Monday, September 1, 2014

September Bethany Dialogue 2014

Worship, on the other side of the wall. 

 Because We Are Bethany

This is primarily a report on the recent trip to San Antonio Grande, El Salvador that 4 members of Bethany (Theresa Lever, James Merriam, Nina Merriam and Darlene Colby) and I took along with 6 other folk from four other churches. This was my third trip to SAG, and the most informative. For the first time, we took stuff with us for the community, in the form of supplies for the sewing project that was begun last year. Those supplies included 11 sewing machines and lots of fabric, thread, needles, and other items. They filled 13 large suitcases and fortunately, we were able to check them at no additional charge.
We spent two days and nights in the village, which is the perfect amount of time for all of us, travelers and community members alike. The first day we spent in various meetings with the community. We requested separate meetings with the men and women, with the men in our group meeting with the Pastor Reports – August 2014men of the community and the women meeting with the women. Both of these meetings were very fruitful and were each attended by over 20 community members. The women were able to give us a clearer picture of what life is like for them in the village. They were grateful for the opportunities presented by the sewing project, but not all of them felt that they were able to participate because of eyesight, or other responsibilities, like running the village store. Some just didn’t think it was their thing.
They were hopeful that the project could improve life in the village. They did raise other concerns. The primary one was the affordability of and access to medicines. New latrines were also mentioned. The men’s group also voiced support for the sewing group, and suggested that they might be willing to do childcare so the women could sew – but they weren’t ready to take on the cooking! They advocated for the possibility of starting a motorcycle repair shop in the village that could serve the surrounding villages.
Afterward, we met with the sewing group. They showed us the projects that they had been working on – mostly practice items like skirts, blouses, and dresses made out of brown paper. The sewing group was made up of some of the teenagers and some of the women. They seemed very enthusiastic and were moved to tears at the amount of supplies that we had brought. Maura, who is teaching the sewing group, is doing a good job, although her health has not been good recently. We gave her the gift of a sewing machine for her own use in thanks for leading the group.

We also had the opportunity to meet with our students. What great young people they are! We currently have 7 students that we are supporting. Yancy, Nery, and Rodrigo are will all be entering their final year of University and graduating next year. Yancy is studying business, Nery is studying in education and Rodrigo is studying agriculture. Our other university students are Fatima (nursing) Alexander (agriculture), and Margarita (teaching). Yolanda is our only high school student, and she would also like to be a nurse. Margarita comes from the neighboring village of San Francisco, and is a very smart young woman. It is good that our scholarship program is reaching out beyond San Antonio Grande.

We also found that all of our graduates from University are employed in El Salvador. Odin is working in business, Rojelio and Elio are working in a credit union, Roberto is working in a bank, and Cindy Roxanne is working for an internet company. Dr. Myra Alles is working in a Lutheran clinic in San Salvador and is studying English so that she can come to the US to study surgery.
It is clear that we are making a difference in the lives of the people of San Antonio Grande and I look forward to our continued relationship with them.
Rev. Amy

 Gathering Sunday

Team Ministry Fair!

What do you want to be doing at Bethany Church?  Do you want to help the church become a Green Church?  Maybe you want to sing in the Choir?  Or be a greeter or usher?  Maybe you are interested in planning fun get-togethers, or working on Justice issues in our community.  Maybe you are intrigued with our relationship with San Antonio Grande. All of these are possibilities for involvement as we begin our new team ministries at Bethany!  On Gathering Sunday, September 7th, in the chapel during Hospitality, you will have the opportunity to find out more about our new teams and to get involved!  So be thinking about what you would like to do and visit the fair!

Sunday School!

On Gathering Sunday, you will be asked to register your children for Sunday School so that we have contact information as well as information about allergies or other health concerns.  Your child is also invited to bring a picture of  her/himself helping someone do something that will be used in a class collage.
From GAthering Sunday, 2013. Notice the Boxes in the back.

 Boxing Day!

Bring boxes. Sturdy Cardboard ready to be used all week long to hold Lawn Sale merchandise that can be easily carried outside to the lawn in a box....


Of course worship will happen! All of this is a part of our worship because it is a part of our offerings and ministry. Worship with Communion will be central. There is effort to keep Rev. Mark from picking a hymn that is common for the more traditional Boxing Day.


Twenty people who gave a Giving Plan (Pledge) last year have not done so this year. Some people who are other wise a part of Bethany could make a Giving Plan but do not.
Here is what we want to use the money for. Of late the conversation has been about cutting some of our ministries. What seems unimportant to you?
Please. We like to plan. A Giving Plan Form can be found HERE
If you are one of the twenty or are not supporting our work of being a church, then join with the others who find satisfaction in what Bethany does and what it means to people in and out of our doors.

The 20th Annual Lawn and Bake Sale will be held on September 13 and 14, 2014. This is a fun and rewarding event to support our many ministries and connect with the local community.  Thank you to all who have already signed up to help.  More helpers will be needed Sept. 8 -15 - - As usual, we need folks to SORT & PRICE mornings, afternoons, or evenings, SET UP THE TENT Friday noon 9/12, SETTING UP SATURDAY MORNING at 7am, work as a CASHIER or a DISPLAY & MARKETING associate, help with CLEAN UP Saturday at 4, Sunday at 3, and Monday at 9.  Sign-up sheets are on the bulletin board in the hall with many types of positions available. Yes, we will need good bags - but we already have plenty of hangers.  Boxes will also be needed again - last year's sources for intact boxes (not broken down) seemed good.

DONATIONS of clean items in good working order are welcome 9/9 - 9/11 8am - 8pm, also Monday 9/8 1 - 8pm.  We cannot take donations on Friday 9/12. Flyers with all the details are available in the Narthex. This is a perfect way to give back to Bethany and get to know each other better - It's fun and uplifting - and only days away - - JOIN US!!

 Mission: Feed The Hungry

Sunday Supper at The Good Samaritan

We had a poor sign up for August's Sunday Supper at the Good Samaritan Haven. People seem to be less connected to church life in the summer. So Rev. Mark at the beginning of worship said that this meal was a commitment of the whole church. Just because individuals were not keeping that commitment did not mean that Bethany Church was not still responsible for feeding the homeless at the shelter. He then called for volunteers to immediately go down to the kitchen with Rev. Amy and cook an entree, salad, vegetable dish, and 2 desserts. Because people cooked, we all at Bethany Church were able to keep our commitment to the Good Samaritan Haven and to God to feed the hungry. Thanks to the Revs. Pitton for buying the food and doing this in worship.
You will find the sign up for the next meal on the bulletin Board by the Parlor where there is signs up for ministry teams. This IS a team! It changes every month but on the4th Sunday, we are committed to feeding hungry homeless humans. You are important!
Questions or to sign up with out a pen, see Judi Joy.

Montpelier Food Pantry!

Pantry shelves are a little bare.
Did you know that we are one of two Churches that have regularly helped the Pantry? With our help (although, as Christian this might be our job) they provided 71,000 meals to 1,530 households.
Sunday August 31 we will gather tomato products, bless them and send them. On the fourth Sunday of September we will focus on cereal, gather, bless, and deliver them. Why? Because it is what we do. And what we do is important.

 Bethany Bowl

So easy, even a Cadet could do it.
This is so important to Bethany Church. It allow us to 'love kindness' and 'love our neighbor' and 'feed Jesus when he was tired and hungry'. We might also look at how it benefits the hungry people of our community: nutrition, calories, social, budget stretching. All thees are important. But how important is it to you?
Bethany Bowl has an ongoing need for workers. Setting the table during the meal would be great help. Helping the talented dish and pot washers would make them smile more. And it is never known when we will have an abundance of vegetables and not enough desserts. We also need people who will just come and eat. Visit with our guests and get to know the human that is behind the various categories we usually burden them with. Being treated like a human might be the best 'good news' we give anyone.
Please find any excuse possible to spend a little time at Bethany Bowl. See the good that is done for the volunteers and the guests. See how God is making a difference. See how you might be a part of this.

Bethany Youth Group News!

Youth Programming is changing this year!  There will be several different groups for youth to join.  Check out the options!

Middle School Youth Group for students in grades 6-8!

This group will meet twice a month on Friday nights.  One of those nights will be just Bethany Youth, the other will be a night when we get together with youth from Christ Church and the Unitarian Church.  The first meeting will be on Friday, September 19th from 6-8 pm. We will meet at Christ Church on State Street for pizza and fun!  The next meeting will be on Friday, October 3 at Bethany from 6-8.

The Breakfast Club – for Senior High Youth

We will meet for breakfast at the Wayside on the 3rd Wednesday of each month.  Our first meeting will be on Wednesday, September 17th.  Cost is by donation – whatever you can contribute! If you need a ride, let Amy Pitton know via facebook.

Special Events!

About once every 6 weeks, we will have a special all-youth event.  It might be a community service project, a fun activity, or a trip somewhere!  Keep your eyes open for this info!

Sunday School at Bethany!

Sunday School for children in grades K-8 will begin again on Gathering Sunday, September 7th and will take place during the 10 am worship service.  Children will attend the first 15 minutes of worship then go to the Red Door Room for Sunday School for approximately 45 minutes. Once again we will be using the Awaken curriculum from Logos Productions.  The introduction to the curriculum states “Sunday School is more than learning facts, it’s also a place for spiritual formation. Awaken Sunday School follows the advice of visionaries like Craig Dykstra and Diana Butler Bass who emphasize the importance of spiritual practice and the arts.  Awaken Sunday School begins with the foundation of the lectionary and biblical backgrounds written by William H. Willimon, executive editor for Pulpit Resource. Treasured Bible stories, combined with the witness of the arts, tap into the profound relationship children already have with God through spiritual practices. Developing these faith habits nurtures a lifelong connection to God. In this weekly sacred space, the learning community has room to do more than simply instill Bible facts. Awaken Sunday School fires faith imagination and opens the heart to a life of compassion.”

On Gathering Sunday, you will be asked to register your children for Sunday School so that we have contact information as well as information about allergies or other health concerns.  Your child is also invited to bring a picture of  her/himself helping someone do something that will be used in a class collage.

Jennifer Weinert and Amy Papineau are on the Sunday School Team and will be looking for teachers and aides to lead this year's Sunday School class.  If you are interested in helping, please let one of them know!

Work begins with Partners for Sacred Places

As you may remember, Bethany Church was chosen as one of five churches in the Vermont Conference to participate in the Partners for Sacred Places program.  This program will help Bethany to discern new ways to fund our many ministries.  They will begin with an assessment of our ministry, building, and other assets, then offer us possible avenues to explore.  We will also participate in their New Dollars/New Partners program, which builds capacity of congregational leadership to develop community partnerships, increase organizational effectiveness, and manage, fund, and fully use our building.
The Partners for Sacred Places team  (Amy Pitton, Amy Bell, Judi Joy, Steve Frey and Arthur Zorn) will meet with PSP staff to begin our assessment on Friday, September 5th, and then will participate in a larger training on September 6th..  If you have questions about PSP, please speak with one of the team members – we'd be happy to answer any question you might have!
Our participation is possible because of donations to Our Wider Church Mission. The Vermont Conference, funded in part through OCWM, organized this program. 
More about New Dollars/New Partners on the web HERE.


It can be fun and enjoyable. So come and sing with the Bethany Choir. Rehearsals start on September 4th at 6:30. They meet in the choir room.


Please put into your calenders our Fall Clean-up Day. It will be Saturday October 25. Gather at 9. Leave at noonish. If we don't it wont be done.

 We Remember

A memorial service for Rev. Mark Follansbee will be on Saturday, September 13 at 11 a.m. at the College Street Congregational Church in Burlington.

Update:  Fiscal Year 2014 Finances

Over the past year we at Bethany have taken some big steps toward implementing a more responsive governance structure, making our sanctuary more welcoming to families with young children and others who find our pews uncomfortable, investing in a sustainable and more cost effective heating system for our building, and exploring new ways to be present, relevant, and visible in the community. There is tremendous positive energy on all these fronts!

Anyone who has invested in home renovation projects knows that improvements cost a lot money.   As a community we made important investments in new ways of being Bethany last year, and we will need to continue investing in the coming years. Financial reports for fiscal year 2014 which ended on June 30, 2014, show that the operating expenses exceeded income by $28,819.68.  Funds to cover the shortfall were taken from the Founders’ Legacy investment account.  Recall that we adopted a plan that included a deficit of $11,200. Actual expenses were almost $10,000 less than projected in the financial plan, but largely due to lower than anticipated giving by the congregation, income came in at $27,500 less than projected. These kinds of numbers can have a chilling effect. Part of living into new ways of being Bethany means that we now have to focus more attention on generating enough income for the ministries to which we are called.

As we move into the new fiscal year, we are aware that regardless of how much money we have, we are swimming in abundance.  Stories shared by recent travelers to our sister congregation in El Salvador are reminders that we are extremely wealthy.  Our challenge is to discern, as individuals and as a congregation, what we are called to do and how best to invest the resources we have.  We trust that Partners for Investment in Sacred Spaces will help us with some of this; those meetings begin in early September.

In the meantime, the Board of Directors asks for your prayers and reflection as we finalize the financial plan for the current fiscal year for the congregation to consider and vote on at our finance meeting on September 28th.
Bethany Board of Directors

Support and Solidarity with Ferguson

Written by Anthony Moujaes
August 21, 2014
The Rev. Geoffrey Black in the Canfield Green Apartments in Ferguson, Mo., not far from where Michael Brown was shot to death.
Walking from tent to tent in the Ferguson, Mo., neighborhood where 18-year old Michael Brown lived and died, the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black witnessed firsthand the strong presence of local pastors reaching out to heal a community that is hurting, but thirsting for justice. Black's presence in Ferguson, and at the Canfield Green Apartments where the young African American Man was shot earlier this month, also brought a moment of solidarity and support to area UCC ministers.

Black, the UCC general minister and president, spent Wednesday, Aug. 20, on the ground in Ferguson, accepting an invitation from the Missouri Mid-South Conference and local pastors.

"It was good to help them to see that they were not alone in this and that the wider UCC was a concerned and committed partner in ministry with them," Black said. "There was such a strong presence at the gatherings I attended, especially on such a short notice. It was obvious to me that there is a heartfelt concern among UCC people in the St. Louis area to address the issues of race and institutionalized racism that the Ferguson situation presents."
To continue reading, go HERE


A backyard basketball hoop in good shape with a new ball and pump.  The hoop is adjustable in height and can be weighted with sand or water.  Delivery may be arranged.  For information call Joanne Blakeman at 223-3097.

spend the night together . . .

Seriously, we could do that if you offered, say, a camping weekend in the Silent Auction.  Or a horror movie marathon in your shades-drawn living room.  Or a meal so comprehensive that it calls for naps between courses.

Seriously, I would bid on all these things, except the horror movies would have to be chick-flicks and you’d have to promise pillows and popcorn.

Seriously, what ARE you going to offer in the Silent Auction?
* Take out the papers and the trash?
* Maxwell’s silver hammer?
* River deep, mountain high?
* Take good care of my baby?
* A little help from my friends?
* Apples, peaches, pumpkin pie?
* Stairway to heaven?
* Ticket to ride?
* Silver threads and golden needles?
* Pour some sugar on me, baby?

Let me know SOON what you’ll offer or you’ll find me crying, “I can’t get no satisfaction.”  That would be such a shame . . . seriously.
Theresa Lever –, 229-0415

School Supply Drive a Big Success!

When Tom and I arrived at DCF with bags and bags of school supplies, we learned that all the supplies they already had were gone.  Foster parents and social workers were excited to get more to meet the needs of children and teens.  Once again Bethany folks opened your hearts with generosity and imagination.  School supplies of all kinds help these children to have what they need and to be like the other kids in their classes.  Thank you for supporting the neglected, abused, and at risk kids in our local communities.

Sandy Clougher

When asked about Neighbors, Jesus said...

Neighbors in Need (NIN) is a special mission offering of the UCC that supports ministries of justice and compassion throughout the United States. One-third of NIN funds support the Council for American Indian Ministry(CAIM). Information is HERE.  Two-thirds of the offering is used by the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries(JWM) to support a variety of justice initiatives, advocacy efforts, and direct service projects through grants. Information HERE.

Neighbors in Need grants are awarded to churches and organizations doing justice work in their communities. These grants fund projects whose work ranges from direct service to community organizing and advocacy to address systemic injustice. Funding is provided through donations to the Neighbors in Need offering. Our donation will be received on October 5. This year we will focus on  how neighbors need education and literacy.


Yes. We, all of Bethany Church, will be educating Laura Cadmus over this coming year. She has asked to be a student minister here at Bethany and we have said yes.  Actually, we said, "YES!"
Laura is an electrician, lives in Barre, Vt and is a student at Andover Newton. Some will know her because she has been involved wwith events at both The Vermont Conference and Washington Association. She also preached at Bethany a few years ago.
A Teaching Parish Team has been formed and includes: David Fiske, Kathy Cowens, Bill Fraser, Angus Fraser, Jackie Johnson, and Melitta Maddox. They will observe and reflect with Laura as she develops her pastoral identity.

When you see her, please be sure to welcome her. [Laura is on the left.]

From a Minister's Ponderings

I remember that about 35 years ago there was a church fad to list on the Sunday bulletin: 'Ministers to the World: All the Church - Ministers to the Church: Reverend Insert Name Here"
Theologically it is very accurate. I might be more enamored with it if the first church I worked in had not done given into the fad. It was manifestly not true. The congregation came often on Sundays for worship. They seemingly loved meetings (starting at 8 pm.) to discuss what should be done. And then expected the ministers to do it. And the Sr. Minister liked it that way because he tried to do everything while saying it was the church's job to do it. In fact, I think the minister decided it was good to do this and did so. Think of the irony there.
I have remembered this of late as I have pondered ministry at Bethany. Do I think I am assisting Bethany in doing the ministry they want to do? Or am I trying to do the ministry that they claim as important? Put another way, "Are the teams to help ME?"
I wonder what your answer would be.
My answer is no. I do not need help to do my ministry of Word and Sacrament, the reason I was ordained.   The fad of 35 years ago should be true and if it is then the teams (what they do) is the purpose of the church. It is the Church being the Church. It is Body of Christ being the servant to the world, an ambassador of the way Jesus lays before us.
The teams should exist whether I do or not. That is one clue to me that their purpose can not be to help me. Hopefully what I do to assist their vital work is valuable. I believe my ministry in your midst has been valuable and life giving. But my ministry is not your ministry.
So if the question is, "Do the teams help the minister do their work or is it the other way around?" You have my answer between the two. I wonder what your answer would be. But, maybe we can agree that if the questions is not a choice between two options, then the answer is clearer. The Teams are for:
  • us (individually and corporately) to live out our faith,
  • for God's will and vision of Justice to prevail,
  • for all those who are in need.

So, I wonder what you think about the purpose of the teams and the purpose of the ministers. Please, feel free to talk with me about it sometime. It is part of my ministry.