your life for Mother’s Day by donating to Church World Service (CWS) Blanket Ministry. Each $10 donation will provide a blanket to someone impacted by the pandemic, hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding and other crises including homelessness and poverty. You can donate online to https://cwsblankets.org/donate/ or in person at the outside worship services on Sundays, April 25th, May 2nd or May 9th. Whether you donate on line or in person you can pick up Mother’s Day cards to send to who you are honoring at these services. Any questions please contact Phyllis Kurz, Missions Committee, at 860 228 2469.

Helping Hands for Spring Cleanups

It has been a windy winter! As a result, many yards have more branches and debris in them than in the past. Gilead Helping Hands (GHH) can offer assistance to church members who can use some help with their spring cleanup chores. If you are interested please send an email to Leslie.kurz78@gmail.com or call 860-416-7884.
Hallelujah Chorus

On Easter Sunday members and friends of our Choir presented the Hallelujah Chorus. If you’d like to view their uplifting performance, you can go to:

Special thanks to Carol Geyer and Jeff Kimball, son of Jon and Gloria Kimball, for putting this together!
Meeting House Road Tree

A very large and old tree on the Meeting House Road side of the church fell down on Friday, April 9th. Thankfully no one was hurt and not even the stop sign at the end of the road was damaged when the tree fell. Thanks to the Public Works Department of the town of Hebron and especially Jason Yerke, Gilead Church member and owner of Distinctive Tree Care, for removing the tree for us.  
Save the Date - June 13th

Come give thanks for Pastor Denise's 22 years of faithful and loving service to God and the Gilead Church. We will gather on Sunday, June 13th to celebrate the Seasons of Love we've shared together and rejoice in the new beginnings to come.  

Wednesday Morning Book Discussion Group

Our Wednesday Morning Book Discussion Group meets on Wednesday mornings at 10:30 a.m. in the Fellowship Hall. The group is discussing Cilka's Journey by Heather Morris (also author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz). This novel is based on a riveting true story of love and resilience. Cilka is just sixteen years old when she is taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp in 1942, where the commandant immediately notices how beautiful she is. Forcibly separated from the other women prisoners, Cilka learns quickly that power, even unwillingly taken, equals survival. If you have any question on this discussion group, please contact Sandy Hooker at 860-228-9856.

Meet the Confirmands

My name is Caitlin McClaine and I am a freshman at Rham High School. I have been an Irish dancer for 7 years, and I enjoy running. 
COVID-19 Vaccine Update and Information

The state is currently currently offering the vaccine to:

  • Individuals 16 years of age and older

The state has an online registration tool for people to register and schedule vaccination appointments –https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus/COVID-19-Vaccinations  

For the most up to date information, please go to the following link:
CT’s Vaccine Appointment Assist Line (call for vaccination scheduling) is: 877-918-2224
·        Open 7 days a week from 8:00 am – 8:00pm.
·        Language assistance is available for those who need it
·        Deaf or hard-of-hearing can access the Vaccine Appointment Assist Line by dialing 7-1-1

If you need any assistance in arranging to get it—either with help scheduling a time on line or needing transport—please contact the Church Office at 860-228-3077 or at gcc@gileadchurch.net.
Community Conversation
Silver Lake Summer Camp

Silver Lake has announced its offerings for the summer 2021 conference season. Details and registration are available at www.silverlakect.org along with downloads of the forms needed for registration.  Also, our Women's Fellowship has once again agreed to pay the $150 deposit for any young person from our congregation who would like to attend Silver Lake. Please speak with Margaret Gibbs (860-384-4327) if you would like to take our Women's Fellowship up on their offer.

Bible Study on Zoom

Our weekly Bible study, led be Rev. Bob Woodward, meets on Wednesday mornings at 9:30 a.m. on Zoom.  The group will be focusing on the story of Holy Week in the gospel of John chapters 12-21. All are invited and welcome to join this discussion and study. Come when you can! To join, click on the this link at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday mornings: 

If you have any questions or need assistance connecting with Zoom, please contact our Church Office (gcc@gileadchurch.net or 860-228-3077). 

Thank Yous

Our Youth Group thanks everyone who participated in our recent meal for the Covenant Soup Kitchen. Whether you baked cookies, assembled cookie/candy bags or made a casserole, your efforts touched the lives of the people who visited the Soup Kitchen on Easter weekend and we join them in expressing gratitude for sharing your love and care.


Dear Pastor Denise,

A very big Thank you to the Gilead Church. I received a beautiful Easter Lily delivered by Todd Helweg which will be planted later this Spring in my flower bed. It is just being to open it's many buds.
Thank you again.


Lorraine A. Kreeger 


We are so very grateful for the Gilead Helping Hands team of Phyllis and Les Kurz, Dale Bland and Alan Thibault for the yard work and bringing our patio furniture out into the sunshine. Our backs and knees are most appreciative and this saved us hours of work. 


Art and Pat Austin
Foodshare's Drive-Thru Food Distribution 

Foodshare has been distributing food at Rentschler Field in East Hartford since the start of the pandemic. This distribution site alone has served over 225,000 households; many new to food insecurity due to COVID-19 and has distributed over 6 million meals.

Foodshare will be distributing food on TUESDAYS and THURSDAYS with an end date of Thursday, April 29th.

9:30 am – 1:00 pm

Address: 615 Silver Lane, East Hartford, CT 06118 – Silver Lane entrance; gates will close at 1:00 pm

In the event of winter weather check Foodshare’s social media as well as NBC-CT and FOX61 for schedule updates.

If you are not able to make it to this site there are additional distributions throughout the state:
Mondays – Norwich
Address: 28 Stonington Road, Norwich CT – in the parking lot across from Pistol Pete's Bar And Grill
Hours: 9:30 am – 12:00 pm
Wednesdays – Norwalk
Address: Calf Pasture Beach, 99 Calf Pasture Beach Road, Norwalk, CT
Hours: 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Fridays – New London
Address: St Mary Star of the Sea Church, 10 Huntington Street, New London, CT
Hours: 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Connecticut Food Bank/Foodshare are encouraging people to connect with additional food resources in their community. To access additional food resources call 2-1-1, go to https://www.211ct.org/ , visit www.foodshare.org/help  or www.ctfoodbank.org/gethelp.
Church Office Hours and Protocols 

Sally, our Church’s Administrative Assistant, is in the Church Office on Monday mornings from 8 a.m. to noon. She will continue to work from home on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings from 8 a.m. to noon. If you need assistance from Sally, the best way to reach her is to contact her via email or phone (gcc@gileadchurch.net or 860-228-3077). If you need to come to the Church Office, we ask that you make every effort to contact Sally ahead of time to let her know you are coming. Face masks are required to enter the building and when you arrive, please come to the Parish House side door and knock. Sally will let you in. If you are having any symptoms (e.g. fever, sore throat, coughing, etc.) or not feeling well, we ask that you do not come. We will be happy to make other arrangements to conduct any Church business that you need. 

Scripture Reading and Prayer for the Week
Psalm 4

We come to you, O God, in Easter joy, seeking to be a people of the resurrection.  Be known among us; grant us the assurance of your presence, your love, and your renewing power.  Through your Word and Spirit, reveal to us your purpose in our lives.  We ask these things in the name of the Risen Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.