Central Square Congregational Church, United Church of Christ

Steeple Sounds

June 2020

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


Grace and Peace to you!

Beloved saints of Central Square Church, we’ve come a long way. It’s been almost three months since we made the urgent swing into broadcast-only worship. At that time, we didn’t know what to expect next – all we knew was that our public health officials would guide us well. We’ve paid close attention to their guidance at each step of this unfamiliar road; that trust was well-placed. By shifting our collective life to broadcast and video-conference formats we’ve offered vital intervention in the spread of a deadly pandemic. Along the way, we’ve become a leader in broadcast worship, attracting record numbers of participants in our services. We’ve mobilized volunteers to care for members identified as belonging to vulnerable populations – calling to check in with folks on a regular basis, sewing masks for public wear, connecting folks with grocery resources, continuing our ministries to the food insecure. Church, we’ve come a long way. But I have to tell you, we have a long way yet to go. And so, we pray…

Lord, hear our prayers. May our vulnerable neighbors be safe. May our doctors, nurses, aides, and cleaning crews be courageous and wise. May we stay safe at home until the worst has passed. And then, may we also be wise as we plan for what comes next. Lord, hear our prayers.

I don’t know what our lives will be like a month from now or two months from now. We trust our public health officials to guide us well. We will pay close attention to their directives for public gathering as the weeks progress. In the meantime, we do need to make some plans and I want you to know what they look like. We will continue our Sunday morning live-stream worship services, the Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday noontime devotions on Facebook Live, weekly emails, and host all meetings by Zoom or other video conferencing. 

While it’s true that our live-stream worship has had record numbers of viewers, there are still people in our community who’ve given up on church because they have no idea a place like Central Square exists. Please continue to share the links to our worship with your friends, family, and neighbors. This is our chance to share the Good News! Regardless of how we gather, I am committed to sharing soul-stirring worship with excellence every week and it is my prayer that our worship will continue to connect us even as we are physically distanced. Our worship team is talented, inspired, and dedicated to their work. Thanks be to God! 

These may be strange and unsettling times, but the spirit of Central Square Church is strong. We are anchored in the firm foundation of God’s steadfast love and I can’t think of any place I’d rather be. If you have questions, concerns, or ideas for how we might live together more faithfully during this season, I am always interested to hear from you. Just drop me a line. God be with you ‘til we meet again.

In Christ,
Rev. Beth


Building Closure Extended until September 1

Updated May 20, 2020


Dear Friends,

As this pandemic continues to affect our community and our world, and with the least among us particularly in mind, the Central Square Congregational Church building, at the recommendation of the Southern New England Conference, the CSCC Board of Deacons, and the CSCC Cabinet, has extended its closure until at least September 1. 


The decision to extend the building closure until at least September 1 was not, as you can imagine, made lightly. We would like to share with you how this decision was made, and on what information.


Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ
Just prior to Governor Baker’s announcement that churches may begin to once again hold in-person worship services, the SNEC-UCC released their recommendation that church buildings remain closed to group events of any kind at least until September 1. Upon Gov. Baker’s announcement, they stood by their recommendation, and reiterated their reasons. Their full commentary and analysis is available on their website at sneucc.org/phasingforward. Below are several excerpts:
• First, there is no way to ensure the overall safety of our congregations and communities until there is a trusted vaccine. 
• Second, in person worship in sanctuaries is one of the types of gatherings that is most likely to spread the infection:  
— In an enclosed room over a length of time the airborne viral particles can reach every corner. 6-foot or 12-foot physical distancing will not prevent this.   
— Speaking, praying, and singing aloud propels the virus even further than just breathing.  
— Using masks limits but does not prevent the transmission of the disease.  
— Common surfaces abound. 
— We know that people can be carriers of the virus without any symptoms. 
• Third, we don’t know everything about this disease and its impact on all ages. New information is coming out daily. This makes it hard to predict trends, safety measures, and phases.   
• Fourth, our congregations are comprised of the populations most vulnerable to Covid-19.    
• Fifth, an outbreak in our churches impacts our communities and the capacity of our health care system.  


CSCC Board of Deacons
The Board of Deacons recommended to the Cabinet that they did not feel reopening the building was appropriate at this time, with the following thoughts:
• Many of our usual traditions, and the interactions that we hold dear as a part of worship, would likely not be a part of it: greeting, ushering, conducting the offering, communion, and coffee hour.
• There is not much to be gained by having the office staff working on location more than they are now, and we do not want to encourage visitors to the office. They can continue to work remotely as they have been as much as possible and at their comfort level.


Cabinet met on their usual 3rd Wednesday of the month, on May 20, via Zoom teleconferencing. The information from the Conference and from the Deacons was presented. Other discussion was presented, such as if we were limited by the state as to how many people we could have in a worship service, who would enforce that?  How could we turn people away if we were “at capacity”? It is for all of these preceding reasons that Cabinet was in full agreement that we not open the building to the public until at least September 1. As that date draws near, all circumstances will be reevaluated, and further decision will be made accordingly.


*  *  *  *  *  *  *


• We will continue to worship online 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.
•  Sunday Worship will be livestreamed from the Sanctuary at 10 a.m. Only the Pastor, the Minister of Music, and the Director of Video Evangelism will be allowed in the building.  


•  Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at noon, visit our Facebook page - www.facebook.com/csccuccbridgewaterma/ - to engage in a live, interactive prayer session led by Rev. Beth.


•  Most building users are still prohibited from using the building. The Bridgewater Food Pantry, with procedures put in place to protect its visitors and staff, is an exception and will continue to provide food to our community in need. We are also working with the addiction support groups to possibly begin meeting again in our building. Their requirements would be specific and strictly enforced. They would include things like social distancing, the wearing of masks, prohibition from using the kitchen and from using tables, and using only one of the bathrooms. Proper sanitizing would be done between each group meeting.
•  Even if you have a key to the building, please do not enter the building during this time. Each one of us that enters is a potential carrier, even if we’re not feeling sick. If you are tempted to say, "well, I'm sure that doesn't mean me.", IT DOES. If you have any questions or think that you should enter the building for any reason, call the church office at 508-697-6016 (phone is being answered remotely during the shutdown).

Yours In Christ,
   Rev. Beth Stotts, Pastor            
   Anne Malmquist, Moderator        
   Diane Sheibley, Vice Moderator  

   David Sheibley, Treasurer

   Ed Buckland, Board of Trustees

   Deb Sorgman, Board of Deacons 

         along with the rest of the CSCC Cabinet

• Central Square Congregational Church, UCC: www.csccucc.org
• Center for Disease Control Guidelines: www.cdc.gov
• World Health Organization Guidelines: www.who.int



Booth Video Productions and BTV Access Corporation team up to bring you livestream productions of our services. The link to watch the service live, as well as an electronic copy of our bulletin so that you can follow along, is available each week that we are broadcasting on our website homepage, www.csccucc.org.You can watch weekly sermons live on YouTube courtesy of Paul Holmes and Booth Video (search Central Square Congregational Church).


Caring for our Community

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

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.
* the church phone is being answered remotely during the shutdown

CSCC Deacons
Deb Sorgman – debsorgman @ gmail.com
Diane Glass – dglass260 @ gmail.com
Lynn Pietras – lsypie @ aol.com

CSCC Care Team
CentralSquareCareTeam @ gmail.com
Carol Chaffee
Diane Glass
Phoebe Hogg
Bev Mitchell

John Scott

Rev. Beth Stotts


Thank You for your Continued Gifts, Tithes, and Offerings

During this time, we encourage you to continue your support of CSCC, to the degree you are able. We know this may be a trying time for you financially as well as emotionally, so please know that we understand if you are not able to meet your usual giving goals. But for those who can, remember the church has ongoing expenses that don’t care that everything is shut down. And we are trying to do right by our staff as much as possible, even though our primary income mechanism is unavailable (Sunday offerings).


Donations and offerings can be made in any of the following ways:
* Checks can be mailed to the church (71 Central Square, Bridgewater, MA 02324)
* Bill-pay through your bank can be set up for one-time or recurring payments
* Payments can be made via the Paypal by CLICKING HERE (no Paypal account necessary)
If you have any questions, you can email the Treasurer directly and confidentially at treasurer @ csccucc.com.




The Bridgewater Food Pantry, hosted by CSCC, will remain open its usual days and times (Thursdays, 10am-1pm, first Mondays of the month, 6-8pm), although with slightly different format to respect the crucial physical distancing. 

Precautions have been put in place so that patrons will not come in contact with each other during their visit. If you have lost your job or have kids at home from school and need some assistance with food, please feel welcome to go (Bridgewater residents only). 

If you would like to help out, you can drop off non-perishable donations at the side door of the church every weekday from 9 to 1. Just leave them outside the door. They especially need ingredients for breakfasts and lunches. You can also donate money via check that can be mailed to the church (make check out to "CSCC" and put "food pantry" in the memo, and mail to 71 Central Square, Bridgewater MA 02324), or by electronically by CLICKING HERE.



If you are wondering how to help mend our church budget —  which is suffering for the lack of offerings, donations, and fundraisers  during this pandemic — and you are over 70 years of age, you might have a way to help.

Two pieces of federal legislation in the past six months changed some rules about the Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) from IRAs, 401Ks, etc.
First: the RMD is now not required until age 72, up from age 70. 
Second: in 2020 only if you are eligible for an RMD, you may skip it.

In either case, take it or not, you may use the RMD to donate to a charity like our church, without the amount you donate being considered taxable income for you.
Talk to your financial advisor about the changes wrought by the CARES Act and the SECURE Act, and keep our wonderful church in mind.



Rev. Beth's Sabbatical

In parish ministry, for a three-month period every seven years, pastors step away from the persistent obligations of daily parish life to engage in a period of renewal and reflection, for drinking again from God’s life-giving waters. In talking with Rev. Beth back in 2019, the Deacons discerned that it would be best for the congregation if she took one month of sabbatical every year for three consecutive years. 


In the summer of 2019 (the end of her seventh year), she took one month of sabbatical to study yoga and meditation, and to visit her family in California. While she was away, we welcomed the retired Rev. Jim Conley (a friend and colleague of Rev. Beth) into our community. He served as our sabbatical pastor for the month of July. 


This summer, we will be doing the same thing. She will be out of the office and unavailable July 1 - 31. While Rev. Beth is away for her second month of reflection and rejuvenation, we are privileged to have Rev. Jim  serving our community once again (see article below). We are very excited for Rev. Beth to have this time away, and for Rev. Jim to be joining us.




Rev. Jim Conley

While Rev. Beth is on sabbatical time off July 1-31, Rev. Jim Conley will be conducting our streaming worship services and available (on a limited basis) for pastoral care. Contact the church office if you require care during the month of July.


In His Own Words...

I was born in Boston, raised in Weymouth, am an Eagle Scout, and went on to graduate from U Mass, Amherst. After graduating I spent five years as a commercial fisherman on Martha’s Vineyard. I then became a businessman. My last position in business was 15 years as an executive for AAA. I was raised Roman Catholic and left the church when I went away to college. Most of my adult life was spent as a spiritual wanderer. My Christian faith was inspired by a wonderful pastor/preacher named Rev. Shelly Stackhouse. 

In my time as a very active member of UCC Norwell, I received the call from God to become an ordained Christian minister and serve God by becoming a pastor. I left my career and went to Boston University School of Theology where I received a Master of Divinity degree. 

For the last six years, I was Pastor of West Congregational Church, UCC in Taunton. I then served as Pastor of Union Congregational Church, UCC in East Bridgewater. After a marriage that ended in divorce I have married the love of my life, Rev. Meg Clapp. I served as Chaplain of the East Bridgewater Fire Department and currently I’m Chaplain of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts. 

I have many varied interests. I am a reader. I enjoy exercise, cooking, eating, music, movies, theater, and travel. I am a rabid fan of the local professional sports teams. I love my life. 


Roof Damage

With recent storms and winds, new damage to the church roof has been discovered. The concern, of course, is that there is bare wood exposed. The Trustees are working on it, to get it patched before more damage can be done. Thanks to Gordon Brailsford and his drone for the picture, and taking the lead for getting it repaired.


Jess Stearns Stepping Down as Director of Christian Education

While we are not saying goodbye to Jess, she is not renewing her contract to hold the position of Director of C.E. We’re very happy that she will still be an active member of our church, likely still participating in Sunday School and youth events, but she is looking at other career directions. On top of that, as some of you already know, she is expecting their family’s second child! So her priorities are with her growing family responsibilities as well.

Jess made a huge impact with our youth groups, mission trip youth, Heifer program, nursery program, and so much more. We were so blessed to have her as a church leader this last year, and look forward to continuing to see her at CSCC events and worship. Thank you, Jess!


Budget Meeting Postponed

Hello Church Family,

Our annual budget meeting was scheduled for June 14, and due to several extraordinary circumstances and uncertainties, it has been difficult for the church leaders to create a feasible and reasonable budget for the upcoming year. So we would like to postpone the budget meeting to September 20, 2020. This will allow for some financial questions to be answered and it will also allow for us to have a physically distanced all church meeting. We want to insure that we have all the appropriate information and that the church body has an opportunity to discuss and respond.  

We will continue our current budget until September. We understand if you are unable, but if it is at all possible to continue your pledged giving, the Church really appreciates you doing so.

Stay safe and be well.

In Christ,
Anne Malmquist - Church Moderator
Dave Sheibley - Church Moderator
Gordon Brailsford - Trustee
Ed Buckland - Trustee 


Previously scheduled for July 17, 2020, this year’s in-person golf tournament has been postponed until 2021. Why did we say “in-person” tournament? Stay tuned...

On a related note, 

if you want to help out with a fun, different, slightly quirky — and yet crucially needed — fundraiser for CSCC, contact the church office. All talents, skillsets, and time commitments  welcome.




Being a hospice volunteer for several years, visiting clients and singing to clients, has opened many doors of opportunities to me for learning. As a volunteer we are required to take educational training courses that focus on safety, compassion, care and many other areas that enhance the relationships that we foster.

Because of the pandemic, I have been unable to carry out this ministry in person. For those clients that I visit, I have been sending notes of cheer. And keeping in touch with the hospice volunteer coordinator to get updates on their well being.

The singing group continues to rehearse via Zoom in hopes that eventually we will be able to sing at bedside for those that might be near their final hours.
I wanted to share a couple of thoughts from video presentations that I watched this past week.

One of the social workers on staff did a presentation on the analogy of this pandemic and the stages of grief. Since Elizabeth Kubler Ross first came forth with the 5 stages of grief, there have been many derivations but pretty much the same principles.

"The five stages — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance — are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief."

The point that the social worker was making is that we are all experiencing grief during this pandemic and no one's path is the same. It is not a loved one that we have lost, though some of us have, it is a loss of our life as we know it. It is healthy to experience these stages and one can bounce from one stage to another and then back again.

The other video presentation I watched was about short term memory loss. It is called by many names. The presenter was Diana Waugh and her approach to patients with short term memory loss was birthed through her own experience and relationship with her mom. Diana's main point in conversing and caring for people with short term memory loss is to come to terms with the fact that they are not going to remember what they had for lunch or what someone said to them two minutes ago, but they would love to tell you about the dog that they had growing up. So start a conversation with a story about a familiar town, an animal that you just met, a restaurant where the fried clams were great and you could hear the seagulls and waves crashing against the shore. Those stories may jog a memory and then be the conversation starter that you have been looking for.



Carol Chaffee
Care Team Member



Congratulations, 2020 Graduates!


Zachary Artruc
Great nephew of John and Linda Sharland
West Warwick [RI] High School


Matt Barnsley
Concordia University, MFA in Creative Writing


Heather Ciaramitaro
Simmons University, Master’s in Nursing


Meghan Garrity
Granddaughter of Nancy & David Winter
Boston University, magna cum laude, BA in Psychology


Andrew Jackson
Maine College of Art, BFA in Photography


Eric Molinari
University of Minnesota, Master’s in Urban Planning


Ben Struzik
Bridgewater-Raynham Regional High School


Casey Wershing
Niece of Diane and Dave Sheibley
Campbell University School of Medicine


To find the below Lectionary online, go to www.macucc.org/Lectionary.

Remember that when you shop on Amazon, use “smile.Amazon.com” rather than just “Amazon.com”, and designate CSCC as the charity to benefit from your purchases. It costs you nothing extra! Contact the church office with questions.


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


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

Congregational Administrator: Ellen Atherton,  office @ csccucc.com
Sexton: Rich Sullivan
Minister of Music: Julia Scott Carey, juliascottcarey @ gmail.com

Director of Christian Education: Jess Stearns, jessicastearns1231 @ gmail.com

Nursery Coordinator: Maria Kean, mmkean14 @ gmail.com
Treasurer:  David Sheibley,  treasurer @ csccucc.com
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.