Open and Affirming!

Open and Affirming!

All are welcome!

First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ
40 South Fullerton Avenue
Montclair, New Jersey 07042
Phone: 973-744-4856

Friday, May 28, 2010

This Sunday at First Congregational Church!

This Sunday at First Congregational Church!

May 30, 2010

Jesus Has Left the Building...And We Followed!

This Sunday is service Sunday at FCC.  There is no worship in the Sanctuary.  Instead we are worshipping God through serving our neighbors in Newark , Irvington , and Montclair .  We are collecting clothing for the homeless, serving lunch in a soup kitchen, sharing worship with senior citizens, and gardening at an HIV/AIDS nursing home.

We will return again for worship in the Sanctuary on Sunday June 6 at 10:30am!

See you then!

To keep up with all that is happening at First Congregational Church, be sure to check out our website
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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Last Wednesday Labyrinth Walk

The Last Wednesday Labyrinth Walk will take place this evening between 6:00-8:30 pm.

A labyrinth is an ancient spiritual tool, a path of walking meditation designed to open our hearts and mind to the presence of God.

You are invited to join in our final prayer walk of the season. The experience is unstructured and contemplative – beginners are most welcome!

Rev. Barb Prince and Rev. Ann Ralosky will be on hand to answer questions or provide guidance.

“Make me to know your ways, O God; teach me your paths.” Psalm 25:4
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Monday, May 24, 2010

Reminder! Clothing/Toiletries drive is being held through May 30!

Time is running out! Please consider donating clothing and toiletries to FCC for Broadway House and Bridges Outreach for the Homeless on our "Jesus Has Left the Building" Sunday on May 30th.I am sure that you have items in your closets and bathrooms that are suitable for this donation drive. Even if you are not a member of the First Congregational Church of Montclair, we welcome your generosity! Your donation can be dropped off at FCC church, located on South Fullerton Ave.


Excerpt from John 14: 25-27

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives."

Reflection by Anthony B. Robinson
Peace seems to be something everyone wants. But there are different types of peace. Jesus says that there is a type of peace the world gives and the type of peace he gives. What's the difference?

Years ago I heard a preacher say the world's peace is of three sorts: the peace of the fortress, the peace of the palace, and the peace of escape. The fortress is having enough power that we get peace. The palace is having enough stuff that we get peace. The peace of escape is getting away from it all, "getting away for the weekend," or getting high. Turns out that none of the three forms of peace the world gives are enduring. Someone can always take them away. So we have to keep on getting more -- more power, more stuff, and more escapes.

What about the peace Jesus gives? It's a strange peace. It is not gained from the power of guns or missile shields, gates or security systems, but the power of his presence. It is not gained from having more stuff, but from knowing his love. It is not found in getting away, but by going with Jesus into the hard and challenging places of life. His is the peace that can't be taken from us, the peace that endures in all life's circumstances.

"Pardon for sin and a peace so enduring/your own dear presence to cheer and to guide. Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, blessings all mine with 10,000 beside. Great is your faithfulness, great is your faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see; All I have needed your life has provided, Great is your faithfulness, God, unto me!" (New Century Hymnal, 423)
null About the Author
About the Author Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher and writer. His most recent book is Changing the Conversation: A Third Way for Congregations. Read his weekly reflections on the current lectionary texts at by clicking on Weekly Reading.
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Friday, May 21, 2010

Do You Live with a Jerk?

Excerpt from Galatians 6: 7-10

"Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow."

Reflection by Lillian Daniel
I have always heard the expression "You reap what you sow." But I am not sure I really believe it. I see jerks get ahead in life. I see good people who work hard end up without fame or fortune. Do you really reap what you sow?

If all you look at is material gain in this world, then you would have to be an idiot to think you reap what you sow. Just think about the television show, "Celebrity Apprentice." A guy who built his fortune on his father's money, and wears the worst comb-over ever, gets to host a television show offering advice on business to celebrities who have no business running one. Clearly, we do not reap what we sow.

But if you look at this from the spiritual angle, it is actually true. Spiritually, I really do believe we get back what we put in.

The jerk who gets ahead by being a jerk still has to live with himself. And that means living with a jerk, twenty four/seven.

The person who treats other kindly, who offers respect to everyone, who spreads love in the midst of nastiness, that person gets to live with himself, too.

So, who has the better roommate?

Jesus, you came to earth to teach us a different way. When I am envious or bitter about who has what, remind me to watch what I am putting out into the world. I don't want to live with a jerk. Amen.
About the Author
Lillian Daniel is the senior minister of the First Congregational Church, UCC, Glen Ellyn, Illinois. Her new book, This Odd and Wondrous Calling: the Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers, co-authored with Martin B. Copenhaver, has just been published.
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Monday, May 17, 2010

Make Believe: an afternoon of beautiful music

Sunday 23 May at 3:00 p.m., a fundraiser for Broadway House and The New Jersey Roundup. Featuring Dale Livingston and Friends. This event will be held at First Congregational Church, 40 S Fullerton Ave., Montclair NJ.

Tickets are $15.00 in advance and $20.00 at the door. For more information, please contact

Going Noisily

Excerpt from Acts 16: 35-40

"But Paul replied, 'They have beaten us in public; uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and now are they going to discharge us in secret? Certainly not!'"

Reflection by Anthony B. Robinson
Here are Paul and Silas in Philippi, where they've been wrongly beaten and jailed. Now they receive a get-out-of-jail-free card, and are told to leave town quietly. But Paul refused to go quietly. He insisted on bringing the whole sorry mess into the open and letting everyone know that power has been badly misused.

These days, companies, and sometimes churches, give a similar deal to the people they want to get rid of. You will get this buy-out if you agree to go quietly and make no fuss. Sometimes that's the best you can do. Sometimes it is the right thing to do. But sometimes it's neither the best nor the right thing.

Sometimes matters need to get brought into the open. Responsibility needs to be taken. Apology needs to be made and heard. Sin needs to be owned and confessed. And then we can (and should), like Paul and Silas, move on. Too often we try to move on without responsibility owned or repentance made. We just want folks to go quietly and pretend nothing happened. The thing is, that doesn't really work. Like a wound improperly dressed, it festers and infects the whole body. Sometimes things need to be opened up and faced, so that we can truly go on.

Help me and us to discern, dear God, when is the time for going quietly and when it is not that time. And when it's time to open things up, give me and us the courage to do so. Amen.
About the Author
Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher and writer. His most recent book is Changing the Conversation: A Third Way for Congregations. Read his weekly reflections on the current lectionary texts at by clicking on Weekly Reading.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Reminder! Clothing/Toiletries drive is being held through May 30

Please bring mens', womens' and childrens' clothing and travel-sized toiletries to the Narthex.  We will be sorting and delivering these items to Broadway House and Bridges Outreach for the Homeless on our "Jesus Has Left the Building" Sunday on May 30th. Anyone in the Montclair community can bring items. Any questions please contact the church at

This Sunday at First Congregational Church! May 16, 2010 at 10:30am

What makes us "Christian?"  From Catholic to Protestant, orthodox, conservative, evangelical and progressive, Christians claim many labels, creeds and denominations.  Throughout history these divisions have inspired creative new theologies and practices as well as hostility and war -- hardly what Jesus must have envisioned as the " kingdom of God ."  This Sunday we will hear from Jesus' prayer "that they may all be one" as shared in John's gospel (John 17:20-26) and we will explore what it means for us to be unified in Christ with all who seek to follow him.  Rev. Ann Ralosky will preach a sermon entitled "Coming Together."
[Image source:]

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Jesus has left the building May 30th!

On Sunday 30th May we will not hold worship in the Sanctuary, but will worship God through service to our community. Service venues include: First Montclair House, Broadway House for Continuing Care, 7th Day Adventist Soup Kitchen, and collecting clothing/toiletries for our neighbors in need at Bridges Outreach for the Homeless.

You need not be a member of FCC, if you want to join us in service to the community,  please contact First Congregational Church, Montclair. Email here.

Who Is Your Macedonian?

Excerpt from Acts 16: 9-15

"During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, 'Come over to Macedonia and help us.'"

Reflection by Anthony B. Robinson
Do you like studying maps? I do. If you happen to have a map of the Mediterranean world in the time of Paul (some Bibles have those in the back), take a look at it. Paul had been working the territory we know today as Turkey pretty hard. He had built and nurtured congregations all over the eastern end of the Mediterranean. But he hadn't ever crossed the Aegean Sea, which that stood between Asia and Europe. Then in a vision a Macedonian man (Macedonia is today's Greece) appeared to Paul and pled with him to come to Macedonia and help them.

Sometimes, maybe most of the time, we get really, really focused on our usual territory, people, social or ethnic group. We go there. We work with them. We pay attention to them. Our churches tend to minister to people who look a lot like we do. We look for people who will "fit in" with us.

But do you hear any "Macedonians" out there calling to you? Someone whose language you don't (yet) speak? Maybe they speak the Spanish language or maybe they speak street language. Maybe they speak something that sounds like Greek to you or they speak in strange tongues. But somehow you hear a plea, a request, a cry for help coming from someone in a territory to which you or your church have never been. Who is appearing to you in the night? Whose voice is calling to you? Is it someone out of your usual territory? It might be your "Macedonian."


Give me ears to hear, O God, the voices that cry out that aren't in my usual territory, that aren't the people I am comfortable with and accustomed to. Go with me when I cross the wide sea to enter other worlds in response to your call. Amen.

[image source:]
null About the Author
About the Author Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher and writer. His most recent book is Changing the Conversation: A Third Way for Congregations. Read his weekly reflections on the current lectionary texts at by clicking on Weekly Reading

Friday, May 7, 2010

This Sunday at First Congregational Church!

May 9, 2010 at 10:30am

Spring is a time of growth and renewal -- in the natural world and in our own church!  This Sunday we are excited to welcome Rev. Michael Piazza, founding pastor of Cathedral of Hope to join us as we begin our season of rejuvenation.  Rev. Piazza is a nationally known leader in the growth of progressive churches and he will be inspiring us this weekend to envision what is possible for our own congregation.  He will be preaching on Rev 21: 10, 22 - 22:5 in a sermon entitled "A Little Bit of Heaven in Montclair."

We will also be welcoming new members (a great way to kick off a year of growth)!  Join us as we receive Chris Duffy & Scott Zajac, Jocelyn Emerson & Stephanie Powell, Michelle Juarez and her children, and Lydia York into the FCC family.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Deciding Not to Decide

Excerpt from Proverbs 2: 1-5

If you call to insight and lift your voice to understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it like hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord.

Reflection by Jeffrey Woodard
In a world increasingly wrought by fright, the tiny region between my two ears remains one of the scariest, volatile places I know. The analytical left brain continuously locks horns with the creative right, and it can get take-no-prisoners ugly. I am the byproduct of parents I cherish. They are my best friends. One operates by the book, step by step, according to a plan. The other is able to do likewise -- but thrives when winging it, creatively wandering and wondering.

Fortunately, I have an ally, an arbiter in my inner battle: my intuition. The breakthrough occurred 30 years ago when I picked up and moved from Cleveland to Phoenix, leaving family and friends behind. No job offer awaiting. Next to no cash on hand. No "decision" was involved. No dividing a piece of paper with a pen stroke down the middle, labeling the resultant columns "pro" and "con." No brain busting.

The beautiful moments in my life -- from the coming-out process and career changes to the geographic relocations and home purchases -- have blossomed only when the seeds of intuition have been planted, nurtured and allowed to bloom. The harvest is more bountiful, the peace more precious when the intuition is given the chance to do its diplomacy thing.

Dear Lord, thank you for the gift of intuition and the understanding that even when I "go with the gut," the only guarantee in my midst is your unconditional guidance
null About the Author
Jeffrey Woodard, of Lakewood, Ohio, is a member the UCC’s Publishing, Identity and Communication team. He is a regular contributor to the United Church News and StillSpeaking Magazine. He is also a freelance writer, massage practitioner and companion caregiver.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A New Thing

Excerpt from Acts 11:19-26
"Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that took place over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, and they spoke the word to no one except Jews. But among them were some men . . . who . . . spoke to the Greeks also, proclaiming the Lord Jesus."

Reflection by Quinn G. Caldwell
So here's what happened. The Apostle Stephen had been preaching in Jerusalem. As good Christian preaching sometimes will, his sermon angered his audience. They stoned him, and that understandably scared many of the other apostles out of town.

Not being timid people, they kept on preaching. And since they were Jews talking about the impact of the Jewish Jesus on the Jewish faith, they naturally talked about their faith only with other Jews. This was a sensible course of action -- in theory. Problem was, it actually didn't work very well.

But then some of them started doing a new thing nobody had really thought of before: talking to the Greeks, the non-Jews. The story says that it worked so well that apostles came running from all over the Mediterranean to check it out.

There was nothing wrong with the apostles' first instinct; it just happened not to work very well, and a new thing was called for. Is there a place among the apostles you know, in your church, where a new thing is called for? Is there a way of doing things that made sense at the time, but just isn't working so well, but that you keep on doing that way anyway? And if so, what are you going to do about it?

God, give me the courage and vision to do a new thing for your sake when the old things stop working. Amen.
null About the Author
Quinn G. Caldwell is Associate Minister of Old South Church in Boston, Massachusetts.