June Newsletter

Pastor’s half-year reflection

As I pondered the words I wished to share with you this month, our new church family, I thought, “How about a half-year report---or better yet, a half-year reflection”? I write an annual report each year at the beginning of February. With June and summer approaching, I wondered about what words of celebration, encouragement, and challenge would be helpful and edifying as we continue to move forward in our nascent faith community—and as we go into a period of the year when we rest from church work.

Every year our elected leaders gather for a leadership retreat. I have been reflecting upon this year’s leadership retreat which took place on May 19. Seventeen of your elected leaders gathered, and we discussed the essentials of our future: our mission, our buildings, our budget shortfall, and our commitment to full time ministry. And I thought, “That’s a good place to begin for a half-year reflection.”

It is important for all to know what our leaders are pondering and anticipating as blessings and challenges, as we proceed into our first year as United Community Church. Here are some of the highlights of the leadership retreat, and I invite you as you read, to reflect upon ways you can participate in ministry, mission, and solution-making into our future. ALL in the body of Christ are needed for the blessed functioning of the body of Christ. EVERYONE is important, according to your gifts and call as the priesthood of believers in our town of Morrisville.

We were led by the excellently capable guidance of The Rev. Dr. Lynn Bujnak, Conference Minister for the Vermont Conference of the United Church of Christ. The first question Lynn asked was, “What are your fears?” The answers were surprisingly similar and unifying (I have the slips of paper in my office).  They focused on three major areas:

1. Will we have enough money for full time ministry that is needed to continue the vitality of our church?

2. Do we and will we have enough friends and members who contribute their time, talent, and treasure, to assure the future of our church and our mission to the children, youth and families of our greater community?

3. How do we discern the future of having 2 buildings: will the 3 renters generate enough income for maintenance costs of 2 buildings?

Lynn guided us toward short term goals to address these questions and we engaged fully and with animation. 

1. We decided that our stewardship campaign this year, beginning in October, will focus on the blessings and benefits of full time ministry. Folks will be invited to consider an increase of their pledge and/or offerings as they are also committed to full time ministry. For those who cannot increase their financial giving, we will encourage ways for folks to give more of their time and talent. We will begin a monthly reporting in this newsletter and in bulletins one time a month, regarding our income and expenses and the anticipated shortfall. This reporting will help the entire congregation share in solutions for our budget shortfall, participate in fundraisers, and maintain their pledge, especially during the summer months.  As I reflect on this goal, I am aware that historically our church has recognized that full time ministry is essential to the health of any faith community. Our church leaders have been wise in realizing this need, as it is reflected across churches in New England.

2. Along with the question of having enough folks to sustain full time ministry, we also realized that people need to feel appreciated and recognized for their contributions. It was rightfully pointed out that we need to nurture us, the disciples of Christ, as we spread Christ’s love to those beyond our four walls. Our workers are not just the elected leaders. We are those who quietly minister, make ourselves available, without receiving recognition. Folks who are new to our congregation need to be nurtured and allowed to grow naturally, but also see that their contributions are blessedly important and valued and will be appreciated. Anyone who does not wish to be recognized will remain anonymous. I am grateful that a plan was made to have monthly recognitions of contributions to the health and well-being of our faith community. Look for a “shout out” column in our monthly newsletter and once a month in bulletins. If you know of someone who needs a “shout out”, let me know.

3. Discussion about our buildings was thoughtful and challenging, and presented with a sacred prayer toward insuring our future. We certainly hope that rent from our 3 groups that use the former Puffer building will pay for building maintenance. Over the next several years the leadership will prayerfully and carefully ascertain the blessings and challenges of maintaining two buildings. The thought is that if two buildings require so much maintenance that we do not have enough resources in our operating budget for ministry and mission, we will need to carefully and prayerfully discern our future with our beloved buildings.

We also talked about who will be the ones that continue the ministry of our church into the distant future: our children? Cohort groups that join our church because they believe in our mission?  Youth, especially millennials, prefer to give in one-time outreach or contribute to a worthy cause. We could continue to reach out to them for tasks such as fundraising or helping with mission work. Members who have recently joined our church chose us because we are a mission church that is genuinely welcoming to all (we walk the talk). May we continue to be genuinely welcoming, rooted in mission, so that we are a beacon to those who visit us and are seeking a church home. 

We also noted that our present endowments are legacies from past generations that are helping to keep us going today. Can we consider willing the church part of our legacy so that generations down the road will have an endowment?  Endowments are essential to the longevity of any organization, including churches.

Lots of information for you to digest. Just a little reflection thus far. My main reflection from the leadership retreat? I am deeply grateful for the elected leadership’s commitment to the future of our church as a beacon of hope in our greater community. I am also aware that it takes more than elected leadership to assure the sustainability and vitality of a faith community. I pray that we all share a commitment to the church that God has called us to begin anew in 2018.  I pray that we will carefully, prayerfully ponder the goals listed above, talk about them and pray about them.  I pray mostly that what God has called us to begin will continue into the future with vitality and purpose, for the gospel of Jesus Christ to be made very real in our town and our county. God has led us here thus far and God will continue to lead us—as we continue to follow.

I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:3-6)

I remain your servant in Christ,



Worship in June


June 3                                                                    Children’s Sunday

       The Children lead us in worship


June 10                                                                    “‘Not me’ did it”

                                                                                  Genesis 3:8-15


June 17                                                                   “Itty-bitty faith”

                                                                                 Mark 4:26-34


June 24                                                    “Why you so calm? Don’t you care?”

                                                                                  Mark 4:35-41


Our Pastor is Away at the New England United Methodist Annual Conference

Wednesday June 13 through Friday June 15


Events, gatherings, and meetings in June


Bible Study                                      9:30am every Wednesday in the Fireplace Room

Spiritual Life and Worship             6:30pm Thursday June 7 in the Dining Room

Staff/Parish Relations                     5pm Tuesday June 12 in the Conference Room

Trustees                                           6pm Thursday June 14 in the Conference Room

Executive Council                           6pm Thursday June 21 in the Conference Room

Worship at the Manor                    2 pm Sunday June 24

Finance Committee                        6:30 pm Thursday June 28 in the Dining Roo

Free Community Supper                Friday June 29 at 5:30pm


Lamoille Lacing Up for Cancer Walk

Saturday, June 23 from 11am to 11pm

Peoples Academy Track

Come to our church’s tent, which is alongside the tent for Claudia’s Angels


News about our children and youth

Sunday School and youth groups are suspended until September

This summer Children and Youth are ENCOURAGED

to help serve Community Dinner and to help with Breakfast on us!

Childcare during worship continues all summer

Children’s messages during worship continue all summer


From the Missions Committee 

The Mission Committee wishes to thank everyone who contributed to our UMCOR health kits.  The middle school youth group assisted in putting them together for distribution.  Our next church wide project will be our backpack collection for back to school starting in July.  Look in your summer bulletins for the start dates.

            We continue our Community Dinners in the summer months.  We will be asking for people to chair the upcoming months starting with August.  Please consider months that you might be available to assist.  You may contact Dot Bliss or Dot Reeve to sign up.  Our guests look forward to this social time and fellowship with others.

                                                                            Breakfast On Us

 So far in May we have served 647 breakfasts with two more days to go.  We're seeing some new faces as well as our "regulars".  We're looking for some volunteers to help out when people are on vacation.  You only have to sign up for one morning at a time since there is a different team every day.  It is a great way to start off your day - lots of smiles, laughing, oh yeah- some work too, but none of it is very difficult.  Give me a call if you are interested.

Many thanks,



Lamoille County Youth Center

There are only 6 days left to the end of our school year for the Youth Center. While I am ready for some time off, I will miss being at the Youth Center.  We had a great year with lots of kids visiting us. A few of our group will be graduating, but most of the kids who started with us last year will be back next year. I’ve watched many of them start at 12 years old then turn 13 and become 14 this year. I am glad we have so many “regulars” I’ve come to know. And there are many kids who started at the Youth Center this year who have become frequent visitors. We appreciate the many donations the congregation has given us. Along with a safe place and two reliable adults who are always present, the food is the most appreciated aspect of the Youth Center by the kids. Thank you and we’ll see you in the Fall.




News from our Council and Committees

Can be found on our bulletin board in the dining room!

Come and read! Questions?

Speak with any member of the committees or council or Pastor Marisa


A Financial Snapshot

Beginning with this newsletter, we will let you know our church’s income and expenses each month. Because we haven’t done so far this year, we’re including an income and expense report for January through April. To make up for the shortfall, we dip into our endowments at a rate that is unsustainable. PLEASE keep up with your pledges and contributions through the summer months.

Pledged income: $27,036

Plate collection: 8040.55

Total income: 35,076.55

Total expenses: 49,755.25

Shortfall January through April: $14,678.70



Thanks much to coordinators Joanne Godfrey, Ernie LaPierre,

and Ida Mae Anderson! Thanks to Maureen Cheney for getting the hot dogs, buns, and lemonade, 

and Edie Duff for getting the lemonade! 

See the sign-up sheet in the dining room

Many hands make light work!

June Shout Outs!! 

Every month we will thank folks who have gone the extra mile!

This month we give shout outs and woo-hoos to:


Ray Tascarella and David Bickford who moved the pews so our stained glass could be re-installed

Dot Reeve and Bob Finn who helped the pastor and piano tuner to put the lid back on the piano after repair

Mary Ann Wilson who spearheaded the design and purchase of our new sign and the restoration of our stained-glass windows

Tristan, Maggie, and Russell, middle school youth, who helped to pack the hygiene kits for UMCOR

Sheila Jourdan who donated the large take-out containers with compartments for the community dinners.

Those who donated food and/or service to this month’s community dinner: Dot and Larry Bliss

Dot and Wally Reeve, Edie Duff, Hope Sturtevant, Dave Bickford, Robert Mason, Doreen Mason, Stacey Jones, Jamie Lawrence, Carol Calenberg, Middle School students – Tristen, Russell, Maggie, Edna Snow, Lois Keith, Addie Salls, Mary West, Eleanor Ahlers, Eleanor Randall, Lil Fisher, Duane and Jane Sprague

Do you know of folks for whom we can give “shout outs”?

Let our Pastor know and see their names in next month’s newsletter.


A heartfelt thank you from the Lamoille Dance Academy

What an amazing year for Lamoille Valley Dance Academy!  This year marked a monumental one for the company with the addition of our brand new studio in the heart of Morrisville village.  After months of searching for the right group and more months of presentation and review, the Board of Trustees and parishioners of the Puffer United Methodist Church chose Lamoille Valley Dance Academy as the new inhabitants of their church.  Thus began the huge undertaking of renovating this beautiful structure into a dance studio that would provide a conveniently located, state of the art facility for dance education and gymnastics training.  All of this would not have been possible without the support of Mary Ann Wilson, Clark Callender and the Reverend Dr. Marisa Laviola.  Their belief in our dance academy mission along with the graciousness of the parishioners allowed LVDA to make the Puffer Church its new home.  And a glorious one it is!  My deepest appreciation to the Puffer United Methodist Church congregation for welcoming Lamoille Valley Dance Academy into their beloved church, and allowing us to reinvent its use.  I am eternally grateful beyond words, and I dedicate this performance to you.


 Happy Birthday !!

Jennifer Wilson          06/01

Joanne Godfrey          06/04

Kimberly Bruder         06/05

Shauna Nichols          06/06

Sue Zukswert

Barbara Adams           06/07

Ray Tascarella                        06/08

Erin Nichols                06/10

Michael Reeve

Michele Royce

Linnea Wilhjelm         06/11

Shaun Booher             06/13

Grace Russell

Sara Russell                 06/15

Ty Grimes                   06/16

Barbara Tomlinson     06/17

Deanna Tripp

Wendy Lord                06/23

 Zachary Thompson   

 Barbara Wells            06/25

 Evan Yacovone

 Maggie Hazard          06/26

 Kurtis Bingham         06/29

 Ryan Thompson