No matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, You Are Welcome Here.

February 14, 2016

Worship service to honor those who are transforming the world with Christ’s love.

“You are the light of the world…let your light shine before [God], that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Caroline Goodsell Smith epitomized this passage from the Gospel of Matthew.

Born in 1912, Caroline grew up in Turkey in a missionary family. After college she returned to Turkey to teach at the American School for Girls. In years of missionary work she shared her love for God.

An avid hiker, it’s fitting that at age 23 Caroline accepted a marriage proposal from Richard Smith after a group of friends had hiked to the summit of a 13,000 foot mountain in Turkey. Caroline often joked that she wondered if Richard would have proposed marriage if she wasn’t able to reach the mountain’s summit.

Teaching was a huge part of her life – in Turkey and also teaching elementary school in Farmington and Hartford. At First Congregational Church Caroline was active in many ways including teaching Sunday School. When her three children – Fred, Marcia, and Rob — were growing up they spent many Sunday nights telling Bible stories, reciting prayers, and singing hymns.

A Bristol resident since 1944, Caroline was also an advocate for God’s creation. Her daughter Marcia describes her mother as a born naturalist. She volunteered at The Environmental Learning Centers of CT and was honored for her ministry there by being named a Trustee Emeritus.

It’s fitting that Caroline passed from this life to the next on a Sunday morning, during worship when we were holding her up in prayer.

Caroline’s life of 103 years is an inspiration. She served others, shared her faith, and volunteered for worthy causes.

If Caroline was here she might encourage you to use your God-given talents “that people may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Here to accept this honor for Caroline Goodsell Smith is her daughter Marcia Smith.


Sanctuary. That word and concept runs throughout the Bible. And a sanctuary is what the Prudence Crandall Center is. In Psalm 32, verse 7 a sanctuary is described in this way:

“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.”

Prudence Crandall protects the victims of domestic abuse from trouble. Prudence Crandall surrounds those victims with the hope, care, service, and love that they need to be delivered from abuse.

Here are just a few of the many ways Prudence Crandall provided sanctuary last year:

  • By sheltering 154 victims of abuse for a total of 8,700 bed nights
  • By providing hotline services to 1,700 callers
  • By giving supportive housing to 67 people
  • By counseling 218 victims and providing legal advocacy for some 3,300

When we see wounded people getting their lives back it can spark us to also make a difference. When we witness someone breaking the bonds of abuse it can motivate us to find our own way to give even few moments of sanctuary to someone in need. When we see the good Prudence Crandall does it encourages us to do good in our own way.

The Biblical concept of sanctuary conveys protection, coziness, splendor, and companionship. Sanctuaries are strongholds and shelters; places of refuge and fortresses. They are places of warmth and supply; comfort and good. Yes. That sounds like the Prudence Crandall Center.

Here to represent the Prudence Crandall Center is the center’s executive director, Barbara Damon.


Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14)

That verse speaks to the mission and work of the Parent and Child Center at Bristol Hospital. The Parent and Child Center lets the little children and their families come. And they come for free. Parents and children come for education about being healthy families. They come to receive essential baby items like food, clothing, and diapers. They come to the Parent and Child Center at Bristol Hospital to

  • Learn parenting skills
  • Have their young children develop school readiness skills
  • Attend nutrition, cooking, and gardening classes that help prevent obesity
  • First time, about-to-be mothers come for support and assistance

The Caring Closet program at the Parent and Child Center improved the lives of more than 422 families last year. And that’s only one of about a dozen programs positively changing the lives of Bristol families.

We all can help transform the world with Christ’s love by following examples like the Parent and Child Center. Consider what you can do this year to positively impact the life of one child or one family. Each of us should listen for the needs of little children. Because, like Jesus said, the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.

Thank you, Kimberly Carmelich, and the Parent and Child Center staff for transforming the world with love.

Accepting this recognition for The Parent and Child Center at Bristol Hospital is the center’s program manager, Kimberly Carmelich.