From the Deacons' Bench

The falling of the autumn leaves has been replaced with the falling of early winter snows. We shall see if the snow lasts, and as the old saying goes, we’ll know when it’s over. However, without a doubt, as we head into the season of Advent, what will last . . and deepen . . is the spirit of anticipation of the profound promise of peace that the birth of baby Jesus brings to us. We move from prayers of Thanksgiving to prayers of promise.

Our Baby Quilt Ministry welcomed no new little ones this past month, but we know that the quilts so lovingly created by Pat Vaillancourt that have been delivered this year will be wrapping the little ones that have been welcomed in loving warmth as winter comes upon us.

As always, while our ears remain “to the ground” as to how we might assist our neighbors, remember, your ears are our ears! Please pass on to us any needs of our neighbors that you become aware of. This past month, gas card and food cards were distributed, a neighbor family with unexpected needs was assisted, a donation was given to the John Graham Shelter, and the purchase of some pellets helped ensure a neighbor stayed warm.

The colder months always seem to bring more need, and the Second Offerings in December and the Special Offering on Christmas Eve dedicated to the Deacons’ Fund are crucial to our fund being flush.

If you are looking for a way to add another dimension to your worship on Sunday, sharing love and care with little ones is a form of worship! The Nursery remains in need of volunteers to assist Jen Kile in the nursery each week . . . so don’t be shy about signing up in the entryway . . . or by contacting Mary Rogers.

Our In-Gathering of Food so sweetly brought forward by the youngsters on Sunday, November 17 ended up filling the back of Peter’s pick-up truck, and helped stuff the Have a Heart food shelf’s shelves. Being able to support caring ministries is such a blessing.

The annual Christmas Tea will be on Saturday, December 14 at 7:00. If you can, please bring some Christmas treats to share. We are also looking for people to share a reading, song, or story . . . along with sharing in the delightful conversation that takes place during the Tea . . . an unofficial sacrament of the UCoL. We hope to see you there!

Haiti Orphanage

"Raise A Child in Haiti" Update

On a sunny Saturday in July, 15 generous and compassionate souls walked the streets of Bristol to raise money to buy beds and bedding for 26 Haitian children. The kids, between the ages of 3 and 18 have been sleeping on a cement floor for years, ever since the 2010 earthquake destroyed their home and school. Since then, our church has been helping them re-build, and we’re finally at the point where beds can be built in the newly constructed home that is nearly finished!

I want to especially thank Nancy Orvis, who spearheaded the second annual Walk-a-thon, with help from Shari Rowinski, and members of “Team Haiti:” Greg Orvis, Karl Rowinski, Don Palmore and me! Also a big thank you to our donors and sponsors: Ben & Jerry’s, Kinney Drugs, Lantman’s, and Shaws for food and supplies for the event; and Cabot Cheese, Pine Tree Gardens, Studio 11, Twin Maple Sugarworks, Verde Mountain, and Vermont Teddy Bear for donations of goods and services as raffle prizes. Every walker was awarded a prize by random draw!

And of course, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without your generous support! Thank you so much to everyone who walked or sponsored a walker (or two)! I dream of going back to visit Father Bourdeau and the 26 sweet children in his care, in the near future, when the political crisis is resolved and it is once again safe for American visitors. In the meantime, Father posts photos regularly on Facebook so we can follow the progress at the orphanage. Our donations are making a huge difference in the lives of those beautiful children. Thank you for your part in helping to “Raise a Child in Haiti!” Those children are so happy to know that someone out there cares about them!


Pennies From Heaven

Another $14.00 has come in, bringing the total to $4,192.00. Pennies From Heaven started back in February of 2002 with a planter as a container to drop these pennies into with a sign that said “Pennies From Heaven – Helping Faith Grow” I am still amazed to think that this project has yielded over $4,000 since then and has given us so many opportunities to plan God’s Word in as many places as we could in as many ways as we could. We are still at it!!!

There is a lovely saying that goes nicely with this special mission - “You never can tell when you do an act just what the result will be; for with every deed you are sowing a seed, though its harvest you may never see”!

What a beautiful Garden of Faith that is – so keep bringing those “penny seeds”.

Continue to bring in all those tabs for the Ronald McDonald House. We just delivered close to 40 pounds of tabs to the Burlington Ronald McDonald House. Wow! Great job, everyone!!

Graterford Prison Ministry Update

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.