Wednesday, May 7, 2014

May Dialogue

The Bethany Dialogue
May 2014

New Ways of Being Bethany

As a congregation we spent the past two years engaged in discernment and visioning, trying to understand how to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God in an era of profound social, economic, and political change.  We honor and value the ways members of Bethany responded to God’s call in the past, and we also recognize that it is time to make changes so that we can continue to be responsive and relevant into the future.
After review of our current operating structure as defined in the by-laws, research about other governance models, reflection on how things actually happen at Bethany, and discussions with members of the congregation - especially those currently serving on boards and committees, the Board of Trustees proposes that Bethany adopt a Governance and Ministry zone model for organizing how and what we do together.

For details on this model and to see the actual resolution that we will vote on at our Annual Meeting on June 8th, please visit Bethany Church’s web site. Paper copies of the information brochure are also available in the church office. In addition, you are invited to participate in one of two information sessions.  The first will be on May 3rd as part of the Stewardship Mystery Dinner which begins at 5:30 pm. The second will be on May 4th immediately following the worship service.
Stephanie Ratmeyer

Annual Reports due!

Board and Committee chairs!  Please get your Annual Report into the church office by Monday, May 12th. A Digital format is preferred! Send the report
Thank you!

Spring Clean-up Day

Saturday, May 17th 9-noon
Come join us as we freshen up both the outside and inside of the church!  Gardening, raking, sweeping, cobweb patrol, polishing will all be accomplished!  Bring your own rake, gardening gloves and tools and any other items you think you might need!  Let's make our church beautiful!


Sunday June 1 at the Waitfield United Church
Delegates and friends are invited to attend the Annual Meeting of the Association on June 1.  The program will be the Rev. Nancy McHugh sharing a TED-type talk on new ministry initiatives that have worked well in Waitsfield.  There will also be a business meeting of the Association to vote on the annual budget.


Mark LeGrand will be on vacation from Sunday, May 11 – Saturday, May 17th.  We are looking for volunteers to answer phones and staff the office in his absence.  If you are interested in helping, give the office a call.

Mark and Amy Pitton will be on vacation from Wednesday, May 21st through Thursday, May 29th.  If you have pastoral concerns, please call the church office during business hours (223-2424) or Judi Joy, (279-3177) chair of the Board of Deacons.

 Covenant Hills =Our Summer Camp

Church Summer Camp is where our children are able to live
and experience what they learn in Sunday School. Covenant Hills is close and it is good. For a brochure of this summer's offerings, ask for a brochure in the office or go to the website

Support for Summer Camp:  In the past, the CE Board has been able to fund some partial scholarships for Bethany kids to attend Covenant Hills Christian Camp, located in Cabot. Because of the low interest earned by our savings account in the last few years, we don’t have any funds eligible for this purpose (until the principal in our savings account grows again). We know there are Bethany kids who would like to  attend Covenant Hills this year.  If you would like to contribute for that purpose, please see a CE Board member: Patty Turley, Amy Papineau, Melitta Maddox, Cindy Cykon, Karen Songhurst or make a check out to the church, with the notation that it is for Camp Scholarships.


May 11 is Mother’s Day and the Christian Education Board invites you to come to church that day with your family and friends.  Invite your kids, grandkids, best friends, neighbors, and yes, your Mom.  The celebration will be intergenerational and a refreshing reminder of one of Bethany’s important missions!


The CE Board is contemplating an easy-going summer program for kids that involves simple gardening projects.  Perhaps outside at Bethany but if not, certainly some inside projects.  The program would be based on the wonderful book Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman – which follows a community garden, participant-by-participant in short, illuminating chapters. You may remember that this was a “community read” many years ago.
We need to know if kids will be attending Bethany this summer, and we also need adults to help.  Or, would this be a fun project before or after church, for all ages? Are you interested in being part of a team the pulls this together? Please let a CE Board member know!  Patty Turley, Amy Papineau, Melitta Maddox, Cindy Cykon, Karen Songhurst

Join the Youth Group for
A Mother's Day
Sunday, May 11th – 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.
Moms eat for free!
$5 for full breakfast -
$3 for coffee and a muffin

 Picture Directory

The Bethany Directory is in the final steps before production. We would like to have you in it if you want to be. If you are wondering if you have been included in this pulication and if so is the information correct, please call Phyllis Rowell at 476-4277 or e-mail her at

Mystery Dinner

Stewardship Mystery Menu Dinner is happening this Saturday (May 3rd) at 5:30.There are 33 people who made reservations and we have room for a few more.

AND... Hear about New Ways of Being Bethany. You have had the mailing (or go to a link on the website or call to have one mailed). After supper we will talk about this proposal, which would start in July. If you have questions or concerns, this will be an excellent time to add them to the conversation.
AND! As if those two things were not enough, You can also buy John Hall's new Book when $10 of the $15 will be donated to Bethany Church. Olive Fransi got the book on Sunday after worship and had finished it by Monday afternoon. "I just couldn't put it down!"
So come join the fun!
Stewardship Committee:
Art Farnum and Joanne Hardy

A Good Book

John's book is on sale at $15 for a limited time where $10 will be going to Bethany Church. The last chance to buy, Cooner's Bench, with this special arrangement is May 4 after worship.

Did you hear that Rev. Mark scooped ice cream at Ben and Jerry's? He thinks he has convinced them to come and help Bethany Bowl again. And bring icecream!

Snacks for Kids   PinS

Children are often at DCF in Barre for stretches of time because of court hearings or family visits.  The office is always in need of snacks and drinks for kids.  On Mother’s Day. May 11, we will be collecting snacks to help out.  Please bring snacks wrapped as individual servings: crackers, cookies, fruit strips, toddler snacks, juice boxes, etc.  DCF needs to be able to store any snacks without refrigeration.  Thank you for helping with our PINS partnership with DCF.

A Space of Their Own

Thanks go to the Board of CE for creating a welcoming space for children in our sanctuary. Since they will come (and we want them to do so) it is nice that we have a place that says, “We are glad you are here.” The space is soft and quiet for them and us. And even though some of our elders have really enjoyed the rocking chair (we are looking for more), parents with an infant will really be glad to sit and move their child at the same time. On Easter the space had several children and parents in it.  Special BIG thanks to Anita Rodgers for her painting of the chairs. WOW.

Youth Group News!

Sunday, May 4 – 7 – 8 :30 pm Meet at the church
We have plans to make!  Come help!
Sunday, May 11 – 7:30 am – Bethany Cup
Meet in the church kitchen and let's make folk a delicious breakfast
Sunday, May 18 – Pizza Lunch after church!  Youth Group is buying!  Meet at 11:45
and  we'll go to Positive Pie 2
Sunday, May 25 – No Youth Group

High School Breakfast at the Wayside!

Those in high school are welcome to join Amy at the Wayside Restaurant on Wednesday, May 7 at 7:15 am!  Youth Group will pay for breakfast!  See you there!

Finance Update

We continue to make progress toward meeting our FY14 financial goals in support of our operating ministries.  As you can see on the chart, by the end of March expenses outpaced income by about $13,000. New outreach and fundraising initiatives are underway and 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!

From the President:

Do Justice, Love Kindness, Walk Humbly with GodMicah 6:8Be Relevant, Be Present, Be Visible as a Faith CommunityBethany Church May 2013
As I reflect on how our congregation tries to be relevant, present, and visible as a community of faith, it is clear that much is accomplished through the graceful presence and hard work of our talented staff. All that Mark LeGrand, Amy Pitton, Mark Pitton, and Arthur Zorn actually do might be invisible to most members of the congregation, so I thought it appropriate to share with you some of the ways they serve and represent Bethany.

Mark, Amy, Mark, and Arthur are quite literally the Faces of Bethany in our community, both to members and non-members.  As a collaborative team they welcome all who enter our building, and with compassion and respect support everyone seeking spiritual, nutritional, social, musical, or other nourishment.  Our building is a sanctuary that remains open all day, every day, and is known as a place where those in need receive care. Our staff often serves people in transit or on the margins of society.  Being present to individuals and groups in this way requires significant time, skill, and creative energy. Mark, Amy, Mark, and Arthur channel the positive presence of the Holy Spirit, and on behalf of the Bethany community touch many lives.

In addition, our staff manages a wide range of programs and maintains a welcoming building.  As a result we have: creative and inspiring worship on Sunday mornings (and even some Sunday evenings), Sunday school, youth group, Kiosk!, Bethany Cup, Second Sunday Concerts, baptisms, confirmation classes, weddings, spiritual exploration groups, Art @ Bethany, a labyrinth and other reflection spaces in the chapel, clean bathrooms, Dialogue, pastoral care, administrative leadership, coordination with the Montpelier Food Pantry, a web site, visitations at homes and hospitals, support and leadership for boards and committees and fundraisers, shoveled entryways, funerals, Bethany Choir and community concerts, New Year’s Eve @ Bethany, and…..the list goes on.

Our staff also helps us to stay connected to other groups working for peace and justice. They facilitate our involvement with the Vermont Conference of the United Church of Christ, the Washington Association, and by extension the national UCC.  They represent us at Vermont low Income Advocacy Council events and the Good Samaritan Haven.  And they challenge us to think globally even as we struggle to respond to the strife and injustice we see in Central Vermont.

This is far from a complete picture, but I hope it helps to fill in some gaps for those who might wonder what Mark, Amy, Mark, and Arthur do with their time.  They are leading the way in our attempts to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.
Stephanie Ratmeyer

May 11

The Second Sunday Concert on May 11 will be by Nancy & Lilly Smith. Many will remember them as the mother daughter singers who performed at Bethany on New Years Eve. Perfect for Mother's Day!
Especially if you then go to Worship for CE Celebration Sunday!
Especially, if you started the morning with Bethany Cup Breakfast!

From A Minister:

A week ago I was at Lake Morey for the Vermont Conference Annual Meeting. Bethany folks did a lot of work for this event. I baked bread for the communion, I took minutes for their meetings, and I sang so no one could hear me. Joanne Hardy and Liz Sykas Ringgenberg were a part of the planning committee and both took part on worship, Joanne doing a dance duet that was universally very moving. Theresa Lever organized the Peace Makers Breakfast (vignettes about Peace and Justice work in Vermont UCC Churches). Carrie Youngblood did whatever past Presidents do and Amy did what ever the Chair of the Board of Directors does. Plus, Stephanie Ratmeyer and Amy Bell were delegates, and Vera Winter was a guest who sang so many people could hear her wonderful voice.

There was worship, a main speaker who nurtured people's spirit with thoughts and music (one of the lead people when Weston Priory did music albums). There were workshops, meals, and informal times of conversation and bonding. The theme was “Rooted and Grounded in Love”.  To the left you can see the visuals for rooted and grounded.

Because we live in a commercialized society, it is easy to ask, what do we get out of all this? Time, people, and money go, what comes back?

One answer, and not often mentioned, is that we can go farther. Our connection to a wider church allows us to send time, people, and money farther. Bethany could not afford to have a State House advocate for low income people. We could not be involved, through the the Conference, with a prison ministry. We are able to help ministers, churches, and people through out the state. We reach out to farther places.
The same is true of our Denomination. It extends our reach. It extends our reach beyond Vermont, to around the world. We can reach out with disaster relief, sustainable living, and justice work in nations were we do not know language, customs, or anything. We can reach way out.

And sometimes, we extend our reach to places with in our own country. Not just with disaster, food, or housing relief. But also with justice. If you have not heard, our denomination, the UCC, is suing North Carolina. Yes. We are suing the state. In North Carolina, it is illegal to perform covenant services between two people unless they have a marriage license. And the legal definition of marriage is between a man and a woman.

Since in the UCC it is permissible to marry same gender couple and to officiate a service that joins them in the eyes of God and the church, the State of North Carolina is infringing on our religious freedom. And so we are suing N. Carolina over religious freedom. 

Our denomination started this because a few UCC ministers and couples in NC needed the help. Our denomination is that help. We are a part of this. And we extend our reach to a place and in a way we could not on our own. We can bring life, life in its fullest, anywhere.

Having been baptized, confirmed, married, loved, and ordained in the UCC I am very proud that I can do more because I am more than one person, one church, one Conference. I may not get a 'thing', but the important things in life are not things. I do, however, get to be a better witness to the saving power of Jesus. I get to Do Justice. I am able to be faithful in more ways than I can reach on my own. And I want to do so much!

Thank you God for the UCC.