Judy Albright - Publisher

Elizabeth Davis - Editor

march 2022

Rev. Andy Nagy-Benson

Dear Church,


This is a 2022 recruitment letter. Yes, recruitment. I am writing to enlist you to increase the online visibility of our church. 


When my pastoral ministry began in 1998, a phrase like “increase the online visibility of our church” would not have made much sense. It does now. These days, the staff and I — along with our AV team — give ample time and attention to questions around how technology can help us amplify the spirit and values and mission of our congregation.


I am well aware that social media are not perfect. I am also aware that social media can help a church cast its message beyond its physical address. The more we like and comment and share — especially share! — our church’s Facebook posts with friends and family, the easier it is for people to get to know us. (Also, I don’t understand the algorithms involved, but reliable sources tell me that the more online activity our church enjoys, the more readily our church’s website and Facebook page will appear in someone’s online search for a church in our area.)


Ok, let’s talk reviews. If you have ever shopped online, you have probably read a customer review or two or ten million. If you have ever looked for a decent restaurant while traveling, you have likely scrolled through online reviews of “top-rated” restaurants. Well, if someone is looking for a community of faith to attend, they may do some holy scrolling.  True story:  during my COVID quarantine, I spied online comments about our church.  Most were good — phew! But, there weren’t very many.  Maybe it’s time to let the world know how you feel about MiddUCC.


In that spirit, I asked Rev. Elizabeth Gleich what advice she’d give us to increase the online visibility of our church. Here’s what she says:


  Please like” our Facebook page!


To leave a review on Facebook, go here.

You’ll see a question on the left hand side of the page asking: Do you recommend the Congregational Church of Middlebury (UCC)?” Click yes” and leave a review!


For YouTube, simply subscribe” to our channel.


Leave a Google review here.


I want more people to know who we are and what we’re up to. There’s plenty of goodness to share around here. Word of mouth still works, of course. But why stop there? The quality of online content may be what moves church-seeking souls to join us onsite and/or online this Lent and beyond. May it be so.




HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE February 9, 2022


This was the first meeting for our new Moderator, Leanna Maglienti, and we met by Zoom.


Pastor Andy reported on the “Retire the Debt” campaign in progress; on this summer’s Senior High Youth Group trip which will be to Maine to work on house repairs for low-income people; on the dedication of the Russell Carpenter Room; and on dissolving and thanking the Reopening Task Force (we have been reopened for seven months). We had a discussion of the requirement for wearing face masks in church. We will continue this discussion at our March meeting.


Pastor Elizabeth reported on the confirmation class and all the preparations for Lent that are now in progress. There will be a New Light service on Sunday afternoons for the five weeks of Lent. This year’s Lenten theme is “Full to the Brim.”


We had a combination of new board chairs and carry-over chairs of boards that did not elect officers at their January meetings, and we had a report from every board.


Ian Phair reported for the Trustees and told us about the roof and window repairs that were shown to be needed on the report they had done on the condition of the church building. He also reported that $500,000 of our invested funds are being moved into funds that are managed to reduce their carbon footprint.


Gail Hietzker reported for Membership and Communications, Michele Brown for Deacons, Robin Bentley for Pastoral Care, Bronwen Kent for Mission and Social Concerns, and Michelle Nelson for Christian Development. They all said they spent time getting so know each other, reviewing the work of their respective Boards, and reported on their activities.


Ellen Whelan-Wuest was elected Vice-Moderator. It was decided that the February All-Boards Meetings would be by Zoom.


Leanna told us that she has set up a Google Docs site for us to use this year for all the business of Council. This will include our meeting agendas and minutes. She asked us to think about the work of Council, how it has changed in the past two years, and what we think this group should be doing in the future. She also asked board chairs to have their boards do the same.


Respectfully submitted,

Nancy Foster, Clerk

The Season of Lent Begins

Jennifer Smith, Director of CHILDREN and Youth Ministries

On March 1 (after Church Matters went to print), a new Queen or King of 2022 was chosen. He or she will get a gold crown, a cake of their choice from Otter Creek Bakery, and hopefully a year of peace, love, and joy. I appreciate everyone rejoicing with me in the brilliant season of Epiphany. We now move into the season of Lent, which is a much more quiet and reflective time.


Outside the sanctuary door to the new addition, the children and youth can find a Lenten Leaf Jar. It will be filled with lots of leaves, all with different acts on them. Take one, do the act, and then tell me about it and get a prize! You can perform as many acts as you want during the 40-day season of Lent.


The Confirmation Class met at the end of February to discuss the different parts of a church service. What are the different parts? What order do they go in? Why are they important? Pastor Elizabeth and I will be taking the confirmation class on a retreat the weekend of March 25–27 to the Hallelujah Farm in Chesterfield, NH. This will be a time of group bonding and an opportunity to engage more deeply into our topics.


The Junior Youth Group met in February to discuss part of our covenant, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:35). We talked about the differences between what society says is the greatest versus the Bible. It was a rich and powerful discussion. We also met for a movie night in Unity Hall during their winter school break.


Moving Forward

Jessica Allen, Director of Music

“Go back and get the things you need, then you can move forward.” I would love to give this quote its due attribution, but honestly I cannot remember who said it. Even so, it made an impression on me. Perhaps you know where it came from, or have heard quite the opposite, “Don’t look back. Move on.” That’s what I’m used to hearing—the insistence that we must move forward. Deny yourself the option to turn around, and instead, look straight ahead."


While I agree that sometimes enough is enough and we really should do our best to move on from a cycle of thought, a behavior, a feeling, or a past tragedy in life, the idea of receiving permission to go back for something you need is really striking.


I’ve been planning music for 20 years now for church choirs, and as Lent is upon us, I was recently looking through our library, and musing over pieces we have typically sung during this season. This led me to YouTube, and to finding posted recordings of our virtual choir offerings from Lent 2021. That reminded me that Jeff Buettner and I were regularly recording hymns for our church services, and that sometimes, fairly often in fact, I had to stop partway through singing them (a real annoyance for the re-takes and edits required). The hopeful text was too much for me to sing. It was exactly the opposite of what I felt. “How Can I Keep from Singing?” Come on. “All My Hope on God is Founded,” well it had to be, because I felt very little hope of my own. “I’ve Got Peace Like A River” —I had the opposite of that, something more along the lines of turmoil like a volcano.


Looking back on it now is hard; and oh, how I do not want to go there again. But what I do go back to retrieve, to think on, to ponder, is the love and connection of a choir community, a church that deeply appreciates music, a church staff team determined to forge a path in uncharted territory, and an appreciation for technology and our use of it for good. This helps me keep moving forward. What do you need to go back for? What will help you move on?


“What though my joys and comforts die? I know my Savior liveth.

What though the darkness gather round? Songs in the night he giveth.

No storm can shake my inmost calm while to that Rock I’m clinging.

Since love is Lord of heav’n and earth, how can I keep from singing?”

– from “My Life Flows On” by Robert Lowry, 1869

Share Ideas, choose materials and patterns for the 2022 Bazaar

After the church service on March 20, we will have a hands-on display of fleeces, cottons, yarns, patterns, and creative ideas using a variety of other materials for browsing. This will also be a chance for you to share your ideas about items you’d like to make and donate to the crafts and “green themed” tables. We appreciate your time and talents, which make the Craft Table such a popular place for bazaar shoppers!


There will be plenty of room to browse the display as you exit the sanctuary, and—who knows?—perhaps we will return to better weather and outdoor Fellowship Hour by then!


With immense gratitude,

Ruth Penfield and Judy Jessup, Bazaar Chairs

hope food shelf

Anyone interested in donating to the local food shelf at HOPE, these items are very much needed: peanut butter, apple juice, baked beans, and shampoo. Of course, all donations are appreciated. Thank you!

Volunteer Seedling Growers Needed!

The Green Team is looking for both new and experienced gardeners willing to grow at least a dozen extra vegetable and/or herb seedlings this spring for our second annual Seedling Giveaway, which will take place in May. Last year, we focused solely on tomato seedlings, but this year, we’re hoping to broaden our offerings to include other vegetables and herbs as well, such as peppers, cucumbers, greens, squash, basil, parsley, mint, and rosemary.


We’re especially excited this year because not only will we be offering seedlings free to interested members of our congregation, but we will also provide seedlings to HOPE to give away to community members who visit their food shelf.


Intrigued but have never grown a plant before? This is a great time to give it a try! We can supply you with all the tips and advice needed to get you growing.


Helping members of our community grow their own food is a wonderful way to celebrate the fruitfulness of God’s green Earth and to help reduce carbon emissions. Please contact Su Reid-St. John at sureidstjohn@gmail.com if you can help. Thank you!!


This Lent: Think Twice: Buy Less, Waste Less

As we enter the season of Lent, the Green Team has been reflecting on both sacrifice and moderation. We continue to be unsettled by the constant drive towards consumerism and excess in our modern society, and we would like to offer the congregation an opportunity to reflect and perhaps change their habits during this holy time.


Did you know that in the US, every person produces about 5 pounds of solid waste every day? And did you know that between 30% and 40% of all food produced in the US is thrown away? There is certainly room for improvement in our daily lives as we consider what we buy and how we put it to good use.


Reduce and Reuse have always been the first two steps in managing garbage, and Recycle and Compost have always been the last. Before making a consumer purchase during these next few weeks, consider how long it will be useful and what its eventual endpoint will be in its lifecycle. If it will one day be bound for the landfill in Coventry, can you do without, or buy second-hand, or consider repairing what you intend to replace? Here in Middlebury, we have multiple second-hand stores to peruse, and there will be a Repair Fair held at the Hannaford Career Center on March 5. Check here for more information: https://www.addisoncountyrecycles.org/news/post/repair-fair


When purchasing food for the week, have a plan for all of the perishable items you bring home, know how to store them well, and consider having a regular night when all the leftovers are finished, rather than composted. If even one-fourth of the food currently lost or wasted globally could be saved regularly, that would be enough to feed 870 million hungry people in the world. More information about how to reduce food waste can be found here: https://www.addisoncountyrecycles.org/recycling/reduce-reuse/household-food-waste


This Lent, the Green Team encourages you to join us in caring for God’s good creation as we Think Twice: Buy Less, Waste Less.


A Personal Note

—from James Calvin Davis

Dear Church Friends,


Please let me say how touched I have been by the outpouring of support and concern for me and my family as we mourn my dad’s passing. Your cards, embraces, and well wishes have meant so much to me. I have never in my life been held by a community of faith this genuinely and energetically, and words can’t express what it has meant to me to be reminded over and over again these past couple of weeks that I do not walk alone in this moment. Thanks for ministering to me, and thank you for the witness of your friendship.



  • Planned giving

    Did you know?

    Some gifts to our church have income tax advantages! These include:


    • Giving appreciated stocks, bonds, or mutual funds;

    • Giving all of, or a partial interest in, a residential property such as a vacation home;

    • Giving from an IRA or other retirement account subject to RMD (required minimum distribution); and

    • Establishing a charitable gift annuity.


    Gifts to our current Campaign to Retire the Debt, pledged now but welcomed through December 31, 2024, may qualify for tax advantages; please consult your tax advisor. For more information about these ways of giving to our church, please go to midducc.org/giving or call the church office at 803-388-7634.

Who is the Rev. Archibald A. Lancaster?

The Rev. Archibald Augustus Lancaster served The Congregational Church of Middlebury from 1911 to 1916. He came to Middlebury from the Pilgrim Congregational Church in St. Louis, MO. In 1916 he resigned his pastorate and transferred to the Plymouth Church in Youngstown, OH.

Rev. Lancaster served forty years in the Christian ministry. He was educated at Albion College (A.B. 1904) and Hartford Theological Seminary (B.D. 1908) and served in Congregational churches in Corunna, MI; St. Louis, MO; Middlebury, VT; Youngstown, OH; Meadville, PA; and Westbrook, CT. He also served as chaplain with the 3rd Division during World War I. During his active ministry he was always busy as a Boy Scout leader, service officer of the American Legion, a probation officer, member of Draft Board in World War II and many civic enterprises. He was a member of the Masonic Order, American Legion, Lions Club, and active in blazing a portion of the Green Mountain Trail in Vermont. Rev. Archibald Lancaster, at the age of 72 years, died at his home in Panton, VT.


Archibald Augustus Lancaster married Alice Ethel Locke in 1907; the parents of Archibald are James Lancaster and Susan Wrigley; the parents of Alice are Frederick W. Locke and Tirzah Martin. Archibald and Alice had two children: their daughter, Christine, worked in the educational field for her entire life; their son, James, followed in his father’s footsteps and was a Congregational pastor in the New England area. While in Middlebury, they resided at 1 South Pleasant Street. Archibald and Alice and their daughter (Christine) were buried in Prospect Cemetery in Vergennes, Addison Co., VT. James and his wife (Jeannette) were buried in West Street Cemetery, Granby, Hampshire, MA.


Alice Ethel Locke was born in Stanstead, Quebec, Oct 14, 1876, daughter of Frederick and Tirzah (Martin) Locke. She was a member of the Westbrook (CT) Congregational Church, the Vergennes Garden Club, and the Seth Warner Chapter DAR. Mrs. Alice Ethel [Locke] Lancaster died in a Burlington hospital after a long illness. She left a son, James L. Lancaster of South Hadley, MA; a daughter, Christine Lancaster of Keene, NH; two grandchildren; two sisters, Mrs. Louise Vaill of Waterbury, Conn. and Mrs. Robert Johnson of Montreal; several nieces and nephews.


  • Archibald Augustus Lancaster – born 5 Feb 1878 in Waterbury, CT and died on 13 Nov 1950 in Panton, VT
  • Alice Ethel Locke – born 14 Oct 1876 in Stanstead, Quebec and died on 31 Aug 1959 in Burlington, VT


[1] Christine Alice Lancaster was born on 15 Feb 1909 in Corunna MI and died on 29 Jul 1979 in Burlington VT. She did not marry. Miss Lancaster was a teacher for many years at the Demonstration School at Keene State College in Keene, NH and taught for one year in Essex Junction, VT. She was a longtime resident in the Vergennes and Panton area. Miss Lancaster was a member of the Maranatha Christian Church in Williston, VT. At the time of her death, she was survived by a brother, James L. Lancaster of Granby, MA; two nieces, and many cousins.

[2] James Locke Lancaster was born on 1 May 1914 in Middlebury VT and died on 10 Feb 1988 in Granby MA. On 2 Jun 1941 James married Jeanette “Peggy” Magda Bauer; she was born on 28 Apr 1917 in Hartford, CT and died on 6 Dec 1998 in Granby, MA. James and Jeannette had two daughters. James spent two years in the Army and was a Congregational minister in various New England towns including Monadnock, NH; Bar Harbor and Portland, ME; and South Hadley, MA.


Next month: Highlights of a pastor who left his pastorate at our church and eventually became the president of Piedmont College (now University) in GA; one of the campus buildings has a weathervane which mimics the Mayflower (any ideas as to why?)

Malcolm W. Chase, Historian

  • March Birthdays

    Dan Brown                        March 1

    Larry Jones                       March 1

    Aimee Diehl                       March 3

    Steven Jewett                   March 3

    Kisung Davis                     March 4

    Erika Garner                      March 4

    John Nuceder                    March 4

    Jessica Allen                      March 5

    Pat Chase                          March 5

    David Phelps                      March 7

    Nathaniel Orvis                   March 10

    Mark Foster                        March 11

    Anthony Garner                  March 11

    Annie Moore-Cox               March 11

    Winston Stattel                   March 11

    Mhairi McMurray               March 12

    Paige Viens                        March 13

    Katharine Scribner             March 14

    Jake Dombrowski             March 15

    Susan Cady                      March 17

    Lisa Rader                        March 17

    Robert Stetson                 March 18

    Ryan Gillen                       March 19

    Brynn Kent                       March 19

    Judy Albright                    March 21

    Matthew Berg                   March 21

    Beatrix Jo Lyons              March 22

    Sofia Stefani                     March 23

    Elizabeth Davis                 March 24

    Meredith Prouty                March 24

    Willa Abel                         March 25

    Andi Lloyd                        March 26

    Peter Carothers                March 27

    Tana Scott                        March 28

    Conor Stinson                  March 30





  • March Anniversaries

    David & Patty Hallam                                    March 4

    Matt & Stacie Baldwin                                  March 7

    Matthew Cox & Annie Moore-Cox                March 14

    Alan & Cindy Marshall                                  March 18

    Phil & Kathy Heitkamp                                  March 25

    Richard & Ruth Westfall                                March 27