Meriden Congregational Church Newsletter
We are a Spiritually Progressive,
Open & Affirming, Sanctuary Congregation
extravagantly welcoming EVERYONE,
celebrating diversity, cultivating awe & wonder,
and seeking peace with justice for all Creation
Join us for our Faith Community Celebrations
Each Sunday at 10:00 AM
with Church School & Nursery Care Provided
Here it is! Volume 2 Issue 10 of our e-mail newsletter
"Where is the Child?"
As we begin a new calendar year, our church year also invites us into a new season,
beginning on January 6th (the Twelfth Day of Christmas) and continuing for the next seven weeks.
in our faith tradition, means "manifestation of the divine," coming to us from Matthew's story of the Magi--gentiles from the East-who followed the Star of Bethlehem, sought its revelation, asked of Jerusalem--
"where is the child?"
--and, upon arriving at the place of Jesus' birth, immediately recognized the divinity within this Jewish babe. Matthew is the only one of the four Gospel writers who included Magi in Jesus' birth story. Biblical scholars attribute this unique feature to Matthew's particular focus--that Jesus' birth was a gift not only to the Jewish community but to the gentiles, indeed the whole world, as well. The season of Epiphany invites us all, like these Wise Ones of Old, to make a similar journey, to seek revelation, to ask
"where is the child?"
and to behold the divine in the most unexpected of places and faces.
Especially in these times, characterized by unwarranted fear and animosity toward those who look or act or speak differently from those of us with power and privilege, a message of Matthew's story--that the birth of Love, incarnate in a small child, is for ALL people--is a powerful reminder for us, as people of faith. For Divine
Love knows no boundaries, no walls, no barriers, no divisions like we humans are want to create. Made in this image of Divine Love, we are called rather to ask again and again, wherever we find ourselves,
"where is the child?" "where are the children?" "where are the manifestations of God's Love in the humble, hungry, and hopeless mangers of our community and world?"
And then we are called to honor and support the divinity of each of these children of God.
What will our world look like when we honor the divine with each of us, within all people? During 2019, beginning with this season of Epiphany, let's embark on a journey to find out! One child at a time, one person at a time, let's make the faith commitment to approach each person we encounter with the honor and love due them as a Holy Child. Let's endeavor to call our state and nation to this same honor and love as together we seek for God's Holy Children economic justice, racial equality, human rights, universal health care and a generous welcome to immigrants fleeing poverty and violence, to name just a few ways of honoring the Holy Ones in our midst. This is no less than our
as Epiphany people.
"Where is the Holy Child"
in your life? Who are the Holy Children? Blessings on your journey through Epiphany and this New Year as together we seek the revelation God longs for us to discover in a humble world where God's Love is for All. With gratitude for your companionship as we follow the Light of God's Star, your faithful co-pastors,
Susan and John
OUR SUNDAY FAITH COMMUNITY CELEBRATIONS IN JANUARY
January 6th @ 10:00 AM
Epiphany Jazz Service!
We will jazz up our inter-generational Epiphany Celebration with the joy of WildVine Jazz providing our music this Sunday! This fun ensemble of U.C.C.-related musicians from the Concord area will grace our steps as we arrive at the manger with the Magi and behold the Holy Child. Following our Epiphany celebration, we will gather in the parish house to enjoy an annual treat courtesy of the Clavier Hampton family: homemade "Galette des Rois" (Three Kings Cakes), whose delicious recipe comes directly from their French heritage. Will you be the one to find the figure of the Baby Jesus in your piece of cake?
January 6th @ 5:30 PM
Candlelight Taize' Service
What could be more nurturing to our souls than the Epiphany light of candle and Christmas Tree and the peaceful melody of Taize' chant? Join us for this brief thirty minute service of Scripture, silence and song--a very special way to nourish your soul at the beginning of this New Year.
January 13th @ 10:00 AM
Second Sunday of Epiphany
The Baptism of Jesus
Join us as we reflect on the words Jesus heard at his Baptism--these words we all long to hear, "You are my beloved child with whom I am well pleased!"
Our contemplative service will be graced by silence, scripture and song. Following this time of prayer, all are welcome to join in our Hospitality Hour.
January 20th @ 10:00 AM
Third Sunday of Epiphany
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday!
Come be inspired once again by the prophetic and pastoral message of Dr. King who continues to call us, as people of faith, to be the Beloved Community!
Come join us as we reflect on the timeless message of this prophet of our time. Everyone is warmly invited to our Hospitality Hour following the service.
January 27th @ 10:00
Fourth Sunday of Epiphany
Vision and Annual Meeting Sunday!
Join us for our annual "church family reunion" as we gather for worship, lunch and our annual meeting to celebrate the year past and look forward to our new year to come! This Vision and Annual Meeting Sunday will be especially historic and exciting as we embrace our new church structure with its creative smorgasbord of vital, reorganized "mini-ministries" (and larger ones, too) for you to choose from and share your gifts of service! Join in the fun as we give thanks for our church family and envision our future as a Beloved Community of God in this time and place!
No matter who you are,
No matter whom you love,
No matter where you on
YOU are WELCOME to
share in all our
Church Family Services,
JANUARY IN CHURCH SCHOOL
Congratulations to your little ones for the beautiful pageant that we recently enjoyed at our church. It was such a pleasure working with your children in this capacity; they are so creative, funny, and talented. They were impressively organized and responsible as they worked on their roles and assisted others to ensure the play went smoothly. Thank you to parents and friends as well. From providing snacks and supervision to helping children find costumes, your help in putting on this production is so appreciated.
Happy New Year to all! I look forward to returning to our Spirit Sunday workshop schedule this January. As we take part in these enriching activities, we'll continue to focus on our weekly affirmations promoting mindfulness and spiritual development. Please join us for the following Sundays:
1/6: Enjoy an engaging intergenerational service and share in Communion.
Spirit Sunday 1/13: Yoga! Your child can stretch, strengthen, and relax mind, body, and spirit with a child-friendly yoga lesson.
Spirit Sunday 1/20: Baking for Coffee Hour! We'll once again make delicious treats for Coffee Hour, including a gluten-free snack.
Spirit Sunday 1/27: Storytime! We hope your kids can join us to enjoy a cozy storytime, consisting of a mix of biblical and fictional stories promoting our church's values.
s always, please feel free to contact me with any questions about our youth programming. And check out or "like" our Facebook page!
Spiritual Formation Coordinator
Meriden Congregational Church
Our Wednesday Morning Contemplative Prayer
Join us for two Wednesdays during Epiphany!
We look forward to your joining us for this brief time of quiet prayer to nurture your body and spirit
before you start your day!
We will meet in the Bryant Parlor (upstairs) of the Parish House from 6:45-7:15 am on
January 9 and 30.
In case there might be a need to cancel due to inclement weather, please let Susan know if you are hoping to join us on one of these Wednesdays!
Nominating Committee Report
You Could Help the Church in 2019!
This year on January 27th 2019 will be the Annual Meeting of Meriden Congregational Church. At this meeting there will be elections for the volunteer Ministry Coordinators in our new operating structure. Positions to be filled are:
Ministry Coordinators of
Welcoming and Caring
Outreach and Justice
Administration and Finance
We have talented volunteers covering these areas now but we would like to hear from others who would like to step into positions in the New Year. In addition there are many volunteer opportunities to assist in all aspects of the church which could use your spiritual and organizing gifts. Contact Kathy Wright to volunteer or to suggest someone for these positions. All are welcomed to serve and or suggest ideas for our future.
"No one who works full-time should live in poverty!”
Let's Raise Our Voices to Raise the Wage
Voices of Faith are asked to be
at the State House this coming week,
on two important days:
Beginning at 8:30 AM
In front of the Legislative Office Building
is the opening session for both the House and the Senate. Voices of Faith will join Rights and Democracy at their "Opening Day: Our People's Platform" starting at
in front of the Legislative Office Building (LOB) to greet legislators as they arrive. At 9 am there will be a press conference in the lobby of the LOB to lift up RAD's new report,
“New Hampshire Together: Voices from the Granite State.”
Following the press conference, we will head over to the State House to vigil at the doors of the House and Senate chambers.
Inauguration Day Raise the Wage Visibility
Beginning at 10:30 AM
In front of the State House
is Inauguration Day, and Voices of Faith will join Raise Up NH for their Raise the Wage visibility, starting at
in front of the State House. We will then move inside to the doors of the House chamber where we will show our support for living wages for all New Hampshire workers. You can invite your friends via the
Facebook event page
These Faithful Voices vigils have proven to be is a powerful witness to our values of justice and compassion, and they offer inspiration to so many who are working hard for the common good.
From the Deacon's Bench
The following meditation comes from
Shine and Shadow
by Kathleen McTigue.
Wise women and men from every tradition teach that gratitude is a t the heart of the spiritual life because it leads us to all the rest. Consider the simplest practice of gratitude, saying grace before we eat a meal. That little moment of attention is enough to wake us up to the world. Instead of chugging a glass of water down our thirsty throats, gratitude reminds us how lucky we are that clean water flows for us with the simple turn of the handle at a sink. Instead of packing in our food so we can get on to the next activity or eating so distractedly that we barely taste it, that moment of saying grace helps us look at the meal with a kind of reverence. We pause and remember not everyone gets to eat. Not even everyone in our country, in our own city, gets to eat.
Where did it all come from, this food, this water? None of it spontaneously generated there on the plate or in the glass. So we remember the rain and soil and sun on which everything depends. We remember the invisible makers of this meal, the people who bend over the fields for hours planting or harvesting, the ones in the barns or slaughterhouses, the ones who work in factories or who drive the trucks or ring up the cash registers. Even a fleeting prayer of thankfulness for our daily bread reminds us of how fragile and dependent our bodies are, how everything hinges on everything else, and awakens us again to the fundamental grace of breath, water, food.
Thank you for the earth, the sun, and rain.
Thank you for the gladness of being together at this table.
may they be blessed, all those whose hands planted, nurtured,
harvested, and helped to prepare this food.
May it make us strong for the work of the world. Amen
STEWARDSHIP Reflections by Richard Atkinson
If you haven't sent in your pledge for 2019 please send an e-mail to Rod Wendt (email@example.com) with your plan to support our church
Richard Atkinson spoke these words in Church in November:
I have been asked to speak about stewardship in advance of our stewardship campaign this year. I did speak about 4-5 years ago as a witnessing steward. Does anyone remember what I said? That’s all right. To tell the truth if you asked me what any other witnessing steward said over the past many years I would draw a blank also, except for one. There is one that I still remember distinctly. This was a long time ago, maybe 15 years ago, so if I remember it that long, it must have made an impression!
It was Alan Reetz, and he was talking about the church building. Specifically he mentioned the buttresses that support the interior beams. He talked about how they are vital to the structure of the church. They keep the building from falling down. Despite the fact that they are such an integral part of the interior of the church they are actually part of the external structure of the church. He used them as a metaphor for how the internal workings of this church make their way out into the wider community at large and even around the world.
So what I spoke about a few years ago was landmarks, those places that are important in my life. One specific one I mentioned was the “Be The Church” banner behind the pulpit. One of my rituals on Sunday mornings is to pick a phrase from the banner and meditate on it for a few minutes. I may pick a phrase based on something that happened during the previous week, or I may pick one at random. This being the start of stewardship season I am concentrating on the phrase “Share Earthly and Spiritual Resources”.
What does stewardship mean? At this time of year it means earthly resources, OUR earthly resources. Let’s face it, the church needs our earthly resources. But what does money allow us to do? It allows us to share our spiritual resources-the true joy of stewardship. I invite everyone with a connection to this church-this landmark-to engage in a little exercise over the next few weeks with me. I want each and every one of you to pick out one program or mission project that really excites you. Think about how that one thing makes you feel about this church. It probably makes you feel pretty good, doesn’t it? Think about how your special ministry can be enhanced if we have a successful stewardship campaign.
Now I want you to turn that coin over for a second. Imagine if our campaign is not as successful as we would like. Imagine if your special ministry is reduced, or even eliminated because of budget constraints. How would that make you feel? My guess is not too good. Also imagine how your connection to this church may be affected. You may not feel as strong a connection to this church as a result.
I invite all of you to join me in considering how our collective earthly resources can support our spiritual resources. Think of your monetary gift enhancing your special ministry and reinforcing and building the spiritual gifts of this entire congregation as they are dispersed throughout the community and world at large.
Legislator Contact Information
Rep. Annie McLane Kuster
137 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: 202-225-5206 (Washington)
18 North Main Street, Fourth Floor
Concord, NH 03301
Phone: 603-226-1002 (New Hampshire)
Sen. Maggie Hassan
B85 Russel Senate Office Building .
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-3324 (Washington
1200 Elm St. Suite 6
Manchester, NH 03101
Phone: 603-662-2204 (New Hampshire)
Its. Jeanne Shaheen
506 Hart Senate Office Bdg
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-2841 (Washington)
2 Wall St #220
Manchester, NH 03101
Phone: 602-647-7500 (NH)
Trustee News - January 2019
Welcome to the New Year!
It starts with some good news regarding our church bell. Our team of Gedeon Rodriguez, his friend Jim and Evan Oxenham got up in the bell tower the Thursday after Christmas and using a very large wrench and some "liquid wrench" were able to firmly reseat the bell in its carriage by tightening the very large nuts on the bolt that fasten the bell to the bell carriage. The swing of the bell is now smooth, so as soon as we replace the bell rope we will have a fully functioning bell.
Those who attended the Christmas Eve carol service may have noticed a change to our safety procedures. This year on the recommendation of Bill Taylor, the Plainfield fire chief, we opened the doors beneath the organ to provide a large emergency exit. The opening was still covered by our Christmas banner, but it was available in case of an emergency. We are hoping to organize a fire extinguisher training session in 2019 for church volunteers to become familiar with the use of our fire extinguishers and we are looking at implementing other safety improvements suggested by Bill and our own Steve Beaupre. Anyone who is interested in participating in the fire extinguisher training please contact Evan Oxenham.
Note that one of the safety improvements that we hope to make is the replacement of the ramp on the east side of the sanctuary. This is a priority for 2019.
At the end of year desert auction we kicked off a new fund raiser for the church - ShopWithScrip. ShopWithScrip allows you to buy gift cards and for every gift card purchased the participating companies donate a percentage of the sale to MCC. The trial run had five people participate and raised $178 for the church. We will continue to promote this fund raiser in 2019 and hope to grow it into a more substantial money raiser. To find out more talk to Greg Castell.
Finally, a reminder that at our annual meeting on January 27 the church membership will be electing people to fill the new leadership positions that were agreed upon in the bylaw change this year. If you have any questions about this new leadership structure contact Evan Oxenham or Rod Wendt.
Have a productive and happy New Year.
For the Trustees.
REPORT OF THE ASSISTANT TREASURERS
For the month of December we received $12,979.50 in pledge payments. The total received for the year is $90,956. Plate collections were $3,160. This includes one-half of the Christmas Eve collection, which is $1,241 for the church. The plate collection total for the year is $12,144. In December we also received $10,062, our quarterly disbursement from Ropes and Gray, $500 for the pledge challenge, $3,850 as pre-payment of 2019 pledges and $786 from the dessert auction.
Told by the activists and leaders who live and breathe this movement for justice,
is an unflinching look at the Ferguson uprising. When unarmed teenager Michael Brown is killed by police and left lying in the street for hours, it marks a breaking point for the residents of St. Louis, Missouri. Grief, long-standing racial tensions and renewed anger bring residents together to hold vigil and protest this latest tragedy. Empowered parents, artists, and teachers from around the country come together as freedom fighters. As the national guard descends on Ferguson with military grade weaponry, these young community members become the torchbearers of a new resistance.
is a powerful battle cry from a generation fighting, not for their civil rights, but for the right to live. Film critic Roger Ebert reflects that
years from now when people ask about the
Black Lives Matter
Movement, I will tell them to see this movie!”
Coffee & Cocoa products are featured from Equal Exchange! Please contact Mary Boyle if you would like to order Coffee, Decaf, Hot Chocolate or Chocolate Bars. These products are delicious and promise a reasonable return for the growers and farmers who produce them! K-CUPS are also available!
Cool weather! Fine chocolate. Or hot chocolate anyone?
Mary's e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mary Boyle, Friend of Missions
As the New Year dawns upon us, we remember with gratitude the blessings of family and friends, food and shelter, love and life, which make this community of faith such a WELCOME home for us all, we delight with those bearing new life, and pray with those yet trying to conceive or seeking to adopt, even as we also pray for our friends in Bolivia, Mexico, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Zambia, the Dominican Republic, Indonesia, and Zimbabwe, and all those living in such troubled lands as Israel, Palestine, Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, North Korea, Yemen, South Sudan, the Congo, Iraq, & Iran.
We pray with special concern for all immigrants & refugees seeking sanctuary & welcome throughout our world,
that we may be among those who offer an oasis of hospitality & compassion within the kin-dom of God’s heart.
And we pray too for our African-American sisters and brothers, and for the courage and compassion to affirm with them that
Black Lives Matter”,
not more, but certainly not less than, every life
Likewise do we pray for Gianna Marzilli Ericson’s dear friend,
Bobbie Garfield; Selden Lord
Karen Jameson’s mother,
Wendy Barros’ mother,
Colleen; Greg Castell’s father; Becky Luce; Scot Zens; Rev. Jed Reardon; Bob Carpenter;
Carol Hartman’s daughter-in-law
Jim Schubert’s niece
, Wendy; Suzanne Lenz; Chris LaFont; Erik Heaton;
Len Saunders’ mother,
Laura Cousineau’s mother,
Laura Keener Kreisl;
Beth Kopp’s friend,
Jody Austin; Julie Barber; Tony Wellhaven; Allyson Wendt;
Sue Pullen’s nephew,
Jaime; Greg Marshall;
Larry Burch’s parents,
Bill & Olive; Linda & Arthur Perkins;
Glenn Griffin’s nephew,
Susan Turner’s first father-in-law,
, as well as Sue’s friend,
and Sue’s cousin,
Andrea Keen’s father,
Max Bueno; Tim Timmons;
Maura Hart’s father
Becky Luce’s nephew,
Allen Roger’s father,
Vicki Ramos-Glew’s mother,
Laine Gillespie’s mother,
Bill Chappelle’s friend,
Odile Clavier’s colleague
, Jim Barry,
as well as
and Odile’s niece
, Amelie Marie;
Susan Sanzone’s parents,
Norma & Sal Sanzone,
& Susan’s aunt
So too do we pray for these members and friends of our faith community currently receiving treatment for cancer
Chuck Chamley’s mother,
; Dale Rook; Laura Cousineau’s brother-in-law,
Judy Houde-Hardy’s cousin
, Michael Morin; Hunter Townsend;
Suzanne Lenz’ sister
as well as Suzanne’s friend’s father,
Tom Martin; Jo Evarts,
and her sister
, Jingles; Rev. Joel Eaton; Robert Bryant; Dawn Forbes; Cynthia Howe;
Penny Arcone’s brother,
Stuart Hills, &
Dick Slubin and Gail Graham;
Karen Anikis’ friend,
Joan Dumont’s stepbrother,
Lowell Toof; Jeff McNamara;
Lauryn Moeller’s daughter-in-law,
Lisa Rae Moeller; and
Kevin Ramos-Glew’s nephew,
Our hearts go out to those who lost loved ones toward the end of this past year. May we find comfort in the reassurance that our loved ones rest in the eternal embrace of our loving God.
We extend our sympathy to the family and friends of Betty Walker, upon the loss of her husband,
Kinsley (Lee) Walker
, who died peacefully in his home on Sunday—December 9
Likewise do we reach out to Ted, Ali, Liam, & Galen Moynihan, upon the loss of their beloved wife & mother,
Brenda Gayle Phillips
departed from the arms of her loving family in the living room of her home on River Road in Plainfield, New Hampshire in the late afternoon sun of Monday--December 3rd, 2018.
And our prayers are with Susan Turner’s friend, Linda Armstrong , as she grieves the premature death of her son,
As God has welcomed each of these dearly departed ones back into the realm of God’s eternal embrace, may their families and loved ones be comforted with God’s healing presence in the midst of this time of mourning.
1/4 Ben Saunders
1/4 Anna Borchert
1/5 Christine Greenough
Catherine Norbury Mackey
1/8 Selden Lord
1/9 Birgit Ruppert
1/10 Steve Arcone
1/11 Anna O’Leary
1/11 Lucas Jameson
1/12 Meg Fauver
1/13 Pam Annis
1/13 Terry Dewey
1/14 Susan Borchert
1/14 John Custer
1/14 Holly McGovern
1/14 Jeff Good
1/15 Karim Chichakly
1/15 Mary Kardel
1/15 Ella MacLean
1/16 Bill Chappelle
1/17 Johanna Ruppertsberger
1/17 Andrew Duany
1/17 Jillian Williams
1/18 Hanna Foston
1/18 Allyson Wendt
1/23 Greg Marshall
1/23 Alexys Wilbur
1/24 Olivia Taylor
1/24 Liv Townsend
1/24 Blake Wendt Hennessy
1/25 Maura Hart
1/27 Kyra Russman-Araya
1/29 Andrew Forbes
1/29 Kassidee Rogers
1/29 Eileen Williams
1/30 Isabella Dill
1/30 Audrey Elder
1/30 Jess Kilgore
1/30 Cedric Elkouh
1/30 Carol Hartman
1/31 Debbie Foltyn
1/31 Samantha Heaton
1/28/65 Roberta and Donald Garfield
Dear Meriden Spiritual Family,
It has been a busy month for us readying our Sanctuary effort. We continue to determine the logistics that will allow for us to house immigrants without documents with the help of several faith communities and other friends across the region.
I want thank everyone at MCC who attended and/or organized our 6/3 information session and/or our 6/10 potluck training session. We have made major strides to organize how we will communicate with volunteers and ensure they know our facility, each other, and John and Susan.
If you have not yet signed up, and would like to volunteer to help, here is the web address for a brief online form where you can indicate which concrete tasks you are willing to do. Could you take 5 minutes to fill this out?
Perhaps you could bring food or donate a gift card or participate in a few of the 10 ways or so we expect to need support?
Most importantly, as of today, we are in great need of volunteers who are able to work in shifts to be in the Parish House when we have person(s) without documents onsite. We must have at least one U.S. citizen here at all times. Our greatest need is to find more people who would be willing to spend 4-6 hours during the day and/or spend the night when we have someone(s) in Sanctuary. Might this be you?
Thank you so much. Please reach out if you have any questions.
In gratitude, Jill
-Jill E. Marshall
Rev. Gail Kinney, Worker Justice Minister
Throughout this mid-winter month,
the time for
Showing Up for Racial Justice BLACK LIVES MATTER Vigils is 3:30 PM each Wednesday afternoon, on the SouthWest corner of the intersection of Rte 120 & Main Street
(at the blinking yellow light, with parking available at Poor Thom's Tavern).
We have “Black Lives Matter” signs available for folk to hold, but please feel free to make and/or bring your own signs affirming such sentiments as “showing up for racial justice,” “standing on the side of LOVE,” and/or our commitment to disarm hate, and to affirm our solidarity with women, as well as our Native-, African-, Latin-, & Asian-American, as well as our immigrant & GLBTQIA, Jewish, & Muslim sisters and brothers, and all those feeling unsafe and insecure in light of recent terrors plaguing our nation.
Come “show up for racial justice,” and Stand With us for LOVE , and AGAINST racism, white supremacy, hatred, and violence
here in our community and beyond!
let us publicly declare that we will NOT be complicit in white terror
and let us call our friends and neighbors to rise up with us in our resolute affirmation of the inherent and sacred value of us all within the Beloved Community