Judy Albright - Publisher
Elizabeth Davis - Editor
Judy Albright - Publisher
Elizabeth Davis - Editor
Grace and Peace, friends.
By the time you are reading this, we are more than halfway through the liturgical season of Lent, and Holy Week is on the way. I hope this season has been a rich time of reflection for you. I pray that it has been “full to the brim” with an awareness of God’s overflowing grace and love for you and the whole of creation. In worship, on our social media, and in the Lenten prayer bundles we offered, this has been our Lenten theme: “Full to the Brim.”
In a time in our world when things feel more overwhelming than usual, when we are tempted by scarcity and not abundance, when we are more apt to focus on what limits us than what is possible with God’s help, focusing on an expansive life, an expansive Lent, is fitting. Full to the Brim is an invitation—into a radically different Lent, into a full life. It’s an invitation to be authentic, to counter scarcity at every turn, and to pour out even more grace wherever it is needed. It is my sincere prayer that this season, you feel invited to be filled to the brim with God’s lavish love... a love that spills over.
We enter into Holy Week in a matter of days—those full, quiet, sacred days when we walk with Jesus toward the cross, the empty tomb, and resurrection. An expansive life means we are fully present to all that Holy Week contains: awe, beauty, and pain. However, we don’t do it alone. We face it as a community of faith, rooted in God’s love, together journeying toward new life in Christ. This year, I hope you join us in celebrating Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday here at church and around Middlebury.
Holy Week at MiddUCC
All are welcome. God bless you in these holy days.
A Sanctified Art LLC | sanctifiedart.org
We heard reports from both Pastor Andy and Pastor Elizabeth, as well as the Chairs of all the Church Boards. Things are going well with both youth groups, the New Light services that are being held during Lent, confirmation class, Bible study, and the capital campaign to retire the debt.
Ian Phair asked us to approve the transfer of $500,000 from our invested funds to a new account managed by the Vermont-based advisor One Day in July. The purpose of this is to take a step toward more environmentally conscious investments. Council approved this change.
We spent some time discussing mask mandates. It was decided that March 20 will be the start of making masks optional for everything in our church. It will also be the date for resuming coffee hour on Sunday morning.
We had a discussion of the idea of using our church as a site for child care during the week. Andy said we have the space, and there is a huge need for this in our community. Church Council approved the establishment of an exploratory committee to establish a child care center in our building.
Leanna presented a short tutorial on Google Drive. All agendas, minutes, and other documents will be put on Google Drive, and we will not be making paper copies of documents. Several boards and committees are already doing this, but now everyone will.
Nancy Foster, Church Clerk
The Lenten Leaf Jar is up and running, and I have already heard some wonderful stories from children about the acts that they have chosen to do. The Leaf Jar is just outside the sanctuary, and children can take as many leaves as they want during the season of Lent.
The Junior Youth Group is working on a Lenten service project to benefit Homeward Bound. If you don’t know about Homeward Bound, you can learn more here: https://www.homewardboundanimals.org/.
Members of the Junior Youth Group helped me with a recent children’s message as part of our service project. We learned that the animal shelter is much like our church: they are an open admission shelter, meaning that they welcome all animals no matter what and for as long as needed. As a group, we will be collecting donations here at the church on Sunday mornings and delivering them to the shelter. Here is how you can help:
March 27 – canned cat food
April 3 – paper towels, 13-gallon trash bags, and 33-gallon trash bags
April 10 – HE (high-efficiency) laundry detergent
Cash or checks are also accepted!
On Saturday, April 30, the Junior Youth Group will be offered a tour of Homeward Bound’s facilities.
Pastor Elizabeth and I took six confirmation students on a weekend retreat to Hallelujah Farm in Chesterfield, NH. A few things that we did included icebreaker games, writing faith statements, creating a memoir collage, and reading 1 Samuel 3–10. This was a wonderful time for group bonding and deep thinking.
Our Epiphany Queen, Ruth Penfield, enjoyed her cake from Otter Creek Bakery with her family, celebrating a double birthday of her son and grandson.
I recently joined the United Church of Christ Musicians Association. Why had I not joined earlier during my time as Music Director of a UCC congregation? Honestly, I felt that our church had several unique programs and needs compared with other small town churches, and that we were constantly forging new pathways in music so that it would be challenging to find helpful and relevant input.
But at the beginning of this year I found myself in what felt like an enormous energy deficit, which led me to seek opportunities to hear from other church Music Directors, hoping that I could “re-fill” and “re-charge” for the work ahead. I really wanted to have something more to offer our choirs, our music participants, our congregation.
Upon joining UCCMA and browsing their web content, unsurprisingly, there were several articles of interest, and an opportunity to attend an upcoming webinar called “Royalties for Spirituals.” I signed up immediately. Online services of the pandemic have spurred us to ensure our church’s music is duly reported and that royalties are getting to the appropriate writers of text and composers of music. But there is not an avenue currently available through church licensure programs to pay dues for the body of Negro Spirituals that have no designated author, no arranger, and yet are used among choirs and congregations on a regular basis.
Susan DeSelmes, Minister of Music at United Parish in Brookline MA, recently launched an initiative for her congregation, seeking to engage in restorative justice by paying royalties on Negro Spirituals performed in their church. They give to Hamilton-Garrett Music and Arts, a local music school committed to cultivating the next generation of innovative artists through the celebration and preservation of Black music. Their church’s approach is that this is a debt owed, not a donation. Susan’s church takes up a collection on days that they sing Negro Spirituals, and they print a pledge in their bulletin that includes language stating that they know the debt to Black musicians and artists can never be fully repaid, but through their prayers, their gifts, and their actions, they strive to end systematic racism in America.
In Denver, Music Director Adam Waite at Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church is leading his congregation on the path to discern a similar program. He wonders, does it stop with performance of songs known specifically as Negro Spirituals, or should it be broader than that? If we acknowledge that Negro Spirituals – astutely identified by Czech composer Antonín Dvorâk in 1892 as America’s folk music (he was highly criticized for these comments) – shaped music genres like gospel, jazz, and the blues such that they have deeply influenced our church music, there is a great debt owed for these unarguable contributions by Black musicians.
In the coming weeks and months, I plan to talk further with the staff and leadership of our church to identify ways we can seek to do justice in this area of music royalties, and by doing so, work to end systematic racism. I am convinced that we can discern a path forward that means we, as presenters and consumers of Black and Black-influenced music, are part of rehabilitation, reparation, restoration, and reconciliation.
Yes, there’s an easy way to make someone happy, young or older, on Bazaar Day, several months from now on November 5th. How, you ask? By saving toys, games, and puzzles (for all ages) that you no longer need and setting them aside to donate to the Bazaar’s ever-popular “Toys, Games and Puzzles Room.”
When you do your spring cleaning, please sort through the toys your children are no longer playing with, the games that are sitting unused in a corner, the puzzles you have completed, and save them to donate to the Bazaar, our church’s largest annual fundraiser. For questions about acceptable donations, please contact Ruth or Judy. We hope you can store them until the fall, but if not, we will help you out.
As always, thank you, thank you, for your help. And Happy Spring!
I am the new deacon charged with scheduling readers for our worship services. Many thanks to Ed Williams who devoted himself to this task for the past seven years! If you are interested in reading the call to worship and/or the scripture during worship, please contact me and I will add you to the reader list. If you're not sure whether you're on the list, or would like to confirm that you're on the list, please contact me as well. Thank you!
Mary Jane (MJ) Washburn has an interesting story to tell. MJ grew up in Colorado, and after high school she attended the College of Wooster in Wooster, OH, graduating with a BA in Education. Several years later, while doing post-graduate work in New York City, she met her husband, Knight.
After living in various parts of the US, MJ and Knight settled down in the Cleveland area to work and raise their three children. MJ taught junior high English and Social Studies, ending her career as an instructor of English as a Second Language. Knight was an ordained Presbyterian minister.
Traveling was always an interest. MJ especially enjoyed trips to Ethiopia in 1973 and 1994. Inheriting a home in Addison brought MJ and Knight to Vermont for retirement in 1992. Before becoming active members at the UCC church in Vergennes, MJ and Knight did a six-month house exchange in Australia. They made new friends and traveled while living about 50 miles from Sydney in the beautiful Blue Mountains.
Now MJ has a cottage at The Residence at Otter Creek in Middlebury. She has been active in our community as a hospice volunteer and a board member of the John Graham Shelter. MJ joined our church in November 2021. Welcome to Mary Jane (MJ) Washburn – what a find!
The month of April brings us through the end of Lent and into a season of rebirth, as we celebrate Easter and note the signs of a slowly awakening Vermont spring. The Green Team hopes that the Lenten practice, Think Twice: Buy Less, Waste Less (presented in March Church Matters), continues to have resonance beyond these 40 days as we continue to wrestle with the impact of our consumer habits on the Earth.
As we honor creation through thoughtful consumer practices, we will also be celebrating Earth Day as a congregation with a special service on April 24 devoted to Creation Care. Additionally, the Green Team will be gathering at the church for Green Up Day, Saturday May 7, to do our part in our community; all are welcome to join the Midd UCC Green Up Crew. Save the dates, and stay tuned for more spring activities!
The Campaign to Retire the Debt concluded successfully on March 15. The goal of $450K has been exceeded, with a total of $508,715 being pledged. Pledge payments will continue through December 2024. The Church Council voted in January that surplus funds from the Campaign would be added to the Care and Maintenance of the Church Building account of the church's endowment. This transfer will take place after all loans to church members and to the National Bank of Middlebury have been repaid. A recent additional gift has initiated the "Russell Carpenter Memorial" fund in that building account, and further contributions are welcomed. We note that Russell was a strong advocate for retiring our debt as early as possible.
We extend heartfelt thanks to all church members and friends who helped us exceed the campaign goal. This milestone is the conclusion of a twelve-year process of planning, gathering input from members, and seeking funds needed to make our addition a reality for both the church and the community. Our fundraising was done in three stages, and a grand total exceeding $4.2 million was raised or pledged over ten years for new front steps, a renovated kitchen, and the new addition. A significant byproduct of these efforts was the gift of Charter House to the Charter House Coalition in 2018. Our church can take great pride in all that our combined efforts have achieved.
We note that our successes in these projects have come at a time of generous giving by a growing membership for the annual support of our ongoing and expanding church programs. Our membership exceeds 400, and the number of pledge units for our Annual Fund is now at 191. We have managed to expand our missions support, increase our support for the national United Church of Christ and its programs, add a full-time Associate Pastor, and provide increases in compensation for all church employees. We are indeed blessed by the remarkable generosity of our members and friends, year after year. Thank you!
Judy Albright, Church Administrator
Katy Smith Abbott, past Church Moderator
Rich Carpenter, Budget and Stewardship Committee Chair
John Emerson, Campaign Chair
Leanna Maglienti, Church Moderator
Andy Nagy-Benson, Senior Pastor
Jakee Zaccor, Digital Content Creator
►The Board of Pastoral Care provides rides for church members when a need arises. Please contact Jim Eagan at 802-352-9042 (home) or 802-989-4241 (cell) if you need a ride.
►Fellowship Hour is back and so are the sign-up sheets on the bulletin board downstairs in Fellowship Hall. We are asking for cookies only, for the time being, if you sign up to bake.
►Save Date! Lydia Gleich Munn will be baptized on June 12 at 3:00 p.m. during the service of Installation for Rev. Elliott Munn at the Vergennes Congregational Church. As a pastors’ kid, Lydia will be lucky enough to grow up in both churches. As such, we hope members from both churches can be there to welcome her into God’s family. All are welcome!
Rev. Henry Clinton Newell served the Congregational Church of Middlebury during the period from 1916 to 1930, coming to Middlebury from Somerville, CT. While in Middlebury, he and his wife resided at 1 South Pleasant Street (the church manse) till 1927, then moved to 8 Court Street, and then in 1929 moved again to 15 South Pleasant Street. He resigned his Middlebury pastorate and moved to the faculty of Piedmont College in 1930.
Dr. Newell was born in Springfield, MA on Oct. 12, 1875, the son of Roscous Clinton Newell and Sarah Allerton Cushman [the name of Henry’s father was inconsistently spelled in the written records]. He attended public schools in Three Rivers, MA, was a 1893 graduate of Palmer High School, and graduated from Amherst College in 1901. From 1901 to 1913, he was affiliated with the faculty and administration of Piedmont College (now University) in Georgia.
Piedmont College was only in existence for four years when Henry Clinton Newell (a 26-year-old history professor) joined the faculty. Six years later, as Piedmont’s third president, the Amherst graduate was adamant that Piedmont’s academic program “shall be worthy of comparison with the best” without “any tendency toward provincialism.” To reach this goal, Newell helped create the college’s first endowment fund, tirelessly canvassing supporters across the country to help secure the fledging college’s future. Newell served as president until 1910.
He then became pastor at the Somerville (CT) Congregational Church, a position he retained for three years. In 1916, Dr. Newell graduated from Hartford Theological Seminary. In 1916, he was also named pastor of the Middlebury (VT) Congregational Church, remaining here until 1930.
In 1928 he was the recipient of a doctor of divinity degree conferred by Piedmont College. Following Black Thursday and the start of the Great Depression in 1929, Newell returned to Piedmont College as president, determined the lean times would not erase the gains he had helped the college make. Newell served as president from 1930 to 1936, not only weathering the storm but leaving the college on a better financial basis than he found it. One of the campus buildings there has a weathervane resembling the Mayflower. It was stated the Rev. Newell was more successful raising money from the Congregationalists than the Methodists, thus creating stronger ties with the Pilgrim history.
Dr. Newell left Piedmont College in 1936 to become pastor of First Congregational Church in Harwich on Cape Cod. In 1945 he retired from the ministry. Since that time he had lived in Springfield, MA, at 42 Dunmoreland St. Dr. Newell was a member of South Congregational Church in Springfield, MA, was a founder of the Fellowship of Retired Men, was a member of Phi Alpha Psi, and also was affiliated with the Masons and the Rotary Club of Middlebury.
Henry C. Newell married  Ruth Ann Johnson on 12 Jun 1904 in Palmer MA,  Mary Aurelia Bates on 1 Aug 1907 in Waltham MA, and  Edith Harrison Andrews in 1932 in MA. Parents of Henry are Rosarie C. Newell and Sarah Allerton Cushman; parents of Ruth are Andrew Jackson Johnson and Percy Ann Barnes; parents of Mary are Sergt. Joseph C. Bates and Charlotte E. Moulton; parents of Edith are Joseph W. Harrison and Thirza A. [unknown].
His first wife, Ruth Ann Johnson, died in 1905, the year following their marriage; they had a stillborn child. His second wife was Mary Aurelia Bates, whom he married in 1907; she died in 1931. In the federal census records, no occupation was listed for Mary. Dr. Newell married his third wife in 1932: Edith Harrison Andrews, a Professor of Modern Languages at Piedmont College. She obtained an A. B. from Mount Holyoke.
Henry Clinton Newell b 12 Oct 1875 Springfield MA d 20 Nov 1953 Springfield, MA
 Ruth Ann Johnson b xx May 1878 Eau Galle WI d 8 Jun 1905 Palmer MA m 12 Jul 1904 Palmer MA
 Mary Aurelia Bates b 26 May 1873 Waltham MA d 16 Nov 1931 Waltham MA m 1 Aug 1907 Waltham MA
 Edith Harrison Andrews b abt 1883 MA d aft 1953 m 1932 Palmer MA
Rosius Clinton Newell 3rd b 5 Jul 1905 d 5 Jul 1905 Three Rivers, Palmer MA stillborn
Next month, the life of Rev. Chauncy C. Adams and family will be presented; he served the Congregational Church of Middlebury from 1931 to 1938.
Malcolm W. Chase, Historian
Alice Munson April 3
John Wallace April 3
Jim Robinson April 5
Spencer Smith April 5
Colin Foster April 7
Jennifer Smith. April 7
Robyn Stattel April 7
Lisa Gates April 8
Alexandra Bonavita April 10
Abigail Gleason April 10
Rick Marshall April 10
Anna Roy April 10
Grady Leonard April 11
Jennifer Bleich April 12
Jean Fifield April 12
Harper Hendy April 12
Timothy Funk April 13
Elise Blair April 15
Ken Brownsword April 16
Cathy Chase April 16
Gary Gillen April 16
Rihannon Ellison April 17
Wendy Hollander April 17
Raymond Shute April 17
Dorothy Krahn April 19
Peggy Rush April 19
Edith Olmstead April 20
Ginny Sinclair April 21
Rachael Nagy-Benson April 23
Bob Campbell April 24
Joyce Foster April 25
Neil Sinclair April 25
Gregor Kent April 28
Eva Andrews April 29
Patricia Hallam April 29
Irene Zaccor April 29
Jessica Wright April 30
Tim & Wendy Hollander April 1