Sunday Service, May 31, 2020
Rev. Belle Fox-Martin
There is a lot of different information out as to what churches can and should do when it comes to in-house worship along with a number of requirements that need to be met and followed. As of this writing we will not have any in-house worship prior to mid June. Stay tuned as
the May 31st service may be on "Zoom" along with WilliNet.
For May 24th here is the information.
The Sunday service will be on WilliNet 1303 at 9am and 4pm. It will be rerun Wed at 10am and Fri at 7pm.
The link this week is https://vimeo.com/422851030
This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Who is welcome to this time together? All are invited to worship your friends, your foes, people you have known your entire life, those you call ‘strangers’ , those you call family, those who bewilder or frighten you, those full of laughter, those whose tears you cannot see, those with a solid faith and those who have nothing but questions for God… All of these and so very many more are welcome to this time of worship. So, come and let us worship. Let us gather by opening our hearts and minds to God.
Loving God, you have called us to be your witnesses in the world. Grant us your guidance and sustenance. As we listen to the word that asks us to enact our beliefs, help us to become people of purpose and responsiveness. As we sense the need for bold profession of hearing good news, help us to become people of power and gentleness. As we commit and recommit ourselves to a course of spiritual growth, help us to become people of prayer and hopefulness. By your grace we ask this. Amen
1. 1. Don’t forget to please send Belle your favorite prayer or spiritual poem that you or someone else has written.
2. The UCC has announced their stance that worship not be conducted in churches until after the summer. This conclusion wasn’t arrived at without thoughtful/prayerful consideration. Yes, our church doors are closed but maybe God is asking us to find another door to come through to worship. Maybe as we continue to ‘socially distance’ God is nudging is to find new ways of connecting and reaching out to one another. Maybe this virus has made us all more aware of other people’s health and wellbeing… Covid has most assuredly caused struggle and heartache but it has also made us enliven our faith in new and different ways. On this Pentecost Sunday we celebrate the church - not the building but the church of our faithfulness.
JOYS AND CONCERNS:
Take a moment to open your heart and mind to your own joys and concerns.
Lord, grant us perspective; to see this world through others’ eyes than just our own. Grant us compassion. Grant us gratitude for what we have, our daily bread the gift of another day. Breath afresh on our lives, Lord, give us space, simplicity, and thankful hearts. Amen
WORDS OF ASSURANCE Bring to my missteps, shortcomings, and transgressions the cleansing winds of your forgiveness that I might be refreshed.
Acts 1: 6-8 6) Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7) He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
1 Corinthians 12:3-13 3) No one can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit. 4) Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5) and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6) and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7) To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8) To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9) to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10) to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11) All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses. 12) For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13) For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
Sermon: "River, Stream, Brook, Breath"I Know That Tune"
Rev. Belle Fox-Martin
This Sunday, the Church ends the 50-day Easter season with Pentecost. Pentecost celebrates the giving of the Holy Spirit and reminds us that our story isn’t fixed but rather it is dynamic, alive, and unfolding with our every breath. Pentecost reminds us that we are a people marked by both what has happened and what is happening. It reminds us once again that our primary work isn’t to defend and isolate ourselves from the world around us, but to move into it as ambassadors of hope and reconciliation. In the same way that the disciples moved out from Jerusalem after Pentecost to go out to Judea and Samaria. Pentecost is the time we are to move out of our places of comfort and complacency as we join God in the world he is making which is the world he keeps making every day.
But what exactly is the Holy Spirit? What does it mean to us? - What it means is no less than God’s promise that we will not be left alone. It is that simple and that profound. That no matter what, we will not be left alone as we go out into the world to new places to live the word of God. To feel abandoned and alone are the greatest fear of children of all ages - the greatest fear any of us has. We know intellectually that God promised us that we would not be left alone, and yet we continually have to relearn this in our hearts, not unlike the Roman officer who said: “Lord, I believe, help my disbelief.” Even though we know better, we tend to retract in our fear or despair and then look for God in the great and powerful. We look expecting God to be driving a Rolls Royce, not a Kia, to be flying overhead in the Concord, not as a sparrow. We think God must surely be disguised in gale force winds, not in a quiet breeze. But here and now, we know that the God we worship and whose Spirit watches over us is a God who travels in a still small voice that speaks to us out of the silence. In ancient Hebrew, the same word is used for both “spirit” and “gentle breeze”. So what is the Holy Spirit? It is a gentle breeze or that still small voice that comes out of the silence. It is what Jesus says in the synagogue at the beginning of his ministry: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recover sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.” So, the Holy Spirit is what comes from God and connects us all to God and each other.
The image that is most clear and resonates within me of what the Holy Spirit is comes from Isaiah who said: “ This is the great river which flows always and never fails.” And Saint Ambrose said: “So then, the Holy Spirit is the river, and the abundant river. This is the great river that always flows, and that never fails. And not only a river but also one of copious streams and overflowing greatness. God is the source of all rivers, the font of all rivers, all of the mighty or slow-moving rivers and streams that flow from it, traversing every country and continent, overflowing their banks in the Spring or going along glistening in the sunlight.” All of the rivers and tributaries moving and flowing -all of them are the Holy Spirit reminding us that we are not alone, that God is with us, and that ours is the ministry of his love. And that we are all connected to him and to one another.
The Holy Spirit has its beginning in God but it has no end. Maybe this is why people have such difficulty in understanding it. My suggestion is to keep it simple because it is simple- remember the still small voice or the innumerable rivers that spring from one source. Pentecost is the great celebration of the Holy Spirit - and of the church - all of the brooks, streams, and rushing tributaries that connect us to God and to be in service to one another. Today we celebrate the Spirit as it speaks to us from one to the other to the other, as it shouts and whispers to us that we are not alone - not alone in our faith, not alone as a church, not alone as children of God, not alone as we are sent forth to proclaim and share the word of God. . We hold up the blessing of this promise as we reach out in ministry, as we reach out like the streams, and rivers of God’s design all held in the Holy. Our every step is guided by God's perfect love encouraging us to reach out to others, to hear that whisper, to stand in that river.
The Holy Spirit being breathed in us means that we are no longer captive to fear, but enlivened by our freedom. The freedom to love those close to us as well as the outcast or the 'other' - whoever the 'other' might be is in your life. . The freedom to listen to those with whom we disagree. The freedom to share a table with those of different faith traditions. The freedom to face violence with creative alternatives. The freedom to love our enemies.
If we are content sticking around the comfort and certainty of Jerusalem, our doctrine will suffice. If we take seriously our call to Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth, if we leave our comfort zone and reach out to the other, then we must embrace the glorious mystery of the Holy Spirit and join her in participating in the healing of a broken heart or a broken world.
Peace be with you.
— Parsonage is Rented! —
Effective July 1st, we have a new tenant. A couple who currently live in northern New Jersey will be moving to Williamstown to start new jobs. We are very pleased to have the parsonage rented.
Welcome to June!
Welcome to soft skies and warm weather. Welcome to blooming trees and newly planted gardens. Welcome to long days and cool nights. Welcome to bird songs, butterflies and the occasional heron standing stock still on the water's edge. Welcome to June, this June, that has us counting our blessings far more often as we look around at all those that have been directly impacted by the virus or victims of the virus's economic, emotional, spiritual repercussions. As June begins so do we begin another month of not worshiping in church. As June begins, we worship together through Zoom and through WilliNet broadcasts. In June we will continue to reach out to one another, we will lend support to the food pantry and we will live our faith as best we can. This virus has certainly closed many doors to us but God has provided us with other doors to open. Other doors, other ways, new avenues to explore and to open our faithfulness...So, welcome to June. What new doors of your mind, heart and soul have been awoken in you? Belle
Music Director /Organist
At this date this is the June schedule. The Deacons/Trustees will continue to consider when/how we might safely return to some form of in-house worship.
June 7th — Virtual Sunday Morning Worship 9am
Rev. Belle Fox-Martin
June 11th — Deacon Zoom Meeting 3:30pm
June 14th — Virtual Sunday Morning Worship 9am
Rev. Belle Fox-Martin
June 18th — Trustees Meeting 4:30pm
June 21st — Father's Day — Virtual Sunday Morning Worship 9am Rev. Belle Fox-Martin
June 28th — Virtual Sunday Morning Worship 9am
Rev. Belle Fox-Martin
Graduates — Social distancing has left us without the ability of sharing about those we love who are graduating this spring. If you have someone that you would like to recognize for their success please send an email to the church, firstname.lastname@example.org with their name, place from which they completed studies, relationship to you (daughter, grandson etc.) and other special information (next schooling, job in what state/place?, mission trip) . We will put the list together and make it available with the June 14th service. Please respond by Wednesday June 10.
The Dorcas has been forced to cancel the Annual Strawberry Festival this year due to the restrictions imposed during the pandemic. It was a really hard decision to make. They looked at options, but in the end they didn't want to put people's health at risk. The event will be missed by those that work it and the community that has been very supported.
The Deacons suggested to the Trustees that they approve sending a check to WilliNet for $150 thanking them for their willingness to have the church services aired on channel 1303 each week and a check for $100 to the Williamstown Food Pantry to assist with their increased demand. The Trustees agreed and both checks have been sent.
Milestone Birthday — It is good to have family around when you celebrate a milestone birthday. If you are lucky enough to have two daughters and their spouses almost across the street and have three grandchildren very close by and to have a large number of great grandchildren within ten miles and even some great-great grandchildren in the area it works out well when you need help eating a cake large enough to hold 105 candles. June 30th is Cecile Love's birthday. Happy Birthday from all of us!
The Trustees are pleased to inform you that they have signed a lease for the parsonage beginning July 1st. The new tenants have lived in Williamstown before and are returning due to a job opportunity at a local business. May was inspection month. The Town Health Inspector approved the Certificate of Occupancy to rent the parsonage and also approved the church kitchen permit for another year. The Town Building Inspector approved the church after we replaced the emergency lights in the sanctuary. The Trustees would like to thank you for keeping your pledges and offerings coming in. Checks can be sent to Jean Richer, 124 South Hemlock Brook, Williamstown, MA 01267.
A Note from Pastor Belle
81 Hancock Road • Williamstown, MA 01267 • (413) 458-3467
— Music Notes —
The adult choir is looking for more members! We are very happy to welcome part-time members or occasional members. Rehearsals are on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 and Sunday mornings at 8:15. But if you can't make it to Wednesday rehearsals, feel free to just come on Sunday mornings! Or just visit once to see what it's like. Singing in our choir is lots of fun and it's good for your health, too!
Thoughts from the (dusty) organ bench . . . These days, weeks and months of confusion, sickness and death have truly taken a toll on all of us. I have been doing a lot of walking during this time which gives me time to think and one of the things I have been doing is choosing a hymn to listen to and pray with. I would suggest taking a favorite hymn or two (or three or four) and not only listening to and singing it but to really read the words and pray with them. I found that it brings a whole new dimension to something that is seemingly familiar. The newness found in seemingly familiar reminds us that in times of confusion, sickness and death there is hope, joy and promise. As St. Augustine said, "A song is a thing of joy; more profoundly, it is a thing of love. Anyone, therefore, who has learned to love the new life has learned to sing a new song, and the new song reminds us of our new life." My hope is that we can sing a new song to the Lord to give us and the world the reminder of hope and promise. Also, it's good practice until we meet again! Until then...be well, be safe, be healthy and SING! Matt
Important Notice regarding Sunday Services
All in-house activities are cancelled until further notice.
Pastor Belle will be on WilliNet Channel 1303 Sunday 9am, 4pm and Wed 10am, Fri 7pm.
The link this week is https://vimeo.com/422851030
Rev. Belle Fox-Martin
We are delighted to introduce Belle as our
new Bridge Minister! She joined us in
October and will lead our congregation until
we have found a settled minister.
Belle has been a minister with the United
Church of Christ for over 20 years. She
served as Pastor to the West Stockbridge
Congregational Church, UCC, and the
Housatonic Congregational Church, UCC.
Belle was born and raised in New York
City. She and her wife, Cheryl, live in
Stockbridge, MA, with three unruly but loving dogs. As well as being a minister, Belle is an artist, an author of several collections of poetry and micro stories, and she is a Substance Abuse Specialist having worked in NYC with the homeless .
Please join us on Sundays as we welcome Belle Fox-Martin to our church community!
Remember in Prayer
Members of the congregation: Norm & Betsey Burdick, Sam Westcott, Maggie Guiden, Jack Haig, Cecile Love, Polly Roberts(Dalmaso), Wayne Morrison, Brian Young, Don Quimby, Mary Kirby, Eunice Lapier
Shirley Sylvester, friend of the Congregation
Dick Diest, cousin of Wayne Morrison
Linda Cangelosi, sister-in-law of Mary Ellen Cangelosi
Charmaine Lapier, sister of Eunice Lapier
Hank Schneider, brother of Mary Ellen Cangelosi
Becky Leto and Judy Bruick, friends of Clare Morrison
Megan Jennings Dostal, friend of Chris van Luling & community
Matt Parker, friend of Chris van Luling
Jenna Fenander, friend of Bridget Spann
Asa Zammuto, friend of Bridget Spann & family
Julia Peele, sister of Bonnie Herr
Mike Kennedy, friend of Clare Morrison
Jessica & Taylor vanLuling, relatives of Bart & Chris
Paul Hamilton, friend of congregation
Michelle Nicklein, daughter-in-law of Virginia Nicklein
Fred Brill family of Mary Ellen Cangelosi
Victor Fraenckel friend of Bob & Janet Mayer
Cathy Foley, friend of Chris Bradich
Julie Weber, friend of Caroline Martel
Meg Schweitzer, Meg Dodds’ niece
Carol Clement, Mary-Ellen Cangelosi’s sister
Keith Roberts, Polly Roberts’ grandson
Matthew Broderick, Meg Dodds’ cousin’s son
Joan & Ed Cushing, Caroline Martel’s cousin
Ernest Frink, friend of Susan Rockefeller
Sandra Joyce, friend of Ann Tiffany
Sue Linquist Bob and Janet Mayer’s daughter
All of the First Responders who put their lives in
jeopardy to care for all of us.
For those working in grocery stores, gas stations, hospitals, nursing homes, health care facilities, food banks… who are working in spite of the danger to themselves.
Prayers for anyone who is overwhelmed by this pandemic.
Prayers for those who are feeling isolated or afraid.
Prayers that God give us the mindfulness to reach out by phone to those who we are not frequently in touch -those on the outer edges of our friendship & family.
Good morning everyone, 5/21/20
Attached is a letter from the UCC conference as to our churches continuing to not open for worship. I know that it is not the news you had hoped to hear, but I also know that you are keenly aware of wanting the members of our church to stay healthy and safe. This isn’t easy. Because we can’t determine an end to this pandemic it leaves us in an ongoing state of high alert. I realize that you all miss worshiping together under one roof. But, as people of faith, we need to be asking God, each other and ourselves:“What are we being called to do? “- “How can we, individually and collectively, be our brother’s keepers during this challenging time?” These are questions that I pose to you and I hope that you will tell me what you come up with.
Yesterday the deacons suggested that our Sunday service be live on Zoom. Zoom is a computer app where you can see and hear everyone who is present. The first Zoom service will be Sunday, May31 at 9am. You will be receiving separate instruction on how to open the Zoom call. WilliNet will continue to broadcast our services for those of you who do not have a computer.
Please continue to expand the circle of your caring… reach out in prayer, thought, word and deed to others. The isolation and fear experienced by so many during this time is palpable.
Give a call, write a card, say a prayer. If there is anything positive to say about this pandemic it is that it has made us live in the day. Today you are a beloved child of God standing in the sunlight of the Spirit doing the best you can to live the love of God.
Peace be with you, Belle
Southern New England Conference
United Church of Christ
Guidance for Phasing Forward to In-Person Gatherings
As of May 14, 2020
“But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” ~ Jeremiah 29:7
This is a time unlike anything we have experienced in our lifetimes. This is a challenging time for all of us. We have had moments of creative ingenuity and moments of overwhelming exhaustion.
We entered it in chaos, we plan to move through it with intention. We’re not reopening. Because we never closed. We have engaged ministry in new ways. We will move forward in new ways.
First, there is no way to ensure the overall safety of our congregations and communities until there is a trusted vaccine.
Second, in person worship in sanctuaries is one of the types of gatherings that is most likely to spread the infection.
• In an enclosed room over a length of time the airborne viral particles
can reach every corner. 6-foot or 12-foot physical distancing will not
• Speaking, praying and singing aloud propels the virus even further than just breathing.
• Using masks limits but does not prevent the transmission of the disease.
• Common surfaces abound.
• We know that people can be carriers of the virus without any symptoms.
Third, we don’t know everything about this disease and its impact on all ages. New information is coming out daily. This makes it hard to predict trends, safety measures, and phases.
Fourth, our congregations are comprised of the populations most vulnerable to Covid-19.
Fifth, an outbreak in our churches impacts our communities and the capacity of our health care system.
We have been reviewing dozens of documents and websites on next steps for places of worship. This document is an integration and distilling of those resources tailored for our churches. We are presenting a phasing forward approach beginning with our current Base Phase and moving through 4 phases that are tied to local conditions and the guidance of local government and health care professionals.
There is no one date that can be universally applied across our Conference to every church and every community. Things differ; local regulations, building size and condition, age of congregation, size of congregation, health care capacity in community, rate and incidence of spread in community.
The way forward won’t be linear. There is the possibility of new spikes in infection that may return us to Stay Home Stay Safe requirements.
Based on these phases and the current trends we believe in person worship in buildings will need to be suspended through at least the end of the summer.