Pastor’s Message for June Belfry 2019

Dear Friends,
I always stand in awe and wonder at the institution we call the church. To many it seems an ancient and unchangeable entity. Translated: “But we have always done it this way.” Or if we need an image – church is as solid as the mammoth cathedrals which took centuries to build and populate with the faithful and then centuries more to empty out and become hollow and silent.

But for me, the church is always changing and the new science  seems to be pushing us to think in this wholistic way about not just church but all systems. The new science wants us to look at any system as a system of relationships that exist among seemingly discrete and disparate parts. The old science said to know a system, look at the pieces: they all fit together and if you know how each piece works you’ll understand the whole.  You can take the pieces apart and put them together and you’ll not lose anything in the overall working. The new science says: look at the relationships between the pieces – in between these parts is where the life of the system can be found. When we look at church this way we may find ourselves smiling at the wisdom of an old Sufi teaching:

“We think because we understand one that we must understand two because one and one makes two.  But we must also understand and.” Even after many years of pastoral leadership, I have yet to fully understand or describe “and  because it was defined differently in every church I served and perhaps is likewise differently defined in every marriage made under heaven. It’s in the “and” where all the magic happens.

This is because of the dynamism of human relationships – how they move with change, and can be adaptive and flexible rather than static and strained. But how do we know when it is time to adapt in a system of relationships? Can we adapt to a place that is boundaryless and remain the same system? Can we simplify things without losing what is crucial or become decentralized (without buildings or by-laws or constitutions) and not lose control or differentiation from other entities also called church?

Perhaps there are some key elements that guide the shape, energy and renewal capacity of a system like the church. One such element might be the ability for learning and growth to happen between every person. Another key element might be each part’s willingness to be open or to be stretched in times of stress so the system continues to breathe. Such openness does not fear a shift in the balance of power; it relishes a chance to adapt but it never loses sight of the goal of the system writ large. Like a stream, a church can have more than one response to rocks or accumulated debris and sometimes that response could involve staying expansive and broad. Could we say, that a renewable system also involves faith? And if so, sometimes the faith needed is large enough to see a system like a church dissipate as a system in order to form a new healthier system. Could faith help us see and not fear that new order that emerges from old chaos?

Do you begin to hear, as I do, another key guide to keeping a system living and growing? It comes from a passage that is so common as to have become trite. If we reach back into Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church we are reminded of an old way he described the renewing linkage that would keep the nascent church both eternal and ever new. This linkage, the new science might call the “and” between one and one that keeps the sum always stable at two but, also surprisingly, always fresh and new. Paul says, to his church: “Look here. Know this:”

Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

This June, I celebrate the adaptability of this church system we call, First Congregational Church in Hampton, UCC. I celebrate the LOVE (the and) between the persons that make up this system – a love that is strong yet adaptable, forgiving and open – a love that for more than 375 years has kept its eye on the gravity inherent in its course and like a stream, has continued to flow ever closer to fully realizing the servant body that Christ has called it to become.

In the spirit of “and”, I wish you a renewing summer,

Rev. Debbie

Lectionary Readings and Sermons for June:

June 2 – Sacrament of Communion

Acts 16:16-34 – Breaking Chains

June 9- Pentecost Sunday

Acts 2:1-21 – Sermon Reflection on “Why the UCC Synod is Important” – Don Bliss is guest reflector

June 16 – Trinity Sunday  First Summer Sunday at 9AM

Guest preacher: Diane Mix

June 23 – Post Pentecost – The season of Green –

Luke 8:26-39 and Psalm 42:1-6a – “In God’s Presence – what happens?”

June30 – The Season of Green

Psalm 16:5-11 and Galatians 5:1,13-25 – “Pick up the Mantle”

Services at Compass Care: June 13 and 27 1:30PM

Service at Partridge House: June 18 at 2:30PM

Planting of the Peace Pole: On Sunday, May 5, the Church School and adults celebrated the gift of a Peace Pole for the Church by sharing in a brief “Planting Ceremony.” Please plan to stop by any time you might be passing the church and thank our children for their vision of peace accomplished. You can read the phrase, “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in Arabic, English, Spanish and Swahili.  Perhaps you could leave a prayer by the pole, too?

Belfry Items

Spring 2019 Adult Bible Study Options:  We have two great options for spring Bible study!  The Wednesday Group meets Noon – 1:15 p.m. and the Monday evening group meets 7:00 – 8:15 p.m.  All are welcome–especially new participants!

Wednesday Bible Study Spring Schedule

Wednesday Noon: Twelve Ordinary Men is the name of the new May/June adult study session. We began on May 8 with an introduction and over the next several weeks we will take an indepth look at the twelve disciples whom Jesus called as students and then as “sent out” apostles. We have a lively group of seekers and we laugh often in the midst of moments of deep faith insight and partnering on our shared journeys of faith. There’s always room for one more.


May 19 at 11:15 on the front lawn of the church: The Blessing Ceremony of the Peace Pole, purchased by the church school. Come for prayer and singing and the planting of hopes and dreams for the peace that passes all understanding which comes as Christ’s resurrection gift.

The Burger Burn, Sides and Pies gathering following worship  on May 19.  Come and bring a side that goes with burgers or hotdogs – potato salad, vegetable salad or your favorite appetizer, OR bring a pie that you’d like to share.  We will celebrate family, fellowship, the end of the church school year and anything else we might imagine celebrating – such as the gifts of caring, community, nourishment of body and uplifting of soul. See you there!

May 26 – 3PM. A beautiful concert of cello and piano music that is free (donations accepted).

June 1 – 4PM Another cabaret concert offered by members of Journey Song also free (donations accepted).

June 15 – Come from 4:30 until 6:30 for a wonderful family potluck. Then before you pack up to go home, stay a bit longer to enjoy a marvelous concert offered by Sugar Beats – a fantastic “barbershop quartet” whose range and harmony is amazing.

THANK YOU FOR SPRING CLEANUP DAY – Big shout out to the window washers, our painter and the yard crew, without your help our spring cleanup would not have been possible.
Thank you 
John Recupero

DON’T FORGET….Shhhhhh…. It’s Secret Pals Time!                                 Through May 8, 2019 we will have the cans out for both children and adults who wish to either be a secret pal (and write some letters over the summer) or have a secret pal (and be on the receiving end of letters from an unknown admirer).  Don’t forget to sign up and look forward to a summer of sleuthing and disguise.

Church Office will be closed Monday, May 27th for Memorial Day Observation          We will be having a special Memorial Sunday Service on May 26th.  Prior to this service we invite anyone who wishes to share the name of a deceased veteran whom we may honor to call the office at 926-2837 or email  We have a complete list of names called in previously, so this applies to new names.  Living veterans will be asked to stand at one point during the service.   Please bring in photos on May 26th of loved ones who served in the military (living or deceased) to share with the congregation.

Our mission for May and June will be Church World Service.  You will see a big, black bucket in the narthex and Fellowship Hall to collect donations, donation envelopes are in the pew racks, OR you can easily give at  Our donations go toward items needed around the world where disasters have struck.  In the past you may have donated for Mother’s Day blankets or Father’s Day tools.  We are adding other options this year since the need for disaster relief is so pervasive.  Blankets are $10, school and hygiene kits are $15, and emergency cleanup kits (for post flooding) are $75.  We invite you to be a part of the FCC Bucket Brigade by donating what you are able.  Your generosity has been helping to heal the world for a while.  So, are you ready to “fill the bucket” yet again that this healing might continue?

New! Autoimmune Support Group

Are you a “spoonie?” Do you have an autoimmune disease or chronic illness and need some support? A new group has started in order to offer comfort, caring and understanding.  NO medical advice is offered but there will be lots of supportive conversation, fellowship and, perhaps, some laughter as loads feel lightened. The next meeting is scheduled for February 18, 2019 at 10AM at First Congregational Church.  Feel free to enter the back kitchen door off the parking lot behind the church (door to the far right facing the back of the church).  All are welcomed.