Sunday, June 1, 2014

June Dialogue

 Bethany June Dialogue

 From the President:
Priorities for Next Year

As we prepare to gather on June 8th for this year’s Annual Meeting, I invite everyone in the Bethany Church community to consider our two focus areas: Nourishment and Communication.  Under the new governance structure we anticipate implementing next year (July 2014 – June 2015), the congregation is called to define its mission and goals.  The Trustees propose that we continue to build on progress made this year to improve communication and highlight aspects of nourishment in everything we do.  These are broad concepts, and at Annual Meeting you will have an opportunity to help next year’s Board of Directors clarify priorities.

This Annual Meeting will be incorporated into our regular worship service at 10 am.  Everyone present will be invited to participate in the discussion.  Formal members of Bethany will also be asked to vote on several items. Others in attendance will have voice without vote.  Materials for the meeting are available at the church office.

June 8th is also Pentecost – a reminder of the Holy Spirit’s power to move us toward living our faith. On our journey into new ways of being Bethany, I trust that the Spirit will continue to guide and encourage as we seek new life in humble and unexpected places.
Stephanie Ratmeyer

Feed The Hungry

The Good Samaritan Haven Dinner in May was another success! The list did not get filled up but some wonderful people stepped-up at the last minute and made sure we had everything we needed. Many thanks to ALL who contributed. Somehow the list made its way into the office, so I couldn’t get it to make the reminder calls or see who was bringing what so please, please leave it on the Outreach Bulletin Board. Thanks!!Our next dinner will be on June 22nd and the sign-up sheet will be available, in the parlor, on Sundays during Hospitality. Again, thanks to all who participate in the loving justice of feeding the hungry.

Montpelier Food Pantry!
Peanut Butter and Jelly!
Bring it June 29!

Defining the Church

Sunday June 8 is Pentecost. Pentecost is oftentimes called the Birthday of the Church. It celebrates the God’s gift of the Holy Spirit on the people gathered as a faith community. It is the day fire fell. It celebrates how that gift brought life and purpose to that community. It celebrates God’s gift of the 10 Commandments that give order and structure to life and living.

This year all of this will, of course, be true at Bethany. This day will also be our Annual Meeting. It is an appropriate day for our Annual Meeting. It is the Holy Spirit that blesses our activity and makes it Holy, Sacred to God. And this year we will also focus on our future life and purpose as a community of faith. We will vote on what structure and order we will have for the coming year.

Please note: the Annual Meeting will not be after worship, it will be in the midst of worship. This too is appropriate. For we will pray together, together discern  God’s will, and recommit ourselves to being a part of this thing we call Bethany Church: our work and life together. And whether you think we are inviting God to our meeting or having our meeting in God’s time, both are so importantly true.

So, join us. If you do not have a vote (official members who have joined), come and add your voice. Join us, even if you have been uncomfortable at these things before. Join us, even if you think what you want to happen will happen. Join us, because you are a piece of the ‘us’ we speak of.

Here is the Order/Agenda for the morning.

Pentecost Sunday, June 8, 2014
10:00 am Integrated Worship and Business Meeting

Opening WorshipApproval of Minutes of the June andSeptember 2013 congregation meetingsDiscussion of Focus Area Priorities for Next YearConsideration and vote on the resolution to implementa new Governance and Ministry zone model for one year.Offerings of Gifts and Service
Vote to accept Annual ReportsElection of Board of DirectorsVote on FY15 Interim Financial PlanInvitation to Offering of Individual GiftsMinistry of MusicPrayer of DedicationHymnOther business the may appropriately comebefore the CongregationPrayers of the ChurchHymnBenediction
Please note, there will be a Second Sunday Concert, but not Bethany Cup.

Mark your calendars for the 20th Annual BETHANY LAWN AND BAKE SALE September 13 & 14. We will need many helpers starting September 8. Sign-ups will start soon - don't miss out on your favorite way to help support your church and community.
THANK YOU - Bethany Lawn Sale Committee

Hello to all,
It's Spring, and we are cleaning out our garages and attics.
The  usual buzz about looking forward to the Bethany Lawn Sale is  starting. At this time of year, some folks are wishing there was SOMEPLACE ELSE to store those special boxes and bags (the ones that contain clean, attractive items, in good working order).  It is still our policy to ask donors to wait until the week before the sale to bring their donations - and when we get requests for exceptions, the policy is to suggest that donors make private arrangements with other members who have extra space.
 Consequently, it would be helpful for us to know who has extra space so that this suggestion work well.  DO YOU HAVE ANY SPACE WHERE LAWN  SALE DONATIONS COULD BE STORED UNTIL LAWNSALE WEEK ? Please let us know asap at ( or 223-5307)   If you choose to accept this mission... at the time you agree to a private arrangement, it is wise to have the donor PROMISE to take the items from your space to the church during the collection week.
For those of you looking for somewhere else to put those items, one option is to sell them independently and then donate the proceeds to the church. And if there is anyone out there who would be willing to manage sales of donated items on Craigslist or Ebay, we need you all year round!!
THANK YOU - Bethany Lawn Sale Committee

June 8 - featuring Justin Murray! 9:30 a.m. in the Chapel; coffee served. This is the last concert for this year with the summer hiatus coming up. We will resume concerts hopefully in September.

Summer-time Ministerial Coverage
During the summer there are times when Revs. Mark and Amy are not at home or obviously in the office. This is especially true during a vacation. But sometimes they might picnic or switch a day off. Email can always reach them and the office can reach them. Messages on their home phone now work better than a few years ago. And if you want a cell phone number, just ask Rev. Mark. We want you to be able to reach them, especially in a pastoral emergency.

Music Board Report, May-June 2014
Choir is transitioning towards summer, with the final choir rehearsal for the year on Thursday May 29th, and a choir pot luck dinner at Arthur's home in Barre on Thursday June 5. The choir will continue to meet each Sunday at 9:15 AM to prepare an anthem for the June, July and August summer services.   The choir will be seated with the congregation during the summer months.
We have two new choir members: a bass and a soprano!
Nancy and Lilly Smith – mother and daughter vocal harmony with acoustic guitars - were featured performers for the May Second Sunday Concert, and were well received. For our last Second Sunday Concert in June, Bethanyites look forward again to hearing several vocal selections from our own Justin Murray.
The organ continues to have falling or near-falling pipes replaced (normal age issues).Judy and Arthur continue the mice hunt in the organ with success, but not for the mice.
No big issues other than the budget keeps shrinking.

Dear Members of Bethany,

As we approach the end of an exciting church year, the Finance Committee extends our thanks to everyone who has supported the broad variety of Bethany’s programs through participation on committees or boards and with financial support.
Last September, the congregation approved a financial plan in support of the programs and services we want and believe are important to Bethany Church, the Montpelier community, and those in need around the world. Now we seek your help in order to balance operating income and expenses by the end of this Fiscal Year 2014. As you may have noticed in the 2014 Annual Report, as of the end of April our expenses exceeded income by approximately $19,000. It is up to all of us to help close this gap!

How can you help?
1. Complete your pledge payments by June 30th.2. If you have not contributed financially this year, please consider doing so by June 30th.3. If you have completed your pledge payments, please consider an additional gift to Bethany by June 30th.
You may recall that a letter went out several weeks ago asking for increased giving of $300 - $500. We know that not everyone can do this, but some of us can probably give more than that. If you have already responded to a request for greater giving, Thank you!
Even in times of financial uncertainty, we are blessed to be part of a generous, creative, and resourceful congregation.
Finance Committee
John Maddox and Don Welch

We all can tell someone else that prayer is talking to God. But do we talk to God when we pray? God, who understands every language, does not need us to translate a prayer into English. God does not need to be given clues as to who someone is when you pray for them. How you know someone is not news to God. Nor is a tragic background or circumstance. When you are trying to remember some year or detail, God knows it before it is on your tongue. Prayer is not a time to use a stage whisper to tell individuals 'thanks' or send them a message. Prayer is not a time for preaching. We all know that people will do this in public prayers. But it does not have to be you.

Summertime Hospitality
The current Hospitality Committee were kind enough to post a sign up sheet for summer-time Hospitality. Please reward this by signing up. It is not hard. Maybe coffee (Mark whines, but ignore him), lemonade or ice tea or/and  juice. a little something to munch on: healthy is good non-healthy seems to be enjoyed as well. Costs to you can be defrayed/repaid.

But this is really important in the summer. We have visitors and this time allows us to meet them and for them to see us liking each other. If you have a new idea, just check it out and go for it. It happening is more important than how it happens.

From the Minister’s Return

So, after a bit of vacation visiting with my parents and sister I returned to the office on Thursday the 29th. On my mind was a bulletin for Sunday, the KIOSK!, The Dialogue, and time with Brown Bag. I simply avoided thinking that it was also my birthday.

As these things happen (at least to me), I found three unexpected things upon my return that delighted me. In the main office I discovered a box addressed to the minister of the church. Picking it up it clearly was a book, a very heavy book. Looking at the return address I saw that it was from CAIR, some educational outreach group. This did not please me. Once or twice a year we get unsolicited books from groups. The books have always been worthless or stupid (ignorant) or hateful. Some have hit the trifecta and make me really furious. “Trees died for this JUNK!” I assumed I was about to learn about the terror of Mormons, Muslims, homosexuality, liberals, evolution, or the secret world conspiracy (possibly by the Jews) to overthrow all that is good and right. Seriously. We get this stuff. I almost put off opening it just to keep a vacation vibe in my heart and soul.
Abraham in Arabic Calligraphy

I opened it to get it over with and discovered that it was sent by CAIM, an educational outreach group of Muslims who are sharing the Quran to increase mutual understanding. [If you want to read more about this go to Council on American-Islamic Relations.] This thrilled me VERY much. I have read the Quran before, but not lately because I have not been able to find my copy. I bought a new one a few months ago, but it was a miserable translation. But THIS is a beautiful edition: original Arabic, modern English translation, commentary, and historical notes. There are even several examples of Arabic calligraphy (which I love). This is a very precious gift. I am looking forward to being able to dive in to it. These are our cousins in faith. First up will be a three faith discussion of Abraham for Brown bag on June 5.
  Second, the stairs to my office had been painted. It is not that there is a lot of traffic up the stairs, but now travelers do not have to come up wondering why it seems like they are in a parking garage stair well. I know we are a city church more focused on mission than looks, but now when mission folks walk up they feel wanted a bit more.*

Lastly, when I got to my office door there was some index cards balanced on my doorknob. Again, I feared some need/request that would bum my mellow from vacation. But NO. This was the annual questions the Sunday School gathered for me. They like asking me anything and I like answering them. Always, the questions vary from simple factual stuff, really complicated stuff, questions impossible to answer, and answers impossible to know. I love they ask. I love the struggle of answering them. This year there are 8.5 questions that include: Have you ever witnessed a miracle? and Why did people want so much power in the Bible Stories; especially when Jesus came along? Oh boy.

Questions are great. The struggle for answers is the essence of learning. AND the challenge of concrete language for the Sunday School and short answers is a real challenge for me. And maybe some point I will share my answers with everyone (after the Sunday School gets them). But, if you do not feel like you have the same permission to ask me questions then please pardon me for not making that clear. Please ask. I don’t mean the paradoxical/trap questions, “Did Adam have a belly button?” (Yes, by the way.) or “Why do bad things happen to good people?” (Who else is there?). I mean: things that come up from a sermon or scripture. or questions that pop up when the family talks about God, or someone’s answer that does sit right with you, even questions that might be a challenge to tradition or what you think I think/believe. I love them all.
But the better the question the less likely it can even be touched in the greeting line after worship. You might ask then, but let’s make sure that we honor the question. I am hard to offend and will tell you when I have no idea and when I am guessing/thinking about it. Often, I do not give a definitive answer. A description of an answer is much more likely. I am not an answer man.

So, in a few minutes the Dialogue will be done and all the initial ‘things’ on my mind/list will be accomplished. Then I can open the Quran or one of these excellent Sunday School questions. I can mold my sermon for Sunday. I can be ready for your questions. I can grow and learn with you. And that is exactly what I think a church is all about. Working on important questions together and helping the answers (however provisional they are) influence our living. Together.

And may your life be filled with surprises that delight you (even if at first you roll your eyes a bit).
Rev. Mark

*[ed. We are glad such things make Rev. Mark happy. So, please do not mention that the church clerk also goes up those stairs and that her husband takes care of our property.]