Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Summer Dialogue 2014


 Annual Meeting Recap

Worshiping and meeting at the same time allowed us to remember that we are community of faith and our decisions are really discernment of God's will so it can be done on earth as it is in heaven.

After an amendment, the motion to move from Boards and committees to Directors and teams was approved.
The Interim Spending Plan was approved.
Slate of Nominations was approved.

Small group discussion on 4 priorities:
1. What are the most important ways Bethany Church nourishes us?
2.   What are the most important ways we nourish the community beyond our doors?
3. . What are our priorities for communication within the Bethany congregation?
4. . What are our priorities for communication with the community beyond our doors?

President Elect Amy Bell told us about Strategic Investment in Sacred Places (SISP) and Laura Cadmus as a Student minister at Bethany for the coming year.Many liked worship and meeting combined.

Here is a compilation/synthesis of responses from the conversation of the 4 priorities:
Faith, Support, music, friendship, just coming in the door, sermons/ideas, opportunity to do good works, alternate vision for how to live, worship, Bethany Bowl, connecting in Spirit and service w/ others outside of community, reach beyond my normal living, ministers, conversations, participation causes me to question and expand, God’s word, going outside comfort zone, things to ponder that challenge, sense of belonging, support in life challenges, place to slow down and meditate, support acceptance of children, food
maintain open, food, Bethany Bowl, Yard Sale, Open Doors for self help meetings, labyrinth, San Antonio Grande, N.I.N. PinS, Food Shelf, members active in community, Good Samaritan, music, green space, Deacon’s Fund and additional work there, Center for Arts, Sewing Group, Lawn Sale, we set an open and affirming life style, volunteering, inviting members to come to service, inviting people to talent show, by us knowing the needs outside
communicating what we do re: programs music, concerts, Bethany Bowl, Bethany Cup, fellowship meals, to be more involved, people communicate how to can be involved, Dialogue, Kiosk, worship, hospitality,the pastors and what they communicate, personal requests, email, people listen to each other, be available to give help when need is expressed, timely information on what the congregation has done, Dialogue in print & email would like option, photos!, pastoral visits, audio, reactions to the sermon 10 minutes = vitality, more gatherings, mission moments, sharing life of the church and community
using mainstream media: calendars,world, bridge, Times Argus,get a realistic idea of us - what we are and are not, keeping connection with the wider church, welcoming, non-judgmental fun family, individuals sharing, Bethany Youth Group News, birthday cards, prayer shawl ministry, 2nd Sunday concerts, get our name out, publicise our beliefs, press releases, outreach to community, marketing, telling our story and making activities known, ecumenical,posters, tell people about us,front porch forum, local TV, line item for ads, SAG, web,hosting events, by what we do- not necessarily what we say,service in local papers, let community understand Bethany Church better,pick up the slack to help when the need slips by the established helping agencies open church, am fed spiritually to then bring that to wider community/world,visibility, invite reporters to events,in newspapers, we are suppose to do it one on one
complaints: (all from one green sheet) “Do we need to discuss these? We’ve discussed these 2 topics to death.” “Few people who are nourished @ yard sale go on to participate with the church.” "The people in charge at Bethany know a lot. It is unfortunately uncommunicated to the membership at large.” “Way too little of Bethany’s activities and opportunities can be found in Times-Argus, The Bridge, The World. We do so much- it needs to be in the newspapers so we all can act on it.” “Communication is not good enough. It is very difficult to know what is happening (church events) IN TIME TO ATTEND THEM. We need printed Dialogue to be delivered to homes much sooner, 50% of events and news are now past. :-(

So we have a new way of doing things.

How do these 'teams' work?

 Here are 3 answers:

1)    JUST like the Lawn Sale. There is a big leader of the Team Leaders. People sign up to work on teams as they can or want. Needs are expressed and there are prayers that the need is met. Not everyone helps, but we all benefit. The whole thing has worked this way for a long time. Now the church is using this model.

2)    It will work like this. We hear this:
Urgent request for Church World Service (CWS) School Kits! CWS School Kits give children in impoverished schools, refugee camps, or other difficult settings some of the basic tools for learning. Please follow this link to see how you and your congregation can help: HERE .

If in the congregation the Spirit moves 2 people to respond they get in touch with the ministers to figure out how best to coordinate communication and a Sunday Morning. They are now team leaders. They communicate information to the office, schedule whatever is needed, and give information for announcements/KIOSK! Follow through. Follow up. And this team ‘sunsets’ with a sense of satisfaction.

3)     It is also possible that the spirit does not move anyone. In that case, there is nothing to do. No team is formed. Like around the house, if no one does it, it doesn't get done. It may be that someone should not have left their shoes in the middle of the hallway. But they did. If no one moves them, they stay there. And we all know it does no good to look around for someone to do it. Either we do it, or we walk over them (or trip). If something has to be done (“Hey, is the oven on fire?” or “I am hungry. When is supper?”) it will either be done or we will do without.


Yup. It is that time. This is roughly where the money goes in our ministry categories

Not categorized is the Partnership for Sacred Places, A student minister, and a new way of doing the ministries we love and need. More than simply supplying funds/fuel/money for the work that makes us a community of faith, making a giving plan (available on the website) tells, and this community that you want to be a part of who we are and what we do.

And you know we are a great community doing great stuff.

So, check your mail for a Stewardship Letter with a Giving Plan 2015 Form. If there is not one there, let the office know and down load the Form off the website. Then pray and consider. Bring the form to worship or deliver to the office. Or, we can be in touch.

We are your church.

 Mission: Feed The Hungry

The Good Samaritan Haven Dinner in July was success after challenge because people at he 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 July 27th 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!

The focus food in July it is canned fruit.


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.
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. (sarah5432@gmail.com 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

 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.

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.

 Sundays in the Summer

Every Sunday worship will be at 10:00. Come early to sing.   The choir will meet each Sunday at 9:15 AM to prepare an anthem for the July and August summer services.   The choir will be seated with the congregation during the summer months. If you have never sung with the choir and want to try, just join them and sing. Stay after worship when there is hospitality to meet and greet those you have worshiped with.
The first 2 Sundays in July (the 6th and 13th) James Merriam will be preaching while our ministers are away. You might meet his fiance at the same time.
The first Sunday in August (the 3rd) there will be communion.
Summer worship tends to be even more casual than it is the rest of the year.

 Educated and Graduated

High School
Mackenzie Weinert graduated from U-32 High School  He will be attending UVM in the fall
Jordan Lumsden graduated from Montpelier High School.  He will be attending Castleton State College in the fall.
Christopher Richardson graduated from Hamilton College as the Salutarian with a Bachelor of Science.  He will be attending graduate school at MIT in the fall.
Sarah Richardson graduated from Davidson College with a Bachelor of Science.  She will be joining the Peace Corp in the coming year.
Bianca Staudt graduated from Lesley College with her Bachelor's degree.
Graduate School
Abby Hall graduated from the University of North Carolina with her Masters Degree!
Vermont Academy of Spiritual Training
Liz Sykas Ringgenberg graduated this three year program of Bible Study, Ethics, Worship History and Practice, Spirituality, and Theology.

Congratulations to all our graduates and best of luck in the future!

Fall Planning

We have started looking for people to give concerts on the Second Sunday of the month. Got an idea? Good! Mention it to Theresa Lever.

 PINS Updates

We recently delivered seven grocery bags full of snacks for kids to the Barre DCF Office.  When we helped to unpack them we found out the cupboards were totally bare.  The contributions from Bethany Church filled them up!  Staff members were very appreciative.
Our next project will come in mid-August when we collect school supplies of all kinds for all grade levels.  We look forward to helping the kids involved with DCF as they prepare for their next year in school.  Keep tuned!
Thank you for your generosity.  Have a wonderful summer.

OGHS means World Ministry and Disaster Relief

 One Great Hour of Sharing raised $833.00.  Thank you to all who contributed.  All donations will be used to help communities in crisis all over the world.

Bethany Bowl

Tuesday Lunch is more than food. More than what soup, who cut the cookies, or drying the silverware. It is more than treating the people who come as people or the community they create from the shared experience of needing/wanting Bethany Bowl. It is about teaching/learning too.

Students from the Elementary school come and set the table. When they do, Phyllis Rowell spends time talking about what happens at lunch and why people come to eat. They learn that being poor is not about fault or moral failings. They learn that or response as a church is to feed hungry people.

These pictures are from  June 17 when a Confirmation class from the UCC Church in Morrisville came to serve lunch. They too learned about poverty and hunger here in the big capital city of Montpelier. And they had to look at and talk to people, discovering that they are people.

Bethany Bowl is a part of what makes Bethany Church who it is. And it has the potential to change the world because it can transform people and their attitude. In some ways, the Bowl is more important for those who work there than those who only eat there. But there is great potential for change there as well.

So let’s give thanks and prayers to those who during the summer are going to serve hot soup, open up working ovens, race to make sure the dessert table is stocked, and bend over a newly opened dish washer. They have an answer to the question of “when did we see you naked and hungry?”

 From the Minister’s News Feed:

I am impressed by the emails and news items I have been reading lately. They have been about churches. And, even better, they have been about justice.

The first flurry of justice and church was about Marriage Equality in North Carolina and the First Amendment. Our Denomination is suing the state to allow UCC clergy to officiate at same sex weddings and not break the State law leading to  punishment. Other have now joined us in this suit. If you did not hear about this, check out HERE  (including a video from the UCC President).

Then there was an avalanche of emails from the Vermont Interfaith Action Committee (VIA). There was this announcement (with this report from WCAX HERE
Last night, 100 church, synagogue, and community members affiliated with VIA attended a terrific Action, the culmination of over a year of research on Corrections Reform. We won commitments from Doug Racine, Secretary of the Agency of Human Services; Chris Barton, Restorative Systems Administrator for the Department of Corrections; and Sen. Diane Snelling, member of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Corrections to work with VIA to improve preparation for re-entry into society for offenders released from incarceration.

And then this:
Bus Service to Colchester Begins!
A group of VIA leaders from various congregations gathered at the Cherry St. bus station to ride the Milton Commuter that began servicing the Colchester area on Monday, June 16th. Though a bit delayed due to confusion as to where to pick up the bus, the group had a fun time chatting together while riding in comfort from Severance Corners to the Burlington station. You can read more about it in the following Burlington Free Press article HERE 

And then this one:
On Friday, June 20, Vermont Conference Minister, Rev. Dr. Lynn Bujnak joined Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and other Vermont religious leaders to address the moral implications of extreme wealth and income inequality.

Bishop Thomas Ely, the Rev. Dr. Lynn Bujnak, Monsignor Roland Rivard and Rabbi Joshua Chasan and Sanders emphasized that increasing wealth and income inequality in the United States is one of the great moral issues of our time and is undermining the fabric of our nation.

A clip of the news conference is HERE  . The full Press Conference is HERE . The women to our left of Bernie Saunders is Rev. Dr. Lynn Bujnak, our Vermont Conference Minister.

In Wisconsin the Courts ruled their law against same sex weddings were unconstitutional. Wedding licenses were given out to same gender couples and through out the State the clerics were waiving the waiting period. But one county Cleric who would not waive the delay allowed by other county clerics. A local minister spoke out and demonstrated.

And then there was this article about Religion STILL being able to do good in the world. What impressed me about this article was not the amount of examples (100!). Read it HERE . Note especially that the UCC is listed for our N. Carolina lawsuit, that the  World Council of Churches (of which we are a part of), and the Back Bay Mission (also UCC) a beloved place of Ben Washburne. And the VIA’s parent organization, PICO, is also listed.

What surprised/impressed me was that the examples came from the many religions of America and they were mostly about Justice Work. It is so easy to find a photogenic orphan who is sick, poor, crippled and pathetic and use them as a photo-op to say we did a nice thing by giving them medicine, a home with indoor plumbing, and a scholarship to college. But it is another to say they should have had it already and seek do something about it. Do not hear me say anything against immediate care happening. It is a part of ‘loving kindness’. Although there are times when I worry a church/organization can use these situations to buff their credentials and fund raising.  Granted, a crisis and a face does make fundraising easier. But people are not a tool to be used. To do so is just disgusting. The ends do not justify using someone as a means.

But the admonition to ‘love kindness’ is only a part of what the prophet Micah shouts:
“ O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
All three are called for. Loving kindness is easiest. It feels gooood. It seems obvious what a kindness would be (it seldom is). The short term survival of many depends on such acts of kindness. They are crucial.

Someday I will rant about how “walking humbly with God” is not done by attending Sunday worship (monthly or weekly). But, in brief, Sunday is to equip (allow might be better) us to walk humbly with God always.

The hardest of the three is Justice. Doing it is hard, preaching it is easier. That is why I am so thrilled by so much Justice work being communicated to others. And I can not tell you how proud I am that we are connected with some of them. OUR United Church of Christ is speaking to power for the legally powerless. Our brothers and sisters in the VIA are speaking for prisoners and getting public agreements from those in power. And if you have a car, you might think bus service is minor league justice. But to those on limited incomes or unable to get a drivers license public transportation like this means work.  OUR Vermont Conference is siding with those who are on the wrong end of income disparity and the privilege of birth and family. Our voice is lifted to communicate justice for all, that is God’s requirement. And it is listed first. Maybe the list is alphabetical.

Bethany Church, through support of our Conference and our Denomination, does work and
speak for justice. It is something that will often be done by others. Bethany supports the Vermont Low-Income Advocacy Council and their/our lobbyist in the Vermont State House.  Karen Lafayette, who preached here a couple weeks back, is a professional who knows how to lobby. It is not a hobby lobby… Bethany’s Department of Outreach just sent them $500 from separate funds available to them (i.e. not in spending plan). By giving Karen our pulpit and the work some money, we are engaged in the work of justice.

Justice is important because until there is justice (of all sorts) for all people, the walk with God is hard or really hard.

Victims of injustice, relying on kindness, never are whole and can not give their whole self to God. Those who benefit from injustice, have a guilt that makes walking humbly with God very difficult. And a society that is fractured by skin, money, education, looks, love, accent, family, etc can not be whole because it is not. Our proclamation is that all of us are worthy (just as we are, unconditionally) to be treated the same. This is a part of our walking with God. Pointing and disclaiming when this is not true is the work of justice. Confessing our part  in injustice is our humble walk with God. [Check this out HERE !] Working to end injustice is the doing of justice. The goal is to let loving kindness mean something other than charity.. Micah as been dead for over 2200 years, but we still need to hear him with willing

Is there anyone who doubts God’s desire for justice?

This just in:
* The UCC is the first Denomination to support the Gay Olympic Games. Any persecuted group understands this as a symbol of solidarity and a rebuttal to many.
* Also, "On Wednesday, June 25, advocates from the United Church of Christ and a number of immigrant rights groups rallied together in Arizona to support the Tulio family by accompanying Tulio to submit one more request for a stay of removal and offering him sanctuary at Shadow Rock UCC in Phoenix."
* OH. And a week plus ago we were advocating for a name change of the Washington Football Team because of its a derogatory name and depiction.

This JUST in from Esther Farnsworth:
* Many of the children coming over the border are from El Salvador.  47,000 children from Central America have come over the border in the last 8 months.   I have looked at the UCC website HERE and this is the action they have suggested: It's an action that is very easy to do by sending an email to Peter Welch, call his office or write to his office in Burlington. Take action - call your representative today and call for adequate funding for the Office of Refugee Resettlement.