Eric Mackey Update

On Tuesday, Eric was discharged from Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center via ambulance jet to Craig Hospital in Colorado, specializing in Traumatic Brain Injury rehabilitation.  Eric and his mom, Kathy, both feel instinctively that they are in the right place.

As promised last Sunday, here’s his address in the hopes that all of Eric’s friends might cover him with their thoughts of love as the flood him with cards and other well-wishes

Eric Mackey
c/o Craig Hospital
3425 South Clarkson St
Englewood, CO 80113

Thank you from the UCC

Last week we received a thank you letter from the national setting of the UCC, in Cleveland, Ohio.

Dear Friends in Christ,

Thank you for your gift to Our Church’s Wider Mission.  We are deeply grateful for your congregation’s gift.

Your support of OCWM permits us to provide for operating expenses, equip leaders, support clergy in ministry, foster healthy and vital congregations, advocate and witness for justice, respond to disasters and tragedies, send help around the world, and preach a welcoming and open understanding of Christian faith.

Thank you for your vital support and faithful partnership.  Please accept our sincere thanks and good wishes.


Mary Paxton
Director, Office of Philanthropy and Stewardship

This is indeed, one of the unsung great works of this congregation, that we send a tithe every year to OCWM.  Several years ago the Church Council agreed that we would budget for this gift by totaling our pledged and loose offering from the year prior and giving 10% of that total to our denomination which does such good things in the name of a progressive, welcoming, opening Christian faith.

Thank you!

Out of the ICU

For the past month we’ve been holding Eric Mackey in our prayers as he deals with traumatic brain injury incurred while in a skiing accident.  And for the past 2 weeks for Anisha Senning in ICU in Boston where she’s being treated for a rare infant disease called Kaposiform Hemangioendothelioma.  Both Anisha and Eric have progressed enough that they have been discharged from their respective ICUs.

Eric’s mother Kathy reports that she has his bags all packed ready at a moments notice to relocated to one of 2 TBI rehab clinics the are considering.  They are all anxious to leave Dartmouth and begin the long work of rehab.  There will be a card shower for him when they have his new address.

Anisha is responding well to her treatment and her parents, Dan and Puja are anxious to be back at home.

We wish you all the very best.

Blessing of the Pets

Around the turn of the 13th century, a wealthy young man named Francis set off to war.


“St. Francis and the birds,” Giotto di Bondone

He lived the spirited life of a young soldier, enjoying drink and carousing and fighting, until, so the story goes, a vision drove him onto a pilgrimage to Rome where he served the poor, preached on the streets, lived with them and eventually attracted a strong following.  By all accounts he was a peace-filled man, determined to be at one with all of God’s creatures.  He was sainted 2 years after he died (1226) for numerous gifts he brought to the world, not the least of which was his sense that all of God’s creatures, not just humans, deserved the gospel preached to them, and should be valued as loved by God.

This next Sunday, May 21, after the tradition claimed to be instituted by St. Francis, we will hold our service outdoors, weather permitting, of course, to have a blessing of the animals.  The first blessing of the animals happened like the photo above depicts: One warm afternoon early in his ministry, Francis, in the middle of throes of self-doubt, was praying to God.  He caught sight of some birds by along his path and paused to speak to them as equals.   He preached to them about God’s glories and all the reasons why both humans and birds should be grateful.

Well, we are grateful for the animals in our lives, and while I will not preach to the animals (I allow that the animals might better preach to us!) I will offer a blessing of gratitude for each of the critters that shows up.

So, at the usual time, come to church with your pets.

Confirmation Retreat This Weekend

Cindy Senning and I will lead another group of 7th – 9th graders on an overnight “retreat” at Cindy’s house in the woods of Duxbury on Friday May 5 to Saturday May 6.  Please keep all of us in your thoughts and prayers as we focus our attention particularly on what it means to be a pilgrim, a journeyer, in the way of love made so evident to us in Jesus.

We will gather after school to head up to Cindy’s house.  Get settled in and play together a bit before dinner (home-made pizza).  We’ll have the first of several pointed conversations after dinner, watch a movie about a young girl discovering her call and go to bed!

In the morning, it’s more activities and conversation about being a young person with fresh new eyes to see the world as in our care on behalf of God who has given us the gift and then a hike up the hill to a place for worship, before we return for lunch and departure!

Our confirmands are:  Kaydin Durkin, Ava Thurston, Merry Smith and Julianne Young.

Art talk, workshop 5/5 and 5/6

We have been hosting a show of beautiful paintings (and one large sculpture) by Thetford artist Carolyn Enz Hack ( On Friday, May 5 and Saturday, May 6, Carolyn will be offering a talk in the sanctuary about her work and a workshop in the dining room about creativity.

On Friday, May 5th at 6:30 PM, she will be offering a free art talk about the new work she has on display — how she has been exploring ways to add a fourth dimension (time) to her 2-dimensional landscape paintings. It’s a great chance to hear about how artists develop and pursue new ideas, how they make connections between different bodies of work (in this case, her sculpture and her paintings), and how they find their unique voices.

On Saturday, May 6th, Carolyn will offer a two-hour workshop about expanding the boundaries of creative practice and developing one’s own artistic voice from 10AM to noon. This could be an exciting conversation for students/artists who are beginning to explore their own directions in their work, or those who could use a nudge to take a leap in this direction. Anyone interested in boosting their creative capacity will enjoy participating in this friendly discussion about methods, materials and practice. Cost is $15 (although I bet she would be happy to waive the cost for students if it’s a struggle in any way to cover this… Please contact the artist directly to find out more and to sign up: cenzhack)

Carolyn’s exhibit, “Town by Town,” will be up through May 7th. The show is sponsored by Meeting House Arts, a collaborative project whose goal is to provide more opportunities for local artists to show their work, and for local residents to enjoy more art.

Spring Cleaning

Spring, as usual, starts off slowly here in Central Vermont and then quickly shifts to summer.  The Board of Business Administration, hoping to beat summer to the punch (but I think missing by a week) asks you to come to worship on April 30 dressed in work clothes, so that after a short communion service, we can dismiss ourselves to some yard work and general sprucing up.

This church is a beautiful landmark in our village and the money and work you put into it is to be commended. I hear on a regular basis of how proud Waterbury is of the way we keep this property looking good (the assumption, I believe, is that if we keep it looking good, then we are doing good too, and so we are!) Winter always takes a toll on the property, but with an hour of work, we can get it looking good again.

We hope you can join us. We’re often done in an hour or so because we have such great participation.  See you Sunday!

In Memoriam: Laurie Emery

Laurie may have been born 71 years ago in Long Island, but she told me on several laurieoccasions, that she had two lives and the life she found after discovering this church and its loving congregation was the richer one and made all the difference.  As someone said, upon hearing about Laurie’s death (Tuesday, April 11) we’ll miss her being in the back pew and holding down the fort.

And she held down the fort with a smile and a hug and an indomitable optimism.  Within a week or so of her diagnosis I was sitting on the front porch of her house chatting with her not only about the things you’d normally talk about after the diagnosis of a fairly aggressive cancer, but about everything else too, her childhood on Long Island, her life long love of sailing, her work (from which she’d been retired for a few months, but which continued to occupy a near and dear place to her heart), about her husband Dan, and about her plans for the winter and for this summer coming.

Laurie has so faithfully served this church as clerk for so long that the first annual report she wrote as clerk is filed in storage.  Turns out this year was her 15th annual report!  Without fail, on the Monday following a church council meeting I’d get some kind of message from her along with the minutes she’d so quickly and diligently transcribed from her shorthand.  Here’s an example of one of those emails  from November 2009:

Peter:  I signed the minutes and scanned the signed in as a pdf in case you needed them signed to mail with the eligibility verification sheet.   Wasn’t it chilly this morning walking to school?  It’s so nice to see Dad taking his children to school; very sweet!  Laurie

Talk about sweet. . . . Also on a regular basis Laurie would leave a box of homemade chocolates on my desk and the desk of our administrator, be it Denise Doz, Susie Perkins, Lesley Clark or Polly Sabin.  She claimed that she liked to bake, but couldn’t eat them so she had to give them to us.  But in reality, she was just being the kind of positive, lovely, genuine human being she was.

And for that, we are diminished by her passing, but forever grateful for her gifts to us.

People Helping People by Walking on Good Friday

A member of our congregation, Cathy Shires, has been walking on Good Friday for the past 28 years, to raise money for organization called Sharing , Inc.  She walks 20 miles and appreciates sponsors for the walk, as well as companions along the way.  The walk was started by Kay Doherty 46 years ago after she read an article about the racism and poverty problems in the Mississippi delta area in the poorest counties in the country.

Cathy plans to start walking around 7 am (which is the start time for the Hingham, MA walk, where she used to walk).

The following link directs one to the online sponsor link.   I’m also happy to take checks.   They should be made out to: Sharing, Inc with “Good Friday Walk in the subject line.”