THE BEACON LIGHT
First Congregational Church of Riverhead
An Open and Affirming United Church of Christ
103 First Street Riverhead, New York 11901
Good Summertime Greetings to all,
There have been a number of things that have caught my attention of late, and as I get to parsing them out, it occurs to me how easy it is to go negative: Friends, family, and even ourselves get mean diagnoses, infection rates rise again in most of our country, buildings collapse because of shoddy engineering and a faulty safety systems, draught, heat waves, and wild fires threaten the lives of millions of people, many healthy trees and swaths of grass are plowed out and replaced by a cement lake (in our own backyard!), and even American flags become symbols that divide rather than unite. The list continues. There never seems to be a shortage of sorry news.
Yet again, and again, I pause and take a deep breath, take in God, and strive to do what I can to counter the negative. I look to the hope and even to the pellucid realities of these days that brightly deny the destructive negativity of its bite. And they are there in our midst.
On July 3rd, the day before we gathered in church and celebrated the 4th together, the NY Times ran an article entitled, "A Fourth of July Symbol of Unity That May No Longer Unite." It featured a Southold farmer, Peter Triber Jr., who painted a large American flag on his potato truck to attract attention and call people in to his fresh greenmarket. As it turned out, the flag was taken by some to suggest a mean conservatism of radical political leanings. One customer, after realizing such wasn't the case, told him, "Oh, whew. You know, I wasn’t so sure about you, I thought you were some flag-waving something-or-other.” “That’s why she was apprehensive of interacting with me,” he said. And he paused to add, "It was a little sad to me. It shows the dichotomy of the country that a flag can mean that. That I had to think, ‘Do I need to reconsider having that out there?” The article struck home with me because I knew it to point to a mean and true divide.
But in church on the Fourth of July, as we sang "America the Beautiful" and "My Country 'Tis of Thee," I witnessed a proud nationalism that shined bright with unity that was capped with communion and warm hearts of a diverse people truly together in celebration for who we are as Americans, as Christians.
Similarly, with the other news of these days, I endeavor to focus on the good that is and will be. The vaccines have gone far to keep us safe and to allow us to reopen and even break bread together again. Medicines and medical treatments have and continue to counter even illnesses that were once considered deadly. People are coming home from the hospital, better and with more care. Better safety systems and checks are being put in place to prevent disaster that the sorry past has taught us is warranted. Progress in our town, and in our church, even as masked by loss of beautiful trees, will shine with the right light of both beauty and respect for the natural beauty around us as blighted building make way for riverside views. So goes the evidence and the hope of our days.
One of the most exciting elements of church of late is our move to finally get our carillon back up and running with a new and improved system. That's sure to make a wonderful difference for us and for many. That, too, will help combat the negative that is. As one walks Main Street in any town, the sound of church bells brings a soothing comfort to the soul. It's the sound of hope, of peace, of that which is good and uniting and healing. Many thanks are offered to the generous souls among us who have donated to see that vision and hope come to reality.
There is goodness to be known. Goodness to be seen, experienced, and felt. Come and see the goodness that shines. It sure would be good to see you in church.
May our God of all creation bless you with health and peace, and may God bless you with bright hope in the mighty goodness of our God at work in us and around us.
PR & EVANGELISM
This is a vital committee in the church as we face dwindling membership, and the life of our beloved church is at stake. We have met twice to try and come up with some suggestions to help our community of faith grow and prosper. Many of the ideas involve you and we hope you will be willing to participate.
Public relations deals with promoting our church and its activities to the broader community. With Covid many of our activities have been limited. Our yard sale, which was rescheduled due to weather, was advertised in the News Review and on WLNG radio. We are hoping that many of our ideas regarding evangelism can be promoted and be another opportunity for public relations.
Some suggestions of the Committee have already been implemented. We have begun a time for prayer with a women's prayer ministry on Fridays at 10:30am in the Fellowship Hall. If you are free, please consider joining us. It will last about 30-45 minutes. We have added a rainbow flag decal to our church sign to emphasize that we are an Open and Affirming Congregation. Pastor is open to hearing ideas for sermon topics that you may need or want to hear. We are hoping that the new building downtown will increase our membership. We are composing a letter that can be included in a welcome packet, asking people to consider walking to worship. We hope to have an "Invite a Friend to Church" Sunday. We are each evangelists and we are empowered to bring people to church. We talked about trying to appeal to young people by having more of a presence on social media. Pastor is considering writing an occasional Guest Spot article in the News Review as well as joining Rotary to promote our church to a broader audience. We are also contacting local farmers to donate some of their products which they cannot sell, to offer to those who need fresh fruits and vegetables. The Committee faces an exciting but daunting job, but we are all in this together and together we will make a difference.
If at any time a member has a concern, a good comment to share, or if something does not feel right, please contact any member of the committee. The committee members are: Marion Maino, Jane Joerchel, Alice Summerville, and Jim Davis.
Adult Bible Study is on hiatus for the summer. We will resume classes in September. A date to be determined soon. Children's Sunday was held on June 6th. It was officially the last day of Sunday School until the fall. Katie Torelli received her Bible. After the ceremony and Pastor's Children's message we went outside to plant flowers around Tom Walsh's memorial and the memorial tree planted for Matthew Tesoriero. We also planted in front of the church office. (If you come to church or the thrift shop, please bring a watering can and give the plants a drink) We then used sidewalk chalk to decorate around the garage and cement slab outside the kitchen door. The children traced their hands and silhouettes of doves that represent the Holy Spirit. We finished the celebration by sharing ice cream cake in the fellowship hall. The Torelli girls and their family baked Miss Jane and myself delicious baked goods presented on lace doilies. It has been a pleasure and a blessing to teach the girls, Cassidy, Daniella, Abby, Katie, Rosie and Bean this year. If the children come to church, there are activities and books in the back of the sanctuary. Have a safe and happy summer.
P.S. As a side note, Tammy Torreli recently graduated from NY School of Ministry, and has been approved for ordination "pending call." She's currently circulating her profile and looking for the good fit that God has in mind. We offered our congratulations, complete with the presentation of flowers for the journey.
PRAYER SHAWL MINISTRY
Thanks to very busy hands we have plenty of shawls in the sanctuary. Please feel free to take one for anyone who is in need of prayer. You don’t have to be a member to take a shawl, they are for anyone you would like to comfort. We continue to meet with Zoom, but we did get to see some members in person, like Marion Stark, up from Florida. If you would like to join us and have some fellowship and fun, call me and leave a message on my home phone 631 727-3106.
~ Barbara Parsons
BREAD AND MORE
Bread and More continues serving takeout dinners on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings from 5:30 to 6:00. The number of guests has been between 20-40. On Mondays we provide takeout trays for Maureen’s Haven which can be served as needed at their site on Lincoln Street. We are providing Open Arms with five dinners every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. We continue as a crew of 5-6 people per night. During the upcoming month, additional folks will be taking over the Monday night meals. At this point there is no plan to begin serving dinner in the fellowship hall. St. Mark’s Catholic Church of Shoreham continues to provide “take-home” peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for guests each week. The Cooperage continues to provide two trays for dinner on the third Thursday of each month. Beach Bakery in Westhampton and the Riverhead Stop & Shop also continue to donate baked goods. All of the guests are very appreciative of the meal.
~ Jane Kulesa
LADIES NIGHT OUT
Since our pandemic restrictions have eased up considerably, and most of our congregation has been vaccinated, we feel safe enough to resume our last Thursday of the month dinner. If this is something that appeals to you, please let me know so I can make a reservation for us. It’s a great time to socialize and get caught up on sharing what’s happening in our lives and in our church. In the past, we’ve had about 10-12 ladies attend, and it’s been lots of fun.
I’ve checked with Tom & Lesley at Pulaski St. Grille & they are able to accommodate us on Thursday July 29th at 5:30 PM. Please let me know if you plan to join us either in church on Sunday, or with a phone call or text:
Cell phone 516 507 7897 Home phone 631 591 1063
Since reopening after the pandemic our Thrift Shop has been thriving. People have been eager to come in to shop and equally eager to come by with their donations. Each week brings lots of new items to sort through, price and display.
Of course, there have been challenges along the way, but so far we’ve been able to meet most of them. Our old cash register finally ceased to function and has been replaced by a newer, more efficient model, which we are learning to use. Of late we have had major parking issues as the town parking lot has been undergoing renovations, and repairs. Hopefully, this will be a short-term problem and parking will once again be adequate.
Our Saturday volunteer group has shrunk, so we are really in need of a few more people to fill in. Saturdays have been extremely lucrative, so we’re trying really hard to keep the doors open. If you can help between 9:00 and 1:00, please let us know. You will be working with an experienced volunteer who will “show you the ropes.”
Thanks to all who volunteer and do so much to make our little shop a valuable asset to our church and to our community.
~ Shirley Bergman and Janet Sanford
Did you remember to give your extra donation? It is not too late to send a check or put money in the offering plate. This was a big fundraiser and so many contributed so much. Thank you and God bless you for your generosity!
SOME CHURCH CALENDAR ITEMS
- Every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday - Take out - 5:30-6:00pm: Bread & More/INN
- ALLEY CAT THRIFT SHOP: Thursday 10:00AM – 2:00PM Saturday 9:00AM-1:00PM
- Women’s Prayer Group Fridays 10:30AM Fellowship Hall
First Congregational Church of Riverhead 103 First Street
Riverhead, New York 11901
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