Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Bethany Dialogue April

Minister's Musings

Things are changing here at Bethany Church.  While it may not seem that way to the casual observer, lots of things are shifting. The biggest one is that as of June 1st, we will be a church with one full time minister.  Right now on Sunday mornings, it looks like we are crowded with clergy types – 2 ministers and a student minister.  But come June, we will be down to one minister - me. That will be very different from the past 13 years.

In many ways, I have been anticipating what this will mean for the church and for me personally.  With Mark now working only part- time at Bethany, I am essentially the only minister around during the week. What I am discovering about being a sole pastor is that there is so much to keep in mind!  The big picture is BIG at Bethany – and that's good because it means that we have been inspired to do much.  But that means there is a lot to keep track of.  My big take away is that I cannot possibly do it all on my own - I very much need the help of others, and not all of it is going to be done to perfection, by me or anyone else!.

I recently read an interesting article from the Alban Institute that challenged the old adage “If it is worth doing, it is worth doing well”.  The article said that the problem with this saying is that if we hold ourselves to a high standard and feel that we cannot do something well, we decide not to do anything at all.  Sometimes, if something is worth doing, it is worth doing, even if it doesn't end up being done as well as we had wanted.  In this time in the church, when so much is changing, we have to be willing to try lots of new things.  Some of those new things will do some great ministry.  Some of those things will fail. But we can't be afraid to try. Risking doing things that are worth doing is a good thing.  If it seems to be successful, we can work on perfection the next time around!

My vision for Bethany is for us to be an authentic, caring and flexible Christian community that is always trying to follow Jesus as best we can.  Sometimes we are going to get it right.  Sometimes we are going to miss the mark. As in any community, we need everyone's gifts and skills and viewpoints in order to be the church that God is calling us to be. We already have a community that is bound together by love – and that's a wonderful place  to start a “new” ministry together.

I am deeply grateful to be your minister.  Let's keep following Jesus.
Rev. Amy

Holy Week Schedule

Thursday, April 2
Maundy Thursday Worship at 7 pm in the Chapel

Friday, April 3
Good Friday devotional emailed to those on the email list

Sunday, April 5
Sunrise Service at 6:15 am at the North Branch Nature Center, Montpelier!  Come hear the good news of resurrection at dawn on Easter Sunday morning! We will join with our friends from Trinity Methodist in worship and song at the North Branch Nature Center at 713 Elm Street. Dress warmly and bring your coffee!

Easter Worship with communion at 10 am in the Sanctuary with Communion, Baptism, and the Hallelujah Chorus.

APRIL 11, 2015 - 5:30PM  -
Dinner and Variety Show
Come to supper before the show!  Chicken Parmesan, spaghetti, Caesar salad, Italian bread, homemade desserts.  A delicious meal from the San Antonio Grande Ministry Team!  $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12.  Reservations not necessary--but helpful!  Tell Joanne Hardy, Theresa Lever, or the church office if you plan to attend.
Some Acts are coming together!!  Hayley & Jack; Alec; Laura, Amy & Mark; Sophia & Maya; Arthur & Joanna; Theresa; and I'm sure there are others that we don't know about yet!!
Please sign up your Act and reserve your Dinner with Theresa Lever, Joanne Hardy or Liz Sykas-Ringgenberg!  There will be a sign-up sheet in the office and during Sunday Hospitality for the next few Sundays!

 Saying Goodbye to a Minister

Rev. Mark Pitton's last Sunday will be May 31st.  It has been 15 years since Bethany Church has said goodbye to a a called minister.  And the last time we said goodbye was complicated by other factors. As we approach this parting, there are some things that we need to remember.

First of all, now is the time to celebrate Mark's ministry with us.  Make sure you tell him what you have appreciated. Tell him what you will miss.  Share your best memories of his ministry at Bethany with him.


Secondly, yes, this will not be easy.  
Mark much loved in the church, and it will be hard to say goodbye to him.  It will be sad.. Mark will also be sad to say goodbye.  But leavings are a normal part of life's journey.  Let's not be afraid to be sad and to experience this kind of grief.  The sadness will not last – as the Bible says, “Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”  We will move forward more easily if we allow ourselves to grieve.

Thirdly, it is important to know what will happen after Mark's departure.  In the UCC, there is a Ministrial Code of Ethics that each minister promises to follow.  In that code, when a minister leaves a church, the minister agrees to leave completely so as not to interfere with the ministry of the new minister. That means, that even though Mark will still be married to the current minister of Bethany Church, he will not be participating in the life of Bethany Church for at least a year.  He cannot come back for weddings or funerals, he won't be at church suppers or the Variety Show, he can't come back to fill the pulpit or to help with the Lawn Sale.  After a year or so, he may come back at the invitation of the current minister in consultation with the Board of Directors, but it will not be as the minister of the church. This will be hard maybe even odd, but it is important to follow this code.  If you have any questions about it, please speak to either Mark or Amy.

On Sunday, May 31st, we will have a celebration of Mark's ministry at Bethany.  I am sure that it will be filled with laughter and tears, and it will be better with you there.  Make sure to join us!

 Confirmation Class News!

The 2015 Confirmation Class had a wonderful trip to the Cathedral of St John the Divine in New York City in March.  Even though we were slowed down by a spring snow storm, we had a chance to explore the Cathedral and learn about its ministry.  We also had the fun of eating at the Hard Rock Cafe and going to the Central Park Zoo!  The class will be finishing up with a retreat in early May and celebrating Confirmation Sunday on May 24th.
Please keep the class members in your prayers as they discern what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

Sunday School

The Bethany Sunday School just completed a unit on Biblical Archeology!  Check out their display on Easter Sunday, including the dig box they used to uncover artifacts!  The display will be located in the entryway of the church.

 Vermont Conference Annual Meeting
April 24-25, 2015 at Lake Morey Inn and Resort

 The Vermont Conference will be holding its Annual Meeting at the end of April.  The theme of this year's meeting is Creators of Justice and Joy.  During the meeting, delegates will be hearing from various speakers about the ways that they work for justice.  

Our delegates this year are Amy Bell, Judi Joy and Liz Sykas-Ringgenberg.  If you are interested in the meeting,check out the information at

The Montpelier Area Interfaith Middle School Youth will meet next on Saturday, April 18th at Christ Episcopal Church from 6-8 pm!  This group is open to youth in grades 6-8 – join us!

A GREAT BIG THANK YOU to Laura Cadmus for stepping into the breach on Palm Sunday!  With Mark Pitton preaching in St Johnsbury and Amy down with a stomach bug, our student minister Laura stepped up and did a great job by all reports!  Thanks, Laura!

The Property Board 
will meet next on Wednesday, 
April 15th.

Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life

 Two different groups have completed reading Karen Armstrong's book Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life, one here at Bethany and the other at the North Branch Cafe. All participants agreed that they have a lot of think about because of this book.  We learned that living compassionately is challenging, but necessary if we are ever to achieve peace in our world.

It takes practice and awareness to be compassionate.

The group at the North Branch was an experiment in collaboration with Christ Episcopal Church.  We had nine particpants, three of whom were not connected to either church, which was what was hoped for!  This seemed like a good format and one that we will definitely try again!  Many thanks to Lauren Parker and the North Branch Cafe for hosting us!  We recommend their delicious tea!

New Bylaws are Coming?  New Bylaws are Coming!

The Board of Directors has been working on revisions to the Bylaws to address our new governance structure on a permanent basis.  This also provides us with an opportunity to update the Bylaws to better reflect today’s Bethany.  We will be holding informational meetings in the month of May so that you can see these changes before June’s annual meeting.
You are also welcome to see the work-in-progress draft at any time; just contact Patty Turley (223-5488 or

Needed: Delegates for the Vermont UCC Washington Association Meeting

The Board of Directors is seeking several people to represent our congregation at the Vermont UCC Washington Association meeting, scheduled for May 17th.  Please contact Amy Bell if you would like to participate in this event.

The One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS)

The One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) offering is one of the five offerings collected by the United Church of Christ for ministry beyond the local church, and is traditionally collected by Bethany Church on Palm Sunday.  You may be interested to know that in 2014, Bethany Church was one of the top 100 churches in the UCC in giving to OGHS, based on our per capita giving and a minimum of $2000 total dollars! We were recently recognized by the UCC for our giving – the recognition is posted on the bulletin board outside the chapel! Thank you for your generosity – and let's see if we can make the list again this year!
You are involved in helping in disaster, refugee/immigration, and development ministries throughout the world when you give to the offering for One Great Hour of Sharing. When a disaster strikes or people are displaced or made refugees by violence or extreme poverty, you are part of the immediate response and of the long-term recovery. Through OGHS you engage in holistic development programs including health care, education, agriculture, food sustainability, micro-financing and women’s empowerment. Because the UCC relates in mutual partnership to churches and organizations through Global Ministries and worldwide response & recovery networks, your contributions to One Great Hour of Sharing put you in the right place at the right time for the relief, accompaniment and recovery of the most vulnerable. You meet immediate needs and you address the underlying causes that create those needs in the first place. Thank you for your generous contribution. This year One Great Hour of

We received the One Great Hour of Sharing offering on Sunday, March 29, but it's not too late to give if you missed it!  Just send your offering to the church or place it in the offering plate, marked for OGHS.  Bethany Church was one of the top 100 givers in 2015 in the UCC to this important offering – let's see if we can do it again!  

Ministry Teams

Team Ministries at Bethany!  Are you interested in what the new teams at Bethany are doing?  Then check out the latest postings on the Team Ministry bulletin board located in the entryway of the church.  Each team has the opportunity to post team news and notes on the bulletin board.  If you are on a team, make sure your team information gets put on the board!  Remember, good communication is one of our priorities at Bethany this year – let us know what you are doing!

Strategic Investment in Sacred Places (SISP)

Partners for Sacred Places -Bethany's SISP team is moving steadily forward.  We are currently working on a program called New Dollars/New Partners, which helps churches discern new ways to fund ministries with like-minded partners.  The program has three components – Telling our Story, completion of a Public Value Tool, and a Building Assessment.  The next training will be on April 18.

A Blessing
May the light of your soul guide you.
May the light of your soul bless the work you do with the secret love and warmth of your heart.
May you see in what you do the beauty of your own soul.
May the sacredness of your work bring healing, light and renewal to those who work with you and to those who see and receive your work.
May your work never weary you.
May it release within you wellsprings of refreshment, inspiration and excitement.
May you be present in what you do.
May you never become lost in the bland absences.
May the day never burden.
May dawn find you awake and alert, approaching your next day with dreams, possibilities, and promises.
May evening find you gracious and fulfilled.
May you go into the night blessed, sheltered and protected.
May your soul calm, console and renew you.
Source: Anam Cara - A Book of Celtic Wisdom, pp. 160-161