Monday, November 3, 2014

November Dialogue

Staffing Changes

On Sunday October 26 it was announced that Rev. Mark was taking a new job and would by the end of June leave Bethany. An e-mail was sent to you on Monday the 27.

As Bethany Church moves from two full-time ministers to one full-time minister and one quarter-time minister, things will obviously change.  The ministerial staff will not be able to do all of what it has done in the past.  After meeting with representatives from the Board of Directors, it was determined that for the time being, the ministerial positions would include the following:

Primary Responsibilities of Rev. Amy Pitton as full-time Senior Minister:
* Sermon preparation and preaching
* Worship planning and leadership
* Church administration/oversight of staff
* Coordination of church activities
* Regular communications to church and community
* Bethany Board of Directors
* Finance Committee
* SISP – Partners for Sacred Places Program
* Meetings with Team Leaders
* Funerals & Weddings
* Bethany Fellowship Events
* Sunday School planning
* Youth Group
* Confirmation Class
* Church Vitality development
* New Member cultivation
* Limited visitation of Church members
* Vermont Conference responsibilities
* Long range planning

Primary Responsibilities of Rev Mark Pitton as quarter-time Associate Minister
* Maintain Bethany Website and Facebook
* Monthly e-Dialogue and print version
* Weekly KIOSK!
* Worship Leadership and occasional preaching
* finish current projects: sound system, Bethany Bowl future, Teaching Parish Committee, training for Dialogue and KIOSK!

The following ministerial responsibilities are currently on hold:
* Administration of the Deacon's Fund
* Outreach to folks needing help
* Mission Support
* Special Offerings
* Nursing Home Services
* Attendance at Brown Bag
* Adult Education Classes
* Hugging
* Extended visitation of church members
* Work with Montpelier Food Pantry
* Work in the wider Montpelier community around hunger, justice, poverty, and mental health issues

Pastor's Piece

As I begin a new chapter in my ministry here at Bethany Church, I am very aware of a few truths.  The first is:

I am going to disappoint you.

I am confident that I am a very good minister serving a wonderful church.  But still, I don't have super human powers. We are a church that is moving from having two full-time ministers to a church with one full-time minister.  The truth is that half of what was done by two ministers over the past 12 years can't be and will not be done by one minister.  If you are expecting that same level of ministry, you will be disappointed. I cannot do the job of two ministers.  I can't even do the job of one and half ministers well.  I CAN do the job of one minister and do it with wisdom, experience and grace.  But if you are expecting more, you will be disappointed.

And even if I do the job well, you might not see all of what I do and think I am not doing enough.  You may think I should be doing something differently than the way I am doing it. I may not do something that you think that I should do.  I may unintentionally slight you in some way that will offend you. The truth is, I am going to disappoint you.

There is another truth as well:

You are going to disappoint me.

I have high expectations for Bethany Church.  I believe that God is calling us to do very important, even crucial, work together. Together we can serve God and our neighbors by doing some absolutely necessary ministry in our community and in the world. I think Bethany Church is poised to change and grow, finding new ways to invite new people to be a part of our ever adapting faith community. But you may not be ready to meet those goals.  You may say that you want Bethany Church to do a certain ministry, then not support that ministry with your time, effort and resources. You may say you understand the need for Bethany to change, but then be unhappy when change happens and wonder why things can't be like the good old days. You may tell me that our primary ministry is to those outside our doors, but complain to your neighbor when your own needs aren't met, instead of coming and talking it over with me. The truth is, you are going to disappoint me.

Another truth:

It is pointless to focus on our disappointment.

It isn't productive and will not make us a strong and faithful church. Instead, let's accept the fact that disappointment is going to happen – it is a real part of this covenantal ministry we have together.  But the disappointment should not define us.  Instead, we can see it as a gift that allows us to practice some wonderful spiritual disciplines like trusting each other enough to speak the truth in love to one another, forgiving each other, and loving each other as God does, without condition, just the way we are.

As we move into this new relationship, I make these promises to you.  I promise that I will love you unconditionally.  I promise that I will forgive you when you make mistakes. I promise that I will confess when I make mistakes, and seek your forgiveness.  I promise that I will call up the courage to speak the truth in love to you, even when it is hard.  I promise that I will listen carefully and respectfully to you when you speak, and trust that you are telling me the truth. I hope that you can make the same promises to me. If we can keep these promises together, we will be the healthiest and strongest church we can be.  It will feel good to be together as a community of faith, and we will do some amazing ministry together.

I feel good about the future of Bethany Church and our ministry together!  May God be very present to us and bless us as we continue our journey of faith.
Rev. Amy


Did you see the ad for Bethany Church in the last issue of the Bridge?  If not, see it at the top of this page. As part of our participation in the Strategic Investment in Sacred Places program, we are working on telling our story in the wider Montpelier community so that folks know who we are and perhaps consider coming to check us out.  There will be additional ads in the next 4 issues of the Bridge, so keep your eyes open for them!  We are hoping that as a result of the ads, we will welcome many visitors over the next few weeks – so let's make sure that we are a welcoming community they want to visit again!

Along with the ads, did you know that you also have an important role in getting our story out?  Start talking about why you are a member of Bethany Church with your friends and neighbors!  Invite them to come to church with you! We have lots of stories to tell – and wonderful ministry to accomplish!

Let's get the word out and share this journey with some new folks!

Craft Church

On  Saturday, October18th, Amy Bell, Judi Joy, Rev. Mark and Rev. Amy attended a day-long
workshop called Craft Church, presented by Rev. Mike Piazza of the Center for Progressive Renewal and sponsored by the Vermont Conference UCC.  It was a wonderful event that focused on what churches need to do to grow.

There were three sections to the day – attracting and welcoming first time visitors, getting visitors to return, and keeping them coming back.  We learned that if a church wants to grow, good communication is essential. We need to let folks outside the church know what is going on inside the church and pique their curiosity so they will check us out. When they come, we need to make sure that visitors are the most important people in church on Sunday morning.  We should make sure that they are warmly welcomed but not smothered.  Name tags worn by everyone are a must so that folks get to know one another.

The minister needs to be free to focus on welcoming visitors first and foremost – members of the congregation who have questions know how to find the minister at other times outside Sunday morning – visitors don't.

Contact information for visitors must be obtained so that we can send them a note telling them that we are glad they joined us and let them know about upcoming events (we may decide to bring the pew pads back!)  And we need to get new folks involved in the life of the church in ways that are meaningful to them.  All of these things takes a whole congregation to accomplish – if we want to grow, visitors need to be our focus.

This workshop really got us thinking and motivated to see if we can get Bethany growing.  If you are interested in helping to Bethany to grow, let Amy Pitton know.

And, if you want to know more about Mike Piazza and the Center for Progressive Renewal, check out their website HERE .

Team Ministry 

Potluck and Orientation
Tuesday, November 11
at 6 PM

Did you sign up to be on one of Bethany's new Ministry Teams?  Would you like to be on one of the Ministry Teams? Then you are invited and encouraged to attend our Team Ministry Potluck Dinner and Orientation!  We will gather at 6 PM in Fellowship Hall for dinner.  Please bring a hot dish, salad, or dessert to share, as well as a place setting for yourself.  Beverages will be provided. Following dinner, we will learn about how the Team Ministries at Bethany will be organized, as well as have an opportunity to meet with the other members of your team.  It should be both a fun and informative evening!  Join us!

Team Ministries Calendar

The Deacons Team will meet on Wednesday, November 5 at 7 PM in the Parlor.

The Sunday School Team will meet on Tuesday, November 18 in Amy's office.

The SISP Team (Strategic Investment in Sacred Places) will meet on Wednesday, November 12th in the Parlor.

The Property Team will meet on Wednesday, November 19th at 2 PM in the Parlor.

Team Ministry

Team Ministries are underway at Bethany Church!  Are you curious what those teams are and who is serving?  Here is the roster of current teams.  If you would like to join one of the teams, you are welcome to do so at anytime!  If you have an idea for a new team and can find 2 other folks who are interested too, we can start a new team!  Just speak with Rev. Amy.

Teams at Bethany Church

Bethany Board of Directors:
Amy Bell, President; Judi Joy, President Elect; Sandy Clougher, Joe Murray, Amy Pitton, Mark Pitton, Stephanie Ratmeyer, Patty Turley

Treasurer: Judy Ribolini
Assistant Treasurer: Joanne Hardy
Clerk: Anita Rogers
Historian: Reg Welch
Auditor: Don Welch

Deacons Team
Judi Joy Team Leader; Carrie Youngblood, Joanne Hardy, Dorothy Redmond, Reg Welch

Hunger and Poverty Issues Team
Robert Bayer, Judi Joy, Esther Farnsworth

Bethany Bowl Team
Stephanie Ratmeyer, Amy Bell, Donna Hall, Paula Chiuchiolo

Music Team
Betsy Parah, Judy Ribolini, Amy Papineau, Tom ClougherAnne DeVaughn, Paula Chiuchiolo

Frivolity and Fun Team
Liz Sykas Ringgenberg –Team Leader; Theresa Lever, Joanne Hardy, Michele Tofel Murray

Strategic Investment in Sacred Places SISP Team
Amy Pitton – Team Leader; Amy Bell, Stephen Frey, Judi Joy, Arthur Zorn

Hospitality Team
Karen Songhurst, Judi Joy

Sunday School Team
Amy Papineau, Jennifer Weinert

Green Church Team
Judi Joy – Team Leader; Esther Farnsworth, Cassandra Hemenway

San Antonio Grande Team
Theresa Lever - Team Leader; Betsy Parah, Katrina Pelkey, Esther Farnsworth, Amy Papineau, Donna Hall, John Hall, Marilyn Moore

Greeters Team
Judi Joy, Gary Rogers, Anita Rogers, Debbie Fiske, David Fiske, Joan Garcia, Mary Ellen Hill, Ann Adams, Helen Jean Reindel

Ushers Team
Esther Farnsworth -Team Leader; Joanne Hardy, Liz Sykas-Ringgenberg, Katrina Pelkey, Judi Joy, Ann Adams, Sandy Clougher, Tom Clougher, Reg Welch,

Media Team
Judi Joy, Vera Winter, Cassandra Hemenway, Angus Fraser

Property Team
Gary Rogers – Team Leader; Peter Ricker, Mark Redmond

Advent Plans

The First Sunday in Advent is on Sunday, November 30th.   The first candle in our Advent wreath will be lit by the San Antonio Grande team and Laura Cadmus will be preaching and leading worship.  Amy and Mark Pitton will be on vacation.

Why Bethany Is HOT!

In October Bethany Church became fully hooked up to District Heat Montpelier after over two years of efforts and hard work. Bethany Church's contractor, Vermont Mechanical Inc. completed the majority of their work after a week long process of commissioning and adjusting the system to work correctly. We thank Bethany Bowl for their patience and fortitude when things did not go as planned the week before resulting in their boiling water on the stove for hot water for their cooking use.

I would like to thank the Property Team, chaired by Gary Rogers, Stephanie Ratmeyer former Bethany President, Mark Redmond, Judi Ribollini, Joanne Hardy, Rev. Amy Pitton, Peter Ricker and many others in helping successfully apply for the VEDA loan and work with District Heat Montpelier and the City.  While the process was lengthy and filled with many twists and unexpected surprises we made it!  Jim Connemann was also very helpful in providing his practical experience to this project at every step of the way.

I would also like to thank Jesse Baker, Assistant City Manager and Bill Fraser, City Manager (also a Bethany member) in their patience and enthusiasm assisting Bethany towards a more predictable and reliable energy usage future.  We could not have done it without you!  Sometime in December when it is reliably cold for an extended period of time, Bill Neuberger the engineer who designed the specs for our system will conduct a commissioning of the system under winter conditions.  Bill has also been extremely helpful in lending his engineering experience to the bidding, design and installation process.

Thanks for the opportunity to serve Bethany Church in this project.  I have been proud to steward this process along.

Bethany is Challenged

On October Theresa Murray-Clausen spoke gave a Mission Moment about the Montpelier Food Pantry. Theresa is the Director of Just Basics. The Montpelier Food Pantry is one of the projects of Just Basics. 
Bethany is the only  Church that consistently gives food that, as she said, "is they healthy high nutrition food that our clients really do like.". In the preceding 12 months we delivered about 2,000 pounnds of food. She noted that they lost the 5,000 pounds that use to come from the donation box in the Shaw's Supermarket. 

Theresa then challenged Bethany and when asked, the congregation accepted the challenge. For the next 12 months, theresa will send the amount of food that we sent that month. The challenge is to give more the next month. The next collection of Food for the Montpelier Pantry will be on Thanksgiving Sunday, November 23. Out focus food is Pasta: noodles, ramen, wholegrain, rice, elbows, zitit, 'ghetti, udon, soba, etc. Watch for sales. As you can see from the picture below, we gave a lot of heavy food in October. We have to give more this month.

After the challenge was given and accepted, Rev. Mark blessed the Food and the leadership that Theresa is bringing to engage the whole of Montpelier in supporting the hungry of our community.

 Youth Events at Bethany Church!

All Bethany Youth – grades 6 -12
Sunday, November 2  -  7 – 8:30 pm in the Youth Room.  Join us for a rousing game of GOOFBALL, followed by great snacks and prayer!  Bring a friend and see you there!

Bethany Middle School Youth – grades 6-8
Friday, November 7 -  We will meet in the Youth Room at the church from 6-8 pm.  We will have dinner together and play games!  Join us for the fun and bring a friend!
Saturday, November 22 – NOTE THE CHANGE!  The Ecumenical Middle School group will meet from 6-8. We will meet at Bethany at 5:50 pm and walk across the street to the Unitarian Church. Eat dinner before you come – snacks will be provided. You can be picked up at Bethany a just after 8.

Confirmation Class

Confirmation is underway at Bethany Church!  The class is meeting on Sunday afternoons from noon-2 pm with Amy Pitton and Laura Cadmus as teachers.  Each class starts with lunch together, followed by diving into the Bible as well as exploring different spiritual practices.  We are beginning the year by exploring the Old Testament story of Joseph – the one with the many-colored coat.  This story has everything – dreams, deception, sibling rivalry, attempted murder, slavery, lust, imprisonment, valuing of gifts, and forgiveness.  And God's presence runs through the whole story.
Along with the story, we are exploring the spiritual disciplines of Bible Study, discernment, self-denial, speaking the truth in love, giving thanks, spiritual gifts and reconciliation/forgiveness.
It is a great class and we are enjoying being together.

 Help Needed

Would you like to be a part of the Confirmation Class' journey?  We are looking for folks to provide lunch for the class and join us for that lunch!  Lunch can be simple – you would need to provide food for 7, plus yourself and whoever you'd like to bring along.  If this is something you'd like to do, contact Amy Pitton at and she can tell you the available dates.

Neighbors in Need Offering Update

As of  mid- October, the Neighbors in Need Special Offering has raised $427. If you missed the opportunity to donate to this important offering, you can still do so by sending your donation to the church or putting it in the Sunday offering plate and marking it for NIN!

Finance Update

FY 2015 Finance Update from Bethany’s Board of Directors

As of September 30, 2014, we are one-fourth of the way through the current fiscal year. Due to the generosity of the Bethany community, income of $62,452 has allowed us to pay operating expenses of $61,926.

At our finance meeting in September, we approved an operating fiscal plan with a projected gap between income and expenses of $78, 597.  Due to the recently announced changes in staffing, that gap is reduced to approximately $51,341.  With your ongoing support, and the safety net available this year from Chris Jackman’s bequest, we will navigate through this transitional time of living into new ways of being Bethany.

Many thanks to everyone who participates in our vital and dynamic community of faith!

An All Saints,                                  
All Souls,
                                                    All -Association Worship

An All Saints, All Souls, All -Association Worship will be held at 11 am on Sunday, November 2 at the Barre Opera House! The churches of the Washington Association will gather for worship and communion.
Our preacher will be writer, storyteller, and VPR commentator, Willem Lange.
Arthur Zorn will lead an All Association Choir! Worship will be followed by coffee and fellowship. Don't miss this wonderful opportunity to worship with our sister churches here in Central Vermont!   There will be no worship service held at Bethany on that Sunday.

New Year's Eve @ Bethany

Following up on last year's successful New Year's Eve celebration @ Bethany, we will do it again, this time presented by the Bethany Church Staff!  Mark Pitton will be our chef of the evening, Amy Pitton will be in charge of ticket sales and table decoration, and Mark LeGrand and Arthur Zorn will present the concert!  There will also be New Year's Hat Decorating for the children.

We will need help from you to make this a success, so look for sign up sheets beginning in December and mark your calendars now for this wonderful event @ Bethany!

 Vermont Interfaith Action Launches a New Movement

Clergy from all over Vermont are coming together to create a movement for a moral economy in our
state. The Clergy Caucus of Vermont Interfaith Action (VIA) has organized regional gatherings all across the state shortly after the election to present their ideas and open up a dialogue with the newly elected legislators. They invite you to join them at a regional Legislative Breakfast in your area with your local General Assembly members, as well as for our centralized Legislative Action in Montpelier that same week. We want to start a "Movement for a Moral Economy," where all Vermonters are treated with dignity and justice.

These are the events, times, of nearby locations:
* Chittenden/Grand Isle/Franklin counties: Ohavi Zedek Synagogue in Burlington, Mon, Nov 17, 8 to 9 am
* Washington & Lamoille counties: combined with the Action at Christ Church in Montpelier, Thurs, Nov 20
* Essex/Caledonia/Orleans counties: To be determined
* The "main event" is a morning Action with members of the Administration (the Governor has been invited), and House and Senate leadership, on Thursday, Nov 20 from 9:30 am to 11 am in Montpelier at Christ Episcopal Church (64 State St, Montpelier).

To read the theological framework the caucus has written, click HERE.

To RSVP for the events, please contact Alison at or 802-651-8889.
Please join us for these important events and make your voice heard!
--Rev. Debbie Ingram
Executive Director, Vermont Interfaith Action

Stewards of Life Abundant: Transformative Generosity

You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God.
2 Corinthians 9:11

As Biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann points out, the Bible starts out with a liturgy of abundance - a song of praise for God's generosity. It keeps saying, "It is good, it is good, it is good, it is very good." Filled with God's generosity, Jesus went around to people suffering from scarcity - of health, of acceptance, of power, of understanding - and replaced it with a gift of abundance. Jesus is well-schooled in the transformative generosity of God and in the conviction that if you share your bread with the neighbor, the world will be made new. He knows that generosity isn't something you just think about, it's something you do.

Stewardship presumes blessing and abundance. Jesus sums up the purpose of his ministry this way: that we "may have life, and have it abundantly." Our job is discernment of the ways in which all of us, including the church, already have "far more than all we can ask or imagine." Then the real work of stewardship becomes embracing generosity in the spirit of Jesus as a way of life. How is this way of life transformative for you?

A message from "Stewards in the Household of God: a Resource for Holistic Year-round Stewardship" available from United Church of Christ Resources.