— 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!
— From the Trustees —
The month of August generally is dedicated to completing some of the maintenance and building inspection punch list items. The grounds were maintained with the TEAM effort throughout the summer to keep the lawn freshly cut.
Chris Bradich, grand-daughter Serenity, and Janet Mayer kept the flowers blooming. Ron Brown trimmed the bushes and much of the lower dead limbs from the evergreens surrounding the parking lot and three pick up truck loads were hauled off to the compost pile. Various paint touch ups were similarly done by Ron. Paul is attempting to level the back step to the Sunday school that has heaved up over time. The oil burner cleaning has been scheduled.
Many thanks to all who help to maintain our buildings and who contribute financially. We continue to brainstorm ideas to reduce our yearly deficit and the consequent drain on our endowment. Please remember your church so that this community of faith will continue to serve you, the community, and our Lord for many years to come.
Greetings from Rev. Barbara Kershner, Interim Pastor
From the warmth of our welcome, to the inspiration of our worship, the delight of our young people, the embrace of our caring, and the diversity of our mission that we offer, you will want to see what we are all about. We invite you to visit us. We'd love to have you as part of our Church family. We welcome all!
— News from Christian Education —
Sunday School began September 10 so bring your children, grandchildren, neighbors, friends! We will have a great year learning to follow Jesus, serving our church and community, sharing Bible stories, and making music. Many thanks to our devoted teachers. For 5 years of serving as Sunday School superintendent we give thanks to Kathleen Igoe. We welcome Janet Holmgren as new member and new superintendent. Blessings for a great year.
Pastor Barbara is also starting a group for those young people who wish to be confirmed, to reaffirm their baptism and to claim the Christian faith for their own. We will find a time to meet that works with everyone’s crazy schedules ! We will learn what it means to be a practicing Christian in today’s multicultural world. We will have time for questions, prayer, community service, and fun. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have 12 or 13 year olds in your house !
Adult study opportunities: We had a small but mighty Bible study group this past August and we read through the Psalms, all 150 of them !! Did you know they are divided into 5 books within the Book of Psalms? Did you know that the psalms were written by many different authors including King David, Asaph, the Korahites, Moses, and lots of unknown writers? Did you know that many of our favorite hymns are based on psalms? Did you know that although the psalms invite us to thank and praise God, others express sorrow, anger and frustration at the injustice of the world? Did you know that Jesus quoted one of these ‘sad psalms’ as he hung on the cross? (Psalm 22) Take time to read and pray a psalm today.
"Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18: 3b-4
September 10 was Rally Sunday and we had a rousing service that welcomed back summer vacationers to church, and children to Sunday School. The music was particularly lovely, with Gabriela Zasada playing the violin, and the Youth and Adult choirs joining forces to sing Hamba nathi , a joyous South African medley that ultimately involved the entire congregation. Thank you, Susan, for lifting hearts and voices!
The Deacons had there monthly meeting this week, and do to the chill inside the church, they decided to take their chairs and conversations outside on the lawn of the parsonage. It was a lovely, early fall day, so they were able to accomplish a great deal!
81 Hancock Road • Williamstown, MA 01267 • (413) 458-3467
— Ah! To Be Young Again —
By Rev. Barbara Kershner, Interim Pastor
September 10, 2017
Ah ! To be Young Again !
So what is it like to be a child? What are some childlike qualities? Curious, excited, honest, energetic, trusting, determined, persistent —they fall down, and they get back up again and again, forgiving, resilient, hopeful, daring, willing to learn . . .
Dr. Seuss says: Adults are just outdated children !
Jesus says: Unless you turn … repent … change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
So let’s put on our thinking caps and 3D glasses because we are all children and we call God, "Our Father.” We are also all children of earth but we grew up in different generations. We were shaped by the events, the culture, music, politics, and expectations of those particular times. Some of you were shaped by the sacrifices expected and made and honored during WWII. Others of us grew up during the turmoil of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War, the Women’s Movement. Some grew up without television. Others have never known a time without computers. Some of us remember having to dial the operator to make a long distance call. Others have never been without a cell phone. We are children of the same God but not the same generation.
How many of you went to Sunday School as children?
How many of you had children who went to Sunday School here?
How many of you remember when there wasn’t anything to do on Sunday except go to church and visit the grandparents, and then maybe go back to church or youth group Sunday evening ?
Those were the days ! But for years now Sunday has been just like any other day. Sports practice and games, shopping, movies, work, and maybe if you’re lucky-- a time to relax with family and friends and get ready for Monday.
People don’t go to church like they used to. They are busy doing other things. Going to Sunday School is not compulsory like it was in 1842 when our first Sunday School Superintendent brought the boys from Greylock Institute. That ended in 1872 when the school burned down. Times change.
And “Unless you change or turn, and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven,” says Jesus.
We, the ones who are here today, we need to turn, to change, to become as resilient and persistent and daring and honest as children. We need to see the world and respond to its needs as things are now, not as they used to be. We need to follow Jesus into the 21st century.
Are you ready and hopeful and excited as children?!
As part of your church’s profile there is a question about age distribution on a Sunday morning.
Here are your numbers:
0-11 years of age — we have 6 children
12-17 years of age — 10 older children
18-44 years of age — 0
45 – 54 years of age — 15
55-64 — 3
65-74 — 29, our biggest group
75 and over — 16
Did you notice that big gap — people 18-44 — this is mostly the generation known as millennials with some younger GenXers thrown in too. Second Congregational is totally missing the Millenials, our 20 and 30 somethings. BUT do not despair! We are not alone. According to the Pew Research Center:
“Millenials are less religious, less likely than older Americans to pray or attend church regularly or to consider religion an important part of their lives. Many millennials and younger GenXr’s have parents who are Baby Boomers and Boomers taught their children that it’s important to think for themselves—to find their own moral compass. As a result they are more likely to have a ‘do it yourself’ attitude toward religion.”
Because 2nd Congregational is in a rural area, we are harder hit. Our millennials have gone off to college, to work, to adventure, to the big city, to better jobs and more affordable housing. It’s nobody’s fault. It is what it is. And it’s not 1960!
And it’s not all bad.
GenXer’s and Millenials do have spiritual interests and they seek spiritual experiences. For those who define themselves as “spiritual but not religious,” their most frequent forms of spiritual practice are spending time in nature and meditation. You know Jesus practiced those also. It’s not a bad thing. And It’s not impossible for us to offer those experiences. We’re not limited to one hour on Sunday morning.
What is not attractive to many younger people is organized religion. Having to become a member. Having to vote or attend meetings or be told by others what to believe. What is not attractive to younger people is old fashioned ways. They love grandma but they don’t want to live like grandma! And let’s admit it—there are a lot of old, grandma type things in this building! One generation’s thinking doesn’t appeal to everyone. If you truly want younger people to come and feel welcome and stay and get involved, you will have to let go of some old ways. Otherwise, they will only drop in occasionally to visit grandma.
Our mission is NOT to be a museum for antique religious traditions. Our mission is NOT just to hang on and survive. Our mission IS and always was to pass on the good news of Jesus Christ and to make disciples in every generation in ways and language they can understand.
So, children of God, are you excited or curious and willing to learn about where we go from here? Since I’m a Baby Boomer I believe that you must think for yourselves, but I will offer 5 suggestions !
1. Love and support and teach the Sunday School children we have now. Say ‘yes’ if you are asked to help in some way. Give the children some wiggle room when they’re in church. And learn from those who are greatest in the kingdom of God.
2. Listen to their parents. Pay attention to their suggestions, their needs, their complaints, their opinions. Appreciate their generational viewpoint.
3. A practical suggestion: Let go of old stuff that hasn’t been used in years and is only collecting dust and mold, and using up space. Clean and clean out closets, basements, entryways before you begin interviewing candidates. Mold, dust, and clutter are not attractive or welcoming.
4. Another practical suggestion: Interview younger candidates and listen to their honest comments about the church. As we say to children who are about to get an injection: “It will hurt but it’s for your own good.”
5. And finally, remember that you are God’s children: God the Creator…so be creative, be welcoming, rejoice, forgive and never give up !
As Jesus blessed the children, May he bless you.