Camp Out on God’s Acre

Where: God’s Acre

When: Friday, September 23 – Saturday, September 24

Check-in begins at 5:00pm, wrap-up by 9:00am

What: Pitch your tent on God’s Acre for fun and fellowship! Pig roast dinner, a casual worship service, and a campfire under the stars – with s’mores and a movie! Grab and go breakfast to make it to all your Saturday activities.

RSVP: Kelly McGinn, or (203)966-2651, x826

Stephen Ministry Training

Classes for Stephen Ministry will begin this fall. Please give some thought to whether you would like to be part of this training. Classes will be held on Tuesday evenings from 7:00-9:00pm, beginning September 20, and will meet from September through January.

Stephen Ministry Training is a wonderful, comprehensive program for anyone interested in becoming more involved in our church community. Stephen Ministers are thoroughly trained to offer one-on-one lay Christian care. The training is also helpful in a broader context: for family interactions, if you are a caregiver, and even in work situations.

Please contact any any of the Stephen Leaders with questions about Stephen Ministry: Beth Baker: (203)554-4736 Jim Cole: (203)934-9405 Avril Sweeny: (203)966-4597 Cindy Ziegler: (203)962-3325 or contact Debbie Chapman in the Church Office: (203)966-2651, x831.

Invitation to Join Our Church

Please join us for our upcoming ‘New Members’ class. We will meet for the following sessions this fall:

10/23 – New Member Initial Social, Parsonage, 4:00-6:00pm

10/30 – Session #1, Parlor, 8:30-9:45am

11/6 – Session #2, Parlor, 8:30-9:45am

11/13 – Session #3, Parlor, 8:30-9:45am

11/19 – New Member Social, 4:00-6:00pm

11/20 – New Member Sunday, 10:00am

Please contact Jill Robey at or Janis Hennessy at to sign up or to ask questions.

Inspirica Shoe Tree Returns

Back to school means pencils, pens, and NEW SCHOOL SNEAKERS! New Sneakers in the right size, such a given for most of us, are such a gift for a homeless child. Signup at the Missions table during fellowship hours to buy a pair for a child in the Inspirica Afterschool Program. Inspirica focuses on moving families out of poverty. While the children are in the afterschool program, parents are working on employment and life skills and eventually assisted with job searches and obtaining affordable housing. Some members of our congregation volunteer at the Afterschool Program with homework help or enrichment programs. This wonderful organization is working hard to change Stamford for the better. Please join us in the sneaker drive! Sneakers may be returned to the box in Smith Hall by 10/2. Contact: Joellen Ford at or Marianna Kilbride at

Connect@God’s Acre

In an increasingly divisive age, when so many issues fracture relationships among people, we need to be a witness to the world that the family of Jesus is committed to be connected to one another.  As members and friends of The Congregational Church, we need to know one another better – to be more connected.  We are excited to introduce Connect@God’s Acre! This intentional call to connection will inform much of our activity on God’s Acre for the coming year.  In an effort to better draw our community together we will: worship in two services instead of three (maintaining our summer worship schedule of 8:00 and 10:00am throughout the year); reclaim Wednesday evening as a time of intergenerational fellowship and learning; and continue our discipline of personal sharing before all board, committee and ministry team meetings.

The deacons will lead three Sunday mid-hour conversations (July 24, August 28 and September 4 at 9:00am) to further inform our church community about our exciting plans for the year and to solicit additional ideas on how we can come together as a Christian community.  Additional information on plans and programs will be provided in the coming weeks. Come share your ideas and connect!

Race Relations and New Canaan

This editorial by our Senior Minister, The Rev. Dr. Stephen Chapin Garner, was featured in The New Canaan Advertiser on Thursday, July 14. 

I know this is a classic white person’s attempt to convey anti-racist sentiment, but three of my best friends in the world are, in fact, African American pastors in New York City, Washington D.C., and Birmingham, Alabama. We have been part of a clergy group that has been gathering intentionally for the past sixteen years. Over those years we have shared joys and sorrows, laughter and tears, successes and failures, cultural struggles and cultural differences.

When news began to break last week of yet more black lives lost in engagements with police officers and the subsequent violence exacted on white police officers in Dallas, I called my friends with my most perplexing questions. As a Christian pastor serving in a predominantly white and extremely affluent community, what am I to think about the boiling racial tensions and racial violence in our country? What do I say to the people in my church? What are we to do on God’s Acre as a community faith in response to this cultural crisis?

(I will be sharing some of their reflections in this Sunday’s sermon, “Black and White Issue” at 8 and 10 a.m. at The Congregational Church of New Canaan.)

In what could be a truly disheartening time in our nation’s racially charged history, what fills my heart with some hope for the future is how much I love and cherish these dear friends of mine. I can’t fully explain the joy I find in our mutual devotion to one another. We are different in many ways. Our skin color is different. Our cultural backgrounds are different. The communities we live and work in are different. But, and perhaps more importantly, we share a common faith.

We share common experiences of being husbands and fathers and pastors. We have chosen to freely share our greatest joys and our deepest struggles with one another. We are different and we are friends…and personally, those friendships are among the most important treasures in my life.

If white people in a racially pluralistic country cannot point to one deep and committed relationship they have with a person of color, that is not only a problem, it is a missed opportunity.

In communities like New Canaan we have the luxury of insulating and isolating ourselves from many of the challenges that daily face our world. However, that protective shield can become a life-limiting liability, because it prevents us from engaging in a diversity of relationships that can enrich our lives beyond imagining. It also ignores our Christian commitment for confronting prejudice, hatred, and violence whenever and wherever it is revealed in our world. I believe an answer to racially charged strife and violence is deeply committed inter-racial friendships.

A pastoral colleague recently said to me we need to be asking the question: “Where is God in this mess?” God is found in our comment to and friendship with others.

Click here to see the editorial on The Advertiser’s website.

A Message from Chapin in Response to the Tragedy in Orlando

Dear Church Family,

It was not until after our delightful church cookout on Children’s Sunday that I learned of the violence and terror in Orlando. What a stark contrast: our church children were playing in a bouncy house, having their faces painted, and enjoying ice cream, while the people of Orlando were responding to the worst mass killing in our country’s history.

It is a challenge to know how to respond faithfully in an age and in an environment that seems continually beset by these kinds of atrocities. However, as Christians who follow a Lord who’s life was taken in an act of state-sponsored terror, we know that the cross we collectively bear in this moment does not have to be the defining experience of our life together. Life will overcome death…if we allow it to.

The Chapel will be open for quiet prayer and meditation this week. If you are in the area this Sunday please join us for worship, prayer, and fellowship at either 8:00 am or 10:00am. I will offer a message titled, “Christians in an Age of Terror” focusing on the lectionary text for the day, 1 Kings 19:1-14.

Yours in Christ,


Children’s Sunday and the All-Church Picnic are on June 12!

Our Annual Children’s Sunday Worship Service will be held on Sunday, June 14 at the 10:00am service. Join us at this children-led service as we celebrate the Church School year and celebrate Rev. Laura Westby’s ministry on her last Sunday with us.

Plan to stay for the All-Church Picnic with games and the Cake Walk following the 10:00am worship service. Families with last names A-H please bring a salad, fruit, or side dish for 10; families with last names I-Z please bring dessert for 10.

Starting June 14, through September 6, we will be using our summer worship schedule with services at 8:00am in the Memorial Garden and 10:00am in the Meeting House.

Please Bake a Cake for our Annual Children’s Sunday Cake Walk

Anyone in the church can participate!

Pick up your cake box and instructions on Sunday, June 5 during Fellowship Hour or in the church office anytime during the week. Then, bring your cake to church on Sunday morning, June 12 before the 10:00am service and place on indicated tables near the front steps.

Cake walks work a bit like musical chairs, except players win cakes instead of getting eliminated (rules will be explained in full on June 12). The more cakes we have, the more winners there will be!

Thank you for helping us with this fun and beloved tradition. The kids love it!

Pembroke House Homestretch

Pivot Ministries is a rehabilitation center in Bridgeport for men recovering from drug and alcohol abuse. Pembroke House is a recently acquired property of Pivot Ministries which is slated for housing, and employment reintegration services. The church designated $ 35,000.00 from the 250th fund towards those renovations and committed volunteers have helped to do the building.

Join us to whip Pivot’s Pembroke House into shape for the Grand Opening, to which we are all invited.

Saturday, June 4:Work day, 9:00am Church Circle Departure

Saturday, June 11 Work day, 9:00am Church Circle Departure

Wednesday, June 15 Pembroke’s Grand Opening Celebration, 11:00am, on Pivot’s Bridgeport Campus, 495 Jane St.

More Mission:

6/16 – Pacific House, 4:30pm

6/18 – OG Summer Soiree, 6:30pm

6/21 – Open Door, 11:15am

Questions or to Signup: Marianna Kilbride at

Beacon of Light Dinner

We hope everyone will join us to celebrate our year in Youth Ministry at the Beacon of Light Dinner on Sunday, June 5 from 5:00-7:30pm at the Church. We will start with a worship service including photos, videos, and music from the Worship Team band. A fellowship dinner will follow with food catered from several area food trucks.

Please RSVP by May 27 to Tracy duPont if you will join us for dinner. Tickets are $20 for adults, $75 for a family of four, or $10 for additional family members and children 10 and under.

Please contact Tracy duPont with any questions at

Regarding Refugees: May 19, 7:30pm in the Parlor

Please join us for an informational evening, “Regarding Refugees”, on Thursday, May 19, at 7:30pm in the parlor. This panel discussion and Q&A, will be led by Claudia Connor, President and CEO of the International Institute of Connecticut (IICONN).

The evening’s panel will also include current members and former clients of the IICONN refugee mentor program. Founded in 1897, IICONN is the largest statewide refugee resettlement and immigration services in Connecticut and successfully resettles approximately 100 refugees to the Bridgeport area each year through the U.S. State Department refugee resettlement program. Find out more information at this engaging event on the global situation for refugees, how the resettlement process to third countries works, including to the United States, and what is happening on the ground in Connecticut.

This is also a great opportunity to find out more about IICONN, including its refugee mentor program, ESL and Citizenship classes, victims of human trafficking programs, and how you may become more involved in our local area.

Church member, non-profit consultant, and former IICONN Board Member, Whitney Ball, comments “Federal government services are short-term and intended to offer a minimal level of support to recently-arrived refugees. The longer-term success of refugee resettlement (for instance in cultural and financial literacy, job searches, and English language development) depends on the support of local individuals and organizations, such as churches and community groups.”

We hope you will join us for this important, timely event.

Mary Bradley Clarke Concert

The community is invited to a gala benefit concert offered at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 14 at our churcvh. A festive reception in Smith Hall will follow after the concert, hosted by the Music Ministry Team. There is no admission charge for this event.

The program will include a lively variety of music that will entertain all ages and musical tastes. Broadway, opera, jazz, and popular repertoire will be presented by the Chancel Choir, its professional section leaders, and the Spirit Singers and Joyful Noise choirs. The benefit is now in its tenth year and is organized by director of music ministries Dr. Jo Deen Blaine Davis, who recently remarked, “This is a great way to enjoy fellowship and musical favorites, and to highlight the abundance of extraordinary local musical talent. It’s an evening that old and young alike will enjoy.”

Solos will be performed by the church’s professional section leaders Nancy Upton, Anne Maguire, Antonio Abate, Aram Tchobanian, Andy Berry, and Antonio Watts; some of whom have sung solo and title roles at The Metropolitan Opera and New York City Opera, as well as oratorio and solo work with orchestras and theater companies throughout the United States and Europe. Also included are sopranos Claire Stadtmueller and director of children’s music, Noëlle Francis.

This is a free concert, and all are welcome! A free-will offering will be taken, with proceeds benefiting the church’s Mary Bradley Clarke music fund, which was established in 1973 by the wife of former minister Rev. Merrill Fowler Clarke to provide singers and instrumentalists for special musical programs held at the church throughout the year. For more information please contact Dr. Davis at or (203)966-2651, x4.