Pastor’s final reflections…

Of all the newsletter reflections I have written in the past almost 11 years, this is the most difficult. Since it is my final reflection, I feel a deep sense of sadness as well as a blessed sense of gratitude. You are the members and friends of our faith community. Some of you attend church regularly. Some of you haven’t been with us for awhile. Some of you stay in contact with me for pastoral care even though you do not attend worship. Some of you have moved on. Some of you may come back. All of you have been, are, or (I hope) will continue to be connected to United Community Church of Morrisville—connected in prayer if not in presence; connected in commitment to our mission on every other day of the week even if you don’t attend Sunday morning.

As I have searched my heart to know what God would want me to share with you, I have prayed “O God, what words can inspire, comfort, give hope, help to prepare these beloved children of yours so they can continue this blessed faith community that you have called into being and have led to be a mission center for the children, youth, and families of our greater community?”

I believe that God has placed on my heart parts of the message I shared this past Sunday morning in worship. The title of my sermon is “Passing the Mantle”, and is based on the story of the Prophet Elijah, at the time of his death, passing on the mantle to his protégé-Prophet Elisha. A mantle in the literal sense is a cloak that the chief prophet wears. The one who wears this mantle is the spokesperson for God’s will for God’s people, despite the cultural and political climate around them. In the greater sense, a mantle is the sacred responsibility to speak and act for God’s will and God’s ways.

As I am preparing to leave my ministry here, it would be understandable to think about the Pastor “passing the mantle” to the next Pastor. However, we don’t know who the next Pastor will be. And I think that any mantle passing needs to be by the entire family of faith. It is your privilege and responsibility to “pass the mantle” to the next pastor, and to the future version of yourselves. During the interim period between me and the next Pastor you will have the blessed opportunity to look at the mantle you bear. You will ask yourselves questions: “Who are we now? How did we get here? Where do we believe God is leading us into our future? How do we get there?” These questions are essential questions in the life of any congregation that is saying goodbye to one Pastor and looking to say hello to the next Pastor. You will be led in your questioning by an Interim Pastor who has the education and experience to help you through the essential interim time.

I offer to you that there are three parts to the mantle you are holding. The first is mission. You have heard God’s call to be a church that serves the needs of children, youth, and families of our greater community. You have embraced that call so that we serve vulnerable youth in a youth center, and feed the hungry every weekday morning and dinner on the last Friday of the month. And with the Vitality Group from whom you will hear more and more, you will have an even wider reach. In your deepest heart you know that a church that is vital and relevant to the greater community will not only survive but will thrive. You have embraced God’s still-speaking voice for being church for the 21st century. It is your sacred responsibility to “pass this mantle” to yourselves for the future as well as to the Pastor who will join you in God’s mission.

The second part of the mantle is caring for one another. As your Pastor, I have been very active in reaching out to folks who cannot attend worship, or who are uncertain about coming to our church. And when I leave, there may be some who do not want to attend. They all see me as Pastor. They are very worried that they will be forgotten when I leave. I will speak with the Spiritual Life Committee about taking on the mantle of ensuring that those dear ones are not forgotten. So that the committee does not get overwhelmed, I will recommend that they ask more folks to help them with visits, phone calls, and invitations.  I have also been the Chaplain for the Manor and have been called upon to minister to the unchurched. We have provided worship on the fourth Sunday of every month.  I am hoping that some of you will continue to provide worship on the fourth Sunday. Singing, praying, and scripture are all that are needed.

The final part of the mantle is your identity as a brand-new United Community Church, just a year and a half old.  You are new to embracing one another, Congregationalists and Methodists, as one church family in heart and spirit. In the face of loss and change you may fall back on anxieties and fears that lead you to want to control the future of your church going forward. It is essential to be watchful for folks who want to control any process of the interim period. You must work to embrace that God is in control, not any one person or group of people. Also, it is not unusual in the face of the loss of your Pastor to drop back into positions of defending the brands of United Church of Christ or United Methodist.  One concerning manifestation could be warring over which denomination your next Pastor comes from. Beloved, think of yourselves first and foremost as members and friends of United Community Church. Honor our denominations for what they are: for some, starting points of identity. For all of us, they are resources without which we could not continue. They provide crucial leadership and support at all points of our journey of faith, and will be there for you faithfully during this transition time.  When making decisions about a Pastor, think first “we are one in Christ; a family of faith that is committed to fulfilling God’s mission in our greater community—created, led, and blessed by God, now and into the future.”

Beloved, I’ve written a lot in this final reflection. I pray that what I have written can provide some measure of comfort, hope, and encouragement.  I end with these words. Stay faithful to God and God’s leading in the face of obstacles from the world, your own anxieties and need to control, and your fears of the future. Hold onto the vision that God is in charge and that God will lead you as you discern and follow God’s will.  Seek a Pastor who will share your vision of mission, caring for one another, and continuing United Committed Church as the essential, vital, and relevant mission of bringing God’s love to this part of the world, well into the future.

From Jeremiah 29:11-14: For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord

I leave you with deep gratitude for the ministry we have shared. I leave you with love and prayer for each and every one. I leave you with deep faith in your future. 


Worship during the summer…


July 7

“Equipping the Saints”

Ephesians 4 (selected verses) 

July 14

“The Choices That Affirm and Transform God’s Kingdom.”

Deuteronomy 30.9-20

Luke 10. 25-37

Guest preacher: The Rev. Alden Launer

July 21

“What on Earth are we to do about Sin?”

“Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there?”

 Jeremiah 8:18-22.

Guest preacher: The Rev. Dr. Neal Fisher

July 28

“Relentless Prayer”

Psalm 138

Luke 11:1-13

 August 4

“Investments: In this world or Spirit realm?”

Psalm 107:1-9, 43

Colossians 3:1-11 

August 11

“Living the Promises”

Genesis 15:1-6

Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16 

August 18

Our Pastor’s final worship

“A Celebration of Ministry; A heartfelt farewell”

Isaiah 40 selected verses

Matthew 25:35-40


Pastor’s Vacation


Our Pastor will be on vacation from July 11 until July 26. For pastoral care needs, the following ministers have graciously volunteered:

Rev. Alden Launer (888-8888 and have him paged) July 11 to 18 and July 22-26

Rev. Charles Purinton (802-999-3495) July 19 to July 21


Events, gatherings, meetings this summer 

Bible Study                             9 am July: 3 in the Fireplace Room

10 am Wednesday in the Fireplace Room

                                                 July 10, 31; August: 7, 14, 21

Elected Lay Leader Meeting  6pm Tuesday July 9 in the Dining Room

Executive Council              6pm Thursday July 18 and August 15 in the Conference Room

Trustees                           6pm Thursday July 11 and August 8 in the Conference Room

Spiritual Life and Worship   6:30pm Thursday August 1 in the Dining Room

Women’s Fellowship             6pm Tuesday August 20 in the Dining Room


Sunday School this Summer

We have been blessed with children attending this summer!

Carol Olsen and Cynthia Yerrick are happy to provide Sunday School!

Mark your calendars now!

Rally Day, when we welcome back all of our children and youth, is on September 8.

Our Church’s Mission Updates

Breakfast on Us 

Our breakfast program continues to be busy with more children and other new faces.  Some of us have taken or will be taking time off and, luckily, we’ve had volunteers to fill in.  Ernie Lapierre, Shay (one of our guests who has turned volunteer) and Bari Gladstone are now regular kitchen workers.  A big thank you to Jennifer Quevedo and Evi for filling in while people are gone.  As always, we appreciate donations of food or money and volunteers.


Open hands, Open hearts 

We have not been able to buy as many food or gas cards lately since we are low in funds.  I’m able to occasionally help with $50.00 for a bill: electricity, rent, car repairs, etc. 

Vitality Group

The Vitality Group is joyfully providing a “comfort station” at “Wednesday Night Live”, every Wednesday from 5:30-7:30 at the Oxbow. We have a first aid kit, diapers, sanitary wipes and lotion, and a place for mothers to nurse their babies in private. We will also have raffles each week. Come and join us! Better yet, sign up for an hour or so this summer to help with the comfort station. If you want to help or have questions, call Hope Sturtevant (730-0116) or Suzanne Sanborn (888-4336). 

Community Dinners

The July Community Dinner will be held on Friday, July 26th. Chef Briellen Wolchik of Sweet & Savory will be catering this dinner.  The menu will consist of salads and “make your own sandwiches.”


The August Community Dinner will be held on Friday, August 30th. Ken and Addie Salls, and Gary Anderson will be coordinating this dinner. The menu will consist of ham and salads.


Lamoille County Youth Center (LCYC)

The LCYC said a fond farewell to Bonnie McDermott, Program Director, who has decided to work for Lamoille Neighbors, a wonderful organization that helps elders in our greater community. We are very thankful for her time and dedication to our youth for the past 3 years.

The LCYC also said a fond farewell to Carol Calenberg who served our youth

as onsite staff for the past 3 years. 

We are grateful that Kristine Hendon has agreed to continue as onsite staff.

The LCYC Board will be advertising for a Program Coordinator for this fall. We are meeting on July 3 to develop a job description. If you know of someone who is energetic, has experience with middle and high school youth, is a good communicator, and works well with staff, let us know! For now, call Pastor Marisa until we find another point person. 888-2990.

So our Pastor is Leaving: What’s the scoop?



Mark your calendars:


Saturday August 17 and Sunday August 18

A celebration is being planned for Rev Marisa and her family to offer thanks for her ministry with us and to offer prayers and blessings for her future ministry.

Saturday August 17

Pot luck for all folks in the greater community (as well as us).

430-7:30pm at the Oxbow.

Sunday August 18.

During worship at 10am our Pastor will deliver her final sermon. There will be special music and attendance by church officials who will lead us in a ritual of farewell.

(Feel free to bring cards, poems, and pictures of appreciation and farewell to leave in a designated basket in the narthex.) 

After worship we will enjoy cake and ice cream

and will share memories of our ministry together.


When is our Pastor’s Last Day?

Marisa’s last day that she will be with us as Pastor is August 22. She and Carol will then take their daughter Kathryn back to college, afterward spending two weeks in California in San Francisco, Sequoia National Park, and Yosemite National Park. She will return here on September 10 to guide movers to their new apartment in Montpelier on September 11.

She begins her new ministry at Old Meeting House on September 12 



What are the next steps: How do we begin?

Report to the Congregation from your Executive Council                 

Tuesday, July 9 the Elected Leaders will meet with Paul Sangree, Associate Conference Minister of the UCC Vermont Conference and Jill Robinson, District Superintendent of the UMC Vermont District. The topic of this meeting is: "Preparing for the interim period: the time after our pastor leaves until the time when our new pastor arrives." Paul and Jill will guide us along the process of preparing for an Interim Pastor and how to advertise for the Interim Pastor. We will be following the process outlined in our Bylaws.  Your Executive Council has decided to call a UCC Interim Pastor. Interim Ministry requires specialized training, and the UCC has such trained Pastors. Since it may take a few months to find an Interim Pastor, we are working on finding a Bridge Pastor who can fill the gap. The interim period lasts for about a year or so. During that time the church asks itself questions: Who are we right now? How have we gotten to this point? Where do we see ourselves in the future and what leadership do we need to continue to grow our mission?

It is important for you all to know that the entire congregation will be involved in the interim process, with guidance from the Interim Pastor, the lay leadership, and our Conference ministers and District superintendent.

Thanks to members and friends of our church, and to Pastor Marisa, we are a strong and vital missional church welcoming all persons, whoever they are and wherever they are on life’s journey. We are known in our greater community as a steady support for the children, youth, and families of Morrisville and beyond. As we continue to work together, we can continue to expand our ministry.

If you have questions, you are welcome to call upon Pastor Marisa who will be with us until August 22. She is a valuable resource.

Submitted by:

LilaLee Fisher, Moderator

                                   JULY BIRTHDAYS

Marci Young






Gianna Reeve






Ronald Stancliff






Gloria Wing






Alexander Bruder






Hayden Peters






Braddon Wilson






Ben Demars






Brent Kinsley






Jessica Grimes






Richard Royce






Vivian Norton






Barbara Russell






Ralph Wiltshire






Carol Olsen






Emily Reeve






Hannah Larro






Samuel Bronner






Dylan Haskins






Lori Jones






Suzanne Campbell






Marvin Randall






Katrina Coffey

















Avery Pecor










Lee Sturtevant










Linda Campbell










Audrey Stiles










Allen Newton










Brian Palmer










Susan Decolaines










Caitlin Bronner










Douglas Bronner










Eleanor Ahlers










Jamie Merrill










Prudy Newton










Donna Meserve










Debbie Yacovone










Amber Lamare










Wallace Reeve










Courtney Grimes










Faith Tillotson










Betty Lou Cole










Stephanie Larro