First at Two to raise money for Community Access Naperville

Organist Sue Flaatten and pianist Valerie Lorimer look over music in preparation for their concert at 2 p.m. Feb. 23 at First Congregational United Church of Christ Naperville.  The concert is the first in the churchÕs annual series of First at Two concerts. |  Submitted by First Congregational United Church of Christ
Organist Sue Flaatten and pianist Valerie Lorimer look over music in preparation for their concert at 2 p.m. Feb. 23 at First Congregational United Church of Christ Naperville. The concert is the first in the churchÕs annual series of First at Two concerts. | Submitted by First Congregational United Church of Christ
AT A GLANCE The First at Two concert will be at 2 p.m. Feb. 23 at First Congregational United Church of Christ, 25 E. Benton Ave., Naperville. The featured performers will be organist Sue Flaatten and pianist Valerie Lorimer. Proceeds from the concert will support Community Access Naperville.

First at Two. In addition to the name of a new program, the clever name is also informational: it’s the place to be, and the time in which to be there.

First Congregational United Church of Christ is launching a new concert series that will feature accomplished musicians, while raising money for local initiatives.

On Feb. 23, the inaugural concert will be at First Congregational, at 2 p.m. — hence the name.

The event will feature organist Sue Flaatten, and pianist Valerie Lorimer. The free-will offering will raise money for Community Access Naperville, a young not-for-profit organization that meets at the church.

The concert series is the brainchild of choir director Christopher Lorimer.

Last year, the church first held some concerts, with free-will offerings requested to raise money for choir robes.

“The congregation embraced the idea of concerts, so we went from there,” Lorimer said. “It is a wonderful opportunity to offer quality musical programming in a comfortable and accessible space to members in the community, free of charge. We also discovered that people were willing to share their financial gifts when asked.”

Pastor Mark Winters said he is excited for the congregation to contribute to the fine arts community in Naperville through programs such as the concert series.

“It’s great if we’re able to lift the arts up a little more. We have great artists in the congregation and in the community, and it’s neat to celebrate that. We all have different spiritual gifts and abilities,” he said.

“It’s a wonderful thing to include the arts in one’s spiritual expression. Sometimes the arts can express things that words aren’t able to.”

Community Access Naperville (CAN) is a small not-for-profit organization founded by congregation member Sherry Healy and other area parents to empower young adults with disabilities to lead meaningful and productive lives among friends and families.

“Naperville is a great town to raise kids with special needs, but once they reach a certain age, available services drop off,” Winters said.

“Parents were looking at what their kids’ lives would be like as adults. They decided they needed some good activities to develop skills … vocational and independent living skills.”

First Congregational United Church of Christ provides meeting space and has engaged the organization with projects.

While not officially affiliated with the church, Winters said that supporting them when possible is compatible with the congregation’s strong commitment to “welcoming all people, including those who may not be in the mainstream of society and helping them to find purpose.”

“We are excited to offer concerts as a gift to the community and raise money as well,” Winters said.

“It’s a close-to-home cultural experience. It will be a great opportunity for anyone of any age to experience a great afternoon of music.”

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