United Church of Strafford, Vermont

Upcoming Service Notes for October 13, 2019, Refugee Sunday

Transport 2 24 x 26 oil/canvas by Marcia Bushnell

We are suggesting a homework assignment to prepare for this Sunday’s presentation on refugees by artist and activist Marcia Bushnell. We will have a brief worship service in the sanctuary at 10:00 AM and then a symbolic refugee journey to the Parish Hall for a video presentation narrated by Marcia of her thirty years of art, research and reflections on refugees. The presentation will begin shortly after 10:20 PM.  We will break for refreshments at 11:25 or so and then regroup for a discussion of Marcia’s presentation and the issues it raises, ending by 1:00 PM.

The brief service will include a time with the children, a responsive reading of scriptures, pianist Annemieke McLane playing a heart melting Prelude by A. Scriabin, the choir singing “Refugee” by R. Hoffmann and L. Holstedt and a Prayer of Confession from the Church of Scotland.  We will sing a hymn as we make our refugee journey to the Parish Hall for Marcia’s presentation.

As suggested (not required) homework, we urge you to watch some videos on refugees including these below.  The first is a set of very short films recommended by the UN High Commissioner on Refugees, the second is a must-see feature length documentary and the third is another set of short films recommended by Amnesty International:

7 videos guaranteed to change the way you see refugees

and click here for:

Human Flow, a stunning documentary by artist, activist and director, Ai Weiwei

Here is its trailer, a work of art in itself and a beautiful, poignant summary of the refugee issue:

And you can see the Amnesty International set by clicking here:


Save Fuel and Stay Warm this Winter with Window Inserts

Dear Church Family,

Please consider making your home more energy efficient for this heating season and please especially share this information with lower income neighbors!

Save Fuel and Stay Warm this Winter with Window Inserts

The Strafford Energy & Climate Committee is working with WindowDressers, a nonprofit organization, to make 100 custom-built, interior storm window inserts for Strafford residents.

Funds have been received for income-qualifying residents for greatly reduced pricing. Income-qualifying residents are asked to respond by October 13th.

Measuring has started and will run through November 15th. All those interested, contact Kevin Grady (phone: 765-4911 or energy@straffordvt.org). For more information including prices and income qualifications click here: Strafford WindowDresser Community letter.

Thank you,
Pastor Tom Kinder

Upcoming Service Notes for October 6, 2019

This Sunday offers the dynamic combination of World Communion Sunday and the return of George Kinder for our Golden Civilization Conversation II.  We will take the Golden Civilization conversation much farther and deeper, following our fist conversation last April.  (See below for the agenda for the after-refreshments portion of the day.)
George will be giving a talk during the sermon time about the very practical role of mindfulness and freedom in transforming our democracy, economy and media and in cultivating wise leadership to make the changes that our civilization urgently needs in order to survive.
His talk will follow the line of thinking in our sermons of September 22nd and September 29th about the need for a change of consciousness toward wisdom and oneness and love of neighbor. We will read from Psalm 37, Deuteronomy 30:15-19 and Luke 17:5-6 and sing “Many Gifts, One Spirit” and “God of Grace and God of Glory,” as well as the World Communion hymn, “When We Can See As God Can See.”  The choir will sing the South African, “Freedom Is Coming,” the Ecclesiastes “Turn, Turn, Turn” by Pete Seeger, arranged by the Amidons, and the Hebrew “Henay Ma Tov.” (“It is so good and pleasant when brothers are together!”)  Pianist Annemieke McLane will perform three gorgeous pieces as she does every week, amazing our ears and filling our soul.
Here is the agenda after refreshments (approximately 11:45 to 1:30 PM)…

Read More

Pastoral Letter: Emergency Response

Dear Neighbors,

If your car stalls on a steep hill and you start rolling backwards, immediately you put on the emergency brake.
If a consensus of conservative science says that you have very little time left to save the world from crashing, you do not keep living as if everything were the same.  You take emergency measures.
The only way to pull the climate emergency brake fast enough is to act together as one democratic people’s movement. The people have to lead because our leaders in Washington are paralyzed.
We can move governments to action if enough of us join together and demand a massive mobilization right now to achieve net zero carbon emissions with justice for all, compassion for the most vulnerable and common-sense ethics like the Golden Rule.  We need to respond to this emergency, and as we do we need to create a more democratic, equitable world for our children where this won’t happen again.
We are on our way to having enough people speaking out to create a tipping point, but we need much more right now.  We need you.
Children around the world are giving a day a week to strike and organize and publicize the strikes.  What if we adults devoted a day a week to support this movement using our particular gifts, abilities and resources in a way that makes us each feel useful and hopeful?
Giving that much time may seem unthinkable, but the future that is coming if we do not take extreme measures is even more unthinkable.  We have entered an era unlike anything since the outbreak of World War II.  We need to think differently about our daily lives now.  Our children are depending on us to respond appropriately.
Two of the things you can do in Strafford are:
1. join the Friday morning strikers in front of Barrett Hall any time between 7:30 and 9:00 AM;
2. join the Strafford Climate Action Committee–it’s next meeting is Monday the 7th at 7:00 PM in the United Church of Strafford Parish Hall.
You can participate in and support the many larger groups working daily to build this movement like Mothers Out Front, 350.orgSunrise MovementExtinction Rebellion, and others.  It is also important that we come together as a community to reduce our carbon footprint and build Strafford’s resilience in the face of a future Irene or more extended time when essential systems are disrupted.
We need to emphasize the trust that each of us will be there for our neighbors and our neighbors will be there for us, whatever comes.  There is tremendous comfort and hope in that thought.  It has been one of Strafford’s most valuable traditions.
Our children are wise who say that they felt despair until they starting taking action.
Action creates hope, so thank you for every action you take!
Pastor Tom Kinder

Sermon from September 29, 2019

Love Over Fear
Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder

United Church of Strafford, Vermont
September 29, 2019
Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Psalm 146; I John 4:16b-21; Luke 16:19-31

The founder of Dartmouth’s Religion Department died recently.  Fred Berthold was a wise and generous-hearted professor, mentor and promoter of social justice.  Fred wrote a book on “the role of anxiety in contemporary thought” in 1959.  That certainly was an anxious era with students being taught to duck and cover in case Russia dropped atomic bombs, and growing civil rights unrest, and the young discovering that they had the powerful voice that would bring about a revolution in our culture’s consciousness in the 1960s.

We are in another anxious time now with many similarities, including Russian threats, the rise of a youth movement and a new consciousness struggling with the old.  And now we have another source of anxiety more powerful than any we have faced before.

New York Times reporter Somini Sengupta wrote this week about interviewing leading young climate activists in seven countries around the world.  She said, “As a parent, I was most struck by hearing how terrified they were.”

Our children in Strafford are afraid, too.  Greta Thunberg gave a heart-wrenching speech at the United Nations on behalf of all children and youth.  She said, “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”

She finished her five-minute talk saying, “You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.”

Over seven million people worldwide took place in climate strikes in the past ten days.  It is urgent that we help it grow.  Only a massive democratic global movement demanding change will convince governments to control the powerful corporations that are destroying our children’s world.  The statistics that Greta quotes indicate that we now have only eight years instead of the twelve we thought we had a year ago because carbon emissions are still increasing.

Strong emotions are completely justified, but anxiety, fear and rage are dangerous fuels for change.  They can explode, they can burn the hands that wield them.  Fear and rage in our hearts will not create a world of love and peace.

Spiritual traditions have practical wisdom to offer that can transform raging fear into an even more potent force: a force of love.

Today we heard a beautiful antidote to anxiety.  Read More

Mother’s Out Front Anti-Oppression and Anti-Racism Online Trainings

Dear Church Family,

The issues of climate change and racism have a direct, tragic connection, similar to so many other connections like climate and refugees, climate and economic injustice, climate and war, climate and weakening democracy and more.  Please see the list of “Anti-Oppression and Anti-Racism” trainings below that are being offered this fall by Mothers Out Front. Read More

Lord’s Acre 2019: Living La Vida Local! October 12, 2019

Our 2019 Lords Acre celebration will be held this Saturday, October 12 at Barrett Hall.  This year, the celebration rejoices in our local community and how we support each other.

There will be a dinner with continuous seating from 5:00 to 7:00 PM, with some wonderful surprises—a Fall Taco Fiesta with all kinds of local foods (including baked potatoes if you would rather put the toppings on spuds), and, worry not, the usual dazzling line up of homemade pies.

This year’s show follows the “Living La Vida Local!” theme and is entitled, “Cherish Your Neighbors,” with show times at 4:30 and 7:00 PM.

And the silent auction returns after a few year’s break.  It will take place from 5:00 to 7:00 PM and is another way we will celebrate and cherish our neighbors!

Cost: $12 ; $10 seniors;  $5 kids 6 and under