First Congregational Church
Weekly Newsletter
Dear Church Friends,

We are living in a rapidly changing environment right now. If you had asked me only forty-eight hours ago if I would consider suspending church services, I would have given you a smile and a resounding “no”. But this global crisis is precipitously escalating and to put it simply, things are getting real.

Our church leadership team—the officers of the Church Council and I—considered carefully our situation and upon the advice of the UCC Conference office, have made the decision to suspend all church services and almost all use of the church building though March 29. All cancellations are listed below.  Please click on the link for UCC to read the helpful response of our Conference Ministers.

Suspending worship services seems unthinkable and yet, at the same time, it makes perfect sense. If we are to prevent the spread of COVID19, one thing is clear, we must create some distance from one another.  

We are people of faith who believe that God is with us wherever we are. And although we are accustomed to seeing each other every Sunday morning in our lovely sanctuary, we will be apart for a while. But we will only be apart physically. We will unite in pray--praying for better times.

I will be sending out a video sermon and bulletin on Sunday mornings and a “fireside chat” on Wednesdays. Watch your email! Call, email or text me or the church office with any needs. You can also simply say hello and let me know how you are doing.

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household. Ephesians 2:19.

See You Soon,
Reverend Jane
Event Cancellations and Postponements
  • Men's Lenten Breakfast - Cancelled
  • Confirmation Classes and Service - Postponed until May/June
  • Yoga - Check with Janet for possible different location
  • Middle School Youth Group March 22nd - Cancelled
  • Lenten Drama Rehearsals and Performance - Postponed
  • Choir Rehearsal - Cancelled
  • All committee meetings being held 3/13 thru 3/29 will have to be rescheduled
Easter Lilies
The Flower Committee invites you to donate a lily this Easter in memory or honor of a loved one.
NOTE: As service will not be held for the next few weeks, please email the office with your information. The asking donation to cover the cost is $25/each.

After the Easter service, please take a lily home with you to enjoy or to share.
Adult Lenten Opportunities
Cancelled
Men's Lenten Breakfast 
Saturday, March 14th 
9 AM in Fellowship Hall
Guest Speaker - Monsignor Stephen Pedone

All the pancakes you can eat!
Lenten Book Study
White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
by Robin DiAngelo

The New York Times best-selling book explores assumptions about race and how these assumptions maintain racial inequality. Copies will be available at worship or use the Amazon link.

Three sessions will be offered
Sign up for the one that works the best with your schedule

Tuesday March 31st at noon
bring a brown bag lunch
Wednesday  April 1st 6-7 PM
Thursday, April 2nd 6-7 PM

Discussion groups will be held in the parlor
Easter Peace Yoga
Save the Date!
Easter Peace Yoga
Saturday, April 4th
9:30 - 10:30
Fellowship Hall
Staying Healthy
 (The following information is summarized from the CDC website CDC.gov and from the Mass Dept of Public Health  mass.gov )
Connie Nichols, MD
How does a church respond to infectious diseases? Well we should be responding every year to the flu as it is a contagious, sometimes fatal infectious disease. 

All the press about Covid-19 infection is leading to some panic and I hope to provide some basic information because that is how you overcome panic and fear.
Mission Moment
Thanking VIND and the volunteers, he said, "You have changed my life!"

Recovery is challenging enough for people with means, but hundreds—including people with fixed incomes, the ill, elderly, and disabled—simply lack the resources to rebuild on their own.

With generous contributions to One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS), the United Church of Christ with the help of volunteer work teams from around the country, who have given thousands of hours, have restored close to 200 homes.

A 70-year-old disabled Navy veteran said, “Having a roof that was leaky and falling in was very difficult for me. I did not know what I would do.” His Volusia County, Florida, home lost most of the roof’s shingles to Hurricane Irma’s winds (2017). The storm opened the way to major leaks, which destroyed much of the ceiling in the main living area and bedroom.

UCC Disaster Ministries partnered with Volusia Interfaiths/Agencies Networking in Disaster (VIND) to help the most vulnerable disaster survivors.
VIND helped the veteran obtain a loan to pay for a new roof and deployed a volunteer work team from Altoona (Pennsylvania) United Church of Christ to complete the interior repairs in his home.

“The volunteers … did it with such love and compassion, taking the job under their wings and making it perfect,” the veteran said. “My health was deteriorating due to breathing in particles and debris from the water damage in my home, but it is improving now. I have a new outlook and I am no longer depressed.” Thanking VIND and the volunteers, he said, “You have changed my life.”

Needs are being met in Florida with support from OGHS. Volunteer work teams, a construction supervisor, and over two dozen UCC congregations have volunteered to help repair homes.
OGHS envelopes are available in the pew racks through March 22nd
or try the Pushpay App! Just select the OGHS option
Stewardship Quotes & Scriptures
"Life is wasted if we do not grasp the glory of the cross, cherish it for the treasure that it is, and cleave to it as the highest price of every pleasure and the deepest comfort in every pain. What was once foolishness to us—a crucified God—must become our wisdom and our power and our only boast in this world.” -  John Piper
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” First Peter 4:10
Sr & Middle School
Youth Group

Upcoming Events
March 22nd:  Middle School Youth Group 4-5:30 pm - CANCELLED

Please let the office know if you are not receiving Youth Group emails and would like to.
Christian Education
This Week in Sunday School

PreK through 8 th grade:
We need a miracle people!

It starts with one boy, sharing his lunch. Sharing helps God provide for all people!

Get your One Great Hour of Sharing* coin box – collect and earn coins to help others. When everyone gives a little, many are served. This is the miracle of giving.

OGHS Boxes due back in Church on March 22nd

~ Come to Sunday School – It takes everyone to make a miracle! ~
6 Weeks of "Doing Lent" for kids
Week 3:
Reflection – It’s not about me...
 
It’s a constant dilemma we all face – why should I do it, if it’s not going to benefit me?

Jesus instructed us to love God, and love others the way we want to be loved. With the world in a constantly changing situation evolving around unknown and emerging health and economic concerns, Jesus’ instruction is more important than ever. Right here and now, we can love and care for others by following common sense precautions to not expose others to potential sickness. Put others first!  This might mean cancelling plans, staying home or giving up activities. Not easy – not fun. These are not easy or fun times.  What do you think Jesus is saying to us today?

Action – Counting “the others”
Find a jar, and some slips of paper. Settle into your happy place.  Breathe deeply and ask God to help you name the people you know who need a prayer. By naming them, you are praying for them! Think especially of your older family and friends, and people you know who are sick. Name friends who are having a hard time. Now add a prayer for the “unknown” others. You don’t know these people. You may have heard a news story about them. They are refugees, or homeless, or going to jail. Write names on the slips of paper, and store them in the jar. Keep the jar by your happy place to remind you to pray for others this week.

Scripture – Philippians 2:3-4  ( Parents, explanations might be needed to teach the hard words)
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.  Let each of you look not to your own interests but to the interests of others.
Special Presentation - Sunday April 5th
Come find out what Be Like Brit organization is all about! Presentation immediately following service. Grab a coffee or juice and join us in Fellowship Hall.
Children's Offerings to benefit Be Like Brit - basket located in back of Sanctuary
Lenten Drama
All Rehearsals and Performance will be
postponed until further notice
Performance
Sunday, March 29th
11:30 am

This year's blockbuster
Words to the Wise
 Rehearsal starts approximately 11:15
(directly after Children's Choir)
Rehearsals are on Sundays, with one Saturday Dress Rehearsal
March 15th
March 22nd
Saturday, March 28th 10 - noon Dress Rehearsal
March 29th - Showtime! 11:30
Upcoming Events
Men' Lenten Breakfast - Saturday, March 14th 9:00 am
Fellowship Hall - CANCELLED

Confirmation Sunday - March 22nd 10 am Service - POSTPONED

Middle School Youth Group - Sunday, March 22nd 4:00 - 5:30 pm - CANCELLED

Lenten Drama - Sunday, March 29th Fellowship Hall 11:30 - POSTPONED

Lenten Book Study - Tuesday, March 31st Noon - Bring a bag lunch
Wednesday April 1st or Thursday, April 2nd 6 - 7 pm - Parlor

Be Like Brit Presentation - Sunday, April 5th - 11:00 Fellowship Hall

Maundy Thursday  - April 9th 7:00 pm. Experience a Meditative Labyrinth, 6:30 pm in the chapel, hosted by 7/8th grade. The labyrinth will be followed by a Candlelight Tenebrae Service at 7:30 pm

Children visit/volunteer at Be Like Brit Operations Center Wednesday, April 22nd 
9:30-12:30 pm

Teacher Appreciation Evening - Saturday, May 2nd
Stay tuned for more details 
Calendar
This Week's Events and Meetings
All activities and meetings are cancelled
Sunday 3/15
Children's Choir Rehearsal 11:00 - 11:30
Lenten Drama Rehearsal 11:15 - 12:00
Building & Grounds Meeting 11:30
Confirmation - FH 3:00 - 4:00
Wednesday 3/18
Knitting - Parlor 7:00
Thursday, 3/19
Adult Choir Rehearsal 7:00 - 9:00
Saturday, 3/21
Yoga - Chapel 8:00
To avoid any conflict, please notify the office of any meetings or activities
to be added to the calendar. Thank you!
Music
All Rehearsals are cancelled until further notice
Adult Choir Rehearsals

Thursday evenings
7:00 - 9:00 pm

If you or anyone you know is interested in joining the choir, please let Steve know
All are welcome!!! 
Children's Choir Rehearsal


March 15th
11:00 - 11:30
Rehearsal in Chapel

March 22nd
11:00 - 11:30
Rehearsal in Chapel


Cancelled
Confirmation Class
Sunday, March 15th
3:00 - 4:00
Fellowship Hall
 

Email Rev. Jane below with any questions
First Congregational Church
1 Church Street, Paxton, MA 01612
508-756-2818