THE BEACON LIGHT
First Congregational Church of Riverhead
An Open and Affirming United Church of Christ
103 First Street Riverhead, New York 11901
Dear Friends and Members of our First Congregational Church,
In the short span of just three weeks, I was privileged to experience three big passage of life events. The Roman Catholic Church would call them sacraments. They were each religious, but each exceptionally different, yet all marked both ends and beginnings.
The first was the funeral for my mother. The second, eight days later, was the ordination of Tammy Torreli, a member of our church and someone whom I had long mentored and walked with on her journey. The third was the wedding for my niece and her new husband.
The funeral was in my parents' Roman Catholic church in Florida, and led by a pastor who had been to my parents' home to dine, and who knew them both very well.
The ordination was in our sanctuary and my leading role was shared by others, including a pianist and a vocalist, for we were treated to both fine piano music and song.
The wedding was outdoors at a lakefront bandshell under the dancing clouds and shining sun in Tupper Lake, NY, a small town in the heart of the Adirondacks. That service I led, but one of my two brothers, another Dr. Murray, delivered the message. Musicians and a host of vocalists shared that stage, too. The settings and occasions were vastly dissimilar, each with its own charms, each with a large package of its own anxiety, and each met with tears. But in each, and for each, it was clear to me that God was there in a big way.
It's only in these days of post-travel and concern, that I'm getting some time to parse the events and to consider them together. While going through them, I took each as it happened, rolling with my own responsibilities and trouble-shooting as need arose. In addition to the awareness of the awesome presence of God, I've been struck with the importance of church and community, of family, friends, love, support, prayer, tears and laughter. Even in death, and among all the jitters, last-minute fixings and doings (some would say problems), there was life unfolding in an elegance of grace. The events have now blown through me and past me, leaving me with a sense of calm relief and the ability to think it was all as it needed to be. Perhaps that's faith in hindsight, but such is still faith in action.
Community, family and friends, church in its widest sense, made all the events possible. Community brought the flowers and the food, community brought the music and the prayers, community supplied housing and rides, community brought the healing touches and supportive, comforting, bolstering words. Community, church, brought the blessings. That's often, I find, the way God works.
Now that I'm back at our church, I continue to see community at work. We're working together at figuring out our new season of celebrations and challenges, of change and continued charity, of blessing. The chief excitement is perhaps with our carillon which we hope to have soon installed (and we hope to figure it out), which will make for a special celebration of dedication.
At this point, we're aiming for Sunday, October 17th for that. We'll be sure to keep you posted. Meanwhile, please join us for a continuing celebration of community at home with us as we pray and do together, for God is surely at work with us and through us.
Please read on to learn of our other happenings as we continue to strive together to let our [beacon] light shine.
Blessings all around, ~Pastor Sean
PR & EVANGELISM
We begin by thanking Pastor Sean for his Guest Spot article in the News Review. We hope that you had a chance to read it and we hope that Pastor Sean will continue to submit articles so that our church leadership is known throughout the community and will hopefully, attract new members.
Another opportunity for evangelism has been our Women's Prayer Ministry which is written up in this issue of the Beacon Light. We have all seen the diminished attendance in church and we struggle to find new ways to attract new members. It is particularly difficult without music to enhance our service. If you know of a musician who might be available on Sunday mornings, please let Melinda Topping or Pastor know.
If you had the privilege to attend Tammy Torelli's ordination on Sunday, September 5th, you heard a sermon by Mark Bigelow. He spoke about evangelism in the time of COVID, and said that he was astonished at the number of people who were coming to worship online. He said that many people, although not coming for in person worship, were regularly attending on-line worship, bible study and social events. I mention this, and there was so much more in that sermon, because we may need to supplement our in-person worship with a Zoom piece, to attract the many new residents in downtown Riverhead. Worshipping via Zoom would also allow the snowbirds and people who are housebound to "come" to church. We wish Tammy all the best as she answers the call from the Wolcott Congregational Church in Wolcott Connecticut. As for Public Relations, we have begun to advertise our Dollar Clothing Sale on October 2, with a rain date on October 16th.
VISITATION UPDATE 2021
We have had quite a few of our members “under the weather” in recent weeks. Unfortunately, with COVID concerns continuing, in-person visits are not always appropriate, so frequent phone calls and cards are the safest way to keep in touch.
Although I usually don’t list individuals, I would like to encourage you to send a card or note to Louise Burns (in Florida), Bunny Burns, and Joan Fleischman. They are three ladies who were very active in our church’s life when they were able, and now are struggling with health issues. There are many others who are facing serious health problems at this time, so please keep a watchful eye and ear out and offer a helping hand.
As most of you may know, Pastor Sean lost his mother late in August. He has expressed his appreciation to all who sent a note or card to express their condolences.
Reach out, be kind, and be thankful that you are able!
~ Janet Sanford
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.
Rally Sunday was September 19th. While there are no children in church at the current time, we pray that some new families with children will join our church family soon. Pastor Sean will be setting up a Confirmation Class schedule. Adult Bible Study will be resuming on this Friday, September 24, at 10:00 via Zoom . We'll be studying the book of Ecclesiastes. If you're interested and not on the regular Bible Study email list, please drop Pastor Sean a note, and he'll send you the link.
It is a tradition in our church to send our college students a gift card at this time of year. We will begin collecting for that in church or you can bring cash or a check or mail a check to the church office with College Gift Cards in the memo line or on the envelope. Thank you in advance for your continued generosity. The students are so very appreciative of their church thinking of them.
PRAYER SHAWL MINISTRY
We have all had a great summer. Some of us have been crocheting away (not the writer). We meet every Monday night at 7:30 via Zoom and enjoy the camaraderie. We have been missing some of our group for various reasons. Jane, Barbara and I went to visit Bunny Burns because she sometimes has trouble getting the connection for the Zoom Meeting. She has not been up to knitting or crocheting but she looks wonderful. We are hoping to give the Zoom information to her caregivers so that we can see her each week.
There are many prayer shawls in the church, so be sure to take one for your family and friends who need comfort. I’m sure that, as the weather gets colder, they will be gone quickly. Looks like I’ll have to get going with some shawls before I leave for sunny Florida at the end of October. If you’d like to have one made specially for a person, please contact me at 631-987-7209 and I will do my best to get one made for you quickly.
If you are a knitter or crocheter, please join us. We would love to have you.
Contact Barbara Parsons, 631 727-3106, the head of the Zoom Meeting and she will give you the information you need. The members of the Prayer Shawl Ministry are: Barbara Parsons, LuAnn Seaman, Jane Jones, Sandy Daniels, Pat Disciosia, Marion Maino, Bunny Burns, Fran Nill and Marion Stark. Yes, lots of us have moved away, but we still make prayer shawls for the church. We believe strongly that these shawls make a difference in people’s lives.
~ Marion Stark
WOMEN’S PRAYER MINISTRY
A few years ago, our beloved friend Ann Bianco wanted to fill the time between Bible Study classes with something meaningful. She gathered women who were interested and available for a prayer group each Friday. It was a very special time to share with our sisters of faith, a time of quiet reflection and prayer. Ann has since passed away, but her spirit and great faith endures. This year when Bible Study came to an end for the summer, a few women voiced a need and desire to resurrect the Women's Prayer ministry. We began meeting every other Friday. Our guests the first session and two subsequent sessions were Sister Ronald and Sister Barbara from Villa Immaculata House of Prayer.
These sessions were filled with lessons on different ways to pray, faith development and learning to listen with the ears of our hearts. We bonded with the two sisters and each other. Karen Smith from the Parish Resource Center also led a session, where she too, taught us breath prayer, reflection strategies and centering prayer where we consent to rest in God's presence.
At this session we made Protestant Prayer beads which are used to pray the four types of prayer, Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication (asking God's help for yourself and others). Our final meeting was Friday, September 10th. We met at Villa Immaculata where we began in the chapel and listened to music which encouraged us to slow down. Sister Ronald made the point that God wants us to be happy and we need to draw close to him. We each then went outside and spent time alone with nature on the beautiful grounds of this House of Prayer. We ended the morning with a shared lunch. We hope that the prayer ministry can continue at some point. We also hope that any woman in the church who would like to be a part of it, will feel welcome to come. In these times of dissent and disagreement any opportunity to be together is an affirmation of our love and faith.
MISSION AND BENEVOLENCE
Our next mission project is our Neighbors in Need offering which will be on October 3rd. This ministry supports the Council for American Indian Ministry as well as justice and compassion initiatives.
The CROP walk usually held in October will not be held again this year. Funds however are being received and will be donated to local hunger-action programs. I would encourage you to donate generously to our local food pantry at St. John’s Church and our own Bread and More Soup Kitchen to help alleviate hunger in our community.
There is also an ongoing mission to support efforts in Haiti following their earthquake and hurricane, and for hurricane victims here in the U.S. Checks may be made out to our local church and earmarked to be forwarded to relief efforts. ~ Janet Sanford and Shirley Bergman
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 ranged from the 20s-50s. On Mondays, we provide two 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. A different group of volunteers is in place on Mondays.
At this point there is no plan to begin serving dinner in the fellowship hall. Anderson’s farm has been generously providing fresh vegetables and fruits. St. Mark’s Catholic Church of Shoreham provides “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 continue to donate baked goods. All of the guests are very appreciative of the meal received.
~ Jane Kulesa
LADIES NIGHT OUT
I am happy to report that our Thursday night dinner group resumed its gathering at the end of July and again in late August. We meet at 5:30pm at the Pulaski Street Grill and all our welcome. The tradition was begun by the late Deedee Newcomb many years ago, and is a wonderful opportunity to gather, break bread together and enjoy each other’s company.
If you would like to join us this month we will be getting together on Thursday, September 30th. Please let me know if your are planning to attend so I can give an approximate head count.
Cell phone 516 507-7897 Home phone 631 591-1063 ~Janet Sanford
Our Thrift Shop has continued to thrive thanks to the efforts of our faithful volunteers and a steady flow of generous donations from church members and the community. At present we are in the process of changing over merchandise from summer to fall. Our shelves are well stocked with pumpkins and Halloween decorations.
Save the date on your calendars for October 2nd with a rain date of October 16th for a $1.00 clothing sale. You may also choose to fill a bag for $10.00. In addition there will also be some beautiful Christmas ornaments.
Our Saturday staffing is in need of volunteers. Several of our regular members have been unable to come in for a variety of reasons – travel, illness, etc. If you have some free time on a Saturday please let us know so that we can work you into a schedule. One Saturday each month would really be appreciated, as business has been exceptionally good on Saturdays with the consignment shop open next door attracting a wide range of new customers.
~ Shirley Bergman and Janet Sanford
Dear Church Family,
We would like to express our heartfelt Thank You for all you have been to us over these last years. Our family was welcomed into the congregation and quickly we felt were a part of the family. Your love, support, and time, have meant so much to us all. Our children have such amazing memories of all of the kindness we have shared as a church family. Each week the girls were excited to attend church. Without a doubt they will never forget the special corner you set up for them. You helped them to see that church is a place of family connections, special events, and the Love of God. Thank you for the special gift you have been to them.
Personally, I would like to tell you that it was truly an act of God that led us to First Congregational Church of Riverhead. In this church family I found love, support, and guidance as I have never felt on this adventure. I think of you often as I sit in my new office knowing our journey together lead me to where I am in Wolcott. I could not think of a better place for my ordination service to be. The day was beautiful as I was surrounded by my church family and the people I love.
God Bless this church family that we will always treasure. You are in our hearts, in our thoughts, and in our prayers.
If you are ever in Connecticut, please come visit us. We would love to remain connected to our church family on Long Island, you are always in our hearts. Yours in Christ,
~ Rev. Tammy Torelli
Due to COVID and the Delta variant, we have not pursued any indoor fundraising events. October 2 is the $1.00 clothing sale and rain date is October 16th. Your help and participation would be greatly appreciated. We desperately need volunteers to set-up and cleanup (tables, put clothes out, etc.). Spread the word!
~ Marion Maino
Whoever thought that we would need Narcan Training in our community, but the recent drug overdose deaths on the North Fork have raised our concern for the need of more information at the minimal? Who would think that so many of our young neighbors had an addiction problem and were in need of help and a simple nasal spray would have saved their lives.
· Narcan@ Nasal Spray is a prescription medication used for the treatment of a known suspected opioid overdoes emergency with signs of breathing problems and severe sleepiness or not being able to respond.
· NARCAN® Nasal Spray is to be given right away and does not take the place of emergency medical care. Get emergency medical help right away after giving the first dose of NARCAN® Nasal Spray, even if the person wakes up.
There was not enough Narcan available on the North Fork that deadly weekend when so many residents died of overdoses from a bad batch of drugs. If more people are trained (besides the police and ambulance department) and have a dose available (available in any pharmacy) -- the fewer such deaths will occur.
Most of us have been shocked when we heard of people we know of who died of overdose or had loved ones who died of an overdose. It is very difficult to detect in most cases that a neighbor, friend or family member is dealing with an addiction and may someday be in need of this miracle (but temporary) remedy.
Get a few friends or family members together and find out when Peconic Bay
Medical Center is having their next training session. You could be like the Good Samaritan that took CPR training and saved someone’s life after a heart attack. It is unfathomable to most of us that someone in our family may someday need Narcan – but there are many families that found out too late.
Call PBMC Marketing Director, Victoria Palacio at 631-548-6088 for more information about Narcan Training and keep Narcan in your car, pocket book or home medicine cabinet. You never know, you may save a life.
~ Marion Maino
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
- Bible Study, Fridays 10:00AM via Zoom, email or call Pastor Sean or the church for link.
- AA Meeting most every day, in English and Spanish, call the church for details.
Copyright © 2021 First Congregational Church of Riverhead - All Rights Reserved.