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Judea Weekly eNews - Feb 22 - The Gift of Emptiness

Judea Weekly eNews - Feb 22 - The Gift of Emptiness


    We began our Lenten journey last Sunday by discovering the first Gift of the Dark Woods, Uncertainty.  You know that feeling...  when life shifts and you find yourself in a place of change.  It could come with a personal loss (loved one or job, for instance) or it could be in the form of those smaller nuisance things where life is just not going the way you expected.   There are gifts there and Pastor Cheryl spoke to some of that last week.  This week, we will be exploring the Gift of Emptiness.  It could be imposed upon you along with Uncertainty, or it could be something you prompt, as in emptying yourself through a regular practice of meditation.  As more than one wise spiritual teacher has taught, you must empty your (rice bowl, tea cup, personal vessel) in order to make room for Spirit to enter (or Wisdom or God or how ever you refer to your Source of Being).  We invite you to join us on this journey this Sunday at 10 am in the Meeting House. 

    Easter is just around the corner and Carrie Loyd is busy planning a super fun Egg Hunt.  She is getting creative this year with the fillings so all we need are EGGS, EGGS, EGGS.  The reusable plastic ones, that is.  Please drop off any you may have stashed away to the church office or Sunday School room.  Or if you are feeling moved, we would also appreciate it if you picked up some new ones.  We can always use more.

    We are still welcoming donations to Neighbors in Need through the end of February.  You can put your check into the Sunday offering box, mail or drop it off to the church office, or make your donation online by clicking here.  To learn more about how your contributions are put to work for justice through Neighbors in Need, go to www.UCC.org/NIN.

     Our pot luck dinner with the movie, "Bag It" is coming up a week from this Friday.  Several people mentioned that they would come but have yet to officially confirm that.  Let us know if we can set a place at our table for you.  Just click on the link in the announcement on the right and fill out the short online form.

     Tickets will again be available this Sunday for the Loaves & Fishes Empty Bowl Dinner on March 24.  Advance sales are $15 (or $20 at the door) but we are told by the L&F director that they are going fast so get yours now.  Each person gets a hand made, hand decorated bowl filled with soup, plus salad and dessert.  A great meal deal for a wonderful cause!

     I only highlighted a few of the announcements on the right.  Don't forget to check out the rest of them!

Blessings on your week ahead. 

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


A Thank you from Afghanistan

This note was received and shared by Denise Arturi from a recipient of care items from the Town Hall Gang Soldier Box iniative.  If you would like to help out soldiers like Edwin, watch for our weekly announcement with info on what is needed for the current week's packages.


Good Morning (Denise),

My name is Edwin Ortiz. I received a package from the Town Hall Gang of Washington, CT.

I would like to thank you and all who were involved in sending me thanks. It is my understanding the connection to the Town Hall Gang was through Mary Weber. I believe she does Zumba with my mom, Kristi Ortiz. I don’t have my moms email and I’m sure she’s worried for not hearing from me in months. I ask that some how this email makes it back to my family letting them know that I am healthy and will be home in the upcoming weeks. Due to security reasons I can not specify when specifically but I’ll be home to see spring. Again, I really appreciate you guys and gals for reaching out. I love my family and I love my country. What I do is in service to them. Have a great day and I hope the weather has been more kind lately.

Very Respectfully,

SGT Ortiz, Edwin
937th CC, 20th Engineer Battalion

Soldier Boxes - Donations needed 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.

We sent boxes to this Airman in December.

Our Airman for Friday February 23, 2018

Anthony Oneha
Attn: Any Airman®
TFI 6-7-A
APO AE 09316

Airman's Title: Combat RTO
Added here: 17 November 2017
Expected to leave Iraq: 28 Sep 2018
Contact for approx number of Males: 12, Females: 4
Unit is from: North Carolina

17 Nov 2017:
We are constantly forward in conditions where we crash along side streets we secure. 
When we're back at station we have CHUs. We're looking to take care of the guys/gals we send forward for weeks to months at a time.
coffee is always needed. Pretty much what keeps us moving. 
Military inspired books are helpful to try and pass the time and bring up moral. 
Couple guys combat lost their leathermans/knives.
The nights are getting colder and colder, if there is anyone that could send out hoodies/jackets. That would be greatly appreciated when out on the streets. Sizes range from M/L/XL.
We have a lot of people that dip to stay awake on patrols. 
Beef Jerky or hearty protein snacks that are easily accessible on the move. 
Anything you guys can spare would really help out the team. They have little to no time to get in touch with family with how much we have been forward. And it would really mean a lot to us. 
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

Bag It! Pot Luck and a Movie - Fri, March 2

A few of us who are very concerned about the need for more action on caring for our Earth are forming a Green Team here at the church.  People of all ages* are welcome to join us in the effort.  All you need is a willingness to make changes and make an impact. 

We are planning a gathering to kick off our new Green Team.

WHEN:  Friday, March 2, 6-9 PM  (Movie starts at 7 pm)
WHERE:  First Congregational Church Parish House
                 6 Kirby Road, Washington, CT

WHAT:  Pot Luck Supper and Movie Screening
REGISTER:  Click here for an online form  or contact Terri or Karen.  We need to know: how many people will be coming?  Will you be there for dinner or just the movie?  If so, what will you bring?

"Bag It!  Is your life too plastic?" 

(Note that movie is 1.5 hours and so may be a bit tedious for children under 10 unless they are pretty mature.   There is no "bad" language, though.)

Even if you are just curious about the issue, you are welcome to join us.  We have some activities in mind for implementing here at church, in our homes and in our communities.  But we are open to all ideas and plan to make this a permanent part of our church's life.  If you are interested in coming to the pot luck movie screening and/ or want to get involved in other activities, please send an email to Terri Tibbatts or the church office

Compassionate Communication Practice Group - March 7 @ 6:30 pm

Are you interested in becoming a more compassionate person?
Improving your relationships with self and others?

Join our Compassionate Communication practice group, based on the work of Marshall Rosenberg, who initially shared it as “Non-Violent Communication”.  The group meets once a month and members of the group are encouraged to practice in between.  Our next gathering is on Wednesday, March 7 at 6:30 pm.   Optional pot luck supper at 5:30 pm.  Check in with us if you are interested in attending.

Click here for more information and downloadable resources, reference information and videos.

Time to recycle those plastic Easter eggs!

Carrie Loyd is working on some awesome new features to our annual Easter Egg Hunt on Easter Sunday.  It promises to be fun, engaging, and interactive (in a low-tech kind of way).  We are in need of many plastic eggs.  (If your child was the finder of eggs last year and you took them home, please recycle the eggs!)  You can drop off any donations for this to the church office or bring to church BY Sunday, March 18 so we have them for stuffing in advance.

Empty Bowl Benefit Dinner - Sat, March 24

Empty Bowl Dinner – to Benefit Loaves & Fishes Hospitality House

WHEN:  Saturday, March 24 from 5 – 7 PM

WHERE:  St. John’s Church in New Milford

COST:  $15 for advance tickets; $20 at the door  (See Annie, John or Jim Esslinger for tickets)


Artisans, potters, students and others are creating beautiful ceramic bowls that will be used for a simple meal of soup, bread and dessert for attendees.  All funds will go towards Loaves & Fishes' new building to be erected on Bridge St in New Milford. 

Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door and can be purchased during coffee hour on Sundays or by contacting the church office at 860-868-0569.  Donations are also welcome.

Trivia Night... Saturday, April 21

Individuals and couples are invited to play with us on
Saturday, April 21

The First Congregational Church of Washington, in conjunction with the Litchfield South Association of the CT Conference of the UCC,
is holding a TRIVIA NIGHT to benefit
the Loaves and Fishes Hospitality House in New Milford.

Loaves and Fishes is one of our regular missions and is near and dear to us so we would like to join in.  AND… it promises to be great fun!

The game will consist of TEN TEAMS of 5-6 people.  Each team will contribute $100 to play.  That amounts to $20 or less per person for a night of fun and challenge.  There will be other opportunities to contribute, too, with a 50/50 raffle.

Teams will bring refreshments and arrive between 6 and 6:15 for check-in and getting everyone seated.  The game will begin at 6:30 pm.

We are currently accepting registrations for teams.  If you want to play but don’t have a team, contact us and we can hook you up with a team.

Please contact Karen by email or phone 860-868-0569 as soon as possible if you are interested in participating as a contestant or if you wish to help out as volunteer. 

Interested in starting a health initiative at our church?

Danbury Hospital is offering guidance and support for starting health and wellness programs in faith communities like ours.  If any nurse or health-minded individual is interested in championing this in our church, they will offer educational outreach programs relevant to the needs of our church and local community.  If interested, please contact Karen in the church office.

Silver Lake Registration Time is Here Again!

Conference registration is open and brochures with all camp conferences listed are on the literature table in the Meeting House!  Those who have attended in the past have probably received their brochures already.  If you are new to Silver Lake and will be going into 4th and up, you are elible to attend. 

Conferences include:

  • Circle of Friends (Pastor Cheryl and Cara Michalski, leaders)
  • Bon Voyage and Happy Trails  (Karen & Scott Brady, leaders)
  • Family Camp
  • Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get
  • My Loved One and Me
  • Silver Lake Sings
  • Branching Out
  • With Great Power
  • Around the World
  • Leave No Trace
  • Connect 24
  • God Song
  • My So-Called Life
  • Fun in the Sun
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • Silver Lake's Funniest Videos

Silver Lake Conference Center, 223 Low Rd., Sharon

Registration: http://www.silverlakect.org/register

Learn more about Silver Lake’s tiered pricing in this video: Juggling... The New Silver Lake Cost Options


Give to the Jack Jewett Fund for Silver Lake Scholarships

Silver Lake Registration Time is Here Again!  Please help our kids who cannot afford to grow at camp for a week this summer by contributing to our Jack Jewett Fund.  Each year, this fund helps to offset some of the cost for our kids to continue to experience God in our world through lively and engaging programs, amazing social opportunities as well as spiritual growth.

To hear more about it, visit the Silver Lake website for information and an overview video on the home page. 

A Prayer for the Pastoral Search Committee

Committee Members:  Scott Brady, Emelie Burl, Judie Gorra, John Lintner, Cara Michalski, John Turner, Dave Werkhoven, Dimitri Willert.

     As our newly elected Search Committee prepares to lead us through the work of a pastoral search, please hold them all in prayer.

     Recognizing God’s calling; this congregation has places our trust in the wisdom and dedication of this group of people.  We commission them to work on our behalf to find the next pastor and teacher to minister with and among us.  With gratitude for their willingness to undertake this important work; we promise our cooperation and our prayers.

    May God strengthen your friendship and deepen your faith.  May God give light for your path and fill you with understanding and wisdom to discern the spirit and needs of the congregation.  God grant you eyes of the heart to recognize the spiritual gifts of the one God is sending.  May God give you patience and perseverance.  May God keep you and your families safe and well. 

     And in the coming months, if you don’t know any of them, introduce yourself.  Get to know those fellow members who are doing this important work for our congregation.


Call to Quarterly Congregational Meeting - Sunday, March 25

The meeting will be held Refreshments will be available.

  • Approval of minutes from the January 7th Quarterly Meeting
  • Committee Reports

See you there!  
Trish Grinnell, Moderator

Loaves and Fishes Next Service Date - Thurs March 29

Our next service date for the Loaves and Fishes Hospitality Kitchen is Thursday, March 29. 

We will need all of the usual food items plus volunteers to help setup/ serve/ cleanup.  Please click here to select your volunteer option and sign up. 

If you have any questions about it, please contact Dick Connor or the church office by phone at (860) 868-0569 or by email.

Weather-Related Cancellations

It's that time of year again!  With the possibility of weather-related cancellations, we intend to post cancellations or important Alert! here on our home page.  However, if there is no such announcement, please tune in to WFSB / Channel 3.  Closings, cancellations, or late starts for any activities, including worship, will be posted there.

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