Advent & Christmas Services for 2016

We have services on Wednesdays in Advent, 3 services on Christmas Eve, and a family brunch service on Christmas Day.

Advent Services of Silence and Song, Wednesdays, 7:30 pm, December 7, 14, 21 – time and space for Advent waiting and reflection, along with Holy Communion and the music of Taize.

Longest Night Service, Weds. December 21, 7:30 pm (part of the Advent Service of Silence and Song) – a Liturgy of Memory and Hope as we light candles for those for whom our hearts ache this season.

The Living Crèche, Sunday, December 18, 5:30-6:00 pm. A still life reenactment of the manger scene, led by our Youth Group, held outside on our front lawn.

Christmas Eve, Saturday, December. 24:

  • 5:00 – All Age Worship with “Instant Pageant”
  • 7:30 – Candlelight Service with Choir
  • 11:00 – Candlelight and Communion Service

Christmas Day, Sunday, December 25: (No 8:15 service)
10:15 – Prayers, Carols and Potluck Brunch! – Come together for an informal celebration gathering around the breakfast table, sharing prayers and carols as we celebrate the morning of Christ’s birth. Bring a breakfast item to share.

New Year’s Day, Sunday, January 1, 2017: (No 8:15 service or child care.)
10:15 – Ring in the New Year together as we remember the Magi and their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.


Advent Services of Silence and Song

  • Weds. Nov. 30- Contemplative Worship
  • Weds. Dec. 7- Contemplative Worship
  • Weds. Dec. 14 – Contemplative Worship
  • Weds. Dec. 21 – Longest Night Service of Remembrance


Christmas Eve Instant Pageant FAQs

The Instant Pageant is a simple, yet moving, unrehearsed reenactment of the Christmas story, narrated by Rev. Jan. All children and teens (visitors included) are welcome to participate.

When Is It?
On Christmas Eve, during the 5:00 p.m. family service. Children should come to Fellowship Hall by 4:45 p.m. to don their costumes.

What Should I Wear?
To be a shepherd, wear a plain, dark bathrobe. To be an angel or a farm animal, wear a simple costume from home if you have one, or use one of the costumes available in Fellowship Hall.

Tell Me More!
Children participating in the pageant will sit with their parents in costume. Our oldest Sunday School, Confirmation students and high school teens generally fill the roles of Mary, Joseph, Gabriel and the three Kings. Those selected will sit at the very back of the sanctuary with Julia Manners until it’s time for them to come forward.

Rev. Jan will narrate the Christmas story and each group of children will come forward during the appropriate Christmas carol (as marked in the bulletin).

Advent Services of Silence and Song

Advent is the season of waiting and hoping, as we prepare to welcome the Christ into our life in new ways. To offer you a deep and meaningful way to observe the sacred season of Advent, we are offering a four week Contemplative Advent Worship series on Wednesday nights at 7:30 pm in the sanctuary, led by Rev. Jan, Diane Wolff and Price Vander Swaagh. Come, sink into the stillness and quiet of God’s presence as an emerging awareness of Christ’s coming dawns throughout the season. The music, prayers, silence and reflections will all be designed to draw you deeper into the heart of God as you await Emmanuel.

  • Weds. Nov. 30- Contemplative Worship
  • Weds. Dec. 7- Contemplative Worship
  • Weds. Dec. 14 – Contemplative Worship
  • Weds. Dec. 21 – Longest Night Service of Remembrance


The Journey Home from War: Veterans’ Storytelling Project Training

The Journey Home from War is a non-partisan, two-day training being offered in April 2017 for faith communities to better welcome, integrate and offer healing outreach to veterans in their local area. The aim is to strengthen the capacity of leaders and organizations to address the needs of veterans and their families, to break cycles of trauma, and to build resilience.

Friday/Saturday, April 7/8, 2017 (Re-scheduled from January)
 8:30 am – 4:00 pm
First Congregational Church of Westbrook, UCC
1166 Boston Post Road
Westbrook, CT 06498

The Journey Home from War program is based on Trauma Resilience training (STAR) developed for the 9/11 aftermath. The STAR training builds awareness of trauma-related injuries and teaches methods of coping and healing. The training is led by Brookfield Institute ( co-founder Rev. Dr. Beverly Prestwood-Taylor, an international trauma healing expert who oversees a team of highly credentialed trainers in conflict transformation, trauma healing, and community building and organization.

This two-day training provides individuals and faith communities with the background and resources they need to create effective outreach ministries to veterans in their local communities. The workshop is designed to assist participants in understanding the journey of healing and will review the basic theory as it applies to experience of veterans and military families including:

  • the effects of trauma on the body, mind and spirit,
  • common responses to unhealed trauma,
  • recognizing the symptoms of traumatic brain injury,
  • insight about coping with moral injury, and
  • new skills and strategies to chart a healing journey.

In addition, participants will learn about the process of coming home faced by all veterans, such as:

  • stages veterans move through as they prepare for deployment and as they return,
  • battle mind: unlearning some aspects of basic training in order to re-acclimate to life with their families, and
  • creating a specific plan to support veterans and military families.

Local congregations are invited to send clergy and/or laity teams (suggested size: 5 people) for $500/congregation. Costs for this comprehensive workshop are being underwritten by the First Congregational Church of Westbrook Ramsey Mission Fund. Other grants are currently being pursued.

For more information, please call or email the Rev. Dr. Jan Gregory-Charpentier, Pastor, First Congregational Church of Westbrook: (860) 399-9367,

How do I register?

Register online

After you register online, send payment to First Congregational Church of Westbrook, 1166 Boston Post Road, Westbrook CT 06498. Payment: $500/congregation. Please make checks out to “First Congregational Church of Westbrook” with “Journey Home from War” on memo line. Pay in full upon registration, please.


Click to see a map of parking areas near the church

Where do I park?

Parking for services at Westbrook Congregational may be found along Norris Ave, around the Town Green, or across Route 1 behind the Fire Department.  Entrances to the sanctuary may be found on the Route 1 side of the building.  Please be sure to use the crosswalks when crossing Essex Road or Route 1.

Is the church handicap accessible?

Yes.   Handicap parking is available at the top of Norris Ave.  To avoid stairs, you must enter the church from Norris Ave away from Route 1.  Follow the signs inside through Fellowship Hall to the Sanctuary.

How can I get more information?

You may call the office at (860) 399-9367.

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Westbrook Congregational Church (WCC) Offers Family Worship



Bring family members of all ages Sunday, September 11, 2016,  at 10:15 am to the first “Second Sunday, Second Service” of the new church year at the First Congregational Church of Westbrook, as we kickoff of Sunday School, Youth Groups and Adult Ministries for the fall. The  “Second Sunday, Second Service” is a contemporary, intergenerational worship service for all ages. WCC invites new and returning participants to enjoy countless opportunities for worship, fellowship, learning and service in the coming church year. All are welcome! Information and registration materials for all age group activities will be available on September 11, or by visiting our website: “Second Sunday, Second Service” is a new initiative for WCC, blending contemporary music, multi-media and all-age participation,  and will continue as a unique monthly celebration of God’s joyful and inclusive love. Please join us for this special service and all services, 8:15 am and 10:15 am every Sunday.

Vacation Bible School 2016

‘Surf Shack: Catch the Wave of God’s Almighty Love’

Monday, July 25 – Friday, July 29 9 a.m. – Noon

We enthusiastically invite all children (from preschool through 8th grade) to this year’s high-energy Vacation Bible School! Participants will discover how to surf through life with God and others. The fun begins on Monday, July 25 and ends with an evening celebration picnic on Friday, July 29, which our entire congregation is invited to.

The adventure includes energizing music, interactive Bible fun, super science, cool crafts, delicious snacks, great games, and more!

Feel free to invite your friends’ children, as well! VBS is a great introduction to our church and to God!

The cost is only $50 per child for the entire week. Checks can be made out to WCC, with VBS written in the subject line. Register your children today! Registration/refund deadline is Sunday, July 17.  [[ Download the registration form :: VBS 2016 Surf Shack registration form pdf ]]

If you are interested in decorating, speak with Liz Perrone-Gray. Adults and teens entering 8th grade and above can join our volunteer team. Contact Julia Manners:


Thank you to our Veterans

On Friday, November 6, 2015, our church had a potluck dinner to honor our veterans.  We shared a meal and then listened to stories from men and women who served this country.    The honest accounts were very moving.  Pictures shared may be viewed in Fellowship Hall.


Volunteerism Alive and Well at First Congregational Church!

Many were away over the summer and may not be aware of some of the activities surrounding our church.  As most know, Rev. Lee Ireland’s last Sunday with us was June 28th.  She received a new interim position on June 25th.  And we had made arrangements to repair and upgrade the parsonage starting on July 1st.  Talk about close planning!!!

Rev. Lee rented a newly renovated home in Niantic, and the builder managed to get it done for a move on June 27th.  During the last two weeks of June, several of the ladies in our church volunteered to help her pack up her belongings.   We had hoped that a local moving company could actually perform the move, but summer on the shoreline is not a good time to expect a professional moving company to be readily available and at our beckoned call.  So the requests went out, and you responded.  We rented a 16’ truck, had six smaller trucks at our disposal along with two station wagons.  At 9 AM on Saturday June 27th, seventeen volunteers assembled at the parsonage, and the move was under way.  Nancy Carlson, Beth Frisbee, Sandy Clark, Susan Wickland, Bob Wickland, Bob Hansen, Matt Resnisky, Greg Burr, Wendy Girle, Bill Voigt, Carol Voigt, Charlie Renshaw, Paul Ireland, David Stoner and three friends of Rev. Lees were ready to go.  In just over two hours, the vehicles were packed and the caravan left for Niantic.  Once there, Lee mapped out where she wanted the furniture and the boxes, and the group made great progress in getting everything in the proper rooms and the furniture on the correct walls.  By just after 2 PM the trucks were unloaded and while Rev. Lee had some serious unpacking to do, everything was in place.  Toward the end of the move, magically three humungous pizzas appeared with several bottles of soda, and everyone retreated to the back deck for a well-deserved lunch and wonderful conversation and fellowship.  Rev. Lee said “she had never seen such a well-orchestrated and smooth move”…and she should probably know since as an interim, moves are somewhat commonplace.

Scott Hartzell, Trustee and Property Chair, would normally be the point person for any repairs and changes to either the Church or the Parsonage. Scott does have a full time job, and this undertaking was above and beyond the call of duty.   In April, Charlie Renshaw and David Stoner volunteered to be co-chairs to get the parsonage restored, upgraded, painted and prepared for Rev. Jan’s arrival in late July.  The master bathroom was virtually unusable, the shower had been removed, and several of the fixtures needed repair.  The kitchen sink and the faucet were old and needed replacement.  All the trim…baseboards, door and window trim were stained brown from the days they were installed in 1960.  The doors…ten in number…to the bedrooms, closets and bathrooms were also circa 1960, and the veneer had in many cases peeled off.  All needed to be replaced.     Considering all the above changes and replacements, as well as upgrading and bringing the electrical systems throughout the house up to code, we estimated the total costs to be $15,000.  These changes and costs were submitted to the Trustees and the budget to proceed was approved.

In April we contracted with Bathfitters to install two new custom showers and fixtures.  Because of the size of the bathrooms, all had to be specially ordered.  They said they could do it in early July, and on July 1st, they arrived and upgraded both bathrooms in one day!!!  Harold Johnson arranged for a new sink and faucet for the kitchen…a donation from Essex Meadows, and made time in his work schedule to rip out the old sink and plumbing and install the new.  Total cost for this was nothing!!!  We hired a local electrician to upgrade the electrical system, install new outside lighting, as well as new circuits in the bathrooms and hallway lighting. Total cost was $450…a terrific bargain for all the appliances and labor.


THE “SKILLS EXTRAORDINARY” TEAM: (left to right) Phil Bassett, Carpenter/Electrical Repair; Paul Ireland, Arborist; Scott Hartzell, Property Chair and Trustee; Harold Johnson, Kitchen Upgrading and Plumber.

The outside trees and bushes were overgrown and ‘curb appeal’ was not at all apparent.  Anyone over four feet tall were hit with the branches and limbs from the two oaks guarding the front walk.  Paul Ireland volunteered to trim and shape all the trees and evergreens.  Yes, the days he picked to do so were in the high 80’s, low 90’s, with 90 percent humidity.  But the work was done and the debris all taken to the shredder.  The landscaping work was done beautifully at a total cost of zero. Great job Paul!!!

And then the painting.   We put together a paint team of Harold Gulliford, Cathy Maynard, Charlie Renshaw and David Stoner.  Firstly, everything had to be primed with a special sealer.  In addition, several of the window sills needed cleaning and attention since they had suffered serious water damage over the years.  That seemed easy enough, but it turned out we needed three and four coats of semi-gloss paint in addition to the sealer to make the trim and windows look bright, new and professional.  Then doors to the rooms and closets were removed, and as fate would have it, doors installed in the 1960’s were the full 24” or 30”.  Today’s doors are 3/16 of an inch smaller.  That doesn’t sound like much, but none would have hung properly or closed.  The result was that custom doors needed to be ordered, but Beard Lumber came through and notched all the doors so most hung perfectly.  A couple needed to be reworked to open in a manner different from those previously installed, and Phil Basset came through to make the necessary adjustments. Phil also repaired the dining room chandelier which saved an additional $255.  The cost of the new doors and brassware was almost $1,000, and another $275 for paint.  The labor, over 145 hours, was donated.  Just remember, there is no air conditioning at the parsonage, and several of the days were in the high 80’s with 80+ percent humidity…talk about ‘sweat equity’!!!


THE PAINT TEAM: (left to right) David Stoner, Cathy Maynard, Charlie Renshaw and Harold Gulliford.

But the “piece de resistance” were the pulls on 28 doors and drawers in the kitchen.  They were the original pulls, and over the past 55 years were dirty, pitted and needed to be replaced.  Just putting on new pulls would significantly upgrade the kitchen and we planned on about $600 in the budget to replace them. Harold Johnson had another idea…let’s buff and clean them and reuse them.  Harold Gulliford removed all 28, put them on a wheel with a wire brush, removed all the old dirt and grease, applied two coats of clear lacquer and they looked like new.  The cabinets were transformed at a total cost of nothing from the budget, but many hours of labor and some creativity.

On July 25th we declared victory…the job was finished.  We hired one of our tenants at the Pratt House to come and give the place a good final cleaning and polish the floors.

I must tell you, the house sparkles…clean, freshly painted, new electrical, new plumbing and kitchen upgrade.  Considering that Rev. Jan and her husband Ron saw it in February and June, the transformation was astounding, and when they came down with their movers on July 27th, I really think they were blown away.

And so far as the bottom line…the total costs were $11,420 or $3,580 UNDER budget.  The job was completed on time and under budget…don’t you love it when that happens!!!  Thanks to everyone for a great job, well done.
David O. Stoner, Moderator




Sunday School resumes on September 13!

Children from preschool to seventh grade are welcome to join our free Christian education program beginning on September 13 during the 10:15 worship service. Interested families may contact our Minster of Faith Formation, Julia Manners, at or simply come to the church on Sunday September 13. Families should plan to arrive early (9:45) to fill out a registration form.

Each Sunday, children join their family in the sanctuary for about 15 minutes before departing to the classroom. Adults may then fully participate in the remainder of the worship service. The process for reuniting with your children varies by age and will be discussed during registration.

Opportunities are available for eighth graders, high school students, and adults at other times in the week. Contact Julia Manners for more information on these opportunities.