Weekly Newsletter
Week of September 16th - September 22nd
Gilead Congregational Church, UCC
Meetings and Services this week:

Wednesday, September 16th:
-8:30 a.m. Hunger Action Team on Zoom
-10:00 a.m. Bible Study on Zoom

Thursday, September 17th:
-7:00 p.m. Council on Zoom

Sunday, September 20th:
-9:00 a.m. Summer Sunday Worship Service in the Garden of Remembrance and live-streamed on our Gilead Church Facebook Page
-10:00 a.m. Stewardship Committee
-7:00 p.m. Youth Group Kick Off Meeting on Zoom

Monday, September 21st:
-7:30 p.m. Board of Christian Education on Zoom
God is Still Speaking
 About Us:

Reverend Dr. Denise Esslinger  
Minister of Music:
Danielle Hoehn

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

Summer Worship: 9:00 a.m.

Gathered: 1748
Meeting House: 1838
Fellowship Hall: 2008
We are an Open & Affirming Church
Sunday Worship Live Streamed and in Garden of Remembrance

This Sunday, September 20th, we will be gathering for worship outdoors in our Garden of Remembrance at 9:00 a.m., weather permitting.

On this Sunday, we will be kicking off our All Church Theme for this year, which is "Planting Seeds of Hope" and dedicating our Little Lending Library. Every family present will receive a copy of "I Am Human" (featured below) which will be shared during the service and also a special book mark based on our theme designed by Sandy Waldo. There will also be a sweet treat to enjoy. We hope you will be with us for this special service!

If you plan on attending outdoor worship this Sunday, the Deacons ask you to sign up by clicking on the following link: 

We ask everyone to sign up including those who will be serving as Ushers, Deacons, or in any other way for our service. We would like to have an idea of how many will be attending for spacing purposes as well as to keep a list, which hopefully will never be needed, for contact tracing purposes.

On Sunday, please enter the Garden of Remembrance via the arbor where a Deacon will welcome you and check you in. Your name will be added to the list if you didn't sign up ahead of time.

Know that live streaming of our worship services will continue for those who don't feel comfortable attending and prefer to worship with us at home. You can connect with our service on our Gilead Church Facebook page at http://tinyurl.com/GileadChurchUCC. Following the service, it will be posted to the site, so you can view it at any time.

If weather should be inclement, an email will be sent out via our weekly e-newsletter distribution list and also posted on our Church's Facebook page at least one hour prior to the service time. Worship, in this case, will be live streamed only and we invite you to join us from home. 

For those wishing to attend the outdoor service, please read the below protocols established by our Deacons.

Protocols for Outdoor Worship
1)   Participation will be limited to 150 people in the Garden of Remembrance.

2) All are asked to enter the Garden via the main (arbor) entrance. Those attending will be asked to sign up prior and will checked in by an usher. If you are unable to sign up prior, you will be asked to share your name and contact number with the usher prior to being seated. This is to keep an accurate record of people in attendance, if needed, for contact tracing. An usher will then walk you (at a distance) to your space to sit and will provide hand sanitizer, if desired, prior to entering the worship area.

3) Participants are asked NOT to attend if they have any of the following symptoms:
·      Fever above 100.4
·      Cough or respiratory distress
·      Sneezing
·      Headache
·      Runny nose
·      Diarrhea
·      Nausea
·      Sore Throat
·      Chills
·      If anyone in the house has tested positive for COVID-19

4) Participants are asked to bring your own chairs or blankets to sit on. Face masks are required for the entire service. Face masks will be provided, if needed.  Participants must remain 6-10 feet apart from non-family members at all times.

5) After the service, you are asked to exit the garden via the parking lot side of the garden and maintain 6-10 feet from non-family members.  

6) No singing, joining in unison prayers, Communion or offering plate will be shared or passed at the service. On Communion Sundays (first Sundays of the month), you are asked to bring your own Communion. Deacons will provide Communion packets for those who desire them. A basket will be available at the entrance to the Garden for offerings. There will also be no summer Sunday school or coffee hour.
7) The worship bulletin will be emailed prior to the service. Please feel free to print out your own copy of the service. A limited number of bulletins will be available at the service as well. These should be taken home after the service.

8) If severely inclement weather is expected, notification will be sent via email and on our Facebook page at least one hour prior to the scheduled service time.

9) All services will continue to be live-streamed on our Facebook page for those who prefer to stay home or for when there is inclement weather.

10) The church building will be closed and bathrooms will be not be available. The worship service will typically be 45-50 minutes.  

If you have any questions, concerns or input to share please contact our Deacons (Amy Huhn, Jon Kimball, David Kline, Jim Ledbetter, Kate McClaine, Teresa Olio, Gary Sarra, Margot Sheehan, and Doug Stewart) or Pastor Denise. Thank you!

Gilead Church Lending Library
"Planting Seeds of Hope"

We are very pleased our Gilead Lending Library is being used and enjoyed! We are highlighting and reviewing one of our children's books each week. This week we are featuring:

"I Am Human"
by Susan Verde
Illustrated by
Peter H. Reynolds

You are a unique human being with hopes and dreams, challenges and possibilities! As we go through life we make mistakes, we are sometimes not kind to others. Sometimes we are sad or fearful. All of these feelings and behaviors are part of what makes us human. We can learn to make good and loving choices. We can act with compassion to all the people around. We can be connected to the great world around us! This book is for children of all ages who want to be a better human.
Books are located in our new Lending Library. There still remains a tub near the Lending Library for books when they are “returned." When books are “returned," they will be sanitized and put back into the Lending Library. There will also be sanitizing wipes available by the tubs for you to use.

If you have any questions, please feel free to speak with Lynn Lukach, Margot Sheehan or Pastor Denise.  

Youth Group Kick-Off Zoom Meeting
Sunday, September 20, 2020 at 7:00 p.m.

Our Youth Group will kick off this year with a meeting on Sunday, September 20th at 7 p.m. on Zoom. All youth in 7th grade and higher and friends are invited to be part of our Youth Group and join us for this meeting. 

To connect to this meeting, join us on Zoom at: 

Our hope is to check in with everyone and also to hear about your hopes and dreams for the year ahead. While we will currently have limitations due to COVID-19, we want to hear your creative ideas as we think outside the box on ways we can still safely join together in fellowship and service during the school year ahead.  

If you have any questions about Youth Group, please feel free to contact one of our Advisors: Jeff Brown, Brian and Heidi Byrne, Karen Cohen, Becky Cook, Brad Franzese, Britta Hansen, Todd Helweg, Jaime McKinley, Sue Parker, Karen Risley and Pastor Denise.

Bible Study on Zoom

Our weekly Bible study, led be Rev. Bob Woodward, meets on Wednesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. on Zoom.  The group is exploring and discussing the book of Exodus. The book of Exodus, the second book in the Bible, is about the people of God’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt, their wandering in the wilderness on their way to the promised land, and God’s presence with them. It is a relevant and appropriate book for the times we are living in, which can sometimes feel like wilderness times. All are invited and welcome to join this discussion and study. Come when you can! To join, click on the this link at 10 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). 

37th Annual Foodshare Walk Against Hunger
Virtual Walk - September 13th - 19th

We know that the issue of hunger is big, but thankfully, our community is bigger. Please step up to the plate and help make an impact on hunger in Greater Hartford by donating to the 37th Annual Foodshare Walk Against Hunger.

Your support will provide immediate relief for families struggling with hunger. It will also support long-term efforts to promote health, stabilize lives and address underlying issues that contribute to hunger. Last year alone, Foodshare was able to provide enough food for more than 11 million meals to help our friends and neighbors in Greater Hartford. One-third of that food was fresh produce, giving families healthy options. In supporting the Foodshare Walk Against Hunger, you will allow this important work to continue.

The Gilead Church is supporting the ACHM Hunger Action Team. If you would like to join the team or support the team, please go to the following link and look for Denise Esslinger as Team Captain:

GCC Facebook Group

We are excited to announce the creation of a GCC Facebook group called Gilead Congregational Church – Members and Friends. Unlike our public Gilead Church Facebook page, where we post our live streams, this group will be private for Gilead Church members, their families and friends of the Church. We hope it becomes a place where we can share GCC news, events, prayer requests, discussions about sermon themes and other topics.  While anyone can find the group on Facebook, they have to be approved first by one of the Administrators to join. Once you become a member you can post content and photos. You can find the group by searching on the name in Facebook or click on the link to go directly to the group and select Join Group. 

If anyone has any ideas about using this group or has suggestions for topics or other content, please contact Lisa Cox at coxlm@comcast.net or 860-916-6814. 

Gilead Helping Hands (GHH) Roofing Project

This past weekend members of GHH completed a roofing project at the Karahja's. We also celebrated and gave thanks to Mark Tierney for his leadership of GHH over these past years. Mark and Lorraine have moved to New Hampshire and we wish them both God's blessings in retirement and this new chapter in their lives!
Worship Service Times

Our worship services will continue at 9:00 a.m. through the month of September. On Sunday, October 4th, we will move to worship at 10:00 a.m. Our hope is to continue to worship outdoors in our Garden of Remembrance for as long as weather allows. Our Deacons are starting to make plans for moving worship indoors in the future. More information to come on this. Know that our worship services will continue to be live streamed every Sunday on our Gilead Church Facebook page. Services are also posted on the page so you can view them at any time.

Tech Team Members Needed

As we are learning new things about what it means for us to be the Church in these days, we know that we will continue to live-stream our worship services for the long-term. We also want to continue to find ways to make better use of technology in order to keep us connected and to share the good news of God’s love. To do this, we could really use the help of folks who are willing to assist with our live-streaming on Sunday mornings. Training can be provided, but audio/visual experience a plus. We also can use folks who love technology and are willing to help us explore various platforms and how we can utilize them for our mission and ministries. If you’re willing to help in either or both of these capacities, please contact Lisa Cox at coxlm@comcast.net or (860) 916-6814‬. Thank you!

Face Masks Available

We wanted to share that we have some child size face masks available. They will be available in a basket on Sunday mornings or you are welcome to contact the Church Office at 860-228-3077 or gcc@gileadchurch.net. 

Some lanyards are also available on which the elastic of the mask can be hooked. This way masks can be removed without the risk of losing or dropping them. The lanyards are “breakaway," which means they will release by simply pulling the neck latch apart.

We also continue to have adults masks too. They are available on Sunday mornings too or by contacting the Church Office.

Annual Reports Due
Sunday, September 27, 2020

A reminder to Board and Committee Chairs that Annual Reports are due to Sally (gcc@gileadchurch.net) by Sunday, September 27th. If you are unable to meet this deadline, please contact Sally. Thank you!   

Donation Drive

The Windham County Reentry Council is holding a donation drive supporting those recently released from incarceration and individuals who are survivors of Human Trafficking or at risk for Human Trafficking. One of our members, Jeff Haines, volunteers with this group and they are in great need of the following items: snacks, water bottles, Gatorade bottles, travel size hand sanitizer, face masks, Chapstick, cough drops, mini first aid kits, and travel sized toiletries. We will be collecting these items through the end of September. A designated plastic bin is located outside of the double door entry to the Church for your donations. Thank you!

Church Keys

We wanted to share that we are very low on our supply and Church keys. Church keys are given out to those serving our Church with the understanding that the keys will be returned when one's term of service ends. The keys for our Church are custom keys, which means they are expensive and need to be special ordered. Sally will be reaching out to those with Church keys who are not currently serving on a Board or Committee to arrange for a return time. If you'd like to reach out to Sally, you can reach her at gcc@gileadchurch.net or (860) 228-3077. Thank you for your understanding!

Lord's Bounty II Cookbooks

Our Women's Fellowship continues to sell copies of their Gilead Church Lord's Bounty II Cookbooks. If you'd like a copy, please contact Margaret Gibbs at 860-384-4327. She will deliver! Cook books are only $10 each and make a wonderful gift. Also, Margaret will be selling cookbooks on Sunday, September 27th before and after the worship service. People can also drive by to get one after the service ends at 10:00 a.m. Cookbooks will be placed on a table and there will be a basket for people to put their $10 in. Checks can made payable to Gilead Church Women’s Fellowship.

Neighbors in Need (NIN)
Sunday, October 4, 2020

NIN is a special mission offering of our denomination, the United Church of Christ, that supports ministries of justice and compassion throughout the United States. One-third of NIN funds support the Council for American Indian Ministry (CAIM). Two-thirds of this offering is used by the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries (JWM) to support a variety of justice initiatives, advocacy efforts, and direct service projects through grants. Neighbors in Need grants are awarded to UCC churches and organizations doing justice work in their communities. These grants fund projects whose work ranges from direct service to community organizing and advocacy to address systemic injustice. This year, funds from the NIN offering were gathered with other sources to form a COVID-19 relief fund to support local congregations and their ministries during this unprecedented time. To contribute to this year's NIN offering, which will be formally received on October 4th, please make a check payable to the Gilead Congregational Church with NIN noted in the memo. You can mail your contribution to the church or place it in the offering basket as you enter the Garden of Remembrance for worship. Also, for the NIN offering you can make donations via the GivePlus mobile app and you can also give on-line at ucc.org.  

Blessing of Animals
Sunday, October 4, 2020 at 1:00 p.m.

Join us on Sunday, October 4th at 1:00 p.m. for a service of Blessing of Animals in our Garden of Remembrance. Bring your pet along for this special service to receive a blessing. (Rain date is Sunday, October 18th at 1:00 p.m.) Humans who attend are asked to wear face masks and practice social distancing.

Ending Hunger One (Virtual) Step at a Time
CROP Walk - Sunday, October 4, 2020

Please plan on joining us for our annual "walk to end hunger".  This year’s walk - the 29th year for our local walk - will, like most things in life this year, be a bit different. We’re going for a virtual walk this year, with registration and donations online and walkers getting to chose where they walk. All money raised by walkers will go to Church World Service's international hunger relief programs and to our local food bank. We will miss the community and joy of walking together - and the pot luck dinner - but we will walk because the need is greater than ever. Our CROP Walk is sponsored jointly by the Congregational Churches of Andover, Columbia and Gilead. Donate to support our walk team or register to walk at www.crophungerwalk.org/columbiact . Donations can also be mailed to the church or dropped off at the Parish House (please make checks out to CWS/CROP). Contact Phyllis Kurz (860-228-2469) or Bob Owens (860-228-9541) for more info.  

Also, there is a Sunday School curriculum resource on the Cropwalk website offering children many hands-on activities. You can access this resource by clicking on the following link:
Hebron Interfaith Human Services Needs Volunteers

Hebron Interfaith Human Services would like to add more volunteers to their schedule. Volunteers must be able to lift 30-50 pounds and be on their feet continuously for at least 2 hours. Volunteers need to commit to a set schedule of once a week or once every other week. Volunteer opportunities are: Tuesday 12-3 (2 people), Tuesday 3:30-6:30 (2 people), Thursday 12-3 (2 people), Thursday 3:30-6:30 (1 person), Friday 9-12 (3 people), Friday 12-3 (2 people) and Friday 3:00-6:00 (2 people). Training will be provided. Also, masks and gloves will be available to those who want/need them.  Interested people can send a text to Christa Goodwin-Babka at 860-573-0813.  

Foodshare's Drive-Thru Food Distribution - Volunteers Needed! 

We have an immediate need for Volunteers! Each Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in September we could use up to 30 volunteers at Foodshare’s Drive-Thru Food Distribution at Rentschler Field, East Hartford. With many summer volunteers going back to school and others now working we need your help in recruiting more volunteers.

At Rentschler, the volunteer’s day begins at 8:00 am and goes through 12:30 pm. Social distancing will be enforced. Every volunteer will be expected to wear a mask, and wear sturdy, comfortable closed-toe shoes. Gloves will be provided.  Don't forget your sun screen lotion! As an additional screening tool, volunteers' temperatures will be taken on site.  Children ages 12-15 must volunteer with an adult/guardian; ages 16 and over can come on their own. Must be able to lift 20 pounds consistently during the 4.5 hour shift. Water and break times are provided.

Register to Volunteer at Rentschler Field:
Individuals – can sign up online at Foodshare’s VolunteerHub – listed as Produce Sorting – (Pop-Up Produce) - E. Hartford
VolunteerHub will list the number of volunteer slots that remain open on a specific day, if filled, please check another date.
Corporate Groups – are welcome, please call Edna Bailey at 860-856-4326
Baptism Congratulations 

This past Sunday, September 13th, John Cooper Forbes, son of Karen (Hooker) and Graham Forbes was baptized during worship. Proud grandparents are Sandy and Jack Hooker. Welcome Cooper to our Church family!
Church Office Hours and Protocols 

Sally, our Church’s Administrative Assistant, is in the Church Office on Monday and Wednesday mornings from 8 a.m. to noon. She will continue to work from home on Tuesday 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. Denise will generally be in the Church Office on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings although her schedule varies with meetings and visits. Please feel free to call or email her at the Church Office if you’d like to set up a meeting.  

Thank Yous

Dear Church Members,

I would like to donate to the maintenance of your beautiful Remembrance Garden behind your church. I was so sad one day-my mom had died of Covid-19-and I came across your cross by the cornfield-and it lead me to the garden. What a special place! I'm thankful for my time there.

With my best,
Ann Hadley


I wanted to send a brief note to thank you for the beautiful service memorializing my dad in the Gilead Church Garden of Remembrance. It meant so much to my family and I to have you lead the service, and it brought meaning and peace to us after losing him to Covid 19. I also want to thank the congregation for all of their prayers, cards, messages and calls. Knowing we are a part of such a loving and thoughtful church family sustains us, especially when we grieve. Thank you all so much and may God continue to hold you in God’s loving embrace as we have been held during our time of grief and sadness.


Mark Hand
Scripture Reading and Prayer for the Week
Matthew 13: 31-32

Abundant God, your words of life are cast upon the earth with a generous hand and a hopeful heart.  May your word take root in our lives this day as we seek to grow deeper in your way.  Help us to bear the fruit of your justice, righteousness, and love.  We ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.
Contact Info
Sally Fritsche
Administrative Assistant
672 Gilead St
Hebron, Ct  06248
Office Hours: Our Administrative Assistant, Sally Fritsche, will be working from home. She is available for assistance via email (gcc@gileadchurch.net).