Children present Christmas pageant in Alstead

ALSTEAD, N.H. -- The children of Third Congregational Church Sunday School in Alstead will present a Christmas Pageant during the regular 10:30 a.m. worship service on Sunday, Dec. 15. All are welcome to attend the service led by Pastor Maureen Lasell and stay for coffee hour.

Also, the church is participating in the Heifer International project, and is currently accepting donations toward an animal. Missions committee announced that enough has already been raised to buy a cow for the project.

After church on Dec. 29 the deacons will be in charge of "coffee hour" in the form of a pancake breakfast, to which all are welcome.

Eleanor Vanderpool and Patti French
to sing ‘Oh Holy Night’ on Sunday

BRATTLEBORO -- Worship this Sunday, Dec. 15, at 10 a.m. celebrates the Third Sunday of Advent at First United Methodist Church with the theme, "Joy." The Rev. Cheryl Meachen will present "The Chrismon Tree," a description of the Christian symbols which make up the ornaments for this special decoration. Leslie Kramsky will read Matthew 11:2-11 and lead the congregation in creating a prayer chain as garland for the tree.

Holy Communion will be celebrated. Eleanor Vanderpool and Patti French will sing "O Holy Night."

Contact the church by e-mail fumcob@gmail.com or call 802-254-4218 or visit fumcob.wordpress.com. The church is located at 18 Town Crier Drive off Putney Road and is handicap-accessible. All are welcome.

’Love Is Coming’ is sermon Sunday at
First Baptist Church of Bellows Falls

BELLOWS FALLS -- The First Baptist Church of Bellows Falls’ Sunday service will be centered on taking heart in the midst of the storm. The title of this sermon is "Love Is Coming."

All are welcome for worship, music and community. Sunday School begins at 9:40 a.m. and the Sunday service begins at 10 a.m. Child care is provided following children’s time.

Pastor’s office hours are Friday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Bible Study is Saturday from 4 to 5 p.m., where the Gospel of John will be studied.

For more information, contact Pastors Steven and Terri Walton at 802-463-3220. The church is located at 9 Church St., Bellows Falls. American Baptists serve others as "the hands and feet of Jesus."

’It’s a Wonderful Life: Believe It’ is
Pastor Tibbetts message on Sunday

VERNON -- Vernon Union Church and Pastor Jeffrey B. Tibbetts invites the public to join them as they continue the series "It’s a Wonderful Life."

Sunday morning begins with prayer at 9 in the sanctuary. The morning worship begins at 10 a.m. with Pastor Tibbetts preaching a message entitled "It’s a Wonderful Life: Believe It."

Coffee and fellowship follow the worship service. Everyone is welcome.

Vernon Union Church is located at 2631 Fort Bridgman Road, Vernon. Pastor Tibbetts can be reached at 802-257-8523 or 603- 499-3554 or visit www.vucvt.org or the Facebook page.

Walpole Unitarian Church offers its
annual ‘Labyrinth of Lights’

WALPOLE, N.H. - It’s the time to step out of the hectic season and join others from the community in walking the traditional "Labyrinth of Lights" at the Walpole Unitarian Church, a gentle time to pause and reflect during this season.

Located in the Ballroom on the upper level of the Hastings Memorial Parish House at 14 Union Street in Walpole, the labyrinth will open Sunday, Dec. 15 from 5 to 7 p.m., and continue on selected days through Christmas Eve afternoon.

The labyrinth is formed of seasonal evergreen boughs sparkling with white lights. Visitors are invited to take the contemplative journey through the labyrinth in semi-darkness, soft music playing. They are provided with a candle to bring into the center of the labyrinth. As each candle is added the others, the labyrinth glows with ever increasing brilliance.

In a labyrinth, one fines oneself, one cannot get lost. There is one entrance, a middle resting place, and one exit.

The labyrinth has been a popular tradition of the church for 13 years. In addition to Dec. 15, the labyrinth will be open from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 18 through Monday, Dec. 23, and Tuesday, Dec. 24, Christmas Eve, 2 to 4 p.m.

The Walpole Unitarian Church invites you to step away from the bustle and stress of the holiday season and experience a few moments of tranquility by walking this amazing path.

The labyrinth is free and open to the public, with donations gratefully accepted.

’A Deeper Meaning’ is theme Sunday
at All Souls Unitarian Universalist

WEST BRATTLEBORO -- All Souls Unitarian Universalist invites all to gather Sunday Dec. 15, at 10 a.m. when the theme will be "A Deeper Meaning."

Life between Thanksgiving and Christmas can be a real challenge with many different emotions stirring in our hearts. We might struggle against capitalism’s focus on consumption. Maybe we feel lonely, missing loved ones. Maybe we are anxious about high expectations. In the midst of it all, we yearn for joy and peace and a deeper meaning. The Rev. Barbro Hansson will share some thoughts about this conundrum and invites everyone to reflect on the deeper meaning of this season.

The service will begin with a Lucia Pageant that includes Santa Lucia and her attendants. This annual All Souls tradition ... Inspired by the spirit of Santa Lucia, this year’s pageant will kick off a month-long food drive to benefit the Food Shelf at Brattleboro’s Drop In Shelter. The All Souls Choir, under the direction of Ede Thomas, will sing "Prayer of Black Elk," music by Karen P. Thomas.

All Souls at the West Village Meeting House is a community where people join in covenant with each other to explore the meaning of life and its purpose and stand on the side of love for justice, freedom and peace for all. Nursery care is available. For more information or directions, call the office at 802-254-9377, e-mail office@ascvt.org or www.ascvt.org.

Newfane’s First Congregational Church
celebrates Third Sunday of Advent

NEWFANE -- First Congregational Church of Newfane will celebrate the Third Sunday of Advent at the 10 am worship service on Sunday, Dec. 15.

The Candle of Joy will be lit by Karen Trust-Fontaine and her son Nick Fontaine, with Betty and Gene Horton assisting as the congregation sings "We Light the Advent Candles."

The title of Rev. Robert Hamm’s sermon is "Purpose" with scripture from Isaiah 35:1-10. Congregational hymns include "Awake! Awake, and Greet the New Morn," "I Wonder as I Wander" and "The First Noel." The Newfane Community Hand Bells will play "The Cradle Song" and "The Friendly Beasts" as the prelude offering and the postlude "Sing Ye with Gladness" by Chester Nordman will be played by Martha LaMoria, organist/music director. The choir will sing "When God Was a Child" by Brian Wren and John Carter. The children’s time will continue with the story of the Nativity following which children will go to Sunday School. The third session of the Adult Study series on Handel’s Messiah and the Bible will follow the coffee hour.

Events for the upcoming week include Al-Anon at 7:30 p.m. on Monday; Sew What’s at 5 p.m. on Tuesday; Hand Bell Rehearsal at 5 p.m. on Thursday. There will be no Thursday evening choir rehearsals during the remainder of December. The choir will rehearse at 8:45 a.m. on Sunday mornings.

The church is handicap accessible by both chair lift and elevator. Office hours are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on and Tuesday from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visit the church website at www.newfanechurch.org or call the church at 802-365-4079 for further information.

’Blossoming Deserts’ is Rev. Amico’s
sermon Sunday in West Brattleboro

WEST BRATTLEBORO -- Dec. 15 is the Third Sunday of Advent at the First Congregational Church United Church of Christ, 880 Western Ave. in West Brattleboro. Pastor Joseph Amico will share a sermon, "Blossoming Deserts," based on Isaiah 35:1-10 and Mary’s Magnificat Luke 1:46b-55. Organist and Choir Director Bill McKim will share a prelude and postlude. The choir will share an offertory of "I Hear the Prophet Callin’ " by P. Choplin, led by Steve Rice. The congregational hymns this week are "Joy to the World," "In the Bleak Midwinter," and "It Came upon the Midnight Clear."

Sunday worship at First Congregational is at 10 a.m. Preceded by 9 a.m. choir rehearsal. For those with disabilities, there is a ramp leading to the Fireplace Room level, as well as large-print hymnals and bulletins. For a ride to worship in November please call Wendy at 802-254-4522.

There is an on-going collection of canned fruits and vegetables, pasta and sauces, peanut butter, tuna fish, and cereals for the Drop-In Center’s Food Shelf.

Ongoing weekly events include the Prayer Fellowship at 8:30 a.m. Sunday mornings and the Handicraft group on Tuesdays at 1 p.m.

Everyone is welcome. The church’s website is www.wbucc.com. Church office hours are Wednesday and Friday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Telephone is 802-254-9767, e-mail is fccwb1770@gmail.com.

Candles of Hope and Peace and Joy
to be lit on Sunday in Dummerston

DUMMERSTON -- At the Dummerston Congregational Church on Dec. 15, the Third Sunday of Advent, the Candles for Hope and Peace and Joy will be lit. The choir will sing under the direction of the Rev. Dr. Larimore Crockett. The sermon, "Be Joyful, Though You Have Considered All the Facts." It is based on Matthew 11:2-11, John the Baptist’s question from prison to Jesus, "Are you the one who is to come?"

The Children’s Story is "Questions for Jesus." Children begin in worship and then prepare for the Christmas Pageant which will be Dec. 22. Tuesday Dec. 17, from 3 to 4:30 will be the final rehearsal. After worship the church will sponsor a trip to Santa’s Land, leaving from church at noon. Call the church office for more information.

Today, at 9:30 a.m. the church will join others around the country remembering those killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, standing with their parents in witness and commitment to do all we can to prevent future violence. For about the 10 minutes it took from the start to the end of the shootings a year ago, people will gather on the church steps, read the names of the dead, ring the bell, and read "There is a Place," words by John L. Bell and Graham Maule, and join the parents of the children who were killed in committing to "The Sandy Hook Promise," written by the parents.

The church continues to collect warm clothing, non-perishable food, blankets and sleeping bags for the Drop-In Center.

On Saturday, Dec. 21, the church will host "Into the Silence," a Service of Contemplative Music for Christmas and the Solstice. This annual service of music and contemplative silence features medieval, Celtic and original music by Coracle (Cynthia Hughes, Celtic harp; John Crockett, cello and Celtic whistles). Coracle’s music is inspired by the sea and the land, by the cycle of the seasons and by the deep stillness of contemplation. The public is invited to an evening of respite from the busy buildup to Christmas, and a way to reconnect with the deep spirit of this magical time of the year, the time of deepest darkness, and the returning of the light. The service will be preceded at 6 p.m. by a silent auction and appetizers downstairs to raise funds for a Dummerston family in crisis. A freewill offering will also be received and the silent auction will continue after the service. Those wishing to donate items to the silent auction may call the church office.

The church is located in Dummerston Center and worship is at 9:30 a.m. If worship is canceled for the morning, all events for that day are canceled. Check for cancellations on WTSA 96.7 FM or 1450 AM or WKVT local news, or contact the church to be added to a calling tree.

For more information about this energetic, faithful, friendly and mission-oriented church, contact Pastor Susanna Griefen, 802-257-0544, susanna@griefen.com, or go www.dummerstonchurch.org and Facebook page.

A Celebration of Santa Claus set for
Sunday at First Universalist Church

WEST CHESTERFIELD, N.H. -- On Sunday, Dec. 15, in the First Universalist Church in West Chesterfield at 10 a.m., the Rev. Elaine Bomford will lead "A Celebration of Santa Claus." Children and adults are invited to gather for a service of stories, song and joyful appreciation for the generous and loving spirit of Santa Claus. Children are encouraged to bring a Santa decoration or picture they have found or made themselves. The First Universalist Church in West Chesterfield is located on 10 Main St. in West Chesterfield.

Green River Church’s annual Service
of Scripture and Carols set for Sunday

GUILFORD -- The Green River Church in Green River village will host its 53rd annual Service of Scripture and Carols on Sunday, Dec. 15, at 7:30 p.m. Michael Mario will lead the service. He will be joined by Charles Butterfield on the organ, and by a brass ensemble led by Bruce Corwin.

The service will be recorded by WTSA-FM for broadcast on Christmas Eve. Refreshments will be served following the service in the vestibule of the church.

This annual service is used as the only fund-raising event of the year. In 2001, the church became a part of the Green River Village Preservation Trust, a local non-profit historic preservation group.

For information, call 802-254-5910.

Remembrance Sunday to be observed
at Guilford Community Church

GUILFORD -- The holidays always come with a mixture of anticipation and sadness as the blessings of the present and memories of the past coincide.

This Sunday Guilford Community Church, UCC will honor the depth of that divide with a service of remembrance that focuses on the unity of joy and sorrow in Christ’s message. Candle-lighting in memory of loved ones will provide the focus of the 10 a.m. service and Pastor Lise Sparrow will reflect on our responses to darkness and light in our lives and the lives of those around us. The choir will offer "People Look East" as the introit for the service and a Croatian lullaby sung during the candle lighting.

The story of St. Nicolas will be told for the children, who will also be able to meet and talk to St. Nick during Sunday School. Pageant rehearsals will also take place at that time. Carols for the service include "Watchman, Tell Us of the Night," "Good King Wenceslas" and "Angels We Have Heard on High." Everyone is welcome.

Guilford Community Church is an Open and Affirming Congregation of the United Church of Christ and is fully handicapped accessible and committed to providing hearing assistance ASL interpreter and, if given notice of interest ahead. The church is located one mile south of exit 1 on Route 5 just in back of the Guilford Country Store. For more information call 802-257-2776 or check the website at www.guilfordchurch.org.

Allen Vander Meulen III to be guest
preacher at Centre Congregational

BRATTLEBORO -- Allen Vander Meulen III will be the guest preacher at worship on Sunday, Dec. 15, at 10 a.m. at Centre Congregational Church in downtown Brattleboro. The son of Allen and Dorothy Vander Meulen, members of Centre Church, Allen III graduated in May from Andover Newton Theological School with a Masters in Divinity, and is pursuing a second career in the ministry, following a 25-year career as a software developer in the Midwest and mid-Atlantic. His sermon topic is "Waiting," based on scripture texts from James 5:7-10 and Matthew 11:2-11.

Vander Meulen returned to his native New England in 2006 and married Stephanie Smart in 2008; they and their son live in Lincoln, Mass. His father was the settled pastor at Centre Church from 1963-1968.

"The Second Hour" worship service meets at 4:30 p.m. Sundays in the Sanctuary on Dec. 15, 22 and 29, followed by a 5:30 p.m. potluck meal in the parlor. All are welcome; bring a dish to share.

The congregation, with support from the Board for Mission and Service, has donated $1,389 for the special offering for the people of the Philippines who are recovering from Typhoon Haiyan.

Centre Church is a congregation of the United Church of Christ and is located at 193 Main St., Brattleboro. For more information contact the office at 802-254-4730 or visit the website at www.centrechurchvt.org.

Children’s Christmas party to
be held at Whetstone Church

BRATTLEBORO -- There will be a Christmas party at the Whetstone Church on Saturday, Dec. 21, from 2 to 4 p.m. There will be two hours of free childcare for an afternoon of fun, learning, snack and crafts. Children ages 3 to 12 are welcome. Younger children must stay with an adult for supervision.

Whetstone Church is located at 28 Birge St. in Brattleboro.

Asbury Church to celebrate its history

CHESTERFIELD, N.H. -- Asbury Church will celebrate its two centuries of history on Sunday, Dec. 15, by learning about two forgotten characters of the Christmas story. Asbury Church was founded by a traveling preacher who practiced from the town’s common before establishing the congregation.

"He decided then and there that for others to listen, one must be relevant, authentic, and not be afraid to think outside of the box," noted Pastor Scott Masters. "Those traits planted the seeds of Methodism and our church two centuries ago, and ever since that time, Asbury Church has worked to embrace that "rethinking church" heritage by not being afraid to put right action over right thinking."

Masters said Asbury Church is committed to not only have a holy conversation about what it means to be authentic, progressive, relevant, inclusive and missional followers of Jesus, but also to understand how the congregants can support each other as they let go of the thing things that hold them back and find ways to start over.

For more information, look for Asbury Church on Facebook or at www.chesterfieldumc.org.

Cheryl Wilfong to give talk on Sunday
at Vermont Insight Meditation Center

BRATTLEBORO -- Vermont Insight Meditation Center will hold a sitting and walking meditation practice on Sunday, Dec. 15, from 10 a.m. to noon, in Neighbor’s Hall, Solar Hill, 229 Western Ave., Brattleboro. Cheryl Wilfong will lead the practice this week and talk about "Avoiding Those of Foolish Ways."

On Thanksgiving morning, the group reflected on the chant "The Highest Blessings." The phrases "Association with the wise, avoiding those of foolish ways" intrigued several people. The group will contemplate who are "those of foolish ways" and how to lovingly avoid them.

These questions will be discussed: "Who are the wise people in our lives? And how we can make more room for wisdom to take root and grow in our daily life?"

St. Michael’s Episcopal Church to hold
Advent Service of Lessons and Carols

BRATTLEBORO -- The Advent service of Lessons and Carols at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church will be held on Sunday, Dec. 15, at 4 p.m. The choir has several new anthems to share, including "O Nata Lux" from Morten Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna. The reception after the Lessons and Carols service is both a St. Michael’s tradition and a way to provide hospitality to visitors to the church.

The December schedule includes: Sunday, Dec. 22, the Fourth Sunday of Advent; Tuesday, Dec. 24, Christmas Pageant and Holy Eucharist at 4 p.m. Festival Holy Eucharist, 9 p.m.; Wednesday, Dec. 25, Festival Holy Eucharist, 10 a.m.; Sunday, Dec. 29, Holy Eucharist, 8 a.m. and Christmas Lessons and Carols (no Eucharist), 10:15 a.m.

For questions, contact the parish office at 802-254-6048. The church is located on the corner of Putney Road and Bradley Avenue in Brattleboro.

St. Michael’s Parish celebrates
the Third Week in Advent

BRATTLEBORO -- St. Michael’s Catholic Church will celebrate the Third Week of Advent this weekend. Masses are on Saturday at 4 p.m., Sunday at 8 and 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. The Generations of Faith Program takes place following the 10:30 a.m. Mass in Msgr. Rand Hall.

St. Michael Cemetery is now closed for the winter. It will reopen in the spring. For more information, visit the website at www.stmichaelvt.com. St. Michael’s Church is located on 47 Walnut St. in Brattleboro.

Christ’s Church in Saxtons River
to mark Third Sunday in Advent

SAXTONS RIVER -- Christ’s Church will mark the Third Sunday in Advent on Dec. 15 by the lighting of the Candle of Joy. The Rev. Roger Daly’s meditation is "Be Not Afraid" and is based on the Luke 2:8-14 scripture lesson. This will be followed by a congregational gathering and potluck luncheon.

Christ’s Church will be holding its annual Christmas Eve Service at 7 p.m. This is a family service and a time to remember and celebrate "The Story" through readings and the singing of familiar Christmas carols. The Senior Choir and the Bell Choir will be presenting special music. The worship service will close with a sacred candle dance by the Rhythmic Choir and the lighting of the candles of the congregation. This is a joyful and moving celebration of the light. The poinsettias on the altar will represent monetary gifts given in memory of loved ones and will go to the Greater Falls Warming Shelter.

Christ’s Church is handicapped accessible and all are welcome. For further information about the church and its activities, visit www.christschurchsr.org or call 802-869-2340 and leave a message.

Walpole Unitarian Church
ponders Advent on Sunday

WALPOLE, N.H. -- "Deepening Into Advent" will be led by Rev. Telos Whitfield on Sunday, Dec. 15, at the Walpole Unitarian Church. The church is located at the corner of Main and Union streets.

"Advent is a season of preparation and anticipation of new beginnings," Whitfield said. "We will explore the ways that we can learn from and deepen into this time."

All are welcome to stay after the service for coffee and conversation.

Mountain View Seventh-day Adventist
church to host Cheshiremen Chorus

VERNON -- The Mountain View Seventh-day Adventist Church will host the Cheshiremen Chorus for a holiday concert at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14. The concert is free of charge and will be followed by fellowship and light refreshments. The church is located at 1002 Fort Bridgman Road (Route 142) in Vernon.