NEWSLETTER

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The Rooster Crows        December 2017

November 26 – First Sunday of Advent – Angels Among Us – #morehope

Our Advent theme for this year will be “Angels Among Us”. This Sunday we will look at the story of the winged messenger to Zechariah and contemplate what message we can offer to counteract a culture of fear and bring #morehope.   

December 3 – Second Sunday of Advent – Angels Among Us – #morepeace – Communion Sunday

This Sunday as we look at the story of the winged messenger to Mary and bringing #morepeace to the world.

December 10 – Third Sunday of Advent – #morejoy – Christmas Pageant and Potluck What a joy it will be to once again see our children put on the annual Christmas Pageant. After worship join us for a Christmas potluck lunch as we celebrate the birth of baby Jesus and enjoy fellowship and fun together.

December 17 - Christmas Sunday

December 24 - Christmas Eve Service 7:00 pm (no morning worship)

December 31 - Breakfast and Carol Sing

Pastor's Note

“And the Word became flesh and made his home among us, and we have seen his glory, glory like that of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 (CEB)
Dear Friends,
     Last month, several of us from First Church attended the “Neighbors Together: Help Open the Hampshire Mosque” event at the Wesley United Methodist Church in Hadley. What struck me was how many people turned out. The church was so crowded it was hard to avoid bumping into other people. The parking lot and surrounding fields were crammed with cars. And during the worship service, the sanctuary was so full people spilled out into the adjoining room.
     The turnout for this event was an incredible outpouring of neighborly support and caring. Quakers, Unitarian Universalists, Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Buddhists, and many with no religious affiliation all met for a common purpose—to help our Muslim neighbors. The event was an awe-inspiring show of solidarity with our brothers and sisters in faith.
     Just as all those people stood in solidarity with Muslim community, God stands in solidarity with us. I find this particularly poignant as we enter the season of Advent and Christmas. In love, God chose to enter into the human condition and make a home among us some 2,000 years ago. God purposely came to be in solidarity with us. If we are to take the gift of incarnation seriously, it means we are called to stand in solidarity with our neighbor.
     During this Advent season, I cannot help but ponder all that has happened in our country over the past year. It is as though darkness has spread over the whole land with the rise of hatred, the growing divisions between neighbors, and the marginalized being further alienated. Yet, there is a light that shines in the darkness. Now more than ever, we are being called to be the light bearers of God’s incarnational love by standing in solidarity with our neighbors.
     The joy is that this work has already begun and is ongoing. Thirteen faith communities and area colleges have joined together to support First Church Amherst in providing sanctuary for Lucio Perez. Numerous faith communities, businesses, and individuals came together to help the Hampshire Mosque get closer to their goal of having a place to worship. Each act of solidarity is a hopeful sign of unity and community in a time when it seems the powers that be conspire to divide our country.
     Advent is the season of hope, joy, peace, and love—let these be the gifts we offer our neighbors in this season of giving. May your Advent and Christmas be filled with many rich blessings of giving and receiving.  Merry Christmas, Rev. Christina

DEACON'S NOTE
     Have you ever wondered why our pledge campaign is referred to as the stewardship campaign? In the church, stewardship can be defined as wisely using and managing all the resources that God has provided for us in his service. When you consider joining the church, and forever thereafter, you are reminded that we hope you will give generously of your time, talents and money to the church and its various good works. The annual  stewardship pledge campaign, which is well along by the time you read this, asks you to pledge weekly, monthly or annual amounts of money that you will give to the church in the coming year. On a practical level, your pledge ensures that our church can continue to give and grow and flourish. On a spiritual level, we trust that you will find that the opportunity to give is a gift in and of itself.
     How important to the church is the pledging process? For this year of 2017, we approved an operating budget of $198,786. There were 68 pledging units which pledged a total of $122,168, or an average of about $1,800 per pledging unit. Pledges represent 61% of our operating costs. The percentage has been a little higher in some previous years. The other 39% of our income (we always seek to have a balanced budget with income equaling costs) will come from loose plate collections, other unpledged donations, rental income, fundraisers (Church Supper and Cookie Walk), and most importantly, likely about $35,000 that will have to be transferred  from endowment funds, representing  over 17% of operating costs. Although there is always a little bit of slippage in the actual payment of pledges, it is important for our planning and management to have pledge commitments  as compared to other, uncertain  income sources.
     How much should you pledge? In the old days, church members were instructed to tithe, or pledge 10% of their income to the church.  In modern times, we recognize other, worthy causes, and consider a modern tithe to be at least 10% donated to the church plus other worthwhile causes. For example, with income of $50,000, that might result in $4,000 pledged to the church and $1,000 given to other non-profit good works. Of course, we no longer dictate how much you should give to the church. It is up to you. But do keep our needs in mind as you make your decision.
     Also, let’s not forget the time and talent components of stewardship. From a practical viewpoint, this means stepping up to fill vacant positions in important church committees and boards, and joining in on church activities such as mission projects and fund raising projects. We recently received the good news that Judy Stone has agreed to replace Pam Nevin as Assistant Treasurer. However, right now, we are short two members on the Board of Deacons, and will be three short when I retire as a Deacon next February.  And the Stewardship Committee will need new members next year. Doubtless there are other needs in addition to these examples.
     Furthermore, taking care of the world that God bestowed upon us dictates that environmentalism is also a consequence of stewardship. Recycling, renewable energy production, encouraging control of CO2 and other emissions, are some examples. Giving money and time to environmental protection groups are relevant activities. A wider view of stewardship could include other examples.
     With a relatively small congregation, we are fortunate to accomplish as much in service of the Lord as we do. The level of participation and support that we are currently receiving is impressive, and I do thank you all. But I feel compelled to remind you that our stewardship needs are continuing ones. - Dave Storey

BOARD OF CHRISTIAN EDUCATION
     It's that time of year:  Christmas Pageant time!   The Pageant will be during worship on Sunday, December 10 and will be followed by a potluck brunch and birthday party for Jesus.
     To prepare we will be rehearsing during Sunday School through December 3.  We will have a dress rehearsal Friday, December 8, at 5 p.m. at the church with pizza. Parents are invited to stay and enjoy pizza.
     If your kids would like to participate, they don't need to attend every rehearsal.  Please let Lila West know if your kids can take part. Lila West, lilawest87@gmail.com, or Jean Baxter, jeanbbaxter@gmail.com.
     If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.  We will be doing the same traditional pageant we have done for the past two years.
     Looking forward to 2018 . . .The Christian Ed Committee would welcome input on program ideas for families and kids.

MUSIC NOTES
     Join the Christmas Eve Choir and get a front row seat for this very special worship service, celebrating the birth of Jesus with lessons and carols.  Rehearsals will be Thursday nights, from 6:30 to 7:30, from Nov. 30 through Dec. 21.  We will also have a walk-through rehearsal in the sanctuary on Dec. 17 after the morning worship service. 

BOARD OF MISSIONS

CHRISTMAS GIFTS FOR JESSIE’S HOUSE - In December, The Board of Missions will sponsor the “Angel Tree”.  This project gives the congregation the opportunity to give a Christmas gift to a child who is staying at Jessie’s House, the family shelter in Amherst.  We appreciate Judy Stone’s help in coordinating this project.  Gift ideas will be available at coffee hour starting December 3, 2017.

REVERSE ADVENT CALENDAR

Through the Advent Season, from November 26 to December 17, participants will donate one item a day towards a charitable organization. 

For example, one non-perishable item each day for the Hadley Food Pantry, or a daily donation for Heifer International.  Collection bags and jars are available in dining room.  Bring your collection on December 17 for a blessing during worship service.

Pantry Items needed:

Canned & boxed meals (i.e. chili, stew)

Canned Meat (i.e. tuna, chicken, ham, salmon)

Peanut butter/Jelly

Brown & White rice

Snack crackers

Soups

Cereal & Oatmeal

Canned Fruit

Boxed Potatoes & Stuffing

Canned Vegetables

Instant & Ground Coffee

Dairy Creamer

Pudding & Jell-O

Mac & Cheese

Juice

Shampoo & Deodorant

Paper towels & Toilet paper

Toothpaste/ Tooth brushes

Laundry Detergent

Dish Soap & Hand soap

(The Hadley Food Pantry is open each Sunday from 12-1.   If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Sharon Andres at 584-0919.)

CHRISTMAS COOKIE WALK Saturday, December 16, 2017 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
               Cookie Cost:  $12/per container (approximately 2 1/2 dozen homemade cookies)

Ticket Sales - We are looking to have church members sell tickets to neighbors, coworkers, family member and cookie lovers.  Because of inventory, we are not encouraging walk-ins.  Our goal is to raise a little more than $1200.  

Baking Day at the Church:  We are also looking for volunteers to bake cookies, join us at a baking on Friday, December 15, 2017, starting at various times, in our church kitchen, to donate ingredients and work the event.

Bake and Bring: Christmas themed Cookies are needed. Please make cookies (about 6 dozen) and drop them off at the church Friday morning from 8:00 a.m. to noon to Delores or Friday night or Saturday morning before 8:30am. Some ideas are: Black and White Cookies, Gingerbread Cookies, Decorated Sugar Cookies, Peanut Butter with Kisses, Chocolate Cookies, Thumbprint cookies, Shortbread cookies or bites

We will also need Servers and Runners at the Walk and set-up and clean-up crews for the day of the sale.

All volunteer sign-up sheets will be at Fellowship Hour or you can contact Kara Kapinos at kkapinos@wne.edu or Delores Harper at rooster@firstchurchhadley.com.

For those new to the concept…What is a cookie walk?  Members of the congregation bake cookies, sell tickets and cookie lovers walk around tables that are set up with trays of different varieties of cookies.  They select the varieties that they like and fill up a container that we provide.  A pre-set price is determined for the package of cookies.  This is a fundraiser and a way for those non-baking, busy members of the community to have or give cookies away at Christmastime.

NOTE*** We will only be have a cookie walk.  Pierogi will not be available for sale this year.

PRAYER SHAWL MINISTRY - The Prayer Shawl knitting and crochet group will be meeting on Monday evening, December 4th, at 7:00 p.m. at the church.  Delores Harper will be providing refreshments for our annual holiday celebration.  We will be having a gift exchange (under $5.00 for each gift).  New members or visitors are always welcome.

Minutes of the Church Council meeting Nov. 8, 2017.

Rev. Christina has met recently with the new Media committee. They worked on the new church website.  The next step is to gather content and photos to fill the pages.

The council learned that our church has the option of paying dues to the Mass Conference either by a percentage of our budget or per active member. We currently pay per active members of record. The treasurer and Finance board will consider reviewing which plan is to our advantage.

The ministerial team from the "Making It Real" campaign will be meeting with church leaders and anyone one who is interested in January for a workshop.

Debbie Ward, clerk, asked for a clarification on how often we want to update CORI checks for church volunteers. A motion to establish a policy of doing CORI checks every 3 years and as needed with new volunteers was passed. Rev. Christina and Randy Izer plan to attend a workshop for faith communities being held at Hampshire College on Dec. 4th regarding Safe Church practices. It is being offered by the Western Regional Homeland Security Advisory Council.

The faith communities of the greater Hadley area are invited to support the effort to help the Hampshire Mosque complete their renovation project at their new location. The members of the Mosque have raised $45,000 towards the $85,000 estimated cost. They need to raise an additional $40,000 to pave the parking lot in order to obtain an occupancy permit. A fundraiser event is being hosted at Wesley Church in Hadley. There is also a GoFundMe campaign ongoing.

Mary Thayer reported that we will be offering just the evening Christmas Eve service here on the 24th. There will not be a morning worship service that day. The Deacons offered communion recently to the Sunday School volunteers after worship. They appreciated being able to participate in this sacred sacrament.

Diana West reported on the recent Christian Education meeting. We will be holding the pageant during worship December 10.  We will be having a potluck brunch afterward as well as a birthday party for Jesus, so please bring a dish to share. Rehearsals start November 19 and we will have a dress rehearsal with pizza Friday, December 8 at 5pm.  If you know someone who would like to participate please talk to Diana West, Lila West, or Jean Baxter. 

Finance representative Janine Giles and our Treasurer, Terri Smith reported that the pledge income is still not up to date. They encourage the congregation to send in their pledges for 2017 so we can balance our budget before the end of our fiscal year.

Judy Stone has agreed to take over the Second Treasurer position when Pam Nevin steps down after annual meeting. Thank you Judy.

Properties Board has been busy as usual. The stove project has essentially been completed and is being used regularly. The new silver cabinets are finished, installed and filled with the newly polished silver communion ware. The elevator needs some immediate service to comply with a new regulation. A motion was passed to authorize the committee to get the work done. Kurt Betchick reminded those who use the sanctuary to make sure the lights are turned off completely to avoid heating up the panel.

December Calendar

November 26 – First Sunday of Advent – Angels Among Us – #morehope

Our Advent theme for this year will be “Angels Among Us”. This Sunday we will look at the story of the winged messenger to Zechariah and contemplate what message we can offer to counteract a culture of fear and bring #morehope.   

December 3 – Second Sunday of Advent – Angels Among Us – #morepeace – Communion Sunday

This Sunday as we look at the story of the winged messenger to Mary and bringing #morepeace to the world.

December 10 – Third Sunday of Advent – #morejoy – CHRISTMAS PAGAENT and Potluck What a joy it will be to once again see our children put on the annual Christmas Pageant. After worship join us for a Christmas potluck lunch as we celebrate the birth of baby Jesus and enjoy fellowship and fun together.

December 17 - Christmas Sunday

December 24 - Christmas Eve Service 7:00 pm (no morning worship)

December 31 - Breakfast and Carol Sing

1    Fri    4:00-5:00pm           Prep for Take & Eat

2   Sat    8:00am-12:00 pm - Take & Eat Meal Preparation

3   Sun    10:00am                Worship Service & Church School

4   Mon      7:00pm                Prayer Shawl Ministry

5   Tue       7:00pm                Bell Choir rehearsal

6   Wed      6:30pm               Bible Study

7   Thu       6:30pm               Christmas Eve Choir rehearsal
                  7:30pm              Choir rehearsal

8   Fri         5:00pm              Pageant rehearsl and pizza supper

10  Sun      10:00am             Christmas Pageant
                  11:00am             Potluck Lunch

12   Tue       7:00pm               Bell Choir rehearsal

14   Thu       6:30pm              Christmas Eve Choir rehearsal
                   7:30pm              Choir rehearsal

15  Fri         9:00am              Baking Cookies

16  Sat        9:00-10:00am     Cookie Walk

17  Sun     10:00am                Worship Service & Church School
                 11:15am                 Christmas Eve Choir rehearsal

19   Tue       7:00pm               Bell Choir rehearsal

21   Thu       6:30pm              Christmas Eve Choir rehearsal
                   7:30pm              Choir rehearsal

24   Sun     NO Morning Worship Service
                  7:00pm                Christmas Eve Worship Service

26   Tue       7:00pm               Bell Choir rehearsal

28   Thu       7:00pm              Choir rehearsal

31  Sun     10:00am                Breakfast & Carol Sing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rooster Crows        November 2017

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.”
–Colossians 3:16

Dear Friends,
     The tonic Henry David Thoreau prescribed for civilization and its malcontent was the wilderness. The Japanese would agree. For decades, what the Japanese call forest bathing, has become a popular part of their national public health program. Forest bathing, the practice of taking a short, leisurely walk in a forest, has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine.
     When I go for some forest bathing it feels more like God bathing to me. When I walk in the woods and take the time to notice the birds, the pattern of the leaves, and the clouds floating across the sky, I feel wholly bathed in God’s generous and life-giving presence. The forest has a magical way of absorbing all the stress and burdens I carried in with me. When I leave, I feel lighter. Nature is a sanctuary of healing and joy.
     Some people claim the only place they find God is in nature. During my spiritual-but-not-religious phase I agreed. Nature was my go-to church, my Bible was the Sunday New York Times, and fellowship hour meant eating brunch with a friend or two. I cobbled together my own individual spirituality that was pleasing to me. And it was lovely—for a while—until I realized something missing. Practicing my own thing started to feel incredibly lonely. I craved people to worship and pray with, to question and doubt with, to celebrate and to cry with. I longed for community so I returned to church just so I could God-bathe with other people.
     We all long for community and connection with others. Gathering together regularly for church is one of God’s greatest gifts. And, as it turns out, it is good for our health too. Research shows that churchgoers experience less depression and have stronger social connections.
     The benefits of going to church abound. Church connects us with God and each other. Church makes us feel reverence for something bigger than ourselves. Church teaches us what justice really looks like. Church provides us with plenty of ways to give back. Church teaches us about forgiveness and helps us to reflect on gratitude. Church fills our hearts with song. Church helps us to find deeper meaning in life and from our greatest trials. Even when church gets hard and messy, we are provided with wonderful opportunities for growth and transformation. In so many rich ways, the church is a tonic for our well-being.
     May the church be a sanctuary of healing, hope, and joy for you. And may you “Be the Church” for those who long for the tonic of God’s love.
     In deep gratitude for Christ and the church,  Rev. Christina

http://religionnews.com/2017/07/06/attending-church-is-good-for-your-hea...
If you would like to read more about the wonderful reasons for going to church go to the following article: http://www.livingwellspendingless.com/2016/12/02/the-surprising-benefits...

BEREAVEMENT & LOSS WORKSHOP

In light of the many in our congregation who have lost a spouse, a mother, a father, an in-law, a dear family member or friend in the last couple of years, a bereavement workshop is being offered on November 7. Shelly Lenn, the Bereavement Coordinator for Cooley Dickenson VNA and Hospice will be helping us explore the journey of grief and loss. She will illustrate ways we can enhance our coping and process our grief with self-compassion and care. She will help us to understand the normal reactions to grief and loss and explore how reactions can be more complex and may require greater interventions. And she will also talk about the next steps such as joining a bereavement group or forming one here at the church. If you have experienced the loss of a loved one in the past year or so, you are encouraged to attend this workshop. 

When: Tuesday, November 7  Time: 7 p.m.   Where: Choir Room  
What to bring:  Your Bible and a notebook  

BAD BOYS AND BAD GIRLS OF THE BIBLE - EXPLORING MEN AND WOMEN OF THE BIBLE WITH QUESTIONABLE VIRTUE

This Bible study will take a look at the stories about the notorious men and women. For the women whose lives were filled with betrayal, deception, rejection, jealousy, and exploitation, we will look beyond the notoriety to show their exceptional boldness, courage, determination, and independence. We will also explore well-known men of the Bible who were strong and faithful, yet also weak and challenged.
When: First Wednesday of every month starting, Nov. 1 to Apr. 4.     Time: 7 p.m.     Where: Choir Room    
What to bring: Your Bible and a notebook

Deacon's Note
I recently came across this quote by L.R. Knost, a secular and Christian writer primarily focused on parenting and children:
“Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world.
All things will break. And all things can be mended.
Not with time, as they say but with intention.
So go.
Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally.
The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you”   -L.R. Knost
     This simple but powerful quote is one that compels us to take action and be the light that God gives us the opportunity to be! Although I find many of her writings inspiring I do have to ask: Does this stand up to the “Does it work in daily life” test? 
     When we ponder the seemingly constant barrage of challenges, disasters and injustices around the world, finding a way to take meaningful and loving action can, from a worldly place, seem overwhelming. But Jesus, the teacher, healer, savior and prophet has taught us that through God, All is possible.
     Keeping informed of the events and goings on of the world is important but I would suggest we might be better served by spending a bit less time with social and mainstream media and more time with meditation and prayer, allowing us to listen to The quiet voice guiding us to action.
     Bringing God’s love to the world can take many forms.  You can contact your representative to change or develop laws advancing equity, civil rights and safety.  It could take the form of donating your money to help those suffering from disasters, donating your time to help with Take and Eat, the local food pantry or shelters, or donating your skills to help build a home with Habitat for Humanity.  It can also take the form of offering a meal or sitting with a friend (or stranger!) that is grieving or just needs the comfort of another.

James 2:18-19 18But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. - Bob Andersen, Deacon

Board of Christian Education
     We have had a lot of fun in Sunday School throughout October!  On October1 we participated in World Communion Day where we learned about the symbolism of Communion and then joined the Congregation to partake in communion.  We have been learning about Bible Heroes, and so far we have covered Noah, Abraham, Joseph, and Moses’s mom, along with Superman, Wonder Woman, and Flash.  Coming up in November we will learn about Moses and his sister Miriam, and Batman.
     Thank you to everyone who participated in our Mount Warner hike.  The weather was perfect!  Also big thanks to Mary Wholley for organizing a movie night for Bring a Friend Weekend.  It was great to see so many faces and thank you to everyone who brought a friend to worship on Sunday!
 
Christmas Pageant - during worship on Sunday, December 10   
Christmas Pageant rehearsals will start Sunday, November 19. The Pageant will be during worship on Sunday, December 10, with a potluck brunch and birthday party for Jesus to follow.  If you have any questions please contact Diana West at
dmabelwest@gmail.com.

CHRISTMAS COOKIE WALK
     Our church is sponsoring a Christmas Cookie Walk. If you have never been to a cookie walk, it is a wonderful and yummy experience!  This is a huge buffet of cookies.  You purchase a container and walk throughout the hall and select the cookies you wish to take home and pack your box.  This is a great gift to bring to your holiday parties or to give to coworkers.  If you would to purchase tickets, please contact Kara Kapinos.
     Here are the details of our Cookie Walk…
     Date: Saturday, December 16, 2017        Time: 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. 
     Place: First Congregational Church of Hadley, 102 Russell Street, Hadley
     Cost: $12/per container (approximately 2 1/2 dozen homemade cookies- or more!)
Quantities are limited and pre-sold tickets are necessary.  We cannot accommodate walk-ins.

Board of Properties

     The final touch up work on the kitchen stove/hood project has been completed.  Not all of the invoices are in yet, so we await those to get a final cost on the project.
     We had a recurring problem of water on the floor in the basement near the hot water boiler, and also complaints of the hot water in the kitchen being too hot.  Boulanger's P&H was called in and they replaced a mixing valve and a pressure relief valve on the hot water system.  For now, this seems to have solved both problems.
     The new display cabinets for the church's silver are being made by SmallCorp of Greenfield.
     We are considering another major project for next year, that of removing and replacing old tile flooring on the second floor of the annex.  The first floor and part of the stairway were done several years ago.  The tile deterioration on the second floor has reached a point that we shouldn't wait any longer on this.  The disruption that will occur in doing this dictates that the project should take place in July, when the least amount of activity is going on at the church.

Prayer Shawl Ministry
     The Prayer Shawl Ministry group will meet at the church on Monday evening, November 6th  at 7:00 p.m.  We welcome persons who already knit or crochet and are more than happy to instruct those who would like to learn.  Join us for a relaxing evening of fellowship. Refreshments will be provided by Lynne Adams.

Safe Church Policy
     The first installment of the Safe Church Policy is here!  Based on ten years of work, insurance guidelines, and UCC policies, this document details proper protocols when working with children.  With the adoption of this policy we are looking for a Safe Church Coordinator.  If you are interested or would like more information please contact Diana West, dmabelwest@gmail.com.  Hard copies of the policy are available through the church office or you can request a digital copy from Diana West, dmabelwest@gmail.com.  If you have any questions please direct them towards Diana. Many thanks to those who dedicated their time working on this document!

Church Council Notes
     The Safe Church Policy covering our youth and children's programs and staff was accepted unanimously by the council members.
     Stan Brown has stepped down from Inclusiveness and Welcome committee in order to join the Finance Board. Stan's appointment was unanimously accepted by the council members.
     The church office received some phone calls from members of the community looking for the Fall Festival. The coach rides and tag sale were especially missed. Hopefully next fall this event could be reconsidered.
     It was announced that the Cookie Walk fundraiser will be happening in December. See Kara Kapinos for details and to volunteer for this fun and successful event.
     Our church will be hosting the community Thanksgiving service this year in our sanctuary on Tuesday, Nov 21st. The choir has been invited to sing. Clergy from all faiths will be participating in the service. The theme will be "Giving Thanks for Our Neighbors."
     Our treasurer, Terri Smith reported that our church members and friends collected $980.00 to donate to the UCC Disaster Relief Fund. Thank you for your generosity. Pledges are still not up to date. This is a concern as our budget is bigger this year and was planned based on expected income from these pledges. If you need an update from Pam Nevin regarding your pledge total, please contact her.
     The Make It Real Campaign mentioned last month is on hold until a team from the UCC conference can be contacted.
     A Bereavement workshop is planned to take place at our church on Tuesday Nov. 7th. There is no fee to attend and is being facilitated by staff from the VNA. All are welcome to attend.
     Next Council will meet Wednesday Nov. 8th.   Respectfully submitted, Debbie Ward

HAMPSHIRE COUNTY YOUNGLIFE NEWS

You are invited to join us for Young Life Hampshire County's "Taste of Young Life" Fundraising Dessert Night on Monday, Nov 6 at Hopkins Academy! We will be celebrating the work of Young Life in our community and sharing the vision of Hampshire County Young Life for the future. Join us for an evening of laughter, kid stories, delicious desserts, and opportunities to see what's happening with Young Life in Hampshire County.

Here are the details for the night!
WHO: Adults interested in supporting or learning about Hampshire County Young Life
WHAT: An interactive look at the opportunities for kids through Young Life in Hampshire County
WHERE: Hopkins Academy, 131 Russell St, Hadley
WHEN: 7-9pm on Monday, Nov 6th.
WHY: Because God is doing great things with kids in our communities and we'd love for you to be a part of it!
FREE CHILDCARE PROVIDED UP THROUGH 5th GRADE
An opportunity to give financially towards Young Life will be provided for at the "Taste of Young Life". If you can't come or would like to give ahead of time, please contact Barb Andersen. Thank you in advance! Please contact Barb Andersen if you have any questions or are interested in attending  Bzander4@charter.net/413-237-6605

The Rooster Crows        October 2017

“Those who try to gain their own life will lose it; but those who lose their life for my sake will gain it.” –Matthew 10:39 (GNT)

Dear Friends,
     As I sat in the airport waiting to board my plane to the Contemplative Outreach retreat in Tennessee, I was able to catch up on my favorite daily devotional emails from Richard Rohr and the UCC writers. Incredibly, every devotional I read was about the ego and the false self. When I arrived at the retreat I picked up an interesting book by Thomas Keating, and lo and behold he mentioned the false self within the first few pages. What an amazing coincidence! It did not stop there. During the week we watched a number of Keating’s videos and he kept talking about the “false self”. Hum… do you think God was trying to tell me something?
     This past week we talked a lot about emptying ourselves to let God move in and take up residence within us. What exactly does that mean? —letting go of our ego and our attachments so that the “me” that tends to get stamped on every human experience gets erased and replaced with the fullness of God living through us. Sounds easy enough, right? If only it could be so easy to dump our ego and all our many attachments into nearest trash bin and be miraculously transformed. “Not so fast,” God might say ever so gently. “It will take time to let go of what you have clung to so dearly. But let go you must in order to gain life and freedom in me.” 
    If I really think about it, my ego is often in overdrive and this is especially true when I am rushing about. One afternoon at the retreat, I was running a little late for our centering prayer time and rushed into the prayer room. In doing so I startled the cute Shetland sheepdog that was the service dog for one of the women in our group. He growled as I stumbled over him trying to get to a seat. I realized afterwards I had not been very mindful of the woman, her dog, and the sacredness of our shared prayer space. I realized in order to be more in tune with what was going on around me I needed to slow down and let go of my agenda.
     So how do we let go of what keeps us separated from God. Perhaps the best place to start is with prayer—to ask God to open our hearts and eyes to all the ways our ego and attachments get in the way of God being God through us. For me, awareness is the first step toward change. God, through the example of Christ, invites us into transformation. Transformation is not just a one-time deal. It is something we must do over and over again as we slowly learn to let go of all that holds us back from God being fully present within us. God wants nothing more than to liberate us from all that binds us so that we may know God’s love, joy, and wonder 24/7.    
    Together, may we journey into the heart of Christ, leaving behind all that hinders us.  Shalom, Rev. Christina

MISSION PROJECT OPPORTUNITIES IN OCTOBER

The United Church of Christ response to natural disasters:  
PRAY for those impacted.            
GIVE generously to support relief and recovery efforts.
ASSEMBLE cleanup buckets.
VOLUNTEER in the long-term recovery effort.
    The Board of Missions greatly appreciates the monetary donations given in September for the UCC Disaster Relief in response to the recent horrific hurricanes in our country and the Caribbean. Your generosity will truly help those victims in need. 
    During the month of October, we will collect items to assemble Church World Service Emergency Cleanup Buckets and other kits. The need is great: CWS distributed more than 14,000 buckets last year, but now its stock is down to a critical low of 1,800 at last count.  Please pick an item or items needed from the Giving Tree in the dining room. We will assemble the buckets on October 29.
    In addition to these collections, Rev. Christina is working with other ministers to coordinate a mission trip to help with the long-term recovery.  She will forward more details as plans are made. For more information about UCC Disaster Ministry go to:  http://www.ucc.org/disaster/

Please, MARK YOUR CALENDAR & JOIN US on October 29 for 5th Sunday Worship & Serve
9:30 - SHARE A LIGHT BREAKFAST
10:00 - WORSHIP SERVICE
10:30 - PARTICIPATE IN A PROJECT
Service projects will include:
      ~ prepare a meal for the Cathedral in the Light Ministry in Greenfield
      ~ carve a pumpkin to donate to Jessie’s House, a family shelter in Amherst, MA
      ~ join the church cleanup brigade
      ~ fill Church World Service Emergency Cleanup Buckets, School Kits and Hygiene Kits
We hope you will consider donating items for collections, food for Cathedral in the Light meal and/or food for breakfast.  Please look for sign-up sheets in the dining room on October 1.

SUNDAY SCHOOL started out with a POW!

    Our focus is Bible Heroes.  (We’ll take a break for special Sundays and when we get ready for the Christmas Pageant.) Who are our Heroes? -- in the Bible, in our lives.  It’s the plan that each week they’ll share about a Bible Hero, about a Super Hero, and about another hero in their lives, and how each kid is a hero, too!!!
    We had a LOT of kids on Homecoming Sunday – so we’re dividing up the class when needed.  Please be ready to say, “I can help!” if you see a big group. We’ll have activities for both groups.   If LOTS of kids keep coming all the time, we’ll go to “Plan B.”

** New**  Sunday Morning HEROES poster - Many of our kids can’t be in church every Sunday because they have other commitments.  Our HEROES board will celebrate their other Sunday morning activities so that we can cheer them on – like soccer, horse shows, cow shows, skiing, camping, family-time, swimming – you get the idea.   Please add your kids’ names to the board – and/or email Jean (jeanbbaxter@gmail.com) about their activities so that we can add them in.

Upcoming events:
MOVIE NIGHT - Join us for pizza and the movie, The Goonies, Saturday, October 21 at 6:30pm.  Please bring your friends!  This event is sponsored by the Board of Christian Education.
BRING A FRIEND SUNDAY - Everyone (adults too!) is invited to bring a friend on Sunday, October 22.
FIFTH SUNDAY - October 29 is a fifth Sunday and the kids will be carving pumpkins for Jessie’s House!  Feel free to come along, enjoy breakfast, and carve pumpkins.  Don’t forget to wear appropriate clothes.

The full schedule:
10/8    Super Heroes!            Marvel Super Heroes – and heroes like ME!
10/15    Joseph’s story          Why did Joseph show forgiveness to his brothers?
10/21    6:30pm        *Movie Night & Pizza: “Goonies”
10/22    Moses’s Mom        Moses’s mom showed amazing faith. *PLUS Bring A Friend Sunday*
10/29    Mission Pumpkins  We’ll carve pumpkins to share and brighten our world.
11/5
    Moses               
Moses showed humility & courage

 SEEKING ASSISTANT TREASURER
The Finance Committee is seeking candidates for the position of Assistant Treasurer to commence at the Annual Meeting - February 2018.
The Assistant Treasurer shall be a member of the church and shall be bonded by the Board of Finance.
Duties included but not limited to:
     To record all monies and properties received by the Church.
     To provide for the safeguarding, collecting, counting and depositing of all monies contributed to the Church.

     To keep a record of individual pledges and payments and to send out semiannual statements.
     To maintain accounts and prepare reports as directed by the Treasurer, Board of Finance or Church Council.
     Other duties as described in the Church Bylaws Article VIII.
The Finance Committee is also in need of one additional committee member.  Please speak with a member of the Finance Committee, either Janine Giles or Dave Storey, regarding potential interest in these positions
 

DEACON'S NOTE

     Rick and I have a grandchild. She was born in May. We are filled with wonder, joy and gratitude for this beautiful little girl. Since our son Dan, his wife CJ and their daughter live in Washington, DC, Rick and I have been getting down to see them a bit this spring and summer. We have had the pleasure of going to church with them on occasion to the First Congregational United Church of Christ in downtown DC. I find myself thinking back to a sermon preached in June by a guest preacher, the Rev. Thomas Bowen, who is the Director of the (DC) Mayor’s Office on Religious Affairs. Rev. Bowen started his sermon by shouting “You get it!” Then he explained that what he meant was that this congregation gets being open and affirming, all feel welcome who walk through the door or even walk by the church. The church’s social justice ministry is powerful and effective. Rev. Bowen said if he is near the church during the week, he will walk blocks out of his way just to walk by the church because the UCC posters and information he sees in the church’s windows mean so much to him and he is reminded that here is a church that “gets it.”
     I have been wondering what more our church can do so that those coming to church, or even just driving by, will feel we “get it.”   - Mary Thayer

MUSIC NOTES
     “Praise the Lord!  For it is good to sing praises to our God; for He is gracious, and a song of praise is seemly.”  Psalm 147:1     Choir rehearsal Thursday nights at 7, Sunday morning before church at 9.  See you there! – here! 

PRAYER SHAWL MINISTRY
     The Prayer Shawl Ministry group will meet at the church on Monday evening, October 2nd, at 7:00 p.m.  We welcome persons who already knit or crochet and are more than happy to instruct those who would like to learn.  Join us for a relaxing evening of fellowship. Refreshments will be provided by Judy Parker.

Church Council Meeting-September 12, 2017 Minutes
     Diana West, chairperson of the Christian Education Board, presented a final draft of the Safe Church Policy regarding our children and youth. Our insurance agent was consulted to make sure we followed protocol for drivers of youth on trips. Edits were suggested, discussed and accepted. Debbie Ward reported she is now registered with the state to conduct CORI checks for volunteers in a confidential manner. It was decided that CORI checks will be conducted annually for all volunteers working with children or youth. This policy will be finalized and voted on at the October Council meeting. Any member interested in reviewing the draft may contact Diana before that time.
     Randy Izer sent a report on his research regarding our church becoming a sponsor for a Park and Rec sports team. Melissa Aloisi told him the cost is $600.00 and we will need to wait until spring as the current teams all have sponsors. It was agreed to move forward on this positive community outreach. Janine Giles and Terri Smith will look over the budget and decide how to handle this expense.
     Randy also included in his report that he recommends we find a cleaning service that does hood cleaning and find out what schedule they recommend. Tom West will start that research.
     Stan Brown, council member-at-large and also a member of the Welcoming and Inclusiveness committee, brought samples of new pew cards to be placed in the holders in the sanctuary. There will be a separate prayer request card and a visitor card.  Rev. Christina circulated a draft of a new brochure introducing our church and its programs. Many edits were suggested and photos that illustrate the text will be provided.
     Shari Parsons reported to council on behalf of the Board of Deacons. There are two openings now on that Board. If any member of the congregation wants to know more about this important opportunity for service, speak to Rev. Christina or Mary Thayer, chairperson of Board of Deacons. The Deacons are working on agreements for anyone seeking to be married, have a baptism or funeral in our church.
     Diana West reported on the recent CE board meeting. We had 12 kids attend Homecoming Sunday activities. A hike at Mt Warner is planned for Oct. 21 at 1:30 pm. A movie night will take place October 21st.  A poll is being conducted during fellowship hour about a possible change for the Christmas pageant. Please let them know what you think. Diana West and Jean Baxter, Christian Ed director, attended a training workshop. They came away with some new insights like the importance of connecting the children's lessons with the sermon that the adults hear so families have "food" for dinner table discussions. It was agreed we are doing a pretty good job with this already. Rev. Christina is working with the pastor from Southampton church and other area small churches to plan a mission trip for youth during the summer of 2018 in Eastern PA attending a UCC sponsored youth event. There will be getting acquainted events and fund raising through the coming year to prepare. This trip will be open to grades 7-12 and is estimated to cost around $780.00 per student.
     Janine Giles reports from Finance Board that there is going to be a paid assistant treasurer position open after the next annual meeting in February when Pam Nevin steps down. Anyone interested should talk to Pam or Janine. There are also at least one or two seats open on the Finance Board itself.

     Terri Smith circulated the monthly finance report. Expenses are being paid. Pledges have been slow coming in since the summer so income is less than it usually is at this time of year. Half year reports were sent during the summer to those who pledged so it is hoped that members will catch up on payments in the near future. Unrestricted gifts are up this year over last year. The building insurance costs went up and the minister's health insurance cost is expected to rise also.
     Board of Properties chairperson, Tom West, reported the board has been busy as usual keeping our building maintained. The stove project is complete. Be sure to visit the kitchen soon to admire its gleaming beauty! The new secure cases for the silver collection are due to be delivered by the end of September.
     The Board of Missions will be collecting monies as well as needed cleaning items on an ongoing basis for relief of those affected by the recent hurricanes. Special projects are planned for Fifth Sunday on October 29th.
     Pastor Christina asked the council's permission to double the size of our church's weekly ad in the Saturday edition of the Daily Hampshire Gazette. The motion passed unanimously.
     Rev Christina also shared some highlights from a webinar she participated in called "Solving the church attendance puzzle." Some thoughts she came away with included loving well those who are currently attending our church. Stop thinking about numbers. Consider allowing a way for on-line giving on website. Focus on children and youth, creating a safe, loving environment to learn and grow. Express gratitude and celebrate wins. Develop ministries outside church walls like Mug and Muffin with the Minister or Pub Theology. Develop music program. A Leadership Conference for area churches will be hosted at our church on October 14th. Members in leadership roles are encouraged to attend.
     The entire Council recognized Diana West for her hard work and persistence in getting the Safe Church Policy finalized for our congregation with a round of applause and accolades.

OCTOBER 2017

1   Sun   10:00am  WORSHIP SERVICE
                             CHURCH SCHOOL

                2:30pm   Girl Scout Troop 11914
                5:30pm   Girl Scout Troop 11267
2   Mon     7:00pm   Prayer Shawl Ministry
3   Tue      4:30pm   Hampshire Assoc. Exec. com.
                7:00pm   BELL CHOIR rehearsal
                7:00pm   BOARD OF PROPERTIES
4   Wed    6:30pm   AA
                6:30pm   Girl Scout Leaders
5   Thu      9:30am   Music Together
                7:00pm   CHOIR rehearsal
6   Fri        4:00pm   PREP for TAKE & EAT
                6:00pm   Wedding Rehearsal
7   Sat       8:00am   TAKE & EAT
                 4:30pm   Wedding Ceremony

8   Sun     10:00am   WORSHIP SERVICE
                               CHURCH SCHOOL
                  2:00pm  Girl Scout Troop 12652
                  3:00pm  Girl Scout Troop 64645
                  2:00pm  Girl Scout Troop 11644

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rooster Crows        September 2017

Pastor's Note

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” –Ephesians 6:11

Dear Friends,
     Japanese knotweed and I do not coexist well together. I am so fed up with it that I am ready to march down to city hall and protest its pesky existence with a sign saying, “Eradicate Knotweed Now.”  Of course, the Northampton City Hall has more important things to attend to than my petty gripe with knotweed—even though it is incredibly invasive and almost impossible to get rid of.
     Let me back up here and start at the beginning. I had no idea what knotweed was three months ago. Then I met “Knotweed Joe”.  One fine day in May, I spotted a man poking around behind my home. So I ventured outside to find out what he was up to. Lo and behold he was yanking out some weeds, which were—you guessed it—knotweed. Joe is the self-appointed eradicator of knotweed for our neighborhood and he appears every spring to rip the stuff out of the ground. “Great,” I thought, “Knotweed Joe has got this.”
     Except, as my landlords informed me, knotweed grows back relentlessly. As they packed up to go to their new home in Maine, they left me in charge of the weeding. How bad can it be? Pull it out and it’s basically gone—right? By the second time I pulled it out, my battle with it was just beginning.
     Knotweed is the Godzilla of weeds. It takes on a life of its own, and it is difficult to eradicate—even with an herbicide. It takes an enormous amount of patience and time to get rid of it, especially when it has gotten out of control.
     Hatred is like knotweed. It is the Godzilla of emotions, and it takes on a life of its own. It can be incredibly invasive and impossible to eradicate. When it is ignored it spreads far and wide and gets out of control. When it is fertilized by the rhetoric of our leaders, it can crack the very foundations of our common life together.
     No amount of herbicide will get rid of hatred. We must be willing to stand toe-to-toe with it and face it even though we sometimes falsely believe it is easier to turn away and ignore it. We do this especially when the hatred is not directed at us, but at our black and brown neighbors. Turning away from hatred is a perilous thing to do because it will to continue to grow unabated.
     Jesus calls us to enter the fray in some way, shape, or form, and do what we can to weed out hatred. If we do not, it will grow exponentially. Not all of us can stand on the front lines in harm’s way like the group of clergy did in Charlottesville, VA, but each of us can put on God’s armor of love and find other ways to support and fight for those who are the targets of hatred. I believe God is calling the church to do something new—and it is standing up to hatred and standing by those who have been oppressed in our neighborhoods, towns, cities, and country for far too long. May God give us strength and guide our way as we walk arm-in-arm together in love to face the evils of hatred.    With a deep faith in Christ’s way, - Rev. Christina

Christian Education

Welcome back to Sunday School!  We're getting ready for some exciting stuff.
Our theme is Bible Heroes, and we'll learn about Noah, Abraham, Moses, Deborah, Joseph, and Ruth, among many others.  

Join us for Homecoming Sunday!

Sunday, September 10 is our annual Homecoming Sunday -- when Sunday School officially starts up for the fall.  -- It's Bible Heroes time! And the kids will host the coffee hour with the treats they make on 9/9.

Other dates to plan for:
Saturday, September 9 at 2:30pm --  Jean will be hosting a "bake-in" at the church -- all kids welcome, and teen & adult helpers, too.

Sunday, October 1 at 1:30pm -- Join us for a hike on Mt. Warner with ice cream afterward at the North Hadley Sugar Shack!

Sunday, October 22 is our annual "Bring a Friend" Sunday. Kids (and parents too!) are invited to bring a friend to worship and Sunday School.

Deacon's Note

"Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body."  - Proverbs 16:24

     As my wife was looking at the obituaries in the August 9 addition of the Daily Hampshire Gazette she came across the obituary of an art professor I had in College. His name was James Hendricks. James Hendricks was my professor in the late '70s and up until then was known mostly for his photo realist paintings of the moon, one of which appeared on the cover of Time magazine in 1971 with the Apollo 15 astronauts. But now he was exploring an abstract expressionist style and he had us explore new ways of drawing and painting using non-traditional objects such as rocks, branches, broken tile, etc. But what I remember most about him was his kind and gentle spirit. He was different from most of the art professors at the time who were arrogant, bitter and seemed to have some score they needed to settle with their students. His spirit uplifted his students and gave them confidence for beginning their journey into the unknown art universe. I contacted a friend of mine who lives in Illinois currently about his passing, knowing she had him as a professor as well. She said, "He was such an understanding man. I suffered from some depression and didn't go to class for a couple of months. When I finally went back he just said, "No problem," and we picked up where we left off." He was so supporting at a time when she could have been easily crushed. He eventually became her thesis advisor.
     Also on the same page of the obituaries that day was the obituary for our beloved Norm Barstow Jr. As we all know, Norm was a gentle, sweet man who was also encouraging and very supportive. I cannot possibly add to all the wonderful remembrances of Norm that have been shared over the past couple of weeks other than this. Knowing Norm, being around Norm made you feel better, better about yourself, better about the world. He was just that kind of person, much like my professor.
     When I read both of these men's obituaries I realized they had a connection. They both were humble men that brought their own light to this world. Light that I appreciated and still do. I hope by their example that I can be as supportive and caring to others. As the approaching days seem to be getting darker let us cherish the ones that have brought light into our own lives and take that light and pass it along to all who move through our orbits.  - Rick Ward

CHOIR NOTES
Come one, come all – join a choir this fall!
Either ringing or singing, choir is great.
Tuesdays or Thursdays – save the date!
Vocal choir will resume Sept. 7, from 7 to 8.
Bells will begin later, Sept. 12, also from 7 to 8.
So…really…don’t delay – mark your calendar today!

Board of Properties
     It has been a busy summer for us as we have several ongoing projects at various stages.
     The kitchen stove project is nearing completion.  The air supply and exhaust system is installed and the stove itself and fire suppression system should be in by the time you read this Rooster.  Roger Barstow is supervising the installation.
     The new silver display cabinets for the sanctuary have been ordered and we expect to have them installed early in the fall.
     Three new basement windows have been installed by Steve Robertson and Kurt Betchick.  These replace old broken windows which were responsible for a frozen/burst pipe in the basement over the winter.  Don Young has generously paid for the purchase of two of the new windows.
     The old apple trees in the back yard of the church have been removed, along with the shrubs at the end of the handicap ramp.  This will help facilitate using the lawn for occasional overflow parking spots (OOPS).
     Lastly, the exterior painting of the church building:  Although we have selected a painting contractor for this work, it appears unlikely that they will be able to start this year due to prior commitments and loss of work days to inclement weather.  Most contractors already had their schedules full by the time we were able to commit.  However, we feel confident that the contractor we chose will do good work, even if we have to wait until next year.  There is a possibility that he may be able to do some work in the fall of this year.

Prayer Shawl Ministry
Since the first Monday of the month is on Labor Day, the Prayer Shawl ministry group will be meeting on September 11th at 7:00 at the church.  It will be great to catch up on everyone's summer happenings as we work on our projects.  We welcome new members and would be happy to teach you how to knit or crochet.  Come join us.

Church Council

     Church Moderator, Randy Izer opened the meeting with a moment of silent prayer in memory of our beloved member, Norman Barstow, Jr., who recently passed away after a brave battle with cancer. He will be deeply missed by his family, his church and his community.
     Rosalee Oakley and Joan Johnson brought to our meeting a report on their attendance with Rev. Christina at the joint meeting of the Southern New England Conferences of the UCC. All of the delegates of the Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island conferences met together for the first time on June 16-17 in the CT Convention Center.
     The main purpose of the meeting was to discuss and vote on whether the delegates wanted to agree to work during the next year to form a new conference under a joint budget and staffing structure. It was described like "getting engaged and meeting for premarital counseling." The delegates voted nearly unanimously to move in this direction. After a year the group will meet again for a final vote on a detailed proposal. Then they would seek approval from the next General Synod meeting in 2019. Our First Church delegates were happy to be there for this historic meeting. Randy Izer asked what were the reasons given for moving in this direction. The emphasis was on sharing the strength and best practices of each conference but declining church membership and finances are also factors.
     Diana West reported from the Christian Education Board that Homecoming Sunday is planned for Sept 10th. The Sunday School will be focusing on "Bible Heroes.” There will be a Saturday baking party for the children the day before to prepare the goodies for Coffee Hour.    
     Bring a Friend Sunday on Oct.22nd will be expanded to include the entire congregation!
     Hadley Park and Rec will be using one of our classrooms for an afterschool program this Fall.
     After Diana receives some information from the insurance company regarding our Safe Church Policy for our youth, this document will be ready for a final vote.
     Rev. Christina is working on the new church website format and it is progressing nicely.
     After a discussion about a possible schedule conflict during the Cookie Walk weekend, it was decided to move forward with the profitable and delicious fundraiser, baking taking place Friday night, Dec. 15th, and sales on Saturday, Dec. 16th.
     Mary Thayer reminded the Council that there is an opening on the Board of Deacons that still needs to be filled.
     Debbie Ward reported that our Bell choir's participation in the Annual Bell choir conference at the Mullins Center was attended by five of our members. The final concert was incredibly beautiful and inspiring.
     The Properties Board continues to work on a long list of projects. The bill for the parking lot pavement project with the Town of Hadley came in $6000 less than budgeted. By the time this report goes to press, the new stove should be delivered and connected to the shiny new ventilation system in the kitchen. Going forward we will have commercial kitchen equipment that will need to be professionally inspected and cleaned annually. The new secure silver cabinet is being made now and we expect to take delivery in September. A painting contractor, Brian Loud, has been selected after a bid process. Since the painting season is well underway, his schedule is full so it may not start until next year.
     The Welcoming and Inclusiveness committee asked permission to purchase, with donated funds, a UCC "Be the Church" banner to be displayed temporarily on the front lawn. The vote passed unanimously.
     Pastor Christina reported having a wonderful trip to Iona in Scotland. She has already and will in the coming weeks be preaching on what she experienced and learned there.
     Next Council meeting will be Tuesday, Sept.12th, at 7 p.m. in the Conference room.

Phil Mitchell was born on May 2, 1931 and was baptized in our church soon after. He was going through his things and came across this bulletin and sent it to us. In his note he said he remembers appreciatively some early Sunday School experience in our church. He remembers the little chairs in the classroom and a loving teacher whom they all adored, but he cannot remember her name. He has served as pastor in several churches and in retirement has served a few churches as interim minister. He now lives in Orleans, MA.  His letter and bulletin will be placed in our memorabilia book.

SEPTEMBER 2017

1     Friday        4:00 pm   Prep for Take & Eat
2     Saturday    8:00 am   Take & Eat Ministry

3     Sunday     10:00 am  Worship Service - Ann Halstein preaching
5     Tuesday      4:30 pm  Hampshire Association Executive Committee meeting
6     Wednesday 6:30 pm  AA
                         7:00 pm  Girl Scout Leaders
7     Thursday     7:00 pm  Choir Rehearsal
9     Saturday      2:30 pm  Church School Baking Party

10   Sunday       10:00 am  Worship Service - Homecoming Sunday
                         10:00 am  Church School
11   Monday         7:00 pm  Prayer Shawl Ministry
                           7:30 pm  Hope Grange of Hadley
12  Tuesday         7:00 pm  Bell Choir Rehearsal
                           7:00 pm  Board of Properties
                           7:00 pm  Council
13  Wednesday    6:30 pm   AA
14  Thursday        7:00 pm   Choir Rehearsal

17  Sunday          10:00 am  Worship Service - Scott Barton preaching
                           10:00 am  Church School
19  Tuesday           7:00 pm  Bell Choir Rehearsal
20  Wednesday      6:30 pm  AA
21  Thursday          7:00 pm Choir Rehearsal

24  Sunday           10:00 am  Worship Service
                            10:00 am  Church School
                             11:15 am  Staff meeting
26  Tuesday            7:00 pm  Board of Deacons
                              7:00 pm  Bell Choir Rehearsal
27  Wednesday      6:30 pm  AA
28  Thursday          7:00 pm Choir Rehearsal

The Rooster Crows        JULY & AUGUST 2017

JULY 2017 WORSHIP SCHEDULE

All July Worship Services will be held at North Hadley Congregational Church at 10 a.m. 243 River Drive, Hadley

August 2017 WORSHIP SCHEDULE - Our friends from the North Hadley Congregational Church will be joining us.

August 6 Communion

August 13 Blessing of the Animals

August 20

August 27 Worship Service followed by Potluck Brunch to be held at Ken & Judy Parker's home. We welcome everyone of all ages. Bring your friends. An egg dish, juice and coffee will be provided. We ask that you bring a dish to share (fruit, salad, coffee cake, muffins are just some of the suggestions). Please bring a lawn chair.  You are welcome to bring swim suits and enjoy the large pool. A pickup game on the lawn is also fun. Come, stay as long as you can and enjoy outdoor worship and each other's company in an informal atmosphere.

Pastor's Note

     Be still and know that I am God.” –Psalm 46:10
Dear Friends,
     The seasons show us that nothing lasts forever and change is an inevitable part of life. Life can be peaceful, and glorious one moment and then suddenly the unexpected happens, like our car breaking down in the middle of a thunderstorm on a busy highway, a fall that leaves us badly injured, or a diagnosis we never saw coming. Change can blow into our lives with the centrifugal force of a hurricane.
     Change is not always easy to embrace. Personally, it takes me some time to deal with it. I usually start out by resisting, denying, or complaining. Even though those seem like negative ways of dealing with change, they are the ways in which I adjust to change before finding that calm center from which I can surrender and embrace what is to come.
     One of the biggest hurricanes to rage through my life was when my father died suddenly. His death unleashed such a storm of grief I wondered if I would survive. Yet, despite the pain, his unconditional love led me into the eye of the storm—a quiet sanctuary of calm where the gratitude for his love soothed my weary soul.
     Pilots who fly into the eye of hurricanes describe the experience as unforgettable. They say even though the outer areas of the eye have the strongest and most dangerous winds, the very center of the hurricane is calm and peaceful. A hurricane’s eye illustrates the peace people often experience in the midst of turbulent times.
     The storms of life are bound to hit all of us at some point. Yet in the midst of the strong winds of change, God offers a place of perfect peace and safety. God’s love is like a magnet that draws us to a place of stillness and rest despite what is happening in our lives. Once we find the steadiness of that quiet center, we can begin to face and even embrace the storms of change.
     Whatever season you are in right now, the season of change or stability, chaos or security, be still and know that God is right there with you through it all.
Wishing you many summer blessings, - Rev. Christina Williams

NEW BEGINNINGS
     The Welcome and Inclusiveness Committee is a new committee envisioned by the congregation to reinvigorate our program of being a welcoming and inclusive community. Ken and Judy Parker, Stan Brown, Donna Brewer, Jonathan Morel, Pastor Christina, and I met at the Parkers’ home to discuss ideas for how to reach out to visitors and provide them with information on what the church has to offer. We discussed ways in which we can move the opening and affirming process forward and what steps we can take to further demonstrate to the congregation and the larger community what being an ONA church means to us. We are still discussing ideas and welcome input from others as we explore next steps for the ONA process.
     Our Committee also discussed ideas for welcoming visitors to First Church. We discussed developing a new welcome card for visitors to fill out and put in the offering plate with the opportunity to be contacted by our pastor. We are planning to update our church brochure to make available to visitors. The brochure would outline the many activities and opportunities for how to get involved in our Christian community, including local mission, children’s ministry, worship, and community activities. We feel our church has something to offer every visitor to find their place at First Church. Ken and Judy offered to clean up the front entry and make it more welcoming to visitors and they’ve already tackled that assignment!
     As I reflect on the reasons why Camille and I visited First Church and then returned, I was impressed by how friendly and open everyone was. We not only felt welcome at church, but also in Hadley, having moved here from Alexandria, Virginia, where we were members at a large, vibrant Presbyterian church. It would be a hard act to follow, but we have found a home at First Church—mostly due to the warm and open way we were treated since our first time visiting, and the activities we could do together as a family. We deliver Take and Eat meals each month, enjoy making potato salad for the Strawberry and Asparagus supper, bake cookies for the cookie walk, learned how to make pierogies, and we enjoy the many other activities Camille and I can participate in together. Although the church school is small, we have been blessed with dedicated teachers including Lauri, Melissa, and now Jean, all of whom bring energy and creativity to teaching the children about Jesus Christ. How can we consistently and deliberately bring that welcoming spirit to other visitors?
     Our Committee is continuing to meet and discuss ideas, and we welcome any thoughts that anyone has about how to make our church welcoming to new visitors and inclusive for all. We hope to initiate a process, similar to the one we just held to discuss the Reichart Estate funds, in order to solicit further ideas from members. We also plan to tap external resources and training to assist us in learning from others on how best to welcome visitors and make sure everyone feels welcomed and included at First Church. Please join us in sharing your ideas. - Christine Eustis

Board of Deacons
     The concept that we can speak directly to God without going through a priest or pastor is one of the key features of many Protestant faiths which was also a reason for the split from Catholicism.  In recent years I have given much thought to this privilege, especially after visiting other Congregational Churches in our area.  At some point in our past, some churches began to allow the pastor to speak for us through both sermons and prayers, and the congregations’ voices were heard during the hymns, the Lord’s Prayer and the Call to Worship, but at few other times during the service. Recently, some of our fellow churches have re-embraced the idea that our voices should be heard more often. This is most often practiced by the congregation saying amen aloud at the end of all prayers and the sermon. For the last few years, I have been saying amen aloud at the end of prayers and the service.  Several times we have all been encouraged to say this by the phrase, “and the people say.”  While I understand that some people are not comfortable speaking aloud at these times, I hope that others will join me in saying amen because I feel uncomfortable in not letting the Lord hear my voice, too.  It can also be uncomfortable knowing that I am the only one doing this. 
     While I speak for myself, I also recognize that I am not alone in believing that God wishes to hear the voices of all of us.  From Moses to Jesus to Paul, we find that this behavior is encouraged in the Bible.

     Save us, 0 LORD our God,
     And gather us from among the nations,
     To give thanks unto Thy holy name,
     And to triumph in Thy praise.
     Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
     From everlasting even to everlasting.
     And let all the people say, Amen.
     Praise ye the LORD" (Psalm 106: 47, 48).

I hope that more voices will join mine in praising God which is the purpose of the Amen. 
Have a peaceful and blessed summer, - Shari Parsons

Board of Christian Education
     Feel free to bring the family to church this summer! Kid’s activities during Sunday morning worship will continue in August. We'll take a break in July and worship with our neighbors at North Hadley Congregational Church, and then have more fun on Sundays in August.  Friends and cousins are always welcome.
     Homecoming Sunday will be September 10th, and we'll kick off a new season featuring Bible Heroes!!
     The Sunday School enjoyed a trip to Barstow's Longview Farm on June 25th. We went on a very informative and fun farm tour with former First Church Sunday Schooler Denise Barstow and enjoyed lunch and ice cream afterwards at Barstow's Dairy Store and Bakery.
     The Board of Christian Education would like to thank everyone who helped make Children's Sunday and the All Church Picnic a success!  A special thank you to Rick Ward for drawing the animals for our "aquarium" and Ruth Morse and the Bell Choir for loaning us their music stands to add depth to the production.  Another special thank you to Adam Woodrow for bringing his own grill and cooking all of the meat for the picnic.  Thank you to the Board of Missions for providing the drinks and to Kurt Betchik and Lisa West who assisted members of the Board of CE with dining room set-up.  And, of course, THANK YOU to all of you for coming, participating, bringing a dish to share, and helping to clean up!
     Throughout the past Sunday School year we have had three amazing staff members and many volunteers who have made the Christian Education program possible.
     Melissa Aloisi closed out her time as Interim Church School Coordinator in January and then came back as a volunteer teacher in the spring. Thank you Melissa!
     Mary Wholley continues to do a fantastic job as our nursery attendant and we are excited she has some "customers" again. Mary also helped out and taught Sunday school this past year.     Thank you Mary!
     Jean Baxter stepped in as Christian Education Director in January and we are so impressed with everything she has done. We are so blessed to have her and we are looking forward to learning about Bible Heroes in the fall. Thank you Jean!
     To all of our volunteers: Ben Andersen, Olivia Brighenti, Mara Breen, Christine Eustis, Stephanie Nevin, Emily Pease, Becky Smith, Diana West, Lila West, and Lisa West. Thank you for stepping in when we needed you and helping to make it all possible!

REVISED DIRECTORY OF MEMBERS AND FRIENDS
Do we have your information in our directory, i.e. email address, cell phone, etc.? Delores will be updating the Directory of Members and Friends.  If any of your information has changed, please email the changes as soon as possible.

BOARD OF PROPERTIES - A new bell rope now hangs from the steeple bell down to the narthex.
     The story:  Robert Johnson, son of Hadley's Irving and Exy(Electa) Johnson, and cousin to Pastor Christina, donated a rope and came to install it, with assistance from the Board of Properties. The rope came from SEA, Sea Education Association, which gives undergraduates the opportunity to study the ocean from aboard a traditional sailing vessel. One of their ships, the SSV Corwith Cramer, was recently re-fitted and one of the lines from the ship has a new life now as a bell rope at the First Congregational Church of Hadley. The ship is named for Corwith Cramer, founding director of the institution, which is based at Woods Hole, Falmouth, MA.

PONDERING POTENTIAL PROPERTY PROJECTS
A list of building projects has been posted in vestry. It was Margie’s and Kay's wish that our meetinghouse be well cared for so it would last into the future. You are invited to drop by anytime to add your voice. You will find directions in the vestry on how to participate in the process. We will be leaving everyone's input up over the summer. In the fall we will summarize the wishes of the congregation in conjunction with the Properties and Finance Boards. We look forward to the exchange of ideas, the conversations to follow, and making our sacred space welcoming and beautiful.

COUNCIL NOTES
    Church Council met Tuesday June 13, 2017, at 7 p.m.
    Much discussion revolved around the meeting after worship the previous Sunday regarding what projects would the members like to see move forward in the near future. It was agreed that it was a productive discussion for those able to attend. The list of suggestions are still posted in the small vestry for anyone to read and add feedback to.
    It was decided to call another Special Congregational meeting after worship on June 25th  to authorize the Board of Properties to order new cabinets to store our silver collection and to choose a painting company and start the painting of the outside of the church.
    The Safe Church policy is nearly ready for adoption by the congregation. A copy will be circulated this summer for review and a vote to accept it will likely take place in September. Thank you to all who contributed many hours creating this document over the last several years.
    There was a very positive community response to our recent Strawberry and Asparagus supper. Our "customers" praised the food preparation and hope we keep doing it every year! Profit was around $2400.00 after expenses.
    Randy Izer brought a new idea forward at tonight's meeting. He asked Council if we thought sponsoring a Hadley youth sports team would be something our church would like to do. Council agreed this could be a positive community support and outreach. Randy will research the costs involved and report back at next meeting.
    Mary Thayer reported that Adam Woodrow regretfully resigned from the Board of Deacons due to pressing work and personal demands on his time.
    Terri Smith reported to Janine Giles that pledges are up to date. Money for the silver cabinet project will come partly from the Montague Family Trust that has given a total of $5000 so far for protecting the silver collection which includes items given by their ancestor to this church.
    The painting fund has approximately $17,000 available. The remaining funds required for these projects, if the congregation agrees, can come from the legacy left to the church from the Reichert/Frerichs’ estate.
    Pastor Christina talked to Council about an opportunity our church might want to take advantage of. The MAUCC conference is offering to send teams out to church leadership groups and anyone else interested to train us in ways we can "Make It Real," learning to bring the gospel to our community in new ways, to refresh our mission to serve the Lord in Hadley and the wider community. We will learn more about this campaign in the coming months.
    Next meeting is set for Wednesday, Aug 9th, 2017.

PRAYER SHAWL MINISTRY
The Prayer Shawl knitting and crochet group WILL NOT BE MEETING IN JULY.  We look forward to meeting with each other at 7:00 on Monday evening August 7th at the church to work on knitting and crochet projects. Debby Ward will be providing refreshments.  We always welcome new participants. 

A Lettter from the Hampshire Association, Massachusetts Conference, UCC May 8, 2017                                                                                                                                  
Dear Church Leaders and Pastors,
     Grace and peace be to you this day from your Hampshire Association Executive Committee in the name of Jesus Christ the Head of the Church!
     What if you and members of your church truly believed the following statement, “God has a purpose for every church in our Association and in the Massachusetts Conference.” As the elected leaders of your Hampshire Association we believe God does have a purpose for every one of our congregations, just as God has endowed each of us with unique gifts to further Christ’s ministry in our time and place.
     In light of this, the Executive Committee invites your church to have intentional conversations through our Making it Real Campaign. These conversations are meant to help your church get a clear sense of its purpose and the “why” of your ministry. A team from the Hampshire Association would like to schedule a time to get together with your leaders about your church’s sense of God’s purpose for your congregation’s ministry.

  • It may be that your congregation is seeking some new sense of purpose in the community where it resides.
  • Or it may be that your congregation has gotten clear about its purpose and is looking for support living into that purpose.
  • It may be that your congregation recognizes it needs some fresh sense of purpose but is not sure what steps to take to get there.
  • Or it may be that your congregation is focused on day-to-day ministry and finds it hard to give energy to the future.

     No matter where your congregation is right now, we hope to inspire a clearer sense of purpose and call. Once the conversations bear fruit in your church we will assist your church in living out your purpose.
     In engaging these conversations we hope to fulfill our purpose as an Association of churches in the Massachusetts Conference—to make God’s love and justice real by nurturing local church vitality and covenant. Thus, this initiative of multiple conversations is called the Making it Real Campaign!
     We are sending this invitation to every congregation in the Hampshire Association. The first step you can take with this invitation is to pray about it. Then enlarge that circle of prayer and conversation among the leaders and members of your congregation. We are ready to begin these conversations immediately.
     On the second page of this letter is a list of FAQs about the Making it Real Campaign. After prayerful consideration, if you have any questions or are ready to accept our invitation to conversation, please contact me at pastorchristina2846@gmail.com to schedule a visit from our visitation team at a time most convenient for you at your church.
     With our prayers and hopes for abundant ministry in Jesus’ name, The Rev. Christina Williams, Moderator Hampshire Association, Massachusetts Conference, UCC

Frequently Asked Questions for the Making it Real Campaign

What is the purpose of the Making it Real Campaign?
Vital congregations have a clear sense of their purpose in the settings they serve and in response to the collective calling on their hearts. This effort aims to begin work with the “willing/early adopter” Association churches to be clear about their purpose. In gaining that clarity, or committing anew to it, our churches will take faithful next steps toward mission and ministry of the greatest impact in their community and beyond. 

Why is the Association making this effort?
We take covenant seriously and recognize that we are most effective together when we are able to build out from a relational stance. Many of our congregations are not as well connected to the Association as we would like. We are hopeful this effort will build stronger relationships among congregations and with the Association, as well as provoke purpose in our churches.

Is there a cost?
For the conversation time, there is no monetary cost! Should the congregation decide to follow through on utilizing some assistance (Conference or otherwise) to get clear about purpose or assist in fulfilling purpose there likely will be a range of costs associated with that.

How much time will the conversation take?
We will budget approximately two hours for the initial conversation. A follow-up conversation would likely be 60 to 90 minutes in length.

What is the “end” you wish to achieve?
We hope contact with the Association visitation team will lead to the congregation mapping out a Making it Real plan for themselves. This could involve any number of steps depending on the starting place of the congregation (i.e., already has a purpose or needs a clearer sense of purpose). We trust that the plan will move the congregation to the purpose they sense God is leading them to.

Will there be ongoing support or is it just a conversation?
We envision creating life-together groups made up of church leaders from other congregations for the purpose of mutual support and shared learning. These groups will be trained and provided ongoing ways to resource and encourage each other as the Making it Real plans are enacted.

What if our congregation chooses not to participate?
We are hopeful that every congregation will seriously consider the invitation and participate! By February 1, 2019, the Association will reach out to nonparticipating churches for the purpose of strengthening the covenant.

How do we schedule a conversation?
Administrators who staff the Associations will manage the calendar of available dates. Contact information is provided with the invitation letter.

The Rooster Crows        JUNE 2017

 WORSHIP SCHEDULE
June 4 – Children’s Sunday
Join us as our children lead us in worship. We look forward to what undersea surprise they have in store for us. Worship will be followed by a family picnic.

June 11- Pentecost Sunday -The Power of the Holy Spirit – Communion
Rev. Christina will preach on Numbers 1:24-30 and Acts 2:1-21.

June 18 – Second Sunday after Pentecost – Father’s Day
Join us as we honor and lift up prayers for all our fathers. Rev. Christina will preach on Matthew 9:35 - 10:8

June 25 – Music Sunday
Come and make a joyful noise! At this uplifting intergenerational worship service we will boldly and loudly celebrate the joy of music and singing. 

CALL TO SPECIAL CONGREGATIONAL MEETING - SUNDAY JUNE 25TH, 2017 - FOLLOWING WORSHIP
The purpose of the meeting is to entertain 2 motions from the Board of Properties.
1:  To appropriate needed funds to purchase a custom cabinet to protect the Church’s silver and pewter collection.
2:  To appropriate needed funds to paint or re-side the exterior of the church building and paint or replace the windows, all of this on the main building only.

Family Fun Down on the Farm – June 25 After Worship
Please join the Board of Christian Education for a fun and informative get together at Barstow’s Dairy Store and Bakery following the church service on June 25th. The kids will enjoy a farm tour of Barstow's Longview Farm at noon while parents will have the opportunity visit and chat. The Board of CE will cover the cost of the farm tour.

All July Worship Services will be held at North Hadley Congregational Church at 10 a.m.

CALL TO A SPECIAL CONGREGATIONAL MEETING  June 25, 2017
A special congregational meeting has been called for Sunday, June 25, 2017, following the 10:00 a.m. worship service.

PONDERING POTENTIAL PROPERTY PROJECTS – JUNE 11 
Join us for an exciting church-wide brainstorming session to share and exchange ideas on how we would like to see the money from the Reichert estate care for our beloved church building. This is being organized by Finance Board to take place after worship on Sunday, June 11th. A list of potential projects will be posted in fellowship hall to stimulate discussion about how we as a church body want to use the legacy given to us by the Reichert estate. It was Kay's wish that our meetinghouse be well cared for so it would last into the future. We will be leaving everyone's input up in the dining room over the summer and into the fall when we will summarize the wishes of the congregation in conjunction with the Properties and Finance Boards.

From our Pastor -

“There is nothing better for mortals than to eat and drink, and find enjoyment in their toils.” – Ecclesiastes 2:24a

Dear Friends,
     Summers are synonymous with fun and freedom. We all need some unstructured time to have fun, be aimless, and get bored. As the proverb goes, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Play is good for the soul, and as it turns out, so boredom. Yet being bored has gotten a bad wrap over the years. People often associate it with laziness and lack of motivation. What image springs to mind when you think of “bored teenagers”—a gang of kids getting into trouble, drinking too much, taking drugs, and spraying graffiti all over buildings?
     Being bored is an uncomfortable feeling, but it can be a force for good because it allows us to fall back on our own resources and be creative. One summer afternoon when I was about 11 years old, my friends and I were walking through the woods grumbling about how bored we were. As we thrashed our way through a thicket it suddenly occurred us we could make a fort. The air started crackling with excitement as we got to work building the walls of our fortress. And on the spot we became playwrights, directors, and actors as our deep-woods theater came to life in a kingdom far away. Out of boredom we entered an alternate universe and created something fun and spontaneous that brought us sheer joy.
     Yet, boredom is hard to come by these days. Most of us are so overscheduled with work, family commitments, meetings, church activities, and social events that our minds never take a break. And if we are not overscheduled, we are over stimulated by binge watching TV, playing video games, and the endless scrolling through our Facebook or Twitter feeds. And yup, I am guilty of all of the above. Some of us crave overstimulation, over commitment, and overachieving so much they have become addictions.
     Paradoxically, some of the most productive, spiritually liberating, and creative moments come when our time is unstructured and we are bored. Our minds start to wander, we begin to daydream, and new insights bubble up from the depths of our subconscious. When this window into nothingness is opened breakthroughs occur and gifts we never knew we had are revealed. Could it be that God’s holiness and grace await us in those moments of unplanned inactivity? Maybe this summer you will find out. Enjoy the summer and all it brings.          In Christ,  Rev. Christina

BOARD OF CHRISTIAN EDUCATION
     It has been a whirlwind of big activities and more to come. Our Sunday School participated on Mission Sunday by making lots and lots of cards to go with our church’s “Take and Eat” dinners.  We celebrated when members of two of our families (who are also members of the Board!) joined the church and then again on Confirmation Sunday when five of our youth shared their faith explorations.
     Our Sunday School is preparing in earnest for a big “Finding Jesus Under the Sea” Children’s Sunday on June 4th. We learned about God’s love for God's littlest and biggest sea creatures.  The children are preparing a full service, including prayers, stories, and an aquarium of surprises!  Mark your calendars!
     Don't forget to mark your calendars and join us for the All Church Picnic June 4th following our special Children's Sunday service!  Everyone is welcome to attend. Please bring a side dish to share.
     Our Heifer Project continues to grow!  During our Lent "Fill Our Ark" campaign we raised $453.67, bringing out grand total to $3200.39! Only $1800 more to go before our Ark is filled and we can send it to people around the world.
     During worship services in the remaining Sundays in June, we’ll have fun activities downstairs and bible story videos.  So feel free to bring the family to church!  

Family Fun Down on the Farm – June 25 After Worship
Please join the Board of Christian Education for a fun and informative get together at Barstow’s Dairy Store and Bakery following the church service on June 25th. The kids will enjoy a farm tour of Barstow's Longview Farm at noon while parents will have the opportunity visit and chat. The Board of CE will cover the cost of the farm tour.

Deacon's Note
     You may have encountered several references to global climate change recently. These include Reverend Christina’s Earth Sunday sermon. They also include notices that the recent Climate March was attended by 200,000 people in Washington, D.C. and they include news reports that President Trump has threatened to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris  Climate Agreement which followed from a December 2015, Paris Conference attended by 195 countries.
     Why are you being subjected to still more discussion in our church newsletter? In part it is because I understand that most Americans rarely or never discuss global climate change with friends or family, and I do consider you to be in those categories. One reason it is rarely discussed is that it is closely linked with partisan politics in our country. However, in my opinion this is an issue that transcends partisanship. The future of the world as we know it is at stake. Evidence of climate change is accelerating, with increasing temperatures, rising seas, shrinking ice sheets, retreating glaciers and more extreme weather events. Over 97 percent of world climate scientists agree that human activities, especially carbon dioxide emissions leading to the greenhouse effect, are the principal causes of the climate changes. The scientific explanation seems rock solid.
     There is not a conflict between science and religion here. As Christians, we are or should be, concerned in our roles as stewards of the planet Earth that God granted to us as our home. For thousands of years humans have been abusing our planetary environment. But global warming and other climate changes are unprecedented types of assault that cry out for corrective action. Additionally, we should be mindful that the poor and disenfranchised, those who contributed the least to this problem, are those who are at greatest risk of being harmed by it. Caring for the poor and vulnerable is a biblical mandate. We need to take seriously the effect of human-induced climate change on these most vulnerable of world citizens. Pope Francis has stated that it is of the highest importance for Christians to accept the moral challenge of eliminating or modifying human activities that are responsible for ongoing climate changes. Given that the U.S. is the second highest, after China, emitter of greenhouse gases, our country surely has the moral responsibility to lead the attempt to curb emissions, rather than being dismissive about them.
     This is a plea to continue the discussions about global climate change.  And it is a plea to become engaged in activities that might lead our federal government toward accepting responsibility for limiting or reducing emissions that contribute significantly to global climate changes.          Dave Storey, Deacon of the Month

FROM THE BOARD OF PROPERTIES

  • There is now an emergency evacuation chair located in its own cabinet at the southwest corner of the sanctuary.  This chair was donated to us by Mt. Holyoke College.  The college was giving away several of these and approached Adam Woodrow at WNEU.  Adam suggested that our church could use one in an emergency and he arranged for the donation.  Thank you, Adam.
  • An attempt was made to wash one of the old curtains from the church dining room,  resulting in disintegration of the alleged curtain.  New curtains were purchased and are being lengthened by Lisa West and Ruth Morse.  They will be ready to hang soon.   (The curtains, that is.)
  • The kitchen stove project is on hold, as we need to ask the congregation to approve more funds to meet the updated cost quotes for the project.
  • We have received some new painting quotes for the exterior of the main building.  We are also working on getting estimates for alternative siding options to present to the congregation for consideration.

COUNCIL NOTES

Debbie Ward and Diana West reported to Council that a supper leadership group had met the night before to discuss recruiting volunteers for the Spring Supper May 20th. Also the reservation numbers were down compared to last year. The group brainstormed together and each made calls or sent emails to ask for additional help. Several church members and friends did respond positively to this appeal and we left the meeting feeling more optimistic.

A church wide brainstorming session is being organized by the Finance Board to take place after worship on Sunday June 11th. A list of potential projects will be posted in fellowship hall to stimulate discussion about how we as a church body want to use the legacy given to us by the Reichert estate. One consideration is Kay's wish that our meetinghouse be cared for to last in the future.

Board of Properties chair, Tom West reported that they are still collecting estimates to paint the exterior of the non-annex portion of the building as well as the inside trim of the windows. Randy Izer asked for the board to seek at least two estimates for siding the church so the congregation can be presented with all the facts before making a decision.

Mary Thayer from the Board of Deacons reported they are reviewing the policies regarding the Kentfield Fund when there are no high school graduate candidates in a given year.

Upcoming dates to mark in your calendars: June 4 Children’s Sunday and Picnic; June 11 Communion; June 25 Music Sunday; July services at North Hadley, August services at Hadley; Aug 27 service at the Parker’s; Sept 3 guest pastor; September 10 Homecoming Sunday; Sept 17 guest pastor.

Diana West reported that the Safe Church policy is being reviewed by CE Director Jean Baxter and will be presented at the June council meeting. Randy asked if it could be circulated for review before the meeting.

The Board of Missions members plan to attend a meeting in Northampton on May 20th to learn more about the needs of the Syrian refugees that have recently arrived there.

Pastor Christina was meeting with another group tonight but left us a written report. She has started a new role as moderator on the Hampshire Executive Committee. The "Make it real campaign" will be sending teams to churches to promote discussion of how to make us more vibrant and healthy as a church.

The Welcome and Inclusiveness committee is up and running. They are exploring ONA 201. The next steps are to explore ways to be more welcoming and inclusive to the public.

Mug and Muffin with the Minister is going well at Shelburne Coffee Roasters, every Friday from 9:30-11 a.m.

Next Council Meeting: Tuesday June 13th at 7 p.m.

PRAYER SHAWL MINISTRY
The Prayer Shawl Ministry group will be meeting at the church on Monday evening, June 5th at 7:00 p.m.  We welcome persons who already knit or crochet and are more than happy to instruct those who would like to learn.  Join us for a relaxing evening of fellowship and refreshments provided by Judy Parker.

BELL CHOIR TO PLAY AT REGIONAL FESTIVAL
The biennial regional Festival-Conference of Handbell Musicians of America returns to UMass this year at the end of the June.  Five members of our bell choir—Vikki Missale, Cindy McQueston, Ruth Morse, Judy Stone, and Toni Wilcox—will be attending.  This is the most we've ever had!  We're already practicing for the concert that is the grand finale of the Festival portion of the event.  All the participating choirs will play together.  The entire floor of the Mullins Center will be covered with tables and bells.  This concert, on Sunday afternoon, July 2, at 3:00pm. is free and open to the public and we hope that you will attend.  It will be awesome!

BELL CHOIR SEEKS NEW MEMBERS
     Our bell choir, Ring of Joy, would welcome more ringers.  We have a great group of ringers, but we need more.  While our group is very versatile, there is much more music that we could play if we could have all positions covered.  In a perfect world, we'd have 11 regular ringers in addition to the Director.  While I love to ring, I'm supposed to be directing, and not playing all the time.  And the more people we have, the easier it is for everyone.
     We have ringers of all levels of musical education.  Being able to read music is helpful but not required.  Being able to count to four is much more important.
     We welcome ringers of all ages.  We've had children play with us in the past, and we'd welcome young ringers again.  At one point we had three generations of the same family playing with us!
     We practice once a week.  We currently practice on Tuesdays from 7:00-8:00.  We sometimes practice after worship in order to include some people who can't practice during the week.  If practice time is the only thing keeping you from joining us, please talk to me!  We're open to finding a better time to practice.  If you can't commit yourself to practices every single week, we can be flexible.
     We have fun and laugh a lot at practices; please come give us a try!                   Ruth Morse

      JUNE CALENDAR

 

1

2

3

 

 

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

 

 7:00 p.m.

4:00 p.m.

8:00 a.m.

CHOIR REHEARSAL

PREP FOR TAKE AND EAT

TAKE AND EAT

4

 

5

 

6

Sunday

 

Monday

 

Tuesday

 

 

10:00 a.m.

 

7:00 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

4:30 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

 

 

CHILDREN’S SUNDAY

ALL CHURCH PICNIC

PRAYER SHAWL MINISTRY

Girl Scout Leaders

Hampshire Exe. Committee

BELL CHOIR

BOARD OF PROPERTIES

7

Wednesday

6:30 p.m.

AA

8

 

Thursday

 

 7:00 p.m.

 

CHOIR REHEARSAL

 

11

Sunday

 

 

10:00 a.m.

 

 

 

 

WORSHIP SERVICE

SUNDAY SCHOOL

 

 

12

13

14

 

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

 

7:30 p.m.

 7:00 p.m.

 6:30 p.m.

 

 

Grange

BELL CHOIR

AA

 

 

15

16

18

 

20

21

22

23

 

25

 

 

 

27

 

28

 

29

30

 

 

Thursday

Friday

Sunday

 

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

 

Sunday

 

 

 

Tuesday

 

Wednesday

 

Thursday

Friday

 

 

 

7:00 p.m.

3:00 p.m.

10:00 a.m.

  

7:00 p.m.

6:30 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

5:00 p.m.

 

10:00 a.m.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

7:00 p.m.

 

 

7.00 p.m.

 

 

6:30 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

4:00 p.m.

 

 

CHOIR REHEARSSAL

Relay for Life - Look Park

WORSHIP SERVICE

SUNDAY SCHOOL

BELL CHOIR

AA

CHOIR REHEASAL

Wedding

 

WORSHIP SERVICE

SUNDAY SCHOOL

Congregational Meeting

Trip to Barstow's Farm

BELL CHOIR

BOARD OF DEACONS

AA

BOARD OF CHRISTIAN ED

CHOIR REHEARSAL

SETUP FOR TAKE AND EAT

 

 

The Rooster Crows        MAY 2017

ANNUAL STRAWBERRY/ASPARAGUS SUPPER   
Saturday, May 20st  Seatings at 5:00 and 6:30 pm
      - Reservations only: call Delores (584-4117) or Joan (362-6654)
      - Adults $13; Children under 12 $6; Children under 6 free
      - Prepay for discounted price (adults $12; children $5)
      - Checks payable to First Church Hadley
      - Mail checks to 102 Middle Street, Attn:  Delores
      - Take Out meals available; reserve by May 18
      - All reservations must be honored if not cancelled before May 18
Volunteers Needed:
      -To make Potato Salad                         -Saturday night waitstaff
      -Friday night set-up                             -Saturday night food servers
      -Saturday morning food prep              -Saturday night dishwashers
                                                                  -Saturday night cleanup crew

 Additional Info:
-Sign-ups available during Coffee Hour, or contact Lisa West (413-695-4943)lisawest.west@gmail.com or Shari Parsons  (413-584-8251) sparsons204@gmail.com
-We have lots of promotional posters-please hang one up at work!
-Help us spread the word!  Invite your friends!
-Can’t make it?  We also accept monetary donations to help offset food costs.
Join us for fantastic food, fun and fellowship!

MAY WORSHIP SCHEDULE

May 7 – Fourth Sunday of Easter and Confirmation Sunday
Please join us in celebrating our confirmands Ben Andersen, Olivia Brighenti, Justin Ciaglo, Stephanie Nevin, and Emily Pease as they help lead worship this Sunday. They have done a lot of reflection, journaling, and preparation of their faith statements, which they will share during the service. 

May 14 – Fifth Sunday of Easter and Mother’s Day
Rev. Christina will be preaching on Acts 7:55-60 and John 14:1-14.

May 21 – Sixth Sunday of Easter – Mental Health Sunday
Rev. Christina reflect on the issues of mental health through scripture—Acts 17:22-3 and John 14:15-21.

May 28 – Seventh Sunday of Easter – Memorial Day Sunday
Rev. Christina will be preaching on Acts 1:6-14, John 17:1-11, and the spirit of witness.

Mug & Muffin with the Minister - All are welcome to join Rev. Christina every Friday morning at the Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters in Hadley for some coffee and conversation. Come and find out where our conversations take us.
When: Every Friday through June16
Time: 9:30 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Where: Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters–the side room

Pastor's Note
Do this in remembrance of me.”   –Luke 22:19b

Dear Friends,
       Quite often in my childhood and adult life I have gone through the motions of communion without really understanding what the meal means—but then I never took the time to contemplate it either. That began to change in seminary. One of the most meaningful and accessible books I ever read on communion was Sara Miles’ personal communion story in her book, Take This Bread. For no reason whatsoever, Sara, who was raised as an atheist, wandered into church one day and received communion. It was a life-changing experience and it set her on the path of feeding San Francisco’s poorest. Her book inspired me to seek a deeper and richer experience of communion.
        A couple of months ago during communion, I wondered if the act of communion was meaningful for those of you who sat in the pews that day. I also wondered if it was meaningful for me as I presided over it. I lifted up my questions in prayer to Christ. As I contemplated those questions a rush of feeling swept through my being and I began to cry. It was as though Christ answered, “Yes, I am here in this bread and wine and I am with all of you—I bring you together to remember me.” So I wept at the grace of his presence.
        Of course, I couldn’t linger in the moment too long because the deacons were coming forward with the bread, so I quickly dried my eyes, took a deep breath, and went on. When I sat down again after serving the wine, the same feeling flooded into me and I started to cry again. It was a little embarrassing to be crying in worship, but it was also incredibly comforting to experience Christ’s presence and mystery as we remembered him in our sacred meal.
        Jesus never gave a reason as to why he told his disciples to remember him every time they broke bread and drank wine together. I suspect he knew that intentional table fellowship would keep this small band of believers together. The more they came together at the table to remember him through bread and wine the stronger their bond would become as a community.
        There is a saying, “the family that eats together, stays together.” That is an apt description of communion and how it functions in bringing and keeping us together as Christ’s church. Every time we share the sacred meal we come not only to remember Jesus, but to be initiated, nurtured, and claimed into God’s community. When Jesus said take and eat and drink, he invited us to share together in common memory, fellowship, and identity in God. Jesus welcomes us to the table to find our place, our name, and our shared story as a community of believers. So the next time someone hands you the bread and wine, lift up a prayer asking that we all might be filled with the sense that Christ is present among us. And that in the sharing of bread and wine we all enter into the gospel mystery—that it is good for us to be brought together in God’s unique community.
       With the blessings of the Risen One,  Rev. Christina

Board of Christian Education
     We have had a fun April, continuing our journey "Finding Jesus Under the Sea." We learned about God’s love for God's littlest and biggest creatures.  We learned about Jesus's triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and that Jesus is still alive in our hearts on Easter.  We are planning and rehearsing for Children’s Sunday, which will be June 4, so mark your calendars!
      Our Heifer Project continues to grow!  Our Lenten "Fill Our Ark" campaign raised over $400 with more money coming in!  Many thanks to everyone who participated and contributed towards the Ark of Animals we will be donating.
      Please note that for Confirmation Sunday, May 7, we encourage our Sunday School participants to stay upstairs in the sanctuary and enjoy this special service.  Our CE Director, Jean, will have activities planned for those who cannot stay upstairs.

Please mark your calendars with these upcoming dates:
Sunday, May 7 – Confirmation Sunday.  A special service honoring our confirmands will be followed by a light luncheon in the fellowship hall.
Sunday, June 4 – Children’s Sunday followed by the All Church Picnic.  Please join us for a special service put on by the children of the church.  Our annual All Church Picnic will follow the service.  Please bring a side dish to share.
Baccalaureate Sunday - June 11 The Board of Christian Education is looking for individuals who have recently finished an academic program beyond high school to participate in a special Baccalaureate Sunday. If you have earned a college degree, completed a certificate or trades program, or something similar, we invite you to be honored at Baccalaureate Sunday, June 11. To learn more and to participate please contact the chairperson of the Board of CE, Diana West at dmabelwest@gmail.com.

Board of Missions
     The Hadley Food Pantry has been open for almost eight years and continues to provide a bag of non-perishable items for 10 households or more each week for our neighbors in need.  In addition, bread from Panera and often produce from Next Barn Over are distributed.  Donations and volunteers from The First Congregational Church and Most Holy Redeemer Church continue to support this meaningful service.  Sharon Andres has graciously volunteered to coordinate the volunteers for the Pantry, as Ann Koski is stepping down.  We truly appreciate the work Ann has dedicated to the Pantry the past few years.
     The Pantry continues to seek volunteers, one hour on Sunday from 12:00pm to 1:00pm, to distribute food and/or shop for the pantry to keep the shelves stocked.  Please contact Sharon Andres at smandres57@gmail.com if you are interested.
     We also appreciate donations of non-perishable or hygiene products.  Please place items in bin in the foyer of the church.  If you belong to an organization who would like to have a food drive to benefit the Pantry, please coordinate with Caryn Perley at carynperley@outlook.com
     We are excited to report that the Hadley Food Pantry, has once again been invited to participate in the National Letter Carriers "Stamp Out Hunger" Food Drive on May 13th.  We will receive a percentage of all the items collected on that day!   You can help by simply placing your non- perishable food donation in a bag and leave it at your mailbox the morning of the 13th.  Your postal carrier will pick up your donation during his or her regular mail delivery. 
      Thank you for supporting the Hadley Food Pantry.

Deacons' Note

Growth
      May is certainly a beautiful month. The showers that come in April result in the greening of our lawns, the blooming of flowers and budding on the trees. May signifies growth in nature. The fields of Hadley come alive and it won’t be too long before our farms begin to yield their crops. Local farm stands will soon be open and selling fresh produce to eager passersby.
      As a Deacon for our church, I can say that I see that same growth and nurturing in our community.  As I sit in the choir loft each week, I see our youth and their families coming through the sanctuary doors.  They are coming forward to listen to the Children’s Sermon, and learn the day’s lessons.  New youth friendships are being made and our community is growing stronger.  I cannot help think of my own youth experiences at my former church in Granby.
      Attending Youth Group, was for me, one of the most influential times of my life. I made several long lasting friendships as well as learning many valuable life-long lessons that I still carry with me today.  As I get to know the children of our church, I am hopeful that their experiences carry the same meanings and purpose in their lives.  
      Our Christian Education program has wonderful and talented people guiding the youth of our church.  Reverend Christina works her magic to engage and enlighten our youth during service and in their outings.  It is a blessing to have all of the generations represented each week and the way in which everyone provides care and concern for each other. This intergenerational community will help to shepherd the youth of the church as they grow and learn from our faith.
      Adam Woodrow, Deacon

Church Council Meeting Highlights - April 18, 2017
- Diana West agreed to serve as substitute Moderator for tonight's meeting in Randy Izer's absence.
- Pastor Christina reported that she planned to call together the Media committee and get some work done on our new church website now that Lent and Easter are past.
She also reported that the Pastoral Congregational Relations Committee is scheduled to meet May 10th to begin work on a Church Covenant.
- Diana West passed on a message from Lisa West that a group of Spring Supper team leaders met recently to organize supper details. Sign-up sheets are available at each coffee hour following worship. There is a job for everyone.
- The Finance Committee has agreed to take the lead in beginning the congregational conversation on how to distribute and spend the financial legacy recently received by the church from the Reichert estate. June 11th after worship is suggested as the only open date this spring to meet.
- Tom West reported the Properties Board is busy with many projects, large and small. The estimates for exterior painting are running around $52,000 so far. The Board will meet the first Tuesday of May. They are waiting for results of the Town meeting vote to find out when the parking lot will be repaved.
- The Board of Deacons voted to have joint summer services with the North Hadley Congregational Church, with services in North Hadley in July and in Hadley in August.
- Communion will be offered on June 11, since the first Sunday in June is Children's Sunday.
- The Deacons met with Rev. Christina for her annual review. We feel very blessed to have her as our pastor.
- This is a busy season for the Christian Education Board. Sunday School is going well under the direction of Jean Baxter.
- The Board of C.E. has requested that Church Council take up the finalization of our Safe Church Policy which was never completed and voted on by church members.
- Missions Board reports that a Fifth Sunday Missions project day will take place April 30th.
- Pastor Christina reports Confirmation Class has been meeting. Confirmation is planned for May 7th.
- Pastro Christina will be attending the annual MAUCC meeting with delegates Rosalee Oakley and Joan Johnson.
- April 28th Pastor Christina will begin Mug and Muffin with the Minister at Shelbourne Falls coffee on Route 9 in Hadley from 9:30 to 11 am every Friday.
- Janine Giles again expressed a strong appeal to fill the empty seat on the Board fo Finanace. She and Dave Storey need a third person to attend to their required duties.
- Treasurer, Terri Smith reported that the church finances are in good shape.
- Church Council will meet next on Wednesday May 10th at 7 pm.

Dear friends,
      At the annual meeting it was noted that there were still open positions on several Boards and two newly formed committees. We still need volunteers for the following:
Finance: 1 position (very critical since it’s a 3 member board)
Church Council: 1 At-Large church member position
Media and Communication: 3 open spots
Inclusiveness and Welcoming: 2 spots
If interested or have questions, contact the Moderator, Randy Izer.
Thank you for prayerfully considering filling one of these important roles.
Debbie Ward, Clerk

The Prayer Shawl Ministry group of knitters and crocheters will be meeting at 7:00 p.m. on Monday evening June 5 at the church to work on prayer shawls and other items. We welcome any new members to the group and will be happy to give instruction to those wanting to help with the projects.  Join us to share in the fellowship, conversation and refreshments.

May Calendar

 

1

 

2

Monday

 

Tuesday

7:00 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

PRAYER SHAWL MINISTRY

Girl Scout Leaders

BELL CHOIR

3

Wednesday

6:30 p.m.

.

AA

4

5

6

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

7:00 p.m.

4:00 p.m.

8:00 a.m.

CHOIR REHEARSAL

PREP FOR TAKE AND EAT

TAKE AND EAT

7

Sunday

10:00 a.m.

 

2:00 p.m.

WORSHIP SERVICE (CONFIRMATION SUNDAY)

SUNDAY SCHOOL

Brownie Troop 11914

8

9

10

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

8:00 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

6:30 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

Grange

BELL CHOIR

AA

COUNCIL

11

  14

 

16

17

18

20

 

21

 

23  24

25

 

28

 

30

 

31

Thursday

 

Sunday

 

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Saturday

 

Sunday

 

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

 

Sunday

 

Tuesday

 

Wednesday

7:00 p.m.

 

10:00 a.m.

.   

7:00 p.m.

6:30 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

 

10:00 a.m.    

 

11:00 p.m.

2:00 p.m.

7.00 p.m.

 6:30 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

 

10:00 a.m.

 

7:00 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

6:30 p.m.

CHOIR REHEARSSAL

 

WORSHIP SERVICE

SUNDAY SCHOOL

BELL CHOIR

AA

CHOIR REHEASAL

STRAWBERRY/ASPARAGUS SUPPER

 

WORSHIP SERVICE

SUNDAY SCHOOL

STAFF MEETING

Brownie Troop 12652

BELL CHOIR

AA

CHOIR REHEARSAL

 

WORSHIP SERVICE

SUNDAY SCHOOL

BELL CHOIR

BOARD OF DEACONS

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The Rooster Crows        April 2017

APRIL WORSHIP SCHEDULE
April 2 - Communion will be served
April 9 – Palm Sunday 10 a.m. A celebration of welcome. Distribution of the palms. Sunday school for K-5.
April 13 – Maundy Thursday 6:30 p.m. A simple meal followed by a service of Tenebrae and communion.
April 16 – Easter Sunrise Service 6:00 a.m. Rejoice and sing with the rising Son on the Town Common, West Street.
April 16 – Easter Service 10 a.m.  A service celebrating hope and new life.
April 23 - New members joining
April 30 - 9:30 am for 5th Sunday Worship & Serve

Pastor's Note - “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even though they die. Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”      –John 11:25-26

Dear Friends,
      Spring. Is. Here! It is hard not to get excited about spring with all its sights, smells, and sounds. I can literally feel spring bubbling up inside me making me feel buoyant and alive. How can I keep from smiling on that first warm, sunny day when the birds are twittering with new desires and the earth smells wet and alive ready to shoot forth a riot of spring colors? How can I keep from singing in amazement and gratitude of God’s grand design?
      This time of year especially reminds me of the resurrection—its hope and glory are reflected in the season of growing light and warmth when all things are made new. It is this story—the most important story of our faith—that keeps me going through dark times. Even when it feels like God has forsaken me—as Jesus said on the cross—I find comfort in Mary Magdalene’s tears when she realizes Jesus is standing right in front of her at the empty tomb or in the disciples’ ecstatic joy when they realize their teacher, who they thought died on the cross, is standing on the beach calling them in for breakfast. How could they keep from singing?
      You may be walking in the darkness right now waiting anxiously to give birth to something new in your life. You may feel like God has forsaken you in the past few months. You may feel as though the darkness is passing and new life is being born in you once again. Or you may simply be overjoyed that the darkness of winter has past and spring is here. Wherever you are on life’s journey right now, may the coming spring remind you that the hope and glory of the resurrection is for all of us. That is God’s promise for now and always. With a promise like that how can we keep from singing?
      “How can I keep from Singing?” aka “My Life Flows On” is the perfect hymn for this time of year. May it be your spring anthem.

                                    My life flows on in endless song;
                                    Above earth’s lamentation.
                                    I hear the clear, though far off hymn
                                    That hails a new creation.

                                    Chorus
                                    No storm shake inmost call
                                    While to that Rock I’m clinging
                                   
Since love is Lord of heav’n and earth,
                                    How can I keep from singing?
                                   

                                    Through all the tumult and the strife
                                    I hear the music ringing;
                                    It finds an echo in my soul.
                                    How can I keep from singing? (Chorus)

                                    What though my joys and comforts die?
                                    I know my Savior liveth.
                                    What though the darkness gather round?
                                    Songs in the night He giveth. (Chorus)

                                    The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,
                                    A fountain ever springing!
                                    All things are mine since I am his!
                                    How can I keep from singing? (Chorus)

                                    With blessings of the Risen One,   Rev. Christina

MISSIONS

Please, JOIN US… April 30 at 9:30 am for 5th Sunday Worship & Serve
Following a light breakfast and short worship service, the congregation will be encouraged to participate in a service project in and around our church.
Service projects will include:
~ prepare a meal for the Cathedral in the Light Ministry in Greenfield
~ sing and pray with shut-in members of our congregation
~ spring cleaning in and around the church
All are welcome!

Deacons' Note - What do you feel like when you are inspired?
     Experiencing inspiration can mean we are filled with a sense of being uplifted, impassioned, motivated or awakened. We are being risen up.
     One of the Bible passages I turn to when needing a bit of an inspirational boost is Romans 15:13: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
     A month ago my son, Ben, and I had the opportunity to travel to Ecuador on a service mission with YoungLife, a Christian youth group organization. Most of our time was spent in the small rainforest town of Mishualli.  Along with painting projects at the local high school, we brought children’s clothing, school and medical supplies and soccer items to distribute.  Each afternoon our adults and high school/college age students organized a “YoungLife Club” with the local teenagers which involved games, skits, music and a time of faith sharing.
     There were numerous wonderful moments and experiences during this trip, many of which I would say were truly inspiring. On this journey I was uplifted by:

  • our friends, loved ones and church family that generously supported this mission spiritually, materially and financially.
  • the warmth of the Ecuadorian people and the beauty of their country.
  • the energy and enthusiasm of our team and leaders who showed through their love what being a Christian is all about
  • the courage shown by Luida, a local 14-year-old girl, (afflicted with a hereditary form of rickets) who after 4 years of governmental red tape, medical testing and diligence by many folks including our Ecuadorian team leader, Darren Coyle, left her family and is now in the United States for 1 1/2 years to undergo metabolic therapy, 2-3 hip and leg surgeries and subsequent extensive physical therapy.
  • the small boy who, when told he could choose a pair of shoes from our donations, chose a pair clearly too small. When asked why he picked those he told us his younger sister needed shoes more than he did.

    To be fair, I realize being surrounded by Christ- centered folks with a common goal in an exotic land maybe allows for inspiration to flow a bit more readily than “normal.” However, I also believe when we are going about our daily routines we can often overlook or take for granted those people or occasions that uplift, move and energize us.
    So I would invite you to think about and recognize those people and events that help us to rise up, awaken and experience God’s presence in our lives.
    Yours in Peace, Bob Andersen, Deacon

HEAR YE! HEAR YE!
Church Council members and the Board of Finance are asking for a team of Leaders to step forward  and agree to organize the Fall Fundraiser this year whether it is a scaled down Fall Festival, just a Tag Sale/Bake Sale or some new event you help create. Contact Janine Giles or Randy Izer to receive their blessing to get to work!

BOARD OF CHRISTIAN EDUCATION
     We have had a fun March with our new Christian Education Director, Jean Baxter!  We have learned about God’s blessings, God’s encouragement for us to stand up for what’s right, and how God protects us by studying starfish, jellyfish, and sea turtles.  We have begun to plan for Children’s Sunday, which will be June 4, so mark your calendars!
     We had a great ice skating event on March 12 and look forward to hopefully planning an event for late Spring/early summer!  We continue to “Fill Our Ark” by adding a little bit each day to our banks to support Heifer International. Please remember to bring your bank back by Palm Sunday, April 9 for a special blessing.
     Please note that for Easter Sunday, April 16 and Confirmation Sunday, May 7 we encourage our Sunday School participants to stay upstairs in the sanctuary and enjoy these special services.  Our CE Director, Jean, will have activities planned for those who cannot stay upstairs.
     Please mark your calendars with these upcoming dates:
Sunday, May 7 – Confirmation Sunday.  A special service honoring our confirmands will be followed by a light luncheon in the fellowship hall.
Sunday, June 4 – Children’s Sunday followed by the All Church Picnic.  Please join us for a special service put on by the children of the church.  Our annual All Church Picnic will follow the service.  Please bring a side dish to share.

BOARD OF PROPERTIES
     At our last meeting, we welcomed Bryan Harper to the Board as our newest member, or rookie BOPper. We will be glad to have his energy on the board. A task group has been formed and is working on purchasing the new commercial stove for the kitchen.  The group will also contract and oversee the associated work on the required ventilation and fire suppression systems.  It is hoped that the work can begin after the spring Church Supper.
     If ever there was justification for expressing a “yuge” thank you, well done, or kudos, it would be for Norm Barstow.  It is difficult to convey the enormous amount of time and work that Norm put in for the Church as “prime minister” of the Board of Properties.  I call him that because it is not enough to just say that he served as the Board Secretary for 9 years.  It will take many of us, working together, to fill his shoes.  Thank you, Norm. Our hearts are with you for the challenge that you face ahead.

COUNCIL NOTES
After being postponed due to the March Blizzard of the 14th, Council met on Tuesday night March 21, 2017, at 7 p.m. in the small vestry meeting area.
-Caryn Perley reported on behalf of the nominating committee that Stan Brown has agreed to serve a 1 year term as a Council member at large, a new position created at the passage of the new by-laws last month. Stan has also agreed to serve on the new Inclusiveness and Welcoming committee. Christine Eustis has agreed also to serve on this committee. The council voted to accept these candidates.
-Pastor Christina and Moderator Randy Izer will reach out to the new committee members to get them started.
-A new website is under construction. We hope to have this communication forum up and running soon.
-Team Leaders are needed to head up the Fall Fundraiser, whatever form that may take. Please speak to Randy Izer or Janine Giles, Finance Board, if willing to serve.
-Missions is planning the 5th Sunday/Missions Sunday projects for April 30th.
-Confirmands class plans to work on a project for Dakin animal shelter.
-Mary Thayer, Deacon Board chair, reports the 6 a.m.  Easter sunrise service will be on the Hadley Town common pending approval by the Hadley Town select board. Maundy Thursday service with simple meal and worship is planned for April 13th.
-Christian Ed chair, Diana West, reported on meeting with a Hadley police officer to address security concerns for Sunday School. They are taking his recommendations under advisement. A Palm Sunday procession is planned and families are invited to bring back their Heifer Project donation boxes for blessing. All church picnic is planned for June 4th.
-Janine Giles, Finance Board chair, reports the church finances are in good shape.
-There is still at least one vacancy on the Board. Dave Storey has agreed to fill one spot.
-Pastor Christina reported to the Council some insights gained from attending the MACUCC Super Saturday event last week. The speakers were inspiring, challenging the attendees to ask themselves and their congregations, "Why do we do church?" In the face of congregations closing near and across the country, this is something to contemplate and work on for the future.
-Next Council meeting is scheduled for after Holy Week, Tuesday April 18th, 2017.
Respectfully submitted,   Debbie Ward, Clerk

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE ANNUAL MEETING

  • The First Congregational Church of Hadley held its 2016 Annual Meeting on February 21, 2017, following a pot luck luncheon.  Forty-six members and friends were present.
  • Moderator, Randy Izer, called the meeting to order.  Clerk, Caryn Perley, read the Call to Meeting which had been duly posted.
  • An opening prayer was led by Deacon, Mary Thayer.
  • Annual Meeting minutes from the previous year were approve and minutes from Special Congregational Meetings on January 17, 2016 and May 1, 2016, were approved. All the reports submitted in the 2016 Annual Report were approved with some minor changes.
  • An announcement was made by the Fellowship Committee requesting people sign up to help with fellowship/coffee hour.
  • The proposed budget for 2017 was presented by Treasurer, Terri Smith, and Board of Finance member, Kara Kapinos.  The Congregation reviewed the proposed budget; questions were answered and highlights were explained by Kara.  The Board of Finance was pleased to propose a 3% increase for staff salaries and to report investments account exceeds one million dollars.  Thus, the fee structure for Ameriprise will be reduced.  Motion to accept the proposed budget for 2017 was approved unanimously.
  • Rick Ward encouraged the congregation to consider an alternative fall fundraiser if no one volunteered to coordinate the Fall Festival.   It was suggested just the tag sale be offered with the help of all volunteers.  The group acknowledged the dedication Debbie and Rick Ward gave to the past Fall Festivals. A fall fundraiser will be addressed at the next Council meeting.
  • Lisa West and Shari Parsons have volunteered to coordinate the Annual Strawberry and Asparagus Supper on May 20, 2017.
  • Janet Barstow and Kara Kapinos were acknowledged for their dedication to the Board of Finance as they will not continue as board members.
  • It was moved and seconded to accept Nominating Committee Report.  Motion carried.  It was noted that the new by-laws included additional positions and committees and the committee is still seeking some volunteers.
  • Members from the Board of Properties distributed a list of Capital Fund Projects that they recommend over the next several years.  Norm Barstow reviewed the list and answered questions.  Three of the projects were presented for approval: New commercial kitchen stove and safety equipment, Repaving of the church/Town Hall driveway and parking lot, and Improvements to surface for water runoff around the elevator shaft.  The projects were approved unanimously.
  • The Congregation expressed gratitude for the dedication Norm Barstow gave to the Board of Properties as he is not volunteering for another term.
  • Moderator Randy Izer thanked Delores Harper, church secretary, for preparing the Annual Report as well as all the contributing reporters.  Appreciation was given to Caryn Perley for her help as Clerk.
  • Rev. Christina Williams closed the meeting with prayer.

PRAYER SHAWL MINISTRY
The prayer Shawl Ministry group of knitters and crocheters will be meeting at 7:00 p.m. on Monday evening April 3rd at the church to work on prayer shawls and other items. We welcome any new members to the group and will be happy to give instruction to those wanting to help with the projects.  Join us to share in the fellowship, conversation and refreshments provided this month by Joan Johnson

MUSIC NOTES:   Brain Teaser 
How many words can you make from these letters?    SPRING IS HERE
Here are a few to get you started:
       1. GREEN – new grass and buds, yes!
       2. SING – with the choir through this busy Lenten/Easter season!
       3. RING – join in the fun with our Bell/Chime group!  
You get the idea – Happy Spring!  Toni

A NOTE OF THANKS
Randy and I would like to thank our church family for the love and support we received during the recent passing of Martha's father.  The messages, phone calls, cards and attendance at his service meant a lot to us.  We are so grateful to be a part of such a caring group of people.  Thank you!  With love, Randy and Martha

THE GOLDEN OAKLEY AWARD
      The Golden Oakley Award was established in 2008 to acknowledge members who have engaged in extraordinary service to the First Congregational Church of Hadley. It is an honor intended to be passed along each year at the annual meeting from the previous year’s recipient to the person of his or her choosing. It is named in honor of the first recipient, Fred Oakley, in recognition of his uncommon dedication to our church building and the community it shelters. In addition to Fred, recipients to date have been:  Ted McQueston, Marjorie Barstow, Delores Harper, Norm Barstow, Janine Giles, Don Young, and Terri Smith.
      Last year I was selected as the recipient of the Golden Oakley Award and I am extremely honored to have been selected. I also feel honored to have known Fred Oakley. Fred had an immeasurable love for this church. Fred was very generous with his time and talents, and his dedication to this church and other charities was so very admirable. Fred once shared with us that he believed that all the true lessons for life’s happiness and success lay in helping others, in taking what was learned here and practicing Jesus’ teachings.
     Choosing this year’s recipient was an extremely difficult decision for me. Last year when she presented the award Terri said that she felt I inspired my daughters to be an active part of this church. I want to say that I am only one of the people who have inspired my daughters and others to be an active part of this church. It is the love for this church and the Christian spirit embodied in each of you that inspire others to be an active part of this church. And it is that love for this church that you all display in soooo many ways that made choosing this year’s recipient a truly difficult decision.
     This year the Golden Oakley Award is being presented to a member who shares diverse talents with our church. This year’s recipient has taken on tasks that others are not interested in with enthusiasm. She is extremely thorough and detail oriented while being creative. She is a team player and stands by her personal convictions.
     It is especially appropriate that I am able to present this award on Girl Scout Sunday as the recipient serves a liaison to the community as a Girl Scout leader. She has served on the By-laws Revision Task Force twice (doing the bulk of the work this last time), the Open and Affirming Task Force, and as a member of the Music Committee for 15 years, and she sews –beautiful angel wings and costumes.
     Most notable however is her dedication, perseverance and extreme enthusiasm for the Bell Choir.
     It is truly an honor and a privilege for me to present the Golden Oakley Award to Ruth Morse.  ~ Lisa West

HAMPSHIRE ASSOCIATION OF THE MACUCC
        Annual Meeting, April 30, 2017 2-4PM,  Plainfield Congregational Church 356 West Main Street Plainfield, MA 01070
        Each church is represented by four delegates and clergy to conduct the business portion of the meeting.  There will be worship, a brief business meeting and discussion about the resolution to form a new Conference by combining the MA, CT and RI Conferences. The wording for this can be found on the MACUCC website. There will be a time for socializing and refreshments after the meeting. 
       All are welcome and encouraged to gather to share time with their brothers and sisters of the UCC in one of the most picturesque places in Hampshire County.

APRIL CALENDAR       

   

1

Saturday

8:00 a.m.

TAKE AND EAT

 

2

Sunday

10:00 a.m.

 

11:30 a.m.

2:00 p.m.

WORSHIP SERVICE

SUNDAY SCHOOL

JOHN MISSALE AND VIKKI STOKES WEDDING

Girl Scouts

3

 

4

Monday

 

Tuesday

6:30 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

4:30 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

Ryan’s Group

PRAYER SHAWL MINISTRY

Girl Scout Leaders

Hampshire Executive Committee

BELL CHOIR

BOOK DISCUSSION

5

Wednesday

6:00 p.m.

6:30 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

Set-up for Men’s Club

AA

LENTEN WORSHIP

6

 

Thursday

 

Noon

5:30 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

LENTEN WORSHIP

Men’s Club

CHOIR REHEARSAL

9

Sunday

10:00 a.m.

 

2:00 p.m.

WORSHIP SERVICE

SUNDAY SCHOOL

Brownie Troop 12652

10

 

11

12

Monday

 

Tuesday

Wednesday

6:30 p.m.

8:00 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

6:30 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

Ryan’s Group

Grange

BELL CHOIR

AA

LENTEN WORSHIP   

13

 

 16

 

 

 

17

18

 

19

 

20

 

23

 

 

 

24

 

 

25

 

26

27

 

30

Thursday

 

Sunday

 

 

 

Monday

Tuesday

 

Wednesday

 

Thursday

 

Sunday

 

 

 

Monday

 

 

Tuesday

 

Wednesday

Thursday

 

Sunday

6:30 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

 

6:00 a.m.

10:00 a.m.

 

7:00 p.m.

6:00 p.m.   

7:00 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

.

10:00 a.m.    

 

11:30 p.m.

 

6:30 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

 

7.00 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

 6:30 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

 

10:00 a.m.

MAUNDY THURSDAY-LIGHT MEAL

MAUNDY THURSDAY SERVICE

 

EASTER SUNRISE SERVICE (on the Common)

WORSHIP SERVICE

 

Ryan’s Group

BELL CHOIR

COUNCIL

AA

BOARD OF CHRISTAN ED

CHOIR REHEASAL

 

WORSHIP SERVICE

SUNDAY SCHOOL

CONFIRMATION  CLASS

 

Ryan’s Group

Girl Scout Leaders

 

BOARD OF DEACONS

BELL CHOIR

AA

CHOIR REHEARSAL

 

WORSHIP SERVICE

SUNDAY SCHOOL

The Rooster Crows        March 2017

MARCH WORSHIP SCHEDULE

March 1 – Ash Wednesday 7 p.m.
This candlelight service marks the beginning of Lent with song, scripture, the imposition of ashes, and communion as we take time to meditate more fully on our human frailties and imperfections. Come and join us as we prepare our hearts for the season of Lent.

March 5 – First Sunday of Lent – Communion Sunday
Rev. Christina Williams will preach on temptation in Eden and in the wilderness. Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7 and Matthew 4:1-11

March 12 – Second Sunday of Lent
Rev. Christina Williams will preach on John 3:1-17 and Romans 4:1-5, 13-17.

March 19 – Third Sunday of Lent
Rev. Christina Williams will preach on Exodus 17:1-7 and John 4:5-42.

March 26 – Fourth Sunday of Lent
Rev. Christina Williams will preach on 1 Samuel 16:1-13 and John 9:1-41.

REFLECT, RENEW, RECHARGE THIS LENTEN SEASON - A time of worship and reflection
Journey through Lent this year with a small group of intrepid explorers as we dig into the themes of Lent by engaging scripture through discussion, prayer, and thought provoking exercises. Come and recharge your faith this Lenten season. This worship will be held two times a week during Lent.
Luncheon Lenten Worship – 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. March 2, 16, 23, 30, and April 6. Bring your own lunch as we worship together. To be held in the Vestry.

MARCH/APRIL BOOK GROUP – Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End
   Whether or not you attended the “Keeping the Faith in End of Life Care” forum that was offered by Cooley Dickinson Hospital in January, you are invited to join us as we continue the conversation with the reading of Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, by Atul Gawande. If you are interested, the book will be available for pick up on Sunday, March 5 from Rev. Christina. This in-depth book discussion will be held on Tuesday, April 4 at 7 p.m. in the fellowship hall. Even if you do not get the chance to finish the book, join the conversation anyway. Please RSVP to Rev. Christina at pastorchristina2846@gmail.com or text or call her at 978-821- 3149.
   A review from the New York Times Book Review. Gawande writes that members of the medical profession, himself included, have been wrong about what their job is. Rather than ensuring health and survival, it is “to enable well-being.” Gawande is a gifted storyteller, and there are some stirring, even tear-inducing passages. The stories give a dignified voice to older people in the process of losing their independence. We see the world from their perspective, not just those of their physicians and worried family members. –Sheri Fink - New York Times Book Review Evening Lenten Worship – 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. March 15, 22, 29, April 5, 12. To be held in the Choir Room. If you would like to sign up for this worship/workshop please contact Rev. Christina at pastorchristina2846@gmail.com or text or call her at 978-821- 3149.

NEW MEMBER EXPLORATION
    Are you new to our congregation—or not so new—and feel like First Congregational Church of Hadley has become your church home? Do you feel welcomed and enriched by worship and our ministries? Then join us for our new member exploration sessions on Sunday, March 12 and March 26, after worship at 11:30 a.m. In the first session, you will meet with Rev. Christina and the Deacons to learn about one another’s faith journey and the role of the Deacons. You will hear stories about what afaith-filled membership means in our church and learn more about the United Church ofChrist and its vision for the church in the 21 st century.
    In the second session, you will meet with some members of every board and committee. They will share how being a part of our church continues to shape and deepen their faith. You will also have the opportunity to learn about the ways in which you can offer your gifts and talents in serving God with our beloved community. Once you have attended both sessions and decide you would like to become a member, you will be welcomed into our church during worship on Sunday, April 9. If you are interested in exploring membership, please contact Rev. Christina at pastorchristina2846@gmail.com or text or call her at 978-821- 3149.
    In faith, Rev. Christina Williams, Mary Thayer, Chair of Deacons, Randy Izer, Moderator

CHRISTIAN EDUCATION NEWS
We are pleased to announce that we have hired Jean Baxter as our permanent Christian Education Director.  Jean comes to us with years of experience in Christian Education, especially Congregational Christian Ed, as well as Girl Scouts, the Five College Dance Department, and arts education.  We are so happy to have Jean on board and look forward to working with her.

During Sunday school we will continue our Finding Jesus theme and learn about starfish, jellyfish, and sea turtles.donation bank, please speak to Diana West.

We are participating in the Heifer Project Fill The Ark Campaign. If you would like a calendar and

Family Ice Skating Event
Join us on March 12 for the free skate at the UMass Mullins Center from 2:30-4:30pm.  Join us for snacks and a good time! 

A note from our Pastor

In you shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” – Genesis 12:4b

Dear Friends,
    It is a balmy February day and the sunlight is spilling into my office and illuminating everything with such brightness I can barely see. As I bask in its warmth I feel deeply blessed by God. Blessings have a way of growing exponentially inside me. As it illuminates my heart and shines beyond the boundaries of my being it spills out into the world—blessing and giving warmth to all I see, the people I meet, or, as in today’s case, my cats who are peacefully snoozing in a puddle of sunlight. What a gift it is to both receive and give a blessing!
    The Lenten season has begun, and for me it is a time of blessing to do some self-reflection,confession, and meditating on Jesus’ journey to the cross. I usually do something intentional during Lent like giving something up or taking on a spiritual practice. This year I am giving up Facebook because I am on it way too much, and I am taking on the practice of blessing others because I find myself cursing certain people when I read upsetting news stories on Facebook.
    Dallas Willard, the American philosopher, once said there are two great words in the Bible that describe the posture of our soul toward other people—one is to bless and the other is to curse. Blessing and cursing are the two ways we treat people 1 —it can be as overt as the words from our mouth or as subtle as the shrug of a shoulder. We bless and curse with our entire being.
    A colleague of mine started a ministry of blessing a number of years ago. In her spare time she takes her sign and vial of oil and stands out on a busy street to bless and anoint passersby. She has taken her portable ministry to a number of places around the country and she even took it to the streets of Jerusalem during her sabbatical. What a loving and caring ministry—blessing and anointing!
    Each of us has the capacity to bless and when we do it changes the atmosphere around us. Giving and receiving blessings nourishes both the giver and receiver. Blessings envelope us with a sense of being loved and belonging, and they can heal and transfigure us. When we feel blessed we literally shine.
    During Lent, give the gift of blessing to loved ones and strangers. Bless those you are tempted to curse. Bless with a prayer, a hug, a loving look, a kiss, or some heartfelt words. And if you wantto explore blessing more deeply, I invite you to come to the weekly Lenten workshop (see details inside). In the five sessions we will explore scripture through the lens of blessing—night blessings, mud blessings, twisting blessings, resuscitating blessings, and hosanna blessings. Intrigued what a mud blessing is? Come and find out!
May your life be filled with many blessings this Lenten season. Shine on!

With the blessings of Christ, Rev. Christina

1 John Ortberg. Soul Keeping: Caring for The Most Important Part of You. 153.

DEACON'S NOTE
    OK, so here I am, a new deacon, called on write an article that will be read by our community of faith, so how am I supposed to start? Well, it occurred to me to wonder what “faith” actually is, and, as someone who likes to tell stories, I fell back on various ones I have heard over the years to see if they could answer the Question.
    The first is about a person in a particular Christian denomination who, when asked how his faith differed from that of other denominations, replied that they believed in baptism by total immersion. As answers go, this falls a little flat. It wasn’t about faith so much as about belief in a particular tenet. (I have, at times, been told if I didn’t accept a particular tenet I would go to Hell, but I can’t accept God judges us on such a micro scale, because if he does, God help us all!) Faith, I think, is much more than what we believe.
     I still remember first hearing my second story when I was about five years old, so I think it must be a good one. It seems there was a devout church-going woman who was well known for her gardening skills but had a problem. You see, there was this mountain that blocked the morning sun from reaching her garden, and it vexed her no end. Then one Sunday, the pastor preached about the faith to move mountains, and she had her answer. Elated, she went home, stood in her back yard, glared at the offending mountain and said “I am going to move you!”
    That night, she prayed a real humdinger of a prayer and went to bed satisfied that her problem was solved. The next morning, she rushed out to the kitchen, looked out her window, and lo and behold, there was the mountain, throwing its shadow on her garden. Turning away in disgust she muttered, “I knew it wouldn’t work.” It didn’t work because she didn’t believe it would. There’s that word again, but here with different cast, which brings me to my last story, this one true.
    This one is about the 1 th century England evangelist George Mueller. If you haven’t heard of him, that’s why they invented Google. Look him up, because his life is fascinating. Among other things, he built an orphanage. One morning, as the children gathered for breakfast, the cook came to tell him there was no food at all in the kitchen. He assured her this was not a problem and to get the children settled for the saying of grace, “Father, thank you for the food we about to receive.” Immediately after grace, a knock came on the door, and there was the baker from down the street, who told Mr. Mueller that he had awoken in the middle of the night concerned that they might not have enough food, so he got up and made up a batch. Could he use it? And then came another knock from the milkman, who said his cart had just broken a wheel, and he couldn’t deliver his load before it spoiled. Could they use it? And so there was enough food for the children to have breakfast.
    Aside from a causality question to give a quantum physicist nightmares – the act that answered the prayer occurred before it was said – this tells us what faith really is. It’s not belief in an “ism,” but trust. Mueller’s prayer worked because he had an absolute trust that it would, without even the slightest glimmer of doubt. Faith is also a continuum, a journey, as we travel from “I knew it wouldn’t work” to the kind George Mueller had. I’m reasonably sure God’s help figures in here somewhere, but beyond that, how exactlywe get to that end point I can’t say. But at least I know where I want to be, and that’s a good place to start. - Jonathan Morel, Deacon

MUSIC NOTES
If you are feeling housebound with all this snow and cold weather, come on over to the church on Thursday night at 7 PM – Singing with the choir will perk you right up, get your blood pumping, increase your lung function, and put a smile on your face. You will catch up with friends and neighbors, hear what they’ve been doing and (sometimes) share travelers rewards - treats brought back from afar.  As we enter the Lenten season, instead of giving up chocolate – add singing!  Or ringing, with the bells and chimes.  See yousoon!  Toni

PRAYER SHAWL MINISTRY
The Prayer Shawl Ministry Group of knitters and crocheters will be meeting at 7:00 p.m. on Monday evening March 6 th at the Church. We will be working on prayer shawls and other items. New members are always welcome to share in the fellowship, conversation and refreshments provided by Judy Parker.

Church Council Highlights from February 8, 2017 Meeting
- Plans for the Annual Meeting scheduled for February 26, 2017, were discussed. A potluck lunch will follow the worship service and the congregation is encouraged to bring a covered dish to share. Praise was given to Delores for getting the Annual Reports out early and the congregation is reminded to bring their copy to the Annual meeting.
- Rev. Christina has made arrangements with Ministry Designs for the new church website and is in the process of using a template similar to the previous website.
- Included in the new by-laws, approved on February 5, 2017, are some additional positions and committees that need volunteers in addition to the open positions forthe year of 2017. The Council will recruit volunteers to nominate for these openings at the Annual Meeting.
- The Council was pleased to hear that Lisa West and Shari Parsons have volunteered to coordinate the Annual Strawberry and Asparagus Supper on May 20, 2017.
- The Board of Deacons presented the following plan for Easter services: Ash Wednesday, March 1 at 7:00 PM; Palm Sunday, April 9 at 10:00 AM service;Maundy Thursday, April 13, soup and bread at 6:30, service at 7:00 PM; Easter Sunrise Service Sunday, April 16, at 6:00 AM on the Town Common; Easter Sunday, April 16, at 10:00 AM service, light coffee hour following.
- Rev. Christina plans to lead one or two Lenten groups—one during the day and one in the evening, both offering the same workshop. (See details.)
- New Membership Exploration Sessions are scheduled for March 12 and 26 after worship. On Mar. 12, the deacons and minister lead the meeting and on the March26 meeting representatives from the committees will participate. Those interested in becoming a member should connect with Rev. Christina.
- Rev. Christina continues to meet with the confirmands and cover a lot of theological territory. They were asked to meet with a mentor within the church to discuss their faith journey. The group  also hopes to participate in a local mission activity and visit another place of worship.
- The Board of Christian Education shared plans for an ice skating event in February and a special collection for Heifer International during lent. They are working with the Board of Properties and plan to meet with the Hadley Police to determine best evacuation routes and the best shelter-in- place locations.
- The Board of Finance reported they have prepared the 2017-2018 Annual Budget and have reviewed some possible capital projects based on the memorial donation from Kay Reichert’s estate. The Board expressed appreciation to Pam Nevin who submitted her one year notice and will conclude her service as Asst. Treasurer after the 2017-18 fiscal cycle is concluded.
- The Board of Properties are preparing project proposals to present to the congregation at the Annual Meeting. They have placed the new evacuation chair in the sanctuary and will coordinate practicing using this device in case of emergency.
- The Board of Missions reported they will continue through February to collect cans of soup to support the Amherst Survival “Souper Sunday” campaign. DuringLent they will collect items to enhance the school kits and hygiene kits for Church World Services that were initiated as part of the Reverse Advent project. They awarded two scholarships to Ben and Bob Andersen who will be participating in a mission trip to Ecuador with Young Life Ministry.
- Board of Missions will sponsor a 5 th Sunday Service on April 30. More details to follow.
- The next Church Council Meeting is scheduled for March 14, 2017, at 7:00 PM.

MARCH CALENDAR

1     Wednesday  6:30 p.m AA
    7:00 p.m. ASH WEDNESDAY SERVICE
2 Thursday 12:00 p.m. LUNCHEON LENTEN WORSHIP
    7:00 p.m. CHOIR REHEARSAL
3 Friday 4:00 p.m. PREP FOR TAKE AND EAT
4 Saturday 8am-12pm TAKE AND EAT
       
5 Sunday 10:00 a.m. WORSHIP SERVICE
    10:00 a.m. CHURCH SCHOOL
    2:30 p.m. Brownie Troop 11914
    3:00 p.m. Brownie Troop 64551
6 Monday 6:30 p.m. Ryan’s Group
    7:00 p.m. PRAYER SHAWL MINISTRY
    7:00 p.m. Girl Scout Leaders
7 Tuesday 4:30 p.m. Hampshire Executive Committee
    7:00 p.m. BELL CHOIR
     7:00 p.m. BOARD OF PROPERTIES
8 Wednesday 6:00 p.m. Set-up for Men’s Club
    6:30 p.m. AA
9 Thursday 12:00 p.m. Hampshire Clergy
    5:30 p.m. Men’s Club
    7:00 p.m. CHOIR REHEARSAL
       
12 Sunday 10:00 a.m. WORSHIP SERVICE
    10:00 a.m CHURCH SCHOOL
    11:30 a.m. NEW MEMBER CLASS
    2:00 p.m Brownie Troop 12652
13 Monday 6:00 p.m Hope Grange
    6:30 p.m. Ryan’s Group
14 Tuesday 7:00 p.m. BELL CHOIR
    7:00 p.m. CHURCH COUNCIL
15 Wednesday 6:30 p.m. AA
    7:00 p.m. EVENING LENTEN WORSHIP
16 Thursday 12:00 p.m. LUNCHEON LENTEN WORSHIP
    7:00 p.m. CHOIR REHEARSAL
17 Friday 6:30 p.m. Girl Scout Movie Night
       
19 Sunday 10:00 p.m. WORSHIP SERVICE
    10:00 p.m SUNDAY SCHOOL
    11:30 p.m. CONFIRMATION CLASS
    3:00 p.m.  Brownie Troop 64551
20 Monday 6:30 p.m. Ryan’s Group
21 Tuesday 7:00 p.m. BELL CHOIR
22 Wednesday 6:30 p.m. AA
    7:00 p.m. EVENING LENTEN WORSHIP
23 Thursday 12:00 p.m. LUNCHEON LENTEN WORSHIP
    7:00 p.m. CHOIR REHEASAL
       
26 Sunday 10:00 a.m. WORSHIP SERVICE
    10:00 a.m. CHURCH SCHOOL
    11:30 a.m.  NEW MEMBER CLASS
27 Monday 6:30 p.m Ryan’s Group
    7:00 p.m. Girl Scout Leaders
28 Tuesday  7:00 p.m. BOARD OF DEACONS
    7:00 p.m. BELL CHOIR
29 Wednesday 6:30 p.m. AA
    6:30 p.m. BOARD OF CHRISTIAN ED
    7:00 p.m. EVENING LENTEN WORSHIP
30 Thursday 12:00 p.m. LUNCHEON LENTEN WORSHIP
    7:00 p.m. CHOIR REHEARSAL
31 Friday 4:00 p.m. PREP FOR TAKE AND EAT

 

The Rooster Crows        FEBRUARY 2017

 

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. – Colossians 3:12

Dear Friends,
    “Be careful what you wish for, you just might regret it,” my grandmother would say if Ihad some fanciful dream like, “I wish I could live forever.” “Would you really want to live forever if all your friends and family were gone?” my grandmother would ask. At the tender age of 17, it was hard to imagine anyone I lovednot living forever—even though I knew better. In my imaginings, I thought it would be marvelous to live forever to see what the world would be like in 200, 500, or 1,000 years from now. What would our clothes look like? (What can I say—I wanted to be a fashion designer at that age.) What kind of transportation would we have? What new technologies would there be?
    As my grandmother entered her mid-90s, she occasionally lamented how she had outlived all her contemporaries, her four younger siblings, and even her son. There was no one with whom she could share her memories of growing up during the dawning years of the 20th century. Journeying with her into her final years, I finally understood what she meant when she said, “Be careful what you wish for.”
    A number of years ago, after reading a prayer by a 20th century anonymous Japanese author, I thought to myself, “Be careful what you pray for, you just might receive it.” Idecided to use the prayer (see below) in meditation—meaning I would memorize it and repeat it during meditation. One thing I learned during my years of meditation is you become what you meditate upon. This prayer scared me because it challenged me to be completely selfless and to radically serve others as Jesus did and the many saints who came after him like St. Francis, Brother Lawrence, and St. Therese of Lisieux, to name a few.
    If you can manage to muster up enough courage to pray this prayer on a regular basis be careful, you just might get what you pray for. If you pray this prayer, you might become truly humble and less wrapped up in your own problems. You might become drastically kinder and gentler to those whose needs are far greater than yours. You might even exhibit signs of radical compassion and unfailing patience. Do you want that? You better be sure.
     So I dare you—pray this prayer again and again. Pray it with abandon and see what happens.

Give Me Someone
Lord, when I am famished, give me someone who needs food.
When I am thirsty, send me someone who needs water.
When I am cold, send me someone to warm.
When I am hurting, send me someone to console.
When my cross becomes heavy, give me another’s cross to share.
When I am poor, lead someone needy to me.
When I am humiliated, give me someone to praise.
When I am discouraged, send me someone to encourage.
When I need another’s understanding, give me someone who needs mine.
When I need somebody to take care of me, send me someone to take care of.
When I think of myself, turn my thoughts toward another. Amen.

Pray this prayer and soon you will be clothed in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, and you will have the courage and selflessness of Jesus to serve all of God’s beloved children, especially those who are marginalized and oppressed by the powers that be.

In Christ’s selfless love, Rev. Christina

DEACONS' NOTE

    I love living in this area. The landscape, the wildlife, the ever changing sky. The really great thing is you can enjoy all this wonder and not have to live on the side of a mountain in the middle of Vermont where you have to travel 45 minutes to pick up a gallon of milk.  Specifically, we live in East Hadley where there is a wide variety of bird life, the exciting woodpeckers, nuthatches, Blue Jays.We even had a Bullock Oriole when we first moved there, also the less exciting grackles. Included with this wide variety of birds we also have a large number of hawks.
    One morning I was coming back from getting a gallon of milk actually (and some donuts) and found a large group of people and cars all parked in our yard. All of them had binoculars, cameras, and scopes of all kinds and varieties and they were all aimed skyward. I couldn't really see what they were looking at. Was it the Second Coming of Christ? I didn't think so, I always imagined that being a very noticeable event. I asked one of the participants what they were looking at. He exclaimed, "A Merlin!" I replied, "a Wizard?!?" He said, "No it's a very small hawk," and sure enough at the top of our neighbors pine tree was this silhouette of a small hawk. While everyone was ooing and ahhing I wondered out loud how all these people knew this bird was here? The gentleman said that they all call each other. If someone sees an interesting species they have a kind of phone tree and let everyone know, and like some Aviary Minutemen they all converge within minutes at the sighting area.
    That reminded me of a similar gathering that I saw just down the street the week before. I asked the gentleman if that was them as well. He said, "Oh yes, that was for a flock of Canadian Snow Geese that were taking a break in a cornfield on their way through."
    It was heartwarming to see a group of people that were excited by something they had in common and their excitement carried over into encouraging others to participate in the sightings. We need to do this as Christians, we need to support and encourage each other daily. The Bible tells us to, "Therefore encourage one another and build up one another as you are doing." I Thessalonians 5:11. In a world that seems to be constantly looking for the negative in people and events, let us as Christians work together to find ways to share our excitement about our journey and encourage each other along the way. - Rick Ward

SHARE IN THE LIFE AND WORK OF THE CHURCH

     On February 5, 2017, members of the First Congregational Church of Hadley will meet to approve and adopt the proposed revised Constitution and By-Laws that a dedicated task group has been working on this year.  Included in these new by-laws are some additional positions, and committees that will need volunteers in addition to the open positions for the year of 2017.
     As members of the church, we pledge ourselves “to share in the life and work of the church”.  We pledge “to contribute to its support and mission, and to support the spiritual welfare of the membership and the community.”  This pledge is already being met by many in various ways; teaching Sunday School, baking pies for the Fall Festival, washing dishes at the church supper, visiting a member who is ill, making chili for Cathedral in the Night Ministry, knitting prayer shawls, renovating the restrooms, putting a quarter in the Heifer International collection tube, folding the newsletter each month, preparing coffee for fellowship hour, singing, playing bells, bowling with the youth, preparing a meal with Take and Eat Ministry, polishing the candle holders, donating a jar of peanut butter to the pantry, sorting tag sale items, welcoming a visitor, arranging and planting flowers, painting a classroom, or  it may be praying for one another.  As the saying goes “many hands make light work” and time and again it is true to the life and work of the church.  However, we need all “hands” working!  You may have an interest, a talent or experience with something that will support the life and work of our church.
     Below are the positions that are open in 2017 and we hope you will consider meeting your pledge “to share in the life and work of the Church”.
    Clerk
    2 Members for the Board of Finance
    2 Members for the Board of Christian Education
    1 Member for Board of Properties
    Safe Church Coordinator
    3 Members for the Stewardship Committee
    2 Members for Nominating Committee
    Church Supper Coordinator(s)
New Positions and Committees
     5 Members for the Media and Communications Committee
     5 Members for the Committee for Inclusiveness and Welcoming
     2 Council at Large Members
Please connect with the Moderator, Randy Izer, or the Clerk, Caryn Perley, if you have any questions or are simply curious.  They would enjoy hearing about your interests!

BOARD OF CHRISTIAN EDUCATION

    We have had a great start to our year with steady numbers in Sunday school!  We finished out our Fall 2016 theme of “Jesus is My Rock” with a lock-in at the Central Rock Gym in Hadley.  We had 19 participants and we are very grateful for our chaperones, Melissa Aloisi, Mara Breen, Heather Ciaglo, and Ben Andersen as well as the Aloisi, Breen/Bouthet, Ciaglo, and Kelly families for donating all of the supplies needed for the event!  We would like to thank Melissa Aloisi for organizing such a fabulous event and for her time as Interim Church School Coordinator.  Melissa has brought a lot of life and energy to the program and she will be missed.  We wish her the best of luck in all of her future endeavors!
    We are very grateful for all of the people who have volunteered to teach Sunday school.  We kicked off January with a Three Kings Day celebration on Epiphany Sunday before “diving” into our under-the-sea theme with “Finding Jesus”. We have learned about dolphins, crabs, and sharks and how they relate to God’s blessings.  We look forward to learning about stingrays, whales, starfish, and God’s love in February.
    Weather permitting, on February 12, join us for an afternoon of sledding! Bring your own sled, saucer, or tube and enjoy the “slopes”, snacks, and great conversation.  More information to follow.  Questions? Contact Diana West at dmabelwest@gmail.com.

CHRISTIAN EDUCATION DIRECTOR NEEDED

    Do you love working with kids?  Do you have experience in Christian Education?  The Board of Christian Education is seeking a part-time Christian Education Director to further develop our vibrant and engaging Sunday School and Youth programs. We are looking for an individual who will bring energy and innovative ideas to help grow our Christian Education program. We seek someone who will be a role model for the children and youth, and is passionate about planting the seeds of faith.
    The job would be 12 hours per week and salary commensurate with experience.  If you or anyone you know is interested please contact Reverend Christina at pastorchristina2486@gmail.com  Diana West at dmabelwest@gmail.com. For a full job description please visit our website firstchurchhadley.org and find a link as the second thing posted on the homepage.

PRAYER SHAWL MINISTRY

    The Prayer Shawl Ministry Group of knitters and crocheters will be meeting at 7:00 p.m on Monday evening February 6th at the Church.  We will be working on prayer shawls and other items.  New members are always welcome to share in the fellowship, conversation and refreshments provided this month by Rosalee Oakley.

Thank you to all who have pledged their support for 2017!

David & Lynne Adams                      Jerry & Janna Aldrich                               Bryan & Melissa Aloisi       
Robert & Barbara Andersen              Harry & Tess Barstow                               Marjorie Barstow           
Norm & Janet Barstow                      Steve & Ann Barstow                                Stanley Brown   
Stewart & Denise Clark                     Rick & Carolyn Croteau                            Doug & Betsy Elder
Christine Eustis                                  Thomas & Janine Giles                             Donald & Misako Gjertson
John & Donna Hanks                         Bryan & Lori Harper                                John & Delores Harper
Mary Hoch                                         Randy & Martha Izer                                Joan Johnson
Tom & Sharon Kane                           Kara Kapinos & Adam Woodrow             Scott & Barbara Kellogg
Kristie Kelly                                       Ann Koski                                                 Cindy McQueston
Jonathan Morel                                   Ruth Morse & Kurt Betchick                    Mark & Pam Nevin
Jane Nevinsmith                                 Rosalee Oakley                                          Cathy Parker
Ken & Judy Parker                             Wes & Kerri Parker                                    Earle & Sharon Parsons
Matthew & Brenda Parsons                Kenneth Parsons                                        Shirley Parsons
Jim & Caryn Perley                            Ed & Joyce Putnam                                    Arleen Richards
Steve & Shirley Robertson                 Sam & Susan Russell                                 John & Jan Schott
Emmy Smith                                       Joe Smith                                                    Rebecca Smith
Gordon & Terri Smith                        Sam & Rosemary Stewart                          Vikki Stokes & John Missale
Judy Stone                                          David Storey                                               Douglas Storey
Rick & Mary Thayer                          Alice Underwood                                        Jane Underwood
Rick & Debbie Ward                          Diana West                                                  Lila West
Tom & Lisa West                                Christina Williams                                      Ken & Urshula Wood
Don Young

Highlights from the Council Meeting on Jan. 11, 2017

- The By-Laws Task Group presented two changes to the revised by-laws since the September version was distributed.  The Council agreed to post a Special Congregational Meeting on February 5, 2017,  following the worship service to adopt the revised Constitution and By-Laws of the First Congregational Church of Hadley.  The newest version will be posted on the website for the congregation to review before the meeting.
- The Council discussed ideas for fall fundraising events and/or changing the Fall Festival to a Tag Sale event.  In the past, the fall fundraiser has supplemented the budget, therefore the Council is requesting the congregation share ideas for fundraising. 
- After a lengthy discussion, the Council approved unanimously to use Ministry Designs as a new website host.  The UCC has partnered with Ministry Designs and is offering websites to churches at no set up cost until February 15. (After that it goes up to $500.) Rev. Christina spoke with a representative from Ministry Designs and had a virtual tour to review their capabilities and services. The church will still pay for domain name every year in addition to a monthly web hosting fee of $35, which includes support, system updates, unlimited storage, unlimited pages, and unlimited emails.
- In addition to the open board and committee positions that will need to be filled for 2017, the Council reviewed the new positions if the revised by-laws are approved. Since there was no Nominations Committee formed this year, the Council will try to fill positions as best they can before the annual meeting.  Following that meeting, a new Nominations Committee will meet throughout the year to recruit volunteers in relation to people’s interests and experience.
 - Deacons recommend the Council do a salary study for the staff at our church, except for the Pastor as that study was done recently.  The Council agreed and asked Boards to complete this for staff who report to them.
 - Deacons will schedule new members’ classes soon. At least two people are interested in joining.
 - Board of C.E. has not had any applications yet for Director’s position.  They decided to also post on MassLive and gazettenet.com and eliminated the 300-word essay from the application. The board is getting a “teaching team” together that will serve in the place of a CE director in the interim. 
 - The Board of Finance reported they have received 56 pledging units and will send a second letter to the 17 “units” they have not received in hopes of increasing the total pledge amount.  The proposed budget for FY18 will be worked on when the total pledge amount has been confirmed.
 - The Treasurer is preparing for the audit and has distributed the W-2 forms to the staff.
 - The Town of Hadley has sent a proposal to pave the parking lot shared with the church next year.  The Board of Properties will be taking it under advisement and will bring a recommendation to the Council at the next meeting.
 - Rev. Christina was pleased with Worship Service attendance in the month of December, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. 186 attended the Christmas Eve service and eighteen people came on Christmas morning—it was a much bigger turnout than expected.
 - Rev. Christina will ask the Pastoral Congregational Relations Committee (PCRC) if any of them would be interested working on a Church Covenant.
 - Mary Thayer, Historian, asked Boards, Committees and Officers to submit meeting minutes, flyers and other information for the historical records to her by March 1, 2017.
The next Council meeting is scheduled for February 8, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. at the church.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • The Lady Bugs Women's Club of Hadley is seeking donations of new or gently used pocketbooks, scarfs and wallets to be sold at a Spring Sale at the Hadley Senior Center on Saturday April 29th.  The proceeds will benefit various programs offered at the Senior Center.  A labeled box will be placed in the church for donations of purses, scarfs and wallets which you may find that you will not be using again.  Thank you for helping with this worthy project that will benefit others in our community.
  • Rev. Dr. William Wright will be installed in Granby at Church of Christ Congregational, UCC on Sunday February 5, 2017.
  • The Hampshire Association Annual Meeting will be held on April 30, 2017 at Plainfield Congregational Church.

FEBRUARY 2017 CALENDAR

 

1

2

3

4

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

6:30 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

4:30 p.m.

8:00 a.m.

AA

CHOIR REHEARSAL

PREP FOR TAKE AND EAT

TAKE AND EAT

5

Sunday

10:00 a.m.

2:30 p.m.

3:00 p.m.

WORSHIP SERVICE

CHURCH SCHOOL

Brownie Troop 11914

Brownie Troop 64551

6

 

7

Monday

 

Tuesday

6:30 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

Ryan’s Group

PRAYER SHAWL MINISTRY

Girl Scout Leaders

BELL CHOIR

BOARD OF PROPERTIES

8

Wednesday

6:00 p.m.

6:30 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

Set-up for Men’s Club

AA

COUNCIL

9

Thursday

Noon

5:30 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

Hampshire Clergy

Men’s Club

CHOIR REHEARSAL

12

Sunday

10:00 a.m.

 

11:30 a.m.

WORSHIP SERVICE

CHURCH SCHOOL

NEW MEMBER CLASS

13

 

14

15

Monday

 

Tuesday

Wednesday

6:30 p.m.

8:00 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

6:30 p.m.

Ryan’s Group

Grange

BELL CHOIR

AA   

16

   

19

 

20

21

22

23

 

26

 

27

28

 

Thursday

 

Sunday

 

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

 

Sunday

 

Monday

Tuesday

7:00 p.m.

 

10:00 a.m.

 

2:00 p.m.

3:00 p.m.

6:00 p.m.   

7:00 p.m.

6:30 p.m.

9:00 a.m.    

7:00 p.m.

 

10:00 a.m.    

 

11:00 a.m.  

12:00 p.m.

6:30 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

 7:00 p.m.

CHOIR REHEARSAL

 

WORSHIP SERVICE

SUNDAY SCHOOL

Brownie Troop 12652

Brownie Troop

Ryan’s Group

BELL CHOIR

AA

Girl Scouts

CHOIR REHEASAL

 

WORSHIP SERVICE

CHURCH SCHOOL

POTLUCK LUNCH

ANNUAL MEETING

Ryan’s Group

BOARD OF DEACONS

BELLS

       

 

The Rooster Crows        JANUARY 2017

FROM THE PASTOR

“The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” – Psalm 126:3

Dear Friends,
    Happy New Year! A fresh New Year has begun. We start again with a clean slate full of possibilities, hope, wonder, and curiosity for how this year will unfold. What will happen in our lives and in our country? What will bring us happiness? What challenges will we face? What changes will surprise us? What joy will we find?
    During this holiday season, as I wished everyone a “Merry Christmas” and a “Happy New Year,” I found myself reflecting on the difference between happiness and joy. In the Merriam Webster Thesaurus happiness and joy are considered synonyms. At one time I would have agreed, but as life has unfolded I discovered they manifest differently.
    When I finished college and launched myself into the working world, I had plenty of ideas on what I thought I needed to be happy. My image of reaching the pinnacle of happiness was tied to living on the surface of life—having a beautiful home and family, a great career, and a wonderful life where nothing bad happened. My wall of happiness would protect me from all those bad andugly things that happened to other people—right? Okay, I was naïve.
     As it turned out happiness was frustratingly elusive. My go-to remedies for this elusiveness were buying some new clothes, watching funny movies, or weekend getaways. When the luster of newness wore off, the laughs died down, and the weekends ended, happiness would sometimes slip quietly out the back door. Feeling happy was a wonderful thing, but it came and went so quickly.
    Joy, on the other hand, was not something I chased after. It was something that showed up at the most peculiar times. Inexpressible joy sneaked up on me despite hardship or grief. Joy, I discovered, could do something happiness could not—it could sit comfortably with tragedy or sadness and offer hope where hope seemed impossible. I started calling those moments ofsurprising joy “God moments”—moments when God’s grace breaks in no matter what is going on.
    Alfred Delp, SJ, who was a German Jesuit, spent the last months of his life in prison for his anti-Nazi activities. While in prison he wrote about finding joy in the most unlikely place—a prison  cell shackled in chains. True happiness, or joy, he said, was considered a luxury in a place where one’s hands were fettered, one’s heart was full of longing, and one’s head was full of worries and problems. Yet, joy happened right there in the darkest of places—his entire being flooded with pulsating life and his heart could scarcely contain the delirious joy that swelled up. Without cause, his spirit would soar even though the hopelessness of his situation remained obvious. 1
    Joy is deeper and wider than happiness and does not depend on our outer circumstances or moods. Joy is born in us because of God’s amazing love for us. The deeper our relationship with God and those around us the more joy will be possible. The more we place our trust in God and live life with gratitude the more joy will flow toward us in unexpected ways.
    Yes, I wish you the happiest New Year possible, but I also wish you a joy-filled year. You will be happy and sad at some point during the coming year, but joy’s sweetness will find you even inthe darkest valleys. This year, may an abundance of God’s joy embrace you—especially when you least expect it. May your year be filled with “God moments!” Grace, peace, and joy, Rev. Christina

Upcoming Worship
January 8
– Epiphany & Communion Sunday
January 15 – What God has Done
Rev. Christina preaching on Isaiah 49:1-7 & Psalm 40
January 22 – Clear out the clutter – Being called
Rev. Christina preaching on Matthew 4:12-23
January 30 – Holy Humor Sunday (subject to change)

    CANCELLATION NOTICES
The inclement winter weather is upon us.  If we need to cancel a Sunday Service or other activities, you can find out about it in the following ways:
     Tune to TV channel 40 or 3
     Call the office (413-584-4117).  The message will be on the answering machine.  
     Check Facebook

“KEEPING FAITH AT END OF LIFE” PRESENTATION BY THE COOLEY DICKINSON HOSPITAL

A public forum to promote awareness and understanding of critical decisions, caregiving choices, and how our faith can guide us with end-of-life choices for loved ones

Tuesday, January 24, 2017, 7p.m. Fellowship Hall

    How will we respond when our family members are faced with a serious life-threatening illness and the medical system offers a baffling array of choices involving medications, life-sustaining treatment and interventions that might prolong life but possibly bring about greater suffering?  How do we understand and balance the quality of life, the sanctity of life and our freedom to choose according to our deeply held values and beliefs? What are our questions and concerns about caregiving for our loved ones nearing end of life?
    These are some of the questions to be discussed at a public forum on Tuesday, January 24 at the First Congregational Church in Hadley. The program will feature staff of the Cooley Dickinson VNA & Hospice and Palliative Care team.  Speakers will include Dr. Jeffrey Zesiger, Medical Director of the Cooley Dickinson Palliative Care program, Charlene Vinton, RN Case Manager at Cooley Dickinson Hospice and Ben Tousley, M.Div., Spiritual Counselor and Faith Community Outreach Coordinator for Cooley Dickinson Hospice.  Ample time for questions and comments from the audience will be provided.
    Participants will clarify the difference between hospice and palliative care, the advantages of seeking hospice care earlier rather than later, the importance of advanced directives and how faith and spiritual care play an important role in caregiving at end of life. 
    Dr. Zesiger will speak to how palliative care offers a more focused approach to serious illness such as cancer, liver disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cardiac disease.  In addition, he will discuss the new Massachusetts MOLST form, which gives people the ability to state the goals of their medical care as well as their wishes for advance care planning.  MOLST is an acronym that stands for Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment.
    Charlene Vinton will discuss hospice and palliative care services available at the VNA & Hospice and in the wider community and the advantages of exploring these services in a timely fashion.  “Like many other important decisions, it’s wise and helpful to get the advice and information we need early on so we’re not forced into a quick decision when a crisis presents itself,” she commented.
    Ben Tousley, a longtime hospice chaplain and spiritual counselor, now with Cooley Dickinson, summarized the spiritual dimensions of end of life care that the program  hopes to illuminate:  “Whether we’re caregivers to loved ones or hospice workers, we have the opportunity to be present as compassionate witnesses to what has not been broken, to the core of personhood which lives on—in simple language, to the soul.”
    While the program begins at 7 pm, doors will open at 6:45 pm.  All are welcome and handouts will be available.

To sign up for this informative event please contact Rev. Christina at 978-821-3149 or pastorchristina2846@gmail.com

Christian Education

We would like to thank everyone who made the pageant such a great success again this year.  Without your help, it wouldn't have been possible.  We had 26 participants and 109 congregants!  Thank you to Toni Wilcox for giving us her time and musical talents to help move the story along, thank you to Tom and Lisa West for creating a beautiful donkey and all of their work behind the scenes, thank you to Delores Harper for creating a beautiful bulletin, thank you to Rick and Mary Thayer for taking beautiful photographs and videoing the service, thank you to our real life shepherds Chip and Shari Parsons for bringing the pageant to life, and thank you to our stage hands, we wouldn't have been able to do it without you: Jean Baxter, Ben Andersen, Olivia Brighenti, Stephanie Nevin, and Emily Pease.  Also a BIG thank you to the parents for getting their kids to rehearsals and to the kids for being the wonderful stars of the show.

Starting January 8, we will dive into the new semester as we go deeper into our faith with our “Finding Jesus” theme. The sea contains many wondrous sights created by God. Over the course of the winter and spring we will go under the sea to take a closer look at God’s marvelous creation and explore all the sea can teach us about God. Grab your scuba gear and join us each week in SONday school for special “under the sea” snacks, games, crafts, and more!  You won’t want to miss out, so grab a friend and join us each week as we DIVE IN!

Please keep an eye out for a future announcement about a fun winter get together!
Lila West, Diana West, and Becky Smith on behalf of the Board of Christian Education

 

MANY THANKS FROM THE BOARD OF MISSIONS

    The Board of Missions would like to thank the congregation for participating in the Reverse Advent Project.  The generous donations to the Hadley Food Pantry and Church World Service kits are truly appreciated.  In addition, a significant collection of $180 to support Heifer International and the Child Fund will be sent as well.   
    The Board members are also grateful to the congregation for their Christmas gift donations for the children staying at Jessie’s House during this season.  Thank you all who donated!
    Each year the Board of Missions has the opportunity to allocate donations to local and international charities on behalf of First Church.  This year we choose to give to these organizations in need:  Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity, Service Net, Amherst Survival Center, Safe Passage, Not Bread Alone, Heifer International, Child Fund, Food Bank of Western MA, Cathedral in the Night Ministry, and the Hadley Food Pantry.  In addition to these organizations the congregation has given generously their monetary gifts, talents, time, and donation of items to many other charities in need throughout the year.

Many, many thanks!   “For it is in giving that we receive.”   St. Francis of Assisi

 

A THANK YOU FROM THE THAYER FAMILY               It is such a joy to belong to this church family. Thank you for your love, support, prayers and help during this time of Dick's passing. A special thank you to all who helped with the beautiful funeral service and reception. Dick sure loved this church, and this church loved him back.        

 

THANK YOU FROM CONNOR NEVIN     I would like to thank you all for the help and support with my Eagle Scout project.  I couldn’t have done it without you. Sincerely, Connor Nevin

COOKIE WALK AND PIEROGI SALE
     Thank you very much for all of you who participated in any way to make this year’s Cookie Walk and Pierogi Sale a success.  At last count, we raised approximately $2600!  To those hearty New Englanders that braved the weather to help with the sale or to get your cookies/pierogis, your spirit was appreciated.  We had fun throughout the entire process.  I look forward to next year’s creations!

PRAYER SHAWL MINISTRY
    The Prayer Shawl Ministry Group of knitters and crocheters will be meeting at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, February 6 at the church.   We will be working on prayer shawls or other items to donate to worthy causes.  We welcome new members and will be happy to instruct anyone who wishes to learn how to knit or crochet. Join us for good conversation and refreshments.

A PRAYER FOR OUR NATION
     “Our God and God of our ancestors: We ask Your blessings for our country, for its government, for its leaders and advisers, and for all who exercise just and rightful authority. Teach them insights from Your Torah* that they may administer all affairs of state fairly, that peace and security, happiness and prosperity, justice and freedom may forever abide in our midst.
     Creator of all flesh, bless all the inhabitants of our country with Your spirit. May citizens of all races and creeds forge a common bond in true harmony, to banish hatred and bigotry and to safeguard the ideals and free institutions that are the pride and glory of our country.
     May this land, under Your providence be an influence for good throughout the world, uniting all people in peace and freedom — helping them to fulfill the vision of Your prophet: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they experience war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4). And let us say: Amen.
*Torah -TheTorah, or Jewish Written Law, consists of the five books of the Hebrew Bible (known more commonly to non-Jews as the"Old Testament") that were given by God to Moses on Mt. Sinai and include within them all of the biblical laws of Judaism. The Torah is Judaism's most important text. It contains the Five Books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) and is the source of the Ten Commandments and the 613 mitzvoth (commandments).
     Recently I learned that on Saturdays in synagogues around the world, Jews recite “A prayer for Our Nation.” This prayer is said in every country in every language where Jews reside. A prayer for our country or our government is said by Australians, Chinese, Israeli, Canadian, French and Greek Jews. The interpretation for each country might vary, but the message remains true. It is a beautiful prayer.
     Rabbi Marc E. Berkson of the Congregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun in River Hills, Wisconsin, shares these thoughts about the prayer. “For while you might think the words a relatively recent addition to our liturgy by a Reform Judaism eager to please the rulers of the land in which we dwelt, such is not the case. The origins of this prayer go back, in fact, go way back, back over 2500 years, to the time of the Babylonian exile. Left behind in Jerusalem by the Babylonians who brought much of the rest of the city’s religious and political leadership back with them following their conquest of Jerusalem, the prophet Jeremiah put his life at risk as he brought God’s word to his people. Remaining in touch with the priests, prophets, and Jewish people living in Babylonian exile, Jeremiah conveyed to them God’s words to “seek the peace of the city to which I have exiled you and pray to the Eternal in its behalf; for in its prosperity you shall prosper.” We also know that when Alexander the Great came to Jerusalem intent on destroying it, he was met at its gates by Simon the Just who pleaded, “Will you, O mighty king, destroy the House [the Temple] wherein prayers are said for you and your kingdom that it never be destroyed?” Further evidence of the antiquity of this prayer comes from the Mishnah, from Pirke Avot 3:2, where Rabbi Hanina said, “Pray for the welfare of the government, for were it not for the fear thereof, one would swallow up alive another.”
     Whatever the reason–be it prudence, political appeasement, patriotism, or peace–we Jews have ever since prayed for the land in which we were settled. We find such prayers in prayer books dating back to the 14
th century, perhaps even back to the 11th and 12th centuries. So important was this prayer considered that it has traditionally been read not in Hebrew but in the vernacular immediately after the Torah reading yet prior to the return of the scrolls to the ark. Over the years, a traditional version of the prayer developed known by its opening words taken from the 11th verse of Psalm 144: “Ha-noten teshu’ah lamelahim, May the One Who gives salvation to kings and dominion to princes, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, who delivered his servant David from the hurtful sword…may He bless, guard, …and exalt… [and here one inserts the name of the appropriate king or prince or duly constituted leader]. May the supreme Ruler of Rulers in mercy exalt him…and inspire him…with benevolence toward us and all Israel….May the redeemer come to Zion. May this be God’s will, as we say, Amen.”
     Each Sunday we pray together the prayer Jesus taught us, saying “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9b–10). We are asking God to bring his wisdom and his love and the peace that exists in Heaven to Earth. Jesus himself taught this prayer and yet it seems like we are asking for the impossible, doesn’t it? Have you ever thought about this? How can God’s peace come to Earth?

The end of 2016 has tested our faith.
As 2017 dawns may we find a new strength in our faith.
May we find new ways to share our faith.
May we find new ways to live our faith.
May we find ways to mend relationships and
Forgive trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
May we find new ways to take pride in our faith, our church, our community, and our country.
As we start this new year let us be ever mindful of our many blessings.  
Let us renew our relationships with our faith and within First Church.  
Let us remember that who we are as First Church is who we touch and how.

And when we pray “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” may we earnestly be asking God to bring his wisdom and his love and the peace that exists in Heaven to Earth, to all of our Earth, to all leaders and their advisors of all countries. May we recognize our responsibility as Jesus’ followers. May Emmanuel, “the coming of God with us” be stronger than ever in 2017 as we continue to serve as Jesus’ taught us.

For the Lord is good;
    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations. - Psalm 100:5

Shared by Lisa West

References:
http://ceebj.org/rabbis-sermons/pray-for-america/
http://outtamymindwithworry.blogspot.com/2008/07/prayer-for-our-country.html

COUNCIL NOTES (December 14)

Boards and Committees were reminded Annual Reports need to be submitted by January 15 to have them copied before the annual meeting for members to review.  The Annual Meeting is scheduled for February 26, 2017.  

There will be an informational/review of the revised Congregational By-Laws on January 8, 2017 following the worship service.  A special All Congregational Meeting will be scheduled prior to the Annual Meeting for approval of the By-Laws.  Some of the changes will be implemented at the annual meeting.

The Clerk will request vacant positions from each board and committee before the January meeting.  A plan for recruiting new members for these positions will begin in January.  Although, many people were nominated on the floor at the Annual Meeting last year, asking people beforehand would be preferable.  

The Treasurer and Board of Finance are currently waiting for budget requests and pledge commitments from the congregation to plan for the Fiscal 2017 budget to present at the Annual Meeting.  Boards and Committees were reminded to submit requests.  It is important for people to submit their pledges so that the budget can be set accordingly.

Mary Thayer reported the Deacons planned the holiday worship services with Rev. Christina at their last meeting.  They are grateful Charity and Jasmine Delsie will play the harp during the Christmas Eve service.  The offering collected will be split between the Take & Eat Ministry and Craig’s Place. Communion will be offered on January 8, 2017 due to the first Sunday being New Year’s Day.

The Board of C.E. would like to thank everyone who helped to make the Christmas Pageant a success this year.  About 100 parishioners came to enjoy the festivities.  They had 26 children participants, 4 teen helpers, and special help from Toni Wilcox, Chip and Shari Parsons, Tom and Lisa West, Delores Harper, and Rick and Mary Thayer.  The Council praised the leadership of Lila West, Diana West and Becky Smith to make the pageant such a special event.

The Board of C.E. and Rev. Christina have posted the C.E. Director position to seven different websites associated with the UCC and Christian Ed and on SchoolSpring.com, an online job resource for those in the education field.  Unfortunately, they haven’t had any applications yet.

The Board of C.E. is continuing to explore ideas and options to have a “Shelter-In-Place” to keep the youth safe during church school.

The Board of C.E. doesn’t think they will have a CE Director in place by January, therefore they have asked a few different people to teach throughout the winter.  They have ordered curriculum called “Finding Jesus” and our hope is to make teaching as easy as possible for people.  They hope to keep the momentum going that Melissa Aloisi started.

Two In-kind gifts were submitted for Board of Finance approval – Foos Ball table for CE and an Emergency Evacuation Chair.  Each have been approved by CE and Properties as appropriate. Final approval was given by Council members.  Approved In-Kind Gift Forms will be kept on file in the office.  Before items are donated to the church this new process needs to be followed.

The Board of Finance received documents from the attorney who is handling Kay Reichert’s estate.  It is close to being settled and the church shall receive the gift after the court’s approval.

Tom West reported on a few items/ projects the Board of Properties are working on. The accessible restroom is nearly complete; exploring options for new dining room drapes; replacing the bell rope; settling a new contract for landscape/snow removal company; and preparing budget request.

The Board pf Properties is also hoping to have the main body of the church painted in 2017, which will be a large financial expense.  There is money in the Painting Fund but may not be enough since the cost of painting the windows is quite high.

The Board of Properties will put the newly acquired emergency chair in the back-corner pew of the sanctuary.  They hope to have some training with a few Deacons and members of the church who are willing to assist if there is an emergency during worship service.

Caryn Perley reported for the Missions Committee. The Reverse Advent project was a great success.  The congregation generously donated several items to the Hadley Food Pantry and Church World Service kits and a significant collection of $280 to support Heifer International and the Child Fund was appreciated as well. The Board of Missions is also grateful to the congregation for their Christmas gift donations for the children staying at Jessie’s House during this season.  

Rev. Christina is excited to begin the confirmation classes beginning in January with 5-6 students following the “make-your-own-pizza party” on December 18.  Confirmation Sunday is scheduled for May 7, 2017.

Weekly worship attendance has risen, but that could be due to the pageant, or as Rev. Christina read in an article the UCC posted, many mainline protestant churches are experiencing an uptick in church attendance since the election. She hopes we will pray that more people find their way to this church to find God and community here.

Rev. Christina reflected with appreciation - The funeral for Dick Thayer was a beautiful event and it couldn’t have been done without all the generous outpouring of help from the people at this church. She was amazed and grateful for everyone making it such a memorable day for the Thayer family.

On January 24 at 7 p.m., Dr. Jeffrey Zesiger, Medical Director of the Cooley Dickinson Palliative Care program, Charlene Vinton, RN Case Manager at Cooley Dickinson Hospice and Ben Tousley, M.Div., Spiritual Counselor and Faith Community Outreach Coordinator for Cooley Dickinson Hospice will be leading a workshop on “Keeping Faith at the End of Life.” It will be a public forum to promote awareness and understanding of critical decisions, caregiving choices and how our faith can guide us when caring for family members faced with a life-threatening illness. Other churches are being invited and an in-depth description of this workshop will run in the local papers.

As a member of the Hampshire Executive committee, Rev. Christina reported that they are trying to find more ways to better serve the churches in the Hampshire Association. They now have a Facebook page to keep Hampshire Association churches informed of what the conference and other area churches are doing. The Facebook page will also list upcoming workshops that they will be sponsoring, including the March 11 Leadership Workshop.

The next Church Council Meeting is scheduled for January 11, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. at the church.

JANUARY 2017 CALENDAR

1

Sunday

9:30 a.m.

CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST

 

 

10:00 a.m.

2:30 p.m.

3:00 p.m.

WORSHIP SERVICE

Brownie Troop 11914

Brownie Troop 64551

2

Monday

6:30 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

Ryan’s Group

PRAYER SHAWL MINISTRY

Girl Scout Leaders

3

Tuesday

4:30 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

Hampshire Assoc. Ex. Committee

BELL CHOIR

DEACONS

BOARD OF PROPERTIES

4

 

5

6

7

Wednesday

 

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

6:30 p.m.

 

7:00 p.m.

4:30 p.m.

8:00 a.m.

AA

BOARD OF CHRISTIAN ED

CHOIR REHEARSAL

PREP FOR TAKE AND EAT

TAKE AND EAT

8

Sunday

10:00 a.m.

 

11:15 a.m.

2:00 p.m.

WORSHIP SERVICE

CHURCH SCHOOL

BYLAW FOLLOWUP

Brownie Troop 12652

9

 

10

Monday

 

Tuesday

6:30 p.m.

8:00 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

Ryan’s Group

Grange

BELL CHOIR

11

Wednesday

6:00 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

Set-up for Men’s Club

AA

COUNCIL

12  

Thursday

6:00 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

Men’s Club

CHOIR REHEARSAL

15

Sunday

10:00 a.m.

 

3:00 p.m.

WORSHIP SERVICE

CHURCH SCHOOL

Girl Scout Troop 64551

16

17

18

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

6:30 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

6:30 p.m.

Ryan’s Group

BELL CHOIR

AA   

 

19     

 

22

23

24

 

25

26

29

 

31  

Thursday

 

Sunday

Monday

Tuesday

 

Wednesday

Thursday

Sunday

 

Tuesday

7:00 p.m.

.

 10:00 a.m.

6:00 p.m.   

6:30 p.m.

   7:00 p.m.

   7:00 p.m.

 6:30 p.m.

 7:00 p.m.

10:00 a.m.

 

7:00 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

CHOIR REHEARSAL

WORSHIP SERVICE

CHURCH SCHOOL

Pomona Grange

Ryan’s Group

BELL CHOIR

Presentation by Cooley Dickinson Hospital

AA

CHOIR REHEARSAL

WORSHIP SERVICE

CHURCH SCHOOL

BOARD OF DEACONS

BELLS

The Rooster Crows        DECEMBER 2016

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 KJV 

The annual Christmas Pageant presented by the Church School students will be held during the worship service on December 11th. All are welcome to attend and children up through the 8th grade are welcome to participate! A special Fellowship Hour will follow the service to celebrate Jesus’s birthday.  If you know of someone who would like to participate, please contact Lila West, lilawest87@gmail.com, or Diana West, dmabelwest@gmail.com.

All are welcome to join us for the Christmas Eve Worship Service of Lessons, Carols and Special Music at 7:00 pm on December 24.

On Christmas morning, there will be an informal service at 8:30 AM in the dining room. Rev. Christina will read a story, and carols and hymns will be sung.

The worship service on Jan 1st, will include: a continental breakfast, a brief pastoral message, hymns and carols and will be held in the dining room.

FROM THE PASTOR
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.  John 1: 5, 9

Dear Friends,
     The season of Advent has begun. It is the season of trying to chase the darkness away by stringing up lights around our homes and our towns to cheer us. It is the season we rush around madly to buy gifts for everyone on our list and attend all the parties we have been invited to. It is a busy time here at church as well, with the cookie making for the cookie walk, pageant and choir rehearsals, and getting ready for our church Christmas party and the Christmas Eve service. We get so caught up in the whirlwind of busyness that we forget it is even Advent. We are so focused on getting ready for the big day—Christmas—we lose touch with the meaning of Advent.
     Advent is a time of anticipation and hope for the coming of Christ’s light, and how it will become real in our hearts, our country, and our world. Advent is a time of longing for God’s presence to be made real in this world.
     This year Advent is taking on a new meaning for me—it is a time of waking up and taking an honest look at the world. We have just come out of a stressful election season and it is shocking to see a rise in hate crimes in its aftermath. I feel shaken by these events and mourn for those whom these crimes are targeted against. It is precisely into this kind of brokenness that the promise of Advent comes. Advent is meant to wake us up from the slumber of helplessness, anxiety, sorrow, fear, and hatred to the blessedness of God’s promise to be among and with us.
     Instead of Advent being a time of rushing around getting ready for Christmas, maybe we can slow down a bit and do something different to observe Advent this year. What would it be like to offer a present of our presence to others as God gifted us with God’s presence through Jesus? One of Jesus’ greatest gifts was the gift of his personal presence. Jesus did not give material gifts because they only held one’s interest for a season. His gave enduring gifts like the belief in self, inner healing, peace of mind, compassion, forgiveness, dignity, and justice—the gifts that were most sorely needed in people’s broken lives and in the world.
     We need those gifts now more than ever and each of us has the ability to give them with our presence. So this Advent season let us share the present of our presence every day with someone. It may be through a phone call, a handwritten letter, or a visit. It may be through prayer as we focus love, healing, and attention toward those who need God’s strength, courage, and hope in these difficult times.
     If you are not certain you can find a person to be present with every day between now until Christmas, here are some ideas.
     Be with someone who needs you.
     Be with someone who gives you hope.
     Be with those who live in terror or fear.
     Be with an older person.
     Be with a Black, Latino or Latina person.
     Be with a person who helped you grow.
     Be with someone who is in pain.
     Be with yourself.
     Be with a refugee.
     Be with a woman who wears a hijab.
     Be with an enemy or someone you dislike.
     Be with someone who has a terminal illness.
     Be with an immigrant.
     Be with someone who suffers from substance abuse.
     Be with a person experiencing homelessness or poverty.
     Be with a hungry child.
     Be with a coworker.
     Be with a neighbor.
     Be with someone in your family.
     Be with your Muslim neighbor.
     Be with someone who has lost hope.
     Be with a person who is LGBTQ.
     Be with someone in prison.
     Be with those who are abused and neglected.
     Be with those who are bullied.
     Be with your loved ones.
The list is endless, and the gift of your presence will endure beyond any material gift you could offer. When you give a present of your presence, you offer the light and hope of Christ’s love—you offer the healing power of Emmanuel’s presence. May God bless all the ways you offer the gift of your presence this Advent season. Grace and peace, Rev. Christina

Dear Friends,
If you have been deeply affected by this election season and all that has happened in its aftermath, I invite you to call me to share your thoughts and concerns. You do not have to walk this journey alone. Of course, I am always available anytime you feel the need to talk, but this election has taken its toll and may have added anxiety and uncertainty to your life that was not there before. My door is always open. Rev. Christina

WALKING THROUGH ADVENT BIBLE STUDY — WEDNESDAYS AT NOON IN DECEMBER
Advent is a time of hope, anticipation, and wonder as we wait for Jesus’ light to come into the world once again. Journey deeper into the meaning of Advent this year by attending this three-week Bible study that will contemplate the themes and meaning of Advent. Bring your bagged lunch and join us for this noontime Advent Bible study as we creatively encounter God’s presence this time of year through scripture, different activities, questions, and prayer. Sessions will go from 12 p.m. to about 1:30 p.m. Dec. 7  – Waking into Advent,  Dec. 14 – Welcomed and Prepared, Dec. 21 – Stirring the Spirit Please contact Rev. Christina at pastorchristina2846@gmail.com or 978-821-3149 if you would like to sign up.

DEACONS' NOTE
     When I was reminded that it was my turn to write our monthly note, I shuddered at the thought.  The response to our supposedly peaceful transition of government has been anything but peaceful in a time when we are approaching the season of Advent.  Inspiration was needed to pull me out of dreary November into a light-filled December.  The words of the author Oren Arnold provided that inspiration.  "Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect."
     But, there is no need to limit these gift ideas to one day or one month.  The season of Advent needs to be year-round.  We, as Christians, are not just a Christmas people; we are a people of hope, peace, joy, and love every day.  Perhaps the next month may bring peace in our nation and our world, but I doubt it.  I pray that it will, however, bring all of us an inner peace that will last us until the next Advent season so that we may continually remember to give the gifts that Mr. Arnold suggested.  Merry Christmas, Shari Parsons

YOU’RE INVITED - Remember all the fun, good food and laughs that we had at our annual Adults Christmas Party last year.  Once again we are planning a great evening on Saturday night, December 10th, 6:00 at the church with a planned, potluck and Yankee Swap. The evening will start at 6:00 p.m. with punch, nibbles and good conversation. Then it's on to the dining room for a great meal.  The main course will be provided.  Each person/ family is asked to bring either vegetable, salad or dessert to complete the meal.  Following the meal we will again enjoy a Yankee Swap and lots of laughs as we open, exchange (and exchange again) "gifts."  Each person is asked to bring a wrapped item - the price not to exceed $10.00 for this "swap."  The gift can be new or used - a "white elephant," a gag gift - a serious gift or whatever you come up with.  Will some of the gifts from the previous years appear again? The cost for a wonderful evening of fun, fellowship and good food is just $7.50 per person. Reservations are a must and can be made with Ken Parker (at that time please specify what category of food you are bringing).  Any questions, speak with Judy and Ken Parker.

The BOARD OF MISSIONS APPRECIATES YOUR GENEROSITY
     In December, the Board of Missions will sponsor the “Angel Tree.” This project gives the congregation the opportunity to give a Christmas gift to a child who is staying at Jessie’s House, the family shelter in Amherst.  We appreciate Judy Stone’s help in coordinating this project.  Gift ideas will be available at coffee hour starting December 4, 2016.
We are an open and welcoming community, guided by love, hope and Christian tradition, dedicated to serving God, as we contribute to making a better world.”
     During the month of November families, friends and members of the First Congregational Church of Hadley truly contributed to making a better world by generously giving their time, talents, and gifts to those in need.  During the 5th Sunday Worship & Serve, they participated in a variety of service projects including preparing and serving a meal for the Cathedral in the Light Ministry, carving jack-o-lanterns to share with the residents at Jessie’s House, singing in the home of one of our senior members in addition to choosing a charity to support with the “Reverse Advent Project.”  Participants in this project will donate one item each day from November 1 to December 1, for a charitable organization.  For example, one non-perishable item each day for the Hadley Food Pantry, or one school supply for a Church World Service School Kit, or one item for CWS Hygiene Kit, or one penny, dime, quarter or dollar a day to support 2-year old, Yoselin, from Guatemala through Child Fund, or a daily donation for Heifer International.  The donations and collections will be blessed during the worship service on December 4, 2016, however we will accept gifts through December. Thank you for “making a better world”!

THE COOKIE WALK AND PIEROGI SALE IS HERE AGAIN!
     What is a cookie walk?  Members of the congregation bake cookies, sell tickets and cookie lovers walk around tables that are set up with trays of different varieties of cookies.  They select the varieties that they like and fill up a container that we provide.  A pre-set price is determined for the package of cookies.  This is a fundraiser and a way for those non-baking, busy members of the community to have or give cookies away at Christmastime.  We will also be selling cheese and potato pierogi - a Polish favorite at Christmastime.
     Here are the details of our Cookie Walk…
Date:  Saturday, December 17, 2016, Time:  9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Cost:  $12/per container (approximately 2 1/2 dozen homemade cookies), $12 /dozen of jumbo pierogi (frozen)
     We are looking for volunteers to bake cookies, join us at a baking night on Friday, December 16, 2016, starting at 6:00 p.m., to donate ingredients and work the event.
At Baking Day and Night at the church we will make nine varieties of cookies some of which are:
     Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies, Cherry Lemon Crowns, Fudge Crinkles, Heath Bar Cookies.
Volunteer Bakers: Christmas themed Cookies are needed. Some ideas are: Black and White Cookies,Gingerbread Cookies,Decorated Sugar Cookies, Peanut Butter with Kisses, Chocolate Cookies, Thumbprint cookies,Shortbread cookies or bites
We need 25 bakers to make 6 dozen cookies (about 2-3 batches)

  1. Cookies you bake should be Christmas themed and traditional flavors.  Please be sure to bake cookies that can stack easily and not get stuck – try to avoid sticky tops. 
  2. Please provide a label of the cookies that you made
  3. If you use nuts in your recipe, please indicate so, as we will have a separate table that holds cookies with nuts
  4. If appropriate to the cookie, please make the cookies on the smaller size so that guests can pack cookies neatly
  5. Please deliver cookies to Kara’s House (173 Bay Road) on Thursday, December 15 from 6:00- 8:00 p.m. or to the church on Friday, December 16 from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. or on Saturday, December 17 from 7:30- 8:30 a.m.
    We will also need Servers and Runners at the Walk and Set up and Clean-up Crews.
    Volunteer Sign-up sheets will be at Fellowship Hour or you can contact Kara Kapinos or Delores Harper

We are looking to have church members sell tickets – there will be no advertising as tickets must be pre-sold.  Because of inventory, we are not encouraging walk-ins.  Tickets will be available for sale after Thanksgiving.  Our goal is to sell 125 tickets!   Please make a list of your cookie and pierogi lovers and sell some tickets. This is a really fun event for all ages, join us!

MUSIC NOTES
“Sleigh-bells ring – Are you listening?” …. Well, actually, our hand-bells will be ringing each Sunday during Advent, and on Christmas Eve!

“O Come, All Ye Faithful”…Join in each week, as we sing our favorite songs of the season, in place of the Prelude!

“O, Holy Night”…Advent leads us to celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas Eve. 

“Hark, the Herald Angels Sing”…wait a minute, it should be…Hark – the people of First Church Hadley sing! 

 SONDAY SCHOOL & YOUTH NEWS
     It has been a great semester focusing on how "Jesus is My Rock".  We have had fun climbing into the Bible and deepening our faith together. Each week we have located and read a different bible story. We then literally climbed into each lesson with a hands on activity such as putting on the Armor of God, building a House Upon the Rock, defeating Goliath,  learning about the Last Supper and receiving communion on World Communion Sunday, breaking open Sand Dollar's to discover the legend, tricking the Congregation with our Halloween skit, singing and much more!  
     To finish this semester's theme, we will be going on an adventure together and having a Lock-In at the Central Rock Gym here in Hadley, Saturday, Dec 17, 8 p.m. through Sunday, Dec 18, 8 a.m.! YES, 12 hours of fun! We will be recapping the semester with your church friends, learning to climb, boulder, play games, share food, and hopefully get some sleep. We will also be selling our "Jesus Is My Rock" glow in the dark water bottles for $5 during coffee hour to help support this adventure. More details, sign up sheet, and permission slips will be available soon.
     Sunday, Dec. 18, will be the final lesson of 2016 where we will "Rock On" and sing Christmas hymns and carols.   There will be NO SONday school on Christmas Day or New Year's Day, Dec 25, or Jan 1, but will resume on Jan 8, 2017, with a new semester theme!
     I am proud to share that our children's ministry program has more than doubled in size this year and we have a baby in the nursery again!   It has been an honor and blessing serving as the Interim Church School Coordinator. God Bless, Melissa Aloisi

BOARD OF PROPERTIES
     We are pleased to report that our new unisex handicapped accessible restroom is nearly finished and ready for use. Only a few final touches are left to complete. A special thanks to Tom West, Kurt Betchick, Steve Robertson and Norm Barstow for working to complete this much needed project.
     USE OF THE CHURCH ROOMS AND FACILITIES:  In the course of a month we have many groups that meet in the church building. If you rearrange a room to better suit your meeting needs, we require that each group put the room back the way it was found so that it will be ready for the next group that will be using the room. When you leave the building, turn off the lights and lock the door(s). Be sure your date is on the calendar so that it does not conflict with another scheduled event.
     SAFETY CONCERNS: Three to four times a month we find at least one door in the sanctuary balcony open indicating that someone has been up in the balcony. These are “fire doors” and we need to keep them closed. We are very concerned about children being alone in the balcony and possibly falling over the railing to the floor that is ten feet below. Adults in charge of children must keep them on the first floor and second floor classrooms or in the basement youth room. The sanctuary and balcony are off-limits unless children are accompanied by an adult.
     Anyone planning to use the kitchens for a special event is required to contact Lila West or Lisa West for instructions regarding the appliances and tools.  Because of the gas stove and ovens’ age and safety concerns no one should be using the stove top or ovens unless they have been specifically trained. Thank you for keeping our church orderly and safe.

KNIT/CROCHET GROUP
The knit/crochet group will be meeting at the Church at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, December 5th, for our annual Christmas party.  In addition to working on projects we will be exchanging small gifts ($5 limit) and enjoying refreshments provided by Delores Harper.  We welcome new participants and will be happy to offer instruction to anyone who would like to learn to knit or crochet.  Come join us for a relaxing evening of fellowship.

CONGREGATIONAL COVENANT TASK GROUP
The Church Council is looking for a few volunteers interested in joining a task group to help facilitate the development of a congregational covenant based on the current draft.  This covenant will help set a level platform for speech and discussions as a church.  This group will work with Rev. Christina to develop a new draft of the covenant to present to the congregation for approval.  Please contact, Rev. Christina or Moderator, Randy Izer if you may be interested.

BYLAWS-REVIEW TASK GROUP
     Changes to our current bylaws will be voted on at the congregational meeting scheduled for January 8, immediately after worship.  After over a year of work, the task group feels that it has met the challenge and addressed the problem areas.
     A complete copy of the bylaws incorporating the proposed changes will be posted soon on the website so that members may familiarize themselves with them. ~ Ruth Morse, Kurt Betchick, Lisa West

Church Council Highlights from the November 2, 2016, Meeting:

  • On Christmas morning, there will be an informal service at 8:30 AM in the dining room. Rev. Christina will read a story, and carols and hymns will be sung.
  • On Jan 1st, the Sunday Service after Christmas: continental breakfast, brief pastoral message, hymns and carols will be held in the dining room.
  • Fall Festival: Debbie and Rick Ward expressed their appreciation for all those who volunteered in some way, a total of 75 people, to make the Fall Festival a success.  The Festival made $4657.42 to date.  This total was about $600 less than last year partly due to not selling the golumbkis.  The Council expressed their sincere gratitude to Debbie and Rick as they stepped down as coordinators with a recommendation to explore other ideas for another type of fundraiser for next fall.
  • By-laws Task Group:  The group has scheduled an informal meeting following the worship service on January 8, 2017 for the Congregation to discuss the proposed revised by-laws.
  • Sign Task Group:  Mara Breen has been contacting members to join the sign task group.  She will submit the members to the council in December for approval.
  • Stewardship:  Lila West from the Stewardship Committee shared some ideas to make the task of sending stewardship letters out to members and friends a little easier.  Lila is willing to be the chair of the committee with help of David Storey; however new members need to be recruited to explore resource development and giving opportunities.
  • Annual Meeting:  The Church Council scheduled the Annual Meeting for February 26 following the worship service and a potluck lunch.
  • Email Announcements:  Mary Thayer reminded board and committees that announcements need to be submitted to Delores on Wednesday for weekly email announcements. Also, not to assume since the information is in the Rooster that it will be sent as an email announcement.
  • The Board of Christian Education hosted a very successful skating party at Interskate 91, 19 kids participated.  In November, they will be preparing for the Christmas Pageant, by encouraging all children to participate and join the rehearsals each Sunday through the pageant date of December 11.
  • Diana West presented the revised Church School Director job description after reviewing it with the Board of Finance.  Rev. Christina has five places to post the position and suggested it be posted on the website as well.  
  •  Five students will be participating in confirmation classes and activities:  Ben Andersen, Olivia     Brighenti, Justin Ciaglo, Stephanie Nevin, and Emily Pease.  Unfortunately, the kick-off retreat has fallen through as they are all busy, so Christina is hoping to have some other get-together before the class officially starts next year.
  • The Board of C.E. is exploring how to move forward with “Shelter-in-Place”.  They will consider what other churches in the area are doing and what the UCC and Interfaith recommends.  More will be discussed in regards to this issue at future Council meetings.
  • The treasurer reported the income has been very good to meet the budget expenses.  She distributed budget request to each board and committee.  The Board of Finance is requesting each board and committee be thoughtful when submitting their budget request for next year. The financial situation for next year will most likely have a short fall since the Operating Reserve Fund will be mostly gone; although, the endowment will be greater since our funds are doing well. The Board of Finance will submit an article to the Rooster explaining this short fall and encourage higher pledges and seek other ideas for other fundraising events.
  • The Board of Finance is hosting two fundraising events that typically profit $2500, the Cookie Walk & Pierogi Sale on December 17. 
  • The Board of Properties reported the handicapped accessible bathroom is about 2/3rds complete. They will be doing some preparations around the church for the upcoming winter and are under contract for winter snow plowing and sidewalk clearing & sanding.
  • The Board of Properties will be doing a performance evaluation with Bryan Harper, Custodian.
  • The Board of Missions reported that about 60 people attended the 5th Sunday Worship & Serve Sunday and participated in the service projects.   A few folks from the choir went to John & Heidi Allen’s home to sing, a group took the prepared meal to Cathedral in the Light and the jack-o-lanterns that were carved were appreciated at Jessie’s House
  • The “Reverse Advent” project will continue until December 4, when a blessing of the gifts will be part of the worship service.  Many congregants, friends and families are participating in this meaningful project.
  • Rev. Christina has been working with the Shepherds to coordinate visits with members of our church. 
  • On January 24, Ben Tonsley will lead a workshop with possibly a doctor and nurse to share information on elder care, spiritual care and hospice care.  Rev. Christina would like to form a support group and/or “buddy system” for members to join as they deal with this specific issue.
  • The next Council meeting is scheduled for December 14, 2016, at 7:00 p.m. at the church.

The Rooster Crows        NOVEMBER 2016

Note from our Pastor

“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.”  – Psalm 42:1

Dear Friends,
      Dr. Henry Cloud, a clinical director at a Christian psychiatric hospital, gathered with the staff weekly to review how patients were doing with their treatment. He appreciated these meetings because they were a rich time of celebrating patient’s successes and breakthroughs or being deeply concerned over their difficulties and misfortunes. However, when it came time to talk about Maddie the staff’s positive outlook evaporated. She was a difficult person to like—something was always wrong with everyone and everything. In time, it became clear that Maddie had no interior life. She had no interest in reflecting on her attitudes, hurts, or spiritual life. She was unaware of her strengths or patterns of thinking and behaving. She was unable to trust and take risks. The staff agreed they had to find ways to help Maddie develop and embrace an interior life.[1]
     At various points in our lives we lose touch with our interior life. While we may not have a clinical problem like Maddie, every now and then issues bubble up from the deepest part of our souls that we have managed to ignore. Sometimes we forget we have a soul inside us that thirsts for God like a deer pants for flowing streams. Not tending to our interior life, or soul, can leave us feeling empty, lost, angry, or disconnected.
     Jesus knew a thing or two about soul tending. Before his ministry even got off the ground, he took off to the desert for forty days and forty nights to starve his body so he could tend to his soul. As he weakened physically he gained strength spiritually. A soul centered in God, he knew, would strengthen him for any temptation or challenge.
     When life gets uber busy, soul tending can be the first to go. When I was busy with seminary, being a single mother, and working, my meditation practice took a nosedive. I convinced myself that my half hour of meditation time was better spent earning some money or making last-minute edits to a paper. By neglecting my interior life my soul connection with God got swept away by all the busyness and I felt unmoored.
     There is a saying attributed to Saint Francis de Sales that I love, “A half an hour’s meditation each day is essential, except when you are busy. Then a full hour is needed.” It is precisely when our lives get over-the-top busy or challenging we most need a deeper connection to God to keep us centered.
     When Jesus felt the need to attend to his interior life he retreated from the clamoring crowds to pray and center himself. It can be so challenging to withdraw from our busy lives long enough to feel like we have connected with God in a meaningful way. But if you intentionally find moments throughout your day to be grateful, bless others, pray on the fly, and deeply breathe in the Holy Spirit then you will go inside just long enough to reconnect with God. However brief those intentional moments are they can be deeply nourishing.
     Soul tending is not just something we do alone—it is something we do together in community. Every time we come to church on Sundays we tend to our souls. Every time we come together to pray, knit, sing, or study the Bible our soul feels a closer connection to its Divine Source. Every time we gather in the kitchen to make a meal for Take and Eat or Cathedral in the Night/Light our souls are fed with the Living Bread.
     What is so wonderful about being a part of our church community is that when we come to church to do some soul tending we actually end up tending to the souls of others who in turn nourish us with their gratitude and blessing. Round and round we go, continually tending and blessing one another.  And my friends, it does not get any better than that. May we always be thankful for the soul gifts we give and receive by being a part of this amazing church community.
      In Christ’s love, Rev. Christina

[1] John Ortberg. Soul Keeping. ”Forward.” 9-11.

Thank you from our Pastor

     No words can express the gratitude I feel for all who made the installation service and reception so memorable and beautiful. My biggest thanks goes to the Search Committee and Toni Wilcox for giving their time and dedication to planning and organizing the service and reception. I also want to thank Delores Harper for her support and keeping the office going during a busy time. Lastly, even though everyone’s names cannot be listed here, I am grateful to everyone who prepared a dish, sang in the choir, rang a bell, offered childcare, set up the hall, decorated the sanctuary, parked cars, cleaned up, and ushered. People from outside the church are still saying what a nice event it was—and it is because of the joy and dedication you always bring to being a welcoming church.
     I also want to thank you for the gifts that were presented to me at the installation. I was deeply moved and humbled by your amazing generosity. It is because of your generous, dedicated, and welcoming spirit that I am proud to be your pastor and teacher.
     Many blessings, Rev. Christina

ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE”  STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN FOR 2017
     The season of Thanksgiving is upon us once again, and, as we look at our lives, we find there are so many things to be grateful for. It goes without saying that as we look back over this past church year, we find that once again we have been enriched with the many gifts and talents of our congregation. These many blessings are not something we take for granted.
     As I write this letter about our annual stewardship campaign, I am moved by the many gifts and the many ways in which all of you have given. Personally, I want to thank you, as I feel it is a privilege to be a member of such a giving community. The good news is that we all can celebrate each other’s gifts to our church because we are financially solid.  We maintain a strong foundation with our budget and our investments, and we have been able to successfully complete the work of our church’s mission this year.  That is the MBA in me talking!
     As for the spiritual me; the community member, the volunteer, the observer of good work; I see how the many wonderful things we do to support each other and our wider community in and around Hadley and the world has an impact.  I feel proud when I can tout to others all the good our congregation does.  It is even more gratifying when people outside our church know of our good work.
     Many of our church’s committees are beginning to make plans for 2017.  At the October Council meeting we discussed the many exciting goals and plans for the various committees.  There is great energy to make an impact beyond what we are currently doing. The creativity, dedication and thoughtfulness are never ending.  It is very exciting! I often think that our gifts to the First Congregational Church of Hadley are the best ‘deal’ around.  There is nothing I can buy that makes me feel better than giving to the church and I am deeply grateful to give.
     Please help by prayerfully considering your pledge this year.  You will be receiving your appeal letter and pledge card in the first week of November.  Stewardship Kickoff will be on Sunday, November 20, and the Blessing of the Pledges will take place in worship on December 4. During this Thanksgiving season, I humbly ask you to search deeply for all the ways in which you feel grateful for our church as you contemplate your pledge for this coming year. May our church continue to be blessed by all of you.   Kara Kapinos, Chair

DEACON’S NOTE
     This year we will celebrate All Saints’ Day on November 6, selected because it is the first Sunday falling on or after November 1.  I decided to do a little research about this celebration. A number of interesting facts were found and will be summarized briefly on this page. Particularly interesting were the discoveries that All Saints’ Day is actually part of a triduum (a three day period of prayer) called Hallomass or Allhallowtide in Western Christian observances, and that All Saints’ Day is celebrated globally in all Christian denominations, but the exact date varies considerably between Western and Eastern Christian tradition and even slightly among different Western Christian churches.
     The Hallomass or Allhallowtide triduum includes All Saints’ Eve or Halloween, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day and in most instances spans the period October 31 to November 2. It is a “time to remember the dead, including martyrs, saints and all faithful departed Christians.” Halloween was traditionally observed as a prelude to the feast day following.  From early times it included putting on costumes or masks to prevent recognition by the departed souls. There is controversy about whether or not it was absorbed from early Celtic, pre-Christian harvest festivals called Samhain, which also honored the dead. Regardless of its origin, it has morphed over time into the secular holiday that we all recognize as the time for “trick or treating.”
     All Saints’ Day falls on November 1 in the Roman Catholic Church and has been a Holy Day of Obligation in that church since 835. It celebrates all those who have been recognized officially as holy martyrs or saints. The celebration was retained after the Reformation in 1517 which followed from Martin Luther’s statements that were the impetus for the development of Protestant churches.  Therefore, Protestant churches also recognize All Saints’ Day. However, Protestants generally recognize all Christians as saints, and therefore give recognition to all those who have died that are members of the local church congregation.  Some Protestants spread the umbrella even further. In our First Church, we pay recognition to all those known to us who have died in the last year, even if they are not members of our church. The names of those who have died in the last year are read, and a bell is tolled after the reading of each name. We recognize All Saints’ Day on the first Sunday in November, so it could be any day between November 1 and November 7. Most other Protestant denominations follow some variation of this practice, although some do not celebrate All Saints’ Day.
     All Souls’ Day is November 2, or occasionally November 3, in the Roman Catholic Church. It is not a Holy Day of Obligation. On that day, all departed Christians are honored in a separate ceremony. Most Protestant churches combine the All Saints’ and All Souls’ celebrations in a single day.
     Eastern Christians, including Eastern Catholics(Eastern Europe, Middle East and North Africa) and Eastern Orthodox churches (mainly Eastern Europe, including Greece and Russia),  celebrate All Saints’ Sunday on the first Sunday after Pentecost. Since Pentecost is the fiftieth day after Easter, that puts their All Saints’ celebrations in May. They commemorate all saints collectively.
     In many countries of the Western world, flowers or lighted candles are placed at the graves of deceased relatives on All Saints’ Day or on the following All Souls’ Day. In Mexico, All Saints’ Day on November 1 is the first day of the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) celebration, with festivals and other lively activities. In Portugal, children celebrate the Dia de Todos os Santos on November 1 by going door-to-door, where they receive gifts of cake, nuts, fruits and sweets. In the Philippines, Hallomass  on November 1 is celebrated with many types of offerings at the graves, and many people spend all day and into the night there with reunions involving music, games and feasting.
     The All Saints’ Day celebration is a rather brief occasion within our church. It is not the only way that we recognize and honor the memory of those who are no longer with us. Memorial Day and other secular observances come to mind. But during our brief celebration on November 6 this year, we might reflect that we are following a long-time custom that is shared globally with nearly all other Christians. - Dave Storey

CHRISTIAN EDUCATION
The First Congregational Church of Hadley, Massachusetts seeks a part-time Christian Education Director
to further develop vibrant and engaging Sunday School and Youth programs. We are looking for an individual who will bring energy and innovative ideas to help grow our Christian Education program. We seek someone who will be a role model for the children and youth, and is passionate about planting the seeds of faith.

SONDAY SCHOOL NEWS
     We have been having some great fun with our school theme: "Jesus is my Rock". We have had a skating party and kids helped run Carnival games on our front lawn during our annual Fall Festival.  Now we will turn our focus to the Christmas Pageant rehearsals during November, with the Pageant taking place on December 11, 2016
     Families please remember to check the Weekly Email Blast, Church Facebook page, and on Sundays there will be Youth announcements in the bulletin. Plus each Sunday kids should come home with a Review Sheet to share what they learned in class that day including the story so they can reread the story at home in their Bibles.   

Youth News: SAVE THE DATE 12/17!
     Saturday, December 17, Christian Ed will be hosting a FREE 24-hour Lock-In at Central Rock Gym in Hadley to celebrate reaching the summit of our "Jesus is My Rock" semester! it is a drop off event for kids grade 1-12. Kindergarten and younger cannot belay, but can come during visitor hours with an adult.  Registered kids in our program can bring a friend for FREE.  It is family friendly and will be open to the congregation. There will be visitor hours for those who want to stop in but not spend the night.  Look for flyers and sign up sheets at coffee hour soon.
     God Bless,  Melissa Aloisi, Interim Church School Coordinator

Christmas Pageant rehearsals will be starting Sunday, November 6 to prepare for our Pageant Sunday, December 11!  All children through the 8th grade are invited to participate and we also appreciate all of the help from the older Youth. We’ll be starting by re-telling the Christmas story and then move into full Pageant preparations!  You don’t have to make every Pageant rehearsal (although we would love if you did!), but if you are interested in participating please contact Lila West (lilawest87@gmail.com) and/or Diana West (dmabelwest@gmail.com) so we know how many to plan for! See you all in November! Lila West and Diana West, Christmas Pageant Directors

Come experience a TOUR OF THE 1909 TOWER CLOCK on November 13, following the service. Wear your coat! We have a gem of a clock and it’s usually hidden away up above our church.  Below is the history of both the clock and the 1808 bell we are blessed to have.
     The church bell has been an important aspect of both the church and town from the very beginning.  When the first meeting house was finished at the north end of West Street in 1670, a small bell was purchased.  The town voted that the bell would ring every night at 9:00 o’clock, perhaps to copy Hartford, which since 1665 had wrung its bell at 9:00 PM "to prevent disorderly meetings," etc. The bell would also be rung if there was a fire or if someone died.  By 1731, the 4th bell was bought.  By 1753, the church was deciding whether to buy or repair the old clock.  The clock had only one dial, on the north side of the steeple.  There was a vote to repair the clock in 1759 and 1803.
     In 1755, the second meeting house was built, and the 1731 bell was recast.  However, the bell was broken in 1785 by five young men in “a ringing frolic”.  The town voted to get the bell recast in New Haven, and to add to the weight, going from 336 pounds to 448.  The work was paid for by the five men who broke the bell, they paid four dollars each.
     In 1808 the third meeting house was built and a new bell was installed.  The bell came from Medway and cost $200. This bell faithfully rings still today. A new bell had been needed because in July 1808, the 1785 bell had cracked when a hammer had been used to toll it.
     Sometime in the mid to late 1800s the clock stopped working. Photos of the church from this period show a blank face where the clock hands should be.  During the Town of Hadley’s Quarter Millennial Celebration in 1909, a clock was donated by William A. Baker in memory of Charlotte Reynolds Baker. The clock cost $500 and was purchased from the Seth Thomas Clock Company. At long last the clock face had hands again.  Mrs. Baker had looked forward to celebrating the 250th anniversary of the town, as she remembered the 200th celebration.  Unfortunately she died before 1909. Her husband honored her memory by donating the clock.
     The clock is a tower clock that needs to be regularly wound by hand.  There are fewer of these tower clocks around, as many are becoming electrified.
     Throughout the centuries, the congregation has lovingly maintained the clock, steeple and bell, so that they may grace Hadley and the Church for years to come. (Source for most of this information is Judd’s “History of Hadley”, compiled by Mary Thayer).

The knitting/crochet group will be meeting at the church at 7:00 p.m on Monday evening, November 7th. Judy Parker will be providing light refreshments.  We will continue to work on prayer shawls and other cold weather accessories to donate to those in need. A BIG THANK YOU to everyone who donated items to be sold at the Fall Festival.

MUSIC NOTES - “To everything, turn, turn, turn…there is a season, turn, turn, turn….”  Yes, the seasons are turning!  That means our thoughts are turning to cold weather and Christmas Carols!   The Choir will begin preparing for the Christmas Eve service on Thursday, Nov. 17th, at 7 PM.  It is a great season to try out the choir, if you’ve been thinking about it!

A HUGE FALL FESTIVAL THANK YOU! Thank you so much to every one of you who played a part in the success of the 2016 version of the Fall Festival! It wouldn’t happen without you! It was a fantastic team effort and we are blessed to have been a part of it! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts! - Debbie and Rick Ward

The cookies are coming, the cookies are coming!  Please save the date Saturday, December 17, 2016, for the Annual Christmas Cookie Walk and Pierogi sale.

REVERSE ADVENT CALENDAR - NOVEMBER SERVICE PROJECT SPONSORED BY THE BOARD OF MISSIONS: From November 1 to December 1, participants will donate one item a day towards a charitable organization.  For example, one non-perishable item each day for the Hadley Food Pantry, or one school supply for a CWS School Kit, or one item for CWS Hygiene Kit, or one dollar a day to support 2-year old, Yoselin, from Guatemala through Child Fund, or a daily donation for Heifer International.  Lists and collection boxes are available at First Congregational Church. Donations and collections will be blessed during the worship service on December 4, 2016.  Please consider participating in this meaningful project!

Highlights from October 11, 2016 Church Council Meeting:

  • The Council reviewed the draft of the congregational covenant. After a discussion, it was recommended the board chairs share it with boards and committees. It will be discussed at the next meeting.  The goal is to present it to the congregation at the Annual Meeting for approval.
  • The church website is still being worked on by Elliott Burke.  More details will be shared at the next meeting.
  • Plans for the Fall Festival were discussed. The Farm Museum, Goodwin Library and North Hadley Congregational Church are also having events on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016.
  • The By-Law Task Group is trying to finish preparing the revised by-laws to present to the congregation before the end of the year.
  • The Deacons have hosted new membership meetings for Lynne Adams, David Adams and Glorianna Wholley.  November 6 is the tentative date for the three to join the church.
  • The Council approved assembling a Sign Task Group with the charge of researching and recommending a design for a new sign to incorporate our ONA status, as well as other signs in and around the building, such as accessibility entrance.  Five members will be appointed at the next meeting to include someone from the Board of Deacons, Missions and Properties and two other volunteers.  It was suggested the group develop policies about temporary event signs & flags, etc.  Also, that the group learn about the town sign rules and requirements.
  • The Board of Deacons reviewed the Active Membership List and are sending six letters out to inquire if the member still wish to be listed as active.  The Deacons prepared for the baptism of Carter Brooks Styspeck on October 16, 2016.  They also suggested ringing bells to honor loved ones on All Saints Sunday, November 6.  It was suggested they coordinate with Ruth Morse to use the hand bells as part of this service. On November 13, Mary Thayer, our church’s Historian, and the Board of Properties are hosting a tour of the church’s tower clock.
  • The Deacons completed their six-month evaluation with Rev. Christina.  We are truly blessed to have her as our pastor.  It was suggested she continue to schedule staff meetings.
  • Since Christmas and New Year’s Day are on Sundays this year, the Deacons and Council recommend having an early 8:30 am casual Christmas service in the dining room and a “Hymn Sing” in the sanctuary at 10:00 am for New Years. Holiday services will be advertised on the reader board outside and elsewhere so that there is no confusion of these special service times.
  • The Board of Christian Education reported that on World Communion Sunday the children had the opportunity to learn more about the “Last Supper” and participate in communion with the congregation, with parents’ permission.  They encouraged children to bring a friend to church on Oct. 16 and plan to have the children host “time for the adults” as part of the 5th Sunday service. The Board of C.E. will host a roller skating event on Oct. 23 and in December, they plan to host a Rock Gym event.
  • Rev. Christina has sent out invitations to 7 teens to participate in confirmation sessions and events. 
  • The Board of Christina Education shared a draft of a new Christian Education Director’s Job Description. Council members asked questions and suggestions were given.  The Board hopes to fill the position by January.
  • The Council discussed the use of the different classrooms, accessibility and safety during class time.  The Board of C.E. is exploring ideas of using a walkie talkie, locking doors during the service, a designated shelter space, safety drill etc.
  • The Board of Finance reported expenses and income are both on target and better than last year. 
  • The Board of Finance is at a loss without a Stewardship Chair to coordinate a stewardship campaign. The campaign is scheduled for November 20 with the “Blessing of the Pledges” on December 4.  The congregation needs to think about what it means and how to “give” to the church thus leadership in Stewardship is needed to facilitate this giving.
  • The Treasurer will send out budget requests to the boards and committees to prepare for next year’s budget.  The Board of Finance is recommending each group look at their needs and wish lists carefully.
  • The Board of Properties reported the state fire alarm testing was done as well as the annual boiler inspection.  They are soliciting quotes for new drapes for the dining room.  They are coordinating additional dumping of the dumpster for before and after the festival. The accessible restroom conversion is a work in progress.
  • The Board of Missions shared the plans for the 5th Sunday Worship & Serve service. They highlighted the service projects for the congregation to participate in, including preparing a meal for the new Cathedral in the Light ministry in Greenfield. The Council gave suggestions for other projects around the church to participate in.  The “Reverse Advent” boxes (another project) will be blessed on December 4.
  • The Moderator read a lovely thank you note from Rev. Christina in regards to her installation and she extended her appreciation at the meeting. 
  • Rev. Christina is pleased the “Shepherds Group” is being revived with four people interested in helping at their own comfort level.
  • Rev. Christina is attending a “Racial Justice” workshop series led by Rev. Kelly Gallagher.
  • An Ecumenical Thanksgiving Service will take place at the Wesley Methodist church on November 22 at 7:00.  Rev. Christina encourages all to attend.
  • Rev. Christina will consider having a Chaplain from the hospital talk about dealing with elderly parents as part of the Being Mortal book group.
  • The next Church Council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, November 2, 2016.

NOVEMBER 2016 Calendar

 
 
  •  

    1

     

    2

     

    Tuesday

     

    Wednesday

     

    7:00 p.m.

    7:00 p.m.

    6:30 p.m.

    7:00 p.m.

     

    BELL CHOIR

    BOARD OF PROPERTIES

    AA

    COUNCIL

    3

    Thursday

    7:00 p.m.

    CHOIR REHEARSAL

    4

    Friday

    4:30 p.m.

    PREP FOR TAKE AND EAT

    5

    Saturday

    8 :00 a.m.

     

    TAKE AND EAT

     

    6

     

     

     

    7

     

    8

    Sunday

     

     

     

    Monday

     

    Tuesday

     

     

    10:00 am

     

     2:30 p.m.

     3:00 p.m.

     7:00 p.m.

     7:00 p.m.

     1:30 p.m.

     7:00 p.m.

     

     

    WORSHIP SERVICE

    CHURCH SCHOOL

    Girl Scout Troop 11914

    Girl Scout Troop 64551

    KNIT/CROCHET GROUP

    Girl Scout Leaders

    Book Club

    BELL CHOIR

    9

     

    10

     

     

    11

    Wednesday

     

    Thursday

     

     

    Friday

     6:00 p.m.

     6:30 p.m.

    12:00 p.m.

     6:00 p.m.

     7:00 p.m.

     6:00 p.m.

    Set up for Men’s Club

    AA

    Hampshire Clergy

    Men’s Club

    CHOIR REHEARSAL

    Set up for AA Extravaganza

    12

    Saturday

     3:00 p.m.

    AA Extravaganza

    13

     

     

    14

    Sunday

     

     

    Monday

    10:00 am

     

    11:15 am

     6:00 p.m.

    WORSHIP SERVICE

    CHURCH SCHOOL

    TOUR OF TOWER CLOCK

    Hope Grange

    15

    Tuesday

     7:00 p.m.

    BELL CHOIR

    16

    Wednesday

     6:30 p.m.

    AA

    17

    Thursday

     

    7:00 p.m.

     

    CHOIR REHEARSAL

    20

    Sunday

     

     

     

    10:00 am

     

     2:00 p.m.

     3:00 p.m.

     

     

     

    WORSHIP SERVICE

    CHURCH SCHOOL

    Brownie Troop 12652

    Brownie Troop 64645

    22

    23

    Tuesday

    Wednesday

     7:00 p.m.

     6:30 p.m.

    BELL CHOIR

    AA               

    27 Sunday 10:00 am

     

    Worship Service

    Church School

     

    29 Tuesday

    7:00 pm

    7:00 pm

    Deacons' Meeting

    Bell Choir

    30 Wednesday

    6:30 pm

    6:30

    Christian Ed. meeting

    AA

     

 

The Rooster Crows        OCTOBER 2016

Fall Festival - Saturday, October 22, 9:00 am - 2:00 pm

The First Congregational Church of Hadley, the Hadley Farm Museum and the Goodwin Memorial Library are holding their 6th annual Fall Festival on Saturday, October 22.

The 1808 church will be filled with wonderful items for sale both inside and out: There will be booths of knitted & crocheted items & holiday items; Antique furniture; wood carvings; local jams & jellies; a wide variety of books; hand tools, power tools & antique tools.

There will be a HUGE tag sale with furniture, holiday decorations, kitchen & household items, and toys. 

Fresh baked goods and refreshments will be offered for sale.

Lunch of homemade soup and sandwiches will be available.

Carnival games will be available on the front lawn of the church.

At the Hadley Farm Museum, for a small fee, people can ride along historic Middle Street in an 1848 Concord stagecoach pulled by a team of horses from Muddy Brook Farm. There will also be farming displays and the farm museum will be open for a free tour, with its fascinating collection of farm implements and tools.

If you would like to help or have items to donate please contact:
Rick Ward cell 413-374-0849 rickward@charter.net
Debbie Ward cell 413-588-2800. Dlward@charter.net
landline 584-2937

Departments/Tables:
Tools: Norm Barstow and Kurt Betchick
Jams/Jellies or other kitchen goodies: Judy Parker
Woodcraft: donated by Jonathan Morel
Bake Sale- Caryn Perley says pies are good sellers!
Lunch Counter- Lila West and Lisa West
Craft Table- Delores Harper and Urshula Wood
Books-Barbara Kellogg and Debbie Ward
Tag Sale - Rick Ward and Stan Brown with Bryan Harper also available to pick up items
Cocoa Corner and Games for Kids- Melissa Aloisi
Popcorn for Heifer Project- Mary Wholley

Other important jobs:
Advertising - Mary Thayer and Christine Eustice
Parking - Volunteers needed
Clean-up - Volunteers needed
Bank - Janine Giles
Signage - Rick Ward

Thank you to all who have helped in the past and are ready to dive in again this year!

PASTOR'S Message

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

Dear Friends,

Every Sunday morning, when I was growing up, I jumped out of bed excited to start the day, which was a big deal because I have never been a jump-out-of-bed kind of person. Why?—because going to church was fun.

Sunday mornings started with Sunday school for the children and the adults, and it was five hundred times more fun than regular school. Something magical happened when we sat around in a circle and sang “Jesus Loves Me This I Know,” played games, and learned all about those logic-defying miracles Jesus performed, like feeding five thousand people with five loaves of a bread and two fish or putting spit on a man’s eyes so he could see again. To my young imagination those stories were totally plausible.

After Sunday school we gathered back together for coffee, goodies, and conversation. For the children it was less about polite conversation and more about racing around the church hall without getting spoken to. Then we entered the quiet sanctuary and settled into the comforting ritual of worship. Through song and prayer, one could feel the divine wonder that held us together as a community.

When I returned to church a number of years ago, I wanted the same experience for my daughter. I wanted her to sing those songs, to understand with certainty God loves her unconditionally, and to know that outside her family the church offers a sanctuary of hope and grace and a community that gathers to care for one another and carry out God’s mission in the world.

Our world is changing at such a rapid rate that many of our institutions have been affected and the church is no exception. During the years my daughter and I attended church the pendulum of change was starting to swing the other way. People started to trickle away from the church and found other communities to engage with that brought meaning to their lives. Some split their time between church and other activities they were passionate about. And for parents who worked full-time and whose children were involved in lots of extra curricular activities, it made scheduling church on Sunday morning a huge challenge.

No longer is the mainline protestant church the focus of the community and people’s lives. Many people find other activities to fill the void church once occupied. Many children grow up never learning about the hope, joy, and saving wonders of God and all the good things church can do and be. Many of us grieve for what once was, as we should.

Yet, we are told, with every change comes opportunity. When we are able to shift our focus from worry to the opportunities that are presented to us—hope flourishes. No, people are not pouring through our doors anymore unbidden, but yes, we have lots opportunities we might not have thought of before to be the authentic disciples Jesus calls us to be both inside and outside the church walls. When we go about our lives, we have myriad opportunities to minister to others, to walk with them in their joy or brokenness, and to offer them the love of Christ that has been poured out for us. Fewer and fewer people know about this amazing Galilean peasant who stood for the “other” and offered compassion, healing, saving grace, and justice to all those he encountered. We get to share his incredible story. And while we are at it, we can tell others why we still carve time out of our busy lives to do and be church—what it means to us, how we continue to be transformed and shaped by it, and why we believe church continues to be meaningful for us and the world.

As it was for early Christians, it is true for us today we live in times of uncertainty. What better time for Jesus’ disciples and us to hear, “Go, make disciples, baptize them, and tell them about the good things God is doing in your life, the church, and for others. Be a witness for my redeeming and saving love.” And just as the disciples did, we too can share the good news with the guiding power of the Holy Spirit and with God’s blessings.

Many blessings for all you do for this church and the world by living and sharing the Word of God. May Christ always be our light, Rev. Christina

CONFIRMATION Retreat and Sessions

Confirmation will be open to all high school students this year. We will kick off confirmation with a spiritually rewarding and faith-filled retreat at the Prindle Pond Conference Center in Charlton, MA on November 18-19. Rev. Matt Carriker is the Massachusetts UCC confirmation retreat leader, and he will lead the confirmands in exploring the topic, “Not That Kind of Christian: Re-articulating Our Faith for a New Generation.”

Starting in January, four monthly confirmation sessions will be held after worship. These three-hour sessions will include lunch and snacks. This is a time when the confirmands get to dig deep and explore together their faith, beliefs, questions, doubts, and values. Each confirmand will also partner with a mentor to work together and organize one group trip to another faith tradition and one group small service project. The confirmationservice will held on Sunday, May 7. The monthly session dates are yet to be determined.

If you would like to participate in confirmation this year or would like more details, please call or text Rev. Christina at 978-821- 3149 or email her at pastorchristina2846@gmail.com. For those considering confirmationthis year and have not been baptized, reach out to Rev. Christina to arrange a time for your baptism.

SONday School News

For preschool - grade 6, the new semester is underway. We hope you enjoyed Welcome Back Sunday.  We have turned our last semester "F.R.O.G." T-shirts into no-sew drawstring backpacks and have begun our climb into our new semester theme: Jesus is My Rock! 

In September we learned about the 6 seasons of Liturgy, practiced navigating the Bible and locating verses, and performed Sciences experiments to reinforce our lessons on how to Rely on God as our Armor.  

On World Communion Day, October 2, the children will rejoin the worship service for the communion service.
Oct. 9 - Parable of a Wise and Foolish Man, literally build a House on the Rock together.
Oct. 16 - Bring a Friend Sunday, please bring a friend or two or three! The more the merrier! Together we will climb into the Bible Story of David and Goliath.
Oct. 22 - annual Fall Festival, Saturday 9am - 2pm.  SONday school students and Youth Group members will run old fashioned carnival games on the front lawn of the church.  Please consider volunteering for an hour to help sell tickets, handout prizes, or run a carnival booth (and have some fun yourself).
Oct. 23 - Find Hidden Gems in the Bible and learn how Sea Glass and Sand Dollars remind us of Jesus.
Oct. 30 - 5th Sunday, families will worship together.  During the Children's sermon, we will have some Halloween fun: I DARE YOU to "Trick and Treat" the congregation. We will have Bible related costumes on hand with a short Riddle to read--and for those that guess correct, you both get a treat! After the abbreviated service, we will complete a mission project together.
God Bless, Melissa Aloisi, Interim Church School Coordinator

NEW HANDCRAFTED ITEMS WANTED

The Knit and Crochet group is busy working on items for their booth at the Fall Festival.  We encourage others who are not part of that group to donate items to sell that day.  Suggested items are scarves, table runners, place mats, mittens, caps, quilts, baby blankets, sweaters, etc. The Holiday booth includes items for fall, Thanksgiving, Christmas or anything to decorate your home or office.  We are looking for any craft item you may have.  Suggested items for that booth are table decorations, snowmen, ornaments, handmade jewelry, etc. We need your help in having an attractive and profitable display.   If you have any questions or ideas please call Urshula Wood @ 586-6764 or Delores Harper @584-4117. AND- don’t forget to visit our booth at the fall festival, October 22nd.   Get your holiday shopping done early.

We are still "LOOKING FOR TOOLS!"

First Church of Hadley, Fall Festival fund raiser will be held on Saturday, October 22, 2016, at the church. If you've got tools you could donate, call Norm Barstow (home 413-549-5223 or cell 1-413-230-6961), or Kurt Betchick, Steve Robertson, Don Young, Tom West and we'll make arrangements to have them picked up, or we'll meet you at the church for drop-off.

BOARD OF PROPERTIES

As required by law our entire church fire alarm system needs to be tested each year by approved professionals. Detectoguard will come in and test each heat sensor, each smoke alarm, each pull station and each strobe light alarm on Wednesday Sept 28, 2016 from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM.  This will involve testing of 75 fire safety devices in areas from the top of the steeple to the basement and testing of the fire control panels and contacting the Hadley Fire Dept.

COUNCIL NOTES

Elliott Burke graciously agreed to attend our meeting tonight to discuss the status of our church website and how we can move forward to improve it and make it more easily update-able by church volunteers. Elliott recommended replicating the current site using WordPress as an alternative to the Drupal software currently in use. Elliott agreed to research costs of switching and maintaining the site via WordPress or some other format. It was mentioned that it might be a few hundred dollars to start. Elliott helped us out recently by installing updates from Drupal to prevent hacking.  Rick Ward pointed out so far Elliott has been doing this work for us as a volunteer. He suggested we budget some money to compensate him for his time. A Media Committee is being proposed in the new bylaws. It was agreed that members should be asked to volunteer for this necessary task. Rick Ward agreed to make that announcement at the start of worship on Sunday. We asked Elliott to come to next meeting and report on progress.

Rick Ward reported on the status of the Fall Festival planning. The planning meeting during the summer was well attended and very positive. Most of the tables are returning and have chair people. Parking attendants are needed on that day. Melissa Aloisi is changing from lemonade to kids carnival games to occupy kids and generate more revenue for the Festival! It was suggested she co-ordinate with library so there is no overlap. The Farm Museum will also be offering activities that day.

Pastor Christina will be joining the church on Sunday September 18, 2016, in preparation for her Installation service taking place on Sunday afternoon, October 2, 2016, at 3 pm.

Debbie Ward is working on hiring childcare for the installation event. She received clarification on the Safe Church policies . It was agreed that one adult from outside the church that was CORI checked could be hired for $20/hr, 3 hrs max and a teen from the church could be offered $10/hr to help so there are 2 people with the children. Childcare will be offered in the first floor Sunday School room from 2:30 p.m. until end of service. Parents should retrieve kids for reception.

A Church Stewardship workshop will be held at our church hosted by the Hampshire Association of Mass Conference UCC on September 21, 2016. All are welcome to come and learn about church finances.

Mary Thayer delivered the Deacon's report. There are some people interested in exploring church membership so classes have been scheduled for September 25 and October 9. The Deacons conducted a review of Christina's ministry with us for the first 6 months and will share those evaluations with her at their next meeting. Debbie Ward reported from the Music Committee that research on hymnal options is continuing and will be a long, careful process. The Deacons have been discussing how to handle worship on Sunday, Dec 25th and Sunday, Jan. 1 since they are holidays. If we have church, who will fill the leadership roles? Christina said if we decided to have worship she would be available. The Deacons will discuss this at their next meeting.

Diana West gave us the CE report. They met recently and have planned out the entire Sunday School year with a new Theme, "Jesus is my Rock and that's how I roll!" Invitations have gone out to families for Homecoming Sunday and the rest of the planned activities.  A job description for a permanent Christian Education/Youth Director has been drafted by the committee. A lengthy discussion ensued regarding how to handle the possible scenario of a stranger entering the building near Sunday School during worship. The pros and cons of locking the outer doors during this time were discussed. We need to have a policy in place.  Also safety drills should be conducted. World Communion Day is Oct 2nd and the children will receive a special lesson and return to sanctuary during communion. It was suggested that Staff Appreciation happen during Annual meeting next time.

Terri Smith delivered the Treasurer's report. Our finances are doing well. More money is coming in than budgeted. Expenses are less than budgeted also. There have been fewer building rentals from outside groups this year.

The next Council meeting will be Tuesday, October 11 at 7:00 pm.

OCTOBER CALENDAR

Please note the Spiritual Samurai scheduled for October has been cancelled.

1

Saturday

 8:00 a.m.

TAKE AND EAT

2

 

 

3

 

4

Sunday

 

 

Monday

 

Tuesday

 

10:00 a.m.

 

 3:00 p.m.

 7:00 p.m.

 7:00 p.m.

 7:00 p.m.

 7:00 p.m.

 

WORSHIP SERVICE

CHURCH SCHOOL

REV. CHRISTINA’S INSTALLATION

KNIT/CROCHET GROUP

Girl Scout Leaders

BELL CHOIR

BOARD OF PROPERTIES

5

6

Wednesday

Thursday

 6:30 p.m.

 7:00 p.m.

AA

CHOIR REHEARSAL

9

 

 

10

Sunday

 

 

Monday

10:00 a.m.

 

11:30 a.m.

 6:00 p.m.

WORSHIP SERVICE

CHURCH SCHOOL

NEW MEMBERS CLASS

Hope Grange

11

Tuesday

 7:00 p.m.

Council meeting

BELL CHOIR

12

Wednesday

 6:00 p.m.

 6:30 p.m.

Set-up for Men’s Club

 AA

13

Thursday

 

12:00 p.m.

  6:00 p.m.

  7:00 p.m.

 

Hampshire Clergy

Men’s Club

CHOIR REHEARSAL

 

 

 

 

16

Sunday

10:00 a.m.

 

 2:00 p.m.

 3:00 p.m.

WORSHIP SERVICE

CHURCH SCHOOL

Brownie Troop 12652

1st. Grade Brownie Troop

18

19

Tuesday

Wednesday

 7:00 p.m.

 6:30 p.m.

BELL CHOIR

AA               

 

20

21

22

 

23

 

25

26

 

27

 

 

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

 

Sunday

 

Tuesday

Wednesday

 

Thursday

 

7:00 p.m.

 

 9:00 a.m.

 

10:00 a.m.

 

 7:00 p.m.

 6:30 p.m.

 6:30 p.m.

 7:00 p.m.

 

CHOIR REHEARSAL

SET-UP FOR FALL FESTIVAL

FALL FESTIVAL

 

WORSHIP SERVICE

CHURCH SCHOOL

BELL CHOIR

AA

BOARD OF CHRISTIAN EDUCATION

CHOIR REHEARSAL

 

30

Sunday

10:00 a.m.

 

WORSHIP SERVICE (Mission Sunday)

CHURCH SCHOOL

 

The Rooster Crows        SEPTEMBER 2016

Note from the Pastor

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.…For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Jeremiah 31:33, 34b

Dear Friends,

Can you believe summer will be but a memory soon and school is back in session? Where did the summer go? Well… technically, it is not over yet, but I pray each of you found time to relax and take some extended Sabbath time away from your regular routine. We all need time to enjoy the blessings of going at a slower pace in order to recharge and rejuvenate our minds, bodies, and souls.

During the summer, I took advantage of the quiet time and delved into the history of our church. I combed through annual reports, board and committee minutes, and Rooster articles from the past 15 years. It was a monumental task, but fascinating. What moved and humbled me the most was the deep commitment you andthose before you have given to this church and your faith. I only wish I had time to go back even further—say 350 years—give or take.

My historical curiosity did not stop there so I started to read Earthbound and Heavenbent, a book about Elizabeth Porter Phelps and life in the late eighteenth century in Hadley. What intrigued me the most was their changing religious beliefs and connection to our church. During my travels through this book and the annual reports, I was struck by what has held this community together since 1659—a covenant of how we are to live together in faith and love, and promise in love to watch over one another. 1

Covenant making stretches all the way back to the Garden of Eden through King David’s time. In each of the six covenants from Adam to David, God defined and redefined the relationship God had with the people of Israel. In Jeremiah we find the last covenant, or as it is better known—the New Covenant. In this covenant God promises to love us and offer us unlimited grace and forgiveness, to inscribe on our hearts the kind of people God wants us to be, and to be our God and we God’s people—always—no matter what. This promise is reaffirmed through Jesus and, as Paul says in his second letter to the folks in Corinth, [God] “made us competent to be ministers of the new covenant” (2 Cor. 3:6a)—meaning we are invited to offer the blessings of God’s covenant we receive to all people.

Covenantal living is woven into the very fabric our faith and our congregational tradition. As we gear up for another busy year at our church, let us remember what was perhaps the founding covenant that held the early members of our church together—we agree to covenant together in faith and love, and promise in love to watch over one another. From reading the annals of this church, I can see you have been doing that all along—loving and watching over one another, as you would want to be loved and watched over—ministering to one another the new covenant God has given to all people.

Wherever your summer travels took you, whether it was down the road apiece, out of state, or out of the country, welcome back to another joy- and Spirit-filled year. As we make history together this year, I know I will continue to be amazed, awed, and humbled by your love and devotion to this beloved community and each other. May we continue to be God’s people who covenant together to live our faith in all we do.

Grace, and peace be upon you, Rev. Christina

1 Elizabeth Pendergast Carlisle. Earthbound and Heavenbent. (New York: Scribner, 2004), 6.

SEPTEMBER WORSHIP SCHEDULE

September 4 – Communion Sunday. Scott Barton preaching.

September 11 – Homecoming Sunday. Blessing of the Backpacks – We will bless the backpacks and teachers of our youth and children as they gear up for another year at school. This Sunday will be the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Rev. Christina will preach on 1 Timothy 1:12-17.

September 18 – Just Peace Sunday. Like many United Church of Christ churches this Sunday, we will give witness to our identity as a peace-seeking and justice-doing denomination. Rev. Christina will become an official member of our congregation, and she will preach on Jeremiah 8:18-9:1.

September 25 – Rev. Christina will preach on Luke 16:19-31.

UPCOMING EVENTS

October 2 - Installation of the Reverend Christina Williams, 3:00 pm

October 22 - Fall Festival

October 30 - SUNDAY WORSHIP & SERVE  Please, JOIN US:
           10:00   SHARE A LIGHT BREAKFAST & MINI- WORSHIP SERVICE
           10:30   PARTICIPATE IN A PROJECT Following the worship service, the congregation will be encouraged to participate in a service project in and around our church.
Service projects will include:

  • prepare a meal for the Cathedral in the Night Ministry
  • volunteer at Not Bread Alone
  • carve a pumpkin to donate to Jessie’s House
  • create a “Reverse Advent Box”(Once a day from November 1 to December 1 participants will add one item to their box to benefit a charitable organization, for example, one non-perishable item each day for the Hadley Food Pantry).

Mark your calendar for this special service!

NEW MEMBER EXPLORATION

Are you new to our congregation—or not so new—and feel like First Congregational Church of Hadley (FCC) has become your church home? Do you feel welcomed and enriched by worship and our ministries? Then you will want to join us for our new member exploration sessions on Sunday, September 25 and October 9 after worship.

In the first session, you will meet with Rev. Christina and the Deacons to learn about each other’s faith journey and the role of the Deacons. You will hear stories about what a faith-filled membership means in our church and learn more about the United Church of Christ and what it envisions the church to be in the 21 st century.

In the second session, you will meet with a deacon and some members of the boards and committees. Each of them will share their faith journey and how being a part of this church continues to shape and deepen their faith.

You will also have the opportunity to learn about the ways in which you can offer your gifts and talents in serving God with our beloved community.

Once you have attended both sessions and decide you would like to become a member, you will be welcomed as a new member during worship on Sunday, November 6. If you are interested in exploring membership,please contact Rev. Christina at pastorchristina2846@gmail.com.

Rev. Christina, Mary Thayer, Chair of Deacons, and Randy Izer, Moderator.

CONFIRMATION Retreat and Sessions

Confirmation will be open to all high school students this year. We will kick off confirmation with a spiritually rewarding and faith-filled retreat at the Prindle Pond Conference Center in Charlton, MA on November 18-19. Rev. Matt Carriker is the Massachusetts UCC confirmation retreat leader, and he will lead the confirmands in exploring the topic, “Not That Kind of Christian: Re-articulating Our Faith for a New Generation.”

Starting in January, four monthly confirmation sessions will be held after worship. These three-hour sessions will include lunch and snacks. This is a time when the confirmands get to dig deep and explore together their faith, beliefs, questions, doubts, and values. Each confirmand will also partner with a mentor to work together and organize one group trip to another faith tradition and one group small service project. The confirmationservice will held on Sunday, May 7. The monthly session dates are yet to be determined.

If you would like to participate in confirmation this year or would like more details, please call or text Rev. Christina at 978-821- 3149 or email her at pastorchristina2846@gmail.com. For those considering confirmationthis year and have not been baptized, reach out to Rev. Christina to arrange a time for your baptism.

DEACONS NOTE

Home Coming. Coming Home. When I was in college the idea of going home was a mixed bag. The positive side was mom's home cooking, touching base with friends and family, being in my own room (not worrying about my roommate and his quirks). The negative side was, dealing with parental dynamics, being home at a reasonable time (when I've been making my own curfew,) having to go to work with my dad when I wanted time off (his business was commercial and residential floor cleaning and he saved the big jobs for when I came home.) Overall I'd like to think coming home, to my home, was a positive thing.

This month, September, we have Homecoming Sunday. In a way it's the same type of thing. Vacations and road trips, projects, visits take us away from attending church with any regularity during the summer. In the church I was brought up in back in Framingham, we just closed for the summer and we did that here for a while. That time was used to get major projects done around the church that couldn't be done during the rest of the year. But we all know God doesn't take the summer off and neither should we so as you know we've combined our services with our sister church in North Hadley. July at North Hadley and August here at First Church. That gives each church a month to work on their big projects and allows us to get to know our neighbors a little better. I'd like to take a moment here to thank the Properties Committee on a well done job on the hardwood floors!

It's a Home Coming of sorts for us every time we "Come Home" to God. I'm not speaking of coming back to the church building because God cannot be contained in a building. What I'm talking about is coming home to God in our lives, in our hearts. Every time we're faced with a life changing event, or major decisions (or even the small ones,) God's wants us to come home to Him, come home to His warm embrace, to His listening ear, to His "Everlasting Arms." To a safe place in a world of uncertainty.

The Bible tells us:
"Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved."   - Psalm 55:22
"Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you." - 1Peter 5:7-8

So at this Home Coming let us pick up with our church friends and Family, greet each other warmly and continue on our journey through this world lifting each other up in prayer. But above all let us daily “Come Home” to God who's always waiting to greet us with open arms.                                                                                           
Rick Ward, for the Deacons

SONday School & Youth News

We will continue and F.R.O.G. (Fully Rely On God) as we Climb into our new theme: "Jesus is My Rock"

Preschool age children through Grade 6, will explore and repel into the Bible with lots of hands-on activities!

Youth, grades 7-12, will work on missions and group gatherings throughout the year.

Youth grades 9+ can earn merit hours by teaching a SONday school class, assisting teachers, or by planning a “Youth only” event with Christian Ed.  Please contact Melissa Aloisi to volunteer.

Date               Topic   Notes                                                                                                                     

9/4                   Ready. Set. Explore!               Review our F.R.O.G. year…
                                                                      start to “Rock” a new year 
                                                                      *PLEASE bring an old T-shirt or your FROG shirt*
9/11                 Welcome Back Sunday           Blessing of the backpacks and teachers.
                                                                     Kick off Fall theme: Jesus is my Rock! 
                                                                      *PLUS Welcome Back Bowling Party 4-6pm*     
9/18                 The Seasons of Liturgy            Explore 6 “seasons” of the church year
                                                                       and learn how to navigate the Bible
9/25                 Rely on God’s Armor               Its Magic!
                                                                       Let Science show us how God is our Armor
10/2                 World Communion Day            Learn about the Last Supper and
                                                                       join the worship service to witness Communion
10/9                 The House on the Rock           Learn about this parable of a Wise and Foolish Man
                                                                      with a building project
10/16               David & Goliath                       Climb into the Bible story of David & Goliath
                                                                      *PLUS Bring A Friend Sunday*
10/23               Hidden Gems                          The Story of Sea Glass, Sand Dollars, and
                                                                      hide treasures in our own Rock
10/30               Halloween Trick or Treat          We provide the costumes--can you “trick”
                                                                      the congregation?  Treats provided.
11/6, 11/13, 11/20, 11/27, 12/4                        Pageant Rehearsals
12/11               Christmas Pageant!!!!!
12/17               God is my Rock-Climb On!      Central Rock Gym Lock-In, Sat 8pm – Sun 8am  
                                                                     *More Details to come!*
12/18               Rock On!                                Sing Christmas Carols in our very own
                                                                      ROCK CONCERT!

Welcome Back Bowling Party 9/11 - Current families will receive an invitation in the mail with more details regarding the FREE bowling party for all kids, preschool through grade 12. Parents can let their kids bowl while they register for the new school year with Christian Ed.  Guests and new children are welcome—please help spread the word.

Youth News - In addition to the Bowling on September 11, we are planning a Youth Only Skating party in September. Please look for emails regarding this.

FALL FESTIVAL 

Autumn is nearly here and the Fall Festival is not far away! Please mark your calendar for Saturday, October 22, 2016, 9 am to 2 pm  and be ready to donate your gently used items, your crafts, your baking skills or your cash to help make this event a fun and profitable one for our church family.

The organizers met on Wednesday, Aug. 10th in the choir room to establish the slate of tables for this year's festival. Please contact the coordinators below who have volunteered to manage each area.

Departments/Tables:

Tools: Norm Barstow and Kurt Betchick
Jams/Jellies or other kitchen goodies: Judy Parker- no peaches so need ideas for other things to make!
Woodcraft: donated by Jonathan Morel, sales to benefit the church- needs helper
Golumpki: Kara Karpinos and Caryn Perley
Bake Sale: Caryn Perley says pies are good sellers!
Lunch Counter: Lila West and Lisa West
Craft Table: Delores Harper and Urshula Wood- looking for fresh ideas that sell!
Books: Barbara Kellogg and Debbie Ward
Tag Sale: Rick Ward and Stan Brown with Bryan Harper also available to pick up items
Cocoa Corner and Games for Kids: Melissa Aloisi
Popcorn for Heifer Project: Mary Wholley
Kitchen Gadgets: Volunteers needed
Plant table: possible new table: Volunteers needed

Other important jobs:
Advertising: Mary Thayer and Christine Eustice
Parking: Volunteers needed
Clean-up: Volunteers needed
Bank: Janine Giles
Signage: Rick Ward

Thank you to all who have helped in the past and are ready to dive in again this year!

In Christ,
Rick Ward cell 413-374-0849 rickward@charter.net
Debbie Ward cell 413-588-2800 Dlward@charter.net
Also may leave a message on our landline 584-2937

We are "LOOKING FOR TOOLS!"
First Church of Hadley, Fall Festival fund raiser will be held on Saturday, October 22, 2016 at the church. If you've got tools you could donate, call Norm Barstow (Home 413-549-5223), (cell 1-413-230-6961), or Kurt Betchick, Steve Robertson, Don Young, Tom West and we'll make arrangements to have them picked up, or we'll meet you at the church for drop-off. We need newer tools, old tools, antique tools and tools that we don't even know what they are used for.  We accept electric, battery operated, or good old-fashion hand operated tools in working order.

Then come and enjoy yourself at the First Church of Hadley Fall Festival, where you'll find food, crafts, tools, furniture, household items, books, friendly faces and the Hadley Farm Museum is giving Stage Coach rides.

New Handcrafted Items Wanted

The Knit and Crochet group is busy working on items for their booth at the Fall Festival.  We encourage others who are not part of that group to donate items to sell that day.  Suggested items are scarves, table runners, place mats, mittens, caps, quilts, baby blankets, sweaters, etc.

The Holiday booth includes items for fall, Thanksgiving, Christmas or anything to decorate your home or office.  We are looking for any craft item you may have.  Suggested items for that booth are table decorations, snowmen, ornaments, etc.

We need your help in having an attractive and profitable display.   If you have any questions or ideas please call Urshula Wood @ 586-6764 or Delores Harper @584-4117. AND- don’t forget to visit our booth at the fall festival, October 22nd.   Get your holiday shopping done early.

Thanks for your help,  Urshula and Delores

MUSIC NOTES

Mark your calendars!  Choir rehearsal will resume Thursday evening September 8th at 7 PM.  We will be preparing for Rev. Christina’s Installation in October.  If you would like to join us…for the season or just the installation…you are always welcome.  Come and see for yourself – Choir is our FAITH put to music, great FELLOWSHIP, and a lot of FUN!  Toni

BELL CHOIR NEWS

Ring of Joy,our handbell choir will practice on Tuesday, September 6, 20 and 27 this month.  We plan to play an introit at Pastor Christina's installation and we'd like to have lots of ringers.

The Tuesday rehearsal time is 7:00-8:00 p.m.  We practice in the bell room upstairs in the annex, next to the music office.  We occasionally practice on Saturday afternoons or after worship.  This allows some people who can't attend weekday practices to ring with us.  If the only thing keeping you from ringing with us is our practice time, please speak with me.  No time is perfect, but we are open to being flexible.

Anyone is welcome to come try us out.  Just show up at a practice, or talk to Ruth after worship.  The only requirements are that you can count to four, know your left hand from your right, are tall enough to see over the table, and are able to laugh at your mistakes.  You don't need to read music, though it's certainly helpful.  Please don't be intimidated by the fact that we, as a group, manage to do a good job most of the time, or that I often play with two bells in each hand.  We are a team, and each person contributes at his/her level of skill.  When we are learning a new piece, we all feel pretty clumsy. 

Last year we had a 3-octave set of hand chimes on loan from the Handbell Musicians of America.  We enjoyed "test driving" them, and the congregation seemed to enjoy hearing them, so now we'd like to buy our own.  Please consider making a donation towards that purchase.  Wouldn't it be lovely to have them for Christmas Eve?

Ruth Morse, bell choir director, 586-2767, ruthmorse@aol.com

The New Directory of Members and Friends is ready and can be picked up at the church office.

The United Church Board for Ministerial Assistance presented a certificate with sincere thanksgiving to First Congregational Church of Hadley for its generous and faithful support to the 2015 Christmas Fund with gifts totaling $340.

COUNCIL NOTES

  • Moderator, Randy Izer was pleased to report Elliot Burke has agreed to meet with a small group to improve the church website.  More information will be shared with the Council at the September meeting.
  • The Fall Festival date has been scheduled for October 22 from 9am – 2pm.  Rick and Debbie Ward will host a planning meeting in August.  More details will follow.
  • The “Young Life” organization requested use for an event on November 7.  The Council gave the approval if the space meets their needs and recommended they contact the Board of Properties with details of the event.
  • The Council discussed the safety and security of the church particularly during weekdays.  Recommendations and suggestions were given to the Board of Properties to address.
  • The Prayer Vigil hosted by Rev. Christina on July 10 was well received with 22 in attendance.  People from the community, members from the Goodwin Memorial Church of Amherst, and members from our church joined her for this meaningful event.
  • The Board of Deacons reported they will host new membership classes on September 25 and October 9.  People interested in learning more about joining the church should plan to attend these two important informational classes.  The tentative “New Membership Sunday” is set for November 6, 2016.
  •  On Sunday, September 18 Rev. Christina will join the church followed by an October 2, 2016 Installation.  A committee to plan the details will be formed.  The Council encourages the congregation to plan to attend this special afternoon service.
  • The Fellowship Committee has resumed Coffee Hour in August and are grateful to have two new dedicated members to their committee, Urshula Wood and Vikki Stokes.
  • The Board of Christian Education appreciates the commitment of Melissa Aloisi as she helped with the children’s activities during the summer services at both North Hadley and First Church. She has offered to stay on as the interim coordinator until January.
  • Melissa and Rev. Christina enjoyed a “Bowling Night” with a few teens and hope to offer another event in the Fall to connect with the teens in our congregation and community.
  • The Board of Finance and Delores Harper, Secretary are reviewing proposals for a new copier.  Parts for the current copier will soon be obsolete and a new one is needed. Funds for the new copier have been accumulating over the years for this large purchase.  It was suggested groups and personnel using the copier will be given a code, which will help with budgeting the cost of copies and supplies in the future.
  • The Treasurer reported we are in very good shape with the budget and the church investments are doing well with a blend of conservative funds.  Mid -year pledge reminders went out in July and will be sent again in November so donors can plan for the end of the year.
  • The Board of Finance is going back to using a payroll service as part of their initiative for using “best practices”.  They are reviewing guidelines and processes as they plan for the future.
  • The Board of Properties is pleased with the work A. Dion & Sons Flooring did sanding and finishing the wood floors.  They have purchased new caps for the footings of the folding chairs to protect the flooring.
  • The gas boiler which heats the annex passed inspection.  The certificate will be granted after the invoice for the inspection has been received.
  • The Board of Missions praised Ann Koski and the volunteers for their commitment to the Hadley Food Pantry.  Bread from Panera and vegetables from the Next Barn Over have been offered to the guests in addition to a bag of non-perishable items.  Donations are always needed.
  • Rev. Christina is working with Ken and Urshula Wood to draft a “Congregational Covenant” and will present it for the Council to review at the September meeting.
  • On September 21, speaker Jonathan New, from the UCC will be sharing information about ways to do stewardship in these changing times. This event is open to other churches and will be hosted by the Hampshire Association Executive Council at our church.
  • Rev. Christina plans to re-group the “shepherds” and will coordinate a training led by the Spiritual counselor for Cooley Dickinson Hospital.
  • Rev. Christina shared an idea to have an Adult Education Room/Library.  The Council encouraged her to discuss space options with the Board of C.E. and Properties and then put a proposal together for what would be needed to make this space comfortable and inviting.  This will be discussed at the September meeting.
  • The next Church Council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.

Board of Properties

Over the summer we have had the 20 year old hardwood floors in the dining room and the small vestry sanded and refinished.  The rooms are brighter and the floors are beautiful.  To protect the floors, we have installed 840 new feet on all the metal folding chairs used throughout the church.

Our next project is converting the Men's restroom into a handicap and unisex facility.  The wider entrance door will be installed in September. The project will be completed over the next several months with new railings, sink, light and mirror.  The restroom will be ADA wheelchair accessible.

TAKE AND EAT WEEKEND MEALS MINISTRY

“Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.”       Hebrews 13:2

Over the past few months, we have cooked up some delicious meals, including chicken parmesan, hamburger stew, meatloaf, barbeque chicken, and chicken with gravy.  We average about 40 clients a month, with between 10 and 20 volunteers.

Since fall 2009, we have cooked 81 times, totaling 3,219 meals!  If you know of anyone who would appreciate a meal, either temporarily or regularly, please let us know!  (Our contact information is listed below).

This ministry is possible thanks to the loving support of our community, including the First Congregational Church of Hadley, North Hadley Congregational Church, the Hadley Young Men’s Club, the Hadley American Legion, Blondie McQueston, and anonymous donors.  Any donations specified for Take and Eat are used exclusively to purchase food and/or kitchen supplies - and we couldn’t help so many without so many helping us!

The opportunity to feed our neighbors and friends brought together the following volunteers:  Lynne Adams, Wilma Aiken, the Aloisi Family, Janet Barstow, Norm Barstow, Mara Breen, Bruce Brewer, Donna Brewer, John Brewer, Betty Brown, Dawn Davis, Jarron Deich, Jonathan Deich, Jay Elliott, Camille Eustis, Christine Eustis, Olga Gustin, Bryan Harper, Lori Harper, Robin Kellogg, Ann Koski, Connor Nevin, Mark Nevin, Jan Schott, John Schott, Judy Stone, Dave Storey, Diana West, Tom West, Gloriana Whooley, Mary Whooley, Christina Williams, Julia Williams, and Urshula Wood.  We can’t say “thank you” enough!

We prepare meals the first Saturday of every month - and there is a job for everyone!  Please let us know if you’re interested in helping out in any way!

We are currently signing up bakers for October, November, and December!  Any questions or for more details, contact Lila West or Lisa West at lilawest87@gmail.com or (413) 695-4943.

EAGLE SCOUT PROJECT- CONNOR NEVIN

Hello my name is Connor Nevin and I am a Life Scout from Troop 57 in Belchertown, Massachusetts.   I am working to achieve my Eagle Scout rank.  To earn my Eagle, I have to earn a minimum of 21 merit badges, serve in a leadership role, and most importantly do an Eagle Scout service project.

For my Eagle service project, I am putting together 200 first aid kits to put in shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child in cooperation with Maple Ridge Community Center in Sunderland.  Operation Christmas Child is where shoe boxes full of toys, coloring supplies, certain items of clothing, toiletries, and more get shipped off to different parts of the world to children who don’t have access to these items.  Please support these children and my Eagle service project by donating any of the items listed below so I can build the first aid kits to put in the shoe boxes. 

The items needed for the First Aid kits are:

  • 600 Sterile gauze pads 2” x 2”
  • 3000 Small band aids (5/8” x 2 ¼”)
  • 2000 medium band aids (3/4” x 3”)
  • 1000 large band aids (1” x 3”)
  • 1200 individual antiseptic wipes
  • 400 knee/elbow band aids 4” x 2”
  • 1200 single use antibiotic ointment packets

There will be a collection box in the back of the church by the office to put the donations in.

Thank you for your support of my Eagle Scout service project. 
Sincerely, Connor Nevin, Eagle Scout Candidate, Troop 57 Belchertown, Massachusetts