The Church Message Board in Town

By Caroline Pennacchio

Briarcliff Congregational Church Message BoardWhen you drive through town, you usually pass by the Briarcliff Congregational Church and its message board. Since the 70s, it has been a weekly source of uplifting and funny quotations that grab peoples’ attention while driving or waiting at the stoplight. 

The board was donated by the Nichol family in memory of longtime parishioner John Nichol. Even though it was erected over 40 years ago and various people have been in charge of it throughout its life, it continues to display inspirational quotations to Briarcliff’s community members, giving them something to think about while on the go.

The sign’s newest manager is Joan Austin who has managed to come up with an entirely new message each week for the 98 weeks she has managed it (except for the week of Hurricane Sandy when it stayed the same.) Joan Austin comes across them in reading or is given ideas by Reverend Bonnie Rosborough.

The letters are hung from ridges on the sign, and the challenge is the restriction of 30 letters and spaces per line. This is especially difficult to accomplish in cold weather, because you can’t wear gloves while hanging the letters.

Although messages are often geared towards religious and national holidays like the recent Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Independence Day, they are also chosen based on current events. Some of the most memorable quotations are the ones that have people laughing, like one that a previous pastor selected. During one of the intense, public divorces of Donald Trump, Reverend George Higgins came up with a quote that read, “Frankly My dear Trumps, I don’t Give a Damn,” referencing the famous final line from Gone With the Wind.


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