Judy Albright - Publisher
Elizabeth Davis - Editor
Judy Albright - Publisher
Elizabeth Davis - Editor
In early June 2020, I walked up to the church to find two Youth Group alumnae and college students, Josie Abbott and Hadley Evans Nash, writing on the sidewalk outside of Unity Hall. “LOVE LIVES HERE” they drew, with arrows pointing towards the church, towards Rt. 7, towards Havurah down the street, towards the town green (translation: love lives here, and here, and here, and here). It was written in colorful chalk, and done in response to symbols of hate inscribed in various places around town, including outside of our own church building. George Floyd had been murdered just weeks before, and Hadley and Josie’s effort to “chalk Middlebury” was an effort to bring some visible love and justice into our little town. “Love lives here” was just ambiguous enough for meaning to be found in a lot of different places. That is, where does love live during a national racial reckoning? Where does love live when a pandemic limits us from gathering in our church building? Where does love live when hate and division seem to reign supreme? What and who is love? Where is here?
Since those two women gave the town of Middlebury and our church a glimmer of hope that day, our church staff has been thinking about a church theme for the start of our new program year. Something to focus our efforts and give us staff and the congregation direction in a time when things feel fleeting and uncertain. “Love lives here” seems a good enough message to rally us as a church when “here” can be in our Zoom rooms and living rooms, in our hearts, as well as in our sanctuary full of people. Love indeed lives here. Where does love live for you?
These last four months, while I’ve been your sole pastor as Pastor Andy has been on his sabbatical, I have witnessed the way love lives and grows in this congregation even more than I already knew. This was a big summer for our church as we navigated the murky waters of reopening our doors amidst the ever-changing landscape of COVID. We enjoyed a truly joyful Sunday back to in-person worship, complete with bagpipes and a fancy new A/V system. Our walking group got back up and running, and groups started meeting again in our church building. Several church members died and members of the church staff had medical and personal crises. Folks participated in “Reading For Racial Justice” — by asynchronously reading books and novels on race and racism in America, directed by Tara Affolter. We kicked the rust out of our gears and remembered what it was like to “do church” in person again. It was not a dormant summer around here!
As our church gears up for a new program year this month, there’s both uncertainty and excitement on the horizon. I believe God, who is Love, is with us and guiding us through all of what is to come. As many of you know, I will be taking off for maternity leave starting sometime in the first part of this month and will be back January 1. God-willing, Pastor Andy and I will have a couple of weeks overlapping before I leave. I know I’ve said many times these last few weeks about how excited I am for Andy to return, which is true, but I also want you to know that it was a special privilege for me to be your only pastor for these last few full months. I feel like I not only grew in my own pastoral leadership during this time, but I was blessed to witness in an even more intimate way how this church takes care of one another, makes hard and complicated decisions, and supports their church staff when times are both joyful and hard. Thank you for letting me be your pastor in a real and full way during this time. And truly, Andy, we missed you!
I certainly will miss you all when I am away taking care of my new baby! But unlike a traditional sabbatical, I’m not taking it as an intentional break from church life. Instead, my focus will be on being a new mother, I will not be involved in the life of the church in any meaningful way this fall. That being said, I will be around town and possibly even in church once in a while. I already feel grateful to be in a community where I know my growing family will be loved and supported.
My prayer for our church this fall is that we can embody the love of God in everything we do and say, and that we can identify and celebrate the diverse ways that love truly does live “here” and there and everywhere in a world that desperately needs it.
I am grateful for each of you!
Welcome Sunday is coming up on Sunday, September 12! We are delighted to welcome the children back to Church School. We have a fabulous group of teachers excited to work with the children:
This year all the teachers will be using the same lectionary-based curriculum, Spark House. What does that mean? That means that all the classes will be discussing the same Bible story that is read during morning worship. The hope is that this will create a space for dialogue at home. You can check out the curriculum at this website: https://www.wearesparkhouse.org/
Please take a moment to help us out and register your child for Church School. You can use this link: https://www.midducc.org/children-youth/childrens-registration
A fun ALL CHURCH “Welcome Sunday” BBQ has been planned by the Board of Christian Development and the Board of Membership and Communication. The Franklins have once again graciously offered their lovely home at 564 Cider Mill Road in Cornwall from noon to 2 p.m. on September 12 (rain or shine).
We are looking for Classroom Shepherds. These are people who volunteer once a month in a classroom to assist the teachers. If you are interested, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m delighted to announce our new Nursery Care Providers, Baker Nelson and Margaret Orten! They will be working together in the nursery each Sunday starting September 12. We are asking children ages 3 and 4 to wear masks.
Confirmation Class began with a retreat on Saturday, August 28, at church. We played some games, shared life stories with pictures, did a scavenger hunt, and finished with pizza and a movie. This group will embark on a full-year program, meeting 1–2 times a month. Each confirmand has been assigned an adult mentor from the church. Pastor Elizabeth and I are very excited about the faith journey with this amazing group of freshmen.
Junior Youth Group will also start this fall for children in our church who are in 6th–8th grade. This is a group based around fun, faith, and service. I look forward to our adventures together.
Along with this month’s highlighted Theme Baskets Table and Garden Center Table (pictures and overview below), we have Bazaar details for your calendars:
YOUR INVOLVEMENT IS SO APPRECIATED AND NECESSARY!
On September 19 in Fellowship Hall after the church service, the Theme Baskets Table co-chairs will have baskets available for anyone to assemble, fill, and donate to this year’s Bazaar. They will share guidelines and answer your questions about choosing a theme for your basket. You can create a basket on your own schedule at home or assemble it with the help of family or friends!
Theme ideas: Vermont products, toys and treats for animals, sewing accessories for your college student, play activities for children, or art supplies for the young or old. Those are just a few examples of baskets offered in the past. We’re sure that creative ideas include endless possible arrangements to attract Bazaar shoppers!
This year’s co-chairs are Bronwen Kent (email@example.com), Gail Hietzker (firstname.lastname@example.org), and Candy McLaughlin (email@example.com). You can certainly provide your own basket, choose one of their ideas/suggestions for gift basket themes, or tell them your own special idea. Bronwen, Gail, and Candy will provide guidelines and a timeline for delivering your completed theme basket prior to the Bazaar date.
Here’s your chance to contribute your green thumb and garden interests to our ever-popular Garden Center Table. What’s better than seeing green in November!
Plants, herbs, bulbs, starters for spring, flowers to brighten your winter, lovely ceramic planters, ideas gleaned from our two garden gurus and this year’s Garden Table co-chairs, Melissa Bartley (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Jakee Zaccor (Jakeezaccor@gmail.com). It’s all there at the Garden Center Table.
Melissa and Jakee will gladly field any questions you have about donations and contributions for the table. (Rest assured, our long-serving garden guru Mona Rogers will be contributing many of her plants from her home’s greenhouse to this year’s Bazaar.)
Did you know?
When you reach age 72, you will be required to take taxable withdrawals from your retirement funds. The portion of the required withdrawal that you contribute to our church or other qualified charitable organization may be tax-free. (Consult your tax advisor about your own circumstances.)
You are cordially invited to come and see for yourself what an Affinity Group is. We will have an informal meeting Friday, September 24, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. at church (outside, weather permitting) to meet and to discuss ideas for the coming year.
Where: Congregational Church of Middlebury
When: one Friday per month (first meeting 9/24/2021)
Time: 10:00 – 11:30 a.m.
What is an Affinity Group?!?
Here are some ideas and testimonials from our group:
“An affinity group is a circle of members of the congregation who meet monthly to support each other and to expand their understanding of what it means to be a Christian in this perplexing world.”
“This group is a safe place to express ideas, feelings, perspectives and connect to each other in a way that doesn’t happen at coffee hour, for example. You learn about others and care for their well-being, ...I am so very grateful for this affinity group!”
Our topic for the fall has not been decided yet, and we welcome new ideas and suggestions. Possible topics are suggested by members, and a decision is reached by consensus. Call or email May Poduschnick to learn more (802 349 1252 or email@example.com). If there is interest in an evening group, that can be discussed as well. Church attendance or membership is not required.
Have you been reading any good books this summer? Have you picked up any of the suggested titles in our Reading For Racial Justice program?
Tara Affolter is offering a summer reading opportunity for us all to keep learning about racism in America and to keep interrogating our own internalized racist ideologies. Pastor Elizabeth is reading Me and White Supremacy, if you want to talk to her about it at any point this summer. If you’re reading Stamped from the Beginning, you can find some reading prompts here. Happy reading!
Rev. Stephen Lewis Bates Speare served the Congregational Church of Middlebury from 1881 to 1887. He came to Middlebury from a pastorate at the First Congregational Church in Bangor, ME. After serving several years and having submitted a request for a two-month leave of absence for health reasons, he resubmitted the request which was then accepted in July 1887.
A careful look at the activities of Rev. Speare would suggest that a change from religious endeavors to business occupations was the result of poor health; the reverse was the result of improving health. A summary of Rev. Speare’s career was provided in a Dartmouth College Catalog of 1898:
• attended Thetford, Springfield, and St. Johnsbury Academies
• attended Andover Theological seminary from autumn 1854 to spring 1855
• taught at Bradford, MA 1855–1856
• dealt in wholesale business in Haverhill, MA 1856–1861
• Chicago IL 1861–1867 and then the Theological Seminary, Chicago 1867–1868
• resumed business on account of health, in Chicago till 1870, then in Haverhill till 1873
• chaplain at the Mass. State Prison, April 1873 to November1877
• ordained January 1874 during the first year of chaplaincy
• attended lectures at Andover Theological Seminary
• pastor in Bangor, ME, 1878 until installed 3 June 1879 and then dismissed 5 May 1881
• installed in Middlebury, VT, June 1881 until dismissed July 1887
• mission work in Brooklyn, NY, 1880–1889
• acting pastor in Minneapolis until installed at the Pilgrim Church on 14 May 1890; dismissed 24 December 1891
• without charge in Newton, MA
• one citation in a Harvard catalog suggests that Rev. Speare obtained a B.A. in 1854 from Harvard
Rev. Speare was a member of the Monday Club, an organization of ministers who published an annual volume of sermons on the Sunday School lessons. Stephen published several of his sermons for this series.
Rev. Stephen Speare was a seventh-generation descendant of George Speare and Mary Heath. George was born in 1613 in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England, and died in 1688 in Sheepscot, Lincoln County, Maine. His wife, Mary Heath, was born in 1627 in Harwich, Tendring District, Essex, England, and died in 1674 in Braintree, Norfolk, MA. Many of the intervening generations between George and Stephen were born and raised in Braintree, in Norfolk County, Mass.
S. L. B. Speare married Abby Jane Godfrey Hoyt on 18 Dec 1856 in Bradford, MA. The parents of Stephen are Sceva Speare and Jane Merrill; parents of Abby are Humphrey Hoyt and Alice Bradford. Stephen and Abby were buried in Newton Cemetery. Stephen was listed as a leather dealer at the time of his marriage and a shoe manufacturer at the time of the birth of Mary. While in Middlebury, they would have lived in the church parsonage at 1 South Pleasant Street.
Stephen Lewis Bates Spear was born 6 May 1834 Corinth, VT and died 3 Jun 1907 (leukemia, heart failure).
Abby Jane Godfrey Hoyt was born 19 Apr 1835 Bradford, MA and died 20 Jul 1916 Newton, MA.
Stephen and Abby had two daughters:
1. Margaret Elizabeth Speare – no birth record has been found for Margaret, but it is most likely that she was born and died in the Chicago area. She died on 31 Dec. 1869.
2. Mary Lewis Speare – born 24 Feb 1858 in Bradford, MA and died 27 Aug 1951 in Newton, MA. Mary lived with her parents while they were still alive and attended college for two years. Upon the death of her parents, Mary continued to live in Newton in the same house where she had already lived for at least 17 years. No occupation was listed for Mary in any of the federal census records, except for the 1910 census where her occupation was a music teacher. Thereafter she was listed as the head of a household, often with lodgers.
Next month we will present the biography of Rev. Adelbert F. Keith, Acting Pastor. Mr. Keith was signed to a two-year contract in hopes that he would become the settled pastor after the two-year period. Guess what happened?????
Mal Chase, Historian
Melissa Gill September 1
Kathy Heitkamp September 1
Jake Miller September 3
Ruth Westfall September 4
Tre Bonavita September 5
Andrew Gleason September 5
Nancy Tellier September 5
Jeff Ellison September 6
Sharon Saronson September 6
Anna Berg September 8
Leanna Maglienti September 8
Michael Roy September 8
Corey Gillen September 10
Henry Schauer September 10
Hillary Swift September 10
James Swift September 10
Phil Heitkamp September 11
Matthew Kubacki September 11
Margaret Durst September 12
Sam Prouty September 12
George Devlin September 14
Meredith Durst September 14
Nicholas Marshall September 14
Hogan Beazley September 16
Lisa Evarts September 16
Teri Schauer September 16
Donald Maglienti September 17
Margaret Orten September 18
Harmony Wright September 18
Luke Bleich September 19
Cindy Jones September 19
Ruth Penfield September 20
Mark Gleason September 22
Hugh McLaughlin September 22
Tiffany Stowe September 22
Dorothy Douglas September 23
Alexander Dalton September 24
Tassilo Luksch September 24
Patricia Thompson September 24
Asher Lehman September 25
Giovanna Neary September 25
William Springthorpe September 25
Dana Livesay September 26
Pamela Spatafora September 27
Michael Evans Nash September 28
Christopher Evans Nash September 28
Dottie Neuberger September 28
Kyra Diehl September 29
Barbara Walter September 29
Janet Lyons September 30
Doug McKain September 30
Bronwen & Gregor Kent September 5
Raymond & Amy Shute September 5
Peter & Michelle Nelson September 6
Jim & Liz Robinson September 9
Al & Barbara Stiles September 10; Celebrating 66 years!
Gary & Cindi Gillen September 13
Brian Slavin & Jennifer Stefani September 16
Chas & Halina Lyons September 19
Sarah Tully & Tom Weiner September 23
Ruth Penfield & Doug McKain September 25
Mary Alice & Chuck Beazley September 28