Green Steeple Messenger – June 2018

Pastor’s Message

 Getting Ready

Finally, our long anticipated Kitchen renovation and Fellowship Hall update is finished and it looks beautiful.  The inconvenience of the construction time is behind us and we are now able to welcome folks to our lovely and useful space.

The construction of our neighborhood continues as City Place Burlington moves from demolition of the old mall to construction of the new building and new roads. Each weekday we can feel the vibrations as the massive metal beams are pounded into the ground.  Once this project is finished we will have many new neighbors and many new people walking and driving by our building.

The renovation of our governing structure continues as our Governance Working Group leads us to consider how we can streamline our governance to maximize our ministries. By updating our organization to be be more flexible and responsive, we can welcome new folk into our ministries and free up folk who are overburdened.

Our building has changed, our neighborhood is changing, and how we are organized can change to better support our many ministries.

We are getting ready to follow the movement of the Spirit who supports us and challenges us to share God’s love with the world.  Thank you for all of the hard work this year.  It is a great blessing to be in ministry with you.

 Yours in Christ,

Rev. Karen A. Mendes


          Sermon Texts and Titles

June 03 – Rev. Karen Mendes

Church School Sunday

Scripture: 1 Samuel 3:1-20

Sermon: Listen & Learn

June 10 – Rev. Karen Mendes

Music Sunday

Scripture: Psalm 98

Sermon: A Joyful Noise

   June 17 – Rev. Karen A. Mendes

Fathers’ Day

Guest Preacher: Rev. Mangyang Imsong

June 24 – Rev. Karen Mendes

Scripture: 1 Samuel 17:32-49

Sermon: David & Goliath


 Our Monday Bible Study is held on Mondays at 11:30am.  We are studying the letter of James, a six-week discussion. Please plan to join us and bring your lunch. For more information, please email Rev. Mendes at or call the church office at 864-6515.


It was a great blessing to worship with New Alpha Missionary Baptist Church and our Karen Baptist Community on Pentecost Sunday, May 20.  Pastor Thee Say and Deaconess Margaret Burgess brought so much to our worship service.  The Spirit was definitely moving among us.  A photo of the group which sang its way to City Hall Park can be seen on the First Baptist Facebook page.


June 3 – Church School Sunday – After our joy-filled worship, we will gather for a potluck lunch and a screening of the movie All Saints, which is about a church which partners with a Karen community.

June 10 – Music Appreciation Sunday – Our worship will include celebration of our wonderful music ministries.

June 17 – Fathers’ Day – All men will receive a flower in honor of the care they bring to our church community and to the world.

The Rev. Mangyang Imsong, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Lowell, MA will be our guest preacher.  Rev. Imsong is the East Coast Liaison for the Alliance for Asian-American Baptist Churches.


     It’s that time of year again –  WE NEED YOU!

Music Appreciation Sunday is June 10th, after which the choir will be resting their voices for the summer.  Please consider sharing your musical talents with us!  Look for the sign-up sheet in the Narthex.

We look forward to enjoying all the music the congregation can share this summer. ~Music Committee


Children are welcome in the sanctuary. At the back of the sanctuary (in the narthex) there is also a flowered toy box and play space for young children to use during worship. Crayons and activity packets are available from the ushers. There is a self-service nursery on the first floor for babies and toddlers who need a break during worship and are attended by a parent or guardian.


 Life at First Baptist is much more than just Sunday mornings and we have the opportunity to be connected on Facebook at a Facebook group 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.


In July 2020 the State of Vermont will be requiring all institutions and individuals to compost food scraps.  We have an opportunity to get some experience with this in the meantime.  Marjorie Adams regularly takes her own composting and trash to drop off at CSWD and is taking along ours as well.  This will cost us nothing.  Commercial carriers charge a substantial fee.  She has obtained official containers, large square green ones (such as we filled on First Night) and smaller round black ones (which we’ve been using to collect coffee grounds on Sunday mornings).  Many more items are commercially compostable than we usually think of (fat, meat, greasy paper etc.) The Y Daycare has already enthusiastically joined in on this effort! A collection of CSWD brochures has been placed on the Fellowship Hall bulletin board for reference.

     First Baptist Church Seeks Director of Christian Education

First Baptist Church Burlington is seeking a part time Director of Christian Education.  First Baptist is a progressive multicultural American Baptist Congregation. The Director of Christian Education augments our ministry to children, youth and young adults by fostering their growth and development in all aspects of Christian faith.  As a staff member the Director plays a central role by working with the Christian Education Board to plan, develop, support, oversee and grow our inclusive, multicultural, multi-generational Christian education programs and events. The Director closely coordinates activities with the Pastor and the Christian Education Board concerning the ministry needs of children, youth and young adults.

To apply, please send a resume and cover letter to the attention of      Search Committee by email to: or by mail to

First Baptist Church, 81 St. Paul Street, Burlington, Vt. 05401.

The position is open until filled.


The Christian Education Board has some scholarship funds in its budget for students pursuing college level courses after high school or those seeking advanced training or education.

Applicants need to be members or active participants at First Baptist Church Burlington or at our sister congregation, the Karen Baptist Community.

Application forms are available in the Narthex on Sunday or call the church office and one can be sent to you.  Completed application forms may be sent to the office or put in Lois Lynch’s mailbox downstairs.

If you are interested in seeking education for ministry, the David J. Heim scholarship is also available.


The New Hampshire/Vermont Region of the American Baptist Convention operates Camp Sentinel.  Sentinel is located east of Plymouth, NH in rural Tuftonboro.  It offers overnight camps for youth 7-18, a teen camp and a Senior Ventures camp for those 55+.  Their camp news says they offer fun and safe outdoor and water activities and arts and crafts.  They emphasize team building, leadership development, and evening bible study, singing and worship.  Check out the news on our bulletin board and at

 Our Church Directory is available on our phones and computers! Our Pictorial Directory is available in printed form from the church office but it is also available online!  Members and friends of First Baptist whose email addresses are included in the directory can access the directory through their smartphone or computer.  For smartphones, the app is Instant Church Directory.

For computers, go to  In both cases you will be directed on how to set up a password, etc.  Only those who are included in the directory will be able to access it.  Contact the church office if you have any questions. To update your photo or address, email:

                                      GREEN STEEPLE WEEKLY

On Thursdays, look for an email from First Baptist letting you know about upcoming events and opportunities.  This will give you a first look at the Sunday bulletin announcements and provide a way for us to communicate beyond the monthly newsletter.  If you have information you would like included in the email and bulletin, please get it to Marie at by Wednesday.

If you would like to be added to the email list (or removed from the list) please contact Marie in the church office.


This year, as we meet and work and worship together, let us take photos so that at our next Annual Meeting we can put together a slide show of our life together.  Photos can be emailed to the church office  Please get parental permission before photographing children.  Thanks!


We would love to find someone to take on the task of organizing and shipping out the Labels for Education: (Campbell, Pepperidge Farm, etc. products), the aluminum can tags, postage stamps, and card fronts that we ask people to collect. Various organizations around the country recycle or repurpose these items to raise funds for their organizations.

To see how many products are eligible for the Labels for Education program, please go to the website, to download the list!  Remember, it only takes a moment to snip one of these labels or to take a tag off a soda can, pet food, or other appropriate cans and add to the support we can give to many organizations!

If you are interested in helping with this task, please speak to Bev Nichols or call the church office.


American Baptists are represented on the World Relief Committee and those committee members are responsible for deciding where our gifts donated to the One Great Hour of Sharing are distributed.

Although many of us have given to the OGHS year around for emergency relief, refugee work, disaster rehabilitation and development assistance, June 2018 is our assigned month for giving to this special offering. Of our four yearly offerings, this one is an ecumenical effort to meet the huge needs worldwide.

Currently, nine denominations are members of the World Relief Committee. The OGHS is one of four annual offerings received by American Baptist churches which is given out to people and their communities who suffer from disaster, conflict, poverty and financial hardship.

American Baptist representation on the World Relief Committee allows us seven voting members. Two are elected from the Board of the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society (IM), two from the Board of Directors of the American Baptist Home Societies (NM), two from the Board of General Ministries and one from the Executive Committee of the American Baptist Women’s Ministries (ABWM) plus three staff members who are from IM, NM and ABCUSA.

The Baptist voting members are from seven states and probably the person we know best, with a great deal of knowledge of the needs, is national staff member Vicki Goff. When we write our checks to the One Great Hour of Sharing, it’s okay to earmark our donations to Puerto Rico’s needs “Rebuilding, Renewing, Restoring” or to any other disaster or country by writing our wish on the “for” space. Our donations can be designated to the “OGHS-Puerto Rico”, given at church during this month or mailed to the attention of Kim Wilkins of the ABHMS, PO Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482-0851.

One hundred percent of our donations go to the relief efforts; none is kept for administration expenses.  Our Mission Outreach board members have set $1200 for our church goal efforts.


 Protestants during World War II made appeals for relief and reconstruction work overseas via a great joint program on the radio. President Truman greeted the listeners on the Saturday night broadcast, called “One Great Hour,” and musicians and actors asked that the listeners attend their churches in the morning and make contributions.

In 1950, the One Great Hour of Sharing logo was chosen and a series of 15 minute radio programs promoted efforts for our giving to countries and their people devastated from the war. Although FCC rules have eliminated the free radio programs, the offering survives in local congregations.

The purpose of the One Great Hour of Sharing has remained the same: to collect special gifts to assist those in need.  ~ Nancy Tracy

   American Baptist Missionaries in Haiti

American Baptist missionaries live with and continue to serve Haitians, in spite of the political attacks out of our national White House. Executive Director for International Ministries, Sharon Koh, recently wrote to us after the ugly, racist comments were spoken by the president, which were directed at Africans, Haitians and Salvadorans.

In support of our partners in these countries, Rev. Koh reminded us to reaffirm the worth of all persons and to stand against ethnic prejudice. She wrote that we must reject partiality and respect all people. She encouraged us, as followers of Jesus and people of good will, to work together to bring blessings to all the people.

Rev. Koh added, “Our ministries and our mission throughout the world are founded and enabled by relationships of mutual trust and respect. We renounce words and ways that demean any nation or people group.”

American Baptist missionaries Kihomi Ngwemi and Mabudiga Nzunga are Africans (D.R. Congo) serving in Haiti and I felt the doubly hateful, verbally abusive attack against my friends. When I was an AB Volunteer in Mission at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, KS, they (and two of their four children) were on sabbatical leave and were my neighbors. I felt the insult directed at them and the Haitians. Nzunga told me that they do not have time to waste on such nonsense. He also told me that the majority of Haitians do not know what is going on around the world. Nzunga teaches theology at the Christian University of Northern Haiti, trains assistant professors, administers the Haitian Eye Clinic and manages the goat and pig project for children and the clean water project for communities.

 Kihomi works with families in the areas of counseling and women’s health. She also coordinates the women’s association of the Haitian Baptist Convention and speaks at international conferences. They both are training the next generation at all levels.

Brian and Lynette Smith with their two young sons also serve as our missionaries in Haiti. Brian leads visiting mission teams in construction projects and Lynette works with Haitian women empowering them while sharing God’s love. Dr. Steve James and his wife Nancy, a nurse, are missionaries in Haiti, too.


After Haiti gained its independence from France in 1804, we have been sending American Baptist missionaries there. The first, Thomas Paul, son of freed slaves from Exeter, NH, arrived in 1824 with Bibles and tracts. He preached and baptized among the Haitians. He laid the groundwork for the establishment of the First Baptist Church in Haiti. I have counted names of more than 60 AB missionaries who followed Thomas plus thousands of short-term and volunteer missionaries.

Today the Haitian Baptist Convention has 110 churches, hundreds of preaching stations and nearly 100,000 baptized.* American Baptists give emergency funds and volunteers who work alongside our missionaries with the Haitians who suffer the effects of civil unrest and natural disasters. (1 Peter 4:10)

Since U.S. policy toward Haiti is officially intended to strengthen democracy; help alleviate poverty, illiteracy and malnutrition and promote respect for human rights, Donald Trump’s unacceptable racist comments have caused riots in Port-au-Prince and the American embassy was closed January 23, 2018. There are daily concerns about how the Haitians among others have been denigrated by our current president and his administration. Historically, both Republican and Democratic presidents have worked carefully to protect the American dream for immigrants.

DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) was to expire in March 2018. Members of Congress could end the threat of deportation and agree with 70% of US citizens who want Haitians and other immigrants to stay in our country without using the Dreamers as bargaining tools for a wall! ~Nancy Tracy

*For more Haitian History, read Ivah Heneisse’s Pioneers of Light.           


The kitchen is done and it passed inspection on Tuesday 5-15-18!  A group of us made sure everything that was taken out of the kitchen was brought back down from the 3rd floor and washed before being put away.

The AA groups will have their own locked storage lockers in the conference room.  Assignments for each group will be done soon.

The Y Daycare moved into Fellowship Hall while their rooms were being painted and the new flooring laid.  They moved back in after the children where gone on 5-18-18. The flooring for the rest of the downstairs areas will be done before our June 3 lunch.

There were a few unexpected expenses that may take us over our budget.  If you would still like to make a donation to the kitchen project, please note on your check “for Kitchen Project” so Ginger will be able to allocate the money to the correct account.

Thanks to all who helped us with the move out, the cleaning, the move back in.  Thanks to all who donated the money to help make this long awaited project a reality.

~Chris Thompson, Ginger Calder, Mike Lynch and Sarah Dopp

A big thank you to our friends from Habitat for Humanity for providing two painters to help in repainting the crib room last Saturday, May 12.  Also helping with this project were Stu Burroughs, Andy Farrington, two young Karen boys, Moses being one of them, and myself, Jim Calder.  This was done before the new flooring was to be installed in the Y rooms.

A big thank you also goes out to our Karen Church family who had a large group working outside the same day.  Pastor Thee Say and his members raked and cleaned up our exterior grounds in fine manner.  In total there were 20 bags of leaves and I, along with Bill McCormick, took them to the Burlington transfer station on Pine Street.  Many hands do make the work progress quickly and efficiently!

~Jim Calder for the Board of Trustees

Greeting and Refreshments

We are offering two opportunities to serve on Sunday mornings by asking for both greeters and providers of snacks.  Please feel free to sign up for both or only one.

  DAN & SHARON BUTTRY  –  Prayer Alert Update

Dear praying friends,
We’ve been going through a lot lately, and we have some serious stuff ahead of us.  So we want to share what has been happening and seek your prayer support.
We praise God for:                                                                                                

 1) The three weeks Sharon had with her Dad to care for him during his last days of life.  It was obviously a sad and challenging time in many ways, but it was also a gift of grace for Sharon to be able to serve him in his last earthly journey.  She’s grateful for some of the conversations she could have, for some special times growing much closer to her siblings, and for God’s mercies along the way.

2) Financial support that came through on a special appeal Dan made for an emergency trip to Nicaragua.  Following Dan’s training trip in March, a huge political crisis broke out that left over 60 people dead.  One of the hot spots with police shooting protesting students was UPOLI where Dan had done trainings.

Laura and David Parajon, IM missionaries with the AMOS health ministry have asked Dan to come and help their staff in how to handle the crisis, both in their internal disagreements about the issues, and how they work in the now sometimes violently divided communities in which they serve.  Dan leaves Monday for a week working with the staff and community workers of AMOS.

3) A great time Dan had at Central Baptist Theological Seminary to both speak at commencement and launch the Buttry Center for Peace and Nonviolence.  Though it is named for Sharon as well as Dan, Sharon missed the events while caring for her father.         

 Please lift up before God’s mercy seat:                                                                           
1) Dan has a recurrence of the prostate cancer he faced in 2009.  We just met with the doctor today to see the results of tests and go over treatment options.  More tests later this week.  Pray for healing, for grace, for mercy.

2) Wisdom about plans for the next 10-day Training of Conflict Transformation Trainers (TCTT) planned to be held in Kansas City at Central Seminary.  Dan will have started some of his cancer treatments by then.  The doctor indicated that going ahead with our plans shouldn’t be a problem, and we’re hoping that’s accurate.

3) Grace for our kids and their families.  They are probably taking the cancer diagnosis for their Dad harder than we are.  May grace be multiplied to them as they love and worry!

Thanks for all you mean to us through this journey!
Dan & Sharon

OPPORTUNITIES TO SERVE – There remain 8 openings on boards and committees (Trustees -2, Christian Ed – 2, Missions – 1, 139 Bank St. – 1,      PR – 1 and Church Clerk).  If you have interest in serving, please speak to a member of the Nominating Committee (Stu Burroughs, Barb Farrington and Sarah Dopp).