Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra congratulates the members of Hartford's oldest church: First Church of Christ UCC in Hartford. (l. to r.) Mayor Segarra, Luciano Valles, Jr., the Rev. Damaris Whittaker
Photos by Drew Page
by Drew Page
HARTFORD (10/16/2012) -- First Church of Christ UCC in Hartford (Center Church) marked its Founders' Day, the 380th anniversary of the church, on Sunday with worship followed by a Service of Remembrance in the adjacent Ancient Burying Grounds. The service was led by newly settled pastor, the Rev. Damaris Whittaker and Liturgist Luciano Valles, Jr., and included a proclamation from Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra.
The worship began with a procession led by the First Company Governor's Foot Guard. During worship, Mayor Segarra spoke in praise of the historic role of First Church in the development of the government and the fight for social justice in the city of Hartford, the state of Connecticut, and the wider global community. The Proclamation echoed Segarra's praise for the impact First Church has had on Hartford, calling the church "a great source of spiritual strength" and an "inspiration to all citizens of the city."
Rev. Whittaker spoke of the founders in her sermon entitled "Courage to Live." Imaging the founders returning to the present and seeing the church now, she posed the question "What would they say?" She related this speculation to the New Testament reading of Mark 10 in which the rich man asks Jesus what is needed to inherit eternal life.
"Go. Sell. Give. Come. Follow," repeated Whittaker as she pared the story down to its essential concept.
Whittaker shared words from a sermon by Thomas Hooker in which he prayed to God to give us no wealth but the gospel, tying Hooker's message to Jesus' response, and finally bringing the message back to the present and forward to the future.
"What would we respond to Jesus' invitation?" asked Whittaker. "Do we have the courage to take the next step, to answer Jesus' invitation?"
The worship ended with a recessional by the Foot Guard who led the congregation outside to the Ancient Burying Ground. Rev. Whittaker offered a memorial prayer to the founders and laid a wreath on one of the marker stones in remembrance of the church's past leaders.
|The congregation assembles in the church's Ancient Burying Ground for a wreath-laying ceremony.|
Drew Page is Media Assistant for the Connecticut Conference UCC.