First Congregational Church
164 Deer Hill Ave.
Danbury, CT 06810
Phone:(203) 744-6177


Taking it on the Road

A new set of opportunities to be bold, to achieve great things

(Posted September 5, 2019)Rev. Pat Kriss

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” – J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter Author

And so we enter the season of “all things new.” A new school year. A new season at church when the music is cool and so is the Sanctuary. A new set of opportunities to be bold, to achieve great things, and yes… to learn from our mistakes.

Church Services on Sunday
All are welcome to worship with us. Service begins at 10 a.m.

Homecoming Sunday

So on this Homecoming Sunday at 10 AM, we prepare ourselves, no matter what the age, to “take it on the road” when it comes to living a the kind of life Christ has been preparing us for. He’s taught us how to act in terms of kindness and when confronted by adversity. We learn this weekend from the apostle Paul how we can break people free from being enslaved -- how we can set ourselves free from what holds us back.

Blessing of the Backpacks

Now I’ve also made this first Sunday The Blessing of the Backpacks because backpacks symbolize taking it on the road, and, in essence, bringing with us a little slice of home, where all the tools we need are within our reach. Believe it or not, this Sunday’s gospel from Matthew is in part a story about a backpack and how we are to push back against evil, not with violence but by surprising the heck out of those who would oppress us. The blessing we will do with the help of our children is not just for kids. It’s for adults too who carry the tools of their lives in a backpack. Please make sure to bring your children’s and your backpacks to church on Sunday, and place them up in front of the Communion Table before we start. We’ll be adding a little something to each of the packs so that your church community can journey with you, too, in this year.

Hurricane Dorian Relief

Finally, all of us have been deeply concerned as we witness the devastation that Dorian wreaked on the Bahamas, and still is causing on the US mainland as it chews its way up the Atlantic coast. If you would like to help, you can include in your donation at church this Sunday a check that you have marked for either the Emergency USA Relief Fund or the International Emergency Relief Fund that is gathered by the United Church of Christ. What you donate will be used to help people rebuild their lives and their homes in the wake of this natural disaster. Blessings to all as we take our Christian love on the road. - Pastor Pat Kriss

A New Identity

Celebrate the teaching that happens within our four walls. (Philemon 1:1-21)

(Posted September 5, 2019)

Rev. Caela Wood of First Congregational Church in Manhattan, Kansas, learned about Blessing of the Backpacks from another United Church of Christ colleague, the Rev. Jennifer Mills Knutsen. Five years ago, Wood’s congregation started a regular ritual of backpack blessing on the same day Sunday School re-starts for the fall.  

“We wanted to create space for kids to find comfort from their faith community when we know they might be filled with back-to-school jitters,” Rev. Wood says. “We encourage adults who are going back to school to bring along backpacks, laptop bags, and briefcases, too. Our congregation has a lot of teachers and professors, so we also bless them on that same Sunday.” 

“The kids hand out the bookmarks to our many teachers. Lifting up our ‘outside work’ in the world helps us feel connected to the ways the Spirit journeys with us throughout the classrooms and cubicles and in our homes and everywhere we go.” 

“We typically put out notecards during fellowship hour for each child/youth/college student who has recently moved away. We ask anyone who feels so moved to take a card and write a note to college students, children and youth who have moved away in the past few years. Then we stick a backpack tag in for them and mail it to them. I have heard from several parents that this is very meaningful to them as the kids are adjusting to life in a new community.”

Unlike most other epistles which are addressed to communities, Philemon is a short letter addressed to a single individual. In today’s reading Paul sends his adopted child Onesimus forth with this letter of blessing indicating how he would like Philemon to treat the youngster.  The message of this letter, that Onesimus is trustworthy and hardworking, is perhaps as much for his student as it is for the man who will receive the letter. Onesimus knows that he has been loved, appreciated and supported and that he will continue to be. The young man has been sent into the world by himself, but he does not go alone. He goes with the knowledge that he has been truly seen and appreciated. 

Today, on this Faith Formation Sunday, we celebrate the teaching that happens within our four walls. This day is also an opportunity to remember that the messages we send with our young people into the world teach them as much as any curriculum, maybe even more.

What messages do you give the young people in your congregation as they head out into the world?  How can you let them know that they are valued, loved and supported even when they are not within the confines of the four walls of your church building?

Mission Moments tells stories of how United Chruch of Christ congregations are connected to the wider church. It is published by the United Church of Christ.


From Reverend Pat Kriss: How to Pray, Part I: Music

I will never forget the sight of that pup with her head leaning on that harp for an hour as Carolyn played.

(Posted September 12, 2019)From Reverend Pat Kriss

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” ― Plato
When I was a kid growing up in Upstate New York, there were some special things about music that I learned, especially when staying with my best friend and her mother. It wasn’t your ordinary 1960’s house. You see, my friend Carolyn Hopkins’ mother – also named Carolyn – was the President of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, and their lead harpist. The living room of the Hopkins house was filled, not with sofas and La-Z-Boys, but with harps. Two big concert harps, and several little Celtic harps. 

Church Services on Sunday

All are welcome to worship with us. Service begins at 10 a.m.

As kids we were given free rein to gently and respectfully try to play the harps. It was worth hours of fun, trying to make lovely notes come out of discordant plunking of ten year-old fingers. But whenever Carolyn Senior would come out to sit and rehearse on the gorgeous concert harp, along with her would come their Dalmatian dog, Brook. That dog just waited for these occasions. You see Brook, like many Dalmatians in that era of overbreeding, was deaf. By all expectations, we thought that she couldn’t hear anything. And yet whenever Carolyn sat and began to play the harp, the speckled dog would come running from the Pray Dalmatianfarthest corner of the house to sit by the harp, and place her chin against its sounding board. It was quite clear that Brook not only could hear the vibrations the harp put forth, but enjoyed every bit of her own encounter with music. I will never forget the sight of that pup with her head leaning on that harp for an hour as Carolyn played.

The truth is, whether four legged or two-legged, we all deeply need music in our lives. It truly is a form of prayer, since the feelings and hopes that develop through the notes and the pregnant pauses between them is a gateway to feeling the presence of God. This Sunday, as the first in my series on “How to Pray,” we’ll immerse ourselves in the incredible experience that music affords us when we open our hearts to let the notes cascade inside. There will be a suprise musical offering to stir your soul as well. it’s also a good Sunday to bring a friend or two who will enjoy the sheer joy of listening.


First Congregational Church
164 Deer Hill Ave.
Danbury, CT 06810
Est. 1696

Phone: (203) 744-6177

Office Hours:
Monday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Tuesday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Wednesday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Thursday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Friday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Thrift Shop Hours:
Friday 9:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Saturday 9:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Sunday Worship:
Sunday    9:30 a.m.–11 a.m.