"I have lived on the lip of insanity, wanting to know reasons, knocking on a door. It opens. I've been knocking from the inside!" -Rumi
From Our Interim Minister
We Are Not Closed
Someone said this during a ZOOM meeting I attended yesterday morning. The meeting was for ministers and lay leaders in the Vermont Conference UCC. “We are not closed,” she said. “The building is closed, but our church is not closed.” She added, “And our worship services are not canceled or suspended, we are moving them to a different location.” For me, this was a timely reminder of the power of language and how the words we choose can quickly become our reality. I realized, along with many others I’m sure, that I had been using the wrong words to describe our current situation. “Closed” and “canceled” is definitely not our current reality. We have simply been forced by a global pandemic to find new ways to be open and new ways to worship. And we’ve only just begun!
Last Sunday your music director, Eric Tuper-Giles, and your interim pastor (yours truly) led an abbreviated worship service from our sanctuary. Along with Don Singer, who was there to video record the service, we were the only ones in the building. Tony Campos overcame some technical difficulties remotely and broadcast the service live on Facebook. All of this happened on very short notice. Your church leadership and I made the decision to suspend our usual live worship services in our sanctuary late Friday afternoon. We cannot gather together in our sanctuary or anywhere in our building for now. But we can still worship together in some ways that we’re still working on and hoping to improve. Facebook Live is one way. ZOOM and YouTube are other ways, and there are churches in our conference using at least one of these platforms to send worship out to their members and friends – and beyond. We’re all in the same boat and trying hard to do more than just stay afloat.
In fact, the present global crisis is calling forth a lot of creative thinking and energy amongst clergy and laity in our churches. Ideas are flowing and being shared. We’re all working on ways to hold us together, stay connected, worship together without being together in person, maintain some fellowship and communication, continue to support our ministries, and not lose sight of the most vulnerable in our communities. The church was made for this work and for these challenging times, and we will not shrink from it.
Some folks from our congregation will be calling you to check-in. We’re going to ask you to send your prayer concerns via email, to be read aloud in our worship services. We’re going to send out the Sunday bulletin via email so you can follow along and join in. We’re going to provide instructions and the link to tune in live on Facebook (you don’t have to have an account). Hollie is working on ideas to keep our children and their families connected. Rose is expanding our online presence. Darlene is coordinating our rapidly changing breakfast program. Perhaps we can organize a bible study or a book group on ZOOM or Google Hangouts. If you’re feeling anxious or isolated, call me or one of our deacons or a church member you know. We can talk, we can listen, we can help. Pick up your Bible and read Psalm 23 or Psalm 91 (one of my favorites in troubling times), or find a passage that speaks to you. Ask me for other biblical resources. These are harrowing times, unprecedented times, and most of us have some fear or anxiety or nervousness about what is to come.
Finally, pray every day. Pray that the virus will run its course soon. Pray for each other. Pray for those who are sick. Pray for those who can’t work remotely, who have to show up and risk infection or not get paid. Pray for those who will lose their jobs because of this. Pray for our children, their teachers, small business and restaurant owners – anyone you know or can think of who will be adversely affected by this crisis. Pray for medical personnel and first responders, and the scientists working to develop a vaccine. Pray for our leaders worldwide, that they will make intelligent decisions and take decisive actions that will carry us through to the other side of this perilous moment in our history.
Remember that we are all beloved children of God, no matter what happens. And so let the children of God rise up now and live into this moment with faith and compassion, and with all the love we can bring to bear in a world that needs it so desperately. We are not closed, we are hearts wide open.
Grace & Peace,
Prayer Requests/Joys & Concerns
If you have a prayer request and would like to have it shared in worship, please emailit to our church office. We will compile them and speak them aloud on Sunday.
PLEASE DON'T HESITATE TO REACH OUT to Rev. Bert, our church staff members, our Deacons, or a church member you know if you need support or assistance, or if you just need to speak to someone out of your isolation. You could even consider calling the folks you usually sitnext to during worship. These are difficult times but we can try to be there for each other as much as possible.
An Update from Our Church School Director
Written by Hollie Friot
Dear Church School Families,
What a few days it has been since I last communicated with you! I have a few things to offer, and first I want to share a quick story with you. I was putting my daughters to bed tonight and it was a bit of a struggle. There were things they needed that they forgot and kept asking me to get. There was a fight over toys - and then tears. And more needs for hugs and love and other requests. I finally had settled into work (I have another job I do working part-time from home), and from the top of our stairs, Amelia yelled down and asked if I could make her tea. I took a deep breath. I really felt done at the moment. But I said yes and got up to make her tea.
The tea I buy has sayings on the paper tab attached to the string on the teabag, and I was taken aback when I read the saying on the one I opened. It said, "Compassion is a state of constant giving of the self for others." It was what I like to call A God Moment. During my moment of exasperation, it reminded me of Jesus' outpouring of his life and how during Lent we're called to reconnect with God. I got the message. I felt like it was God telling me to keep giving that loving-kindness to my daughters (who are also feeling sad about activities canceled and not seeing friends) and connect back to God. It's almost never in the easy moments of life when we're reminded of this. I hope this story and that teabag saying might be meaningful to you, too. Most of us have faced major changes over the last several days. But I believe we can weather the storm. We have the spirit of God within us, and if we respond as best we can to others and ourselves with compassion, I believe we are doing good work through all of this and following the example of Jesus.
So all that said, if you are struggling these days, please know you are not alone. We've had a lot of major changes very quickly over the past several days - not to mention just life in general. See the list below for a few helpful bullet points:
One of my parenting authorities has some great information to share here if you or your children are struggling right now.
If you are suddenly out of work and/or in need, please reach out to the church. We may have resources for help and we're "in the loop" on service organizations who are helping children and families right now. Or if you are facing difficulties with childcare while you have to go to work, please reach out.
I regularly work from home and homeschool my daughters. If you're suddenly home all day with your child/children and need some daily management strategies, please don't hesitate to ask. It took me a lot of practice to get to a point where I felt like our days had a good rhythm and flow.
Keep your eyes on our church Facebook page and e-newsletter for information on virtual Sunday services and other important information.
Horton Center, our local UCC summer camp, is offering "Virtual Camp" starting today.Click hereto join. I'm hoping to join in with Amelia and Olivia and get a little spirit boost!
I'll reach out later this week with some Lenten resources, but felt it was important to connect with you today. Sending lots of love and light during this time of change. Your church is here for you. Many blessings!
Mission & Outreach COVID-19 UPDATE
Written by Darlene Clark
With the Covid-19 dilemma we are faced with at this time, things are changing for our Mission’s Ministry. The Barre Interfaith group and the police department have decided it would be best if all the churches served our breakfasts and dinners from a central location in a take-out format. Enough Ministries have cleaned and opened their former building located on Summer Street across from the turn-up Seminary hill. It has all the kitchen facilities needed and has a take-out window from which to serve the meals. The unfortunate part is our guests will have to take their meals elsewhere to eat them but this is what is required at this time. The name chosen for this location is the Garden of FeEden—so appropriate!
The Haven has been cleared to remain open all day so we will be delivering these meals to them and their guests will be able to eat there. Meals will also be delivered to those who have been placed in hotels. At the moment this is in the process of being coordinated by a separate group of volunteers.
This will be an adjustment for all the volunteers from all the churches and is a work in progress. Knowing that this is really safer for all involved, we will adjust.
We also are canceling Laundry Love for the month of March and possibly April depending on how this all pans out.
I know we are all praying and trying to do what is best for everyone. Please keep the Missions Ministry in your prayers and with God’s help, we will get through this most uncertain of times. And if any of you feel you could volunteer please let me know because we can always use extra help!
Blessings to all,
Treasurer Talk - Tax-Free Giving
Written by Scott Funk
As your Treasurer, I hope to reach out to you occasionally on matters of church finance.
At our recent Annual Meeting, we approved this year’s budget with a defect of $14,182. That means we need more money this year, and the sooner the better. Your donations and pledges are deeply appreciated. We believe you are already digging deep to pledge what you have. What we’d like to do is describe ways some of you could increase your generosity with no additional personal cost.
This is for those in the congregation who are in retirement and drawing on tax-deferred accounts.
There are many different kinds of tax-deferred accounts including SEPs, IRAs or 401Ks. After age 70 ½ you have to take distributions from these accounts each year of suffering severe penalties. These, required minimum distributions or RMD’s are taxed just like any other withdrawal from a tax-deferred account. So, if your RMD is $5,000 and your tax bracket is 20% you get $4,000 and the government gets $1,000 totaling $5,000, which you have to withdraw, increasing your taxable income, even the tax.
There is a way to avoid paying that tax, but when we tell you what it is, we ask you to commit to donate that saving to our church. It means extra money for Barre Congregational Church that would have been a tax. This only works for RMD’s from tax-deferred accounts.
Simply have your RMD transferred directly from your account to the church. The institution managing or holding your funds will cut a check-in BCC’s name and send it to you. Because it goes directly from your account to a qualified tax-exempt entity it is not taxable and doesn’t increase your income. So, you can donate all $5,000 without any going to taxes and all of it going to the good we are all a part of here. If you were going to give $4,000 to the church this year anyway, this enables you to increase your giving by $1,000 without feeling the pinch.
An additional benefit of giving in this way is it could reduce your taxable income. Potentially, this would lower your Medicare premiums and increase your Vermont Homestead Exemption as both are based on taxable income. It might also help lower your tax bracket.
Naturally, it must be emphasized we are not offering financial or tax advice. We are unaware of your particular situation. You should be sure what works best for you by discussing this with your financial or tax advisor first. That being said, we are happy to answer general questions during coffee hour or anytime you’d like to discuss this or anything else.
BCC Prayer List
Our Search Team as they do their work.
Our World leaders and health officials as they grapple with the effects of the coronavirus, and all those people who are suffering with the virus.
The victims of mass shootings in our country and their families.
The homeless in our community.
All those affected by catastrophic storms. Rev. Renny at Hedding, United Methodist Church.
Clayton Copping, who was hospitalized after a fall.
Richard Lunde, Karen Gordon's brother in law, living with cancer.
All those affected by Domestic Violence in our world.
All immigrant children, especially those separated from their families.
All members and friends living with cancer: Lowell Sanders, Gabe Cole, and Maggie Sample's brother, Lou.
Phyllis Sawyer who is at Barre Gardens.
Mayo Sanborn, Joan Tucker, and Joyce Winchester who are at Mayo in Northfield.
Maggie Sample's son Mark, and Pat Drew.
Birthday Blessings in March
Bill Ashe 3/2
Gary Isham 3/2
Kenneth Folta 3/3
Edward Blodgett 3/5
Donald Singer 3/5
Lauren Jo Chase 3/6
Andrea Donahue 3/13
Nancy Fowler 3/14
Linda Copping 3/15
Rachel Gordon 3/15
Rossie Conklin 3/16
Cathy McCann 3/16
Richard Sample 3/17
Linda Rodriguez 3/23
Hannah Rohloff 3/24
Sandy Lewis 3/25
Alicia Tosi 3/26
Beverly Thomas 3/27
Rachel Elwert Sterling 3/28
Alfred Saldi 3/29
Coming Up This Week at Barre Congregational Church
Rev. Bert Marshall, Interim Pastor Eric Tuper–Giles, Music Director & Organist Hollie Friot, Church School Director Mary Ann Johnson, Parish Nurse Kathy Adams, Bookkeeper Neil Upham, Custodian Rose Fisher, Church Administrator
Did You Miss Church on Sunday?
Our worship service times on Public Access Television Charter Channels 192/194 are as follows:
Saturdays: 6:00 p,m, 9:30 pm
Sundays: 8:00 am, 12:30 pm, 3:30 pm, 10:00 pm
Worship video can also be seen by visiting http://www.cvtv723.org/ and searching for "Barre Congregational Church." Or, visit our website and select the "Watch Our Most Recent Sunday Service" link on the homepage.
Your pledge dollars and contributions to the Barre Congregational Church, UCC make the ministries of our church possible.
Have you considered remembering the Barre Congregational Church, UCC in your will? You would leave a lasting legacy that would support the good works of our church.
The per capita contribution for each active member to the Vermont Conference and Washington Association of the United Church of Christ, for 2020 is $12.87. It is very much appreciated when members add this obligation to their yearly contributions.
Our mailing address is:
Barre Congregational Church
35 Church St
Barre, VT 05641