This weekend’s fair at the Westbrook-Warren Congregational Church was not a typical church fair.

The church held its first Stewardship Fair this weekend, an event designed to show how the church affects the community and the world. Various groups within the church and outside groups aided by the church were invited to come and set up displays to show how the church and its members help them.

“It was basically to remind ourselves and show the community what we do, in terms of our mission in town, nationally and worldwide,” said Rev. Ed DeLong, pastor of the church.

On Saturday morning, the lower floor of the church hall was full of posters and displays as well as face painting and occasional appearances by Danny and Sally, two puppets that are part of the church’s children’s ministry.

Mary Jane Swanson, a member of the Stewardship Committee, said the main focus of the fair was to give the church’s 245 members a way to see just exactly where the money they give to the church goes. “It’s a way of seeing in one room the full impact of what their gift to the church does,” she said. “It gives the big picture, and you don’t see the big picture normally.”

The Westbrook-Warren Congregational Church takes an active role in supporting the community, even beyond its membership. DeLong said the church’s hall is one of the most actively used spaces in the city, with a multitude of groups ranging from the Westbrook Chamber of Commerce to the senior citizen’s club using the hall for meals and meetings.

In addition to providing space for meetings, the church provides assistance in other ways. This year, the church gave more than $21,000 to various causes locally and internationally, including supporting missions in Honduras.

Representatives from groups aided by the church said the help offered by the church and its members was invaluable. Jeanne Rielly, who works with the Westbrook Food Pantry, said members of the Congregational Church consistently help out with donations of food. “They bring bags every Tuesday,” she said.

Kathleen Shaw, a member of Take Off Pounds Sensibly, said her organization is extremely grateful to the church for supplying space for its weekly meetings. She said the members love coming to the church because it’s so local and convenient for them.

Betty Sawtelle, who heads up the church’s prayer team, a group of members who are available to people needing prayers 24 hours a day, said the church’s aid is open to everyone, not just members of the church.

“I think it’s great that we’re showing what the church does, because I don’t think people realize how churches reach out to everyone in the community,” she said. “You don’t have to be a member of a church to be reached by church people.”

face paint With great concentration, Jocelyn DeLong of Westbrook paints a design on the face of Bonnie Wright of Westbrook at the Westbroo-Warren Congregational Church fair on Saturday.Darlene and puppet Westbrook-Warren Congregational Church Stewardship Committee Chairwoman Darlene Varian holds her puppet friend Danny at the church’s Stewardship fair on Saturday.Westbrook’s Jacob Magyar watches Bonnie Wright of Westbrook offer flowers to puppets Danny and Sally at the Westbrook-Warren Congregational Church fair on Saturday.Kathleen Shaw of the Westbrook chapter of Take Off Pounds Sensibly stands by her display at the Westbrook-Warren Congregaational Church fair on Saturday.


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