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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Preaching at FCC, Bethel

First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Bethel, Connecticut
For the last few weeks, I've been preaching at the First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, in Bethel, CT.  Their pastor of thirteen years, Dr. Sheldon Smith recently retired and their interim minister, Rev. Laura Westby, won't start until March 5, so I've been filling the pulpit as something of an "interim interim minister."  I've been sharing the pulpit with the congregation's Licensed Parish Associate, Jane Ellingwood, and have been enjoying myself immensely as I lead both the 10:00am and 6:00pm worship services, which are distinctly different in style.  The 10:00am service is a "traditional" service, with three hymns, choir, organ, and full liturgy.  At 6:00, the service is more intimate and relaxed, with a guitarist playing for the songs, only one scripture reading, and is concluded with a potluck supper in the church hall.

I've been impressed by this friendly congregation.  They've welcomed me into their family and have been receptive to the small changes that I've suggested.  Most notably, they've been enthusiastic about the modification that I've made to the traditional "Please turn off your cell phones" announcement at the beginning of the service.  Now, the announcement goes something like, "Please take out your phones and check in on Facebook, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Twitter, or other social media.  Silence your devices, but please use them to let your friends who are not here know what they're missing."  There's also been a lot of interest in the way that I have Ian videorecord all of my sermon and then post them to youtube (www.youtube.com/revpaulucc) so that those who miss the service can still be able to experience worship.

Just this morning, I received a call from one of FCC Bethel's deacon co-chairs, asking if I would be willing to add an extra Sunday to my time with them, so I've agreed to preach there on March 4, which will have me celebrating communion with them on my last Sunday there.  Already, though, I'm looking forward to the possibility of returning as a guest preacher when Laura takes her vacation or for a special program on the story of the Amistad.

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