Brilliant skies blessed the reception Sunday saluting three decades of service by the Rev. David Spollett to both First Church Congregational and the community at large.

Following morning services at Fairfield's oldest religious congregation, where Spollett is the pastor, a picnic was held on the grassy expanse next to the church's Wakeman Hall. Spollett was guest of honor as families enjoyed the classic rock sounds of the Eleven Steps Shy band and a cookout.

Mimicking a favored sartorial flourish of Spollett's, special bow ties were also offered for a $5 donation to help fund Operation Hope's food pantry.

Of Spollett, First Church Senior Deacon Jim Muschett said, "One thing that struck our family about this church is that it's really service oriented. People are willing to roll up their sleeves, and that's really driven by David. He has shaped that philosophy for the church."

Spollett underscored that sentiment, saying, "The church doesn't exist to serve itself. It was created to serve the world. I'm just the conductor. The people in the pews lead the charge. It's been a great partnership. I'm the luckiest guy I know."

Spollett was co-founder of the Operation Hope homeless shelter with Rabbi Leon Waldman in 1986.

In 1994, Spollett led First Church to declare itself an open and affirming congregation for all people regardless of race, class, ancestry, gender identity, marital status, ability or sexual orientation.

His other outreach efforts include working with the Mercy Learning Center, Project Learn, Merton House, Habitat for Humanity and Rebuilding Together in Greater Bridgeport.