(Most of this newsletter is directly out of our Annual Report. As I know many missed the meeting, it’s reprinted here.)
Dear Friends and Members of our First Congregational Church,
Happy New Year to you. As 2024 dawns upon us, the prayer is that God will continue to enlighten us in the fullness of faith and bless us afresh with new HOPE, PEACE, JOY, LOVE and SALVATION throughout the year. Thanks be to God for the year-that-was as it proved to be a particularly good one for us.
The big news of 2023 is the fact that we brought into full membership of our church 12 good souls. That number includes three confirmands, two former members who’d long been absent, and seven folks who after months or years worshipping with us decided to officially join our fellowship. An additional blessing is the fact
that none of the funeral or memorial services I did in 2023 were for any of our members. The hope is that 2024 will be even close to as good.
And the blessings certainly weren’t limited to that. Another grand blessing to us all has been our chairwoman of the Board of Trustees, Nancy Repp, who has done an extraordinary job in the role. Plus, her husband, Allan Repp, proved not only to be a faithful deacon, but has long labored as our master gardener extraordinaire,
keeping our gardens looking well-loved in every season. And there’s the wonderful host of hardworking Thrift Shop volunteers, too. As many know, the year saw a record year for the Alley Cat, and we could only have done it with the help that was faithfully extended.
Other big news is that two new staffers joined us at the beginning of the 2023. As Dee Laviglia’s last Sunday playing for us was the 8th of January, George Moravek came on board as our Minister of Music on the 15th; and with him, we saw the return of the choir. And our Church Secretary, Elaine Booker, was hired January 11th.
Among the noteworthy events in the year, in February, we again enjoyed our Souper Bowl Sunday that not only saw generous offerings but also a fine fellowship lunch of great soup. March saw our celebration of Ash Wednesday with Old Steeple and Baiting Hallow churches, and our midweek Lenten services. On the 12th of
March, we had a lovely memorial service for long-time friend of our church and custodian, Doug Take. April brought in Holy Week and Easter, with UCC-shared services Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, and our Riverhead Clergy Council Easter Sunrise at Grangebel Park. Easter was also delightfully celebrated in our
sanctuary at 10:00am, and that service followed by a nice time of fellowship. Following Easter, Bright Sunday saw the reception of the first wave of new members, with five people joining that day. Then May saw our Mother’s Day celebration with the woman leading worship, and the men hosting the brunch, which proved another win-win. Later in May we confirmed three of our youngest folk and again had a fine celebration both in the sanctuary and the Fellowship Hall.
Although things tend to slow down for a few months following Memorial Day as the choir takes a summer break, we were treated to a wonderful recital by our former Minister of Music, Jeff Wentz, and later in the month treated to the men leading worship on Father’s Day and the women of our church hosting the Heros’
Meanwhile, at the parsonage, the entire foundation was replaced, a huge job that stretched from spring into fall.
Following Labor Day, we jumped right back into the swing of things at church with a Rally Day on the second Sunday of September when we welcomed three new members and again had a fine fancy coffee hour. And shortly after that, we were busy planning and then hosting (following a nice outdoor prayer service) an
absolutely stunningly beautiful Alice Summerville Memorial Quilt Show in our sanctuary on our Country Fair Sunday in early October. That proved to be another remarkably successful new venture for us. Early November saw a lovely wedding in our sanctuary, then our Town’s Veterans’ Day celebration (at which I again led the
invocation), our Interfaith Thanksgiving Service (at the United Methodist Church), and then our own Thanksgiving Sunday celebration in our sanctuary when the last of the new members of the year were received. As December embraced all of Advent and Christmas Day, the church elves got busy again with decorations and service preparation. Plus in 2023, Christmas Eve featured not only our big service of Carols and Candles at 8:00pm, but also a lovely morning prayer service at 10:00am; and we were even treated to a New Year’s Eve service this year as the 31st fell on a Sunday.
Of course in the year, there were other vital services happening around our church. In the year, our Adult Bible Study class made its way through the Minor Prophets and has since been studying Mark’s gospel. There were confirmation classes and new member classes as well. Community members continued to enjoy delicious meals offered three evenings a week by Bread and More – big thanks to all the dedicated volunteers – and several 12-step programs continued to meet in our rooms. We also invited a small group of Portuguese Presbyterians to use
our space as they make a go at a new church start. Plus, there were home and hospital visits, prayer shawls created and shared, fellowship dinners, and plenty of good food passed from member to member.
In short, it was a year of many blessings with many lives that were touched in big and little ways by our church.
Thanks be to God, and thanks to you. With your help and loving support, this new year is sure to bring more blessings yet.
Yours in Christ,
Join us for Worship or Bible Study via Zoom:
Meeting ID: 868 9706 5711
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kc3NGbrUuq
The Board of Trustees and Board of Deacons continued to meet once a month throughout the year. Althoughnot all positions were filled, we managed to successfully carry out all the church business and affairs. Manythanks to Deacons Marion Maino and Shirley Bergman and Trustee Jane Jorchel. My 3 year term as a Trusteehas also expired. Next year, I hope to serve as the church treasurer, a position unfilled for the past several years. Please consider volunteering to be on one of our boards and help serve our church. Ask Pastor Murray or one of the board members for details on how you can help.
Financially, the church continues to meet all expenses thanks to the donations by our members and friends, organization donations and our thriving thrift shop. There are 4 organizations who regularly use our buildingsand make monthly donations. The thrift shop has had a record-breaking year which has helped immensely. No
fundraising is necessary due to their success. Expenses continue to rise as the cost of labor and materials increase.
As voted by the church members, we withdrew $65,000 from the Fairley Account for necessary repairs to the church parsonage. The monies invested in this account can only be spent on expenses and repairs to the parsonage and we are very fortunate to have this donation.
-Nancy Repp, Chair
BUILDING'S AND GROUNDS
Throughout the year there have been several repairs to our church building but fortunately nothing major. Inthe upcoming year, we hope to have some exterior work completed on the church steeple. If you see anymaintenance problems, please inform Pastor or myself so that we can have it repaired.The Parsonage required major basement repairs due to severe cracking in the cement walls. New basement
windows and window wells were installed. The work has now been completed. The yard needed to be filled and reseeded and sprinkler lines repaired once the work was completed. Additional exterior work will becompleted in the spring.
Public Relations & Evangelism
As we look back on a non-pandemic year, we can reflect on events that we have shared and moments of evangelism that we can celebrate. Thanks to the incredible support of WLNG, we have been able to publicize events like Jeff's piano concert, Thrift Shop sales and specials like our Yard Sale, special services like Palm
Sunday and Easter Dawn service at Grangebel Park and Alice Summerville's Memorial Quilt Show, to mention a few. While we subscribe to WLNG's coverage, it is always complete and far-reaching. Our Palm Sunday service was also an opportunity for evangelism. To review, it began outside the church with a procession led by two donkeys and David Hartmeyer dressed as Jesus to recreate Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Palms were raised and shouts of Hosanna filled the air. Our brochure is a Public Relations outreach and we are discussing updating it and including a welcoming prayer. The Beacon Light is also a PR outreach which we are trying to get out in a timely manner and into the hands of every member and friend. It was decided that people without email would have a copy mailed to them. Extra copies are available in the rear of the sanctuary. You
may have noticed that we are no longer subscribing to the Giving Corner in the News Review. We were not aware of any interest or new members from that inclusion. If you feel that we should be included there, Please let the church office know and we will reconsider. We hope to include bios of new members in the Beacon Light. Illness, travel and time constraints have made it difficult, but we have not given up. Look for future bios in issues of the Beacon Light to come. We have begun to have coffee hour every week after worship. It is hoped a cup of coffee and a sweet or two will be an opportunity for fellowship and therefore an opportunity for
evangelism. Pastor has been staying and it is a good time to ask him questions about the sermon or complement him on a job well done. As a mission project, but also a PR and Evangelism opportunity we are putting together Period Packs for women here in the US and around the world to provide supplies for menstrual hygiene. The Thrift Shop has donated $100 to buy shortfalls for the kits and a member has donated money for postage.Thank you to everyone who donated supplies. So far we have completed fifteen kits and are working on five
more. As I have said in every article, we are all evangelists, living God's word and expectations drawing people to him and our church. Please live that role as we work to build membership and vibrancy of our church.
-Sandy Gruner, Chair.
Music & Worship
Thanks to the leadership of George Moravek, we continue to have music to enhance Sunday worship. The Christmas morning worship was a shortened prayer service, but our Christmas Eve service included all our traditional Christmas hymns with the choir. Special music was a viola and organ duet by Marguerite Volonts
and George.Starting in mid-January, George will be unable to play for services for several weeks. Marguerite has graciously offered to fill in during his absence. Our church will continue to have two wonderful musicians providing music on Sunday’s as we start the New Year.
-Melinda Topping, Music Committee
Prayer Shawl Ministry
The members of the prayer shawl ministry continue to Zoom every Monday evening knitting and crocheting blankets from their homes. The shawls are displayed in the Sanctuary and are available for giving to any person in need of comfort and prayer.
Everyone is welcome to join us on Zoom or you can knit or crochet from your home at your leisure. If you are interested in joining us, please call Marion Maino at 631-765-2237.
According to the bylaws the Pastoral Relations Committee is to meet quarterly or whenever an issue arises between the Pastor and the Congregation. Thanks to Dee Martin and Gloria Foley we have a full committee and are anxious to work to enhance communication between the Pastor and you, the Congregation. We have
met several times and have brought several issues to the Pastor's attention. Those issues have been addressed and are being resolved. One responsibility of Pastoral Relations is to meet and make recommendations to the Board of Trustees regarding Pastor's salary for the following year. That meeting was held and a recommendation was forwarded and accepted. An issue that was discussed was the Pastor's contract and how certain issues like time off and benefits may need to be changed as expectations and current needs have changed. While issues of concern are brought before the Committee, issues of satisfaction are also discussed. Please know that your concerns and satisfactions are very important to the Committee and are taken seriously.Any Committee member is approachable and will bring your concerns to the Committee at large. Committee members are Jane Joerchel, Dee Martin, Gloria Foley and Sandy Gruner.
BREAD and MORE
Bread and More Kitchen continues to serve guests hot dinners on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings from 5:30 to 6:00. All meals continue to be take-out with no guests entering the building. Each night has a group of five or six volunteers who cook the dinner, prep everything for take-out, serve, and clean up. Volunteers are always welcome. During 2023, the number of guests served has ranged from the 50s to 80s each evening. On Wednesdays from November through April, dinner trays are picked up to provide meals for
overnight guests at Maureen’s Haven. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches continue to be provided to our guests each Thursday. Beach Bakery of Westhampton supplies assorted desserts and the Riverhead Stop and Shop
donates assorted breads and baked goods. Local farmers have generously donated vegetables and other items from their farm stands. With the arrival of cold weather, warm clothing (sweatshirts, jackets, sweaters, hats, and
scarves) has been distributed. The clothing is much appreciated by those in need. Financial support continues to come from many sources….…grants, local churches, and service organizations. Many individuals and families are regular donors and continue to support the mission of Bread and More Kitchen.
Ladies Night Out
As the year draws to a close, I’m pleased to report our Ladies Night Out Social has continued to thrive. The core group has expanded to about 20 ladies, with about 10-12 attending on any given Thursday. It’s a great opportunity to meet, socialize, and get to know each other better at an informal gathering. This past year we’ve met exclusively at the Pulaski Street Grill, with Leslie and Tom graciously hosting our group.The food is good, the conversation lively, and the atmosphere friendly. We are taking a few months off this winter, and plan to resume our last Thursday of the month gathering in either February or March.
If you think you might want to join us, just give me a call or text me so there’s a seat waiting for you at the table. Hope to see you there!
-Janet Sanford--- 631 591 1063 (H)
516 507 7897 (C)
Alley Cat Thrift Shop
Thrift shop donations and sales have exceeded all expectations this year. Our community which we support,has in turn supported us by spreading the word to others to come and shop and make donations. The incomefrom the thrift shop helps support our church and is also donated to local missions like the Rotary Club schoolsupply drive and Open Arms Food Bank. In addition, shoes that have not sold are give to “Soles for Souls” andblankets and towels to those in need and a local animal shelter. Excess and unsold clothes are picked up each
week by Big Brother Big Sister and sold to support their missions. This year, we also started sending fabric andsewing supplies to “Quilts for Kids”. We even have a “free” box where customers can find various free items. Very little gets thrown into the garbage. We are extremely appreciative of our volunteers who staff the shop each week. As always, we are looking fornew volunteers to handle increased donations and sales. Please consider giving a couple of hours whenever youcan. The thrift shop is open Tuesday and Thursday 10-2 and Saturday 9-1. We will be closed the month ofJanuary to give our volunteers a rest and to straighten out and re-stock our shelves.
- Shirley Bergman and Nancy Repp
As of December 2023, there have been 26 members and friends who have pledged their support for the 2024year. The ministry and missions of our church take place because of the spiritual and financial gifts of ourmembers and friends. Each pledged amount helps the trustees create a realistic fiscal estimate for the coming year. All pledges and amounts are kept confidential. If you are in need of a pledge card or weekly donationenvelopes, please speak to Melinda Topping.
- Melinda Topping and Nancy Repp
Throughout the year our Adult Bible study has been meeting Friday mornings from 10:00-11:00 both at the church and on Zoom. In 2023, we worked our way through the books of the Minor Prophets and have now begun a study of the Gospel of Mark.Leading up to our Confirmation Day in May, we had weekly Confirmation classes both in the sanctuary and in pastor’s office. As was evident at the Confirmation, the youth did a fine job of learning!
New Member classes were also offered throughout the year as we received new members on three different dates.
As we start another year, we are looking forward to the weekly coffee fellowship hour following church services. Please note you only need to provide store bought items and milk. Barbara Parsons will make the coffee and the church provides napkins, plates, tea and cups. The sign-up sheet is on the kitchen door. It is always great to spend a few minutes visiting with our fellow parishioners following church. Throughout the year we also have several "special" coffee hours including "Souper Bowl Sunday", "Breads of the World" during Lent, "Welcome Back Brunch" in September and Mother's and Father's Day brunch.
Throughout the year members of our church donated to United Church of Christ Special Missions. Theyinclude One Great Hour of Sharing, Strengthening the Church, Neighbors in Need and The Christmas Fund. Inaddition, donations were also made to the Rotary Club for school supplies, Maui Relief Fund, Open Arms FoodBank, Quilts for Kids, Camp Good Grief and for “Period Pads Bags”.
-Shirley Bergman and Nancy Repp
As the year draws to a close, we are struck by the number of people in our congregation who need a visit, phone call or caring note. While there is a visitation committee, anyone in the congregation can offer their caring
support. Cards at Easter and Thanksgiving were sent to members and neighbors near and far. The idea of a marble notebook kept in the Church Office to record contact was not embraced. This was an idea so that no one
who needed a visit or call would be overlooked. Pastor has agreed to serve Communion in the home, hospital or caring facility to those who are not able to get to church. If you would like Pastor to come to you to serve Communion, please call the church office, 631 727 2621 to arrange that visit. If you know of anyone who would appreciate a visit, please let someone on the Committee know (Sandy Gruner, Jane Kulesa, Janet Sanford). We wish you a New Year filled with health and happiness.
New Member Information
Judy Taylor McAfee
It was my pleasure to speak to Judy Taylor McAfee, getting to know her, so that in turn, you could get to know her too…
Judy recently reactivated her membership here @ FCCR. Her family lived in downtown Riverhead and she was brought up in this church, becoming a member here. When her family moved to Sound Shore Road, they joined
First Parish Church, the Congregational church on Sound Avenue. Judy married and moved to the Hudson Valley where she lived for ten years. After her divorce, she was single for six years before meeting her second husband Bill in January of 1980. Sharing an adventuresome spirit they decided to move to a remote corner of Northwest Montana to the Yaak Valley. Before realizing their dream to become outfitters, they opened a mercantile, which was the only general store for forty miles. This was a necessary step to earn money while
their dream materialized. Judy's experience in hospitality and Bill's talent in construction coupled to create two hunting lodges in the Yaak Valley. Both hunting lodges are still operating. One as a B and B and one as a home for troubled children. Bill and Judy had three children, Annie, Sean and Heidi.
Bill passed away in April 2021. Judy opened a Spice and Tea exchange in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, a business that her late husband had a great interest in. Judy became involved on the corporate level of the Spice and Tea Exchange in Florida, where she had a condo and where her sister lived. When Judy's sister decided to come back to NY, Judy came with her. Judy had a long friendship with Ed Tuccio, a fellow Riverhead High School student. They renewed that friendship and now live together in Riverhead.There are many details that this short bio does not include. Please speak to Judy and get the full story.
Marguerite Volonts joined our congregation this spring after attending church for many years at the Wading River Congregational Church. She followed George Moravek to the Mt. Sinai Congregational Church, and the Southold Presbyterian Church and has followed him to the First Congregational Church
of Riverhead. She plans to stay here unless George gets a job directing the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, in which case she will move to Utah.
Marguerite is a graduate of Ithaca College, and SUNY Stony Brook. She taught in the public schools for 35 years (strings and general music), and loved every minute of it, except having to retire.Now she teaches violin and viola privately, directs the Jamesport Meeting House Choir, sings with the Island Jazz Express (big band music), and plays viola with the Sound Symphony. She recently had a
cardiac ablation then played a 3 hour gig the day after the surgery (does not like to miss work...)
Marguerite has two children. Alex, 37, is a professional violist living in Northern California. He is married to a concert violinist, Tingting, and they have two children, Nathan and Tiana. Julia, 36, is an Art Therapist and a Fulbright Scholar (one of only 3 in the United States who have received a Fulbright
in this field). She lives in Queens, has a private practice and works for an established Art Therapy company as well.
Marguerite would like to thank Pastor Sean and all the congregants for making her feel so welcome. She is very impressed with the dedication and time everyone gives to the community through our church. This is a very caring place, and she hopes to live up to the example others have set for her.
Copyright © 2024 First Congregational Church of Riverhead - All Rights Reserved.