Judy Albright - Designer and Publisher

Elizabeth Davis - Editor

September 2023

an invitation...

Rev. Andy Nagy-Benson

Dear Church,

Our theme for this program year — Gathering Joy — is an invitation to harvest delights from daily life and to share the bounty.

Gathering Joy is wrapped up in a theological claim that, in God’s economy, there is joy to gather. To say so is not to deny the challenges we may face in our personal lives, or to shrug off the existential crisis of a warming planet, but to bear witness to the light that shines in the darkness, to the kindness that comes unbidden and heals the heart, to the moments of connection that leave you feeling glad to be here. I don’t think of joy as an exercise of wishful thinking. Joy is — and has always been — joy, even so.

The work of gathering joy centers on the spiritual practice of paying attention. (The kind of attention that a charm of goldfinches is calling for as they flit from sunflower to sunflower outside my window.) The faithful practice of paying attention is a paying attention for. I don’t want to take anything away from those surprising joys, but what changes in us and around us when joy is what we’re looking for? When we choose to tune our senses to it? I wonder. I look forward to thinking about questions like these with you.

And speaking of “with you,” joy is something shared. Shared with people we love and who love us back. With new and old friends at church. Last year’s monthly potlucks built a strong foundation on which to keep meeting and re-meeting each other and finding delight in the service and fellowship we share. These new and renewed connections are occasions for joy, and that joy is necessary for communities at every scale to thrive. To that end, Gathering Joy invites us all to bring together the joys we have found, or that have found us, since we last met. And, as Mary Oliver says, to “tell about it.”

The staff and I are drafting a joy calendar, events for the year that are made for joy. If you have ideas to share, please do. Gathering Joy is going to take all of us.

Grace and Peace,


HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE Special August  2023



Church Council held a special Zoom meeting on August 17, 2023 to consider one item of business that needed to be acted on: the restoration of the windows and replacement of the storm windows in the original Church building. The Board of Trustees has been working on this project for months, and Church Council has received updates on a monthly basis.

John Evarts has been the lead on this project and has worked closely with Naylor & Breen to explore all the details of this project, to establish a time line, and to obtain a Guaranteed Maximum Price Proposal. This information was sent to Council Members in advance of the meeting. John reviewed these details at the meeting.

  • The maximum guaranteed price is $311,158.85. There was a detailed estimate attached to the proposal.  
  • The time line starts in September 2023. On-site measurements will be made for the storm windows. There is a 22-week fabrication lead time from the approval of shop drawings. 
  • May/June 2024: All window sashes will be removed for off-site restoration. It is anticipated this will take 12-14 weeks. There will be temporary storm windows, or plywood or plexiglass panels installed where there are no storm windows. 
  • July/August 2024: Restore and paint interior window openings and trim
  • September/October: Install restored windows and new storm windows. 

Council members asked many questions and discussed the details of the project. We also discussed how to pay for this project. Leanna reported that the Investment Committee and the Board of Trustees have reviewed this and recommend the following plan. The extra money from the Retire the Debt Campaign will be used, with the remaining funds coming from the Church’s invested maintenance and repair funds. Council was in agreement with this.

John Evarts said he would be willing to continue as the lead on this project.

Following all this, Council unanimously approved a motion that we proceed with the window restoration and storm window project for our 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. 


Eliana Cañas Parra

Dear Church,


Have you ever suddenly felt awe-struck by the beauty of a moment in nature? A sunset over the Adirondacks, the apple blossoms and baby animals in the spring, the silence of a snowy night. You name it! I’m sure you have—after all, we get to live in this beautiful state. When it happens, I’m left with a happy feeling: an awareness of God here with me. It’s wonderful! 


It also makes me wonder if we are doing all we can to care for this beautiful world. If we are teaching our children not only about the fear of climate change—which they know plenty about—but also about the beauty in our planet now. About how to care for it, not only because we need it to survive, but because it is a gift from God. A life-sustaining one that we also get to enjoy.


These thoughts helped me decide on the focus for the first semester of Sunday School this year. We will be using a curriculum that was recently published by Illustrated Ministries, called Compassion Camp: What Every Living Thing Needs. It focuses on the Psalms, especially Psalm 104, to help us consider how we can become better co-sustainers and participants in the work of God’s creation. It includes Bible stories, games, videos, music, poetry, science, and more.


I’m excited to explore it with the children in our church and with the amazing team of Sunday school teachers this year. Church School will begin on Welcome SundaySeptember 10. We can’t wait to start! Please register your child here.


The teachers this school year are:

Stacia Greene: PreK–K and 1st/2nd, combined

May Poduschnick: PreK–K and 1st/2nd, combined

Rik Poduschnik: 3rd–5th

Jenny Orten:  6th–8th



Likewise, I’m excited to start a new year of Junior Youth Group in our new Youth Room. The teens will have the chance to make it their own while thinking about the future generations of youth groupers. I can already feel their excitement! Junior Youth Group will begin on Tuesday, September 19, and I am welcoming back two amazing leaders: Judy Albright and Robin Bentley. 


I am looking forward to this year, with the help of God and of so many in our congregation that make this ministry possible. I’m grateful.


Love and peace,


Joy film Matinée

Join the Green Team for a Joy Mantinée on September 24th, 2023! The Team has been reflecting on maintaining hop and joy while reckoning with the grief that climate change is bringing to our lives.

Mission Joy:Finding Happiness in Troubling Times is a documentary about the friendship between Archbishop Desmond Ttut and the Dalai Lama and their efforts to live with joy in the face of adversity.

Join us after the service for fellowship and this important message of joy.


a message from jessica allen

Dear Church,


It is bittersweet to leave the Music Directorship after such a long and deep investment in the musical life of this church. I have been able to use my creativity and skill to the fullest in this place, and I am grateful that so many of you have been willing participants in our programs from Chancel Choir, to Dads (and Church) Band, to Sing for Social Justice Choir, Taizé Choir, Church School Music and Hand Bell Choir, plus special vocal and instrumental music. Thank you to the music leaders I have worked along-side including Mal Chase, Elizabeth Bates, Suzanne Calhoun, Kristen Andrews, Leanna Maglienti, Elizabeth Davis, Carol Campbell, Steve Abbott, and Jeff Buettner. It has been wonderful. 


This church has been a part of my entire life in Vermont, which began in 2007. I married Jeff Buettner (as most of you know) and we agreed to move to Middlebury six months after that. When we moved here I was fresh off of my work as Individual Giving and Special Events Coordinator at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and as Music Director at the University United Methodist Church in East Lansing, MI where I was able to take advantage of the proximity to Michigan State University and its music student population for a few years after graduating from MSU with my Master’s Degree in Choral Conducting. I commuted for my church job!


The plunge into small town New England and a UCC congregation in pastoral transition from Rev. Tinus Riekert to Rev. Andy Nagy-Benson had its challenges, but soon I was taking joy in the potential that I could see here. Participants in the choir began to take a few risks with me, to sing Spirituals, to sing more contemporary anthems in addition to the traditional canon, to make space for music from professionals in the community in collaboration with choir, or simply allow guest musicians to play or sing on a given Sunday. The congregation, and as a result, the church budget, began to support these changes.


The children in our church began to be more included in music programming that was just for them, first through Junior Choir and Junior Handbells, then Church School Music where there was an intentional effort to teach the music of our faith during class time.


Taizé Choir and Sing for Social Justice Choir were formed following the new addition to our building, and were especially intended to serve our afternoon New Light Services on a monthly basis. 


Chancel Choir and friends sang outreach concerts at local retirement communities. In addition, we put on a special community-wide Bicentennial Concert in 2009, a Broadway Revue Benefit Concert, and an Ash Wednesday performance of Fauré Requiem with orchestra. We also hosted a special jazz concert and an organ and trumpet concert. We sang carols on the front steps of our church during Very Merry Middlebury events downtown, and singers participated in the Charter House Benefit Concert each December.


We kept groups going during the pandemic and recorded virtual anthems for our online services, as did individual congregation members and guest musicians from the community. 


We have done a lot together over the past 16 years! Through it all, the depth of personal connection and the joy of community music-making have stood out to me as most significant. As people of faith, we worked together to bring something beautiful, meaningful, and relevant to our church and to God on a weekly basis through music. This is what I have appreciated most about my time as Director of Music for this congregation.


I hope that you all take courage now in this time of transition as our church leaders evaluate and vision our church music program into the future, and endeavor to find the next right person, or people, to lead our church music programs. I can hardly wait to see what is possible when others have the opportunity to dream as big as I have. Thank you all for these many years of energy, growth, and love. 


Jessica Allen

Celebrating Jessica Allen's Music Ministry

The congregation gathered in Fellowship Hall after Church on Sunday, August 27 to express gratitude to Jessica Allen for her 16 years of service as our Director of Music. Speakers were Leanna Maglienti, Moderator; Pastor Andy; John Emerson (on behalf of more than 60 musicians); and Liz Vant (who presented a Memory Book from the choirs to Jessica). 

The speakers included presentations of gifts to Jessica: Simon Pearce glass candlesticks; a framed Caleb Kenna print; Danforth Pewter oil lamp and picture frame (for a photo of choirs); the Memory Book; and a gift of cash. Jessica expressed heartfelt appreciation to all present. Led by Judy Jessup and Janet Franklin, choir members and others hosted a lovely reception for Jessica. 

The celebration concluded with choir members singing to Jessica "The Lord Bless You and Keep You" -- a favorite of both Jessica and the choirs.

John Emerson

What do you know about

the sanctuary fire of august 1975?

This arson attempt was well documented in three local newspaper articles: two in the Addison Independent and one in the Burlington Free Press.


Addison Independent, Aug. 1975

“Congregational Church Arson Attempt Fails”

A small, deliberately set fire in one of the pews of Middlebury’s majestic Congregational Church failed to become a major blaze, Saturday night, Aug.9, when passersby saw light “flickering” in a window and called the police.

Middlebury Police Officer Shawn Lundrigan responded to the call, also saw the flicker, punched a hole through a window in the vestry door on Seymour Street and let himself in, then went into the sanctuary and put out the fire with a fire extinguisher.

James H. Douglas, chairman of the church deacons, said police and firefighters were in the church until 2 a.m. Sunday making sure the fire was completely out, and that church people had the area all cleaned in time for the 9:30 a.m. Sunday service. 

Middlebury Police Chief Robert Van Ness called the incident a deliberate attempt to set the church on fire. Douglas, however, said Office Lundrigan considered it was “kids playing with the Communion candles.”

The church, a highly popular edifice for tourists and townspeople alike, is open all day until about 6 p.m.

The edifice was built in 1806 according to architectural designs drawn by Lavius Fillmore, brother of former President Millard Fillmore, and is one of the most photographed churches in New England. It has been painted by artists using every known medium, from oils and water colors to pastels, and has appeared on post cards besides fliers that go around the world.

Douglas said it is assumed that the person or persons hid in the church until after Eugene Bachelder, the janitor, locked the doors at 6 p.m. Douglas said Batchelder checks the church thoroughly before going home, and noticed that the two Communion candles on the altar were lighted. He put them out routinely, locked the church and left.

Douglas said some pew cushions and part of the wood of the pew was burned as the would-be arsonists apparently carried the Communion candles from the altar to the pew.

The burned pew, Douglas said, was under the balcony, and, if the fire had gotten much hotter it would have set off the sprinkler alarm system.

Douglas said Mr. and Mrs. Michael Wood and Mr. and Mrs. Roger Quesnel were in a car on Seymour Street, passing the church, when the Woods noticed light flickering in the window and called the police. This was shortly before 10 p.m. when Lundrigan broke in and put the fire out. 

Douglas said there also were some holes burned in the rug near the pulpit, which statement indicated there were two attempts in start a fire. He said there were some “burn marks” on the church Alpha and Omega plaque, and two pages of the church Memory Book had been written on. 

Writing on one page, “God is Here,” and that on the other page was illegible. Cigarettes, Douglas said, were ground out in the offering plates, and police found melted was on one of the pews. Douglas said church people searched until 2 a.m. for more fire, and started up again at 7:30 a.m. Sunday in order to have the place cleaned up by the 9:30 a.m. worship service.



The Burlington Free Press, Tuesday, Aug. 12, 1975, p. 16

“Church Fire in Middlebury is Investigated”


MIDDLEBURY – Investigation is continuing into the Saturday fire which caused moderate damage to the Congregational Church here.

Patrolman Shawn Lundergun extinguished the fire shortly before 10:00 p.m. before it had a chance to go out of control.

The fire was arson, according to the fire investigator, Cpl. James Lilly of the state police. Lilly requested anyone seeing persons in or around the church Saturday night to contact police.



Addison Independent, Aug 21, 1975

“Town Lucky Church Fire Was No Worse”

The Editor:

Sir: The members of the Congregational Church of Middlebury are very fortunate that a fire at the church building earlier this month did not result in serious damage.

If the blaze had been allowed to continue, the damage from the fire and water would have been extensive.

On behalf of the congregation, I wish to express my gratitude to Dr. and Mrs. Michael Wood and Mr. and Mrs. Roger Quesnel, who saw and reported the fire, and to Middlebury Police Officer Shawn Lundrigan, who entered the building and extinguished the flames. Officer Lundrigan’s quick response and courageous action clearly averted a tragedy.

James H. Douglas, Chairman, board of Deacons



Brief comments from the 1975 Annual Report of the Congregational Church of Middlebury, VT


“after the fire, Mr. Tenny will repair the damaged pew and Mr. Lacey, of Burlington, repaired the burned carpet behind the pulpit”

Next up (hopefully): A list of all land owned by the church, and a list of Moderators since 1939. Stay tuned!


Malcolm W. Chase, Historian

We are looking for a church administrator

Do you have good communication and organizational skills? Are you someone with a strong affinity for teamwork and collaboration? Are you craving a supportive work environment?

The Congregational Church of Middlebury is searching for a part-time Church Administrator. This position will provide administrative and programming support to our church, managing the day-to-day operation of the church office, and will serve as the public face of the office in dealing with all church constituencies and the public.

We encourage interested applicants to visit our church website to learn more about our church and below for a full job description.


20 hours a week on average, providing regular office coverage Monday through Friday.


Negotiable. Commensurate with professional/life experience.

Projected start date:

The ideal candidate would be available for orientation/training during the summer, transitioning fully into their role before the next programming year begins in September.

We will begin reviewing applications July 10, 2023. Candidates should send a cover letter and resume to the attention of Pastor Andy Nagy-Benson and Pastor Elizabeth Gleich at office@midducc.org.

Welcome Picnic and Barbecue!

Join us!


After worship on Sunday, September 10 at noon, please come out to Churchill and Janet Franklin’s farm (564 Cider Mill Road) and start the program year off with the youth of our church!


Everyone is invited! The Boards of Christian Development and Membership and Communications will be grilling hot dogs, hamburgers, and veggie burgers, and will provide drinks and desserts. Please bring a side dish or a salad (and a serving utensil) to share.


If you've been before, you'll know this is a perfect place to share a meal and catch up.  Picnic tables will be out near the barn, and maybe you can find a chair by the pond.  (Sorry, no swimming or zip-lining though!) In the event of rain, we'll just set up inside the barn and leave the grillers to fend off the raindrops! Bring your own plates and utensils if you are able.


Looking forward to seeing you there!

September Soap Opera

This September, your Board of Mission and Social Concerns is shifting our food-drive focus to all things soap—bar soap, shampoo, laundry, dish detergent, body wash—all the important personal products people use in their daily lives for cleaning up. These items are in demand at HOPE’s community pantry, especially for those without steady housing. Please join us for act one of this soap opera on Sunday, September 3, when we will have our monthly grocery-cart collection at the 10 a.m. worship service. If you would rather donate food, please do so. We're still collecting all kinds of nonperishable food items as well. 

UPDATE: We're rounding the 3,000-pound mark on our way to collecting two tons of food this year. This ambitious goal is only possible thanks to your generosity. Please know that your giving is helping alleviate hunger and food insecurity in our community.

have you marked your calendars yet

for our 99th Bazaar?

This month our focus is on Volunteers and Schedules.

Bazaar Week starts Nov. 1, and Bazaar Day is Sat. Nov. 4. Over the past few months, we have described how you can donate items to sell at our church’s largest fundraising event, the Holiday Bazaar.

We’ve confirmed this year’s Rooms & Tables managers. They are listed below, along with a tentative list of volunteers, most of whom volunteered in 2022. (If we inadvertently omitted your name, please let us know!) To give you an idea what goes on each day, we also listed a Bazaar Week Schedule below.

We welcome additional and new volunteers! After reviewing the list below, please touch base with the individual Room and Table Managers to tell them about your volunteer interest and the days and times that you’re able to spend a few hours helping during the set up days and at the Bazaar. You may also direct questions about Bazaar Week drop off times or volunteering to us, the Bazaar Co-Chairs.

We welcome all to this community-wide event and are enthusiastic about the activities and programs to which the proceeds contribute. There will be many ways in the coming months that you can contribute to making the Bazaar a success!

Gratefully, Ruth Penfield (ruthpenfield@gmail.com) and Judy Jessup (judyjessupvt@gmail.com)


Rooms/TablesManager(s)Volunteers*Cashbox (Bazaar Sat.)
CraftsPolly Birdsall TiffanySargent
Sandy Youell

Lorrie Muller

Mary Jo Champlin

Erika Garner

Diane Mott

Lois Farnham

Holly Puterbaugh

Lisa Evarts

Lyn DeGraff - 8:30- 11:30  

Pat & Mal Chase -11:30-1:30

Quilt RaffleDeb FarnhamDebFarnham
Stephanie Mitchell
Theme BasketsChris KetchamAnnie NoltingManager
Book RoomSally Holland
Janet Franklin
Annie Magri
Peggy Rush

Kristi Skor

Bakery Table Maureen Williams Alice MunsonAnna HardwayBakery & Soups & Pies
David Preble- 8:30-11:30

Muffin Carothers - 11:30 - 1:30

Homemade Soups and PiesNancy FosterKay Bussiere
Anna Hardway
See above
Puzzles, Toys & GamesRobyn Stattel
Michaela Kubacki
Robyn Stattel
- sets up Friday
Small Home FurnishingsStephanie MitchellSarah TullyManager
Garden TablePeg Lawrence
Candy McLaughlin

Wendy Warren

Pat DurfeeManager

REMINDER: Attic Treasures and Finer Things sales have been discontinued.

*Managers will decide volunteer schedules for the Bazaar Week and Bazaar Day


Set Up Days

  • Wednesday, Nov. 1: Donors can drop off contributions from 9:00AM – 5:00PM. Bazaar workers will be setting up spaces, sorting, and pricing merchandise and non-perishable food items.
  • Thursday, Nov. 2: Workers continue to receive, price and set up from 9:00AM – 6:00PM.
  • Friday, Nov. 3: Friday is the last day to drop off donated items, and the first day to drop off perishablefoods including baked goods (whole pies, etc.) and soups from 9:00AM – 6:00PM. On Friday, Theme Baskets should be brought to the church between 9:00AM – noon. (To make alternate arrangements to drop off baskets, contact Chris Ketcham.)

Flood Relief concert

The Capital City Concerts season opens with a performance by

internationally renowned pianist Jeffrey Chappell on Friday, September 8

at 7:30 PM at the Barre Opera House. 100% of ticket proceeds will be

donated to flood relief.

Jeffrey Chappell is one of the most beloved and dazzling performers in

the history of Capital City Concerts. In this flood–relief benefit

concert, he will perform a blockbuster program including Mozart's

Fantasy and Fugue in C Major, Beethoven's Opus 109 Sonata, Chopin's

Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante, and Samuel Barber's

show-stopper Piano Sonata.

All ticket proceeds will go to Montpelier Alive and Capstone Community

Action to help families, individuals, and businesses throughout Vermont

affected by the recent catastrophic flooding. Tickets start at just $5. 

Go to www.capitalcityconcerts.org to reserve seats and learn more.

  • September 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.

    Missy Gill                                  September 1

    Kathy Heitkamp                        September 1

    Allison Stanger                          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

    Anna Berg                                 September 8

    Leanna Maglienti                      September 8

    Michael Roy                              September 8

    Frankie McDowell                     September 9

    Corey Gillen                              September 10

    Henry Schauer                          September 10

    Hillary Swift                              September 10

    Jim 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

    Nick Marshall                            September 14

    Hogan Beazley                          September 16

    Lisa Evarts                                September 16

    Donald Maglienti                      September 17

    Lydia Gleich Munn                    September 17

    Meg Oakes                               September 18

    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

    CJ Vant                                     September 22

    Dorothy Douglas                       September 23

    Alexander Dalton                      September 24

    Tassi Luksch                              September 24

    Patricia Thompson                    September 24

    Asher Lehman                           September 25

    Giovanna Neary                        September 25

    TJ Springthorpe                         September 25

    Dana Livesay                             September 26

    Pam Spatafora                          September 27

    Chris Evans Nash                       September 28

    Mike Evans Nash                       September 28

    Dottie Neuberger                      September 28

    Kyra Diehl                                 September 29

    Barbara Walter                         September 29

    Silas Erno                                  September 30

    Jan Lyons                                  September 30

    Doug McKain                            September 30



  • September Anniversaries

    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 68 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