From the Deacons' Bench

Can it be that autumn’s glory has fallen to the ground, the first snow has frosted our hills, and that we are entering the month of Thanksgiving?  Of course, God is continually showering us with reason to give thanks, at the same time, the season of Thanksgiving is special, indeed.

On Sunday, November 11, as part of our worship service, we will be giving thanks for the blessings we received through the ministry of Dave and Donna Wood with the dedication of the gorgeous new “Be God’s Light” stained glass window.

 October gave us the opportunity to attempt to live out the charge given in Matthew 12:31 by continuing to monitor the needs of some neighbors, making sure the furnace of one is ready for the heating season, providing gas cards for transport to medical treatment, and arranging for a propane delivery for another.

 We are grateful to the offerings that have been added to the D&S Fund.  November and December Second Offerings will go to that neighborly love fund, a “stocking up”, if you will, for the needs that winter will surely bring.
 If you haven’t noticed, the new Pew Cards have been placed in the pews . . . please use them to communicate with us if you feel the need.

 Deacons serving for November will be Patrice and Linda (and, we hope, assisted by Junior Deacon Wyatt). November’s Special Offering will be taken up to support the D&S Deacon’s Fund.

Haiti Orphanage


The final installment of the $15,000 for "Raise a Roof" has been received in Haiti and work is well under way. Father Bourdeau is posting pictures of the work on Facebook. If you're not on FB, ask someone who is to share them with you!

We also sent an extra $1,000 or so this summer. That money was for food and a sewing machine! Mrs. Annie, who is sort of a house mother (teacher, assistant priest, helper in preparing meals, washing clothes and taking care of the children) is going to teach the children to sew and they will begin making their own school uniforms. (In Haiti, you don't go to school without a uniform. We purchased 3 last spring for kids who needed them, and now Father is hoping for 23 more new ones!)

The needs continue. We send $700 every month for salaries for the 4 teachers, the cook, washerwoman and guard. In addition, we usually send about $300 for food when all other sources are depleted. As soon as the roof is finished, they will need $3,800 to put windows in the house, then it will be closed in. Not totally finished, but getting closer!

Volunteers keep coming forward. A man in Orange, NJ heard about our mission on FB and wants to help. He will research how to get a car donated. (And then we'll need to raise a few thousand dollars to transport it to Haiti.  Cars there are 3 times the cost of getting one here.) I met with an old friend and was telling her about our work with the orphanage, and she donated $200, pledged $25 a month going forward, and offered to make some contacts with potential sources of sustainable food donations.

Next week, Don and I are visiting my brother in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and I am scheduled to speak at his church service about this project. He is hopeful that his church will want to be involved in some way, and he continues to be a monthly donor as well.

I am slowly building a team of people like this who are willing to step out and do something besides give money. There's room for lots more like them. What skills and interests do you have that could help? Can you make phone calls, do computer research, write letters? Do you have ideas for fundraising? We have an offer from a Middlebury restaurant to donate a portion food sales on a particular night. We need someone who will spearhead the advertising of that, and maybe even be there that night to sell 50/50 raffle tickets. Are you a social butterfly who likes to talk with people and could share our passion?

Please contact me with any thoughts or ideas you have about how to support these precious children. Together, let's Raise A Child in Haiti!! (Lots of them!)

In His service, 

Karen Wheeler


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
To our sisters and brothers in Jesus:

On Wednesday, July 11th, at 9:15 a.m., after inmates had begun to gather at the Graterford Chapel for work, worship and/or study, “Lock Down” was announced—the move to SCI Phoenix was underway. The men returned to their cells and were locked down for the duration of the move—a five-day process—and afterwards, until staff had settled a bit into the requirements of “a state-of-the-art facility,” after working for years in Pennsylvania’s oldest prison. Inmates began “movement” in a phased process a couple weeks later. This was a difficult time for many staff and residents.

Then on Wednesday, August 29th, another lock down was imposed in response to incidents of fentanyl (a synthetic heroine that can be deadly) exposure in jails in Ohio and western PA. This lock down lasted 12 days while staff were being trained to use protective measures, administer Narcan and identify types of overdoses.  Again, a difficult time for those who were confined to their cells 24 hours a day, except for limited shower and phone time. 

A consequence of the fentanyl scare is that severe restrictions have been imposed on what can come into the prison—books, letters, legal papers, etc. Mail to inmates now must be sent to a Florida facility that ion-scans the letters, then scans and emails them to the mailrooms of the receiving prison! Volunteers coming to Phoenix now must email their notes, sermons, literature, etc. to the chaplains and we print them off for their use when they arrive!! The obvious concern for our connection with you in our Prayer/Calendar Partner Churches, is whether or not we can continue this ministry so treasured by the men. Because the donations of calendars are random and not directed to a particular inmate, wall calendars and pocket calendar/planners will be allowed!

The same rules apply regarding the types of calendars:  no spiral-bound wall calendars, no calendars with provocative themes/pictures, and no pictures of young children. Also, we will not be allowed to receive any kind of booklet, devotional books, Bibles, etc.—JUST WALL CALENDARS AND POCKET PLANNERS FOR 2019.

At this point, we will be allowed to continue sending out to the churches the Prayer Requests of the men. We are hoping that we can bring in your prayer requests through the scan/email process. So please mail, email or deliver them to us and we will try to comply with the new rules and still distribute them to the men of the Phoenix Church.

Your continued mindfulness those who are forgotten by many is a blessing to our men—your prayers and calendar contributions sustain hope in their hearts. Thank you and God bless you.

-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.