Meet Our Members

We are so excited to highlight our amazing and interesting members who contribute in so many ways to our wonderful community at GHCC. Please check out each member now and into the future so that next time you see them in church, at one of our events or walking downtown, feel free to say hello and introduce yourself! Interested in being highlighted? Please email us here so we can coordinate and make it happen. Enjoy!

 

people Dianna Cutler

My cousins the Naff Family would bring me, Dianna Cutler, to GHCC when I was young when I visited them for the weekend from Long Island.  Years later when my husband Peter and I moved to Fairfield, we attended a service with my family where we met David and Alida.  From that moment we knew we were in the proper place because for us, David and Alida have been the most powerful force in the church.  This year my husband Peter will be 10 years cancer free.  We would never have made it this far without the support from David, Alida and the prayers of our Congregation. We have been truly blessed.  David and Alida have been with our family for our most happiest moments and our most frightening.  It’s amazing that they can be so connected to a congregation as large as GHCC, they make everyone feel truly loved and special….we figure they must only sleep for a few minutes a night.

Church Note: Dianna’s business is a design build firm, Sasco Farms Landscape Design www.sascofarms.com who have helped to make the grounds of GHCC as beautiful as it is!

 

 

I, Jordan Lauf, joined Greenfield Hill Church when I was around 8 years old. My member Jordan Lauffamily had attended church services sporadically at a variety of parishes, and that year they were determined to go “church-hunting” so to speak. I remember going with them to a variety of services, testing out a multitude of different denominations and locations. In the end, I remember that I had picked out GHCC as my favorite; David and Alida seemed warm and welcoming, and the Sunday School program seemed to be a ton of fun (I think I mostly was looking for a way to get out of services; my 8 year old attention span could only handle so much). I was sold at the last service we went to before my family decided to become members. I remember David calling all of us up for the children’s message and feeling as though my opinions about God and the Bible actually mattered and were respected, even at such a young age. I couldn’t be happier that we picked GHCC, especially now as I’m older and have desires for a church community beyond just fun Sunday School. GHCC is such a welcoming, open, and light-hearted church, and I couldn’t imagine going anywhere else.

My favorite part of being a member at GHCC is the community. Everyone I’ve met through church, people my own age and parents alike, all seem to be genuine, warm, and generous people. For example, when I began my college application process last year, I reached out to two members of the church who were attending Tufts University, even though I didn’t know either of them very well. Both took time out of their busy schedules to answer my questions, take me and my family out to lunch, and go on coffee dates with me during the first week of school to make sure I was transitioning okay. I’m now in my second semester here at Tufts, and they both still continue to reach out to see how things are going with me here. That to me is emblematic of the people at our church; they would do anything to help another member in need, even if they aren’t directly friends or family.

FUN FACT: what people may not know about my family and me is that I am half Lebanese! I often describe my family as something out of the film “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” My mom’s side (the Lebanese side) is huge and loud, always talking, laughing, and, most of all, cooking. My dad’s side is just as amazing, if more subdued. I always find that the combination of the two cultures makes my family more dynamic. Also, we can make some mean hummus!

 

 

GHCC member k navinHi, I’m Kirsten Navin, despite being a member at Greenfield Hill Congregational Church for 13 years and being involved with different aspects of the church: Sunday School Sheppard/teacher, Communications Committee, as well as various posts at Dogwood (Kate’s Korner, Walking Tour, Bakery and PR/Graphics) I will run into someone who asks if I’m new. I actually like this because I see our community as a living tapestry – we weave in and out, being involved with different events and meeting different people. Alida frequently describes activities at church as being a smorgasbord, different community and mission activities are set before us and we can choose what interests us the most (or what best fits into our family schedule). The point being, there is something for everyone, and being part Scandinavian myself, I like this approach.

My husband, Greg, and I joined GHCC when I was pregnant with our first child. Greg grew up in Westport so we would go to service with his family, but with parenthood looming we wanted to find a church closer to home and one more tuned to our new family. On our first visit to the “church on the hill” we knew where we belonged. The relaxed, welcoming environment and afore mentioned smorgasbord approach had their impact on us but, what really drew us in were the child and youth programs. We loved that children are viable members of the church and even part of the ministry.

Connor (the baby I was carrying when we joined) is now 13 and a member of the Confirmation Class, soon to be followed by his younger brother Cooper (11) and sister Samantha (9). They have each participated in their own way: Sunday School, Christmas pageant, searching for Easter eggs and playing Halloween games.

Some people enjoy being involved in church activities in a manner completely GHCC dogwood logodifferent than their work life, a respite of sorts from their 9 – 5. I’m the opposite; I enjoy being able to use my design skills to serve the church. The Dogwood tree logo and the historical posters celebrating Dogwood’s 75th anniversary are a few samples of my work. The posters were a project I completely threw myself into and I’m proud of the result. Most proud though when I learned Connor (who was 9 at the time) had gone around the Memorial room during fellowship grabbing members saying come see what my mom did.

Fun Fact: When I was in 3rd grade we moved a short distance but far enough for me to go to a new school. All of my new friends were Catholic so I started going to St. Dominick’s Sunday school just to be with my new friends even though we weren’t Catholic. Here’s the fun twist: Another member at GHCC was telling a story about her childhood and how she ended up going to a different Sunday school than her own just to be with her friends – turns out we grew up in the same town and I wasn’t the only one crashing St. Dom’s Sunday school.

 

 

You would think that after 9 good years here in Fairfield, “I Left My Heart In San member anne lyonsFrancisco” would no longer bring a lump to my throat…but it still does.  Here I am, Anne Lyons, CA transplant to CT, sharing my story with all of you, my GHCC family.

In 1997, when David, my husband, and I moved into our home in the Oakland Hills, with its dazzling view of the The SF Bay, we both agreed that our next move would be to an “urn.”  Then in 2003, the  grand babies began to arrive in Old Greenwich.  David announced that he didn’t want to be just an acquaintance with the little people joining our family; he wanted to be part of their lives. He wanted us to move EAST!!  As a native of the SF Bay Area – with friends from kindergarten, high school on the UC Berkeley campus, college at Stanford (we were The Indians then), our wedding in Berkeley, as mom to our two daughters on the Peninsula, Sierras backpacker and lover of Lake Tahoe – I was beyond stunned.    But, miracles do happen…two years of contemplating the move was all it took for me to say, “Let’s go.” A friend gave me a slip of paper with Exodus 23:20 written on it – “Behold, I am going to send an angel before you to guard you along the way, and to bring you into the place which I have prepared” (for you, Anne).  I clutched that scrap of paper with its promise and sniffled my way across the country.

Fortunately, that angel pointed us to Fairfield:  a new home, wonderful friends, family close by, and a new church community.  We had visiter several churches, but when we heard Alida and David speak at Hammer on the Rock, we knew we would love Greenfield Hill.  The next Sunday, our angel helped us find our new church home. That was the beginning of a great chapter.

Soon after joining the church, I was invited to be a deaconess, a step of faith that allowed me to make dear friends, serve others in need, iron the Communion linens, and hang the antependia straight.  After 6 years as deaconess, I joined the Adult Education Board and enjoyed serving with yet another group of great people.  It was a good fit.  So were the Dogwood Bakery and the Art Show.  After  9 years of member anne lyons grandkidsboard meetings, which sometimes conflicted with my weekly “grand sitting,” I hung up my clipboard and moved on to re-establishing our church prayer team.  I love  serving the church in this way!  We are six committed “pray-ers” who pray daily and in complete confidence for the personal needs of our church.  The prayer team is yet another good fit and a joy for me.  God continues to shape and challenge me, sometimes inviting me to step out of my comfort zone.

I love the close bond I share with our two girls and their families: Katy and Dave in Old Greenwich, with Mari, Charlie and Annie,  and Kyra and Rob in Fayetteville, AR, with Talia and Angus.  We see our AR family often and Angus has taught me how to make appropriate Razorback noises.

That angel who brought us here 9 years ago also led me to faith in 1975.  As with our move, it took me a long time to say yes.  One Christian friend told me I was the very last person she thought would ever become a believer.  (Yes, we are still friends). God certainly works in wonderful and mysterious ways!  He speaks to us, sometimes through His still small voice and sometimes through others, even our spouse.

David was so right about moving east.  We simply made an exchange – SF Bay views for the chance to build loving relationships with our grand children.  My favorite hymn is right, In Christ There Is No East Or West, and our angel has brought us to a beautiful place in the east.

 

 

My wife, Carol and I, Jon Passmore, moved to Southport with our sons William (3) member jon passmoreand Matthew (2) in 1996 and quickly enrolled them in the Greenfield Hill Congregational Church nursery school, about which we had heard great things! Having achieved that goal we thought we really ought to check out GHCC and turned up one Sunday not really sure what to expect with this grand-looking church on top of a hill. Well, we heard Alida preaching and signed up on the spot.

We have been involved in church life quite a lot over the last 18 years but for me, my earlier engagement with the Mission board and my current role in the choir are very special. I remember speaking to the congregation when I ran the Mission board explaining how it was the best job in the church. Who wouldn’t love to give away tens of thousands of dollars every year to worthy causes! And today, being in a choir led by Sandra and a group of highly talented leaders is just a privilege to be part of.

Fun Fact: I get to travel a lot, internationally, in my job but always like to use local public transport when I get to Asia or Europe as I feel it gives me a better look at how people live, where they live and what living conditions are generally like. Of course, sometimes I get some weird looks as I clamber on a bus in my suit, carrying my suitcase. And it doesn’t always work out well: I was in Tokyo in September and took the Metro back to my hotel but misread the subway map resulting in a journey that lasted 75 minutes and visited 22 stations rather than the 5 minutes and 3 stations it should have been. Part of life’s rich tapestry, I guess!

 

 

member amanda photosWhen asked how I, Amanda Desmond, came to find Greenfield Hill Church, I can honestly say I never needed to look. I was born in to it. My mother was a member of Greenfield Hill and my father, being Catholic, went to a Catholic church. My brothers and I trailed along with my mom when she went on Sundays. I was baptized at Greenfield Hill Church as an infant and continued all the way up through Sunday School, Preschool, Junior choir, JPF, SPF, Junior Deacon, Sunday School Teacher, Deacon and various Dogwood Chairs. My husband, Sean and I were married there almost 20 years ago and all three of our children have started a new generation of being church members.

The church has always felt like home to me. The sanctuary quiets my soul just by entering the room, even before David or Alida start their sermon. I love that I can glance around the congregation and see my third grade Sunday School teacher or look in to the choir and recognize faces that have been members long before me. I also enjoy the new faces that I’ve met through Greenfield Hill Church. Fairfield, as a town, has grown, as well as our church family.

I enjoy taking pictures for the church website because it allows me to meet people member amanda desmondand see things that I may not normally see. Presently, it is my way of keeping in the loop of church life. I’ve been a photographer since 2008. I feel more comfortable holding the camera, than standing in front of it, so it works for me.

Fun Fact: When I was a child I brought a stray cat into our house. In my defense, the weather was starting to get cold and I couldn’t bear to watch her pace back and forth by our back door.  A couple hours after I invited her in, we discovered that she gave birth to kittens under my bed. That was fun to explain to my parents.

Church Note: beyond many of the pictures on this website, above is a sampling of Amanda’s photography…truly a gift to us all!

 

 

people Roni and Bean, GHCCMy name is Roni Widmer and I’m the new Greenfield Hill Church Office Manager. I happen to also have been a member here at GHCC for over 20 years! I’m a rarity in that I was brought up Congregational in Old Greenwich so when I began my search for a congregational church in Fairfield, the first sermon I heard was one that Alida preached and I knew I didn’t have to look any further.

Since that time, I’ve served on a number of different Boards including the Christian Education Board, the Communications Board, Chairing Dogwood Festival Committees, being a Sunday school teacher and a Vacation Bible School teacher, a regular member of the Bible study, creating the GHCC Newsletter for the past 6 years, and being an ASP advisor for 6 years – my favorite activity of all. Currently, I am a Member-at-Large sitting on the Executive Board. I honestly love being involved in our church and feel completely blessed to now be working with all these wonderful people on a daily basis. Everyone who walks through the door has a smile on their face and is working towards a positive goal. I am so grateful.

Something else I’m grateful for is my family… my husband Mike, my son, Blake (17), and my daughter, Devenny (11). Blake is a senior at FLHS this year, and Devenny is a 7th grader at FWMS! Together we have a small hobby farm called Jelly Hill Farm where we own 3 sheep, 7 chickens, bunnies, 3 rescue dogs, a cat named Goose, and even a gecko. In my free time I teach kids through a local elementary school about farming, the environment and sustainability in my backyard. It’s something that I’m very passionate about and have even won an award for my teaching topics from Fairfield Magazine called the “Green Award” back in March of 2014.

Belonging to GHCC is an easy choice for me. Not only do the sermons and spiritual messages completely guide me to be a better person, but the church as a whole makes me feel like I belong to a greater extended family. And how perfect is that coming into work each day?

Fun Fact: The first car I owned in college was a 1972 royal blue VW Bug that when you lifted the front floor mats you could see the road below due to it being rusted out and when you made a left hand turn the horn automatically beeped. I loved that car!!

 

GHCC burgess family highlightWe are the Burgess family and we originally lived in Fairfield after we got married (I am Betsy and my husband is Colin), and so it was Fairfield where we began searching for a church that worked for both of us.  We tried one church in town and then Greenfield Hill Congregational Church (GHCC).  We loved the sermons at GHCC and the atmosphere so we kept coming back.  It was an obvious fit right away. Once we had our kids (Allan and Jack), we ended up moving to Redding where we tried the congregational church there because it was convenient but we found that it just didn’t work for us.  GHCC was much more friendly, inviting, stimulating and rewarding so we kept coming back.

What we especially love at Greenfield Hill Church are the sermons that David and Alida deliver each week, this is by far our favorite, and of course we really enjoy the youth programs, particularly ASP, and the Dogwood Festival.

Fun Fact about our family: people who know us already understand that we love to travel and like to plan adventurous vacations, but do they know that we are all “foodies” and each of us loves to cook?  One of our favorite activities when we travel is exploring unique restaurants where we can taste the local fare. When it comes to cooking, Allan is famous for his breakfast concoctions and the unlimited applications for RedHot.  Jack loves to make soup where he creates recipe combinations that are puzzling but actually quite good. I, Betsy, like to bake, make fresh salad dressings and salsas and Colin is famous for his Prime Rib and Firehouse Potatoes.  Colin and I have combined our spaghetti sauce recipes and refined it over the years – it is a go to item in the Burgess house.

 

ghcc mike ruble

My name is Mike Ruble and it has been my privilege to serve as the Greenfield Hill Church Council Chairman for the past 2½ years. I was born in Salisbury, NC, but being the son of a railroading man, grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. After graduating from the University of Georgia, I served for 3 years as a First Lieutenant in the United States Army with a tour of duty in Vietnam. After the Army, I took what I thought was a part time job with Pfizer, Inc. My work moved me from Atlanta to Miami, to Richmond, to Charlotte, to Tampa, to Denver and then to Fairfield. What started as a part time job turned into a 32 year career.

One of the reasons I love our church so much is because it has enabled me to participate in such important mission outreach. I have been to India to see our work firsthand, to Appalachia the past 13 years to see our young people repairing homes, and to St. George’s Soup Kitchen to see real need here at home. We have much to be proud of with all our work, which stretches from this community to around the world.

When we first moved to Fairfield some 21 years ago, we were staying at the Westport Inn awaiting our furniture. I asked the front desk what might be interesting for my wife, Peggy, and my daughters, Christen, Caitlyn and Courtney (all under the age of 6 at the time) to go and do. The clerk told us there was “this Dogwood Festival thing” nearby that we might enjoy. This was our introduction to Greenfield Hill Congregational Church. Peggy and I knew we had found something special, where our whole family could grow.

What I find most inspiring to me is the generosity of the members of our Church, not only with their financial support but more importantly, their time. Whether it is giving up a week of vacation to head to Appalachia or flipping hamburgers for Dogwood, this church not only does it, but does it with love!

Fun Fact: everyone may know I am a passionate golfer and love baseball (Go Braves!), but, did you know I lettered at the University of Georgia in Gymnastics?