Dear Friends and Members of our First Congregational Church, All of sudden, or so it seems, it's November. With the mild temperatures of late and the still leaf-laden trees, I struggle to wrap my head around the upcoming weeks and their festivals. The season of soups and stews has barely begun for me, yet the icicle lights and beckoning Santas already adorn the door frames of shops that long to welcome the gift-seekers. I'm not there. The season of my soul is now simply that of sweaters and gentle thoughts of cozy fires. Admittedly, as I glance at the calendar, my thoughts do move to what's ahead. It occurs to me that rather than any official season, liturgical or secular, it's the unofficial season that's upon us: the Season of Tradition. Tradition, sacred and communal, familiar and nostalgic, is the haunted skeleton that arises from faded pumpkin patches and remains through year's end. Tradition calls us to plan and to remember, to adorn and give thought to what used to be and what should still be. Tradition, handed down from our ancestors, anchored in the family that once was, shapes our Thanksgiving, our Advent, our Christmas. Tradition plays at the heart strings, yet the once joyful tunes bright with celebration and fond remembrances can turn melancholy for some, as today's reality features empty chairs and plans that time and tide has erased. One of my favorite quotes regarding tradition is from W. Somerset Maugham who writes, "Tradition is a guide and not a jailer." If the traditions of yesteryear so enchant us that they bind us with affective memory of days that are no longer and can no longer ever be, we will only be entombed in lament. We know well that the traditional Thanksgiving meals spent with the family of our youth is replaced with new celebrations with the family of our middle years. But the kids grow up and tradition guides us to seek another way by which the old can become new again. And that new, even seeped in old tradition, can be very good. Over the years, my Thanksgiving table has featured a variety of guests. Some have moved far away; others have moved on to heaven. This year, Gaby, the daughter we share who has long served as my Thanksgiving sous-chef, is a first year intern at Mt. Sinai hospital, and so she and her beau, another regular guest of several years past, won't be joining us. And another regular guest of years, has been summoned away by other plans. But this year there may again be a first-timer or more, for whom the old tradition has changed. Perhaps here will take on charm so that a new and welcome tradition -- one that still carries sufficient echoes of past beloved ones (complete with good turkey) -- can be born. Such is my hope for the many who this year find themselves in new places of life that have been watered with tears of grief or shaped by a change of address that still feels foreign. Even amid the changes, my prayer is that your Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas hold for you rich meaning born of heartfelt traditions long known even as you find yourself in a new setting of life, or where a chair or two is now empty If you can, I also hope you will join us for one lovely yet regularly changing tradition of the Thanksgiving season: our Interfaith Thanksgiving Service. As in the past, it'll be held the Sunday before Thanksgiving at 3:00. This year we're at Old Steeple Community Church in Aquebogue. As in the past, the "new kid on the block" gets to preach, and this year that's the Rev. Hyoung Dock Yoo, Riverhead United Methodist Church's new pastor. As for our Advent and Christmas offerings at our church, we'll keep you actively informed (starting with this Beacon Light), so that you can also take in some other beloved tradition that changes some, but that is sure to still carry a whole lot of charm. Peace and many blessings for a fine Season of Tradition to you, ~ Pastor Sean
The Board of Trustees met in October to discuss finances, upcoming projects and concerns of the church. We are pleased to report that thanks to our thriving thrift shop, fundraising events and the generosity of members we are financially stable. Our gratitude to Ron Blake who replaced the aging air conditioner in the thrift shop. Possible future upgrades to the thrift shop include replacing some of the flooring. Due to security concerns, we discussed ways to reduce some of the problems we have recently seen. Security cameras will be installed on the church and the church office porch will be screened in the near future. Our thanks to the members who will be helping to make this happen. A letter was sent to the town requesting an increase in the police presence. We continue to wait for the appropriate glass to arrive to complete our fellowship hall windows. Thank you for your patience. In the upcoming weeks, we will be asking you to make a pledge to the church. In order to prepare an accurate budget, we need to have a general idea of the amount members will try to donate in the upcoming year. All pledges are kept anonymous and only the church treasurer is privy to the amount you pledge. Our thanks to all of you who contribute in so many ways to make our church run smooth. If you have any concerns, please feel free to speak to any trustee. ~ Nancy Repp, Chairperson
Pastoral Relations Committee serves as a liaison between the congregation and the Pastor. If you have any concerns, questions or ideas, please see one of the members of the Committee. Your concerns will be kept entirely anonymous, since the purpose of the committee is to be a safe place to make your feelings known. Members of the Committee are, Dot Walsh, Nancy Tesoriero, Alice Summmerville and Jim Davis
Thanks to all of our great volunteers, we had another successful quarter of fund raising. We close out the year with $11,399 in funds raised which is very close to our objective for the year. We sold $714 in baked good at the Riverhead street fair while the thrift shop sold $764 that day alone. The fall quiche luncheon did fantastic again and profited $1550. The thrift shop continues to be our major source of income. You can support the thrift shop by donating household and clothing items in good condition to the thrift shop or donate a few hours of your time on a regular basis to help manage the shop Without our fund raising efforts we would not be able to pay our bills and manage our beautiful church. We are very fortunate that we have an active team of volunteers that we can rely on to donate their time and efforts to support the financial stability of our church. For that we are most grateful. You know who you are. Thank you for always being there. ~ Marion Maino Trustee Fund Raising Committee
The Public Relations and Evangelism committee met on Wednesday, October 23 to talk about church attendance and ideas to enhance membership. With all the new building in downtown Riverhead, we felt new residents might be looking for a downtown church. In order to capture that interest and desire, a letter to new residents was developed as a way of introducing the church. Until the new apartments are finished and tenants in place, the letter would be available in the Thrift Shop and in the back of the church for visitors and possible potential members. If you have any idea about distribution, please let Pastor or one of the Deacons know. A copy of the letter is available for you to read. Janet Sanford has ordered gold toned cross pins to give to visitors. The pin is attached to a card with a picture of our church and times of worship and Sunday School. Some outreach ideas to make our presence known in the community were a family movie night, Narcan training for members, friends and community members, a mother's morning out, where we would provide childcare so a mom could get things done around the holidays and report card rewards. Thanks to the generosity of two committee members, we will have an ad for our church listed in the Giving Corner section in the News Review. It will appear every week for a year, with seasonal changes for Christmas and Easter. The section is located after the classified section in the newspaper. Please look for it starting in November. It was also decided that we would give a copy of the children's book, 365 Bedtime Bible Stories for Children as an incentive to children who visit our church. Jane Kulesa purchased twenty copies and they are available now. The Evangelism piece trumps the Public Relations piece which is mainly publicity driven. Please consider serving on the Board of Deacons when the Nominating Committee comes around at the end of the year. ~ Sandy Gruner
From Vanessa Winters I thought I’d take this opportunity to introduce myself—a member of your congregation who you may not regularly see on Sunday morning, but still very grateful to be a part of your community! My name is Vanessa Winters, and I am currently serving the Westhampton Presbyterian Church, and I am an ordained UCC pastor. Due to the UCC way of doing things, I am still required to be a member in good standing of a local UCC church and feel very blessed to call First Congregational Church in Riverhead my church home. So what does this mean? Well, as a pastor who leads worship on Sunday morning, you may not often see me in your Sunday morning worship services. But I do attempt to make church activities and had the privilege of attending your estate and clothing sale (where I procured a beautiful yoga top!), making cookies for the Riverhead Country Fair and was able to attend one of the evening services during Lent. So “who is this not often seen, UCC turned temporarily Presbyterian pastor?” you might ask. My family and I arrived here on Long Island in January along with my two dogs and my 2 ½ year old son Wesley. My husband Chris works in IT and is the one with family in Westhampton which is one of the reasons we chose to come here. We love to spend time outdoors, walk the beach, enjoy the excellent food and incredible numbers of different types of bagels and pizza that Long Island has to offer. I am enjoying my ministry here on Long Island, but finding it to be quite different than the small coastal fishing town where my last church was located. Friends, I mostly want to express my gratitude for the ways in which your church has blessed me with a warm welcome and that if I haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting you, I hope to very soon. I am grateful to be here on Long Island as a member of your church and look forward to sharing time as brothers and sisters in faith together.
Through your acceptance of Jesus Christ as your savior, you have become a true Christian , and are assured the way to our Father in heaven for all eternity. In worship, fellowship, Bible study, service opportunities and more, we are an extended Christian family. Your pledge will be needed to continue this web of caring and community. Stewardship Sunday is November 10th. By now you should have received a letter and a 2020 pledge card from the Stewardship Committee.If you have not received your letter and card in the mail, please call Dave Gruner at 631 722 3248 and he will forward one to you. Please reflect on the many ways you can help to do God's work, and give generously, gratefully and joyfully in support of your church. ~Dave Gruner, Stewardship Committee
Coffee Hour continues to serve as a weekly Fellowship. It is an excellent time to catch up with your fellow parishioners. We are always looking for hosts and you are urged to sign up for a week. If you don’t want to host by yourself ask a friend. All non- bakers are encouraged to sign up as well; store baked goods are just as welcomed! If you don’t know what to do please see Barbara Parsons and she will be more than happy to “walk” you through. The sign up sheet is posted on the kitchen door in the Fellowship Hall. We thank everyone who has provided coffee hour, especially those who do it again and again. Please, if you haven’t gotten around to signing up yet, take the opportunity soon.
Our last special UCC Neighbors In Need offering was taken in early October and brought in donations of approximately $300. Thanks to all who made contributions to this most worth- while fund. Our next special offering in December is The Christmas Fund (formerly known as Soldiers of the Cross. You’ll be hearing more about this in December. On October 20th we participated in the local CROP Walk. Four of us from First Congregational were among the walkers (Carol Gorman, Jane Kulesa, Sandy Gruner, and myself.) The amount donated from our church was about $555, with a total community intake of $2000. A portion of the monies collected comes back to the Riverhead area to support local hunger needs, with this year’s recipients being our Soup Kitchen and the Salvation Army. Again, thanks to all for your generous donations. ~Janet Sanford
Sunday School was off to a festive start on September 15th . After the children’s message in church, the class enjoyed a story about Creation and then went out to search for things God created. The girls located many items on our list down by the river and in Grangebel Park. After working up quite an appetite with all that walking and searching we stopped in for a delicious ice cream cone at Star Confectionary. Thank you to Anthony Meras for donating cones for the whole class! Our college kit collection coffee can is being placed out during coffee hour each week. We have decided to purchase gift cards for students rather than shipping packages to our friends away at school. If you would like to donate, the cards will be sent out the beginning of November. See Sue Hubbard if you have someone who would like to be remembered by First Congregational Church. You can also call Sue at 631 722 5233 or send the address via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Sunday School is planning on presenting another world famous Christmas Pageant for the congregation on December 22nd . Be sure to mark your calendars! ~Susan Hubbard
We have been working very hard on our prayer shawls. The proof is all of the shawls and lapghans (afghans for individuals) that grace the pews of the sanctuary. Although their colors are lovely and add to the ambiance of the room, we would prefer that they be put to use, helping those with need of comfort. Remember that anyone can receive one of our prayer shawls. October was a busy month for us. We added 13 items to the church. Our YTD total is 47 at the end of October. Some have been donated to Peconic Medical Center. We received a beautiful Thank You card from one of the recipients. In part it said, “I brought (the prayer shawl) with me to my first chemo treatment. I felt your love and prayers surround me as I received my treatment. Your Prayer Shawl Ministry is a beautiful testament to God’s love.” Another similar message was sent via text to one of our congregants. Please bring this symbol of support to your family and friends in need of comfort. The group meets at a different home each week, usually on Monday evening at 7:00. Please join us if you can knit or crochet, we would welcome the fellowship. Ask one of the members of the group for the meeting place on the evening you can join us. Members of the Ministry are: Pat DiSciocia, Barbara Parsons, Sandy Daniels, LuAnne Seaman, Marion Maino, Bunny Burns, Jane Jones, Fran Nill and Marion Stark.
Bread and More Kitchen continues to serve a delicious, hot dinner on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings from 5:30 to 6:30. The dedicated volunteers prepare and serve the meal, and then clean-up. The number of guests served has ranged from 50-70. All of the guests are very appreciative of the meal received. St. Mark’s Episcopal Church of Westhampton Beach continues to serve a meal on the first Monday of each month, and St. Mark’s Catholic Church of Shoreham provides “take-home” peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for guests twice each month. ~ Jane Kulesa
Many thanks to all who give of their time and talents to make our Alley Cat Thrift Shop such a success. Our profit so far this year far surpasses anything we could have imagined. We have gained many new shoppers and also contributors who have now heard about us by word of mouth or local news columns. Being open on Country Fair Sunday brought in over $700! If you have a few hours to give on a Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday, please consider coming in to help out. We are particularly in need of Saturday volunteers, as several of our regulars have moved out of the area. ~ Shirley Bergman & Janet Sanford
Breaking Bread Together - If you haven’t already tried our last Thursday of the month Ladies’ Night Out, please consider joining us for a pleasant time of socializing, getting to know each other better, and enjoying a meal. Gathering time is 5:30 at the Pulaski Street Grill in Polish Town. There is usually a group of approximately 10-12 ladies at the table. I try to give the restaurant a “ballpark figure” a few days in advance, so they can accommodate us. For the month of December we will meet on December 12. Please let me know if you can join us with a phone call, text or email.. It is a fun time time to get together for good food and fellowship. Home phone 631 591-1063, cell phone 516 507-7897, email email@example.com. ~Janet Sanford
-Every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 5:30- 6:30pm: Bread & More/INN
- Every Tuesday and Friday, 7:00pm, and Saturday, 8:00am: AA (English-language meetings)
- Every Friday Bible Study 10:00 -11:30am in the Fellowship Hall All are welcome!
- Alley Cat Thrift Shop: Tuesdays & Thursdays 10:00– 2:00; Saturdays 9:00-1:00
- Worship with Us! Sundays, 10:00am co