Weekly Newsletter
Week of April 7th - April 13th
Gilead Congregational Church, UCC

Meetings and Services this week:

Wednesday, April 7th:
-9:30 a.m. Bible Study on Zoom
-10:30 a.m. Book Discussion Group in the Fellowship Hall
-4:00 p.m. Confirmation Class

Thursday, April 8th:
-7:00 p.m. Trustees on Zoom

Saturday, April 10th:
-11:00 a.m. Memorial Service for Wil Tyler

Sunday, April 11th:
-10:00 a.m. Worship Service in the Sanctuary and live-streamed on our Gilead Church Facebook Page and YouTube
-11:30 a.m. Board of Missions on Zoom
-1:00 p.m. Graveside service for Bea Anderson (family only)
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 Service
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, at their meeting last week, to target Sunday, April 25th as the date when 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. Watch for more details as April 25th approaches.

If you would like to join us for our 10 a.m. worship service this Sunday, April 11th, please sign up on the link below. Our service is limited to 50 people due to social distancing. If this service fills up quickly, we will add a second service at 8:30 a.m. service and send out information for signing up.

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 Sunday, April 12th, we will be welcoming 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 look forward to welcoming Andrey to our Church and 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

Easter Sunrise Service and Easter Worship

Below are pictures from our Easter Sunrise Service and Easter worship in our Sanctuary. A highlight of our worship in the Sanctuary was the inclusion of instrumentalists and vocalists via video. Pictured below is Scott and Sydney Summerer on trumpets and Carol Geyer on the organ. Members and friends of our Choir also came together to share the Hallelujah Chorus. Here is a link on Google Drive if you'd like to hear it. (Note: You might need to copy and past it into your browser.) Special thanks to Carol Geyer for all of her work on this and to Jeff Kimball, Jon and Gloria Kimball's son, for putting it all together.

We also want to thank Carol, for so ably serving as our Minister of Music over these past months. All of the talents, gifts and energy she has shared have been a tremendous blessing. Thank you, Carol!
Easter Opportunity for Children

The Board of Christian Education invited all children to join them for an Easter opportunity this past Saturday, April 3rd. The story of the last week of Jesus' life was shared using Easter eggs. They also had an Easter egg hunt and ended with a story about the meaning of Jesus' resurrection.
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.
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.
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). 


Congratulations to Cassidy Olio, daughter of Teresa and David Olio, and Sean Kelleher who were married on Sunday, April 4th in Elizabeth Park. 
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
John 20: 19-31

Holy God, be present with us this day for you have taken what we call an absurdity and turned it into possibility.  You have coaxed us to sing springtime alleluias where once there was only a gray dawn, and you have called us out of the tombs we inhabit into a future with hope.  We give thanks for gifts of hope and possibility, in the name of the Risen Christ. Amen.