Judy Albright - Designer and Publisher

Elizabeth Davis - Editor

July 2022

The Heart of Our Congregation

Rev. Elizabeth Gleich

Dear Church,  

Blessings to you! In last year’s July 2021 “Church Matters,” I wrote about how the church was making preparations to open our doors after over 500 days of online worship. At that time, we were training our A/V team, cleaning and painting parts of the sanctuary, and remembering all the choreography that goes into an in-person worship service. What a difference a year makes! I’ll never forget the joy of that first Sunday back. What joy! What tears! What beautiful music! Since July 25, 2021, we have navigated COVID surges and various COVID precautions, but through it all our doors have remained open. Thanks be to God for that.

Each Sunday, our in-person worshipping congregation looks a little different than pre-pandemic. Some families with young children haven’t returned. Some immunocompromised folks are nervous to be around so many people, and instead worship with us online. Some have fallen out of the habit of regular church attendance. A handful of new people have come and joined. We have new visitors every week. We are not what we once were… but how could we be two and a half years later? The strain of the ongoing pandemic and other global and national challenges have left us fatigued. We are stretched more than ever. But at the heart of our congregation, the joy of worship, the enthusiasm for community, the generosity of giving—it is all still there. And it is growing and changing as we do.

Every once in a while I love to close with a poem/blessing from Jan Richardson. This is one that I think speaks to our call now—to bear the light in these unbearable times.

Blessed are you
who bear the light
in unbearable times,
who testify
to its endurance
amid the unendurable,
who bear witness
to its persistence
when everything seems
in shadow
and grief.

Blessed are you
in whom
the light lives,
in whom
the brightness blazes—
your heart
a chapel,
an altar where
in the deepest night
can be seen
the fire that
shines forth in you
in unaccountable faith,
in stubborn hope,
in love that illumines
every broken thing
it finds.
—Jan Richardson
from Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons

Pastor Elizabeth



Church Council met on June 8 and heard reports from both ministers and from the chairs of our Church Boards. Andy reported that a lot of time has gone into the transition from Jennifer to Eliana as our new Director of Children and Youth Ministries. Another concern of Andy’s is the amount of trauma in peoples’ lives right now. He also reported that between the week he is spending in Pittsburgh for his doctoral program, and the week in Maine with the Senior Youth Group service trip, and then his vacation in July, he will not be around much for the next six weeks.

Our Church Boards have been busy. A few highlights from these reports include: A report on continuing work on the church building (primarily roof and windows) by the Trustees; organizing monthly potluck luncheons starting this fall by Membership; and no staffing in the nursery during worship services during the summer by Christian Development.

Council approved spending up to $1,000 from the Barberis fund to help fund the youth service trip. Council also approved the addition of two new people to replace two no longer involved in church finances for the National Bank of Middlebury checking account.

Mal Chase presented a very detailed report on church records and history. He has been going through a lot of cardboard boxes to get an understanding of what has been saved. He is also working on an update to Stephen Freeman’s book on the history of our church.

Ellen Whelan-Wuest and Pastor Elizabeth gave a detailed update on the child care center project. They announced that Table 21 has approved a grant of $200,000, increasing the total raised for this project to $560,000. Church Council approved a Memorandum of Understanding providing that our church will be the fiscal sponsor for the child care nonprofit corporation until they obtain their own 501(c)(3) status. This is so they can apply for and accept grants. (This is dependent of the congregational vote at our special meeting on June 19 to approve this project.)

Respectfully submitted,

Nancy Foster, Church Clerk

results of the special meeting

On Sunday, June 19th, at the special meeting, our congregation voted to approve the proposal to operate a non-profit led child care center in our church facility. The vote was nearly unanimous! It was a very enthusiastic and engaged group of about 100 church members, both in person and online. 

The Child Care Exploratory Team will now work this with appropriate boards, staff, and Church Council to work out all of the details and plans to start the child care center. Updates will be shared to the church on a regular basis. We thank our congregation for taking this leap of faith into a “new thing”!

thank you!

Jennifer Smith, Director of CHILDREN and Youth Ministries

Dear Church Family,

Words cannot appropriately express the love and joy in my heart that I felt on June 12. I could not have dreamt a better send-off. It has been a pleasure to serve this community, and I look forward to sitting in the pews with all of you in the future.

Thank you for all the beautiful cards and sentiments that you all shared. Everyone should be as fortunate as I am to hear the gratitudes of others. You truly do not know the effect that you will have on others, so remember to always be kind, listen intently, help where and when you can, and above all … love one another.

Officially signing off 😊

Jennifer H. Smith

  • Nursery

    The Nursery will be open but not staffed for the remainder of the summer. Parents are welcome to use it and will be able to hear the service in Fellowship Hall.

  • Church Camp

    Calling all children and youths! Join us for some silly songs, Bible stories, crafts and games after the Children's Message. We will meet for four Sundays in July (not 7/3 which is Communion Sunday). No church camp in August. All school-aged children are welcome. Feel like you might be too old for this? We invite you to join us and be a helper. Looking forward to seeing you all soon and having some fun together. 

    May Poduschnick and Stacia Greene

Vigil and Call to action

for Reproductive Rights

On Monday June 27, Pastor Elizabeth and Pastor Caryne Eskridge from the Weybridge Congregational Church lead a Vigil and Call to Action for Reproductive Rights on the Middlebury Green. In response to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Pastor Elizabeth said this: “I am a pastor and a mother- and never has it been more clear to me that God trusts women and people of all genders to choose what is right for their own bodies and for their own families. I believe God trusts women and all genders to make an often very difficult choice. I believe God wants us all thrive… to have life abundant, even if that means terminating a pregnancy.” About 100 people showed up the event, and together they sang, prayed, and were in beloved community.


Welcome Home Bill Thurber!

When Bill Thurber joined The Congregational Church of Middlebury last fall, it was a homecoming for a member of a beloved church family. Bill is the son of the late Betty and Harris Thurber and brother of Sara Marshall. He grew up in this church, was baptized and confirmed here, attended Sunday school, sang in the junior choir, and participated in (and later was an assistant leader of) the youth group. A sermon he gave as a young adult, “The Athletic Life: God’s Affirmation of the Physical Self,” based on his own experience recovering from an athletic injury, later became a resource as a coach helping young athletes who faced similar recoveries.

For many years, Bill lived in other parts of the state, where he raised his family, taught Sunday school and led the men’s group at his church, served the public schools as a math teacher, principal, and coach of basketball and soccer teams, and coached club teams. Visiting with family kept Bill connected to Middlebury and The Congregational Church.

Following his father’s premature death, Bill took over maintaining the Middlebury homestead and, as time passed, adding safety features for his mother and step-father, Dick Cramton. After their passing, the house brought him back to Middlebury to once again be his home. As Bill is doing most of the needed improvements to the 125-year-old house himself, it requires a substantial amount of the time now available to him in retirement.

Like his parents before him, Bill is an active volunteer for our church. While living here in the early 2000s, he taught church school for middle school age youth with Deb Karpak, and helped with the church audit. He joined the Board of Christian Development this year and now volunteers for clean-up duty with the Friday night Community suppers. Another of Bill’s great joys is his free service of providing videos of sports events and challenging hikes on his YouTube channel, vtboomer. His greatest joy is trips to visit his two daughters and their families, into which his fourth grandchild in 18 months was born on June 12th.

~Interviewed by the Board of Membership and Communications~

bazaar summer reminder

freeze, preserve, pickle!

In the next few months, the abundant summer crops of berries and vegetables will have many of you making pickles, relishes, jellies, and jams. Please label and set aside a few jars to donate to the Bazaar’s very popular Food Table!

Also, if you are able to pick and freeze quart bags of rhubarb, blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries this summer, they will be used to make delicious whole pies for sale in November! If you are short on freezer space, contact us and we may be able to arrange for other members to provide storage in their home freezers.

We have compiled a list of contacts and answers to common questions about the Bazaar on our church’s website under Church Activities Holiday Bazaar (www.midducc.org/church-activities/2022-holiday-bazaar).

Help Wanted for Quilt Raffle!

One or two volunteers are needed to start and manage Quilt Raffle ticket sales in September and the final drawing on Bazaar Day. Please contact co-chairs Judy Jessup or Ruth Penfield about volunteering.

Thank you!

With gratitude,

2022 Bazaar Co-chairs: Ruth Penfield (ruthpenfield@gmail.com) and Judy Jessup (judyjessupvt@gmail.com)

for everything there is a season

(a note from our theologian-in-residence)

Dear Friends,

For nearly ten years, it has been my great pleasure to serve the Congregational Church of Middlebury as theologian-in-residence. I want to let you know that, as of this summer, I am relinquishing that role. To be clear, Elizabeth and I aren't leaving! Over the past several years, however, my responsibilities at the college have made it hard to offer adult educational opportunities with the frequency I once did, and the invitations to preach and teach in other congregations have increased so much that I am frequently absent from ours. At the same time, my role here became less necessary with the long-anticipated calling of our associate pastor, as well as the service of Andi Lloyd as a de facto member of the staff for the past couple of years. The result has been that I have not contributed as consistently to our congregational life as I was able to earlier in my tenure as theologian-in-residence, so it feels like a move with integrity to acknowledge that, by relinquishing a formal role on our church staff.

Again, Elizabeth and I have no plans to go anywhere. We are still active members of this church, so you will see us regularly in the choir and in other activities of our congregational life. I may even get the occasional Sunday to preach. Even though my role on the church staff has come to an end, we expect to be part of this wonderful community of faithful friends for more years to come!

With gratitude, James

Who is the Rev. William Fairbank Hastings?

Rev. William F. Hastings served the Congregational Church of Middlebury during the time period 1939 to 1944. He came to Middlebury from a pastorate at the Ithaca Congregational Church in NY. In 1944, Rev. Hastings resigned from the Middlebury pastorate and became a missionary in Puerto Rico. While serving the pastorate in Middlebury, his family resided at 39 South Street.

Rev. Hastings was educated at Harvard College (Class of 1920) and Union Seminary (Class of 1924). The Rev. William Hastings was pastor of the First Congregational Church of Ithaca NY from 1926 to 1938, The Congregational Church of Middlebury VT from Apr 1939 to Apr 1944, and a parish in Ravenna, OH ca 1957.

Ruth Imil [Aldrich] Hastings was a 1920 graduate of Cornell University. She taught English at Ithaca College before her marriage to the Rev. William Hastings

William F. Hastings (minister) and Ruth Imle Aldrich (teacher) married in Fredonia, Thompkins County, NY on 3 Sept 1931). The parents of William are Rev. William Walter Hasting (born in Iowa) and Elizabeth Fairbank (born in India, died in Hancock NH); parents of Ruth are Charles Sherman Aldrich and Myrtle May Shields. William was buried Forest Hill Cemetery, Fredonia, Chautauqua, NY; Ruth was buried Pine Grove Cemetery, Middletown, CT. At the time of Charles’ marriage, there was no mention of Ruth. It would appear that William and Ruth, after their marriage and the birth of their son, went their separate ways. At the time of Ruth’s passing, Ruth and William were divorced. There was little information available pertaining to the activities for this couple, as well as the wives of their son.

  • William Fairbank Hastings born 6 Aug 1898 Milford NE died 1 Nov 1978 Fredonia NY
  • Ruth Imil Aldrich born 4 Aug 1899 Canton IL died 25 May 1976 Fredonia NY

William F. Hastings and Ruth Imle Aldrich had one child – Charles William Hastings. Charles (b 16 Aug 1935 in Ithaca NY - d 2 Apr 2018 in Federal Way WA) was married twice: [1] 8 Jun 1957 Barbara Jean Hanson in Herrick Chapel, Grinnell College Iowa and [2] 24 Jun 1980 Angelita Go Casanova. Charles and Barbara had five children.

Charles earned dual Bachelor degrees in math and physics from Grinnell College, a Master’s in math from UCLA, an MBA from Santa Clara University, and most of the work toward a PhD in electrical engineering.

Next month the life of the Rev. Edwin Roy Holden will be discussed.

Malcolm W. Chase, Historian

  • July Birthdays

    Halina Lyons                 July 1

    Michelle Nelson             July 1

    Mel Kobelin                   July 2

    Deb Venman                 July 2

    Nikolai Luksch               July 4

    Doug Werner                July 5

    J.D. Maurais                 July 6

    Ella Nagy-Benson         July 7

    Penny Campbell            July 9

    Willie Glen                     July 9

    Katie McMurray             July 10

    Jacqueline Davies         July 11

    Shannon Gleason         July 11

    Elliott Slavin                  July 11

    Eric McFerran               July 12

    Nancy Merolle               July 12

    Zoe Reid-St. John         July 14

    Eleanor Orten               July 15

    Luisa Orten                   July 15

    Andy Giorgio                 July 16

    Erin Wollam-Berens      July 17

    John Emerson               July 18

    Julie Berg                     July 19

    Sarah Donnelly             July 19

    Kate Livesay                 July 19

    Len Tiedemann             July 19

    Jakee Zaccor                July 19

    Thaddeus Stowe           July 21

    Emily Jacke                  July 24

    Cheyenne Shute           July 26

    Charlie Beazley             July 27

    Max Beazley                 July 27

    Helen Wright                 July 27

    Eric Berg                       July 28

    Blair Kloman                 July 28

    Cathy Munteanu            July 28

    Louise Whalen-Wright   July 28


  • July Anniversaries

    John & Jen Nuceder                              July 1

    Rik & May Poduschnick                         July 2

    Jessica Wright                                      July 3

    John & Lisa Evarts                                July 5

    Willie Glen & Josie Masterson-Glen        July 7

    Reeves & Kate Livesay                          July 7

    Uwe & Victoria Luksch                           July 7

    Tara Affolter & Steve Hoffman                July 8

    Dana & Katharine Scribner                    July 11

    Sam Prouty & Mel Kobelin                     July 12

    Eric & Helen McFerran                          July 13

    Michael Roy & Lisa Gates                      July 13

    David & Debbie Deering                        July 19

    Elizabeth Gleich & Elliott Munn              July 22

    Patrick & Stacia Greene                        July 22

    George & Sue Cady                              July 23

    Frank & Pam Spatafora                         July 25