Judy Albright - Publisher
Elizabeth Davis - Editor
Judy Albright - Publisher
Elizabeth Davis - Editor
New Year’s Greetings! It is a blessing to be back at church after 14 weeks away on maternity leave, even if I do have bittersweet feelings about leaving Lydia. Parenthood is quite the adventure! My heart has expanded in ways I can’t fully explain, and I have such awe of this new life I’ve helped create with Elliott and with God. I feel so very grateful to have had the time to be with Lydia, and I am thankful for the loving support of this church community. I want to thank Pastor Andy for his support and good work while I was away, as well as James Calvin Davis, Steve Jewett, Mark Orten, Larry Jones, and Andi Lloyd for their contributions to the preaching ministry of the church.
It may be obvious, but I am still reflecting on this new profound change in mine and Elliott’s life, this new role of motherhood, this beautiful creation of Lydia, and how I now feel a change in my relationship with God, mother of us all. Although I wasn’t attending church in person during the season of Advent, having a baby in my arms as we eagerly await the arrival of the baby Jesus gives me new meaning as well. I look forward to sharing my thoughts as time goes on, as Lydia grows, as I lean into this pastor-mother identity.
For now, I thank God for this church family and to be your pastor in all your seasons of life, even as I walk through mine.
See you soon! (I’m back in the church office January 4th.)
There were 15 church members present for the meeting. We listened to reports from Andy and the chairs of all the church boards. Andy reviewed his work dealing with the problems at MUMS, as well as his work for pastoral care needs.
There was a discussion of renaming the firehouse room in honor of Russ Carpenter. It will be on the agenda for next month.
There was a discussion of the next steps to take now that church members voted to proceed with the construction of the columbarium. It was decided that the trustees, in consultation with Andy, will be in charge of appointing the Columbarium Governance Committee, since it will be a sub-committee of the Board of Trustees.
The committee for the Retiring the Debt Campaign was announced. John Emerson is the chair. Other members are Leanna Maglienti, Andy Nagy-Benson, Rich Carpenter, and Katy Smith Abbott (temporarily). Judy Albright and Jakee Zaccor are also part of the committee and are in charge of communications. There was a short discussion of this campaign.
The Christmas season is just ending, and the season of Epiphany will begin on January 6. With Epiphany comes our annual Star Words. If you are new to the church, for the past two years we have been celebrating the season of Epiphany by receiving Star Words. What are Star Words? They are words for you to focus on, meditate on and listen to how God is speaking to you. This is a voluntary program. Take a star if you want or not—it’s all good. The Junior Youth Group will help me distribute them on January 9 during the worship service. If you are unable to attend, you can pick one up at the church office at your convenience.
For those who are curious, here is the list of this year’s words:
The Junior Youth Group will work on an art project led by Judy Albright on Saturday, January 22. These art projects will be based on the student’s Star Word and will be displayed in the church lobby for all to see.
The Confirmation Class met with their adult mentors on Sunday, December 12, to discuss faith journeys. It was an engaging, enlightening, and enriching experience. Here is the list of questions that they pondered together:
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you” ~ Isaiah 60:1
Early in Advent, the Monday Evening Adult Study Group got together to sit with the words of some common hymns for the season, to reflect on what meaning those words might have for us in our observance of Advent and Christmas in 2021. We talked about the importance of Advent as an ancient tradition of time in the Church, a time to wait on God-with-us (Emmanuel), and how this ritual of waiting might have particular meaning for us in our pandemic waiting for a return to normality. We studied the well-aged words of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and “Come, O Long Expected Jesus” and connected the longing in those hymns with the loneliness and anxiety many are feeling in our time and place. We sat with the strangeness in “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” and the hopeful expectation of “Hail to the Lord’s Anointed” and asked what those words might offer our experience of waiting for God in this moment.
One theme that emerged from our conversation was an appreciation for how these hymns represent a living conversation between generations of Christian communities. Whether the hymns were written in the fourth century or the nineteenth, they often reflect the writers’ poetic attempts to process anxiety and fear within the larger story of God’s reliable love and presence. They are reflections of the worlds of their writers, but they are not merely a reflection of one person’s faith. Each of the hymns draws on New Testament words and images that themselves were poetic attempts to wait on Emmanuel in the middle of first-century trials and tribulations. In turn, much of the New Testament draws on the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and its lyrical efforts to maintain hope in a Messiah in the face of uncertainty and danger. As a result, each hymn presents layer upon layer of meaning, an inter-generational testament that beckons us to look for God-with-us in our own lives.
For me, that is the richness of belonging to a faith tradition. Christian tradition represents millennia of people and communities giving voice to universal feelings of joy, love, longing, loneliness, and concern, and trying to understand those experiences through the prism of faith. Christian tradition is the living conversation between saints of every time and place, with each generation expressing the ways that God has served as a buoy for them through their navigation of the goodness and hardness of life.
As we continue through the Christmas season, I invite you to find a moment to join this conversation. Open a hymnal to some of your favorite Christmas hymns and carols (or look them up online) and sit with the words like you have never done before. Listen to ancient voices testifying to God’s presence with them—and take up their invitation to look for new signs of God-with-us in your life too.
Join us for another round of Mindful Mornings with Melissa Mae this winter! 9am Monday mornings on zoom January-March, we will begin each week together with activities to balance and bolster the body's innate capacity of healing and love. Please dress comfortably and bring a candle.
If you are interested in donating to help support the work of Melissa Mae and Love Play Grow Wellness please use paypal.me/loveplaygrow or send a check to 426 Cutting Hill Road Whiting VT 05778
Contact Melissa at email@example.com for more information.
GivePlus Mobile will be retiring January 2022. Vanco Mobile is the app you can download to give to the church through your smartphones going forward! The same Login should work.
Many of us will recognize new member Lorrie Muller, who has added her musical skills to our church bell ringers. Lorrie was born in Texas and first played the piano, but over the years went on to play many different musical instruments, including strings and woodwinds.
After her marriage and the birth of her three children, while living in Saugerties, New York, Lorrie recognized a need for teaching certain adults in the community how to read and write. She worked with a few volunteers to found and manage an organization dedicated to teaching adult literacy. In seven years, they were teaching over 250 adults a year. It was then that Lorrie was hired to run the organization, which she did for eight years until she retired.
When Lorrie moved to Middlebury in 2002, she returned to volunteering by working with The United Way of Addison County. Three years later, due to paid staff retirements and moves, Lorrie found herself alone in managing the organization. In 2006, her excellent work was recognized: She received a Vermont State Commendation from Governor Jim Douglas. Lorrie also joined the Friends of Ilsley Public Library and eventually became their president. She is currently their longest serving board member. As a member of the Middlebury Garden Club, Lorrie served as treasurer for twelve years.
Besides volunteering, gardening, and music, Lorrie’s interests include reading, collecting angels, and maintaining her late husband’s collection of clocks.
What you may not know: Lorrie is the mother of our Church Deacon Lyn DeGraff.
The Green Team is happy to report that our application to become a Creation Justice Church, a program designed by the United Church of Christ to expand and deepen our environmental ministry, has been completed and submitted to the UCC’s Environmental Justice Program for review and, we hope, approval. The congregation approved our Creation Justice Covenant (a significant part of the application) at the 2021 Annual Meeting. We have been working diligently since then to incorporate creation justice into our worship services and our institutional practices, building our awareness of creation justice issues in our community and state, and connecting with broader environmental justice movements, and we will continue to do so. We would like to share the Covenant with you again this year as a reminder of our obligation and our inspiration. The next meeting of the Green Team will be on Sunday, January 9, 2022, at 7:00 via Zoom. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com if you are interested in attending.
Middlebury Congregational Church Creation Justice Covenant
From the beginning, God entrusted us as stewards of God’s good creation. In fashioning us in God’s image, God bestowed upon us the responsibility to tend to creation as God would: with love and a respect for the needs of all living things. In affirming the divine gifts of creation and our connection to God, each other, and the world around us, the Congregational Church of Middlebury, UCC, commits ourselves to this urgent responsibility. We pledge to increase our awareness of how the abuses of creation cause environmental degradation and human suffering, and to celebrate and support work that preserves or restores ecological processes that benefit all life. We promise to fight the injustices of climate change, supporting and advocating for those most harmed by its effects. Furthermore, as we confront this growing crisis, we resolve that these deeply felt commitments will be reflected in all dimensions of our congregation’s life and extend far beyond our church’s walls. In this way, we acknowledge and honor God’s glory and perfect intent.
Did you know?
Among the earliest gifts in the church’s endowed funds is a bequest of $1,000 made in 1899 by Abby Beckwith. In today’s dollars, the gift is worth approximately $40,000, which can provide the church budget with $1,600 each year in perpetuity. The earliest gift to our endowment for care and maintenance of the church building was also $1,000, made by Joseph Battelle in 1916.
Rev. Thomas Simms served The Congregational Church of Middlebury from February 1901 to October 1906. He came to Middlebury from South Manchester, NH. After five years of service, he went to a larger church (Braintree, MA).
Thomas Simms was born in Bath, Somerset, England in 1854, attended public schools in New York City and Westfield NJ, and prepared for college at Hackettstown, NJ. He then graduated from Wesleyan University with a BA in 1883 and an MA in 1886; was president of his class and class orator. He also belonged to the Alpha Kappa Epsilon fraternity. He was ordained in the Methodist Episcopal Ministry at Fall River, MA, on July 7, 1887. Mr. Simms joined the New England Southern Conference, Methodist Episcopal Church, in 1883–1888. He was stationed at Falmouth MA 1883–1884; Dighton MA 1884–1885; Main Street, Norwich CT 1885–1888; Pastor of the First Congregational Church, Norwich CT 1888–1891; South Manchester CT 1891–1900; Middlebury, VT 1901–1906; Braintree MA 1906–1911; Gorham ME 1911–1918; and Ipswich MA 1918–1920.
Rev. Thomas Simms became a naturalized citizen on October 25, 1886, in Norwich, New London, CT.* He married Nellie Baxter Swain on February 2, 1887, in New Haven, CT. The parents of Thomas are John Simms and Jane Deverell; the parents of Nellie are George H. Swain (born in Nantucket, MA) and Henrietta Weeks (born in Nantucket, MA). Nellie Swain’s brother was Professor H. S. Swain of Yale University.
Thomas and Nellie had four children: Ruth (school principal), Herbert (comptroller/bank), Helen (teacher), and Henry (biochemist). Rev. Simms and his family would have lived in our church parsonage at 1 South Pleasant Street while living in Middlebury. Thomas Simms was buried in Old South Cemetery, Ipswich, Essex, MA. No information was found on the death or burial of Nellie Baxter Simms.
Thomas Simms born May 17, 1854 Bath, England died August 27, 1920 Ipswich MA
Nellie Baxter Swain born August 21, 1859 Nantucket MA died after 1920
1. Ruth Henrietta Simms: born February 2, 1888, in Norwich, New London, CT; died September 24, 1981, of senility at the Cedar Manor Nursing Home in Windsor, VT. Ruth’s occupation was in education (teacher and vice-principal); she lived in Danvers, Essex, MA, and East Orange, Essex, NJ; no burial or obituary information was found.
2. Herbert Lincoln Simms: born February 21, 1890, in Norwich, New London, CT; died December 21, 1962, from a heart attack in Reading, Windsor, VT. As did his father, Herbert graduated from Thayer Academy and Wesleyan University and was a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. He taught in Kiskiminetas School in Saltsburg, Indiana County, PA 1912–1913; was employed by the Bankers Trust Company NY (1913–1918); enlisted in the US Navy as chief yeoman (April 1918), commissioned ensign (June 1918), promoted to lieutenant junior grade (June 1919), discharged Aug 1919. He was then re-employed by Bankers Trust for 41 years. He married twice:  Regina Lucille Cooper on April 15, 1918, in Brooklyn, NY and  Anne Tully in 1945 in NJ. Regina was born July 25, 1893, in Weehawken, Hudson, NJ, and died January 7, 1971. Anne Tully was born July 27, 1912, in Closter, Bergen, NJ, and died April 12, 1987, at Merten’s House in Woodstock, Windsor, VT. Anne’s parents were Patrick Tully and Sarah Armstrong; the couple had no children; both Herbert and Anne were buried in the Felchville (Reading), Windsor, VT cemetery. Anne was a member of the Congregational Church in Springfield, Windsor, VT, the Springfield Garden Club and the Springfield Hospital Auxiliary, and a member of the board of directors of Fletcher Farms, Inc in Ludlow. In 1953, Anne and Herbert moved from Manhattan, NY to Reading, VT.
3. Helen Simms: born September 28, 1894, in Manchester, Hartford, CT; died June 6, 1983, at the Old English Inn in Manchester VT; married February 2, 1918 to Arthur Thomas Vaughn in Gorham, Cumberland, ME. The couple had two daughters (Virginia and Doris). Arthur was born May 8, 1894, in Newark, Essex, NJ; died September 15, 1960, at the Putnam Memorial Hospital in Bennington, VT. Funeral services for each were held in the Arlington Federated Church in East Arlington, VT, and both were buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Arlington. Arthur graduated from Middlebury College, served in the Army in World Wars I and II and in the occupation forces in Japan. He was employed by the National Carbon Co in Bennington and was previously vice president of an advertising company in Newark NJ. Helen was a member of the East Arlington Federated Church and the Arlington Garden Club.
4. Henry Swain Simms: born May 26, 1896, in Manchester, Hartford, CT; died September 17, 1978, in Rockleigh. Bergen, NJ; married August 17, 1926, Adele Woods in Manhattan, NY; no children. Adele Woods: born May 14, 1895, in Georgia; died 1967, buried with her mother in Evergreen Cemetery in Jacksonville FL. Henry served in the Army during World War I, graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Columbia University, and was engaged in medical research for 35 years at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York. In 1957, he moved from Closter (across the river from Yonkers, NY) to Rockleigh. Could not find any additional information for Adele.
Next month, the life of Rev. Charles H. Dickinson and family will be presented; he served our church from 1906 to 1911.
* in the narrative, the name of the town is often followed by the name of the county, and then the name of the state; this illustrates that many of these folks lived close to each other.
Mal Chase, Historian
Carol Chatfield January 6
Erika Evarts January 6
Margaret Eagan January 9
Enid Engler January 9
Jim Eagan January 11
Alex Bleich January 13
Lyn DeGraff January 13
Justine Hanrahan January 14
Skyeler Devlin January 17
Al Stiles January 17
Diane Munroe January 18
Jennifer Nuceder January 19
Ashlynn Foster January 21
Bonnie Stevens January 21
Jeff Buettner January 24
Lois Huldin January 24
Ethan Kent January 28
Isadora Luksch January 28
Charles Jakiela January 29
Liliana Luksch January 29
Sally Holland January 30
Jon Andrews January 31
Ed & Mary Williams January 1
Carole Cummings January 2
Judy Albright & Dory Gorton. January 6
Matt & Alison Dickinson January 7
Buzz & Angelika Brumbaugh January 13; Celebrating 62 yrs!