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


The Unforgettable Thanksgiving

Gratitude for our family and friends.

(Posted November 16, 2023)

“If the family were a boat, it would be a canoe that makes no progress unless everyone paddles." – Letty Cottin Pogrebin, author and journalist

When I look back on Thanksgiving, it’s the ones we spent at my Grandmother’s that I remember most. And there was one particular one we can never forget.


My earliest memories of Thanksgiving all take place from the viewpoint of a seven-year-old under the dining room table, covered by our family “special occasion” fine lace tablecloth. From there I would see how my grandmother’s slender Irish ankles whisked back and forth as she set the table with the good china and the good Fostoria water goblets.

Only the best for the family holiday. Eventually I grew up enough to join the grownups. My childhood mispronunciation for “grandmother” was Gommie.

The Aromas of Thanksgiving

Most of all, I remember the aromas, which were more than just the roasting turkey. My Grandfather had to watch football with a Phillies panatela stogie tucked in his cheek and a wreath of smoke around him. My father disdainfully called them “Jim’s ropes.”

There were Parker House rolls baking. There was the tang of cranberries simmering on the stove and, of course, the peat-y smell of scotch as my Dad began his self-appointed role as bartender.

The Family Thanksgiving

We numbered six people most years now that Mom was gone. My Aunt Shirley and Uncle Bud rounded out the group. Now, you’d think that this would be a peaceful assembly. But it was not. It was family. And with so many assertive personalities in one room there were moments that were more an act of tolerating one another than fuzzy love.

Dad and Bud in particular barely tolerated one another for the family. They bickered on and off, whether the topic was football, politics, or Bud’s spotty employment history.

Unforgettable Thanksgiving

My Gommie was too busy in the kitchen to become involved with the drama. My Dad, knowing she had a low tolerance for liquor, would make her a particularly strong drink. Whenever she went back in the kitchen, he’d top it off with more scotch.  And then came the Thanksgiving we’ll never forget.

I kind of noticed that Gommie, who was about to turn 80, was the last time around a little wobbly, walking back and forth to the kitchen to baste the bird. Off she went behind the kitchen door. Suddenly there was a tremendous crash. It made us all jump to our feet. When we all burst through the door, what a sight we beheld! There was my Grandmother seated on the kitchen floor in front of the oven in a pool of turkey drippings, with the dropped bird spinning in the grease between her legs.

She laughed – and laughed and laughed. Gommie was more basted than the turkey. We quickly got her on her feet, wiped her down and put her in the bedroom for a nice nap while the rest of us washed off the turkey and finished making dinner.

What had been bickering in the living room turned into a coordinated family effort to put a lovely dinner on the table. Gommie returned from her nap. It turns out, when you’re family, there can be “peace among the peas” if we all pull together.

It was the best Thanksgiving ever. Heck - we even selflessly shared the Parker House rolls.

Why We’re Truly Thankful

The moral of my Thanksgiving story is this: Our most potent gratitude is not for the food. It’s not for the invitation to the table.

At Thanksgiving we learn we are thankful for the family and friends we gather around us, because truly, our gift from God is to let our souls embrace one another at the table. So… please pass the gravy!  God bless you all

Everyone Can Heal

Life often requires of us not only faith but courage.

(Posted November 22, 2023)

“Either you decide to stay in the shallow end of the pool or you go out in the ocean.” -- Christopher Reeve, quadriplegic and “Superman”

This particular season is such a time of endings and beginnings. In our church this coming Remembrance Sunday, we will celebrate all those people who we loved and who taught us during our journey but have returned home to God before us. Their presence through our memory of them is just as real as former days that they sat at our Thanksgiving table. And then the Sunday after this is the beginning of the Christmas season, when we decorate the trees and hang the greens around this beautiful sanctuary.

Church Services on Sunday

In-Person Service begins at 10 a.m. Facemasks are optional if you are fully vaccinated.

Watch us on Facebook: We livestream our services to Facebook. You may view them live or on demand at

The Remembering of Remembrance

However, this Sunday the very first thing we do, before the trees are decorated, is to place pictures of our loved ones on the trees – an early reminder that, no matter how late into the Advent season we are, our loved ones are participating with us. Each of you who attends this Remembrance Sunday will receive a blue votive holder with an electric votive, so that you can take it home and make it part of your own Christmas.

A Service of Blessing and Healing

Then, after we memorialize the important people in our lives, I will invite anyone present to come forward for a blessing and laying on of hands. It has been a hard year for many of us health-wise. We hope to be the conduit for God’s positive, healing energy that interacts with one’s own faith to help transform one’s life. Our online ministries can also text in and ask for a blessing for themselves or another who needs that light.

One of the most important things we can remind ourselves about is, as a very sage person once said,

“Some people cannot be cured, but everyone can heal.”

How true this is, especially when we look at the ways our souls can heal after injury and trauma.

When Life Requires Both Faith and Courage

Back in the year 2000, I had the opportunity to meet Christopher Reeve, the famous actor who brought Superman alive on silver screen, soaring above the clouds. In this world of “you never know what’s going to happen next,” his whole world had come crashing down in 1995 for him when, riding his horse in a Virginia competition, he was thrown from his mount and paralyzed from the neck down.

Imagine the adjustment that he had to make, even to the way he perceived himself. In the motivational talk he gave us, Chris was truthful that, a year or so after the accident, he was sitting in his wheelchair in his backyard, wondering if he really wanted to go on living “confined to a wheelchair.”

But then he started looking up, up at the cumulus clouds that drifted high above him. He told us, “It was then that I realized that my mind was able to be way up there, with them, floating on the breeze, not confined to anything.”

 It marked the beginning of a major change in who Christopher Reeves was. As he once said, “Since the accident, whenever I dream, I’ve never dreamt of myself as disabled. Never.”

Life often requires of us not only faith but courage. Courage to carry on when we miss others or watch the people we love, or even ourselves, face the decline of aging. But it’s faith and the hope that comes with it that makes the turn into a new season. Just like we do today.

Join me this Sunday when we enjoy Nancy Wildman’s song to set the mood for remembering, and healing.

Unpacking the Beatitudes

The 'blessings'as they appeared in the lives of some of our departed saints,'

Rev Dr Pat Kriss(Posted November 3, 2024)

This Sunday is a special one for all of us at First Congregational Church because not only is it Jazz Sunday, but it is also our own version of All Saints Day. Yes… we honor those people who are members and friends of the church who have returned to God ahead of us, and we miss them. But the service is not really about death. It’s about life and the extraordinary folks who live on for us in meaningful and sometimes funny stories and memories. We’ll be sharing some of those tales this Sunday.

Church Services on Sunday

In-Person Service begins at 10 a.m. Facemasks are optional if you are fully vaccinated.

Watch us on Facebook: We livestream our services to Facebook. You may view them live or on demand at

The "Blessed B's"

It’s fitting that the Gospel for November 5 is made up of the eight beatitudes, shared by Jesus, with 12 apostles so that they know the sacrifice they are being asked to make in following him:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

"Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

"Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

We will unpack some of these “blessings” Sunday as they appeared in the lives of some of our departed “saints” who made our lives all the richer for the time they spent with us. See you Sunday.


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

Phone: (203) 744-6177

Office Hours:
Monday Closed
Tuesday 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Wednesday 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Thursday 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Friday Closed

Thrift Shop Hours:
Saturday 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Sunday Worship:
Sunday   10:00 a.m.–11 a.m.


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