Green Steeple Messenger-July/August 2020


The summer of 2020 will go down in history as the summer we spent in a pandemic.  The summer when we grew in our ability to be church outside of our building.  The summer when we faced deep systemic issues in our communities.  The summer when our usual plans gave way to new strictures and new opportunities.

Even in a pandemic, summer time provides an opportunity to be renewed and refreshed.  The lengthened daylight and warmer weather give us more time to be outside.  The slower pace of our usual commitments allows us to rest and reflect.  We take time off, we spend more time with family, some of us will travel or receive visitors.  Summer is a time to pay attention to the blessings around us.

During this summer, we will gather for worship on Facebook and Zoom.  The Church School will meet online as Fine Arts Camp in July and Compassion Camp in August.  We will be blessed with guest worship leaders and special worship services.  We will have the opportunity to ponder big questions about how and where the Holy Spirit is leading us.

In this summer like no other, may we be strengthened and edified by Christ’s power as we work together to share God’s love with the world.

Yours in Christ,

~ Karen

Newsletter Deadline for September is August 15th      



During this time of social distancing, we can still share our time and attention through phone calls, email, cards, and letters.  In fact, these connections are more important now than ever!  All of us are part of the First Baptist Visitation Team.

Please let Ray Sherrod know when you call or email a homebound member and friend at

or call 802-864-7179.   

THE FIRST BAPTIST Facebook group is called First Baptist Burlington VT. In this group, each member can share announcements, make public prayer requests, and ask questions.  We can have online discussions about sermons, current events, Bible studies, etc.  Please join the group and invite others to join as well.


Because of the social distancing requirements of this time of pandemic, it has been decided that Sunday morning worship, and all church gatherings will continue on Zoom and Facebook for July and August.  In August, a decision will be made by the Unified Governing Board about in person worship for the fall.

Sunday worship Services

July 5 – guest preacher Rev. David O’Brien – former pastor of First Baptist

July 12 – guest preacher Rev. Dale Edwards – Executive Minister of ABCVNH

July 19 – guest preacher Rev. Paul Eyer – pastor of Williston Federated Church

July 26 – guest preacher Rev. Dr. Nancy Wright – pastor of Ascension Lutheran Church

Aug. 2 – Comfort My People –Isaiah 40:1-11

Aug. 9 – Power to the Weary –Isaiah 40:21-31

Aug. 16 – A New Thing –Isaiah 43:18-25

Aug. 23 – Listen! –  Isaiah 51:1-11

Aug. 30 – An Everlasting Sign –Isaiah 55:1-13


We are pleased to announce that we have entered into an agreement with Next Generation, a nature based childcare program with locations in Georgia and Saint Albans.  At First Baptist, the program will be for infants and toddlers.  Next Generation will be updating our nursery space and playground during the month of July with the plan to welcome children in August.  During the pandemic, the nursery space will be exclusively for Next Generation but when we are post-pandemic, we will use the space on Sundays for our babies and families.   Childcare is a great need in Burlington.  It is a blessing to be able to partner with Next Generation to provide this important service.


On Aug. 6, 2016, we gathered for a church retreat entitled Vision 2020 at Faith United Methodist Church in      S. Burlington.  We looked back on all that we had accomplished since 2013 when we created our vision statement and we looked forward to what God was calling us next.  As it is now 2020, it seems appropriate to look back on those goals to see what has been accomplished and what remains ahead of us.

The ideas lifted up that day were: Intentional Ministry – worship, music, congregational participation, Integrating Youth and Young Adults, Intentional ecumenical work with other downtown churches, Identify next generation of church leaders, Change, Raising Public Identity, Discerning our Public Identity, Reformat music during worship, Expand feeding programs, New model of church governance, Support children and youth

Of these ideas, three priorities and ways of implementation were identified

  • Intentional Ministry: Music – more congregational participation, more variety, Integrating children and youth into worship and life of the church, Welcome and accommodate special needs, Karen language and culture education, Worship in other languages, Respond to Senior adults’ needs
  • Raising Public Identity: Improve signage outside and in (kiosk for narthex), Reach out to New Americans, Commit to refugee resettlement, Research community needs, Discern and articulate FBC public identity, Use more social media/PR
  • New Model of Church Governance: Create group to research and educate congregation on new models, find previous board/church discussions on topic, Implement new model

Of these ideas and priorities, we have done a lot!  We adapted our worship to be more inclusive of children and families with one Sunday a month designated as All Ages Worship.  We continued the practice of combining worship with our Karen community on holiday Sundays.  We launched a new website, put a new sign out front, remodeled our kitchen and Fellowship Hall, and initiated new partnerships with the other churches downtown.   We moved to a new model of church governance that is more flexible and focused on ministry rather than board meetings.  We added the option of electronic giving.   We have welcomed new staff who have brought great gifts and ideas to our community. We certainly have raised our profile on Facebook!

Of course, we have more work to do and opportunities before us as God is always calling us to something new.  It is gratifying to look back and see that the Vision for 2020 that we had in 2016 has been largely achieved.   May we look forward together as we discern our call for the future.


Mask Makers Needed!

Some of us are making cloth masks and some of us are in need of masks.  Please let the church office know if you are in either category so that we can match up those in need with those who can help. The church can purchase fabric and supplies for those who sew.

SERMON TALKBACK ZOOM GROUP –Mondays at 9am. Gather on Zoom to discuss the week’s sermon and its application to our lives. Please contact the church office for meeting details.

MOTHERS’ ZOOM GROUP -Join with other women on Sunday evenings at 8:30pm for Fellowship and/or Bible Study. For more information, please email Jeneve Joslin or the church office.

Words of Inspiration and Cheer Wanted and Needed

While we are not in the building, we want to let our neighbors know that we are still thinking and praying for them by frequently updating our front sign and perhaps hanging a banner or writing with chalk on our front walk.  We need your short words of inspiration, encouragement, and hope. Please email your ideas to the church office. Ideas for the front sign need to be 5 short words or less. Thank you!

If you have ideas about ways in which to connect and serve,

please let us know


During this time of social distancing, it is more important than ever to be connected (safely!) to our friends and neighbors.  Please take some time to reach out to the church members and friends who live in your town.  You can access the church directory through or through the Instant Church Directory app.  If you need a paper copy of the directory, please email the church office and we can mail one to you.

PLEASE MAIL IN YOUR PLEDGE AND OFFERINGS OR GIVE ELECTRONICALLY through the Donate button on our church website:

http// or through the smartphone app called GIVEPLUS. Donations can be set for one time only or to be recurring. The cost to the church for this service is $10 a month and small transaction fees of 2.75% for debit/credit cards or 1.00% for ACH.  These fees can be offset by adding that amount to your gift. Our ministries depend on the generous gifts of our members and friends.  Thank you for your participation in sharing the love of God in our community and our world.


Below is a list of the Ministry Teams and their team leaders.  Some teams are on hiatus but others are more important than ever.   Please consider to which teams God may be calling you.  You can reach out to the team leader for more information. Each of these three Ministry areas send 2-3 reps to the UGB meetings.


ABC Mission – Joan Taylor

ANEW Place – Betty Capponi

FUMC Soup Suppers –Joan Taylor               (Interim)

Cooperative Campus Ministries –         Beth Gamache

Sister Church Initiative –Karen Mendes

Marathon Pasta Supper – Marie Morton

Public Relations – Sarah Dopp

JUMP – Kathy Browne, Joan Taylor


Welcoming – Pat Boyden

Visitation – Ray Sherrod

Communion – Cindy Little

Prayer Chain – Mark Paulsen

New Member Services –Karen Mendes

Prayer Topics – Marie Morton

Sanctuary Decorations –Mark Paulsen

Ushering – Andy Farrington, Mark Paulsen, Frank Swasey

Security – Andy Farrington

Worship – Mark Paulsen

Property (Fix It/Clean It) –  Andy Farrington,  Chris Thompson                                

Music – Steve Perkins


Church School- Jeneve Joslin

Special Events – Lois Lynch

Youth Ministry – Jeneve Joslin    (interim)

Adult Christian Education –        

Jeneva Burroughs (interim) 

Library & Educational Resources-        Jeneva Burroughs

Stewardship – Stu Burroughs


I am the leader of the Communion Team.  If you’d like to help, and perhaps have never been asked, join my team! The main task for now is to contribute the communion prayer on the first Sunday of the month.  This is a great team to join!  Please email me at: or call me at 893-4211.  I’d be happy to have your help!


I’m looking for your help in providing prayer topics for the last Sunday of the month!  I am the leader of the new Prayer Topic Team and would love to have you join the team!  There are several options available in helping: writing and delivering your message or having someone else deliver it for you; sharing your ideas about topics you’d like to hear about; offering to deliver a topic that has already been written, etc. – I’m open to any and all ideas!  If you are interested in helping in any way and would like to join the team, please email me: or call me at 893-2337.


We will be offering two online camp sessions – Creative Arts Camp in July and VBS Compassion Camp in August! Materials will be sent home in advance and we will gather together over Google Hangout on Sundays, once a week for an hour. Each camp week will include: Gathering and Music, Bible Story, Create and Play, Movement, Compassion or Creativity in action, Wrap-up. Please email Jeneve Joslin at for a camp registration form. 

There are no costs for families for either camp and we are happy to have your students participate in both sessions!

A Special Thank You to Jenny Paw, Charlie Roy and Moo Thay Lay Htoo and Mu July Htoo for their participation in our worship service on June 14th! 


We are monitoring the COVID-19 situation in Vermont and around the country closely and will be making decisions in August about how to deliver our programming.

We are working hard over the summer to plan to deliver a high quality and fun program regardless of the format! 

To join or view our Google classroom:


2. Click the + button on the top right of your screen

3. enter our classroom code: 74umqjk



 An American Baptist plea for emergency One Great Hour of Sharing COVID support to help families, churches, and communities find relief and recovery across United States, Puerto Rico, and countries around the world served by International Ministries….   

Give to OGHS COVID response for support of global relief efforts. Donations can be made through  our church, or online (, or mail a check payable to International Ministries to the attention of Donor Services at International Ministries, 1003 W. 9th Ave., Suite A, King of Prussia, PA 19406.  Write “OGHS-COVID RESPONSE: INTERNATIONAL” on the memo line.

To give to OGHS for support of relief initiatives across the United States and Puerto Rico, donations can be made through our church, or online (, or mail a check payable to American Baptist Home Mission Societies to the attention of Leda Carter at ABHMS, 1075 First Ave., King of Prussia ,PA 19406.  Write “OGHS-COVID Recovery: US & PR” on the memo line.

One hundred percent of donations go to relief efforts; no dollars are retained for administrative costs.  To ensure that our church receives credit for your gift, write the church name on your check.

 Since our initial contribution of $647.70 to OGHS for Puerto Rico in 2020, First Baptist members and friends have contributed $230.00 and more is coming in.  Go to to get the latest info on how our contributions are being used.

Feeding Ministry

The First United Methodist church in Burlington are still continuing their Soup and Sandwich Take Out Supper on Sunday evenings.  Thirty-five (35) families were served on June 21, the Sunday that First Baptist provided the soup and milk.  Thank you to Cindy and Dave Little, Ginger Calder, and Fern Sparks for making that possible.   We are looking for soup makers and milk providers for Sunday, July 19.  Contact Joan Taylor, or 878-8294.

             Update from JUMP

JUMP continues to provide services to the community through their online FLEX application which when completed can provide resources including gift cards to Hannaford, City Market and Shell gas. This can be all be done electronically and by mail.

JUMP is also developing a new program called Quarterly Care Calls- for which 160 clients have signed up to be called. They are in process of enlisting volunteers to make calls after participating in a training session.

Opening up the drop-in center still poses risks to staff that are not warranted presently.

Congregational giving to JUMP is down but this has been somewhat offset by additional grant money they have received. They are exploring doing a virtual RUN in the fall.

~Kathy Browne

Unified Governing Board Update –

The UGB met twice in June.  At the first (regular) meeting, we discussed ways our congregation could respond to the topics of systemic racism and implicit bias, which are forming the center if the national conversation.  A wide variety of suggestions were made concerning public messages outside our building (on the sidewalk and on our sign), ways to foster honest dialogue within our own congregation and sister congregations, participation in the interfaith Black Lives Matter vigil, self-education via a book discussion series, ways to teach our children etc. Several of these ideas have been initiated. Karen has reached out to New Alpha, we have “Grace to All, Peace to All” and “Every Person a Child of God” messages displayed, and the book group met for the first time on June 24 and will be reading “White Fragility” by Robin Diangelo.  More ideas will be welcome as we seek to know God’s leading in this time of self-examination.

We also decided to organize a worship and fellowship opportunity outside on a Sunday afternoon.  In terms of re-opening the church building for services, the subcommittee reported to the UGB on its recommendations.  It was decided to remain closed at least until the Labor Day time frame (to revisit the situation in August), to adhere to state guidelines, to post pandemic guidance and maintain written protocols.

The UGB is working on options for resurfacing the driveway between our parking lot and Pine Street. Ideally this could be rectified during the summer while there is less traffic in and out.  The UGB also reviewed the newly-revised Staff Personnel Policies and made some suggestions.                                

Plans are in place for worship services during July while Karen is on vacation, and a team is in place to make the online “magic” happen each Sunday.

The choir held another ZOOM get-together

In the second June UGB meeting, we discussed a very exciting new development.  “Next Generation” Childcare has expressed interest in our daycare space.  We are drawing up a lease agreement.  They will be preparing the space and the play area during July and bringing in children in August.  They provide “nature-based” learning and are excited about our facilities.  For us, it is a welcome return to providing a ministry to our community and to receiving that income once again.

~Sarah Dopp, Moderator





               Open 1-3















Reflections on the Pandemic of 2020

 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27

 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

The pandemic of 2020 has taken a toll on all of us. Disappointments in missed events and opportunities are clear. I have been trying to reflect on the positive outcomes, much like the last 5 minutes of the evening news. It is helpful in my own life. These are some of the things I’ve seen:

 ● Acts of kindness, random or otherwise are needed in our world. Communities have shown that they can work to show they care for one another.

 ● Gratitude shown to essential workers and the cheers they give patients who are being released from the hospital.

● Life has slowed down and allowed us to be closer as families while making a bigger effort to reach out to others.

● I have seen lots of families out doing activities together such as hiking and walking.

 ● We need to figure out what changes can be made so that we are all safer in the future. We have people working on that daily.

● Racism is not acceptable. Standing up for what you believe in is important. It appears to be related to the pandemic. I feel like the two go hand in hand. People had more time to come out and peacefully demonstrate for the injustice done to George Floyd and others. People across the world have shown support for the US demonstrations.

● We have all kinds of feelings that have floated to the surface in the past 3 months. This absolutely includes children. We need more than ever to be open to talking about these feelings. ● Love can and must win over hate. Karen has focused some of her sermons on this very topic. God loves each of us the way we are.

● Change doesn’t have to be bad. We have to work together to figure it out! The creativity of lots of people brainstorming what a new normal can look like is amazing. These are just some of my observations. I think it might be a healthy thing if we send our ideas to the church office to put in our weekly news. I would find that uplifting and I think others would, too. ~Cindy Little