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


What Is Church Like?

The challenge to build a happy fellowship.

Rev. Pat Kriss(February 2, 2023)

“Neither sugar nor salt tastes particularly good by itself.
Each is at its best when used to season other things.
Love is the same way. Use it to ‘season’ people.”
― Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

In a couple of weeks, I’ll be hosting a class of history students from Naugatuck Valley Community College who are going to spend an hour with me touring our church and hearing about the Pilgrims, the Puritans and the denomination that once lived by stoic rule. That denomination has matured and now has grown into the United Church of Christ, to open its doors to everyone no matter where they are on life’s journey.

Naugatuck’s Professor Conroy called me after she polled her class, and she discovered that more than 90 percent of her students had never even set foot inside any house of worship, much less attended a service.

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

Empty Pews?

Today, when every denomination sees many empty spots in the pews, this really should come as no surprise. At least two generations of young people have grown up without a place in their weekly routine that involves “church” or the community of people that gather there regularly.

According to Putnam and Campbell’s insightful book, American Grace, It was back in the mid-seventies that more parents stopped bringing their children to some kind of worship, or they stopped attending themselves. For every generation that doesn’t bring the kids, the next generation they produce has even less incentive to involve their children. Eventually we reach the point that young adults can’t think of any reason they’d want to go into a church, except maybe to see their friends get married and get to the reception to start partying.

Life in a Church

In this week’s gospel Jesus decides to use a metaphor to describe his disciples, and also us: “You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.”

He tells us sometimes salt can lose its zest and become useless. But It’s our own enthusiasm, our zest, and yes, the fun we generate when we are together, that makes churchgoing an enjoyable, desirable thing.

But how would someone who had never been to church know this? As far as they know from funerals, “church” is what happens when people die. But the truth is, “church” is what happens when people find new life!

The Experience of Church

The challenge these days is getting people in the door so that WE can help them savor their experience with others. This is precisely what we’ve been doing with our family nights, whether people gather for trivia, karaoke or movie night.

From our first days of no more than six people, we’ve now grown to more than 30 people for our most recent family night, and we’ve been honored to have the sponsorship of the Dennis Perkins Farmers Insurance agency to help defray the cost.

The fact is, people will gather in a church building when they’ve found happy fellowship. Some may eventually find their way with our help into worship in the sanctuary and discover our wonderful music and choir. Others may continue to make their church experience take place in our other gatherings, including the Children’s Chorus and other youth-related things we may additionally offer. 

The most important thing is for us not to “lose our saltiness,” so that we may let our own light draw people to find out “what goes on in that big building with the tower on the corner.”  My thanks to every person who supports our work and who realizes that rebuilding takes time, funding and enthusiasm.

How to be a Magi

Our journey toward Christ.

(Posted January 5, 2023)

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among others,
To make music in the heart.
Howard Thurman

rev pat krissWho Were the Magi?

I know there have been times that my best laid plans have been upended, when I didn’t know  where to turn. It would have been wonderful to have my own personal “star guidance system” pointing the way for me.

The Magi that we call the Three Kings had the Star of Bethlehem and they also had studied the heavens for most of their lives. Tradition tells us they were not only regal, but they were both astronomers and astrologers. Both “sciences” were a part of religious practice at the time.

Perhaps because the Magi had one foot in science and the other in the spiritual, they were able, when it mattered the most, to engage other aspects of their wisdom:  Listening to dreams and their own intuition about people.

The Magis’ Insight

When Herod demanded of the Magi details of where he could find the newborn king of the Jews, something did not ring true to them. They could tell a conniving liar when they saw one.

The last part of their journey brought the Magi to an infant Jesus – the first such visit by gentiles who comprehended how special this little one was. And then in their wisdom they decided to “go home by another way.”

Take the Magis’ Path

It seems for all of us who embrace and love the gift of Jesus in our lives that our journey has just begun this far side of Bethlehem.

The real work for us begins when we must chart our course forward, relying only on the light that Christ shed on the “road signs” along the way, which Howard Thurman so beautifully displayed in his poem (above).

The real work begins when the theatrical part of Christmas is over, and we are left to the winds and snows of January. That’s when the real light of Christ shines.

Join us on Sunday as we close out the Christmas season at First Church, when we chart a roadmap together.


Light Enters Through the Cracks.

The light is truth, and it will prevail, always, against the darkness.

Rev. Pat Kriss(Posted January 12, 2023)

“There is a crack in everything.
That's how the light gets in.”
― Leonard Cohen, Selected Poems, 1956-1968

In these short weeks since the turn of the New Year, I’ve noticed how the scripture readings have turned into the ability to perceive light even in dark places. In Christian theology for centuries, most of the effort has been placed on showing us how broken we are, instead of what that means for us in becoming whole, as Jesus showed us.

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

How the Light Gets In

We are, indeed, broken in many ways and, you know, Jesus didn’t have a problem with that. He specialized in letting the light flow through those cracks when people reached out for him. That’s what his healing was all about.

Jesus understood that God’s created world wasn’t a perfect place. In this evolving, imperfect world, there are those who are born blind. There are pregnancies meant to be joyous that sometimes never complete their journey into the light of this world. And then there are cells in the body that sometimes go rogue and multiply themselves into cancer. All of these things happen even to the nicest of people. The cracks in this world are not a judgment or sentence. They simply are.

The Truth – and Light – Pour Through

But that’s where Jesus and this broken world come together. Jesus’s entire earthly journey with us was one of walking with people and picking up the pieces. It was between these shattered shards, at least partially brought together in the jigsaw puzzle of a life, that Jesus poured his light through the cracks.

The light is truth, and it will prevail, always, against the darkness. For those in Jesus’ time, some who encountered him were completely mended. Others, like the woman at the well, had the interior of her soul bathed in his light, and she was sent forth, not without cracks, but with his truth pouring out to those who would listen to her.

Prayer Brings Light

And so it is for us, in this imperfect world. Prayer helps us, perhaps not always to cure us, but to heal us as we battle our brokenness. Healing in the world of flesh and blood often involves scar tissue, but it’s tissue that is many times stronger than the tissue that never confronted trouble. This is also how healing affects us emotionally and spiritually. There’s not a person I can think of who has been broken in mind and body who hasn’t learned far more in their struggle than someone whose life has flowed smoothly.

This Jazz Sunday we will gather to bring together the pieces of some lives and maybe - just maybe – watch as prayer brings its light inside us.


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

Phone: (203) 744-6177

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

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

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


Follow Us!