Central Square Congregational Church, United Church of Christ

 

STEEPLE SOUNDS

January 2022


We are a Christian community of people who are reaching out to our neighbors, 
at home and abroad, sharing our faith and our resources.

 

Central Square Congregational Church, UCC, of Bridgewater, Massachusetts is an open and affirming
church. No matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.


From the Desk of Rev. Beth

Rev. Elizabeth Stotts, Pastor

 

As most of you know, Christmas is twelve days long, and Epiphany in Western churches always begins January 6. Epiphany is the “season of light” and the Bible stories we encounter during this season focus upon the visitation of Jesus by the magi, Jesus’ childhood, and his early ministry.


John’s Gospel begins with a narrative about the coming of Jesus: “In the beginning was the Word…. In him was life, and that life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome the light…. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.”


We should remember that in Genesis, God’s first words were yehi ‘or: “Let there be light!” So, with light piercing darkness at the beginning of the world, so also does Christ’s entrance, and the early stories of Jesus resemble the dawning of the new day, the beginning of a new beginning.


It sometimes sounds cliché to talk about “new beginnings” because there is always newness: birth and death are all around us. But the new year always offers us an opportunity to start over, or to find elements of our lives that need a fresh start. It’s good news that we can have a new beginning at any age, and it’s good news that we need many new beginnings, and many opportunities for new beginnings over the course of a lifetime.


In the middle of winter, with Christmas behind us, we are past the winter solstice and the longest night. Epiphany, as the season of light, is a time where we are enticed by the lure of light. And we sure do need some light right about now, don’t we? For many, these past few years have been dark; a veil of sadness and loss sweeping over us. And our faith does ask us to sit in these seasons for a time, without rushing to the next thing. Maybe we should spend this Epiphany, the season of Light, in reflection. Let it be a time of hopefulness, a time of honest reflection, and of deep reflection on this space between birth and death, between Christmas and Lent, between Old Life and New Life, a time to see ourselves and our world more clearly in shadow and light. 


Peace to you, Beloved!

 

In Christ,
Rev. Beth


In-person worship is available every week!

Masks are required regardless of your vaccination status, and other COVID protocols are in place for your safety and the safety of our community.

 

REMOTE WORSHIP ON FACEBOOK AND YOUTUBE will continue on Sundays even after in-person worship resumes.


• We will continue to worship virtually for the forseeable future.
• Use the link on the homepage of www.csccucc.org to access Sunday worship. Click on the COVID-19 update link to access the YouTube link for past services.

 

Mask Reminder

Remember that masks are required at all times inside the church building, regardless of your vaccination status or reason for being there. 

 

Church office hours are Monday - Friday, 10am - 2pm

 

PLEASE NOTE that the church office WILL BE CLOSED on MONDAY, JANUARY 17 in observance of Martin Luther King day.

 

 

Next Cabinet meeting is Wednesday, Jan. 19, 7pm

Monthly meetings of the church leadership are currently being held in the Fellowship Hall. All church members are also welcome to attend. Mask and social distancing protocols are observed.

 

Central Square Church is now on Instagram! Follow us on @centralsquarechurch.


 

Caring for our Community

Do you need a meal, a call, spiritual care, or even just a prayer or a chat?

Contact the Pastor, a Deacon, or a member of our Care Team.

 

To contact Rev. Beth, call the church office at 508-697-6016 or email her at csccpastor @ hotmail.com. 

 

CSCC Senior Deacon
Deb Sorgman – debsorgman @ gmail.com

Jae Stotts - jaestotts @ gmail.com
 

CSCC Care Team
Carol Chaffee
Phoebe Hogg
Bev Mitchell

John Scott

Contact the church office if you need us!


 

The Bridgewater Food Pantry, hosted and supported by CSCC, is open Thursdays, 10am-1pm, and the first Mondays of the month, 6-7:30pm. COVID protocols are in place and adhered to for the safety of all. All Bridgewater residents who are in need of food are welcome.


If you are a Bridgewater resident unable to come to the food pantry, but are in need of food, please contact the church office by email or phone (below) and arrangements will be made for you.

 

Attention all Boards, Committees, and Select Officers and Project Managers:
Annual Reports Due Jan. 15


Please remember that your annual report is due to the church office no later than January 15. Share your accomplishments and what you worked on in 2021! If you need a copy of a prior year’s to use as a guide, contact Deborah in the church office.

 

Thank you!

Thanks to all the cookie bakers who dropped off cookies on December 19 – we were able to make more than 100 cookie packets to be distributed at MainSpring House. Shoutout to Denise Molinari, Diane Sheibley, and Rebecca Sheibley for their service in assembling all the packets, and to Judy Pino for delivering the final products!

 

Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year! Praying for relief and healing from the effects of the COVID virus.
The January 5, 2022 meeting of the Women’s Guild will be held in the Fellowship Hall beginning at 6:30pm. (Masks required except when having refreshments.)


Member Beth Basler will provide the program with a presentation of travels through several of our national parks, including Yellowstone, Tetons, Acadia, and a schooner trip off the coast of Maine. All are invited to join us as we travel together through some of our national treasures.


We thank all who donated so generously to the troop packages. We packed up 14 boxes of items that will be sent to the following for distribution: 
• 1st SG Brandon Casey, Army in Iraq, home state Texas
• 1st LT Mike J. Trapani, Army in Iraq, home state Massachusetts
• CSM John S. Ugarte, Army in Syria, home state Colorado
• Major Marc T. DeRedita, Army in Iraq, home state Colorado 


Guild members also donated more than a dozen comforters and pillows for the women at Journey House, towels for the men’s sober house, CDs and throws for hospice at the Bridgewater Nursing Home, warm socks and jackets for L Street mission, and sweatpants and sweatshirts for homeless individuals being discharged from Signature HealthCare Hospital.


The Guild also donates annually to: Central Square Congregational Church, Salvation Army, Operation Santa, Teen Challenge, Health Imperatives (Penelope’s Shelter for Women), L Street mission, Homes for our Troops, CSCC Youth Mission Trip, and Mitchell’s Monsters. We also make as needed donations to families, individuals, and/or organizations.


We are looking forward to a new year, with new beginnings and renewed hope for our future service and fellowship.
Sandy Alley and Bette de Koning, 
Co-Presidents    

 

 

The Women’s Guild & Fellowship had a wonderful presentation by Rev. Beth along with a Christmas service, at their December meeting.

 

 

Rev. Beth, Paul, and Julia wish to thank everyone for the very generous Christmas gifts.  
We are humbled and thankful.  God bless you all!

 

December was an active month for the outreach team. As our attention turns to those in need and the cold weather comes in, we held our annual Warmth in Cold Places clothing drive. New and gently used clothing including but not limited to hats, gloves, socks, sweaters,  sweatshirts, and long underwear were distributed to those in need in Taunton and Brockton. The recipients were very appreciative of our efforts. 


Your financial support, channeled through Outreach,  went to the UCC Christmas Fund which services clergy in need, Operation Santa in Bridgewater, and Father Bill’s and MainSpring in Brockton.
Thank you for your financial contributions and donations of material items. We ask and you deliver. Your continued generosity is Christ’s love in action. 

 

 

Have you ever experienced a chance moment, a chance reading, a chance greeting, only to experience another like happenstance within a short period of time? Do you wonder if the hand of God has played a role?


As you all know I enjoy a good read with a real book in hand, just in case I fall asleep and the sound of the book crashing to the floor wakes me up.
Currently I have four books I am in the midst of, not usual but it happens. One is a historical novel, which is purely a leisure read and it has no correlation to the other three, at least NOT YET!


The second book is about the early signs of Autism. Again, no connection as of yet.  


The third and the one I have been reading for the longest time (it is hard dividing up your reading time among four books) is the Community Book Read for Fall 2021, The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World. It is a book of conversations between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, with Douglas Abrams putting the pen to paper.

 

The fourth book is The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children by Shefali Tsabary, PhD. Now this book I just opened yesterday, Saturday, to conclude my early morning read after finishing a chapter in The Book of Joy. My daughter Jill, who is an exemplary first grade teacher in California (bragging rights) sent me a copy of the book after she read it last spring. I finally picked it up on Saturday, thinking I better have something to say about it when Jill and family visit during the holidays. But I wasn’t too keen on reading a text book. I still have not gotten past the first pages, but the preface to the book was written by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. And so, I wanted to share with you an excerpt from The Book of Joy that captures how I have been feeling as of late, testing positive for COVID, being isolated and cold symptom sick. As of this writing, I am well.


Setting — the Archbishop and the Dalai Lama are about to share communion!! “This is the first time we get to pray together,” the Dalai Lama said. “One Buddhist, one Christian, brothers. I mentioned to you that since 1975 I have been making pilgrimages to different religious traditions. Sometimes it takes a major disaster for followers of all different faiths to come together and see that we are the same, human brothers and sisters. I consider what we are doing today to be part of the same kind of pilgrimage. When I look at this statue of Jesus Christ, I am really moved. I think this teacher has brought immense inspiration to millions of people.”


Abrams goes on to write “like so many religious traditions, it [Holy Communion] defines who is part of the group and who is not. This is one of the greatest challenges that humanity faces: removing the barriers between who we see as ‘us’ and who we see as ‘other’”.


Our church, Central Square Congregational, and our conference, the United Church of Christ, is vehemently working to break down those barriers.

 

Bidding you Godspeed and New Year Blessings!
Carol Chaffee

 

We are so excited! Heifer is once again coming to Central Square Congregational Church. As January approaches each year, children, youth, and adults all look forward to participating in Heifer Project — it is a fun and lively experience planning and creating items to sell at the Living Gift Market, and learning about the impact their efforts can have. The money will be used to purchase animals to send to families around the world. Families are first trained in the care and feeding of their animal, and then these animals provide food and products to sell to help families become self-sufficient.

 
For 2022, in some ways Heifer will look a little different. We want everyone to be able to participate. As usual we will offer Sunday School classes so boys and girls can plan and work with their classmates on choosing an animal for purchase and fundraising for it. 


This year, we will also offer Sunday School in your own home. Families may choose an animal or animals they wish to sponsor. They will participate in all the activities that children have available at church, but they will be able to do it at home. They will have lessons available online; banks and packets will be given to them for each week. 


There are five Sundays in January. We begin the four lessons for this project on January 2nd, and the lessons end on January 23rd. The Living Gift Market will take place on January 30th after church in Fellowship Hall. We are working together to plan our 2022 Heifer project, and how the Living Gift Market will look. 


We will send a letter or e-mail to parents after Christmas and all the children and youth in the church will receive a postcard inviting them to participate. We hope to make this year fun and exciting! See you all in January.  

 

Your Heifer Leaders,
Krissy Cannizzo and Terry Reynolds

 

UPDATE: PLEASE NOTE: The living gift market planned for January 30 has been postponed due to covid concerns. 

For the past several months, I have been requesting money to build up our Emergency Fund. I want to give a huge THANK YOU to all of the generous people, groups, and organizations who have donated to help those who face struggles.  


Today I also want to share a word to people who are seeking financial help for themselves or friends as the weather turns and we enter the coldest, harshest months.  Many churches, ours included, will provide assistance in one or more ways, and many have various stipulations about how those funds are used, so I want to be clear about how CSCC can help you.  If you are in need, I hope you will reach out!  Even if the church isn’t able to help you, we are always available to assist in seeking out resources.  In general, here is how the CSCC Emergency Fund is used:


• At the pastor’s discretion, or at the request of a partner agency or congregation, we may be able to help pay a utility bill or a month’s rent directly to the company or landlord. There are also times when various churches or community groups will pool money together to cover a month’s rent.


•  We also have available emergency grocery cards, gas cards, and small coffee/breakfast cards.  In the event of an emergency, we may even be able to cover an overnight in a hotel.  


• The church also provides a list of resources, including town, county, state, and federal agencies, that provide long-term support in various ways. If we do this, it’s because we know that the system is available, and though it may be tedious, it does eventually work. Trust us: we want you or your friend to succeed.


• Sadly, we cannot give beyond our financial resources, however much we would love to end all financial hardship everywhere. If our financial resources are spent or fully allocated, we will do our best to connect you with other places.


• One other note… unfortunately the church cannot be counted on to assist in long-term financial support.  The church can only offer financial support on an emergency basis.

 

While I wish we could do more, we’re working in flawed systems to do the most we possibly can with pooled resources so that as many people can be helped as possible. I also want to assure you that your situation and circumstances are kept in strict confidence. I will not only help you to the extent that I or the church is able, I will also pray with you and counsel you if you wish. Because above all else, you need to know that you aren’t alone.  Scripture says in 1 Corinthians 12:26  ”If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.” We are together in this. You are not alone.


In Christ,
Rev. Beth

 

Inclement Weather Policy

The Chair of the Board of Deacons (BOD) in conjunction with the Senior Pastor will discuss the need and reason for cancellation of worship service. Upon the decision to cancel worship service the following procedures shall be put into effect:


1. The Pastor will notify the Minister of Music no later than 6am the Sunday morning of the service in question. The Minister of Music will in turn notify the choir.
2. The Pastor will notify the Sexton and other staff, including the Congregational Administrator.
3. The Congregational Administrator will update the office answering machine with the cancellation announcement, notify the appropriate television media, send a general church email & text notification, and update the website and Facebook page.
4. The chair of the BOD will notify the Moderator and Vice Moderator and the other members of the BOD.

 

The main factors used to decide a cancellation are:
    1. Excessive amounts of snow
    2. Parking availability (or parking ban)
    3. Damage to the church
    4. State of Emergency
    5. Power Outage


To ensure you receive timely notification of weather issues, be sure you are on our email list as well as our cell phone text message notification list. Contact the office with questions.

 

Thank you to all who purchased poinsettias to decorate the altar at our Christmas Eve services. 

Given by ... In Loving Memory of/In Honor of:

 

Rachel Lawson ... Brad Lawson, John Lopez    
Rachel Lawson...Greta Holmberg & Janice Lawson
Rachel Lawson...John Lopes
Dave and Diane Sheibley...Susan Wershing
Dave and Diane Sheibley...John & Amber Sheibley, Tom Sheibley
Beth Sheibley & Michelle Brokmeier...Grandparents of Rebecca and Ben Sheibley – Ed and Beverly Healy
Michelle Brokmeier & Beth Sheibley...The parents of Michele Brokmeier - William F. & Joan A. Brokmeier
Bruce Maclay...Mom & Dad
The Stotts Family...Jon Lybarger & Julie Lybarger
Steve & Connie Chandler...Joseph & Mabel Filipek 
Steve & Connie Chandler...Chester & Mary Chandler
Troy Hubbell...Kelli & Molly
Ellen Crawford...Loved Ones
Gloria Weinrebe...The Weinrebe & Taylor Families
Anne Chaffee...David Chaffee
Gail Wright...Scott Wright
Krissy Cannizzo...Ryan Mitchell
Krissy Cannizzo...Gramma Peggy
Denise Molinari...Lawson & Molinari Family Members
Bill & Terry Reynolds...Loved Ones

 

Breaking Out of the Box: Called to Prophetic Action
Sponsored by the Southern New England Conference, United Church of Christ

 

Join us online for a time of worship, reflection, and facilitated conversation as we honor the life and teachings of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Our holiday program will be led by Rev. Dr. Diane Schmitz. 

 

Dr. Schmitz, ordained in the UCC, is one of the SNEUCC Theologians in Residence for 2022. Her primary focus is working with predominantly white communities to increase the awareness, knowledge, and skills needed to be effective partners in the dismantling racism efforts led by communities of color. She will engage us in dialogue, so that as individuals and congregations, we build skills for addressing racism.

 

As we take time to observe this national holiday, let us rededicate ourselves to the work of building up the beloved community.

 

WHEN
Monday, January 17, 2022 at 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM eastern time

 

Go to this link for more information and to register for the Zoom link:

https://www.sneucc.org/eventdetail/1542696

 

CSCC Cabinet Meeting – Minutes
December 15, 2021 at 7pm

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 by Anne Malmquist, Moderator.

 

Cabinet members in attendance: Rev. Beth Stotts, Pastor; Anne Malmquist, Moderator; Denise Molinari, Vice Moderator; Dave Sheibley, Treasurer; Diane Sheibley, Clerk; Gordon Brailsford, Board of Trustees; Bill O’Neil, Board of Christian Outreach; Margaret Wielhouwer, Board of Christian Education; Terry Reynolds, History & Memorials Committee and Women’s Guild & Fellowship.
Also present: Deborah Lancaster, Congregational Administrator

 

Rev. Beth opened the meeting with a prayer.

 

Diane Sheibley did the roll call and verified that a quorum was present.

 

November Meeting Minutes
The minutes from the November meeting were reviewed. Dave Sheibley motioned to accept the minutes. Bill O’Neil seconded. The minutes were approved without any changes.

 

Pastor’s Report [also see written report] – Rev. Beth Stotts
Rev. Beth worked this last month on the Ecumenical Thanksgiving Service, confirmation Sunday, the advent book study, the Christmas pageant, and Advent activities and services, among other things. She led a grief service at the Bridgewater Senior Center today. In pastoral care, the numbers have gone down, but the intensity has gone up. This Sunday there will be a cantata presented by Julia, a one-act Christmas opera written specially for our church. Christmas Eve there will be a 5pm song and story service, and a 10pm candlelight service.  Dec. 26 will be a hymn sing service. January 2 is a music Sunday.
    Per the Board of Deacons: please pray for emerging pastoral leaders. Also, thank you for all the volunteers that came out to get the sanctuary ready for the Christmas season.

 

Treasurer’s Report [also see written report] – Dave Sheibley
Collections are a bit ahead of budget, and there have been some special gifts from people. While we will still need some transfers in from investments, we’re still doing OK. He gave a shout out to Christmas on the Common, held on Dec. 5, when the church crafters brought in $859, and the jewelry table brought in $425. Including these figures, the fair ended up bringing in over $8,000 (they were budgeted for $7,000).

 

Congregational Administrator – Deborah Lancaster
Deborah apologized that her written report didn’t go out with the other pre-meeting materials. She reported that she has started to put visitors into Constant Contact, our email marketing app. She noted that there are 249 emails in CC, and many do not open the emails. She and Rev. Beth will be looking at cleaning it up after the first of the year. In Servant Keeper (our church member/visitor database), there are 744 family records, including 430 members/regular attendees/visitors. There are some very old subsets and lists in there as well that they will be looking to clean up. 
    There is a new brownie troop meeting at the church, on Friday afternoons. Please remember that the church office will be closed 12/24-12/31.

 

Food Pantry – Bill O’Neil [see also Jack Melcher’s written report]
Bill noted that the pantry has been inundated with food donations. On 11/20, they had more than 30 volunteers show up to help sort food, and ended up with 166 boxes of food items. On 11/23, the pantry distributed turkeys and all the fixings to 58 Bridgewater families in need. The pantry received $9570 in the month of November from local businesses and individuals. 
    The pantry bought $6000 worth of gift cards to distribute to the needy as well as with the Thanksgiving baskets. There has been a little uptick in the number of people coming in. They are looking at buying some shelving for the downstairs area to help with food storage. If anyone would like to help continue to sort food, the best time is Thursdays, 10-1 (during the pantry’s “open” hours).

 

Historical Church Building Committee – Anne Malmquist per Barbara Morey
The check has been approved to pay Brian Pfeiffer his final payment, but the check has not been sent yet. 
    Gordon noted that an article in the Wall Street Journal highlighted the declining attendance at churches. Two contractors have quoted steeple work. He also noted that we do not have a copy of the award letter yet from the town, nor answers to questions we’ve submitted to them. Regarding the $10,000 grant we received, Gordon has a quote to replace the louvers on the steeple for $10,000, but doesn’t have it in writing yet, nor any info on the louvers themselves. There is a $2000 quote for the windows.
    Gordon also noted the crack in the sanctuary (and there are others). The ceiling in the sanctuary needs the plaster replaced, and he’s waiting for a quote for that. One side of the sanctuary entrance has been blocked off for fear the ceiling will drop plaster and pieces of ceiling and harm someone walking under. It is taped off, but still usable in an emergency.

 

Board of Trustees – Gordon Brailsford
The Trustees are asking that the bylaws be rewritten and/or revised, as we’re not living by our bylaws. Anne noted that that process had started just before the pandemic shutdown, and she plans on taking it up again after the first of the year. Gordon also noted that they need more Trustees – 3 is not enough to get the work of the church done.

 

Women’s Guild and Fellowship – Terry Reynolds
Terry reported that they sent quilts, comforters, and sheets to the transitional and sober houses in town. They had a very nice Christmas service this month, which Rev. Beth led and also presented a discussion on death planning. The Guild also packed up around 20 boxes for the soldiers.

 

New Business

• Rev. Beth made a motion that Jae Stotts, now that he is a confirmed full member of the church, be officially appointed to the Board of Deacons (not just a junior Deacon). Diane Sheibley seconded the motion. The appointment was approved unanimously.


• Cookie Project: Denise Molinari noted that we will once again be distributing individual cookie and candy packages to the homeless. Cookies can be dropped off this Sunday between 3 and 3:30, or can be brought to Sunday morning service. The cookies are going to MainSpring House.


• Heifer: Terry Reynolds announced that the Sunday school youth would be engaging in education and fundraising for Heifer International, during the month of January. Terry and Krissy Cannizzo will be coordinating. A postcard will be going out to all families of children and youth. There will be in person Sunday school, but also video lessons each Sunday for those at home. There will be packets of materials as well. The Living Gift Market will look a little different, but will still take place on the last Sunday of January. The theme this year is FAITH. Rev. Beth noted that she and Deborah have worked on a list of children and youth, and Deborah will share it with Terry. Rev. Beth suggested Terry talk to Paul as well regarding any video needs, as he likely will be very willing to help.


• Poinsettias: last day to order them to decorate the Christmas altar is this Sunday, 12/19.


• Anniversary mugs: almost sold out of our second printing. Office has a few left.


• Annual Reports: remember that annual reports are due by January 15.


• The deadline for submitting items for the January Steeple Sounds newsletter is extended until Monday.

 

Rev. Beth closed the meeting in prayer. The meeting adjourned at 7:50pm.
 


 

For the current CSCC calendar of events, click here: CALENDAR


 

Church Administration
Pastor: Rev. Elizabeth Stotts, csccpastor @ hotmail.com

Congregational Administrator: Deborah Lancaster
Minister of Music: Julia Scott Carey 

Director of Video Evangelism: Paul Holmes
Treasurer:  David Sheibley 
Office telephone:  (508) 697-6016
Website:  www.csccucc.org
Facebook pages: facebook.com/csccuccbridgewaterma (main page),
facebook.com/groups/801550253194149 (youth page)


Steeple Sounds submissions deadline is the 15th of the month prior to publication.