@ Brookside . . . Week of September 1

Rev. Nicolette Siragusa

Rev. Nicolette Siragusa


The Settled Search Committee is pleased to present the schedule for Candidate Weekend, Friday, September 13 through September 15.   We have several events planned to allow various groups to spend time with Pastor Nicolette Siragusa over the weekend.  We look forward to seeing you at one if not several of the planned events including Sunday, September 15 when Pastor Nicolette will lead worship, and the Brookside Community Church member vote will be taken.  

I.   Friday, 9.13.19

Potluck dinner for Council and Deacons 

II.   Saturday, 9.14.19

11:00 – 11:30:  Staff introduction to Nicolette in Scialla Hall

11:30 – 1:00:   Brunch for the staff and choir in Scialla Hall

1:30 – 3:30:   Open House with light refreshments in Scialla Hall

4:00 – 5:00:   Ice cream social for children, youth and their families
in Scialla Hall

5:30 – 8:00:   Search Committee dinner

III.   Sunday, 9.15.19

Worship service lead by Pastor Nicolette

Q & A with Pastor Nicolette

Member vote with children and youth having a pizza party with Pastor Nicolette

In the meantime, we encourage you to take advantage of the “Ask Nicolette” column (details below) to get to know Pastor Nicolette and come to see why the Search Committee is very excited to present her and her family to you.  As always, should you have any questions, please reach out to any member of the Search Committee.  Thank you!

Jack Miller

Gina Bruno

Edna Ierley-Byrne

Michele James

David Sampson

Susannah Truitt

Sue Vlcko



What is your approach to increased participation and church growth? What is important to get to the desired outcomes? 

A church is a living organism, and just like all living things, we are always either growing or decaying with just brief moments of staying the same. Growing churches grow in three primary ways: in spirit, in commitment, in numbers. 

A lot of times we want to jump right to growing in numbers - higher attendance, more money. To do this, many people’s first instinct is to get new members, and the second is to reengaged lapsed members. These are both good and worthy goals, but NOT because we want our church to grow. Engaging new people is important because we value our relationship with God in Christ through the church, because we believe there is something special about the gospel, and want to share that Good News with others. Re-engaging lapsed members is important because we value our relationship with each other, and we care for one another, even when circumstances have allowed us to drift apart. So yes – we seek new people, and reach out to the disengaged, but for reasons other than church growth.

When we want to grow in numbers, we first look at ourselves and our commitments. For example, the easiest way for a church to grow in attendance is for those people who come once a month to come more often. Say on an average Sunday morning, 70 people come to church. Of those 70, 40 are there every Sunday, twenty attend twice per month, and ten attend once per month. If everyone committed to showing up every Sunday, attendance would go from 70 to 120 per week without adding a single new member.

Sounds simple - and yet again, growing churches grow in spirit, in commitment, and in numbers - in that order. Our first goal must be to foster spiritual growth by offering a variety of ways to deepen our connectedness to the divine. As we strengthen our relationship with God - through worship, study, prayer, meditation, song, service, etc. - we examine our lives and re-prioritize. What is truly important? When do I feel most authentic? Where do I find meaning? Why am I here?  

We then naturally grow in commitment to those parts of our lives that are meaningful, devoting a larger share of our resources (our time, our talent, our treasure) to them. When a church becomes a place where people are spiritually engaged and deeply committed, where relationships are rooted in agape love, where service is grounded in justice-seeking faith, that church becomes attractive to others who are seeking meaning and connectedness and we can more effectively spread the gospel. 

How do you plan to engage the community in mission and ministry? Are there specific mission programs you could introduce? What are your thoughts about participation in the community in which Brookside is in? 

First and foremost, I need to get to know the Brookside community. Anya (my dog) and I look forward to daily trips to the Post Office and looking at all of the different offerings posted on the bulletin boards there. I’m curious about what events (like the race which passes by the church) are already occurring and how we are currently participating, then will think about how we can build on what we are already doing well. I was excited to see the binder of events offered by the library, and am already thinking about what I might offer as a resident of the town. It’ll be important for me to get to know what civic organizations exist, what faith communities are nearby, and what relationships we already have and which I can help develop and foster. 

I’m excited that Brookside is missions minded, however without knowing you, your passions, and your connections, I hesitate to put forth a missions agenda. I will say that I believe in pairing compassion and service with justice. For example, when I served in Michigan, food insecurity was an issue that led us to collect and bless food as part of our monthly communion service, as well as to start a Blessings in a Backpack food program for students. In those ways, we took care of the immediate need. I also testified in support of SNAP benefits and the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the church wrote letters as part of the Bread for the World campaign, because we long for a day when such emergency food assistance is no longer necessary. 

I follow Jesus who I understand to be deeply political (from the Greek polis meaning city, and politēs meaning citizen) in that he was engaged with his community and its leaders. I believe in the separation of church and state because I believe the church needs to be the conscience of the state, an independent voice that speaks God’s truth, unashamed and unafraid to advocate for the poor, the immigrant, the child, the oppressed, the marginalized, and all of God’s children. As Christians, I believe our faith calls us to be engaged citizens, however in this deeply divided time, I think it is important to note that this calling is true regardless of political party affiliation. The church is called to be political without being partisan. 


We will welcome our pastoral candidate, The Rev. Nicolette Siragusa, to a time of fellowship and to lead worship on September 14-15. In preparation for that time together, she'd like to give you the opportunity to ask questions that will help you get to know her better. Questions can be about her, her ministry, her understanding of theology - you are welcome to ask whatever questions you have, though because of limited space she may not be able to answer them all through @Brookside. Please submit your questions to Nancy at office@brooksidechurch.org, and she will pass on the questions to Nicolette. Look for more questions and answers in “Ask Nicolette” next week.  


Kick-Off Sunday will be a fun, welcoming event for all ages. Our worship service will begin at 9:30 am, along with our first Sunday School of the school year. All children are welcome to attend. During the worship service, we will together bless students, teachers, and staff of schools, colleges or universities among us as they begin a new year!  All who wish to participate are welcome to bring their backpacks, books, tools of learning or teaching to worship for a time of prayers and blessings.  After the service, the community will have a cook-out with plenty of food, fun, and of course, ice cream! If you don't stay for the food, please stay for the fun activities planned for both children and adults.


If you are looking for join a fun group of people that get together every week and you like to sing (even in the shower!), the Adult Choir here at Brookside is for you. There are no commitments outside of Sunday mornings where we usually rehearse for the 9:30 am service starting at 8:30 am. Most Sundays we rehearse after the worship service for the upcoming weeks as well. If you would like more information, please talk to Amy Southerland or any choir member this week at Kick-Off Sunday!


Here are the lectionary texts for the upcoming Sunday, September 8 for your reflection.

Psalm 139

Philemon 1-25

Luke 14:25-33


Wind of the Spirit is holding their 19th Annual “Wind of the Spirit Dinner/Dance” on September 7, 7:30 PM at St. Margaret's Church, 6 Sussex Avenue in Morristown. Wind of the Spirit is an organization that advocates for the rights of immigrants - attending the event is one way to show support. Contact Paul Breda to get tickets.


Please mark your calendar for the Senior Luncheon on Friday, September 13 from 12:00 pm - 2:00pm in Scialla Hall. Please RSVP (by September 10) to Linda Fairchild at linchild7@gmail.com or Annemarie Voogt at voogt55@planet.nl Come for fellowship, fun, and a delicious lunch!   Hope to see you there!



Come and join us on Wednesday evenings as we explore spiritual practices that can help center us and enrich our Christian faith. As people who strive for justice and seek to live a faith that is active, these spiritual practices can help us be more balanced in the health and well-being of our body, mind, and spirit.

9.18 Chakra Balancing Meditation

9.25 Achieving a Clear & Quiet Mind

10.2 Intuitive Touch Art

10.9 Kriya Yoga to Reconnect to Yourself

10.16 Mala Bracelet Making + Meditation

10.23 Convers(ate): A Conversation Examining Spirituality


Our next soup kitchen visit will be held on Saturday, September 21, and we are in need of servers and black shirts (certified kitchen staff). If you can spare a few hours to help those in need, we'd appreciate your help.  Sign up via Sign Up Genius (below) to volunteer as a server (11:15am-1:00pm) or Black Shirt (9:30am-1:00pm). You may also text Judy Schryver at 973-727-1480.


Are you on Facebook? If so, we invite you to join our new Facebook Group! Unlike the official page, the group will only be for members and friends, and allow us to post and communicate within our church community.  You can find the group by searching for "BCC Members & Friends."  Then, just request to join! Once you're in, you can invite others to join the group who you think should be a part of it.  Or, you can find/contact Danielle Abushanab (danielle@abushanab.com) and ask her to help get you added to the group!


Tuesday, September 24 @ 7:30pm
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
29 Hillview Avenue, Morris Plains
A panel discussion will focus on the current status and future outlook of refugees entering New Jersey and how RAMP and its members can help. Open to the public. For more information visit www.rampnj.org.


For Sam Fairchild.
For Debbie Replogle.
For restoration of the flooded Brookside Library. 
For Pat & John Tillisch, Wen-Ling's parents-in-love.
For Nancy Wilson's friend, Jeff.
For Linda Howe’s brother, Douglas.

Prayer Joys and Concerns will be listed weekly. Requests received by Tuesday of each week will be included in the following Sunday’s bulletin and @ Brookside and will remain there for a month unless otherwise requested. Please forward your requests during the week to: office@brooksidechurch.org  

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