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Elizabeth Davis - Editor

January 2024

Rev. Andy Nagy-Benson

Dear Church,


I confess to being ambivalent about New Year’s celebrations, but I gladly receive a new year’s invitation to set intentions and move forward with faith.


As 2024 dawns and the season of Epiphany begins, I am happy to share two churchy intentions with you:


First, on January 9, I will host an informal gathering from 10:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m. in Unity Hall. Coffee. Conversation. Probably some carbs. My hope is to hold space once a month for us to get to know each other better in a relaxed, agenda-less way. The “us” I have in mind begins with those of you who have joined our congregation in the past few years, but this is as open an invitation as I know how to give. All are welcome, of course. Stop by and say hi if you can. I’d love to see you.


Also, throughout the season of Epiphany, I intend to offer a six-part sermon series based on the journey of the magi (Matt. 2:1–12). As I see it, the magi invite each of us to LOOK UP, LEAVE HOME, ASK QUESTIONS, KNEEL DOWN, GIVE WHAT YOU CAN, and GO HOME DIFFERENTLY. I look forward to exploring these “steps” and reflecting on the meaning they might offer us as spiritual practices.


So, friends, a new year is laid open before us, like a field of unmarked snow. And if the months that stretch before us are anything like the ones we have known in the past, there will be celebration and sorrow, excitement and uncertainty, growth and loss along the way. There will also be ample opportunities for us to share each other’s joy, bear each other’s pain, and inspire one another with acts of kindness and love. God bless our steps.


I give thanks for you—for your good company, for your good work.



Grace and Peace,




Church Council met on December 13 and reviewed Board activities, the Treasurer's report, and Pastor Andy's monthly report. Leanna reviewed how the transition of new members on Boards works. Council was updated on how the church is funding payment for the window repair and storm window replacement which will happen in 2024. We have made the first deposit on the storm windows.


Michele Brown gave an update on the progress made by the Nominating Committee. Michele also reported for the Budget and Stewardship Committee. They have a preliminary budget and most of the pledges are in, but they are still hoping for more members to make a pledge. Michele reviewed both the 2023 and the 2024 budget with emphasis on the areas that are being changed.


Wendy Warren said the Missions Board recommends that the entire Christmas Eve Collection go the Charter House Coalition. Council approved their recommendation. Ellen Whelan-Wuest joined our meeting and presented a report on the Red Clover Children's Center. They are in good shape, and it is looking like they will have as many as six teachers in place in January. They hope to open all three classrooms by the end of January. They already have the classrooms filled and have a waiting list. Council approved the Space and Equipment Shared Use Agreement between the children's center and the church, and authorized Leanna to sign it on behalf of the church.


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. 

Dear Church,


Happy New Year! I hope you were able to find some moments of peace and joy amid the busyness of the holiday season. Because of that busyness, it feels like the Christmas Pageant was long ago, but I don’t want to miss the opportunity to congratulate and thank the children who participated, and the adults who were there to help once again. Good job, everyone!!


This Sunday, January 7, is Epiphany Sunday. As I spend time home in Colombia, with the magi still a little far from Baby Jesus in the Nativity scene, I can’t help but remember Día de los Reyes Magos (Three Kings Day) growing up. We kids would get presents on January 6th—which is always a holiday—and my sister Natalia and I would move the kings closer to the manger. It was always exciting when the magi finally made it to Jesus. Back then, I didn’t spend any time thinking about their journey. I’m glad I do now, and I’m also glad we have our way to celebrate Epiphany and to go on a journey at church as well. This Sunday, we will have our annual distribution of the Epiphany Stars; as you walk into church, you will notice some of the kids handing out golden stars with a word on them. The children will be hard to miss because they will be wearing crowns… So, look out for the Wise Children! I look forward to hearing about your Epiphany journeys this year, and about how the Spirit moves in your life through this season. See you soon back home in Vermont!


Love and Peace,


Welcome New Member: Nancy Adams

In her own words: In her life, “Adventures Abound”


She was born in Akron, Ohio and lived there with her family throughout her school years. She graduated from Muskingum College in Ohio. She chose a career in education and worked on many levels, including public school and GED programs.


Her husband-to-be was from her hometown and they met in eighth grade. He left for war in Vietnam, and soon after he returned, they were married. He was stationed in Fort Belvoir and their home was in Alexandria, VA. They have one daughter and one granddaughter.


While living in VA, she had a variety of interests. For five years she worked in a legal firm with an interest in native Americans, taught young soldiers skills for returning into private life, acted as assistant manager in their church, and worked with Girl Scouts for 20 years. A busy lady.


Widowed in 2021, she sold her home and now lives in a rented furnished home on Lake Champlain while waiting for her home to be built in Shoreham near her daughter’s family.


She is a new member from the November 2023 group and attended the Advent Bible Class with Pastor Andy.


Online Fellowship Hour

Good news from the Board of Deacons:   we now have an online deacon!   Jean Cherouny, who lives in Aruba, will be serving in this capacity.   She will be online on Sunday mornings, monitoring both Facebook and YouTube, greeting viewers on behalf of the church.  We know we have people who watch the service online, due to living or traveling out of the area, family needs, or health conditions.   We are excited to be able to interface with our at-home viewers in this way.   


Also, Jean is going to host a monthly online Fellowship Hour!   The first one will take place on Sunday, January 7 at 11:30 a.m. for 40 minutes.   Bring your coffee and a snack.  Choose one of these questions to answer, as a way of getting to know one another:  

1. What's something in your house you want to get rid of but can't? 

2. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up and why?

3. What has been your favorite road trip or vacation? 

Pastor Andy will attend these Fellowship Hours.


The Zoom link is:


PotLuck Lunch

The tables will be set to enjoy a potluck luncheon immediately following the Annual Meeting on Sunday, January 28. All you need to do is bring a dish to share! Food that needs to be refrigerated or kept warm can be dropped off in the kitchen at the Fellowship Hall kitchen before church.

Our Board of Membership & Communications volunteers will receive your dish and follow your instructions. Be prepared to let us know if your dish is vegetarian, nut-free or gluten-free. We’re looking forward to seeing everyone for a warm and joy-filled time together.

Who is Marjory Wright Upson?

Who is Marjory Wright Upson?



Marjory Alexander Wright (born 1892 in Akron OH: died 1987 in Middlebury VT) and William Hazlett Upson (born 1891 in Glen Ridge NJ: died 1975 in Middlebury VT) were married August 18, 1923 in Middlebury, VT and settled in the Middlebury area in 1928. They lived at 24 Chipman Park in Middlebury in 1940 and 1950; sharing a house with two children (Polly and John) and the parents of Marjory (Charles B. Wright and Clara [Alexander] Wright). Marjory attended Middlebury Grade School, Middlebury High School, and Middlebury College (class of 1915), and was active in the Women’s Society of the Middlebury Congregational Church and Middlebury College Alumni. William graduated from Cornell in 1914 and was an author, well known for his books on Alexander Botts, a salesman for Earthworm Tractor Company. Marjory received her registered nurse certificate in 1920 from the University of the State of New York.


Marjory Upson was known to speak to local women’s and girls’ groups. Following is the text of a talk she gave in Middlebury late in her life. Although we don’t know exactly where, when, or to whom she was speaking here, she does reference “the expensive [high school] building off Court Street that we have now,” which provides some context.



“Middlebury From the Turn of the Century”

By Marjory Wright Upson


I have been asked to speak on Middlebury as it was on the turn of the century so many times in the last ten or fifteen years that I think a lot of my friends begin to feel that I ought to be stuffed and set on a shelf in Shelburne Museum along with the old cat that lives there. Be that as it may, conditions in 1900 would be rather difficult for you girls to picture. There was no radio, TV, and there were no long distance telephones, cars, buses, planes and supermarkets were unheard of. Middlebury had four doctors at the time, and if you went to their offices, the office call was fifty cents; if they came to your house, and the doctors in those days were willing to make house call, they charged you the great sum of one dollar. There were no women’s clothing stores in Middlebury, so if you wanted a new dress, and didn’t think you could take the train to Burlington and wait all day up there, and then take the train back, there were two dry goods stores in Middlebury and you bought goods by the yard, and if you weren’t a sewer yourself, a woman who was called a seamstress came and sewed from eight in the morning till five in the afternoon, with time off for noonday dinner, which you served her, and she charged one dollar.


The school at that time was in what is now the College Street building, and it drew students from what is now the MUHS district. You may wonder how people got to school in those days. The people from Weybridge and Cornwall, and students within a couple of miles of the school, managed to get in every day; either their families drove them in, or their various neighbors who had carts, used to bring them in. There was one boy in Cornwall who lived on the road between the Cider Mill and Rte 125, and he rode in every day on horseback, rain or shine, winter or summer. His name was Mott Hoyt and we referred to him as Young Lochinvar. How did the other people, the people from Bridport, Ripton, and Salisbury, what did they do? Well, they managed to get in some way on Monday morning, each bringing a large basket of food, and there were certain people in town who rented rooms to these people and gave them kitchen privileges, and these people boarded themselves and stayed in town till Saturday afternoon when it was arranged to get them home. And there were no school lunches in those days. For those of us who lived in town, the noon lunch period was from 12 to 1:30, and we walked home and ate, not what was called lunch in those days, but was called dinner. That was the state of things before Easter Sunday 1904. That day, the old building burned, and for over a year the schools were housed all over town. The high school was in the old Catholic church which was vacant at the time and stood down by the corners of Weybridge and Shannon Streets. The rest of us who were in graded schools at the time were housed in church vestries, flower houses, or club rooms all over the town. After the fire, the school board hired an architect, and he drew plans for a very beautiful new school building. It was to have twice the floor space as the old school building and everybody was very very happy until just before the meeting when the new school building was to be voted on by the voters. The insurance company came up with the information that they had examined the walls of the old building and they were perfectly solid and were worth at least $10,000. The penny pinching Middleburites voted down the new building, which was going to cost a little over $50,000, and then one change was made: instead of the high school being on the third floor, as it had been in the old building, it was on the second floor. Of course, the tragedy of it was that within five years that building became very overcrowded, and soon after, in about 1911 or 1912, they built a new high school building, and that is now the Municipal Building. If the voters had only voted the beautiful new building, it would have served both the high school and graded school for many many years, and then when the high school needed new quarters, it would have been quite sufficient for the graded school, and at that it would not have been necessary to put up the expensive building off Court Street that we have now. But that was just one of those things. And that was the way it was when our class entered high school in the fall of 1907, we went into the second floor of the old building down here on College Street, and our class numbered 60; out of that 60, 16 of us graduated four years later.


In those days, three courses were given - - college preparatory, teacher training, which, when a girl graduated from Middlebury High School having completed teacher training courses, she could teach in one of the one-room country school in Addison County. Those were pretty good jobs because many of the girls who had them picked up very nice farmer husbands. In the college preparatory course, there were four years of Latin and English required, two years of math, and two years of a modern language. There was one year of ancient history, then there were electives; you could take three years of Greek, one year of Advanced Math, one year of Chemistry, and one year of Physics. There were five people on the faculty - - the Principal and four women teachers. My sophomore year, six of us in the college preparatory course took Greek. I might say, before I go into that, that in the English course, that was given for people who were not dropping out of school just then, but who were in school just then because they didn’t have anything else to do. In my sophomore year I took Greek, and then in my junior year I had two days of Greek before I dropped the course. There were two reasons why I dropped it. There had been six who took it the year before, and this year the person who had been sixth in the class as far as marks were concerned had dropped out, and I didn’t want to be fifth in a class of five. And also there was another reason - - Anne Smith who had taught Greek the year before had gone on to greener pastures in another job and so there wasn’t a single person on the faculty who had studied Greek. So, they went up to the College and got hold of a young junior to come down and teach the course. His name was Wayne Bosworth and I determined that I’d had enough Greek so I knew how to read Fraternity pins, so why should I take any more Greek from a man who didn’t even have a college degree? So I dropped it and enrolled in Miss Francis Warner’s course in Physics, and I have always been very glad I did. She was a marvelous teacher and I learned a lot in that course which had been very valuable to me ever since. Then the next year, I had a course in chemistry with Miss Warner, and at the time I thought it was a very good course, but I was not given college credit for the course, so when I wanted to take Chemistry 1 in the college course, it seemed to my amazement we had the same book, the same textbook, that we had used in high school, only the course was not nearly as good as Francis Warner had given us, and we only did half the experiments that we had done in the year we had it in Middlebury High School.


As far as recreation that we had in high school, athletics didn’t amount to much. I have vague recollections of boys playing baseball behind the College Street building. I do not remember football; skis were unheard of, but, in the winter time, tobogganing was very popular. You had these big travises, as they called them, and six or eight people would get on one and would start up by Old Chapel and go down the college walk and finally stop in front of the present municipal building on College Street. And that was considered a very very interesting winter sport. And also they did a great deal of snowshoeing in those days. Then, in spring and fall, we did hiking and rode bicycles - - I neglected to say that we did a lot of skating in winter. Fisher’s Pond, which is out the Creek Road, usually froze up in time for Thanksgiving weekend, so that weekend, when we weren’t eating turkey, we spent a great deal of time on the ice. Later in the season, after snow covered the ice, there were some enterprising people who used the clear the snow off the rink on Otter Creek near where the present sewage disposal plant is, and magnanimously let us skate all afternoon on that rink for the modest sum of 10 cents. Then also, if the snow hadn’t come, we did a great deal of skating on the river from the railroad bridge up to the three mile bridge which was on the road that went from East Middlebury to Cornwall. We did not go in for figure skating at all, but went in for distance and speed skating, and had lot of fun doing it.


The conditions in high school became so crowded that in 1911–1912 they built the new high school which is now the Municipal Building. That was in use until the fire of 1954. Of course, it must seem to you that there were a lot of fires in those days, and there really were. At that time, the MHS district was formed and since then there have been countless school meetings about additions, budgets, new buildings and this job and other, and I don’t want you to get the idea that I am completely unsympathetic with our penny pinching citizens who are always voting against school bond issues and things, because I know for retired people on fixed income, the average taxes are very heavy and hard sometimes. Our being taxed in three towns, Middlebury, Ripton, and Salisbury, for MHS, I know that the taxes do mount up, but we consider the schools very important and I hope that when you people get to the state when you can go to school meetings and vote, that you will realize that there is nothing that has done more to bring about the marvelous changes in sciences, etc., that has taken place since 1900, nothing has done so much as the fact that many more people are getting a good higher education: and if it is a question of buying a new car or voting an improvement in schools, for the sake of the next generation vote for new improvement.


There have been in Middlebury a lot of very generous people: they have been generous not only with their time, but with their money. Two of those that come to mind are Dr. Dorey and Mr. Joseph Battell for whom your Honor Society is named. I remember when I was a little child, hearing my family tell me about the bridge - - a wooden bridge over the river in the center of town on Main St. In 1895 the bridge burned, and divided the town in two. The only way they could get from one part of the town to the other was to go through the Pulp Mill Bridge or up around up a very very cheap iron bridge. Mr. Battell stood up at the meeting and said “I will take the contract to build that bridge.” Instead of putting up the cheap iron bridge, he put up the beautiful stone bridge which is an exact replica of the San Angelo Bridge in Rome, Italy. We regret now that he did not build it 10 or 15 wider, but that was back before the days of cars, when the Morgan horse was the idol of the people in Addison County. Then after the fire, he bought up all the property, all the land on which was the burned waste, the whole town burned from the bridge to the railroad track, everything except the building where Lazarus now holds out. Mr. Battell bought up the lots where the buildings had been burned and added greatly to the dignity of the town by building, in stages, the Battell Block. Those three parts toward the railroad track, then where the Skihaus is, he built the one for the post office, then when that became too small, he added the part where White’s store is, and that was the post office until it was moved to its present location. Mr. Battell had many interests, but one of his principal ones was Bread Loaf Inn which he ran as a loss usually, but entertained very congenial friends from New York, Philadelphia, and all over the country, and they in turn recommended the place to other congenial people and they came and had a beautiful time at Bread Loaf.


Along about 1900, some people began to consider Mr. Battell very eccentric because he didn’t receive a guest that arrived in an automobile. He was not eccentric. There was a very good reason for that. If you people could remember the Ripton Gorge the way I remember it, even when we first lived up there, it was a single track road, with turn outs about every 500 or 600 feet. There were no guard rails, the road just dropped off steeply into the gorge; one of his guests had been driving a Morgan horse down the road and met a car and the horse wasn’t used to cars and was scared and shied and there was a bad accident. Naturally, as long as the road was in that shape, Mr. Battell didn’t want to risk the lives of his friends and their beautiful horses by allowing cars on the road. There was another thing that some people didn’t understand. On the walls of his office were a lot of beautiful girls. Why should this aging bachelor have all these beautiful girls on the walls? There was a very good reason for it. These girls were either the children of friends of his who were in hard luck financially, or they were girls of exceptional ability who had been recommended to Mr. Battell and he paid their way either in College or at Music School or some such place.


Before his death he gave the Battell Campus, that is the west portion of the campus where we are now, to Middlebury College. Then on his death, he left Camel’s Hump to the State of Vermont, Chipman Hill and Battell Woods to Middlebury town, and Middlebury College was made the residuary legatee of his estate. In addition to leaving them the Battell Block and Bread Loaf Inn, he left 30,000 acres of valuable forest land which was sold to the National Forest and some of the money was used to build Forest Hall which is the Senior Dormitory up here on Middlebury Campus. Just to show his interest in the education of one woman, he put in his will that $1000 every year was to be given in 10 grants of $100 each to girls from Addison County who needed help to go on to college. $500 of that was to be given to girls from Addison County who were going to Middlebury College and the other $500 could be used in any way. I have discussed the matter with Mr. Reichert yesterday, and he said the sum is still used all the time. Of course, the specification was that they could only give $100 to each girl. That seems like a drop in the bucket now, but in those days, tuition at Middlebury College was $80 a year and the laboratory fees were another $20, which made it $100, which was just what Mr. Battell thought would suffice for those girls’ tuition.


Which all goes to show you’re growing in a different age then the one in which we grew up. I wish to thank you girls for listening so patiently to me, and I wish to thank Mrs. James for giving me another chance to speak to the high school girls and my friends before I am put in the Shelburne Museum.

Malcolm W. Chase, Church Historian


did you know?

Please note if you are donating to our church:

• from your IRA via a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD)

• through a Donor Advised Fund (DAF)

• via a gift of stock

Please notify the treasurers of the incoming donation and ask your broker to include your name on the donation. This will greatly decrease the chance of confusion or error and increase the treasurers’ ability to credit you promptly and properly. If there is a year-end donation made, please be sure the funds reach the church by mid-December.

Many thanks!


The Planned Giving Committee – John Emerson, Sally Holland (chair), and Tana Scott

Coffee with Andy

On Tuesday, January 9, 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.

Walking Group

For our first walk on Monday, January 1, 2024, let's do the Robert Frost Trail! There are plenty of places to sit if some of us need a break. Meet at 9am at the trailhead. Go out Rte. 125 thru East Middlebury, and continue up the road, and gp past the Ripton Store about 2 miles, where parking area is on RIGHT. Leashed dogs OK; car pool when you can; dress according to weather conditions.

Call Lois @ 802-989-7279 with questions.


The Nominating Committee meets each Fall to recommend church members for open positions on the six church Boards. Each year, a third of the members on each board rotate off the board and are replaced by new members. This is specified in the Church's by-laws, and this practice encourages more participation as well as new ideas and energy on each board. The term of service is normally three years, and it begins each February. 

If you are interested in serving on a board, please contact Michele Brown at 802-349-9843 or michelelbrown59@gmail.com.

  • January 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.

    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

    Jen Nuceder                  January 19

    Ashlynn Foster              January 21

    Bonnie Stevens             January 21

    Jeff Buettner                 January 24

    Lois Huldin                    January 24

    Diana Davidson            January 26

    Ethan Kent                    January 28

    Isadora Luksch              January 28

    Charles Jakiela             January 29

    Lili Luksch                     January 29

    Sally Holland                 January 30

    Jon Andrews                 January 31

    Jane Owen                    January 31



  • January Anniversaries

    Ed & Mary Williams                               January 1

    Carole & Michael Cummings                  January 2

    Judy Albright & Dory Gorton                   January 6

    Matt & Alison Dickinson                         January 7

    Buz & Angelika Brumbaugh                    January 13; Celebrating 64 yrs!