2009-01-16 / Community

First Congregational Church Celebrates Christmas

For the 112th time in its history, the First Congregational Church of Rockaway Beach observed the Christmas season with prayer and celebration, beginning with the first Sunday of Advent. The following week, the church property on Beach 94 Street was decorated in preparation for the Celebration of Lights and Song. With the sounds of Christmas carols sung by the Setting the Stage Youth Chorus, the lights and Christmas tree were turned on for the first time. Hot cocoa and cookies were enjoyed by all following the ceremony.

Church members prepared well in advance for the annual bazaar and fresh ham dinner, always a highlight of the year. Talented members handcrafted and sold Christmas ornaments, baked goods, soaps and lotions, stained glass jewelry, and raffle tickets. Others cooked the ham and side dishes, traditionally served familystyle in the festively decorated John C. Green Chapel Room. The generous merchants of the Rockaway peninsula and the Five Towns graciously contributed numerous gifts to help make this year's bazaar one of the most successful fundraisers at the church in recent memory. Beautiful gifts, including jewelry, tasty sweets, bottles of wine, and gift certificates for free dinners were just some of the valuable prizes raffled off during the dinner. The generosity of these 30 merchants was much appreciated: Belle Harbor Chemists, Bon Appetit Gourmet Deli, Brown's Hardware, Capital One Bank (Rockaway Park), Cedarhurst Wine and Liquors, C-Town (Rockaway Beach), Elegante Pizza, Fashion Wave, Five Towns Wine and Liquors, Flaco (FAFG) Auto Repair, Harbor Optics, Just Beautiful Salon, King's Pharmacy, Last Stop Gourmet Shop, Madelaine's Chocolates, Max's Pizzeria, Meserole Funeral Home, Mirkin Vision Care, O'Connor's Funeral Home, Perfumerie, Queens County Savings Bank (Rockaway Park), Rockaway Seafood, Sands Point Physical Therapy, Station Liquors, Stop and Shop (Inwood), Surfside Bagels, The Gift Is Love, The Wave, Tiberio Restaurant and Video Waves.

Then, the church doors opened on December 24 for the much-anticipated Christmas Eve service. The traditional Christmas pageant with live nativity featured James and Rebekkah Thompson with their newest son as the Holy Family. Beautiful carols, including a touching version of "Away in a Manger," were sung by the church choir and soloists under the direction of Linda Lensu.

First Congregational Church, formed in 1886, was one of the earliest houses of worship in the Rockaways.

An open and affirming member of the United Church of Christ, it is located at 320 Beach 94 Street, due east of the Cross Bay Bridge ramps. For further information about the church, call 718-634-4701, e-mail us at firstcongregational@ earthlink.net, or visit our website www.first-congregational.com. No matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, you're welcome at First Congregational, a church spokesperson said.

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