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Welcoming Statement

We, The First Congregational Church of Portland, Connecticut, are an Open and Affirming church.  With God’s grace, we continue to be a congregation that includes persons of every race, ethnicity, age, family configuration, marital status, mental and physical ability, economic status, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. 

All are welcome to share in the life, sacraments, missions, responsibilities, and blessings of participation in our community of faith.

Pastoral Letter 3/25/20


Dear Friends,

James Russell Lowell, born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1819, was an editor, poet, author, lawyer, Harvard professor, abolitionist, and popular public speaker.  One of his poems was used as the lyrics for the hymn “Once to Every Man and Nation,” which includes the line: “New occasions teach new duties.”  Isn’t that the truth these days?! Although the coronavirus feels more like a new crisis and less like simply a new occasion.

In the midst of this crisis, we are being taught new duties. I, for one, have been attempting to learn some new technological techniques for staying connected with you such as presenting a worship service via YouTube.  Many of you tuned in last Sunday and we thank you for your participation and your comments! (Just to clarify: we didn’t anticipate that the service would be divided into two parts, and we learned that the sound needs to be amplified.)

Many thanks to Ann Labby and Kasha Breau for their enthusiastic participation, Margaret Stewart for her support, and Brian and Kim Labby for their tech help and time these past days.

One of our office (and now out-of-office due to the coronavirus) projects has been to expand our email list for the congregation. Perhaps you are receiving an all-church email letter for the first time! Please let me know about address changes you might have. Feel free to visit our church website and our church’s Facebook page. We thank Amanda Dudzinski for administering the website https://www.firstchurchportlandct.org and Larry Onofrio for managing our Facebook page. Look us up at The First Congregational Church of Portland, CT.  

All of us, everywhere, are all learning new duties in the midst of the terrible new occasion of COVID-19.  We are learning new – and often painful – ways of living our lives these days as so many aspects are affected including our routines, jobs, school, worship, parenting, shopping, finances, scheduled appointments, planned special events, volunteer work, pet care, entertainment, travel, exercising, socializing, keeping healthy, and staying in touch.

Please know that members of our church family have volunteered to help people who need an errand run, or are unable to pick up groceries or medicine. If you need help, contact me at 860-918-5415 or jhawken@sbcglobal.net.

Meanwhile, together let us hold each other in prayer and await the day when the new occasions will be joyful occasions bringing new duties born of gladness and good health!

Yours in Christian faith,



Lenten Soup Suppers




Wednesday Evening Soup Suppers and Programs during Lent 

Supper ~ 6:30 p.m. Program ~ 7:00 p.m.  TO BE RESCHEDULED - Dates TBD


March 11 – The Rev. John Hall “If It’s God’s Creation, What’s the Problem? ~ If there is a problem, what can humans do about it?” John grew up in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. He was the Senior Minister at First Church of Christ in Middletown from 1990 to 2011. Prior to that, he served churches in Hyannis, Massachusetts, and Lehighton, Pennsylvania. In 2004, John founded the Jonah Center for Earth and Art, a local environmental nonprofit. The Jonah Center works with the Town of Portland and the City of Middletown to make our community more bicycle and pedestrian-friendly, as well as to encourage more sustainable living and protection of natural resources. John has preached several times at our church and on March 11, he will lead us in exploring our role and responsibility in protecting creation. 


TO BE RESCHEDULED - Date TBD – Dr. Gary Yohe “The Paris Accord, the U.S., and Our Grandchildren” Gary is the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies at Wesleyan University; he is now Emeritus. He has been involved since the early 1990’s with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). As a senior member of the IPCC, he received a share of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Gary is the Co-editor-in-Chief of Climatic Change. He has written and lectured extensively on the issue of climate change and he has served on numerous panels and committees. Currently he is working with America’s Climate Choices that will focus attention on responding to financial risk, propagating emissions reduction technology across the economy, sustaining employment in a carbon free world, and accounting for issues of environmental justice. 


TO BE RESCHEDULED - Date TBD – Mr. John LeShane “The Middlesex Land Trust” John LeShane lives in Portland and serves on the Board of Directors of the Middlesex Land Trust. The land trust is committed to conservation, and it owns and preserves over 1000 acres in Cromwell, Durham, East Hampton, Haddam Neck, Middlefield, Middletown, and Portland. John shares his passion for conservation in numerous ways. 22 years ago, he founded the Meshomasic Hiking Club. Each year he leads Portland’s third grade students on a nature walk. He has served on the Portland Conservation Commission and the Inland Wetlands Commission. He was the first chairperson of the town’s Recycling Committee, and he is a recipient of a Certificate of Honor from the Rockfall Foundation.