Thursday, August 4
Oakwood Heights Community Church, (#9) in Staten Island New York, lives out the word ‘community’ in their name by opening their doors to local educational and recovery programs. The food pantry has won awards for the personalized attention they provide. Volunteers at the pantry accommodate the clients’ dietary restrictions and preferences. Hurricane Sandy remains fresh in people’s minds ten years after it wreaked havoc on homes compelling residents to move. Evidence of the devastation is tempered by the hopeful spirit of Staten Islanders.
Sunday, August 7
Southern Ocean Congregational Church (#10) in Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey, is one of the younger churches in the NACCC. Founded in 2002, they have been a member church since 2003. The Congregational Church of Bound Brook in northern New Jersey helped make their introduction. The congregation worships in the local volunteer fire department building. The space is open and inviting with a newly refurbished kitchen. Rev. Bill Ashley comments on the history of each hymn before the congregation sings it. Following the service, which included communion, we enjoyed fresh bagels and conversation, their first fellowship hour since the pandemic hit in 2020.
Sunday, August 14
As the culmination of a weeklong VBS at First Congregational Church of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin (#11), children and youth shared two songs during the Sunday service. Worshippers complimented them by singing along, joining in hand motions, and offering rousing applause. Several youth from Ozaukee Congregational Church in Grafton, WI had joined in the faithful fun. During coffee hour, members shared hopes and dreams for the future. Some families can trace three or four generations of participation in the church. A new elevator will make the building more accessible as the congregation considers ways to welcome guests and new members. Several voices celebrated NACCC mission partnerships and expressed excitement about extending hospitality to Congregationalists from around the country at the 2023 NACCC annual meeting and conference in nearby Brookfield.