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First Congregational Church of Chappaqua

Mission and Outreach

Mission and outreach

For more than 65 years, FCC hosted a yearly Barn Sale. People came from everywhere to shop for merchandise that ranged from large pieces of furniture to earrings! This was a major fundraiser for our Church’s mission work to help those outside our Church. We also hosted a Fall Tag Sale which was on a much smaller scale, but it also brought in funds to help us help others. All items that were not sold were given away on the last day, enabling those who could not afford to pay for items they needed, to obtain them.

With the pandemic, we changed to hosting a “Yard Sellers” event. People from the wider community bring items they want to sell and we host them on our property, enabling people to have one large place to shop for treasures. While the funds we raise are much less, we have found that it is popular with the community and is much less work for our volunteers. As time passes, we will continue to re-evaluate and see what works. The above picture is from one of our Yard Sales.

The Emergency Shelter Partnership

The Emergency Shelter Partnership (ESP) at FCC began when one of our members, the moderator at the time, was struggling between his role as a consensus builder and an advocator. He was haunted by a bible passage, “for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” (Matt. 25, vs.35). He asked himself, “How does one advocate when you are not an advocator?” Fortunately, other people in the church were willing to propose a project. We became part of the Emergency Shelter Partnership. For more than a decade, we are still part of the partnership. With the help of friends, we do provide wonderful dinners.  

We’ve given a lot. But, we have received equally. To see the people working in the kitchen, sharing stories of “the night that …” makes it obvious that joy is shared. The work that goes on is multi-generational and ecumenical. Being part of the Emergency Shelter Partnership is a shared blessing, shared among the homeless, the workers and the church.

Disaster Relief

We maintain a separate Disaster Relief Fund for humanitarian purposes. We replenish it through special offerings and fundraising events.

Hands-On Opportunities

The first Sunday of every month, we bring canned goods and other needed items for Luke’s Pantry. Luke’s Pantry was started many years ago when one of our youth asked why we only collected food during the holidays; why weren’t we doing it more often? That question has engendered the donation of thousands of pounds of needed items to the Community Center of Northern Westchester’s Food Pantry since its inception.

Over the course of the year, we sponsor projects such as collecting food/gifts during holidays for area families that are in need. We also provide school supplies for and organize clothing drives for the Community Center of Northern Westchester. We house and feed the local Homeless population through the Emergency Shelter Project in conjunction with other religious institutions. We have also provided opportunities for those who are in need to shop for free at our Tag Sale and Barn Sale.

Our Deacon’s Fund, for which funds are collected on the first Sunday of every month, provides financial assistance to assist members, friends, or neighbors who have a current financial problem which might be overcome or diminished by caring financial help. We provide food cards, payment directly to vendors for rent, electricity, etc., from this Fund.

Advocacy Initiative

We strive to become aware of the social conditions behind the benevolences we support through education and discourse because we believe advocacy is the impetus for social change in a democracy.

Firewood Ministry

Several years ago, one of our members began to chop up wood from trees that had been cut down in order to not have the wood go to waste. Over the years, this work has grown and is now a ministry of our Church. Some of our young people have taken a liking to this physical work and have invited others to join them. Firewood is available on an honor-system. Since the funds raised go towards our benevolences, we are hopeful that people will be generous with their donations. The woodpile is available 24-hours a day to come and pick up wood for fireplaces or fire pits. Special thanks goes to Westchester Tree Life for their ongoing supply of tree trunks for us to chop!  If you would like to join in helping with this ministry, please call the Church office.

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people gathered for outdoor worship
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keith robellard playing organ for church service

keith robellard

Keith has served as the Director of Music at FCC for over 30 years. In 2014, at a luncheon celebrating his 25 years at FCC he was officially given the title of Minister of Music. He was educated at Baldwin-Wallace College Conservatory; Keith has worked for the Manhattan School of Music, where he was director of chamber music; the First Reformed Episcopal Church, both in New York City; accompanist-choir director at Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester; and served on the faculty of Rippowam Cisqua School. He was dean of the Westchester AGO Chapter from 1997-1998.

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jonathan riedel with sunday school children in front of black lives matter sign

Jonathan Riedel

Jonathan Riedel, our Director of Christian Education, has been a member of FCC Chappaqua since 2018. A life-long student of Judeo/Christian traditions, he also studies Buddhist philosophy, world religions, yoga, meditation, Kung Fu, and considers the Arts and creative expression as integral to his spiritual beliefs, practices, and teaching.  

While undertaking his work with our children, Jonathan discerned a call to ordained ministry. He is currently under care of FCC and the Hudson Mohawk Association of the New York Conference of the UCC. He is enrolled at the New York School of Ministry. 

He began his professional career as a dancer with the Limón Dance Company (limon.org) in NYC, touring and performing throughout the US, Europe and South America. He then began his own company, Riedel Dance Theater (riedeldancetheater.org) that he helmed to critical acclaim for over ten years.  Jonathan has been on the faculties of The Boston Conservatory, Brown University, Pace University, and currently, his alma mater, Purchase College (BFA 2001, MFA 2011).  He has been a guest teacher at the Juilliard School, LABAN (UK), Good Moves Dance Consort (Atlanta, GA) and the Steffi Nossen School (White Plains, NY.)  An artist of many media, Jonathan also leads the industrial rock band, Rubber Skulls (rubberskulls.com). He creates original, punk-inspired hats and jackets under the brand, Righteous Stitch (righteousstitch.org). He is currently working on a series of fantasy children’s books and also refurbishes used stuffed animals with hand-made unicorn horns for his side project, Horns-A-Plenty (find them on FB!).  He is a proud son, brother, husband, father of two, and resident of Pleasantville, NY. 

Jonathan’s Sunday School classes explore prayers, songs, and stories from the Bible and what they might mean. He hopes to inspire in his students spiritual curiosity, self-awareness, inter-religious tolerance, and a life-long appreciation for God, love, and all things divine. He does so through his weekly youth messages, age-appropriate Q&A sessions, outreach and charity initiatives, art and crafting projects, and creating original plays with the class.  He loves his job, his students and the entire FCC community. If you have any questions about the Christian Education program at FCC, feel free to contact Jonathan.

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wedding ceremony reverend martha with bride and groom
reverend martha with confirmation class

the Rev. Dr. Martha R. Jacobs

Martha has been our pastor since April of 2014. She came to FCC after a 20+ year career as a professional chaplain. Martha graduated from New York Theological Seminary with her doctorate in 2005. Her book, A Clergy Guide to End of Life Issues, has been a must-read for seminary students, clergy and lay people. She continues to teach and lead workshops both nationally and internationally on end-of-life issues.  For several years, she blogged about end of life issues for The Huffington Post. Martha believes that the greatest gift we can give to our loved ones is letting them know what our wishes are as we near the end of our lives.

Martha was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware, the youngest of 4 children. She was raised Jewish, and converted to Christianity when she was 17, having been exposed to Jesus when a friend asked her to sing some solos at his church. She learned about a different kind of God than she had been exposed to growing up. She learned about a God who was inside of her. And, she learned about Jesus, who she uses as her role model, mentor and rabbi. 

Martha loved being a chaplain. However, after more than 20 years of being present with patients and families as they dealt with some of the most difficult times of their lives, she realized that God was calling her to serve in a church. Her greatest concern, when discerning her call to become our pastor, was that she would not being able to come up with a sermon every Sunday. But, so far, more than 8 years after accepting the call to FCC, Martha has had a meaningful message for us each Sunday. She relates it to what is happening in our world and in our lives and tries to give us some respite from the difficulties of our world. That doesn’t mean that she doesn’t talk about the difficulties we face, but she tries to put them into perspective and brings God into the conversation around how we live our lives and how we function in our world and how we treat each other. Because FCC members and friends span the spectrum of political and social activists, she preaches about the issues, and how Jesus expects us to handle them and not the politics that can often divide people. 

Martha has a healing and loving and accepting spirit. She has helped us to accept that we are human and make mistakes and that God does forgive us for the things we don’t necessarily do that are in the best interests of ourselves or others. She has also opened our hearts and hands and minds to help us to not just tolerate people who are different from us, but to actually welcome and embrace them for all that they are. 

Martha has been with her spouse, Pat Yost, for more than 40 years. While Pat did not expect to be married to a minister (they met when they were both in the theatre), she has become an important part of our church in her own right. She pitches in and helps us, as does Martha, when we have our Barn Sale, Tag Sale and other church events. They are both hands-on, and have helped us celebrate all that we are. 

Truly, Martha embodies – no matter who you are or where you are on your life journey – you are welcome to FCC.