As people of faith, we know that we are called to care for one another. We are called to speak out for all those in need, especially our children. What is critically needed now is our unified voice assuring that people receive the help they desperately need now. By participating in this year’s Bread for the World (BFW) Offering of Letters you will make a difference, not just to Bread for the World, but to those who experience hunger and poverty.Continue reading Bread for the World Offering of Letters
Donate Pantry Items: Pantry donations may be dropped off at the Upper Valley Haven, 713 Hartford Avenue, White River Junction. Current Top-Five Needs: tuna, beans (white, red, black), rice (preferably 1 lb pkgs), baking items, condiments. Always Needed: peanut butter, pasta of all kinds, canned vegetables, pasta sauce, soups, canned tomatoes, macaroni and cheese, canned fruit. Also needed, Personal Items: shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, feminine ygiene products. You can learn more about the Upper Valley Haven here. You may also bring pantry items church.
Sign up to Volunteer at Cover – Outdoor Projects Every Week! The COVER Home Repair program relies on the participation of community volunteers like you. By lending a hand with home improvement projects, you can help greatly improves the quality of life for local families, elderly, and mobility challenged. It’s a great opportunity to learn new skills. View volunteer opportunities and sign up here!
Shop, Cook, Serve: Listen is beginning to organize volunteers to shop, cook and serve the Community Dinners. In the past, OSLC, has done this 6 times per year. Those teams have been faithful servants for several years. If you are interested in becoming part of one of these teams on a regular basis or to serve as a sub now and then, please contact Shelia Cardamone. This is all very preliminary and we don’t know when or how these dinners will take place in the future. We do know the need is there now more than ever. Working on a team is a very fulfilling experience- try it. No experience or particular cooking skills necessary.
Advocate for Others: As members of the ELCA, we believe that we are freed in Christ to serve and love our neighbor. God uses our hands, through our direct service work and our voices, through our advocacy efforts, to restore and reconcile our world. Through faithful advocacy, the ELCA lives out our Lutheran belief that governments can help advance the common good. The latest issues of ELCA Advocacy Connections with Four Action Alerts can be read here.
In response to this past Sunday’s sermon, Kathy Phipps rewrote the lyrics to the song that Pastor Kyle referenced. Kathy has given us permission to share these lyrics with you. May you measure this past year in reasons to hope.
Reasons to Hope
Five hundred twenty seven thousand five people
Five hundred twenty seven thousand five people so dear
Five hundred twenty seven thousand five people
How did we measure, measure this year?Continue reading Reasons to Hope
Our Savior Lutheran Church & Campus Ministry invited the congregation to engage (via Zoom) in any one of three possible listening sessions over the course of a week in early March 2021. In total, 24 people participated in the listening sessions. Some group characteristics are below:
- Ages ranged from 18 to 89 years old
- 4 couples attended and two unmarried individuals participated
- 7 men participated and 17 women participated
- The smallest listening session included 5 participants and the largest included 9 participants (including facilitator and recorder)
- The participants were evenly split between Vermont and New Hampshire residents
While there were some introductory exercises for each group to do together (including a short sharing in pairs about “the area of their life in which they are most passionate about creating change”), the main focus of the listening session asked participants to share about “What worries them during their days and nights.” There were several themes that arose more than once in our listening sessions. In no particular order, the most prevalent themes are listed below:Continue reading Listening Session Summary
February 1, 2021
Congregations of the New England Synod,
Our pandemic winter continues. I, like you, feel the fatigue that is circling about our lives. The good news of vaccine distribution beginning is offset by concerns about variants of Covid19. While I remain hopeful for the longer term (next six to nine months), I remain vigilant and cautious in the near term.
We may be getting closer to gathering in-person, but we are not there yet. Some of our states are beginning to relax their rules around some in-person gatherings, and this may, in some places such as Connecticut, include relaxation around gatherings for worship.
I would exercise extreme caution in moving too soon toward this practice!
Much of the reasoning behind state governments taking more relaxed positions in relation to houses of worship, versus other public spaces, is related to concerns around first amendment considerations. Earlier last year, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a synagogue that believed it had the legal standing to hold worship services, even when the Governor stated, out of health and safety concerns, that they should not meet. Since that ruling, most states have adopted a “request approach” toward houses of worship. For instance, in Rhode Island, the governor asked churches to not hold in-person worship during a recent outbreak.
My point in this letter is this:
Just because a state government may grant permission or shift its language around holding in-person worship does not mean your congregation should. As my grandmother used to say, “just because you can….doesn’t mean you should.”
This letter serves as encouragement to be thoughtful, careful and mindful of our role as servants.
The ELCA has released “Considerations for Returning to In-Person Worship.” You may view the full document here. Last year, I provided you with a letter offering suggestions on how to approach re-opening, part of that is copied below.
“As I review those documents, along with several news stories of churches that attempted to meet for worship and then had spread of this disease, I want to offer my own personal reflections. If I were serving as a pastor in a congregation, I would say the following to my church council:
“I see no upside to gathering in person for worship for the foreseeable future, and I think we should begin now to plan for many months without it…“
I still believe that is the best path forward.
It seems likely (though who can predict the future these days?) that we will be able to gather for in-person worship in 2021, certainly outdoors in warmer months. Therefore, let’s be mindful of that coming opportunity and not rush too hastily into indoor worship.
I have great confidence in the patience and wise leadership so many of you are exercising. We are moving forward into a new day. I know it is hard, and I know the loss many have experienced during this pandemic is painful. Let us continue to exercise patience and wisdom!
Bishop James Hazelwood