First Congregational Church
164 Deer Hill Ave.
Danbury, CT 06810
Phone:(203) 744-6177


Danbury Church Offers Water to All Who Want It

Program resumed on June 18 as Connecticut's first heat wave began.

DANBURY CT, July 2, 2024 -- The First Congregational or Danbury is giving away free water to anyone who wants it. This year’s program started on June 18 just as the season’s first heat wave moved through the state.

The familiar blue and white cooler (photo, above) bears a simple sign in English and Spanish: “Free water. Please Take One.” And the water flows – 40 or more pint-size bottles a day when heat index spikes.

“All kinds of people use this water to get through their days,” said Rev. Dr. Pat Kriss, pastor of the First Congregational Church. “Homeless people. People whose only transportation is their feet. People working in the heat of the day like delivery drivers, postal workers, as well as runners and emergency workers.”

How You Can Help the Water Ministry

Any donation of cash, checks will assure that water will be available to anyone who needs it this summer. You may add your donation of cash or checks to the collection plate on Sunday with a note that says "Water Ministry." You may also mail your donation to:

First Congregational Church of Danbury

164 Deer Hill Ave.

Danbury, CT 06810

Attn: Water Ministry

You may also donate bottles and cans that we can redeem for the deposit. Please drop them off at the church office. Every last cent that you donate will purchase more water!

Water Ministry Launched in 2023; Community Rallies 

This ministry was launched in July , 2023, and has gained attention in Danbury. Facebook posts have drawn positive reactions and comments, as well as donations of water, ice and an ice chest.

“We’re also fortunate to receive ice from the Sesame Seed restaurant,” digital outreach coordinator Gregory Pings said. “Support from the wider Danbury community has been positive across the board. Not a single negative comment, emoji, email, letter or phone call”

Last year, the congregation purchased 60 cases of water and nearly 400 pounds of ice. In addition, Pings calculated that the Sesame Seed restaurant donated about 2,000 pounds of ice in 2023.

Water Ministry an Expression of "Samaritanship"

In 2024, the church plans to keep the cooler stocked with ice-cold water through the month of September when temperatures begin to moderate.

“Good Samaritans show themselves through deeds great and small,” Rev. Kriss explained. “They save lives, much like the Samaritan on the road to Jericho did in Jesus’ familiar parable in Luke 10. Other Samaritans provide food, rides, jobs, smiles and even water to people who need it most.

“The road to Jericho runs past our church as well as our homes,” she added. “It’s up to everyone in Danbury to become a neighbor in meaningful ways large and small.”

First Congregational Church of Danbury Serves the Community

Programs at the First Congregational Church of Danbury are open to everyone in the greater Danbury community. In addition to Sunday worship, the church offers free movie nights, a thrift store with high-quality clothes, accessories, housewares, books, music DVDs and more. Our Deer Hill Thrift Shop also rents costumes to theater programs at area schools and non-profits.

Space in our former church school is available for rent. We invite community-based or faith-based organizations to explore opportunities to host their events or meetings in these rooms. Current tenants include Alcoholics Anonymous. the Dominican Community Center’s Art Explorer program, and WestConn Toastmasters.

Our sanctuary is an affordable and sought-after concert venue that features regular performances from the Danbury Music Centre, and Connecticut Master Chorale.

Founded in 1696, the First Congregational Church of Danbury is a community of people who come together to serve God the way that Jesus did -- by working to make God’s vision of a peaceful, just and inclusive world a reality.

The church is a member of the United Church of Christ, which believes that God is still speaking in ways that are grounded in ancient Christian understandings, but which are fresh expressions of the Divine presence in contemporary life.

Learn more about the First Congregational Church at  Facebook and YouTube.


Media contact: Gregory Pings, 203-744-6177

Caretakers of Creation

Passing God’s life force on to all God’s creation.

Rev. Dr. Pat Kriss(Posted July 12, 2024)

“For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love ... Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception.” --- Carl Sagan

Every day when I come home and climb the granite stairs to our front door, I am greeted by this: a tiny petunia so intent upon survival that it thrives and blooms out of a hairline crack in the granite, where the sun beats the pavement all day. (Photo above.)

Elsewhere in our yard, there are dozens of plants that I carefully nurture: the right soil, proper feeding, abundant watering. Some of these are doing well. Still others have already lost the survival battle despite my best efforts. But never have I thought to include the tiny petunia in that routine of care. What kind of insistence on life drives this speck of life, despite me?

God’s ‘Theater of Creation’

God’s world is all around us. It provides us with “the theater of creation,” a constantly changing universe of newborn stars and dying old suns, plus on our planet, the ballet of things that make it better and things that can destroy life as we know it. And here we humans are in the middle of it.

We’re supposed to be the one species that is intelligent enough to know how to help the earth and also to understand when what we do harms it.

Care for God’s Creation

Now you’d think that providing care for our mother planet would be a concept embraced by everyone -- a no-brainer. But not when the issue involves something we love even more: money.

The humans whose financial income has been built on fossil fuels are much more likely to think climate change influenced by carbon emissions is just a fairy tale to which they refuse to listen.

Right now we’re witnessing a planetary shift in the weather in a time frame that is short. Of course, when First Church’s fifth Meeting House was built in 1909, air conditioning hadn’t been invented. And yet in the nearly 120 years since this edifice was built, it’s only within the last 15 years that summer heat and humidity has become so intense that any of us wished we had it.

Humanity’s Role as Caretakers of the Planet

Which brings me back to Genesis 2:15: The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to till it and keep it.”  While in Genesis 1 God tells Adam that he has dominion over the earth, the correct translation of that word really says that he has stewardship – responsibility -- for the natural world.

This weekend we will explore the spiritual ways God has guided us to step up to our role as groundskeepers for our mother planet, and some amazing ways life manages to “push through the granite” and keep passing God’s life force on to all God’s creation.

Join us for a fascinating look at the natural world.


Jesus on Vacation?

Time to make ourselves vacant from the workaday world.

Rev Dr Pat Kriss(Posted July 16, 2024)

“Come away to a deserted place by yourselves and rest awhile.  --- Mark 6:31

It occurred to me the other day. Did Jesus ever take a “vacation?”

God knows he did, or at least he tried to, and wanted his followers to practice the same. But it’s not all that easy to do, when the people clamoring around you are in desperate need of help and healing.

Just this week in the Gospel, Jesus and the growing bunch of people that are following him have spent weeks walking through Galilee, healing those who were “bleeding” physically or mentally. They have endured anger and even the threat of violence from locals who neither trusted or wanted this itinerant preacher in their towns. And when he and the group tried to escape  to a quiet place in a deserted area for just a few days, the deserted area became – well – less deserted as people discovered that Jesus the Healer was there. Not much rest follows that kind of thing.

Jesus’ So-Called Vacation

How was Jesus affected by all of the pouring out of service he provided to people?  We actually are told in the New Testament what it would do to him. As Jesus and the group crossed the Sea of Galilee back and forth, they stopped in the shore communities. There in the “region of the Geresenes,” he was called to come to shore and head to the home where a little girl was dying. On his way a woman who had been bleeding nonstop for 12 years saw the crowd following him pass in the street and took the only opportunity she had. She reached out and touched the hem of Jesus’ robe. Instantly Jesus felt the power go out from him and into her to heal her. He said, “Who touched my clothes?”

Time Off from Demands and Stress

We learn that, for Jesus, healing not only entailed a spiritual act but a physical one, too. Imagine, if we can, how Jesus must have felt when he was sending his power out to so many people, nonstop, who were more concerned with their own welfare than Jesus. I have friends who are introverts who have told me that their own energy reserves are depleted whenever people make demands of their attention. While Jesus was hardly an introvert, one thing we know today: Our own mental health is very much nourished when we make ourselves absent from the physical demands and stresses of daily life, if only for a short period of time.

So, “vacation” isn’t just a nice thing to if one can fit it in. It’s a necessity. I learned the hard way through my wonderful clergy colleague in the Berkshires who put her every moment into caring for her congregation.  They also loved her deeply. She never took time for herself. Imagine how that congregation felt when their pastor went back home after preaching another great sermon and took a nap. It was a nap from which she never woke up, at age 53. Even God the Creator mandated that we work for “six days” and then rest on the seventh.

So, as we head into the sun filled months, where there is beauty all around, yes – it’s time. Time to make ourselves “vacant” from the workaday world and go pursue God in “the cathedral of the mountains, or the “chapel of the seaside.” Time to heal, and to rest.


First Congregational Church
164 Deer Hill Ave.
Danbury, CT 06810
Est. 1696

Phone: (203) 744-6177

Office Hours:
Monday Closed
Tuesday 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Wednesday 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Thursday 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Friday Closed

Thrift Shop Hours:
Saturday 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Sunday Worship:
Sunday   10:00 a.m.–11 a.m.


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