Judy Albright and Jennifer H. Smith- Design and Publishing

Elizabeth Davis - Editor

April 2024

the darkness did not overcome it

Rev. Andy Nagy-Benson

On April 8, darkness will fall across central and northern Vermont for up to three-and-a-half minutes. Between 3:20 p.m. and 3:30, we will experience totality: the moon will completely cover the sun. Birdsong will likely cease. Stars and planets may come into view.

The first total solar eclipse in Vermont since 1932 is coming soon. And with it, out-of-state tags. My father asked me last summer if he and my mother could stay at our place in early April. (I’m sure I said yes. I might also have asked why.)

The eclipse!

Total solar eclipses have been drawing due attention for a long time. Ancient civilizations—the Babylonians, Greeks, Mayans, and Chinese, to name a few—paid heed to solar eclipses and recorded the events. More often than not, solar eclipses were understood to be signs of cosmic struggle. Or thought to be bad omens. The history of Christianity bears these markings, and we can imagine why. The sun going dark might have an end-time hue.

And yet, our tradition also includes these words from John’s Gospel: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (Jn 1:5). “The darkness did not overcome it” may have crossed some Christians’ minds in moments of totality in centuries past. I trust they would have offered some comfort and assurance.

To be clear, I am not walking toward April 8 with dread. I am not thinking that the three-and-a-half minutes of daytime darkness will bear bad news. I am expecting something amazing to happen—something like the scene portrayed in Robert Bly’s poem “Seeing the Eclipse in Maine.” In Bly’s poem, the experience of an eclipse is remembered in terms of “we,” not “me.” (Click here if you’d like to read it.) A total eclipse of the sun is an “us” moment.

So, I look forward to sharing this communal moment on the 8th. With the local chapter of creation. With the sky above. With Creator God. With all kinds of neighbors. And with my family. Yes, my folks are on their way.





Church Council listened to reports from Pastors Andy and Elizabeth, the Treasurer, and Board chairs. A few items from Board reports include: There will be childcare for Easter and for the new members meeting. Steve Abbot and Glenna Emilo will be organizing the Crop Walk this year. The east side of the church will be painted this year. And windows might start to be repaired as early as April of this year. 

We reviewed a report from the Columbarium Committee and approved the rules and regulations they proposed.

We listened to and discussed the report from the Budget Committee presented by Ian Phair.

The search for the Choir Director is in a short holding pattern right now. The search for a new Director of Children and Youth Ministries will start very soon.

Elizabeth reported that all three classrooms in the Red Clover Children's Center are open and full. She is working on ways for positive interaction between the childcare center and church members.

We held a short Executive Session to discuss employee matters.

Respectfully submitted,

Nancy Foster, Clerk

  • Between annual meetings, the Church Council meets once a month to fulfill its responsibility to coordinate the church's programs and business. Council has the powers generally ascribed to a corporation's board of directors.

    The Church Council is composed of the following Church members:  Moderator, Clerk, Treasurer, Senior Pastor, Associate Pastor, and the chairpersons of the six church boards. Also, there are three at-large members. One is elected every year and serves a 3 year term.

  • The basic life and work of the church is under the direction and supervision of church boards, which meet monthly at the All Boards Meeting and report to the Church Council. Members of these boards are elected from the membership of the church. 

Children & Youth

Eliana Cañas Parra

Happy Easter, church families!

Easter and Holy Week can be hard to explain to little ones. Your children might have some questions about what the death and resurrection of Jesus means. If that’s your kid, blessings on that journey!

This is why today I decided to rely on the wisdom of pastor and author of Woven: Nurturing a Faith Your Kid Doesn’t Have to Heal From, Meredith Miller, who has over 20 years of experience in children’s ministry. Here are some extracts of a blog post I read a couple of weeks ago, where she offers an accessible and faithful representation of Easter Sunday to children:

• What is Easter? Easter is when we celebrate that Jesus is alive!

• Why did Jesus come? Jesus came to show us what God is like and say the time had come for God to make all things good. He called it a kingdom, like a place where God was the good king and everything is just as good and lovely as God is.

• Why did Jesus die? Because Jesus was talking about being king of a new kingdom, the Romans and their king, Caesar, were very upset. They wanted to kill Jesus for threatening the empire. And because Jesus was talking about God’s kingdom, the religious leaders were very upset. They thought Jesus was not allowed to speak on God’s behalf – to say a new thing was happening. They wanted to kill Jesus for being disloyal to the way they were sure God wanted things.

• What does Easter mean for me? Jesus is alive, and we can be friends with him. God dreams of a world that works in a way that matches who God is. Because Jesus is alive, we can join the team that helps make that dream come true more and more.

• Why does Jesus' resurrection matter? Our world has hard and sad things in it, including death. There’s a gap between God’s dream and what is happening now. The Bible calls it Sin. Sin is just anything that’s not what God wants. But the hard, sad things won’t last forever. Jesus won and Sin lost, all because he's alive!

Jesus is magnetic. His barrier-breaking, border-crossing love is amazingly attractive. His invitation to a world that works in ways that match who God is, is inspiring and hopeful. When kids are told that Jesus’ resurrection means that the reign of God really is here, and really will expand, and they are never ever separated from Love, they light up. They say yes. They want in.

May any of us who have the privilege of spending Easter with a child go all-in on joy, hope, and life. Happy, happy, Easter.



Coffee and fellowship!

On Wednesday, March 6, Pastor Andy will host an informal gathering from 10:00 - 11:00 a.m. in Unity Hall. Coffee. Conversation. Probably some carbs. Stop by and say hi if you can.

Welcome New Member: 

diana Davidson

I took the scenic route to MiddUCC. My journey began in Berkeley, California, where I was born. Six months later, my family moved to La Canada, a small foothill town near Pasadena, in Southern Calif. Proximity to Hollywood, Disney (our neighborhood was peppered with show biz of all sorts) and most importantly, nature and animals, my dreams were spawned. Spirituality was also a factor. My parents were engaged in an active and loyal community at the Presbyterian church. This too inspired curiosity, discovery, and the “what lies beyond” thoughts I had growing up. I was lucky and blessed with a precious childhood.

Life and seasons (I'm a sucker for seasons) beckoned, and an early start as an actress and model had me East Coast on my own at 20, a round trip that ended two years later when I returned to California. I continued my acting pursuits but began to lean towards my greatest passion: working with animals. Before moving east again in 1988, I spent several years working in the animal nursery at the Los Angeles Zoo. Once east again, now in New Jersey, I worked at the Ramapo Bergen Animal Refuge and then at the Bergen County Zoo as an animal health technician.

I moved to Addison County 26 years ago with my children, Conor and Annakeara Stinson. I recently retired after 19 years at Porter Medical Center where I was the Medical Staff Coordinator. Prior to that, I worked at the Addison Independent. I am enjoying life in Ripton with my husband, Marty Feldman, and, of course, my animals. Annakeara is a writer and lives in Pasadena, Calif. I feel so fortunate that Conor and Ellen (Whelan-Wuest) settled in Cornwall and we are happy grandparents to Evie and Sammy Stinson. It was their baptism on August 6th of last year that brought us through the doors of this church. What a difference that day has made.

The joy, good will, and energy was palpable within the church fellowship that day. Something I hadn't experienced for a long time, if ever. I am so enthused to begin my journey with you as a new member.

Board of Mission & Social Concerns:

Peanut Butter Sundays

We're making great progress toward our goal of collecting two tons of food for HOPE this year. As of 3/26/24, we've donated 200 cans and 854 pounds and still have Easter Sunday to go to reach our 300-lb monthly goal. So, let's all go a little nuts in April … Peanut Butter Sundays! 

We know it sounds like a delicious treat, but the Board of Mission and Social Concerns invites you to bring actual jars of peanut butter during the month of APRIL. Peanut butter is a staple item needed at the HOPE food shelf, along with jelly, jam, marshmallow fluff, or other butters like almond, walnut, or even Nutella.

Red clover children center

Substitute teachers needed:

Red Clover Children's Center is seeking substitute teachers to work for a minimum of 3 hours and at most 8 hours on an as-needed basis. Substitutes will work with Red Clover teachers in infant and toddler rooms, and will need to complete onboarding training and background checks. Substitutes will be paid $17/hour. To learn more or apply, please contact Tessa Dearborn (Red Clover Children's Center Executive Director) at: tessa@redcloverchildren.org

Helping Hands

The Helping Hands Crew will be meeting April 1 (no joke) from 10:15-12:15. We have made great progress on getting areas cleaned. We will continue to do so; please bring your mop bucket and a cleaning cloth. All are welcome and many thanks. Any questions?  Contact, Dorothy Douglas at jdmamidd@comcast.net or 802-388-6257.

Men's and LAdies' Lunch

Ladies’ Lunch at Route 7 South Sandwich Co. The Ladies’ Lunch on April 18th at 11:30 am will be held at Route Seven South Sandwich Co. Please sign up to attend by Wednesday, April 17th at 12:00 pm so we can let Route 7 South know how many people to expect. Questions can be directed to Erika Garner at garnersvt@gmail.com

Sign up link

Men’s Lunch Bunch at Rosie’s The Men's Lunch Bunch will be held at Rosie’s Restaurant on April 18th at noon. If you plan to attend the lunch or have questions, please contact Mal Chase at patandmalchase@gmail.com.

Last call for plant growers

On May 19th after the service, the Green Team hopes to host our fourth annual Seedling Giveaway at MiddUCC—but we need your help. Right now, we do not have enough people signed up to grow plants for our congregation and CVOEO's Food Shelf, and we're running out of time, since those little seedlings need time to grow! Can you help us continue this wonderful tradition by growing a dozen veggies or herbs? Please email Su Reid-St. John at sureidstjohn@gmail.com if so—and thank you!

Mission Moment: Mercy in action

On Sunday, April 14, Kristen and Matt Benoit will offer a Mission Moment during the service and a brief presentation after worship in Fellowship Hall. For the past twenty years, Kristen and Matt (a.k.a. Alice Munson’s grandson) have worked for Mercy in Action, a faith-based, non-profit organization that serves the poorest of the poor. With a focus on maternal and newborn health, Mercy in Action sponsors midwife-led birthing homes in the Philippines and trains midwives and community health workers. To learn more about the organization in advance of the Benoit’s visit, please visit www.mercyinaction.com

Round Table Conversation: 

Israel-Gaza Conflict

All are invited to attend a two-part conversation on the Gaza-Israel conflict after worship on April 7th and April 21st. Middlebury College Jewish Chaplain, Rabbi Danielle Stillman, will speak on April 7th, and Middlebury College Muslim Chaplain, Zahra Moeini Meybodi, will speak on April 21st. These conversations will be held in Unity Hall from 11:30-12:30.

Did you Know?

Tax season provides a good time to review your charitable giving and estate plans. Wise choices in giving can reduce your taxes. The Planned Giving Committee has developed educational materials to support members of our congregation in making good decisions about charitable giving. 

Several brochures are available to pick up in Fellowship Hall. This information, and more, is also available under the Planned Giving heading at the church's web site: https://www.midducc.org/giving/planned-giving

In addition, the members of the Planned Giving Committee are willing to assist you with your questions and your goals for giving to our church: Sally Holland, Chair; John Emerson; Tana Scott

Looking backward

with Mary Orenda Pollard

Mary Orenda Pollard is the daughter of Amos Addison Pollard and Martha Tayler. She was born 12 Oct 1878 in Placerville CA and passed away on 9 Jul 1962 in Middlebury VT. Memorial services were held in the Memorial Baptist Church in Middlebury. Burial was in Ludlow, VT. She was a teacher, historian, writer, long-time resident of Middlebury, and author of “Looking Backward” for the Addison Independent. She retired in1935 and settled in Middlebury. Her tie to us today is her use of a “looking backward” style – this adds a significant insight into the current event history as well as personal remembrances and history to the current event. In the July15, 1962 issue of the Addison Independent that carried her obituary, this was also Miss Pollard’s last contribution for her column “Looking Backward.” 

The following two newspaper articles document the sesquicentennial celebration of the meeting house of the Congregational Church of Middlebury. The articles appeared in the Addison Independent and the Rutland Herald. The first article is authored by Mary Orenda Pollard (in her style of “looking backward”) while the second article is in the traditional newspaper article style authored at the Rutland Herald. Although both articles document the same event, the presentations are quite different. The “looking back” style adds information of the past leaders of the church and clues as to the changes in the structure of the Sanctuary. Can you find all these past leaders as well as the structure clues (?)

Church Peopled with past at Solemn Event (1959)

by Mary Orenda Pollard

In the observation of the sesquicentennial of the Middlebury Congregational Church Sunday, for many in the audience there was much that was nostalgic mingled with the pleasant. There were so many old friends missing, so many changes, which we welcome, but which do not entirely replace the old.

Sitting there one could almost hear the dedication sermon by Dr. Merrill, a classmate of Daniel Webster. One could almost see Gamaliel Painter, who supervised the construction of the building, and Seth Storrs who gave the land for the college and Phillip Battell.

Then up in the Amen pews was “Tommy” Boyce and far to the right went Governor Stewart with his dignified carriage. There was Prof. Parker with his daughter, Miss Susan, so skillful with her painting and equally skillful in cutting profiles in paper. And Miss Starr in her mourning crepe. And Prof. Wright teaching a college Sunday School class in the back seat before morning service.

Then there were the college girls in the east balcony, facing the boys in the west balcony. And the pulpit platform built out to accommodate the commencement held in the church many years, with the whole academic procession marching down from in front of Painter Hall, and occupying the front seats on the left before the platform. There Dr. John Thomas spoke the last Master’s oration – After his day they were printed not delivered orally. And Charles Munroe won in the Parker and Merrill prize speaking and was initiated later into D.K.E.

But all that was long ago. This is the present vested children’s choir singing – it is not Katherine Slade, Elga Stewart, Dr. Will Sheldon, and Earl Cushman in the choir. And at the organ enriched by the chimes is Mrs. Hawley not Mrs. Gideon Miner.

And this is 1959. The Rev. Max M. Webster, is bringing greetings from the Vermont Congregational Conference, and it is College Vice – President Stephen A. Freeman who is telling in orderly fashion some of the history that I have rambled over. He did not get his diploma from President Brainerd on that platform, as I did, so he is talking about the church history in orderly fashion, not from loving memories of undergraduate days.

Then we all join in a dignified reverential rededication of the Church which was completed in 1809, dedicated on May 31, 1809, and celebrated its centennial on May 30-1, 1909, with the Committee of Arrangements Prof. Charles Baker Wright, Thomas A. Boyce and Dr. Philip Mellen.

Over 200 gathered after the rededication service for the dinner in the Church School room below. As part of the program the list was read of those who had been members of the Church for fifty years or more, and those present were introduced by the minister. Rev. Walker T. Hawley. Those present included: 1885, Mrs. Charles Swift; 1866, Mrs. Mary Manchester, Mrs. Frances Cloyes, Earl Cushman; 1902, Mrs. William H. Upsom; 1905, Egbert Hadley; 1907, Mrs. Ethel Merritt; 1906, Mrs. J. O. Seeley; 1909, Samuel James.

Those of the fifty year members not present included George Seeley, Ivan Hagar, Charles Bingham, Dr. Philip Mellen, H. Wright Caswell, Mrs. Edson Day, Miss Theodora Crane, Miss Mary Bowles, Mrs. Ida Carrier.

A large birthday cake made by Stephen Baker and decorated by a picture of the Church in outline, with six candles, one for each a quarter of a century, was cut by Mr. Hadley during the singing of “Happy Birthday” to the Church.

Pictures taken by Life magazine in 1952 decorated the walls of the room. Mrs. William Upson spoke of the things she remembered in connection with the Church, the changes in the building particularly in the kitchen and vestry, and the various ministers she remembered and many of the people of the Church during the years. The committee who arranged the birthday party included Mrs. Edna White, Mrs. Stewart Andrews, Mrs. Ethel Merritt, Hilton Bicknell, and Dr. H. I. Slocum.

On a table at the back of the church auditorium were exhibited some of the old Church record books which cast much light on life in early days. Also on exhibit was a little cup, a part of the first Communion set; a silver Communion set of a later date, a candle stick with the same markings as the pillars that support the balcony; a rosewood gavel; and a cup given by Stewart Andrews to Hawthorne. – These among the material treasures of the Church cherished with the spiritual ones of 150 years.

The other members of the supper committee were Mrs. David Birdsall, Miss Carol Merritt, Mrs. Clayton Ellis, Mrs. W. H. Waite, Mrs. Ralph Elliott, Mrs. George Carleton, Miss Barbara Wells, Mrs. Worden Wells, Mrs. Francis Lucia, Miss Ruth Seeley, Mrs. Bernice Hamilton, Mrs. Carroll Rikert, Mrs. Seward Rouse, Mrs. Francis Phelps, Miss Lucille Lovett, Mrs. John Lucia.


Anniversary of Middlebury Church Noted

Rutland Herald, Oct. 28, 1959

MIDDLEBURY – (special) – The sesquicentennial celebrated at the Middlebury Congregational Church was held on Sunday with a vesper service outlining the history of the church and rededicating the building and a family dinner and program. About 350 attended.

Dr. Stephen Freeman spoke at the vesper service and read a history of the church. Greetings were brought by the Rev. Max H. Webster, minister of the Vermont Congregational Conference. The call to worship was sung by the junior choir and an anthem “Our Church” by the senior choir.

The children were included in the celebration with a story read in the morning service by Miss Betsy Hawley about Lavius, the church mouse, and including the story of the church’s history.

An outline of the history shows that the Church was gathered on Sept 5, 1790 with 12 members, the first meeting place being the barn of Daniel Foote on Foote St. where it was at first planned to locate the town. In 1794 the group voted to move “to the village near the falls.” The land for the building was purchased in March, 1806 after the church had been meeting in the Court House and in Mattock’s Tavern, now Middlebury Inn.

The building was designed by Lavius Fillmore, a cousin of President Fillmore, and was completed in 1809 and dedicated in May 31 of that year. He also designed the Bennington church.

The Vermont Legislature met here in 1800 and President Atwater delivered the sermon. The original members were leading citizens of the community. Alterations have been made in the building in 1835, in 1853, in 1925. During the last the palladium window was uncovered which had previously been plastered over. At the centennial service in 1909, the committee in charge comprised Prof. Charles Baker Wright, Prof. Thomas Boyce, and Dr. Philip Mellen.

On display at the back of the auditorium were articles of interest in the history of the church, including one of the original communion cups, later communion sets of pewter and silver and a silver candlestick with the same design as the pillars supporting the balcony. Several of the former record books on display throw much light on early life in the community.

At the birthday dinner the Rev. Walker T. Hawley, the minister, introduced those who have been members for 50 years or more. These were 1885 Mrs. Charles Swift: 1886 Mrs. Mary Manchester, Mrs. Frances Cloyes, Earl Cushman: 1902 Mrs. William Upson: 1906 Egbert Hadley: 1907 Mrs. Ethyl Merritt: 1908 Mrs. J. O. Seeley: 1909 Samuel James. Those not present included Ivan Hagar, Charles Bingham, Dr. Philip Mellen, H. Wright Caswell, Mrs. Edson Day, Miss Theodora Crane, Miss May Bowles, and Mrs. Asa Carrier.

A birthday cake, made by Stephen Baker and decorated with a picture of the church building, in outline and the dates1809-1959, was lighted by six candles, one for each 25 years and the group sang the birthday song. Mrs. William Upson spoke of the events she remembered in connected with her childhood and the church and of the changes in the building, and the various ministers and people prominent during the years.

Pictures of Old Middlebury, the church and various activities were shown by Prof. Freeman and the Rev. Hawley. Many of the pictures taken for Life magazine in 1952 were displayed.

The committee for the celebration comprises Mrs. Edna White, Mrs. Stewart Andrews, Hilton Bicknell, Dr. H. L. Slocum, Mrs. Ethel, Merritt. Among out-of-town guests were Miss Ruth Bryant of Fair Haven and Mrs. Florence Gates of Burlington.

Malcolm W. Chase, Church Historian




  • April Birthdays

    • to view birthdays for any month of the year SIGN IN to our online directory.
    • Click on Calendar in the upper left of the screen.

    Alice Munson                April 3

    John Wallace                April 3

    Elizabeth Robinson       April 5

    Spencer Smith              April 5

    Colin Foster                  April 7

    Jennifer Smith               April 7

    Robyn Stattel                April 7

    Lisa Gates                    April 8

    Alex Bonavita                April 10

    Abby 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

    Vanda Crook                 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

    Patty Hallam                  April 29

    Irene Zaccor                 April 29

    Jessica Wright               April 30



  • April Anniversaries

    Tim & Wendy Hollander                         April 1