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Judea weekly eNews - August 23 - Blessings all around

Judea weekly eNews - August 23 - Blessings all around

Dear Friends,

    Not only will we be blessing backpacks, students and educators, Church World Services school kits, backpacks for the homeless and others in need this Sunday, but Pastor Cheryl will be also talking about the power of praying for others.  Hopefully, this will empower and inspire you to incorporate more of this kind of prayer into your life! And do plan to lend a hand in packing school kits for Church World Services during coffee hour on the Green after worship.

  • This Sunday, August 27, 10 am - Blessing of the Backpacks, Students and Educators
  • September 3, 10:30 am - Honoring our Work and Blessing of the Tools of Our Trades at the annual joint service with Salem Covenant Church at the Pavilion at Washington Primary School
  • September 10, 10 am - Homecoming Service and Mixing of the Waters, followed by a rainbow group portrait, and our annual "Last Gasp of Summer" picnic on the Green

  This is the last Summer Camp Sunday.  There will be no Sunday School at the Pavilion service on Labor Day weekend.  Regular format Sunday School begins on September 10.  Carrie Loyd is always looking for people who will volunteer to care for the baby through preschool set in the nursery right next door to the Sunday School room.  If you are willing to help out on an occasional Sunday, please let Carrie know.

     Woo-hoo!  We set a record for summer food collection!  With the last (large) delivery this past week, we have recorded a total of 364# of canned goods, personal and household care products to the Washington-Warren Food Bank.  Through next week, we will continue to direct donations in the grocery cart to Washington-Warren.  Beginning in September, we will be collecting food again for the New Milford Food Bank.  Please keep up the habit of blessing others with the gift of food.

     There is a new but very important announcement on the right.  September 10th is going to be packed with a ton of good things as we celebrate the start of another year together!  Mixing of the Waters, Last Gasp of Summer Picnic, and now a rainbow portrait of the whole group in attendance that Sunday to celebrate our Open and Affirming status.  Come dressed in a solid color of the rainbow and take your place in the spectrum!

There is no way I could fit into this newsletter all the good news going on here.  So please check our Home page for any announcements that didn’t make it into this email.  And stay tuned because there is more to come.  The bi-monthly Judea Journal will be out next week.

Hoping to see you on Sunday!

Karen Esslinger
First Congregational Church | admin@firstchurchwashingtonct.org | www.FirstChurchWashingtonCT.org | Calendar


UCC Condemns Racist Violence

UCC Pastoral Letter condemns racist violence in Charlottesville and demands equality for all

As a response to the violent clashes between white supremacists and counter demonstrators in Charlottesville, Va., that left a woman dead and 19 injured, the national leadership of the United Church of Christ issued this Pastoral Letter.

Please click here to read about the church's position on this.


Blessing of the Backpacks, Students, Educators - Sun, Aug 27

On Sunday, August 27, our 10 am service will include a Blessing of the Backpacks, Students and Educators.  For this ceremony, we ask that all children and youth bring their school backpacks to church so that they may be blessed for inspired work during the coming school year.  Educators of all sorts are included, too, so come!  And bring your friends so they can start a blessed new school year.

As we did last year, if you have any extra backpacks, used but still in good condition, you can bring them along for donation to Social Services in New Milford to be distributed to homeless folks in New Milford.  These will be included in the blessing.

In addition, we will be blessing basic learning supplies that we have gotten for assembly of "school kits" to be donated to Church World Services for distribution world-wide to impoverished communities and refugee camps. 

Helping Kids Around the World - Sun, Aug 27

Our church has been supporting Church World Services (CWS) by making school kits for generations, at one time we made sewing the school bags ourselves. Even though we don’t make the bags any longer, we still take the importance of the work very seriously, knowing that this small effort makes a very big impact in the lives of all recipients and their families.  Click here to find out more about kits at cwskits.org.

On Sunday, August 27, we have a goal of making 60 school kits.
Here’s how you can get involved:

  • Donate to help us pay for supplies to make the kits.  Make the check to FCC and put “school kits” in the memo line.
  • Come to Church on August 27 at 10 am and help.  Our worship service that day will include a Blessing of the Backpacks, School Kits (supplies), Students and School Educators and help assemble kits on the Green afterward at 11 am. 
  • Do you know someone who is concerned about helping others to help themselves?  Invite them along to help provide learning tools to impoverished kids around the world.
Blessing of Our Work Tools at the Pavilion - Sep 3 @10:30

Our annual Labor Day Sunday joint service with Salem Covenant Church will be held Sunday, September 3 at 10:30 am in the pavilion behind Washington Primary School - Rain or Shine!

Join us as we break bread with others in the greater community.  Pastor Cheryl will co-lead the service along with Rev. Linda Williams of Salem Church. 

As is now a tradition, we will be blessing the work we do and the tools we use for that for the year ahead.  Bring one of yours that is lightweight and portable - either one of the primary tools you use or something that is symbolic of that work: laptop, date book, smart phone, hammer, backpack, etc.

Celebrating in Living Color

In celebration of our status as an Open and Affirming church and also our love of the diversity of all people, like colors in a very big box of crayons, we plan to make a visual statement in the form of a rainbow portrait of everyone who attends church on Homecoming Sunday, September 10.

On that day, in addition to your sample of water from wherever you got your refreshment this summer, and your contribution to our picnic pot luck table: 

Please dress in the solid color of your choice from the rainbow.  You will appear in the photo wherever you are on the color spectrum.

We, the members of the First Congregational Church of Washington CT, believe that all people are vessels of God’s grace. We strive to be an inclusive Christian community of unconditional love and sanctuary that inspires all individuals regardless of ability, age, culture, ethnicity, gender identity or expression, race, sexual orientation, or social standing. Following Jesus’ commandment to love God and our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:28-34), we openly welcome and affirm all who wish to participate in the fellowship, leadership, and spiritual growth of our congregation and to join us as we explore the many ways that God is still speaking. No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.

Have you ever volunteered for Loaves & Fishes?

The Loaves and Fishes Hospitality House is planning a Gala Fundraising event as part of a year-long celebration.  This fundraising will help to build the Danny Straub Community Outreach Center in New Milford, which will be the new home of the hospitality kitchen/dining facility.

As part of the celebration effort, they want to acknowledge and honor as many of the volunteers as possible by including them in the Gala's program. 

If you have volunteered for Loaves and Fishes, either currently or sometime in the past, please provide your name and the estimated number of years you have volunteered at Loaves and Fishes.  Please note whether you have served in the hospitality kitchen or if you have provided food for the meals we provide.

Email that to the church office, or call 860-868-0569 and leave a message.
Deadline to respond is:  August 28

Donations needed for Soldier Boxes by Friday!

"The Town Hall Gang" sends two boxes to military personnel stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan every week.  One box is for personal care items and the other is for food items.  They send to a variety of troops - some with connection to people in Washington and others are total strangers.

Note: Remember that we cannot send aerosol cans so shaving cream must be in tubes.


Our Soldier for Friday August 25, 2017

Attn: Any Soldier®
APO AE 09320

Soldier's Title: DIRECTOR of ALP SOAC
Added here: 27 July 2017
Expected to leave Afghanistan: 08 Jun 2018
Contact for approx number of Males: 12, Females: 0
Unit is from: North Carolina

27 Jul 2017:
I have a group of soldiers, sailors, and Marines that are all affiliated with Special Operations.
We are a special operations advisory cell(SOAC)

They would prefer healthy foods and snacks.

We live in hardened structures with refrigerators and microwaves.

We have laundry facilities but are in need of the small gel pod soap.

Thank you!!!!!


The team normally packs for shipment on Friday evenings upstairs in Town Hall. 

Items can be dropped off weekdays at the Town Hall in Bryant Plaza. Please place items in the upstairs room next to kitchen. 

Click here for lists of items:   General items collected every week - On-going

Contact Denise Arturi if you have any questions about the program or items in

found on a weblist of troops requesting supplies. Also, for shipping purposes, any canned food should be small.

For more information, contact Denise Arturi:  860-868-2880

Judea Garden "Open Garden" - Sat, Aug 26

Steep Rock Associations’ Judea Garden will hold its annual Open Garden!

WHEN:  August 26, 2017 from 3:00 – 5:00 p.m
WHERE:  Macricostas Preserve, 124 Christian Street, New Preston
WHAT:  Visitors, volunteers, and friends are welcome to explore the beautiful garden; enjoy refreshments; and learn about nettles and soils from summer interns Teddy Eichen and Matt Minicucci.

Judea Garden, a Steep Rock Association community project, plays a key role in serving the town of Washington, CT and beyond. What began as a small organic community garden in Washington has grown to serve people in surrounding towns including New Milford, Torrington, and Warren. What began as a handful of volunteers now involves dozens of hardworking gardeners, sponsors, local businesses, and community groups.

This year, Judea Garden will honor two local organizations who have been volunteering and growing crops since the first season in 2009: the Greater Washington Coalition of Jewish Life and the First Congregational Church of Washington.   

Judie Gorra has been the primary volunteer from First Church.  Each year, she starts plants from seed, plants and tends the plots credited to our church.  If you have never pitched in down at the Garden, it is a wonderful experience and I KNOW Judie would love the help.  Please ask her about it.  I am sure there is still some weeding and tending that may need to be done in the late summer when volunteerism starts to wane.

Loaves and Fishes Next Service Date - Thurs Aug 31

Our next service date for the Loaves and Fishes Hospitality Kitchen is Thursday, August 31. 

Thank you to all who have volunteered to donate food and/or serve at the Kitchen that day!  Drop-off for food items is Wednesday, August 30 (until 5 pm) and Thursday, August 31 before noon.

If you have any questions about it, please contact Dick Connor or the church office by phone at (860) 868-056 or by email.

Food Bank - Still Collecting Food

Food Collection

We are still accepting food contributions for the Washington-Warren Food Bank. 

Over the next several weeks, we will continue to direct our donations to Washington-Warren to help them restock their shelves.  There are a few things that they have a LOT of (pasta, beans, corn) but they are in need of other staples.  Each week, we will focus on stocking up a particular food item to help them fill their gaps - though anything on this list is welcome.  Please tell your friends about this and ask them to contribute if they can.   (PLEASE... no pasta, dried beans or corn!)

Week of 8/20 - Canned fruits (preferably not in syrup)

Week of 8/27 - Back to School!  Healthy snacks for the backpack (fruit leather, small boxed raisins, etc.)

Bring your donations to church on Sunday or they may be placed in the Parish House shopping cart any time the building is open (Monday through Friday, 9-5 pm, and Sunday mornings)

Remember the WATER! (Sunday, Sept 10)

Don't forget the water - image of dropletDon’t Forget the Water!

Over the summer, in whatever place you go to recharge (experience Sabbath), remember to save some water in a bottle.  From a lake, a stream, an ocean, or your kitchen tap!  Be sure to label it and save it in a safe spot to bring along on Recovenanting Sunday, September 10, for our annual “Mixing of the Waters” as we begin another year of exploring and celebrating Sabbath together.

Mark the date on your calendar so you don’t miss the service and also the annual “Last Gasp of Summer” picnic afterward.  ENJOY!

Green Fair Remembrances - A virtual tour

Tony Vengrove, our roving videographer, captured the fair on video and is now available for you!  Click here to view!

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