January 28, 2016

News from First Congregational Church
an Open and Affirming Congregation of the United Church of Christ 


33 South High Street, Bridgton, Maine

Reading for the week: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

I have a word to share with you, and it doesn’t have much to do with the reading for the week, except that it brings an old television show to mind. If you watched The Gong Show you will remember that it was like American Idol except that acts faced elimination by the ringing of a gong at the back of the stage. I may be gonged before I finish. If you have read this in the Caller, you may ring the gong now.

Most of us have heard about “Jacob’s ladder” and we might even know a catchy tune about climbing that stairway to heaven. Jacob saw the ladder after coming to a comfortable spot and falling asleep with his head on a rock. In a dream, he saw heavenly beings going up and down the ladder and received a blessing from God. He woke up and exclaimed: How awesome is this place!

As I contemplate the ending of my interim time with you, I cannot find words any better than Jacob’s – How awesome is this place! In April, I will start full-time as the Associate Multifaith Chaplain at Bates College. My family is very excited that the word “interim” or “acting” is missing from this title. As my daughter Elena said, “you finally have a job that isn’t temporary!”

I love interim work for many reasons. It is a time when we are reminded to stop and look around. Before Jacob shouted “awesome!” he said, “Surely God is in this place and I did not know it!” That is the gift of an interim time. Like a racer who stops for a moment, we raise our heads, look around and find that we are surrounded by holy wonder. Soon, it will be time to “press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ,” (Philippians 3:14) but for now we look in amazement as the backdrop is revealed to be a work of surpassing beauty.

Thank you for inviting me to join you for a small part of the race. You have given me a blessing that will remain with me always. I am sorry to be leaving before the settled pastor comes, but I trust that God has great things in store. Surely, God is in this place. 

The Masonic Charitable Foundation of Maine is giving a $2,000 grant in helping worthy causes in local communities.  Our church was nominated and chosen as one among three non-profit organizations for District #16 to receive this award based on votes cast on the Charitable Foundation website.

PLEASE help us win by voting once a day through January 31st.
The website is:  www.masoniccharitablefoundation.org

Click on “Building our Community 2016†on the top.
Scroll down to District #16 and vote for the Bridgton Congregational Church. We know it says, Food pantry in South Bridgton but we called and it is our church.  If you click on the name, it takes you to our web site.  Click to fill in the little circle by the name and hit enter and you are done for the day.
You can vote once a day until Jan. 31st on each of your devices.  Monies received from this grant, if awarded, will be used to community service, ex. Thanksgiving Boxes, Adopt-A-Child, Community Kettle Dinners, etc.   Thank you.   

Fundraising Oversight Committee

Click here for the fundraising schedule for 2016.

Please prayerfully consider if a persistent still, small, voice (from God, not the Nominating Committee) is urging you to chair the Strawberry Breakfast or become involved with fundraising by sharing ideas or chairing an event.

Is the voice is still speaking? Talk to Judy Oberg, Cheryl Adrean or Cathy Finck. 

Dreaming of a trip to Disney? This may be your chance!
Scholarships from First Congregational and the UCC are available.

When: July 26-30, 2016

Opens January 6, 2016

Click Here for More Information

Under 40?  Share Your Thoughts #UCCVision
Calling all folks under the age of 40!  The United Church of Christ wants to hear from you.  What will a transformational church look like in 10 years?  What does the church look like at its very best?  Share your ideas by taking this survey. (Bouns:  Anyone who completes the survey has a chance to win an Ipad).
Help us spread the word by sharing this survey with your community.

Spiritual Growth

The Tuesday afternoon
Study and Prayer Group

Devotional or inspirational reading and prayer for our church family.

We are studying The Book of Awakening, Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the
Life You Have
 by Mark Nepo.

Thursdays 8:15-9:30
Bible Journeys
Lively, curious reading and conversation about what’s in the Bible, what’s not, and what it all means for the world today.

We will be starting a new book this Thursday, February 4th. It is Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi by Amy Jill Levine. â€œThis is probably the best book on parables available today: brief, informative, witty, and very interesting.” says Mark Allan Powell, editor of the HarperCollins Bible Dictionary.

All Are Welcome!

We Hold One Another
in Love  and in Prayer

Prayers of Comfort for. . .
Dale and Dennis Brown who are grieving the passing of Dale’s father, Robie G. Wagner, on December 23rd…The family of Wes Cannell who died on January 10th.

Prayers of Healing and Support for…
Deantha Warner who is in Boston and recovering well following a bone marrow transplant…Ken Rollins…Donna Coombs…Judy Ottley’s daughter Sherry Saucerman…Kim Elliott, the mother of three of Linda and Lonnie Lauer’s grandchildren, who is being treated for cancer…Marion Farabee…Dick and Barbara Mayo…Jo Faust…Jayne Hamaty’s sister-in-law, Becky Bean, who is fighting cancer.

Prayers of Courage and Support
for our friends on active duty in the Armed Forces, and their families…

Jordan Vigna…Russell Sanborn…Jimmy DeAngelo…Richard L. Gyure II…Steven Milton

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