Friday, June 1, 2012

June Dialogue

The Sanctuary from Pentecost Sunday

Share Some Love!
Prayer Shawl Ministry is seeking knitters, crocheters and anyone else who is interested. There are shawl patterns available. If you have any questions, talk to Cassandra Brush, or call or email: 498-7328 or

Picture This
The Finance Committee is having a slide show on June 10 before the service celebrating the Bethany Family through the years. If you have any digital photographs of family events at Bethany you are willing to share please contact Sandy Farnum ( .  We are looking for special events in the church, but are willing to take any photo of a Bethany member.  Please - only one photo per family member (not 6 of each of the grandchildren!  We are looking for christening, confirmation, wedding funerals, awards etc.  We want pictures pof your mother or father, your grandmother or grandfather, your great or great-great grandmother or grandfather.  Cousins aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews.  All part of the Bethany community at one point or other.  The older the photos are the better!  Bethany has been around for many years.  We want to celebrate that. 

New Treasurer - Be Patient!
Now that I have taken on these duties, with the help of my assistant, Joanne Hardy, we are progressing forward. We do ask for you patience as we continue through the remainder of this fiscal year and head into the next.
We are now using an outside bookkeeper to create the checks for church invoices and therefore, some of our systems have changed. Checks are written on the 10th and 25th of each month to coincide with staff pay periods. With this scenario, I need to have the payables to the bookkeeper at least 2 days prior to the actual pay date (8 and 23 of each month; unless either of these dates is on the weekend and then I take them over on the Friday before). Therefore, any invoices to be paid or receipts to be reimbursed, need to have a voucher completed and attached to the invoice or receipts. An added bonus for Joanne and myself is to have you put the account number for the expense on the voucher.
Vouchers are in the Church office next to the volunteer's desk in the second slot of the hanging fixture (it's black). If you can't find it, ask staff, myself or Joanne to direct you to it.
We hope the chairpersons of all boards will continually look in their mailboxes. When we receive invoices addressed directly to Bethany Church, we attach a voucher and put it in the appropriate committee box (i.e. Christian Ed, Outreach, Property) hoping someone will look in that box and sign off on the voucher which can then be put in the Treasurer's bin in the office to be paid.
We ask for your patience during this transition.
Judy Ribolini

From The
Stewardship Committee:
We ask for pledges. The church needs money, but we ask for pledges. A pledge is more than money, it is a vow, a promise, a commitment. A pledge means you are with us on the journey. A pledge means that you are wanting to do your share of the work. It acknowledges that you feel responsibility for what is and will happen at Bethany. Pledging is for those who want a committed relationship more than a pay as ya go fling. You do not have to be a member to pledge, you have to want to pledge to Bethany. Pledging is a faith statement to a faith community. And it goes the other way too. If you are pledged to us, we are pledged to you.
Money is good. Money is useful, it is a tool. Loving it is the root of many problems and mistakes. But using it for God's work in the world can make it holy. If it carries God's message, it can even be called angelic. Giving a gift is different than giving a pledge. A wedding ring is more than a gift of jewelry. It is a pledge. Gifts are great to give when moved, touched, filled with gratitude, or just really wanting to express love. That is why there are special opportunities, through Bethany, to give gifts. Moved with compassion you can give to disaster relief. Touched by the frailty of life you can give to the Deacon's Fund, Bethany Bowl, the Food Pantry, PinS. Filled with gratitude you can make a gift to the Third Century Fund or other endowment at Bethany. Filled with love, you can gift the ministers or Trustees and say, “Do something lovely with it!”
To give a gift like these, you need to note it on the check or on an envelope. There are handy brown envelopes in the pews for just this sort of thing. To gift the Deacon's Fund, check the Deacon's box. To gift another special offering, write it's name on the line. If a gift does not have a note saying to whom it is given, it becomes part of the loose collection.
Loose collection money goes the same place as money that is pledged. But maybe you can see how a loose relationship is different from a pledged relationship. If things are loose then everyone is free to do and go as they please. Loose collections signifies that there are no appropriate expectations by anyone. It is like having no lease agreement. Making a pledge (of money or time or love or skill or …) is like having a new lease in life, it is a symbol of belonging and of having a home.
This is why Stewardship focuses so hard on pledging. We are well aware that money is needed and we are asking for that in your pledge. But we want your commitment. If you simply can not give money, do not pledge money, BUT make a pledge of yourself. Money is just one symbol of the giving of ourselves. Once a pledge is made, we can then offer symbols of ourselves and our pledge to God. Our reason for this community. We offer our substance and our souls to the work and witness of God's way.
We ask for pledges.

Operating Budget Update
We continue to make good progress toward meeting the FY12 budget goals in support of our missions.
The FY12 approved annual budget compared with the actual income and expense totals for the first ten months of the fiscal year are shown on the chart below. From July 2011 to April 2012 (83% of the fiscal year) we
  • Received 87% of projected revenue.
  • Paid out 82% of the projected expenses.
Note that our income goal is approximately 104% of our budgeted revenue. The budget approved by the congregation included a deficit of $9,151.00.

Many thanks for your ongoing support of Bethany’s operating budget!
Finance Committee

2020 Vision
It has been more than ten years since we looked at the needs of our church in a strategic manner. The Board of Trustees are developing a process, using the Completing the Circle method, to focus on Bethany’s future. All will be invited to participate. Look for more information later this summer.

Do you have a hard time getting your child to come to church in the summer?  Does your child miss the structure of Sunday School during our off-months? The CE Board is planning some easy-going summer activities just for Bethany Youth. For example, we have one cook for Bethany Bowl who would like children to help one Sunday morning each month to prepare for that week’s meal. We’d like to fill the summer schedule this way. 
We need 3 volunteers, with each taking one Sunday per month, to work with Bethany children on these kind of fun projects. We have good ideas and support for these folks, or perhaps you have your own ideas. If you would like to be involved in CE but have limited time during the rest of the year, please consider signing up for Summer Stuff – one Sunday per month.
Let Patty Turley (223-5488) know.

Mark your calendars for the 18th Annual
September 15 & 16.
We will need many helpers starting September 10.
Sign-ups will start soon - don't miss out on your
favorite way to help support your church and community.
Bethany Lawn Sale Committee

Support bells for Revere Bell re-dedication
 We have a donated 10' X 10' Storage Unit-
 to store Lawn Sale items for the summer. 
Please contact Joanne Hardy 
or #223-3246) for more information.

 From the Minister:
I heard someone complaining about a younger generation's lack of commitment. At the time, I talked about how commitment is expressed has changed, as well as what that generation will commit to. Like their music, what a younger generation thinks is important to (and thus commits to) always seems odd. And since they are looking in the wrong place, that they are committed and the way that is expressed can not be seen by us. Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, express commitment, we just can not see it.
As true as that is, I wish I had also mentioned that there is a cultural shift across generations. In my life I have seen people's commitment in marriage leave when the going gets hard. I do not wonder that younger generations do not want to get married. With the high value (and I think increasing) placed on independence, joining anything that has expectations or rules, especially if those might change, is not valued like it once was. Once being a member of something gave a sense of identity. Now people act like it might take some of their identity/independence away.
People will still join and still commit, but often it is for a 'value added' element. They can make good business or dating contacts, they get a discount for services, they find it fun; that sort of thing.
We see commitment reductions in churches. If decisions get hard or go a way they disagree with people will divorce themselves, even if they have joined or are a member. If the church, Vermont Conference, or the United Church of Christ says something should be or could be done, there are always some who will let it be known they never did feel committed to our brothers and sisters. If a person's church says they are wrong or says no to them, I have seen a drop in obvious expressions of commitment. Worship attendance, pledges, and volunteer time all express the drop in commitment. And that decreases their sense of connection, which reduces their commitment, which starts the cycle over again. I have seen it at Bethany and I am sure you have too. And we do not have much 'value' to add. Dear Abby never suggests people go to church to meet some one to date anymore. We have few services to discount. And if it stops being fun, people stay away. We can decry these realities, but …
And certainly there are reasons to be unhappy with Christianity, church, and even Bethany. And maybe they are enough to reduce commitment. But I do not think so. Noah's ark would have been smelly, noisy, and a lot of hard work in monsoon conditions. But it was better to be in that ark than it was to be outside of it. I think if you want a community of faith and if following Jesus is what you have faith in, then Bethany UCC is a great place for you. We have the same problems other churches do. We have our own unique issues. If you want us, here we are. But, you will have to accept us with our warts, scars, hurts, and needs. And, if we have not changed for God, we will not be doing it for you. We only claim we love God and follow Jesus and want to do that with others who want to be a part of this community. We do not claim we are good, whole, correct, pleasant or easy people to be in community with.
And if you are reading this, you still have some sense of connection, of belonging, and of wanting to know us or be with us.
So. If the Church told you 'no', or disagreed with you, or asked too much of you, or did not appreciate you sufficiently you will probably never get an apology or satisfaction. If someone in the church seemed mean spirited, haughty, angry, abrupt, short tempered, rude, arrogant, stupid, or just really really wrong - they probably were and probably will be again. And yes, it might very well have been a minister. Our humanity will call for constant forgiveness from each other.  We come to church and to worship to practice such things.
Please, start forgiving now. We all need the practice at forgiving. Come back to worship. Come to the Annual Meeting on June 10. Talk to a minister. Talk to other members. Remind yourself why this place and these people ever meant something to you; why at some point you felt committed to them. I believe you and all of us need a faith community. And if it can not be this one, please find one somewhere. Because whether you are on Noah's ark or on Joan's ark, we all need a safe place as the world storms around us. We will be strong and better with others.  Get with others and start practicing the forgiveness that smelly, noisy, unappreciated hard workplaces like arks and churches need.


Christian Education Planning for:
What kinds of Christian Education activities are needed here at Bethany next year? 
This is a question the CE Board is pondering.  We will, of course, continue to provide a nursery as well as Sunday School classes.  Those classes have evolved to be flexible so that the schedule and the lessons suit Bethany well. 
We are interested in having more Adult CE opportunities.  Would you attend a workshop on how to visit shut-ins, who are no longer able to attend Bethany on a regular basis?  Would you like to attend a group that discusses contemporary books, or scriptures, or philosophy?  We’d like to know! 
Children's Day Scripture Lesson
See Amy Bell, Kassi Benedict, Donna Legare, Melitta Maddox, Amy Papineau, Stephanie Ratmeyer, or Patty Turley with your ideas.

We are seeking adults and high school teenagers to volunteer in the nursery for the summer months.  There will be a sign-up sheet after church for the next several weeks. 

Montpelier Food Pantry
On the last Sunday of each month the Outreach Board focuses on collecting one type of food (as per request of the pantry). . For June they are asking for peanut butter and jelly. Smooth, crunchy, super crunchy, natural, organic or what kids like. Preserves, jams, jellies, marmalade. Grape, cherry, orange, strawberry, low sugar or free range.

JUNE 3 is Special
On that morning, we will have Mr. Will Adams preaching and Mr. Mark Redmond leading liturgy. Will has preached here before and Mark will be Bethany's new President on July 1. Join them for worship while our ministers and delegation is at the Vermont Conference Annual Meeting.
Worship with Washington Association
THEN go to join them for worship at the Vt. Conference.
Worship at Annual Meeting - Worship at Annual Meeting will begin at 2:15 p.m. on Sunday, June 3 in Judd Hall.  You are invited and encouraged to join them. Bring a friend to a big worship service.

El Salvador! 
We want to travel as a group of 10 and there are now 8 of us:  Kristin Fowler (from Barre Congregational), Patrick Fraser, Theresa Lever, Jamie Merriam, Amy Papineau, Amy Pitton, Liz Sykas-Ringgenberg and Carrie Youngblood.  Our travel dates are Thursday, August 2 to Thursday, August 9.  The total cost is $1,700 - and this is ALL INCLUSIVE. Let your interest be known to anyone on this list and we'll be happy to answer all your questions!