From the Deacons' Bench

While it is “only March”, as we march towards Spring, we are looking forward to the special events in April that will be part of our Easter celebration. Get ready for Maundy Thursday, our traditional Vigil, the Sunrise Service on the Hill and Breakfast, as well as Easter Sunday. Of course, Sugaring Season can’t be too far down the road, with its reminder to us of the essence of pure goodness that is available to each of us each Spring.

February saw the welcome of two babies to Lincoln by a UCoL quilt (wrapped in love, made in Love), and few demands/requests for financial support. We were able to support a family affected by the US Government shut down, fix a furnace, supply many food/gas cards, and assist a neighbor with some bills.

While we celebrate that not many acute needs have been brought forward, we are well aware that winter can be a very hard time, and encourage any of you to please forward to the D&S Board any neighborly needs you might become aware of. Gas and/or food cards continue to be made available through our Church Office.

The Second Offering that will be taken up at our last Sunday in March will be designated to go to America for Christ, an American Baptist mission that impacts thousands—through ministries with marginalized children, disaster response, prisoner re-entry and aftercare, immigration and refugee resettlement, and so much more.

Vieras’ 6 + 1 Adoption Campaign

About a year ago, Andrea came home after volunteering at Bethel, a foster home that specializes in caring for visually impaired Chinese children, with a "what-if" type question . . .Today, the "what if" question has turned into a "how soon" question. So we need your help.

Junnan's Story . . .

Junnan is a beautiful, compassionate, and smart 8-year old little boy. Several years ago, representatives from Bethel found him in his orphanage and brought him into this foster home. A unique place, Bethel has provided him the kind of help, training, and education that enables him to thrive. Though behind academically, he is making tremendous progress in many areas - not just academics.

Being the oldest, and having some vision, he is a great help to the staff in caring for other children. And because of this, he has seen many children - including many of his friends - taken to their forever homes. Not long ago, the question arose: "why not me?" What if?. . .

Our Story . . .

Since coming to China, our family has volunteered at Bethel - sharing our lives with the children in the home through various activities and play. So, it was not out of the ordinary for Andrea to help out with a special Thanksgiving meal and celebration. But this time - November 2017 - provided a life-changing encounter.

Lifesong Matching Grant . . .

We have been blessed by many of you already . . . our gratitude cannot be fully expressed. It is only because of you that we are more than halfway through the adoption process and have been able to meet every one of our financial obligations so far.

In addition, we recently received a $3,500 matching grant from Lifesong for Orphans to aid us in meeting a large portion of the financial demands we still face as we enter into the final phase of our adoption. The goal timeline we have set is January 29th. However, realize that funds will be accepted into our Lifesong account until our adoption is complete and we are all together at home. Our adoption - like most others from China - will cost $25,000-$30,000, including travel, paperwork, fees, etc. when complete. We have already paid over 1/2 of the total cost, and this matching grant is an incredible blessing toward the rest. We pray that you will consider helping us by taking advantage of this opportunity. There are a couple of ways . . .

Give Directly!!

Make a deposit into our Lifesong account, and they will match it . . .

To Give by Check:

1. Please make checks payable to Lifesong for Orphans

2. In the memo line please write:

Preference Acct Viera family 8006

3. Mail checks to:

Lifesong for Orphans

P.O. Box 40

Gridley, IL 61744

To Give Online:

1. Go to the following website: www.lifesongfororphans.org/give/donate

2. Select Adoption/ Give to an Adoptive Family

3. Complete the online form; in the Memo field input Family Account Number #8006; and the Gift in Honor of field input Viera Family (8006).

Haiti Orphanage


We’ve raised the roof, now we need to finish construction on the house so the 26 children of L’Orphelinat NotreDame de Perpetuel Secours can have bedrooms with beds to sleep in! Won’t you help us to help Father Bourdeau raise these beautiful children? Their needs are great - anything we can do will help!


¨ Bottle Drive in Addison County: bring your returnable bottles and cans to Bristol Beverage Redemption Center and tell them you’re donating your refund to the Haiti orphanage, or contact us below to request a pickup.

¨ Cabin Fever Reliever Ladies’ Day Out: Join us on Saturday, April 6 from noon til three at the American Legion in Bristol. We’ll have chair massage, makeup, skin care consultations, jewelry, nail art, essential oils, baked goods, a raffle, silent auction, and more! Bring your daughters and girlfriends for a fun day out!

¨ Paint N Sip with Jackie: Friday, May 10, 6 - 8 pm at the American Legion in Bristol. Register by email or text (below), on Facebook, (event coming soon)! $40 for all supplies and snacks. Beverages available for purchase.

¨ Walk-a-thon: Saturday, July 13. Save the date for our second annual walk-a-thon in Bristol.

If you are not in the local vicinity but would like to help you can be a financial contributor. Shipping costs for the gifts may apply.

¨ Donate $75 or more: receive a gift of a large, durable sailcloth tote bag made from local, used sails! ¨ Donate $35 or more: receive a handmade Verde Mountain wooden cross necklace on black silk cord (100% of all donations goes directly to the orphanage.) Tax deductible donations can be made by check to UCOL (United Church of Lincoln) & mailed to: Karen Wheeler, 42 Hemlock Drive, Bristol, VT 05443. For more information: Email: raisearoofforhaiti@gmail.com ~ Call or text Karen at 802-349-9351


Roberto Dieppa-Diaz, Interim Executive Minister of ABC Puerto Rico, wants to convey their appreciation for all of the prayers and expressions of support they have received from their ABCUSA family since Hurricane Maria devastated their island. They have asked that visits by volunteers to the island be delayed until an assessment is complete and conditions on the ground are in better shape. Specifically, the government needs to make the island safer for visitors by clearing roads, restoring electricity, opening ports and ensuring the supply of gasoline. When the Convention's damage assessment collection is complete, we will receive their report.

The American Baptist Home Mission Societies is coordinating a comprehensive American Baptist response to these hurricanes. Rebuilding, Restoring and Renewing Puerto Rico will be a multi-year initiative consisting of a fundraising goal of One Million Dollars through One Great Hour of Sharing to provide multi-pronged support to our American Baptist family and others in Puerto Rico.

Ms. Victoria Goff, Director of Disaster Response and Development, is ABHMS' staff lead in developing the coordinated strategy. Rev. Salvador Orellana, Director of Latino Ministries, will provide logistic and relational support to this important initiative. Victoria will convene a Task Force comprised of diverse American Baptist partners to design and implement the multi-year strategy.

ABHMS has faithfully deployed mission staff, disseminated One Great Hour of Sharing funds, mobilized volunteers, and managed resources in the aftermath of natural disasters. In the words of Dr. Jeffrey Haggray, "Hurricanes Maria and Irma have presented American Baptists an extreme challenge to be the hands and feet of Jesus in ways that exceed past interventions and responses. We must develop a comprehensive response that fully engages our ABHMS partners in collaborative, strategic and effective ways in Puerto Rico."

Please know that ABHMS remains committed to addressing needs elsewhere caused by recent and ongoing hurricanes and other disasters

Pennies From Heaven

Pennies From Heaven took in $14.50 since our last report – totaling $4,118.00 – only $106 to mile 5!

For the period of March through May, donations to Pennies From Heaven total $23.50. This brings us to $4,103.50 overall. There was also an additional donation of $65. If you know of places where we can spread God’s love with devotionals, Christian CDs or other resources, please speak to Lorraine Patterson.

Just a reminder that our class is still collecting can tabs for the Ronald McDonald House in Burlington. Keep in mind that any kind of tabs are accepted – from soda cans, vegetable cans, pet food. We plan to be taking the tabs we have collected over the winter to the RMcDH next month and will continue our mission so remember us next time you “pop a can open”!


Graterford Prison Ministry

Greetings from your brothers of the Protestant Church at Graterford:

As “go-betweens” connecting the men of SCI Graterford and our fifteen sister-churches around the northeastern United States, Lenore and I are humbled by your consistent and compassionate sharing of God’s Love in Jesus. The contributions of calendars, devotionals, books and cards (reminder that only white envelopes are allowed in the facility) are steady reminders to our men that they are not forgotten and not without hope and prayerful support.

The Prayer Requests we send to you from Graterford expand the residents’ confidence as they tread a faithful path while incarcerated. We continue to encourage you to “return the favor” by sending your Prayer Requests to them—it is always important to remember that everyone benefits when others pray for them. You have approximately 250 regular Prayer Partners at the prison ready and willing to pray for you, your families, your churches and beyond. Thank you for each and every slip of paper that bears something for us to put before our Lord in prayer.

UPDATE!: We will soon be moving to Phoenix! Noooo, not Arizona (but after this winter, I wouldn’t mind)! As many of you are aware, for about 6 years, the state has been constructing a new prison on the Graterford property, just feet beyond its 30-foot wall. After many delays, it now appears we will be moving to the new jail—SCI Phoenix East and Phoenix West—within a month or so. Security issues prevent a “hard date” for this, but it will be coming soon, and will be a major undertaking. The stress that accompanies “the unknown” has been a major factor for our men as there will be many changes, both wanted and unwanted, for them. During this transition, it would be best if we curtailed the calendar donation project—we have a good supply to move over to Phoenix, and more might not be appreciated by the moving crew (!).

What we do need in this uncertain time are your prayers for calm, hope and perseverance. You may have seen in the news that Graterford has suffered 5 suicides since January. These have not been directly due to “the move,” but the unsettled atmosphere in a place that has been uniquely functioning without major incident for almost 90 years, is a factor. In a very short time, SCI Graterford will no longer exist—please pray that SCI Phoenix will indeed “rise from the ashes.”

We will be in touch after we settle “on the other side of the Wall.” Until then, God’s blessings and peace…

- Russ and Lenore Gates

What are your spiritual, practical gifts?

Service, hospitality, faith, giving, organization, mercy, teaching, prayer, leadership, craftsmanship, evangelism?......We are looking for a few good women and men to serve.

Can you help with our spiritual life, be a witness to Christ and the church, promote missions and assist in our worship? The Board of Deacons and Stewards may ask you to consider how you can join their efforts.

Are you business minded, handy with numbers and a hammer? The Board of Trustees may be a place of service for you.

Are you a teacher, communicator and a person who nurtures – not just children, but all who are growing in their knowledge of God? The Christian Education Board needs a person like you.

Do you know your fellow members well enough to ask them to join our boards and committees as they work to build our church? The Personnel Committee may ask you to serve.

Would you work to support, care for and help our pastors be the best they can be? The Pastoral Relations Committee may offer you the opportunity.

Please consider with prayer and care how you are able to join in service.