Church celebrates the season with carol sing

By Merja H. Lehtinen - ReminderNews
Stafford - posted Fri., Dec. 23, 2011
Ryan enjoyed reading for a few minutes before the concert. Photos by Merja H. Lehtinen.
Ryan enjoyed reading for a few minutes before the concert. Photos by Merja H. Lehtinen.

The Stafford Springs Congregational Church has much to be grateful for this season. The stone church in the center of town has weathered challenges since it was first built in 1850, only to be wiped out by natural disaster and rebuilt by 1878. Later, another flash flood in the 1950s, a tractor trailer crash a decade or so later, and more recent damage due to the October snowstorm kept parishioners away temporarily. So coming home to the unique little church and its architecturally-designed sanctuary was a joy in itself and boon to the entire Christmas season.

On Sunday, Dec. 18, joyful voices were heard singing carols accompanied by David E. Roszczewski, minister of music for the church. About 50 members and visitors took part in the carol sing. There were religious and popular Christmas songs on the program, and anyone was invited to make a suggestion for a particular carol to sing. Traditional carols such as “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” as well as “Jingle Bell Rock” were included. Carolers took a break halfway through to lunch on sandwiches, coffee and dessert.

Virginia Neri, who has been a member of the church all her life, said that many of the earliest parishioners were of Italian descent and originally came from neighboring villages in the Italian Alps near the Austrian border. Her own father emigrated from Italy to France and later came to America around 1910s, where he eventually met his wife and settled in Stafford Springs. She pointed out that many of the 1900s-era settlers found work in the textile mills that made Stafford Springs famous, in addition to its famed drinking water.

Ryan was enjoying Sunday at the church as he quietly read a book while he waited for his dad, Bill Fowler, to participate in the carol sing. Fowler volunteers at the church as a cook, while professionally he is a full-time chef.

“The minister here is a very well-educated man,” Fowler said about the Rev. Héctor E. Méndez-Márquez, who was greeting visitors and giving tours of the historic sanctuary and the stained glass windows.

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