Weekly Newsletter
Week of February 17th - February 23rd
Gilead Congregational Church, UCC

Meetings and Services this week:

Wednesday, February 17th:
-9:30 a.m. Bible Study on Zoom
-10:30 a.m. Book Discussion Group in the Fellowship Hall
-12:00 p.m. Ashes offered at Veteran's Memorial Park
-7:00 p.m. Ash Wednesday Service live-steamed on our Gilead Church Facebook Page and YouTube

Sunday, February 21st:
-10:00 a.m. Sunday Worship Service live-streamed on our Gilead Church Facebook Page and YouTube
-3:00 p.m. Confirmation Class Virtual Retreat
-4:00 p.m. Lenten Zoom Church
-6:00 p.m. Workshop on Resiliency for Families with Children

Monday, February 22nd:
-7:30 p.m. Board of Christian Education on Zoom

Tuesday, February 23rd:
-7:00 p.m. Lenten Zoom Church
God is Still Speaking
 About Us:

Reverend Dr. Denise Esslinger  
Interim Minister of Music:
Carol Geyer

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

Worship: 10:00 a.m. on Gilead Church Facebook Page

Gathered: 1748
Meeting House: 1838
Fellowship Hall: 2008
We are an Open & Affirming Church
Lent: Week 1
Weathering the Storms: Resiliency

Scripture: Matthew 4: 1-11
Tracy Mehr-Muska: “Resilience is a simple set of characteristics that can be continuously cultivated to enable people to be emotionally, cognitively, and spiritually prepared for and positively transformed by trauma, disappointment, and difficulty.”
Elizabeth Edwards:  “She stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails.”
Questions for Reflection:
In what ways have you experienced resiliency?
What keeps you from being resilient when the storms of life come?
Spirit of Intention, enable us to identify and cultivate resiliency.  Allow us to be open in mind and spirit to ways in which we can respond to challenging times in our lives.  Help us to never forget that you are always with us to weather the storms of life.  May we find our purpose and grow stronger in hardship.  Amen.  

Packets of our Lenten Prayers Cards, which include a card for each week during the Season of Lent, are available in the tub next to the Little Lending Library near the entrance from the parking lot. Each prayer card includes a scripture text, questions for reflection, along with a prayer. We invite you to come to get a packet to make use of on your Lenten journey. If you’d like a packet delivered, please call the Church office (860-228-3077). We’d be happy to get one to you!

Sunday Worship Live Streamed
Sunday, February 21st

This Sunday, February 21st we will worship at 10:00 a.m. via live stream only. We hope you will join us!

You will be able to watch 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.

We also want to let you know that the issues we were having with live streaming this past Sunday have been resolved. The issues were due to a software update that changed settings. We are learning and now know what to do if this ever should happen again.

Ashes on Ash Wednesday
Wednesday, February 17, 2021 from 12:00 p.m. until 1:00 p.m.

The Season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, which is today. All in the community who would like are invited to come to the Veteran’s Memorial Park (Wall Street, Route 316, Hebron) between noon and 1 p.m. to receive the imposition of ashes. The ashes are symbolic. They are a reminder of our morality as well as our need for God’s presence and forgiveness. Pastor Denise and Father Ron, from St. Peter's Episcopal Church will be present. Social distancing will be practiced and masks are mandatory.

Ash Wednesday Service
Wednesday, February 17, 2021 at 7:00 p.m.

We invite you to join us for a worship service this evening as we begin our Lenten journey. Our worship service will be live streamed.

We want to let you know that the issues we were having with live streaming this past Sunday have been resolved. The issues were due to a software update that changed settings. We are learning and now know what to do if this should ever happen again.

You will be able to watch 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.

As part of this service, we will be sharing Holy Communion together. Before the time of the service, you’re invited to prepare some bread, a slice or a small loaf of any kind of bread. Let it be something you alone or you with others in your house may break and share. Prepare a cup or cups of juice—perhaps grape or cranberry. Use whatever you have available, knowing that God makes the uncommon holy. On Wednesday evening, set these elements in the space where you experience worship electronically with our faith community. 

Lenten Zoom Church Gatherings

Our Board of Deacons invites you to gather with them on Zoom, during the Season of Lent, to revisit the theme of resiliency and weathering the storms of life. We'll be using the book "Weathering the Storm: Simple Strategies for Being Peaceful and Prepared" by Tracy Mehr-Muska as a guide. While it isn't necessary to read the book to join in the discussions, you can purchase the book on Amazon for $20. It you could use assistance in making this purchase, please contact our Church Office (860-228-3077).

There are three Zoom Church offerings (detailed below) and you are invited to join one of them by signing up via the link provided or you can also sign up by calling the Church Office (860-228-3077). The Zoom Churches will meet for 5 consecutive weeks during Lent.

Stephanie Haines will also be offering a single gathering on Sunday, February 21st from 6 to 7 p.m. which will be especially geared and focused on resiliency for families with children. At this gathering, the group will discuss whether they might like to continue to meet. Here's a link to sign up for this gathering: https://signup.com/go/rWqetHK.


Meeting Sunday afternoons from 4 to 5 p.m.
On February 21st, 28th and March 7th, 14th and 21st
Led by Amy Destine and Lynn Lukach

Meeting Tuesday evenings from 7 to 8 p.m.
On February 23rd, March 2nd, 9th, 16th and 23rd
Led by David Kline and Margot Sheehan

Meeting Wednesday afternoons from 3 to 4 p.m.
On February 24th, March 3rd, 10th, 17th and 24th
Led by Jon Kimball and Ginny Miller

Lenten Blessing Bags

Our Board of Christian Education has put together Lenten Blessing Bags for all of our church families with children in our Sunday school up though and including 8th grade. The Blessings Bags include a variety of activities and crafts for the Season of Lent including: dissolving paper on which you can write your confessions to God and watch them disappear, a list of activities to do throughout the month to show kindness, a cup, soil and seed to plant a seed of hope and watch it grow, a pinecone bird feeder, a heart art craft, a Matthew Path activity, Lenten prayer cards, and a make your own Palm Cross. The Blessing Bags are available for pick up in tubs outside of the double doors to the church from the parking lot. Each bag has a family name written on it. Any Blessing Bags not picked up by Sunday, February 21st will be delivered. We hope these bags will be a blessing and help you to prepare your lives during the Season of Lent for the hope and joy of Easter!
Give Up and Give Back - Easter Collection for HIHS

During this season of Lent, when many of us choose to give something up, our Board of Missions invites you to consider giving back to our community by collecting needed items for Hebron Interfaith Human Services.  We are collecting:

Food Items:
  • Green Beans
  • Apples or Oranges
  • Carrots
  • Cake Mix & Frosting
  • Vegetable Oil 
  •  Mayonnaise
  • Cheese & Crackers

  • Toilet Paper
  • Paper Towels
  • Body Wash
  • Shampoo/Conditioner
  • All Purpose Cleaner
  • Liquid Dish Soap

We invite you to consider putting together an entire bag containing all of these items or donate the items you can. Items can be brought to the church on Saturday, March 27th between 9 a.m. and noon when our Board of Missions will be assembling bags to deliver to Hebron Interfaith Human Services to distribute to families they serve before Easter. We’d also be happy to pick up your donations. Please call the Church Office (860-228-3077) to schedule a pick up. If you have any questions, please contact Dale Bland, Phyllis Kurz, or Bob Owens. Thank you!

Corn Hole Tournament

Join us on Friday, February 26th at 6:30 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall for a Corn Hole Tournament.. 
All levels are welcome. Youth in high school welcome when accompanied by an adult. Social distancing, masks, and all church safety protocols will be followed. Space is limited. Register via Sign Up Genius.
Please click on the below link to reserve your time slot:

Any questions, please contact Annette Langevin at Thelangevins@comcast.net or 860-228-1313.

Pastoral Transition Update

We’re happy to share that the Interim Selection Committee has been formed and we will be meeting with our Area Conference Minister on Thursday, February 25th. 
Interim Selection Committee members include: Jim Burgess from Trustees, Phyllis Kurz from Board of Missions, Bruce Langevin who’s on Stewardship and is also a Sunday School Teacher, and Sarah Cohen representing the young adults in our congregation, along with Jon Kimball and Ginny Miller from our Board of Deacons. Ginny and Jon are co-chairing this Committee, so please feel free to contact them with any questions or thoughts you may have. Thank you!

COVID-19 Vaccine Update and Information

The state is currently in phase 1b of the vaccine roll out and is currently offering the vaccine to:

  • Individuals 65 years of age and older

Scheduling information coming soon (likely March):
Frontline essential workers 
Individuals with an underlying medical condition with increased risk for severe illness 

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.

"Planting Seeds of Hope" Stewardship Update
Each week, as part of our stewardship update, we'll be sharing photos of our Church members and friends from our "Planting Seeds of Hope" campaign. Pictured above is the Hand family --
Kacie, Mark and Cassidy.

We also want to thank everyone who has returned their 2021 "Planting Seeds of Hope" pledge card. We have received 115 pledge cards totaling $224,920. Our pledge goal is $289,282, so we still have $64,362 to go to meet our goal.

If you haven't yet returned your 2021 pledge card, we ask you to return it to the Church soon. You can mail your pledge card to the church (672 Gilead St, Hebron CT 06248) or drop it off in the bucket on the porch door of the Parish House at any time.

We give thanks always, but even more especially in these days, for the seeds you so generously plant in so many ways as part of our community of faith.   

The Stewardship Committee, 
Mark Bierbaum, Lisa Cox (Co-Chair), Charles Daniels, Lauren Henry (Co-Chair), and Bruce Langevin

Hearts of Hope
To benefit the AHM Community Mental Health Fund

During the month of February, join us in the spirit of community to keep spreading HOPE by placing a heart of H❤️PE in a window.

Hearts (pictured below) are available to pick up in tubs at AHM Youth and Family Services, Ted’s Supermarket, Ace Hardware, Andover Public Library, Douglas Library, Richmond Memorial Library, Gilead Congregational Church, UCC, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Church of the Holy Family and St. Columba’s Church.  

Our goal is not only to keep spreading H❤️PE, but also to support the mental health of our communities by raising funds for AHM’s Community Mental Health Fund.  During this pandemic there have been many challenges, and one of them has been the strain on our mental health. The AHM Community Mental Health Fund was started to support the mental health of children, youth and families in our communities by making financial assistance available for those in need.

As Mr. Rogers said, “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting and less scary.” There are times in all of our lives when we can benefit from mental health support and we hope you will access resources for support, when needed, like those available at AHM Youth & Family Services.

We’re asking, in exchange for a heart and as a sign of H❤️PE, that you will go on-line and make at least a $10 donation to AHM Youth & Family Services to support the Community Mental Health Fund. You can do this by going to https://ahmyouth.org/make-a-donation/ and designating the “Community Mental Health/Hearts of Hope” as the recipient. If you can consider donating more than $10, please do. Thank you!

As of Friday, February 12th our Hearts of Hope campaign has raised $1,820 for the AHM Community Mental Health Fund. Thanks to everyone who has supported this campaign. Our goal is to raise $2,500 so we invite you, if you haven't already, to join us in this effort!

If you have any questions, please contact Patrick Fagan, Sandy Hooker, Laurie Larsen or Pastor Denise who are part of our Board of Missions Impoverished Children's Subcommittee and leading this campaign.

The photo below is from Sandy Waldo. Thank you, Sandy!
Sally to Retire!

Sally Fritsche has shared with our Board of Trustees that she will be retiring as our Administrative Assistant at the end of April after 19 years! We are so grateful to Sally for all the years she has been with us and for her professionalism, kindness, and grace. We’ve watched with joy as her children grew from elementary school age students to now young adults with one working in the field of nursing and the other in medical school. We will miss Sally and wish her all the best in the next chapter in her life. 

Given Sally’s retirement, we are also looking to fill this position. Given the time of transition in the life of our church, we are looking for someone to serve as our Interim Administrative Assistant for the next approximately 18 to 24 months.  It is 16-20 hours a week with flexibility and it is paid hourly. Responsibilities include: providing administrative support to the pastor and boards and committees of the church, communication and record keeping, coordinating the use of our church buildings, and ordering supplies. If you are interested in learning more or applying for this position, please contact Barry MacLachlan, Chairperson of our Board of Trustees (860 604-0963‬) or Pastor Denise (860-228-3077).  Deadline for receiving resumes is February 28th.

Youth Group Valentine Delivery

Members of our Youth Group made Valentine's Day cards and sweet treats to share with some of our members and friends. Pictured below are Gage and Tucker Haines as they get ready to make a Valentine delivery.
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.

AHM Free Self-Care Video Library

AHM Health Matters is offering a free self-care video library. Videos are being added every week for the next four weeks. The videos reflect what we are experiencing as a community and the resiliency we exhibit during such a trying time. For more information, please click on the below link:
Laundry Detergent Drive for Hebron Interfaith Human Services

The Confirmation Class of 2021 needs your help! We are coordinating a laundry detergent drive for Hebron Interfaith Human Services, and we are looking for donations of laundry detergent. Donations can be placed outside the main entrance to the Church, and will be brought to Hebron Interfaith Human Services once a week. You can also call the Church Office at 860-228-3077 and we can arrange to pick up your donations. Donations will be collected through the month of February. If you have any questions, please contact Anna Parker at parkerhorse@icloud.com. Thank you!
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 discussing Ash Wednesday texts. 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). 


Our Church family expresses its deepest sympathies to the family of Bea Anderson on her recent death and especially to her children, Bill, Jane and Barbara.

Our Church family also expresses it deepest sympathies to the family of Mary Porter, especially her children, Janice, Judy and Mike, on her recent death.

Thank Yous

To Everyone who thought of me on Valentine's Day,

A BIG thank you for the goodies and Valentine's Day cards!

Maralyn Porter
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 to be determined.

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 Readings and Prayer for the Week
Genesis 9: 8-17 and Mark 1: 9-15

Covenant God, we thank you for your presence with us, even in wilderness times and when the storms of life come.  Be with us and guide us this day and in the forty days of Lent.  Help us to see your presence and to hear your voice again directing us to the places of preparation and transformation in our lives and in our world.  Amen.
Contact Info
Sally Fritsche
Administrative Assistant
672 Gilead St
Hebron, Ct  06248
Office Hours: Our Administrative Assistant, Sally Fritsche, will be in the Parish House Office on Mondaymornings from 8:00 a.m. - Noon. She will be working from home on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings from 8:00 a.m. - noon.. She is available for assistance via email (gcc@gileadchurch.net).