2015 Annual Report

Warning for the Annual Meeting
of the Waterbury Congregational Church
United Church of Christ

ucclogocolor The annual meeting of the Waterbury Congregational Church, United Church of Christ of Waterbury, Vermont has been called for Sunday, January 31, 2016 following worship, in the sanctuary, to consider action on the following:
Article I. Presentation, discussion and action on the minutes of the January 25, 2015 annual meeting.
Article II. Presentation, discussion and action on the reports of the officers, boards, departments and organizations for the year 2015 (excepting the FY 2016 budget).
Article IV. Presentation, discussion and action on the Nominating Committee’s report and slate of officers and department members for the year 2016.
Article V. Presentation, discussion and action on the Trustee recommendation to distribute investment gain in 2015.
Article VI. Other business.

2014 Annual Meeting Minutes

The meeting was called to order at 11:30 a.m. with a prayer led by Peter Plagge.

I. Presentation, discussion and action on the minutes of the January 27, 2013 annual meeting.

The minutes of the January 27, 2013 annual meeting were accepted as written.

II. Presentation, discussion and action on the reports of the officers, boards, and organizations for 2013 (excepting the 2014 budget).

It was moved and seconded to accept the reports as written. Lesley Clark explained a correction to the Board of Finance report on page 18, in the actual column for 2013, the number $7122.85 was corrected to $9635.86 and in the actual minus transferred amount, the number $2122.85 was corrected to $4635.86. Cindy Senning thanked everyone for all of the reports. The reports, as corrected, were unanimously approved.

III. Presentation, discussion and action on the FY 2014 Budget Proposal.

It was moved and seconded to approve the 2014 budget as proposed.
Charlie Grenier gave a review of the 2013 actual income and expenses. He explained that more income was received than budgeted, and referred to page 23 which showed that significantly more money was received in pledges. The Trustees also contributed $5,000 to the general fund.
The 2014 budget shows a budget balance of minus $7,673.94. The pledge numbers shown in the budget are not inflated. The budget shows a salary increase of 2% for the employees. Peter Plagge and family switched to his wife’s medical plan, saving approximately $8,800. The hope is to have increased pledges and break even, with no borrowing from the Trustees. Polly Sabin asked about the increase in custodial supplies. Peter Plagge responded that the building is being used frequently, and the custodian is very particular about its cleanliness. He also stated that there was an over purchase of ice melt which cost several hundred dollars.
Curt Utton stated that the custodian, Bob Lucier, does an excellent job. B. Lucier was acknowledged for the work that he does for the church. P. Plagge stated that B. Lucier did not get a raise, but that he is getting want he wants as he is retired.
Cindy Senning stated that there was a change in the copier services contract which saved money. She pointed out a correction to payroll taxes on page 21 to the amount of $2,563.99. Cindy Senning made a motion to change the payroll tax line and associated changes. The motion was seconded by Dave Cutler and passed unanimously. By a unanimous vote, the motion to adopt the 2014 budget as amended was approved.

IV. Presentation, discussion and action on the Nominating Committee’s report and slate of officers and board members for the year 2014.

It was moved and seconded to accept the Nominating Committee report as amended. Polly Sabin stated she was surprised to see her name on the Board of Deacons, but was willing to serve in that capacity. Jill Chase indicated that P. Sabin was on the slate as a back-up person.
The Nominating Committee’s amended slate of officers and board members for 2014 was unanimously accepted.
Appreciation was expressed to those leaving the boards and to the officers for their continued work, as well as to new members joining boards.

V. Presentation, discussion and action on the Trustees’ recommendation to distribute any investment gain from 2013.

It was moved and seconded that the 2013 investment gains, both realized and unrealized, accrued during 2013 on the funds managed by the Trustees be allocated as follows: 25% to the Endowment, 60% to Firm Foundation, 10% to Housing, and 5% to Enrichment, and that the portion allocated to Enrichment be split 4% to General Enrichment and 1% to the Amy Bingham Fund.
Dean King stated that the market behaved well in 2013. He indicated several reasons for the allocations: the Trustees would like the Endowment to grow, there are substantial projects on the horizon that will be paid from the Firm Foundation fund, and the allocation to the Amy Bingham fund is to show appreciation for all of the work that is done on the flower beds.
The motion to allocate the 2013 investment gains on assets as recommended by the Trustees was approved unanimously.

VI. Other business

Curt Utton stated that the Board of Business Administration is making decisions on work that needs to be done in the sanctuary (as shown on page 22 of the Annual Report). A steering committee needs to be formed to look into maintenance issues and ways to improve the sanctuary. The projects need to be prioritized. The committee will have discussions with professionals to ascertain the priorities and set a timetable to evaluate costs and overall expenses. Lew Petit will lead the committee. Other issues include the carpeting and stained glass windows.
Cliff Bennett asked the committee to consider fixing the sound capacity in the front left corner of the sanctuary, where the choir sings. Harriet Grenier asked that repairs to the organ be considered, and stated that hot water in the kitchen is an issue.
Ginny Defede-Cove asked, in light of the church fire in Burlington, if there is any way to safeguard the church. Many different organizations use the church. The committee will take a look at the locks on the doors, and perhaps replace the lock on the side door with a more commercial style. They will also take a look as to how keys are handed out.
Dave Cutler corrected that there are actually 10 stained glass windows that need repair, and the cost could run as much as $12,000 per window.
Carla Lawrence expressed appreciation for the treasury work performed by Lesley Clark. Carla stated it is not just paying the bills, but payroll and federal tax reporting as well, and that can be a daunting task.
Peter Plagge thanked the Boards for getting their reports in on time, and stated that the draft annual report was available a full week ahead for the first time. He thanked all those who served on a board or committee, including Betsy Ainsworth, Jill Loewer, Wendy Haupt, Curt Utton, and Lori Morse.
Peter Plagge thanked the staff, and thanked Lesley Clark for all she does including scheduling, treasury work, phone calls, bulletins, and the newsletter. He thanked Tom Stevens for his work with the children’s programs, and MaryJane Austin and Eric Kroncke for their musical talents and worship leadership. Bob Lucier was thanked for his hard work which he accomplishes quietly and without complaint.
Cindy Senning thanked Ned Davis for his ministry with flowers.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 12:05 p.m.
Respectfully submitted,
Carla Lawrence


Every act of communication is an act of tremendous courage in which we give ourselves over to two parallel possibilities: the possibility of planting into another mind a seed sprouted in ours and watching it blossom into a breathtaking flower of mutual understanding; and the possibility of being wholly misunderstood, reduced to a withering weed. — Maria Popova

Modern physics understands that the observer, and the tools she uses to make the observations, have an effect on the thing being studied. Realizing that phenomenon is not isolated to the study of physical things, but could also attend to the analysis of a situation in which one is involved, it still seems reasonable to me to say that the Waterbury Congregational Church is a blessed success. Many churches in our denomination and in our state are not. Many of our Vermont congregations are looking for ways to get out: they are selling their buildings, they are unburdening their assets, they are no longer seeking full or in some cases, any pastoral leadership.
It is hard to say exactly why this is the case. Surely some of the problems we are facing can be attributed to external facts: a shaky economy, a shrinking population, and a relatively small pool of trained pastors willing to take on small, rural churches. But careful sociological studies have revealed other issues at stake in the mdoern decline of the church. Church Council read a book early last year in which the author, Diana Butler Bass, capitalizing on these sociological studies, urged the modern church to part with its cherised history of dogmatic certainty and its concommitant rigid admission policy and learn to deal with a more fluid, even secular, expression of Christianity. The answer, to the question of why the largest segment of the US population, in poll after poll, identifies as “spiritual but not religious” is that this group is unwilling to accept the orthodox conclusion that secularity and religion are necessarily at odds, unwilling to check their minds at the door.
I believe that one of this congregation’s strengths, in the midst of this great Western religious decline, is the refusal to leave our questions at the door — to be a place of worship and inquiry. I believe that we have something quite special in this regard. The adventure of faith seems properly alive and the old clamor for an hour on Sunday morning of secure platitudes and comforting stories is replaced by a deep desire to explore the world around us as it is given and not as we are directed by tradition to see it. We are engaged in community in the sense of it springing from the kind of communication that risks being misunderstood in the hope that we might blossom ever anew into a flower of breathtaking beauty.
On the Sunday after Christmas, the congregation gathered for worship was smaller than our usual average number of people, which thankfully has risen over the past year. There were five visitors that morning from Pennsylvania. One of them shared during our time for community matters a word of thanks for our choir. She told how she’d been to many small churches around the Vermont and had yet to hear a choir like ours. The willingness of Mary Jane Austin and Erik Kroncke along with the choir to seek breathtaking beauty while risking failure stands as an exclamation point to the kind of worship we seek together.
For the past year and a half, we have been blessed by various kinds of artwork on the walls of our sanctuary. I think this art does more for us than provide new visual stimulus for us as worshippers. These art shows gain us publicity, which is important, but more importanly they lead us to see. UCC novelist Marilynne Robinson said in a recent interview, “I don’t think that art or poetry needs to set out to change the world but I think it can change the world and make us more compassionate, more just, more aware.” Art invites us into the kinds of conversations we want ultimately to be about — not the mere transmittal of information, but the sacredness of incarnation when we are together seeking beauty, about the spirit being enfleshed in our “vulnerable-making process of speaking and listening.” Thank you Torrey Smith for your diligent work on this project.
Thank you, dear friends in Christ for your longing to be more than “Christian” but to be a community of explorers who must seek and claim the truth because the truth has first claimed you. Jesus said (in the Gospel of Thomas), “It is a wonder if the flesh came into being for the spirit; but it is the greatest of wonders if the spirit came into being for the flesh.” I take it that he means to give expression to the blossoming into the flower of breath-taking beauty that we experience together in so many ways, through great conversation, through art, through music, through sacred moments of quietness. That gift drives me and keeps the passion alive. I trust it does yours too.
Rev. Peter Plagge

Special Services Performed by Rev. Plagge

Date of Service Last Name First Name Location
February 23 Grenier Rosalie Annual Waterbury Congregational Church
January 10 Arkely Marjorie V.L. Perkins Funeral Home, Waterbury, VT
July 11 Church Catherine (Kay) Waterbury Congregational Church
September 14 Dunn Richard Corner Cemetery, Duxbury, VT
October 13 Morse Amanda Crossett Brook Middle School, Duxbury, VT
May 30 Senning Daniel Altamont, NY
Gupta Puja 1


As most of you know I was out on medical leave for two months this year. I want to thank you all once again for your thoughts, prayers, visits, and goodies. I would also like to thank Wynne Plagge for filling in for me. Hope it wasn’t to stressful working with Dad! Sue McCracken started coming in on Friday mornings to help out with the bulletins and continues to do so. Thank you Sue, I so enjoy your company.
I want to remind committees that I would be happy to post the dates and times of upcoming meetings. You can email me the information and I will list in the bulletin. As the various boards meet at times convenient for board members, if you would email your minutes to me following a meeting, I will not only file them so we have a copy on record, I will put your next meeting in the church calendar. Thank you in advance for your help.
This coming year we would like to update the phone and address book for the congregation. The last one was done in 2009. I know this book is helpful for many. As you can imagine lots of numbers and addresses have changed. Feel free to send any number or address you would like to have entered.
Peter, once again I continue to thank you for your patience and support.
I cannot end without saying thank you to the congregation for the support you have given me and the church. I would also like to thank the greeters, coffee makers, and committee members for your work. It really doesn’t take much to make me happy and when I see a completely full clipboard at the end of a service I am beside myself. On behalf of the congregation I want to thank Dave & Nancy Metivier for keeping our lawn mowed and trimmed during the summer and to the Ainsworth crew for plowing and sanding our drive. Your support makes life easier for us all. So again I say THANK YOU.
Respectfully submitted,
Polly Sabin Church Administrator


The deacons assisted with worship services by handling the duties of candle lighting (with many thanks to Ned Davis!), greeting and distributing bulletins if there were no greeters, gathering paper from the pews after worship, and taking the collection. We have also assisted with baptisms, communion, and new member ceremonies during worship.
We replaced the personal listening devices that are part of the sound system. These devices are updated technology and have been well-received by those who have used them.
Thanks to the congregation for your cooperation and spirit of love!
Respectfully submitted, Laurie Emery
Deacons: Polly Sabin Cindy Senning Jeff Loewer Laurie Emery

Board of Christian Education

On behalf of the Christian Education board, please accept this year’s annual recap for the Education Program. It was another good year for participation by the youth and their families, and much of that was due to the programming developed by the CE Board.
Starting at the beginning of the year, our winter program used the second set of lessons from Progressive Christianity’s new curriculum. We have used this curriculum for the past several years with great success — the lessons are laid out in a way to make preparation a snap for our teachers, and they are written in a way that allows us to make a better connection with our children than may be expected.
Spring found us returning to developing a puppet show to coincide with Children’s Sunday. The development of this was quite interesting, in that we tossed out the storyline we were trying to write all winter — King David, including the story of Goliath. Two things stood out as we discussed it, both between Barbara Paulson from No Strings Marionette Co. and the kids. First, the story is full of death, decapitation and multiple marriages, ghosts and filicide (killing one’s own son!). This may be an important story in the context of the “story”, but it became apparent that it was inappropriate for our collection of students, both because of age and, frankly, gender. So, second, we collaborated with them on stories that focussed on women from the Bible — oddly rare! And so we settled on Esther and Lydia. And we were able to have CLAM PUPPETS!
We were happy to work with Barbara again, and the use of puppets to teach new lessons was so successful that we are planning to have Barbara join us again this spring for another set of puppet shows.
This fall, our homecooked curriculum was based on the parables. We picked a small number of them and studied them in a way that explicated them in a deeper way than we might expect. Given the age range of our students, from K to 6, we were pleased with their engagement in these quirky little things, and we are planning to extend that study into our puppet program this year.
We held our Empty Bowls fundraiser in January. We raised nearly $800 for the Waterbury Food Shelf on a night filled with icy streets and football. We will hold this year’s on January 31, a night without football, and hope to make it a success. We have commitments from local restaurants to provide the soup, and from area artisans to make the bowls. We hope to see you there tonight!
Finally, I would also like to thank our board — Harriet Grenier, Paul Alexander, Lynn Wagner, and Linda Willis-Pendo, who provided me with excellent support throughout the year. Thanks to Peter for his insight and ideas for our programming — his guidance was invaluable — and to the Council for fully supporting our goals and programs.
Finally, thank you to the parents, grandparents and caregivers for the children who attend our Sunday School. I enjoy seeing them week in and week out, and thoroughly enjoy planning programs that will interest your children and keep them involved.
Respectfully submitted,
Tom Stevens Christian Education Director

Board of Business Administration

Members: Ben Smith, Curt Utton, John Ballard, and Ben DeJong
The Board of Business Administration is responsible for providing general operational safekeeping of the Waterbury Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, including administering for the daily operational and long-term maintenance issues of both the exterior and interior of our church. Inclusive in our decision making is the goal to improve and upgrade our facility while reducing operational costs. The following is a brief synopsis of our work during the past year.


Small repair items addressed at this time include light bulbs in the entryway and leaky toilets. Discussed possibility of using Steve James for carpentry work on the front steps during the work on the organ in August [this was not accomplished and will be addressed in FY 16].


General spring clean-up duties took place following the service on 5/18; an all-hands effort to clean windows, sweep up dirt spread during the winter months, and rake the lawn.


The board locks in contract with Russ/Wood (Richmond) for painting the north side of the church during the August break. A pre-purchase of oil and propane from Bourne was unanimously agreed upon at this time. The board also reached out to the Town to request patch work on the parking lot, per the agreement between Waterbury UCC and the Town. This work was completed in late summer. The board asked Pat McCabe for help repairing wood rot on the pillars behind the church, and he has been making progress on that front (thanks Pat).


Choir loft and organ area remodeled as orchestrated by the organ subcommittee. During the time the north side of the church was painted, and the compromised slate roofing (also on the north-facing side) was patched.


Reviewed idea from the Finance Committee to switch painting schedule to painting the entire exterior every 4-5 years rather than one side at a time each year. The board unamimously agrees with this plan, after (overdue) painting of the south side in FY 16. The state of the church sign was discussed. The structure itself is in need of repair, and it was suggested that we consider renovation to a (tasteful) digital sign so we can make use of it more effectively and the staff more efficiently. Temporary political-style parking signs may also be considered for parking block-outs as required by church sponsored events.
Respectfully Submitted,
Ben Dejong

Board of Oureach

The year 2015 was another busy one as our church continued to support many important mission activities. The Board of Outreach would like to thank the congregation for their generous gifts.
As in past years, we again participated in two UCC special offerings. One Great Hour of Sharing was held in the spring. OGHS responds to worldwide disasters, builds sustainable communities, and ministers to refugees. In the fall, we took an offering for Neighbors in Need. NIN is a special offering of the UCC that supports ministries of justice and compassion throughout the United States.
Some of this year’s outreach activities:
  • CWS Kits
    • Again this year, we served as a depot for the collection of various Church World Service kits (hygiene, school, baby care, emergency clean-up buckets). In addition to serving as a drop off location for other churches, our congregation, led by our church school kids, assembled a large number of school kits.
  • Pew Brochures
    • We updated the brochures that can be found in the church pews. These serve as a way for guests and regular parishioners, alike, to become familiar with the many outreach programs of our church.
  • Crop Walk
    • Cindy Senning and Tamatha Thomas-Haase helped to organize this year’s local CROP walk, which was held on September 27, 2015. There were many walkers of all ages, raising a significant of money that will support Church World Service’s global efforts to combat hunger. Area food shelves (Waterbury, Duxbury, and the Mad River Valley) received 20% of the total raised.. Thank you to Cindy Senning, Tamatha Haase, and all the walkers and sponsors for a successful event.
  • Kirby House Holiday Bags
    • To celebrate the Christmas season, we filled and delivered 32 canvas bags to the residents of Kirby House. Thanks to the members of the congregation who purchased toiletries, mittens, hats, gift cards, and more to fill the bags. A special nod to the Crossett Brook Middle School Student Council members who painted the bags with decorative snowflakes, and the church youth group who baked goodies to put in the bags.
  • Heifer Project Collection
    • We continued to collect loose change to support Heifer Project International. Make sure to watch for the Heifer jar as it makes an occasional appearance on the altar.
In addition to the previously mentioned activities, our church offered financial support to a number of worthwhile groups through our Board of Outreach budget:
  • Oiko Credit International
  • Heifer International
  • VLIAC (Vermont Low Income Advocacy Council)
  • Good Samaritan Haven
Once again, the board would like to thank the congregation for their generous support of outreach activities. We are always looking for more ways to be involved in our community; if you have a cause that is near and dear to your heart, feel free to contact the board.
Respectfully submitted,
Lori Morse

Board of Trustees

Board of Finance

The Board of Finances is proposing an improved 2016 budget with a deficit of only $5,476.49, which includes giving our five key employees a 2% raise in support of their continued good service.
The budget is carrying two Firm Foundation projects, one being $5,000 to paint the southeast side of the church, and another $5,000 to repair the rails of the front entryway. The rail replacement project was budgeted for in 2015 but not completed. Both projects are supported by the Board of Building Administration. A beautiful historic wooden building like our church generates continuous maintenance, especially painting and this part of the addition has not been painted since it was built. By finishing the 2016 projects the exterior of the church will be in great shape and it will be several years before the exterior will need to be painted again. The Board of Finance decided to carry these two improvements in the 2016 budget with funding by the Trustees Firm Foundation Fund. To be realistic the Board will likely continue to recommend that special projects, and to a smaller extent normal budget items, will need to be supported by yearly profits from our endowment investments, but hopefully not reducing the overall principal of the endowments. Hopefully membership will increase along with pledges to minimize dependency on the endowments.
Of course, your pledges, which are greater in 2016, are by far the majority of the church income, and we thank you all for your continued support. The Board of Finance could not do their job without a successful pledge drive. Thank you!
The church held five major fundraisers in 2015 raising a total net of over $10,000. They included the Strawberry Supper, Pulled Bork BBQ, Tag Sale, Apple Pie Sales, and the Chicken Pie Supper. If you have any fundraising ideas that you think we should try, please let the board know. These events not only serve to bring fellowship to our members, but give us another chance to shine in this community.
Respectfully submitted,
Alice Durkin, Charles Grenier, Alec Tuscany, Sherry and Gary Winnie





Personnel Committee

The personnel Committee meets on an ad hoc basis to assist with personnel issues, hiring, and policy development and clarification.
In 2015 we met several times in order to respond to some confusion regarding paid and non-paid time off for part-time staff. The policies and job descriptions in this area were clarified.
There were no changes in staff.
Thanks to all for their flexibility and openness to scheduling meetings on an as needed basis and participating in this important process.
Respectfully submitted,
Cindy Senning

Proposed Slate of Officers and Board Members

First Year of Term Term Expires
Moderator Carla Lawrence 2014 2018
Financial Secretary Dean King 2006 unlimited
Clerk Laurie Emery 2007 unlimited
Librarian/Historian Betsy Ainsworth 2013 unlimited
Leaving: Lesley Clark (Treasurer) 2013 Thank you!
Nominated: Cindy Senning (Treas.) 2016
Board of Deacons
Jeff Loewer 2013 2017
Polly Sabin 2014 2018
Cindy Senning 2014 2018
Leaving: Laurie Emery 2012 Thank you!
Nominated: Diane and Tom Leavitt 2016 2018
Nominated: Erin Helmken 2016 2018
Board of Finance
Alec Tuscany 2013 2017
Sherry Winnie 2013 2017
Gary Winnie 2015 2017
Leaving: Alice Durkin 2012 Thank you!
Nominated: Charlie Grenier 2016 2018
Dean King 2010 2020
John Buck 2010 2020
David Cutler 2011 2021
Lew Petit 2012 2017
Carla Lawrence 2015 2020
Bd. Christian Education
Lynn Wagner 2014 2018
Harriet Grenier 2012 ex officio
Leaving: Linda Pendo 2012 Thank you!
Paul Alexander 2014 Thank you!
Nominated: Laura Schaller 2016 2018
Board of Outreach
Terry Griffith 2013 2017
Erin Mooney 2013 2017
Lori Morse 2014 2018
Leaving: Morgan Griffith 2012 Thank you!
Nominated: Deb Utton 2016 2018
Nominated: Steve Magill 2016 2018
Board of Business Administration
John Bollard 2015 2017
Ben Smith 2013 2017
Ben Dejong 2014 2018
Curt Utton 2012 ex officio
Nominating Committee
Nancy Metivier 2013 2017
Leaving: Jill Chase 2012 Thank you!
Nominated: Laurie Emery 2016 2018
Pastoral Relations Committee
John Buck unlimited
Peter Clark unlimited
Becky Higgins unlimited
Lori Morse unlimited
Personnel Committee unlimited
Cindy Senning unlimited
Lew Petit unlimited
Carlie Murray unlimited

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