Mark and I (Mary) arrived safely in Haiti yesterday. We went to two different churches this morning that are part of CONASPEH. We had lunch with Pastor Francoise and some of the bishops and students.
It is great to see some of our friends again here. An added BIG surprise was seeing our former missionaries Kim and Patrick Bentrott and their three children who are here at the guest house with us. It is a children’s first visit to Haiti and Kim‘s first visit since the earthquake in 2010.
by Mary Friedman
(Thank you to Karen Pohlman for translating Pastor Francoise’ e-mails from the French for us!)
The Haiti Team is happy to share pictures and an annual report for 2017-2018 we have just received from Pastor Francoise Villiers, Executive Director of our mission partner in Haiti: the National Council of Spiritual Churches of Haiti. Last year our church donated money for roof repairs at the headquarters building in Port-au-Prince:
First Church raised almost $16,000 during the Haiti Scholarship Fund Drive last spring. That money has enabled many more students to attend school this year!
Bishop Fontus with students at his school in Saute which Mark Pohlman and Mary Friedman visited last year with Pastor Francoise.
Girls classes at Bishop Fontus’ School in Saute.
Pre-school students at the CONASPEH–supported school in Saute.
Pastor Francoise writes to us that “Education is a luxury in this country, from day to day, things become more difficult for the parents. If it was not for Longmeadow, we do not know how we could help these children in difficulty. For the families that have 5-8 cchildren in a house, our school cannot help them all, thus every third child in a family has a grant(scholarship) in this program subsidized by the Longmeadow church.”
Following are some examples of the things that C.O.N.A.S.P.E.H.…
Come down and join Pastor Marisa with a growing First Church presence at this organic outdoor service, rain or shine! Introduce yourself, meet our friends in the streets who join us in worship!
First Church is now part of Church Without Walls – a ministry to the homeless in Springfield started ten years ago by St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. It has now grown into an ecumenical ministry with many Episcopal and UCC churches, providing weekly outdoor worship in all seasons at Court Square, Springfield, with a communion service at noon and lunch for all. Pastor Marisa is partnering the first Sunday of every month with Rev. Peter Swarr of St. Mark’s Episcopal in East Longmeadow, a friend of First Church from the Circle of Faith Habitat House Build we did back in 2016. Church Without Walls begins at noon.…
Vocal and instrumental music in many genres are integral to the way we worship, hear the scriptures and build Christian community at First Church. The Chancel Choir, a quartet of top-tier soloists, the Handbell Choir, the Children’s Choir and frequent special guests contribute regularly to worship — always pursuing excellence and community — and led by our Director of Music Dan Inglis.
Our sanctuary is home to a 1975 Schantz neo-Baroque pipe organ, a Steinway grand piano and a Zuckermann French double harpsichord. Other instruments are often a part of our services as well, played by members of the choir, youth members and special guests. In January 2018, we will launch our Featured Musician Series, highlighting the contributions of one guest musician every month.
Samples of music done by our church choirs can be found on the choir videos page.
Musicians and aspiring musicians interested in getting involved with the vibrant music ministry at First Church are welcome to get in touch with Director of Music Dan Inglis.
For over 15 years, First Church has been involved with CONASPEH, a non-governmental organization that was formed in 1986 by 50 Protestant Haitian ministers. CONASPEH has 4,000 member churches and plays an important role in the economic, social, religious, and intellectual development of Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere.
In 1995, First Church gave $50,000 for a CONASPEH headquarters that served as a school, medical clinic, and office for economic development until it was destroyed during the earthquake in January, 2010. First Church continues to support CONASPEH by providing tution scholarships to the school. In 2009, over $10,000 was donated to the fifth Haiti Scholarship Fund Drive. The CONASPEH school reopened under tents and among trees in April, 2010. The 2010 fund drive concentrated on donations to help the school rebuild. We continue to support the school by holding an annual Scholarship Fund Drive. Please consider donating to the Haiti Scholarship Fund Drive.
Many members of First Church have traveled to Haiti to provide hands-on help in the areas of education, communication, computers, and medical services. Members of the Senior YES! youth group have also traveled to Haiti. They have helped out at both the CONASPEH school and at an orphanage.…
Jesus said “Let the children come to me.” At First Church, we extend this same welcome. Our Christian Education program begins with our Pre-K/Kindergarten program and continues with Church School for grades 1-6, and Confirmation classes for grades 7-8. Our children are invited to become members of First Church through Confirmation at the end of 8th grade. We also have youth programs for middle and high school students.…
At First Church of Christ, we extend ministries and education to inspire children and families on their faith journey, treasuring our God who both supports them and calls them to action. We offer programs for specific age groups as well as regular events for all ages with special focus on our youngest ones.
- Preschool Room on Sundays for infants and children through kindergarten
- Church School for grades 1-6
- Youth Group
We also offer monthly generational social opportunities for people of all ages to play, learn, and spend time together, with special design around our youngest members. Typical events include outings, dinner & movie nights, Halloween double-feature & costume party, and carol sing with cookies and hot cocoa on the first Sunday of Advent.
Photos from some of our recent events: Randall’s Corn Maze, Halloween movie night, pumpkin decorating, and splash park.:
The Women’s Benevolent Society was established in 1803 to promote the missionary activities as well as the social and spiritual life of the women of the First Church of Christ in Longmeadow. The society is thought to be the oldest continuously active women’s group of its kind in the country.
Program meetings that include a potluck lunch are usually held on the first Friday of September through May. Planning meetings are held the second Tuesday of the month at 10:15am. All these meetings are open to the women of First Church and their friends. Representatives from the area causes WBS helps support are also invited to the planning meetings.
Please enjoy these photos from recent WBS events:
The annual “Church on the Green” Christmas Fair, held on the first Saturday in December, is the groups major fundraising project from which all the proceeds are donated to local charitable organizations. Pictures from the most recent Christmas Fair can be viewed on our Flickr album.
The History of the Women’s Benevolent Society was presented as part of our Heritage Sunday program on October 20, 2013 and is available in a two-part video series:
The Prayer Shawl Ministry is a quiet but determined group of ladies, some of whom have been getting together for over 10 years knitting and crocheting in order to bring prayers and a reminder of God’s love to those in need. Prayer shawls are given to folks who are grieving, healing, or are otherwise in need of comfort. They have also been given to Hospice, as well as to new mothers or people who have celebrated special occasions. In their time as a group, they have given away well over 500 shawls.
Each shawl is delivered with a card attached containing a prayer of Love, Hope and Peace: “As you place this shawl around your shoulders, may you feel the loving arms of God enfold you as he holds you in his care. May you find comfort, peace and healing from the prayers that have been offered for you by the knitter. From [knitter’s name] and your friends at First Church.” Many thank you notes have been received from people who feel God’s love and caring when wrapped in the shawl as well as many prayers given by the knitters.
It took about 6 million stitches to make the first 500 shawls, and the needles are still going!…