|The newsletter of the Congregational Church of Bristol, Maine.
NOVEMBER 2023 NEWSLETTER:
“Pastoral Ponderings” November 2023
Dear CCOB Family & Friends:
“Shout for joy to the Lord…Worship the Lord with gladness…Know that the Lord is God…Enter his gates with thanksgiving…For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100 “The Old Hundreth”(abbreviated version)
Dear CCOB Members and Friends:
Grace and peace to you from the Lord God Almighty! As it was in the beginning, is now, and every shall be. Amen.
November is the month when we gear up and get going for the holiday season. There’s no time to waste as we hurry to make preparations for all the Christmas activities. But before Advent begins (this year: December 5th), we have some important pre-holiday events to take note of.
First, we are going to again honor those who served in the military on November 12, the Sunday closest to Veterans Day. A week later we will celebrate First Responders Sunday. Bristol Fire and Rescue, Central Lincoln County Ambulance, and the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department have been invited to join us in worship as our grateful community says thank you to our local heroes. Like veterans, first responders are willing to put their lives on the line for neighbors in need. There will be a reception after the service in their honor. Local officials have also been invited to attend. Please join me in worship on November 12 + 19 as we “enter his courts with thanksgiving” and say thank you to God for the brave men and women who serve, expecting nothing in return.
Second, Election Day is November 7. Voting here in Bristol will be held at the Consolidated School. By now, you know me well enough to expect another pastoral “push” to get out and vote. The privilege of electing to office those who represent the people the cannot be overestimated. Please get out and vote! It’s our right, and our responsibility (I sound more like my father the older I get).
Third, the Stewardship Committee is planning another low-key financial campaign for people to support next year’s church budget. I am humbled and very grateful how generous God’s people are in financially supporting the church’s mission here in Maine and beyond, even to the farthest corners of the globe.
November 26 is “Thankful Stewards Sunday.” The Scriptures teach us that God loves a cheerful giver. You will soon be receiving a letter and a pledge form from the Stewardship Committee. Please prayerfully consider your contribution to Christ’s ministry of reconciliation in and through our church family here in beautiful downtown Bristol Mills.
Finally, on a far different but important note: the murderous assault by Hamas on Israel a month ago and the subsequent retaliatory strikes on Gaza have left us deeply worried that any prospects for peace in the Middle East seem doomed. Every passing day the chances of the conflict widening into a regional war becomes a frightening possibility. Please pray for peace, a cessation to hostilities, and a willingness among all sides to, in the words of the prophet Amos, “let justice roll on like a mighty stream and righteousness like a flowing river.”
Soon we will be reminded in the Christmas scriptural passages that Jesus is the Prince of Peace. The world cannot wait until December to hear the Good News.
The Lord bless and keep you, and make His face shine upon you.
Rev. James P. Dowse
The next Women’s Circle meeting will be held on Thursday, November 9th at 10 AM. Going forward, Women’s Circle meetings will be held on the second Thursday of the month at 10 AM in the Fellowship Hall. The members of the committee hope that all women of the church will join them for a time of socializing and possible craft projects. For more information and or questions, please contact Sandy Holmes.
The next meeting of Tides of Change will be held on Thursday, November 16th at 11:00 AM. It will be held in the church Library. This is a grief support group and all are welcome. Meetings are scheduled as needed. Please feel free to bring a lunch.
(If your birthday isn’t listed, please contact the church office with your information: 207-563-6843.)
Spiritual Growth Opportunities
The Fall Group Bible Study has been studying the Old Testament book of Ezra. The topic has been:
Rebuilding Broken Lives. God brought the people of Israel back to Jerusalem following a lengthy captivity in Babylon. Back home, they rebuilt the temple, and in so doing, rebuilt their lives. Through God’s grace and mercy, our broken lives can also be rebuilt. We will finish our study of Ezra in mid-November.
We are then going to watch and discuss a DVD series during Advent. Beginning November 30 and ending on December 21, the DVD series will be shown on Thursdays at 1:00 PM in the Library, and again in the library on Sundays after worship.
Everyone is always welcome to participate in the Thursday Group Bible Study. No experience is necessary! Come as you are and grow in your relationship with God.
New Members Join CCOB on November 26
Pastor Jim and the Board of Deacons are excited to share the good news that Trisha Demers and her Dad, Ted Simmons, will become the newest members of CCOB on Sunday, November 26.
Trisha has been our beloved and exceptionally talented Director of Music for over 15 years. In addition to her musical skills, Trisha offers a deep and abiding faith in God. After losing his wife over a year ago, Ted began attending worship here in Bristol with Trisha. Ted and Bea served for many years as church youth advisors.
We are so fortunate to have these two dedicated Christians offer their gifts in service to Christ and His church. Please welcome them warmly when they receive the right hand of fellowship later this month.
Advent & Christmas Plans 2023
The holy seasons of Advent and Christmas will soon be here. Advent prepares us for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Christmas celebrates the Messiah’s arrival to save the world from its rebellion against God. What a truly glorious, God-centered way to finish the old year as we prepare for the new year and whatever lies ahead.
Here are our plans for the holiday season:
Hanging of the Greens: After worship on Sunday, November 26. A light lunch featuring chowder will be offered later in the Fellowship Hall.
Outdoor tree lighting service: TBA. This will take place in early December, perhaps on a Saturday afternoon with hot cocoa and refreshments
afterwards. Stay turned for further details!
Advent DVD Series: 4 session series shown and discussed on Thursday afternoons at 1:00 (beginning November 30) and Sundays after worship (beginning December 5). Come and share the joy of the season as we delve deeper into the enormity of Christ’s coming to be our Savior.
Four Sundays in Advent: The Lord’s Supper will be celebrated on December 5. The last Sunday of Advent falls on December 24, Christmas Eve. Come and sing the sacred songs of preparation and celebration. Hear again the “the old, old story” of Jesus and His love. Worship begin at at 10:00 AM. Please invite a friend and share with them the Good News!
Christmas Eve, December 24: After Advent ends with the conclusion of morning worship, we wait a few hours and then welcome the birth of our Savior. Please note the time change: This year Christmas Eve worship begins at 4:00 PM. Worshipers will be able to arrive when it’ still light out and then depart in the darkness and spend time with family and friends. Plan now to come to our much-beloved service of Carols and Candles.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” – – John 1:1
Thr 11/2 Fall Bible Study 1:00 PM
Deacons Meeting 2:30 PM
Sun 11/5 “First Sunday”, The Lord’s Supper, November Birthdays
Tue 11/7 Election Day – Please VOTE!
Thr 11/9 Women’s Circle 10 AM,
Fall Bible Study 1:00 PM
Trustees 4:30 PM
Thr 11/16 Tide of Change 11 AM
Fall Bible Study 1 PM
Sun 11/19 First Responders Sunday “Honoring our local heroes”
Sun 11/26 Thankful Stewards Sunday Welcoming our new members
Thr 11/30 Fall Bible Study 1:00 PM
SEPTEMBER 2023 NEWSLETER:
“Pastoral Ponderings” September 2023
And the winner is…Joyful Noise!
Greetings, CCOB family and friends,
Two people submitted about ten suggestions for naming our church newsletter. Many thanks to Penny Jennings & Brenda Hunter for their contributions. Each of them will receive a free ice cream from the Granite Hall store in Round Pond.
Christians are a people who make a “joyful noise.” We gather for weekly services on Sunday morning and offer praise, thanksgiving, honor, and glory to the God of our creation, redemption, and sanctification. It is a privilege, and yes, a responsibility, to carry out our covenantal relationship with God and each other. Let’s continue to gather together as sisters and brothers in Christ who make a “joyful noise.” As the Scripture reads in Psalm 100, what the Puritans called “The Old Hundreth,” “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.”
The spirit of celebration continues. In August, Maury and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary with family and friends at the Wayside Inn in Sudbury, MA. On Sunday, September 17th, we will be worshiping with the Calvary Baptist Church in Springfield, Vermont as that congregation celebrates its 100th anniversary. Maury and I served there in an interim role before moving back to Maine and taking the helm with our beloved church family here in Bristol Mills. I will be sure to bring them Christian greetings from the Down East saints. And, speaking of Down East, did you know that 2024 will mark CCOB’s 185th anniversary? Let’s do something special next year to mark that significant milestone.
It’s been some time since I last shared with you my earnest desire to provide pastoral care, especially in times of emergency or hospitalization. During COVID, clergy were not allowed to visit their church members in care-giving institutions. Pre-COVID, clergy were always extended the privilege to visit people at any time of the day. Fortunately, we are back where we used to be before the pandemic hit in 2020.
If you or a loved one find yourself in the hospital, ER, or extended care and would like a visit from yours truly, just give me a phone call (home: 563-6610. Church: 563-6843) or send an email (firstname.lastname@example.org), and I will respond as quickly as I can. Don’t hesitate to ask: it’s your privilege as a church member or friend to receive pastoral care. And it’s my joy to give it!
Enjoy the September issue of Joyful Noise. The busy fall season is upon us. May the Holy Spirit lead us as our journey of faith continues.
Together in Christ, Jim
I wanted to write and give everyone a quick update on our annual fair. I would consider it a HUGE success on so many levels! The amount of teamwork that happened to make this fair a success is truly amazing. EVERYONE pitched in however they could to really make this “Our” Fair. THANK YOU for helping make it successful!!
There were SO MANY people who came onto our property that day! We had a fabulous turnout and welcomed our community with open arms. Thank you for spreading the word!
Lastly, we had an AMAZING profit. At last count we stood at just over $6,000 in profit. A big part of this was due to some big-ticket items in the Silent Auction, but tag sale and food sales both were up from years past as well. So thank you for pitching in food and items to sell as well!
As you may have picked up already, I can’t thank you all enough for your efforts and contributions, and completely attribute the fair’s success to you!
9:00 AM to Noon Sat., Sept. 2nd
Front parking lot, weather permitting—otherwise in Fellowship Hall.
Monday, Sept. 4th
Wednesday, Sept. 6th at 4:30 PM
Thursday, Sept. 7th 1:00 PM
Thursday, Sept. 7th 2:30 PM
Dedication of Peggy Buchanan’s Memorial Piano
Sunday, September 10th 10:00 AM
Sunday, September 10th
Friday, Sept. 15th, beginning at 8:00 AM
Music & Munchies
Friday, Sept. 15th, 7:00 PM, Fellowship Hall
Recipe for the Good Life
One heaping cup of kindness
Two cups of love and caring
One cup of understanding
One cup of joyful, sharing
A level cup of patience
One cup of thoughtful insight
One cup of gracious listening Two cups of sweet forgiveness.
Mix ingredients together. Toss in smiles and laughter… Serve to everyone, you know – with love forever after!!
Tides of Change
“Your body is away from me but there is a window open from my heart to yours. From this window like the moon, I keep sending news secretly.”
The Tides of Change grief group is available to those who would like some support during their times of grief… If you would like to attend our group meeting, please let Pastor Jim know, and a meeting will be arranged by some of our church folks who have also walked the grief pathway.
Women’s Circle News
Women’s Circle met in July with Mary Craig from Ladies’ Aid presenting a quilt project that she has been working on. It’s called “Dress a girl around the world.” Each dress has a badge or label on it which indicates to possible predators that every girl is being looked after. The quilters usually work out of the parish house in the mornings -usually before 10 AM, and would be willing to get us set up with whatever we need… Mary had copies of the pattern which have been photocopied and are in the back of the sanctuary.
Maury Dowse brought up possibly visiting some areas of local historic
interest. Sandy Holmes suggested the possibility of Sturbridge Village around Christmas time… Maury would be a great trip coordinator!
Going forward the Women’s Circle is also thinking of making up some holiday centerpieces. Carol Andrews has some birch trees that could be cut for candle centerpieces, and we have baskets for centerpieces as well.
The next meeting of the Women’s Circle is Thursday, September 7 at 10 AM in the Fellowship Hall. Please join us as we explore other interests and get to know each other in a more informal setting…
Submitted by Sandy Holmes
Dedication of Peggy Buchanan’s Piano—
Peggy Buchanan was an active and devoted member of CCOB for many years. She served the Lord in many capacities but none more so than as a talented musician offering her skills for the glory of God. Peggy went home to be with God in October, 2021.
It was her desire to give to the church upon her passing a beautiful, well-maintained upright piano which had been in the Buchanan home on Benner Road for many years. With the help of some strong backs, the piano was moved into the Fellowship Hall earlier this summer.
A special dedication service for the Peggy Buchanan memorial piano will be held in the Fellowship Hall (home to the piano) during the regular worship celebration on Sunday, September 10th at 10:00 AM. Peggy’s beloved step-daughter, Susan Buchanan, is having a special plaque made that will be placed on the piano.
We thank God for Peggy and her gift to her beloved church family her in Bristol Mills!
Would you like to become a member of CCOB?
Twice a year, once in the fall and again in the spring, classes are held for anyone who is interested in becoming a member of the church. The process is relatively easy and straightforward.
Prospective members will meet with the Pastor to learn more about the rights and responsibilities of church membership. We will gather in the Library after worship for four (4) sessions, beginning Sunday, October 2nd and finishing up on Sunday, October 29th. Candidates will then meet with the Board of Deacons and officially welcomed as new members on Thanksgiving Sunday, November 19th.
If you have questions, please talk with Pastor Jim. He’d be happy to discuss with you the privilege, joy, and call to service as a member of the Congregational Church of Bristol, Maine.
“Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing. it.” Hebrews 12:1-2
Deacons at the Congregational Church of Bristol (CCOB) first and foremost share a willingness to be a servant of God, of God’s people and o the church. Hospitality to each other and hospitality to strangers—newcomers to CCOB—is the beginning of that process of service to others.
Deacons are responsible for making newcomers feel comfortable, welcome, and at peace at CCOB so that they may experience the fullness of God’s love from the church family. This feeling of warm welcome and brotherly love is a hallmark of CCOB’s congregation and a state of grace that permeates the sanctuary every Sunday.
Each Sunday the Deacons prepare for the worship service by tidying the sanctuary, turning on the sound system and lights, posting the hymn numbers, lighting the candles. They are responsible for handing out bulletins, assisting with seating when needed and the collection of the congregation’s offering. Liturgical colors are changed during specific church seasons. On Communion Sunday the Deacons prepare and serve the elements.
By caring for the physical and temporal needs of the church, Deacons enable our Pastor to focus on the more important spiritual concerns of the congregation and the many aspects of the worship service. Additionally, Deacons aid Pastor in seeking out and meeting the needs of the members and the community at large. This service might be done by the Deacons or by finding the appropriate resources within the community to bring assistance and comfort to those in need.
The Deacons are here to service you and aid you in your time of need and—always—to pray for you. May God’s grace continue to shine on and through you.
12th– Serena Harvie
24th-Celeste Prime, Christine Shea
(If your birthday isn’t listed, please contact the church office with your information: 207-563-6843.)
In case you missed this in the Lincoln County News:
To the editor:
On behalf of the members and friends of the Congregational Church in the beautiful downtown Bristol Mills, I would like to extend an enormous thank you to our many neighbors near and far who graced us with their presence at our annual summer fair on Aug. 5.
The rain came and went by Friday evening. Saturday, the day of the fair, was a picture-perfect summer day here on the coast of Maine. Our visitors purchased many items, and in doing so, contributed to our church’s ministry of outreach to local and wider missions.
We would like to hank the Bristol Fire Department for being present with a squad of firefighters and an engine. Kids of all ages loved the flashing red lights!
We are grateful to the many local businesses who made generous contributions to the silent auction. Your support helped make the fair a huge success.
More than anything, guests and church workers had fun, interacting with each other as neighbors. Those folks who come from distant shores got a taste of what it means to be living in Maine: people caring for people as we enjoy the splendor of God’s creation.
Plans are already underway for next summer’s fair: Stay tuned for further details!
Rev. James P. Dowse
“Rebulding Our Lives”
This is the theme for Fall Bible Study
After taking a few summer weeks off, our Thursday afternoon Group Bible Study will reconvene on Thursday, September 7 at 1:00 PM in the Library. We will be taking a close look at the Old Testament books of Ezra and Nehemiah which chronicle the return of the Hebrew exiles to Jerusalem. Upon arrival back in the City of David, the newly freed people look to rebuild their lives.
This is a timely topic as well. How do we rebuild our lives following the COVID pandemic? How can faith in God bring renewal and hope? Come and find out! Everyone is welcome. Open to Bible scholars and Bible beginners alike. Time is also spent in fellowship and prayer. Hope to see you in the Library Thursday afternoons in the fall at 1:00 PM!