Judy Albright and Abby Gleason - Design and Publishing

Elizabeth Davis - Editor

February 2024

Helping people in their time of need

Rev. Andy Nagy-Benson

Dear Church,


Every once in a while, I feel inclined to shine a light on Pastors’ Discretionary Fund, to share what it is and what it does. So, here’s a reminder to some, and new information for others:


The Pastors’ Discretionary Fund is an account of the church managed by the pastors, with support from the Church Administrator and the Treasurer.


The purpose of the Fund is to provide financial assistance, in a confidential way, to members of our congregation and the wider community. Last year, more than $8,700 was given to support dozens of people in their times of need.


The requests most frequently come from our community partners at HOPE and CVOEO. And when we are able to offer assistance, our funds are sent directly to the owed company/entity.


So, from whence cometh the funding for the Pastors’ Discretionary Fund? The short answer: from donations of church members and friends.


The needs of many in our community are deep and persistent, and I’m grateful that these funds allow us to quietly help people in our community. Thank you for the privilege of carrying out this work.


Grace and Peace,

Pastor Andy



Church Council met on January 10. We listened to Pastor Andy’s report and reviewed the reports of the Boards. All is going well, with the exception of the theft of $1,000 from the Pastors’ Discretionary Fund by a person we were helping by paying a bill for the person.

We reviewed the year-end financial statements and 2024 proposed budget. Michele Brown and Erika Garner did an excellent presentation of the budget and the changes for 2024. Council voted to recommend the approval of the year-end financial statements and the 2024 budget to our congregation at our Annual Meeting. We applauded Cathy Chase for all her work in getting the financial statements done so quickly at the end of the year. It was noted that, as our budget has become more complicated over the years, it would make it more manageable to get the financial statements done if there was even a couple more weeks before we held our Annual Meeting.

Council approved the Warning for the Annual Meeting. Council approved the revised job description for the Church Administrator. Council approved the proposed changes to the Personnel Policy. All of these approvals were after each topic had been discussed.

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. 

A note from the Deacons

Most of you have probably heard that we had an unusual incident at the beginning of the 7:30 p.m. Christmas Eve service. A man came into the church during the prelude and walked down one of the center aisles toward the pulpit, shouting about Satan. He flicked his lit cigarette onto the carpet. He continued to shout as he turned and walked toward the rear of the church. A number of churchgoers walked with him as they gently encouraged him to leave the church.

As soon as the man started to shout, a deacon called the Middlebury police. Other churchgoers also called. The deacons activated the automated door locking mechanism for all exterior doors and then did a walk-through of the building, just as is done every Sunday morning. A deacon talked with the police officers when they arrived.

In May 2022, the deacons and staff engaged Officer Nick Stewart of the Middlebury Police Department to teach us ways to handle a person who attempts to disrupt our services. He taught us to start with de-escalation. The deacons are planning another training session this year and will open it to any person who is interested in attending.

Dear church,


I recently read that migratory birds follow their internal compass to know where they need to go. Granted, scientists don’t fully understand how this compass works, but they agree that birds seem to get navigational information from the Earth’s magnetic field, the sun, and … you guessed it, the stars! Maybe back in the day, back in the time of Jesus, before all the distractions and gadgets that seem to make our lives easier, we humans just knew how to follow a star. Maybe I'm just excited about the idea and about the Star Words.


I trust that most of you have gotten an Epiphany Star. I also hope that you, wherever you are in this spectrum (if you’re a backyard astronomer who knows all the winter constellations, or if the only star you can read is the one you got at church), have had some quiet time to reflect on the word, and how you might incorporate its meaning into your life. Or as I often think of it: How is God speaking to me through that one word? What is God asking me to pay attention to?


Friends, we will have time to reflect on our words in community. The Board of Membership and the Board of Christian Development will be hosting an Epiphany Party where we will have the chance to connect with others who have our same Star Word and have a conversation about it. It will take place on Saturday, February 10th from 4 to 5:30 pm. We will have snacks, and one of you will become the Epiphany Queen or King! I look forward to seeing you all there! I look forward to seeing you all there!




Coffee and fellowship!

On Wednesday, February 7th, 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: 

John Harrell

Hi, I am John B. Harrell and I have been living in Middlebury since April 2023. I was baptized last year and joined our church with the last group. I also agreed to serve on the Board of Membership.


I am pretty much trying to change a lot of things about myself, get out the old and get into the new me. Coming to church now is a blessing, I never thought I would do that. I am accepted with loving arms  and I am truly grateful. Since I have been coming to church I have experienced a lot of care and love.


Shaw’s is where I work. I enjoy playing basketball and building memories with my girlfriend Stacie, and our 4 children. We are a blended family with one girl and 3 boys.  Our daughter is 14 years old, and the boys are 5, 18 and 23 years old. I am enjoying building memories with them in Middlebury.


My heart is grateful for so many things, my relationship, children, and my church and the people in it. Also, I feel grateful for my friends at Shaw’s where I work. I am looking to do better and do greater things for myself. I am looking for housing now as well, and I know I must be patient.


In conclusion, favorite activities are basketball, spending as much time with my girlfriend and children as possible and doing good. It helps me to better motivate myself to keep me on a positive track. We are working hard together.



Welcome new member: 

Barbara "bobbie"Shinehouse

After working for the same company in Philadelphia, PA, for 25+ years, I retired in 2015. One of the best benefits is that my time is my own and weekends have become seven days long.


After multiple trips north to Vermont to visit friends who live nearby in Vermont and New York State, I made the move to Middlebury in 2023. I am still adjusting to a more rural lifestyle than in New Jersey, but it seems to agree with me, and I really enjoy living in Middlebury.


I have many favorite books, so instead will share one I still remember as my least favorite after having read it many years ago:  Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. Aside from the pleasure of reading, I enjoy crocheting, and if I don’t have a current WIP (work in progress) on my hook, I am looking for a pattern to one.


What attracted me most to our church is the outreach programs and the opportunities for fellowship. It is important to me to have a church that is active in the community, welcoming, and supportive of everyone. Currently, I help out on Thursdays to do food prep for the Friday dinners and will be joining the Board of Missions and Social Concerns this year.

Welcome new member: 

Lindsay Wilson

I live in Cornwall with my husband, Jonathan, two kids, Henry and Daisy, and our dog, Bubba. Henry is five and currently attends the Bridge School Preschool. Daisy is two and goes to Otter Creek Child Care Center. My husband and I both grew up in Middlebury and are happy to be back home and raising our kids near family and friends. Before coming back to Middlebury, we spent a few years in New Haven, CT and Boston, MA. I work remotely as a climate change adaptation and hazard mitigation specialist for an engineering firm in Boston. When not working or taking care of the kiddos, I love going for runs, doing yoga, and I'm trying to get better at cooking. I'm excited to get to know the church community better!

Red clover children center

The door into the RCCC classroom area is now locked with a keypad during childcare hours. If you exit the elevator, you will see a new door installed (to the right) that limits access to that end of the hallway. Downstairs restrooms are still available off Fellowship Hall.

Parking is reserved for RCCC families during pick up and drop off times. Monday through Thursday, RCCC has primary access to the parking lot from 7-9AM and from 3-4:30PM. On Fridays, the morning timing remains in place, and RCCC families need to find other parking options to accommodate the Community Supper at the end of the day. Thanks for your help with this important weekly routine!

Green Team Reflection for Lent: 

Mission Climate Justice

For the past several years, the Green Team has offered a variety of suggestions for our congregation to consider as we wrestle with our impact on the Earth and with the realities of climate change. These suggestions have included reducing our use of single-use plastics, reflecting on our consumer habits, and sharing vegan recipes, among others.


This Lent, we are leaning into the subject of climate justice. We will explore what environmental racism is, revealing where it exists in our community and learning how to be allies in promoting climate justice. Our team will share articles and videos throughout the six weeks of Lent and host a conversation after church on Sunday, March 3. This conversation will include viewing a webinar featuring the Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley, a civil rights activist, pastor, and environmental justice activist. The Green Team has been moved by Rev. Dr. Durley’s work and found the webinar to be both inspiring and hopeful. We hope that sharing his words and passion with the wider church community will spark further conversation and possible engagement on the subject.


We look forward to sharing our Lenten reflections on climate justice with all of you. Stay tuned for more details regarding the webinar. We invite you to join us on the journey!

did you know?

In 2000, our annual operating budget was about $232,000, and income from bequests held in the endowment provided over 20% of the needed resources. In 2024, the annual budget exceeds $694,000, and income from bequests supports around 7.1% of the budget. For the 2024 budget to have 20% of its support come from endowed funds would correspond to a total endowment of $6.6 million, whereas our present endowment totals just over $2.3 million. New gifts to the endowment will not return us to the year-2000 level anytime soon, but every new gift or bequest helps us move in that direction.

Helping Hands

The “Helping Hands Crew,” formerly the “Fix-It Crew,” will start meeting the first Monday of every month beginning February 5th from 10:15–12:15. Please bring a mop bucket or small pail if you have one, as our first task will be to wipe down door frames, doors, marks on walls, and the folding chairs in Fellowship Hall. As the saying goes, many hands make light work!

If you are available or have any questions, give Dorothy Douglas a call at 388-6257 or email her at jdmamidd@comcast.net.

Men's and LAdies' Lunch

Ladies’ Lunch at Route 7 South Sandwich Co. The Ladies’ Lunch on February 15th at 11:30 am will be held at Route Seven South Sandwich Co. Please sign up to attend by Wednesday, February 14th 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 February 15th at noon. If you plan to attend the lunch or have questions, please contact Mal Chase at patandmalchase@gmail.com.

Share comfort food in February!

It’s cold outside and, unfortunately, hunger makes it worse for many of our neighbors. Your Board of Mission and Social Concern has designated February as the month to “Share a Gift of Comfort.” By that we mean “comfort food,” the kind that warms you up on a cold day; things like chicken noodle or tomato soup, chili, canned stew, pancake mix, mac and cheese, or mashed potatoes . Imagine the possibilities – and then let us give comfort to those who ache in the cold!

Historically speaking:

Founders Day

Here is a question to help raise your knowledge about the past history of our church: how do we celebrate the age of our church?


The Middlebury Religious Society was founded on 15 June 1790. Traditionally we have not celebrated the birthday of the Society by highlighting its “birth” every year. Instead we celebrate the age by dedicating (or rededicating) its founding every 50 years. The services have been interesting in that each keynote speaker gave their interpretation of the establishing of the society as well as the changes that occurred over the years, especially in the most recent 50-year period. Even though the sermons might be similar, keep in mind that with the passage of 50 years, most in the congregation only hear one of these dedication services and participate in one 50-year celebration in person. The sermons have not been printed or stored in an easily accessible location. If you missed the service, there was no easy way to find a printed copy of the sermon and other portions of the dedication service.

Five celebrations (for the religious society) are summarized below for the years 1790, 1840, 1890, 1940, and 1990. Occasionally programs and newspaper articles are available as well as the text from the keynote speakers. This makes it possible for the interested reader to hear and feel the development of the religious society over the years.

Sometimes there is a printed program for the (re)dedication. Also, we are fortunate to have paper copies of the keynote speakers’ sermons for some of these celebrations. These sermons have been transcribed into digital copies that will be available for all to read at their convenience in the future. Lastly, for the more recent celebrations, there might be a newspaper article highlighting the activities of the event.

In the following table, five (re)dedications are summarized. The specifics of each program are given after this table.





5 Sept 1790

Church of Christ in Middlebury was formed – signing of the compact






3 Sept 1840

The Rev. Thomas A. Merrill, D. D. delivered the semi-centennial sermon, containing a history of Middlebury, VT; there was no formal program






 May 1890

Centennial anniversary appropriately observed, specific date not stated; sermon delivered by D. D. George N. Webber; there was no formal program; no settled pastor






12–13 Oct 1940

Historical play, banquet, pastoral prayer by Henry C. Newell, address by Paul D. Moody, sermon by Gains Glenn Atkins






2–8 Sept 1990

Six presentations throughout the calendar year including two musical events, banquet: speakers were Glenn Andres and David Stameshkin







The 250th rededication to be scheduled in 16 years





The following provides some additional details for each of the anniversary celebrations.

1790 – Formation of the Religious Society

The Congregational Church of Christ in Middlebury was organized 5 Sept 1790. The Rev. John Barnet was ordained Pastor of the church, 11 Nov 1790; the Rev. Thomas A. Merrill was ordained Pastor of the church, December 19, 1805.

1840 – 50th Anniversary of the Religious Society

A letter, dated 11 Jan 1841, directed to The Rev. T. A. Merrill, D. D. from five gentlemen (Ira Allen, S. Stoddard, S. Swift, E. Hammond, and D. L. Potter) read as follows: “Dear Sir: At a meeting of the Congregational Church in this town, the subscribers were appointed a Committee to request for publication a copy of the sermon, delivered by you on the last Thanksgiving day.”

Rev. Merrill preached this semi-centennial sermon just two years before the end of his historic 37-year pastorate; this sermon contained notes on the history of the Town of Middlebury. Other than this special sermon, there was no formal program presented to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Society. The introductory information for the sermon was:


Containing a History of Middlebury, VT

Delivered, 3 Dec 1840

Being the First Thanksgiving Day

After the expiration of half a century

from the Organization of the Congregational Church

9 Sept 1790

by Thomas A. Merrill, D.D.

Pastor of the Middlebury Church

Printed by Ephraim Maxham



The typed paper copy of the sermon is 35 pages in length containing an additional 75 pages of detailed notes.


1890 – 100th Anniversary of the Religious Society

The centennial of the Religious Society was appropriately observed in 1890; Dr. George N. Webber preached the anniversary sermon (on a Sunday in May). At this time, there was no settled pastor at the church. There was no record found as to a dedication ceremony or the title of the sermon. In the same year in December, Dr. George N. Webber presented a sermon for the Forefathers’ Day. He was ordained pastor shorty after these two services.


1940 – 150th Anniversary of the Religious Society

The 150th Anniversary was documented with a 16 page program (6" by 9"): there were 5 pictures (three pictures of the church and one each of the Rev. William F. Hastings and the Rev. Thomas A. Merrill), a program listing the events on Saturday 14 Oct 1940 and Sunday 15 Oct 1940, a chronological listing of key events in the church from 1788 to 1930, details of a historical play, prayer and benediction, listing of pastors from 1790 to 1940, Sesquicentennial Committees, words of an Ode composed by Samuel Swift, and old homes open for inspection.


Saturday, October 12, 1940

  • 6:00 P.M.   One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary Dinner
  • 8:00 P.M.   Historical Play – Sesquicentennial of the founding of the church; play written by W. Storrs Lee, narrator Stephen Freeman, Ben Foster in play
  • Sunday, October 11, 1940
  • 10:30 A.M.    Sesquicentennial service – Sermon by the Rev. Gains Glenn Atkins D.D., Address by the Rev. Paul D. Moody; President of Middlebury College, Pastoral Prayer by the Rev. Henry C. Newell D.D.
  • 1:15 P.M.    Sesquicentennial Luncheon, greetings from former members and friends of the church
  • 3:00 P.M.    Open house tours of Old Middlebury Homes, Special Historical Exhibit in Sheldon Museum


150th Anniversary Calling of First Minister, June 15, 1790 – sermon preached by Rev. Gains Glenn Atkins, DD.


Newspaper article – “Impressive Observances Mark Sesquicentennial Anniversary of Middlebury Cong’l Church,” Middlebury Register, Friday, October 18, 1940 (pp 1 and 4)


1990 – 200th Anniversary of the Religious Society

The 200th Anniversary was celebrated with a series of presentations throughout the calendar year.


Dedication – Glenn M. Andres, January 18, 1990 (Thursday)


Exhibit and Open House celebrating “Middlebury Congregational Church: The First 200 Years,” Sunday, June 17, 10, 2:00 – 6:00 p.m.


A Bicentennial Covenant Celebration – A Service of Holy Communion (September 9, 1990 at The Bread Loaf Barn)

  • Greeting (The Rev. Dr. D. Curtis Minter)
  • Meditation (The Rev. David Andrews)
  • Worship Service followed by picnic lunch and games


A Bicentennial Banquet (6 Oct 1990)

Social Hour

  • Dinner (Grace by The Rev. David Andrews)
  • Special Recognition (Moderator James Douglas)
  • The Rev. Wallace and Lynette Anderson
  • The Rev. Lillian Gregory
  • Mrs. Ruth Hawley
  • Recognition of members of 50 and more years
  • Speaker Professor David Stameshkim – “Community, Covenant, and Congregationalism: Recreating a Christian Community in the Vermont Frontier”


The Creation – The Middlebury Church goes back to the beginning for its inspiration – Weekend, page 12D


  • Bayley – Hazen Singers
  • Congregational Church of Middlebury 1790–1990; 12 month daily calendar with annotations.
  • Incomplete calendar since 1790
  • Exhibit and Open House celebrating “Middlebury Congregational Church: The First 200 Years” – Sunday, June 17, 1990, 2:00 – 6:00 p.m.
  • Bayley-Hazen Singers, Summer, 1990
  • A Celebration of Our Covenants – Sunday, September 9, 1990 at The Breadloaf Barn; worship service followed by picnic lunch and games; Meditation by Rev. David Andrews


2040 – 250th Anniversary of the Religious Society

To be celebrated in about 16 years

For The Middlebury Religious Society, there is a significant source of information to define the nature of the five anniversary celebrations and helps lead us to the future. However, there is another sequence of celebratory services which lead from another “birthday,” but that is a story for next month.

Malcolm W Chase


  • February 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.

    Su Reid-St. John           February 1

    Dorie Bechtel                February 2

    Patrick Marshall             February 2

    Jim Wright                     February 2

    Louise White                 February 3

    Teagan Glen                 February 4

    John McLeod                February 4

    Jenny Orten                  February 4

    Liz Vant                        February 6

    Natasha Causton           February 7

    Ginger Fiskio                February 8

    Erin Quinn                     February 8

    Carole Cummings          February 9

    Bob Gleason                 February 9

    Polly Birdsall                 February 10

    Peg Lawrence                February 10

    Alan Marshall                February 11

    Helen McFerran             February 11

    Zaria Smith                   February 11

    Peter Munteanu             February 12

    Mitzi Poduschnick         February 15

    Kirsten Hendy               February 16

    Felipe Chavez Carrillo    February 17

    Julian Roy                     February 17

    Jackie Leach                 February 18

    Bas Phair                      February 19

    Bill Miller, Jr.                 February 21

    Gavin Krahn                  February 24

    Mary Nagy-Benson        February 24

    Sam Stinson                 February 25

    Hunter Munteanu           February 28

    Priscilla Tully                 February 28



  • February Anniversaries

    Tiffany Nourse Sargent & Bill Sargent     February 1

    Frank Van Gansbeke & Annie Magri       February 16

    Jon Andrews & Lisa Rader                     February 24

    Matthew & Robyn Stattel                       February 29