Church News 1/3/20 Children and Youth, Epiphany, Climate Events

Photo:  Three Wise Men (Magi) from a past pageant. This Sunday we celebrate Epiphany.  Epiphany comes from a Greek word that means manifestation. The season of Epiphany celebrates many ways we see the light, starting with the Magi seeing, understanding and following the star to Jesus in Bethlehem. This year we will read that story as a parable of “Active Hope.”  See below to find out more about the service and the season or go to our website at
Our children and youth will continue to explore what it means to love our neighbor as our self and live as a good neighbor. They have looked at the models of Mother Theresa and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Now they will focus on the words and life work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., including his “I Have a Dream” speech.  Danette Harris and Joey Hawkins will lead four sessions during 10:00 AM worship on the Sundays in January.  See below for the description and schedule.
Greta Thunberg gives her own “Dream” speech in Congress in the fall of 2019 where she shares in clear words the science and math that make it urgent we act right now in response to the climate crisis.  See below for several upcoming climate related events and opportunities for action.

Dear Church Family,

If you would like to respond to this letter or change your email address or be removed from our list, please email us at

This week I am writing about the following items:

  1. NEW: Epiphany Sunday Worship 1/5/20 at 10:00 AM
  2. NEW: Program for Children and Youth Sundays in January on Martin Luther King Jr.
  3. NEW: Important Climate Events in January
  4. Suggested Reading for Any Time Like Now, Active Hope
  5. Heartfulness Contemplative Training Circle Every Thursday
  6. UPDATE: Mark Your Calendar: Special Singing Workshop February 29th
  7. Upcoming Concerts and Choir
  8. Opportunities to Help Feed the Hungry Locally
  9. Past sermons
  10. UPDATE: Calendar of Upcoming Events 
  11. Please help spread the word!
  12. The Pastor is eager to talk with you…

Please note that if any of the links in this email do not work, you can find the content on our website  using the headings or the Search (magnifying glass) window.

1. NEW: Epiphany Sunday Worship 1/5/20 at 10:00 AM  You can read notes about this Sunday’s service and the season of Epiphany on our website at  This service will be full of gorgeous music including Preludes by J.S. Bach and several traditional carols relating to the Magi following the star.  You can watch a performance of the Coventry Carol on our website.  The sermon this week will look at the story of the Magi as a parable that relates to the situation we find ourselves in when we see a desperate need for change and have to dare to believe in the signs and dreams that tell us a new world is possible and we can make the journey there.

2. NEW: Program for Children and Youth Sundays in January on Martin Luther King Jr.  You can read about this program on our website at  This fall Danette Harris and Joey Hawkins explored with our children and youth what it means to love our neighbor as our self or to be a good neighbor. This month they will continue that exploration, focusing on the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and particularly his I Have a Dream speech. Dr. King’s message and life work feel very timely and needed right now.  Here is the tentative schedule:

January 5: Introduction to the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.: Who was he? What did he do? Why does it matter?
January 12: Taking a Look at Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” Speech, making sure the children and youth know and understand what the speech means, its context and significance as well as some of the Biblical references.
January 19: Prepare and Present Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” Speech to the congregation during the last part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday service
January 26: Dr. King’s Community and the Music of Being a Good Neighbor

All children and youth are invited to participate in our programs, newcomers are enthusiastically welcomed and no church affiliation or experience of any kind is needed.

3. NEW: Important Climate Events in January: 

  • Monday, January 6th Strafford Climate Action Group Meeting 7:00 PM in the United Church of Strafford Parish Hall We need people to help organize and educate about Strafford’s Climate Emergency Resolution in advance of Town Meeting.  We have gathered over 110 signatures of Strafford residents in support of putting the Resolution on the agenda. It is crucial we get discussion going well in advance of the first Tuesday in March.  Please help!
  • Thursday, January 9th Montpelier State of the State Address Rally, Noon at the State House The rally will be from noon to 1:00 PM with activities continuing through the Governor’s State of the State Address at 3:00.  This is an important opportunity to send a message to the legislature and governor to pass meaningful climate legislation. This event is sponsored by many organizations including Vermont’s Extinction Rebellion and
  • Saturday January 11th Norwich, Rev. Jim Antal Keynote and Revs. Telos Whitfield and Tom Kinder Workshop  12:30-4:30 PM  Four Upper Valley UU Churches are holding this event at the Norwich UU church at 320 Rt. 5 South, across from the Family Place. Rev. Jim Antal will give the keynote and a workshop on Advocacy for the Green New Deal.  Revs. Whitfield and Kinder will talk about Actions in Churches and Communities.
  • Wednesday, January 22nd Building Community Resilience BALE Commons (35 South Windsor St.) in South Royalton, 6-8 PM A discussion about using a space like the church to be a center for local resilience and mutual aid, including growing food and medicine, increasing emergency preparedness, providing basic human needs, and engaging with root issues of the climate crisis.
  1. Suggested Reading for Any Time Like Now, Active Hope  I am reading this book for the second time now and will continue to refer to it in worship.  It is even better the second time through.  If you missed reading it during Advent, please do yourself the favor of reading it now.  The wisdom in this book is growing more important every day as the news in our nation and world grows more disturbing.  It talks about “active hope” in the sense of having a hope that enables us to be active in ways that help bring about what we are hoping for, but I find in rereading it that hope has become like an active ingredient in a medication.  The book keeps hope active and growing in my heart.The subtitle of the book is How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy.  It is contemporary yet grounded in ancient wisdom and the authors exhibit a range of scholarship you would expect from a graduate of Wellesley with a PHD dissertation that compared Buddhist cosmology to modern Systems Theory, joined by a psychologist MD specializing in helping people move toward resilience, happiness and positive change.  The best thing about this book is that it shows a way through any time of hardship, depressing news or despair—a way that can lead to an active hope and new and greater meaning in our lives.  It is a practical path of light for every season. You can find a link to read more about the book or order it on our website at Heartfulness Contemplative Training Circle We meet regularly on Thursdays in the Parish Hall from 5:45-6:45 PM to practice Centering Prayer or meditation, and heartfulness or mindfulness, and to talk about our contemplative practice and spiritual life. To read much more about this circle please see our website at

    6. UPDATE:  Mark Your Calendar: Special Singing Workshop February 29th Our choir often sings beautiful pieces written or arranged by Mary Alice and Peter Amidon (see  The Amidons will be holding a singing workshop here in the United Church of Strafford on February 29th, 2020 from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM! Welcome to everyone who loves to sing, no experience needed, all ages welcome.  Please bring your own lunch.  All United Church of Strafford choir members may attend free of charge, otherwise $10 for youth, $15 for age eighteen and older.  Please speak with Annemieke if you are interested, and spread the word!

    7. Upcoming Concerts and Choir  All concerts are on Fridays except where noted, 7:00-8:15 pm. Admission by donation, 20% goes to the church’s Manheim Fund for the Arts.
    January 10th 2020: 20 Preludes and a Piece, Annemieke McLane
    February 7th  Beethoven & Brahms & Variations, Annemieke
    March 13th Cassotto Duo (Jeremiah and Annemieke McLane)
    April 3rd Cello/Piano Bach and Beethoven, with cellist Emily Taubl
    May 15th Music and Friends.
    June 12th Nature in Music

    Sing with the Choir  Weekly choir for all ages. Sing in service. Sing with gratitude, love, pain, all that is there.  Everyone is welcome 8:50 AM-ish. Rehearsals start 9 AM. At the beginning of each month a 4-week plan/repertoire list will be handed out. All levels/experiences are welcome.

    8. Food Shelves and Collections  Please spread the word about the three ways people in need in Strafford can receive food assistance, and support these projects as you can.

  2. The Strafford Community Food Shelfis located at Coburns Store and open whenever the store is, and it accepts financial donations.
    B. The Sharon Food Shelf is located in the Lighthouse Building near the church and is open Tuesdays and Thursdays 4:30-6:30 PM and gladly accepts donations of food and money.
    C. We collect food items to distribute either directly to families or through the Sharon Food Shelf. There is a basket in the back of the church and items may be brought on Sunday morning or any other time.9. To read past sermons click here.
  3. Below is an updated calendar.  You can also find a more comprehensive calendar on the website at you to our congregation’s wonderful Administrative Assistant, Jane Prescott, for keeping the website calendar up to date.  By clicking on entries on the website calendar you can read brief descriptions of the events.Church Calendar:
    Sun. Jan. 5                  Epiphany Sunday, January Program for
    Children and Youth Begins: MLK Jr.
    Thurs. Jan. 9               Heartfulness Contemplative Circle 5:45 PM*
    Fri. Jan. 10                  Annemieke McLane concert 7:00 PM*
    Sun. Jan. 12                Baptism of Christ Sunday
    Sun. Jan. 19                Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday
    Fri. Feb. 7                   Annemieke McLane concert 7:00 PM*
    Sun. Feb. 23                Transfiguration Sunday
    Wed. Feb. 26              Ash Wednesday, Lent begins
    Sat. Feb. 29                 Amidon Singing Workshop here*11. Please help spread the word by using the “share” and “like” buttons on our website, and by liking, sharing and commenting on our facebook postings time you do that the number of people seeing our postings increases exponentially!) or by using the most effective means of communicating yet invented: word of mouth!

    12.  I am only a half time pastor, so I cannot take the initiative to reach out to everyone, but I am very eager to hear from those who would like to talk and I can always find the time!  It is something I am honored to do and love to do, so thank you in advance for the opportunity!  Please feel free to email me at or call me at my home office in the parsonage at 765-2710 if you would like to talk or set up a time to get together.

    Thank you!
    Merry 10th Day of Christmas and Happy New Year!
    Pastor Tom Kinder


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