January 2012

            VESTRY MEETING

At its meeting on December 19, the Vestry:

–accepted the Treasurer’s Report and heard a report about pledging for 2012 (as of 12/19/11, there were 30 pledges totaling $62,000;the pledge goal for 2012 is $69,000).

–did more work on the 2012 budget;

–heard a report from Todd McKee, our Parish Intern, about his work thus far;

–discussed ongoing improvements to the parish website;

–heard a report about the continuing work in assisting victims of Topical Strom Irene;

–discussed some plans for the next Parish Breakfast on Sunday, January 22;

–approved a recommendation to have the septic  tank pumped out before the ground freezes; and

–set the date for the Annual Meeting: Sunday, February 5.



On Saturday, December 10, at 7 p.m., Pat Stebbins Williams and five of her musician friends (the group is called “Wood, Strings, and Ivory”) offered a concert of bluegrass-style gospel and spiritual music at St. Martin’s. Almost $300 was raised for the relief efforts to aid those who were severely affected by Tropical Storm Irene.


One of our goals for this year has been to up-date the parish website and make it more helpful to anyone interested in our parish. Bill Secord and Todd McKee have been working with a website consultant and have made some initial improvements to the site. Check out  the site for some new additions, such as the text of recent sermons preached by Todd Mckee and John Morris, photos from Christmas Eve, and photos from the December 18 celebration of Bill Atkinson’s ordination anniversary (on the “Parish Photos” page, just click on the link at the top of the page). The site address: https://stmartinsvt.wordpress.com/


              ADULT EDUCATION

A five-session discussion series will be held on the five Tuesdays in January. The series is entitled “Embracing an Adult Faith.”  Each session will begin at 4:45 p.m. and end at 6 p.m. The discussions will be based on brief DVD presentations by Marcus Borg, noted New Testament scholar. An excerpt of one of these presentations is available on the parish website (see the “Adult Formation” page). Contact Todd McKee, our parish intern, for more information. Todd will be facilitating the discussions.


   On Sunday, January 22, we will have a parish breakfast, followed by a more informal celebration of Holy Communion. As we did on three occasions in 2011, we will begin with breakfast in the Gathering Room (a sign up list for food donations is on the table in the Gathering Room) and have the first part of our worship with participants seated at the breakfast tables. After readings, stories, and prayers, we will process into the worship space for communion. If you know of people who might be interested in this more informal form of worship, please invite them to join us. It is a good way for newcomers to be introduced to our parish.


Thank you to Marion Jacobus, who prepared eight Christmas stockings that were given to the foster children served by PINS. Candy, cookies, and gift cards were included in each stocking. A note expressing thanks to the parish from the coordinator of PINS is posted on the Parish Life bulletin board.


Through the magic of Youtube, many people have enjoyed watching two holiday musical events. A year ago, thousands of people watched the video of a “flashmob” performance of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” in the food court of a large mall. This year, a “flashmob” performance of “Deck the Halls” as done in a hall at The University of Minnesota has also been watched by thousands of people.  The first video can be accessed by Googling “Hallelujah Chorus in Food Court.” The second video can be accessed through this link:




     Because our Diocesan newspaper, The Mountain Echo, will now be available only in an electronic version, those who have been receiving The Episcopal Journal, the newspaper for the Episcopal Church, will no longer be receiving it wrapped inside The Mountain Echo. It is possible to get a reduced rate ($22 per year) for an annual subscription to The Episcopal Journal if our parish has at least ten subscribers. If you are interested in subscribing to The Episcopal Journal, please contact either Pat Ballou or Jaqueline Wren about your interest and we will see if we have a sufficient number of subscribers to get the reduced rate.

“Epilogos” Project in El Salvador

By Bill Secord

     I will be leaving for El Salvador on January 5 with a group of people from the Lebanon-Riverside Rotary Club to help build a cinder block house in the village of San Jose Villanueva. Several years ago, two former members of the Lebanon-Riverside club founded a volunteer center called Epilogos in rural San Jose Villanueva. Volunteers from across the United States stay at the center to work on humanitarian projects in the village. The group that I will be in will work in collaboration with Epilogos, which interviews the families eligible to receive the new home and handles other logistics.

The Lebanon-Riverside group has the good fortune to be able to stay in a local private home owned by Bill Sahlman, the person who organized the trip and  who is currently president of the West Lebanon club. His home is on the coast of El Salvador about thirty minutes from the village where the house will be constructed. The members of the team have rented a vehicle to drive to the worksite, located in a remote part of the village, each day. The construction materials have been purchased by donations from the club and individual members of the team. The prefabricated building materials, designed specifically by Epilogos, cost $5,000.

I will stay in El Salvador for eight days, and most of the team will remain for a full two weeks. They hope to be able to do some local “sightseeing” in the beautiful countryside and travel to the nearby port of La Libertad.

Epilogos is recognized and supported by many organizations, including Engineers without Borders, ADESCOJ (a local community development organization), the school administrations and municipal government of San Jose Villanueva, many faith-based communities and churches,  health professionals from many different states in the U.S., and Rotary clubs from many countries. More can be learned about the Epilogos mission at their website:



By Jaqueline Wren

    On December 10th, I attended a workshop on Centering Prayer held at the Thetford Hill Church.  “Centering Prayer” is the name being used for a relatively recent method of meditation which has become well known and has developed a considerable following in the United States in the last fifty years.
This particular workshop was led by Mark Kutolowski, who lives in Thetford and is the director of  “New Creation Wilderness “ programs, based here in the Upper Valley.  He is a former Benedictine oblate.  (An oblate is a non-ordained person who accepts a certain number of the vows of an enclosed community and undertakes to live and work there for a set period of time.) Mark was with a community in Pennsylvania.  He is an experienced leader in the Centering Prayer movement. Helping him were two other people, a woman from Burlington who has attended other workshops led by Mark Kutolowski and is a regular practitioner of Centering Prayer, and a director of the national organization, “Centering Prayer,” from northern Massachusetts.
The basic format of Centering Prayer was mainly developed and popularized by Father Thomas Keating, now of Snowmass, Colorado, in response to the growing interest in spirituality that he saw developing in the United States in the latter years of the 20th century.  It recommends two periods of twenty to thirty minutes of silence a day, and uses a short prayer word of your own choosing, to silence the mind.  Two of his most recent books, Intimacy with God and Open Heart, Open Mind are good introductions to the method. Another recommended book is Cynthia Bourgeault’s Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening. 

There were 35 or 40 people at the December workshop which lasted from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. A number of them were members of a regular prayer group at the Thetford Hill Church, but others were outsiders like me.  We had two or three periods of practice with discussion afterwards as well as some overall presentations by the people in charge.  There are to be six follow-up sessions.


Thank you to the following people who contributed funds for the purchase of flowers for Christmas:

Lois Rondeau (in loving memory of Irene

Rondeau and Mabel Pushee)

Chris and Jaqueline Wren (in memory of

Carter and Frances Braxton and Sam

Virginia Sale Wren)

Pat, Sylvia, and June Brown  (in memory of

Oscar and Noella Brown)

Ada Kurz ( for Charles J. Kurz, Jr., Loretta

and Charles J. Kurz, Sr., and Annie and

Edward Freeman)

Vera and R. Dewitt Mallary, Jr.

Howard S. Sussman.

Louise Parsons Pietsch.


An excerpt from The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson.  In describing the Herdmans (“the worst kids in the history of the world”), who take over the church pageant one year, the narrator says, “It suddenly occurred to me that this is just the way it must have been for the real Holy Family, stuck away in a barn by people who didn’t much care what happened to them. They couldn’t have been neat and tidy either, but more like this Mary and Joseph. They looked like people you see on the six o’clock news—refugees, sent to wait in some strange ugly place, with all their boxes and sacks around them. As far as I’m concerned, Mary is always going to look a lot like Imogene Herdman—sort of nervous and bewildered, but ready to clobber anyone who laid a hand on her baby.”

–                          CALENDAR


      9:15  a.m.—Informal Communion  (featuring stories about St. Nicholas)

     10 a.m. Holy Eucharist (Rite One)

Ingathering  of donations for  local food shelves


SUNDAY, JANUARY 8—Holy Eucharist with Todd McKee preaching


TUESDAY, JANUARY 3—first discussion session: “Embracing an Adult Faith” (4:45 p.m. to 6 p.m. )

       More discussion sessions in this series will be held each Tuesday in January.



MONDAY, JANUARY 23—Vestry Meeting—5 p.m. in the Gathering Room

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 5—ANNUAL MEETING (to be held immediately after the10 a.m. Holy Eucharist



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