Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Dialogue for March

Bethany Dialogue  

March 2014

One Great Hour of Sharing

On Palm Sunday, April 13, contributions to One Great Hour of Sharingwill be received. 

OGHS provides on-the-ground in-the-moment services during and after disasters.  It is a cooperative effort among eight denominations and Church World Services.  Nine missionary efforts for on-going improvement projects is included.  Altogether, $15 million dollars is managed th rough the participating churches.  In 2012, the OGHS offering received just over $2.5 million. Nearly seventy percent of UCC congregations participate annually.

When Atlanta, Georgia, was under threat from the recent storms, CWS (and Catholic Relief Service, Red Cross and others) were there waiting with equipment and supplies.  Just one example.

Information on OGHS is available on the UCC website HERE (look for the FAQ  HERE) with more details and a "Donate" button.  There is great need and you can be there through your donation.
Tom Clougher
for the Outreach Board
Visioning Update:  This July 1, we will intent to begin our transition year. You've read here before about some of the proposals, but you may be wondering what the impact will be -- what does it really mean?  The Visioning Team is planning a Presentation for this Spring (two, actually) in order to keep members informed in advance of the Annual Meeting.  
Look for more information coming soon.
Bethany Youth Group News!
Sunday, March 2 – No Youth Group – Happy Vacation!
Sunday, March 9 – Meet at the church at 7:30 am for Bethany Cup preparation! Simple and tasty muffins this time around!
Sunday, March 16 - Bowling at Twin City Lanes! 7-8:30 PM – Bring $10 for 2 games and shoe rentals. Don't forget the quarters for the jukebox!
Sunday, March 23 – Meet from 7-8:30 PM in the Youth Room! It's Peeps-no-more Night – you know what that means!
Sunday, March 31 – No Youth Group! Happy Easter!

Join the Youth Group for
Sunday, March 9th
8:30-9:30 am in the Parlor!
Come for warm, homemade muffins, great coffee, yogurt parfaits,
an oatmeal bar, and artisan bread for toasting.
$5 for full breakfast
$3 for coffee and a muffin
Nifty Knitters
for youth in grades 6-12
Tuesdays from 3:15 – 4:45 pm
Let's save the world by knitting! We will be working on anti- bullying rainbow scarves, hats for kids in Afghanistan, and prayer shawls for those in need. All supplies provided, plus refreshments!
High School students – need some community service activities for
future college applications? Join us for this group and get a recommendation!

Supper for Good Samaritan Haven

Did you hear? 
Staff and residents are deeply moved and teary eyed hearing that we say a blessing over their Sunday Dinner before we deliver it. We deliver more than food. We let God touch them. 
The evening meal that Bethany sent to the Good Samaritan Haven last Sunday was absolutely wonderful!! I know that for sure because I shared dinner with the shelter residents and thoroughly enjoyed the food, and their welcoming hospitality. I heard such high praise for all of the meals we send and real appreciation for my staying and eating with them. Someone said that people who bring food don’t ever stay to eat with them (the people there now did not know that I had stayed after delivering our first meal, about 4 years ago). It was a great experience and I plan to do it frequently.

I also appreciated the delivery help that was given me by Krista Sheele. She is new to Bethany and is interested in being an active member of our congregation.
Many, many thanks again to the Outreach Board for designating our Good Sam dinners as the recipient for the Souper Bowl Sunday collection of over $200. Thanks also to Judy Ribolini for turning the money into Price Chopper gift cards. Once again I send great hugs of appreciation to everyone who cooks or otherwise contributes to these much needed meals!! Judi Joy
March 23rd is the date of our next dinner and the sign-up sheet is already posted on the bulletin board. Don’t forget that we have pans for the cooks to use, courtesy of Bethany Bowl. Just ask me if you would like some.

Please know that your support of this ministry is what makes it possible! And Judi Joy makes it happen.

A little Help Please

Help needed in waxing Fellowship Hall - Rescheduled- due to sickness and shortage of volunteers. On Sat., Mar. 22,@ 8 am The Property Board will gather to sweep, wash and wax the floor in Fellowship Hall. They would appreciate the help of 4-5 more people. If 8 am seems too early 9 or 10 is not too late as those who have been here will need a break. This effort will take 3-4 hours depending on the number of helpers. Please call Gary Rogers @ 229-9893 if you can help. (If we need to cancel then Gary will know who to call.) 
Mr. Miyagi says: Wax on... wax off. Wax on... wax off.
From the Minister
There was an interesting conversation last night at the Trustees. No no, that is not exactly right. We had an interesting meeting. We had several interesting conversations.
Since finances are always we tight, we had the conversation that our finances are tight. Trustees are doing what they can do and asking the congregation to do what they can. Personally, I want to belong to a church that is striving to do more; not content with easy.
We talked about a really exciting program that would teach us how to do what we want to do with our Sacred Space for/in Montpelier and that could also bring in funds for the doing of our ministries and missions. Really! How cool is that?
We realized that Bethany is an amazing place. We talked about all the things we could teach a minister. We then talked about doing just that.
We talked about a governing plan for Bethany. ONE of the fascinating things was Patty Turley's observation that in many ways what we can see being formed is not going to be very disruptive because it is, in many ways, what we do now. We really are beginning to see it clearly enough that we will be able to share and explain it to everyone.
And we reviewed our communication: how, to whom, for whom, how what we communicate advances our desire to live out Micah 6:8. We did note that we tend to do more about communicating loving kindness than doing justice. I think it was observed that if we want to be relevant, bepresent and visible as a faith community that we can not simply put out a poster that says so in so many words. It would have to be communicated in other ways. But one of the things that came clear to me in the discussion is how much of our communication is designed to speak to ourselves. Even what is communicated out of Bethany is often done for us. Yes, we think that people might want to know about our Christmas Schedule, but we tell them because we REALLY want to increase our numbers, maybe our income. We want them more than we feel we offer something. Which is sad.
We also came up with some spiffy handshakes for different groups in the Trustees. Ask a Trustee to show theirs. This too led to some discussion about who is in and who is out and how we tell the difference. At Bethany, we want people to learn our handshake, maybe forget their old old one, but not teach us the handshake they know.
One method of communication that was added late is 'word of mouth'. That is probably accurate. Especially if we do not know why any one would want to hear about Bethany or what they want/need that Bethany has. We end up talking about what we like/want and how Bethany gives it (or doesn’t – but that is going to be another conversation).
Do we really have no idea what Bethany offers? Or is our vision about what Bethany can be for others cloudy – obscured by our desire for more people Sunday morning and more money in the spending plan? Do you remember dating and avoiding the needy people, those who were all about what they want out of a relationship? Hmmm, exactly. Remember how attractive the person who was not feeling the need, but the desire for a relationship?
I know I have said this before: we need to serve people, not recruit them. We will not grow if people know what we want them for. So, let's do our missions and ministries and be thrilled when someone has a common interest and wants to join the effort. In this we serve their need/desire to be relevant and useful. We can be present to them. And we serve God. Like a faith community. And I think these are things the world wants, needs, and deeply desires.

Ash Wednesday - Wed., March 5

Check out our website for an online Ash Wednesday devotional, or if you would like the imposition of ashes, Christ Church has a service and a sidewalk imposition of ashes at noon, as well as a service at 7 pm. Check it out!
Needed: A couple of volunteers to staff a refreshment table at the Art Show Opening Gala on Sunday, March 16th. You would be needed from 2:15 through clean up. Contact Amy Pitton if you would like to help!

Ecumenical Youth plans in the works! Amy Pitton recently met with the youth ministers at Christ Episcopal and the Unitarian churches.  She found out that Bethany is the only church out of the three with a high school youth group - YAY for us! Both of the other churches have nice sized groups of 10-13 year olds, as do we, and we are planning ways to do an event a month together starting in September.

Finance Update
In the first half of this fiscal year, Bethany made strong progress toward meeting our FY14 financial goals in support of our operating ministries. Now in mid-winter we have reached a point where expenses sometimes exceed income.  While new outreach and fundraising initiatives are currently in development, your ongoing support through pledges and other donations is vital for our financial stability.
Thank you for your investment in Bethany’s mission and ministries!
Bethany Auction News
It’s going to be a good auction!
There are early indications that this year’s Auction will be one of best. Items will be interesting and useful. Jenkins Auction Service always brings energy and good humor to the sale. It’s fun to be there.
There will be collectibles …

and unique items … 
April 5 is the date.
Fellowship Hall is the place.
9 a.m. is the early-bird preview.
9:30 a.m. is the start of bidding.
Items to sell may be brought to the church from Mon., March 31, to Thurs., April 3. No items will be accepted after April 3.
Helpers are always welcome, so sign up on the bulletin board by the Chapel. There are many ways to participate in this annual event - and remember to donate an item.

The UCC New England Women's Celebration IX

This grand event is being held in Portland, ME March 28 – 30th! The theme of the event is “Together We Can!” This is a wonderful opportunity for UCC women to get together and sharing faith and fun! It would be great to get a group together to go from Bethany! For details, check out the event website atwww.uccwomenscelebration.organd let Amy Pitton know if you would like to attend!
March 29, 2014
Lake Morey Inn, Fairlee   
 Presented by 
the Vermont Conference UCC and  
the Episcopal Church in Vermont    

Where new understandings of Vitality, Formation, Stewardship and Mission combine to create and nurture disciples in our congregations.

Designed for teams of 4-6 from each church (individuals also welcome), and a registration cost of only $10!
Click here for a flyer  - please print and share widely!  
 Don't Miss Out! - Our last event sold out. And it's only $10!
 Click here to register.

The CE Board is hosting a Lenten Study, led by Reverend Mark. Starting on Sun. Mar. 9th, we will be looking at the book, "The Last Week", by Marcus Borg and J. Dominic Crossan. The book's subtitle is
"What the Gospels Really Teach about Jesus' Final days in Jerusalem". Or you can participate online through a blog HERE. We are interested in how the online discussion experience works!
CE is also busy with our spring Sunday School plans, and Reverend Amy is very busy with youth activities.  CE is interested in people who would like to work on a Team next year:  Adult Ed, Children's Programs, or Special Events.  Is that you? 
On the third Sunday of the month there is a service of Evensong. Starting at 5:00, it is a time of music, psalms, hymns of the evening, and a bit of scripture.
It is Sabbath worship.
No push, no prod. Simply walking with God for 30-40 minutes. Good bye to this day so we can be renewed for the next day.

Loaves and Fishes - Again

Last September after the Bethany Lawn Sale, I shared my reflections about the story in Matthew’s Gospel of empty to overflowing baskets of loaves and fishes on a crowded hillside.  In both Bethany’s lawn sale and the Gospel story, willingness of the community to share resources and contribute to a common purpose resulted in a miracle of abundance.
It was also back in September that this congregation unanimously approve our FY14 financial plan.  The spending side of the plan was carefully designed to support our six ministry areas: Pastoral Care and Worship; Outreach – Local and Beyond; Music; Christian Education; Communication and Operations; and our Building.  The revenue side of the plan was based on good-faith estimates of pledges and collections, investment income, and fund-raisers.  It also included $11,200 of funds from unidentified sources – an empty space in our plan.

We have reached the point in our fiscal year when we must focus attention on filling that empty space. This is especially true since the winter has been colder and snowier than in recent years and our fuel and snow plowing costs threaten to exceed projections. I know from our Gospel tradition and our own experiences here at Bethany, an empty space in our revenue plan is not cause for fear. Rather, it is an opportunity for us to remember that we are a blessed and wealthy congregation called to be present, relevant and visible as a community of faith.  Most of us probably do not see all the ways that Bethany, through our staff, volunteers, programs, and building space, makes a positive difference in Montpelier and beyond.  But each of us connects with some part of our mission, be it through worship or music or outreach or service to the community.  And each of us connects by investing some of our financial resources in the work of this faith community.

So how will we meet the current revenue challenge? As individuals, any increase in offerings or pledges – be it $5 or $50 or $500 or $5000 - will have a big impact on our overall revenue.  Not everyone can do this, but some of us probably can.  Sharing the news that Bethany has meeting spaces available for rent, inviting community members to concerts and art exhibitions, donating items to the auction, and volunteering to help at other fundraisers will also make a big difference.

Living into new ways of being Bethany might mean that we have to navigate some difficult financial transitions. But it also means accepting that we are blessed and surrounded by abundance.  We are a faithful, courageous, generous, resourceful, creative and rich congregation.
 Stephanie Ratmeyer


Please join us the Second Sunday of March, April, May and June for our concerts in the Chapel which begin at 9:30 a.m. Coffee is available and the concert is free and open to the public.

The line up for the coming months include:
  • March 9 - The Bethany Baritones & Three Amigas
  • April 13 - Bill Fraser
  • May 11 (Mother's Day) - Nancy & Lilly Smith (mother & daughter)
  • June 8 - Justin Murray
We will then take June, July and August off since so many people are on vacation during the summer. September will be the start up (hopefully) of the Second Sunday Concerts again.
Why not come at 9:00 and have breakfast at Bethany Cup! It's not that expensive and it's very, very, good!
A shout out for Mark LeGrand, who is releasing a wonderful new CD at a party at Sweet Melissa's on Saturday, March 15th at 7 PM.  Cover charge of $5 is a deal for what promises to be a great concert! Let's give Mark some Bethany Church support!
Hard to know if that is a price reduction
or an increase..