Saturday, Oct. 12

Chicken Pie Supper

SHAFTSBURY -- Shaftsbury Methodist Church will hold its annual Chicken Pie Supper today, with settings at 4:30 and 6 p.m. Reservations may be made by calling Elaine at 447-3479. Tickets are $12; children 6 and under $6; under 3 free. Take outs are available.

Benefit Clothing Sale for Friendship Center Food Pantry

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- The second annual Friendship Center Food Pantry Benefit Clothing Sale will be held on Saturday, Oct. 12, at All Saints Episcopal Church hall (located next to the North Adams Post Office) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. All types of clothing -- new and used -- will be offered at reasonable prices. All proceeds will benefit the food pantry -- an effort of the Northern Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative -- which in 2.5 years of operation has served more than 1,400 households in North Adams, Clarksburg and Florida, Mass.

Sunday, Oct. 13

Worship at Second Congregational

BENNINGTON -- All are invited to be part of a community of thanksgiving, service, and praise at Second Congregational Church this Sunday morning at 10 a.m.

The Handbell Choir will be ringing "Land of Rest" arrangement by Kevin McChesney. The Rev. Mary Lee-Clark's sermon, based on the story in Luke about one of the 10 lepers healed returning to give thanks, is titled, "Obedient, but not in love." Following a Time for the Children in All of Us, children up through grade five will be dismissed for Godly Play, while the middle- and high-school class works at the Kitchen Cupboard food pantry.

A time of fellowship and refreshment for all ages follows in Webster Hall. CROP Walkers will have a table set up for those who would like to be sponsors.

On Tuesday, Oct. 15, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., a sing-along with church family, friends and neighbors will be held here at Second Congregational Church, led by Bruce Lee-Clark and piano accompanist Charlotte Knighton. Camp songs, fun songs and more will be sung. Singing ability is not required. Bring the family. Herbal tea and dessert will be offered at 6:45 p.m. Bring a potluck apple crisp if you can help provide part of the dessert. If you need a ride, call the church office at 442-2559 by 11a.m. on Oct 15.

Second Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, welcomes all people of faith or in search of faith, without regard to age, race, sex, economic condition, disability, or sexual orientation. Its building on Hillside Street is wheelchair-accessible, and hearing-assistance devices are available. For more information, call the church office at 442-2559 or visit www.bennscc.org.

‘Thanks on the Go'

at the Federated Church of East Arlington

EAST ARLINGTON -- All are invited to make a stop at the Federated Church of East Arlington on Ice Pond Road on this Columbus Day weekend for the Sunday service of worship at 10 a.m.

At the service, the Rev. Kathy Clark will consider the story of how gratitude can grow into service in considering the lesson of the 10 lepers healed by Jesus but only one who offered thanks. The day's message is titled, "Thanks on the Go." Additional lessons will include Psalm 66:1-12 and Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7. The choir will be led by Mary Edwards, music director. There will be church school for all children 3 to 10 and new children are always welcome. Everyone is then invited to Coffee Hour in Bailey Hall immediately after the service, where there will be a basket for contributions to Holy Joe's Cafe, a ministry of presence by U.S. military chaplains around the world including throughout Afghanistan. Sign-ups for next Sunday's CROP Walk (Oct. 20) that will leave from Second Congregational Church, UCC, in Bennington are available to support those walking to address hunger globally and locally following worship.

Bible study takes place on Thursdays from 9 to 10:30 a.m., when the group is studying 1 Samuel. Senior meals are served on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 12 noon in Bailey Hall. The Federated Church of East Arlington is in covenant and connection with the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church.  Its mission is "To welcome all, follow Jesus Christ together and live God's Word with compassionate service."

For more information on the ministries or worship at the Federated Church, call 802-375-2548 or visit www.federatedchurchofeastarlington.org or like the church on Facebook.

Worship in North Bennington

NORTH BENNINGTON -- The North Bennington Congregational Church welcomes all to its 11 a.m. worship service led by the Rev. Penny Rich Smith. The sermon, "In Grateful Faith," will be based on Psalm 66:1-12 and Luke 17:11-19. There will be a children's time, after which Sunday School classes will meet for pre-school through grade 8. Newcomers are welcome.

Following the service, everyone is invited to stay for coffee hour and a time of fellowship. The church is located at 8 Bank St. in North Bennington and is wheelchair accessible from the back door at the parsonage driveway. For more information, call the church office at 442-5161.

Upcoming

Pownal United Methodist turkey supper

POWNAL -- The Pownal United Methodist Church, located at the corner of Route 346 and Church Street, will serve its annual Turkey Supper on Thursday, Oct. 17.

The menu includes: Roast turkey, dressing, gravy, mashed potatoes, winter squash, cranberry sauce, rolls, coffee, tea, or lemonade, apple, pumpkin, or mince pie with cheese. The family style dinner begins at 5 p.m. with continuous serving. Tickets available at the door, $12 for adults, $6 for children 4 to 10, and free for children 3 and under. For more information contact Mary Louise at 802 -823-7769.

'Gather, Nourish, Grow' - An afternoon of Jewish service learning

BENNINGTON -- Congregation Beth El, in partnership with the Coalition for the Homeless, Clear Brook Farm, True Love Farm and Greater Bennington Interfaith Community Services, is organizing an afternoon of Jewish service learning to take place on Saturday, Oct. 19, beginning at 12:30 p.m.

The initiative begins a full week of "Food for Thought" events taking place throughout the Bennington faith community to address the issues of food insecurity, nutrition and community supported gardening and agriculture in the area.

"The imperative to respond to hunger is deeply rooted in the Jewish tradition," said Rabbi Jarah Greenfield. "There's a popular idea out there that what it means to be Jewish is that you spend the Sabbath (Shabbat) in the synagogue praying. But there's much more to it. Taking action to address the problems in our midst is as Jewish a thing to do as praying. This initiative is about gathering together across our dividing lines and building a healthier community while rooting ourselves in Jewish tradition."

Participants can get involved in a variety of ways. The program begins with lunch and welcoming at 12:30 p.m., followed by a choice of volunteer projects at the various farm and garden locations. Volunteers will dig, weed, plant, cook and learn with native experts about food insecurity, organic farming, nutrition and issues of hunger. There are roles and activities for people of all ages, including families with young children.

The event will begin at Congregation Beth El, in the Pamela and Richard Ader Social Hall, 107 Adams St. A family-friendly program, it is free and open to the public. Interested participants who wish to contribute donations of time or resources are encouraged to contact the synagogue.

Announcements

Annual Fill the Bus Food Drive

HOOSICK FALLS, N.Y. -- The third annual Fill the Bus Food Drive benefiting the Hoosick Area Church Association (HACA) Food Pantry is taking place in Hoosick Falls from Oct. 7 to 13. The students of Hoosick Falls Central School and St. Mary's Academy were encouraged to bring food throughout the week.

On Sunday, Oct. 13, from 9 a.m. to noon, a truck will be parked on Main Street near the Baptist Church to collect food. Meanwhile the school bus will be at the Cow Plop Giveaway and Car Show being held at the Hoosick Athletic Fields from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The HACA Food Pantry serves the greater Hoosick Falls community by supplying food and toiletries to more than 1,697 households per year. In 2012, 42,273 meals were given to those in need and that number keeps growing. This year the Food Pantry has served over 23,000 meals thus far and the holidays are quickly approaching.

Church seeks vendors for flea market/craft fair

BENNINGTON -- The First Baptist Church of Bennington is seeking vendors for its Cabin Fever Flea Market and Craft Fair taking place on Nov. 30 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The market will feature 20-plus tables. For more information and table reservations, call 802-379-4548.

First Baptist is located at 601 Main St., downtown. To learn more about First Baptist and its mission to be "a place for healing, community involvement, and spiritual grounding," visit www.fbcbennington.org.

Opportunity for choral singers at Old First

OLD BENNINGTON -- Choral singers with an affinity toward classical church music in a more traditional setting, who might be available for a regular Sunday morning commitment, are being encouraged by Old First Congregational Church of Bennington to consider the opportunity provided by its choir program.

Under the direction of Charles Olegar, the church's organist and choir director since this past December, Old First Church's choir has been working to develop as a skilled ensemble, bringing to worship distinguished music covering several centuries of the art, including more recent classically-rooted compositions. "Each Sunday's music is selected and prepared with the aim of bringing to our services the spiritual invigoration and nourishment that can be a special province of fine sacred music," states Olegar, whose career now spans over four decades as a professional church musician.

Along with its September-through-June schedule of weekly 11 a.m. Sunday morning services, the choir also appears regularly on Old First's community musicale series, which was inaugurated last March with a program of Bach cantatas, often performed with instruments, which are likewise engaged for special music on Christmas Eve and Easter.

In opening choir membership to the community, Old First Church is reflecting its historic role in Bennington, where it long served as the town's Meeting House, Thus, participation does not carry with it the prerequisite or expectation of church membership. With the congregation's commitment to offering an inclusive, warmly-supportive community that welcomes and celebrates diversity, choir members often choose to become more extensively involved in church life. "We are about the spiritual power of great music offered as worship," Olegar says; "A concert venue might provide some of that, but in the context of worship an already superb piece of music can take on even greater dimensions and meaning. That's our role at Old First."

Old First's choir rehearses weekly on Wednesdays, from 7:-8:30 in The Barn, on Monument Circle, with Sunday morning warm-up at 10:30 a.m., for an 11 a.m. service. Prospective singers should contact Olegar, either personally after a service or through the church office (office@oldfirst.comcastbiz.net; phone 802-447-1223).

Nation/World

Mormons pushing church stance on homosexuality

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Wendy and Tom Montgomery went door-to-door in their California neighborhood in 2008 campaigning for the passage of an anti-gay marriage proposition. They were among thousands of faithful Mormons following the direction of a church that spent millions on the cause.

Then they learned last year that their 15-year-old son is gay -- a revelation that rocked their belief system.

Now, Wendy Montgomery is leading a growing movement among Mormons to push The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to teach that homosexuality isn't a sin.

They are hopeful. The Utah-based church's stance on homosexuality has softened considerably since it was one of the leading forces behind California's Proposition 8. A new website launched this year encourages more compassion toward gays, implores them to stay in the faith and clarifies that church leaders no longer "necessarily advise" gays to marry people of the opposite sex in what used to be a widely practiced Mormon workaround for homosexuality. In May, church leaders backed the Boy Scouts' policy allowing gays in the ranks. Some gay Mormons who left or were forced out of the church say they are now being welcomed back -- even though they remain in same-sex relationships.

It may seem like negligible progress to outsiders, but Mormon scholars say 2013 has been a landmark year for the religion on gay and lesbian issues.

"For those who have been around as long as I have, to have Mormons and gays in the same sentence is quite something," said Bob Rees, a visiting professor of Mormon Studies at the Graduate Theological Union and the University of California, Berkeley.

Still, the church has only gone so far. Church apostle Dallin H. Oaks reiterated this past weekend during a biannual conference that human laws cannot "make moral what God has declared immoral." The church website, launched in December, reinforced that while same-sex attraction itself isn't a sin, succumbing to it is.

The contrasting messages from the church have left many Mormons struggling to figure out where they stand.

Wendy Montgomery is among them. Her world changed after she read her son's journal in early 2012 and learned he was gay.

"It made me question everything," said Montgomery, 37, of Bakersfield, Calif. "I'm looking at this 13-year-old boy who is totally innocent and pure and an amazing kid and I think, ‘Either everything I know about homosexuality is wrong, or my son is not really gay. And, he's obviously gay.' I kind of had to unlearn everything I had learned."

Wendy and Tom Montgomery set out on a grueling six-month spiritual journey as they reconciled their love for their son, Jordan, with the teachings of their lifelong faith. They let family, friends and church mates know he was gay and established that they wouldn't tolerate any harsh treatment of their son.

They remain faithful Mormons, but have switched congregations after enduring ridicule from friends and fellow church members.

One woman told Montgomery her children should be taken away from her and given to somebody who follows the teachings of the prophet. Montgomery and her husband had to step down from their church positions -- he was the assistant bishop and she was a Sunday school teacher to teens -- after parents flooded the bishop's office with complaints that they were teaching homosexual propaganda that would turn other kids gay.

Their story is featured in a documentary made by the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University. The Montgomerys found the organization after getting frustrated with church therapists who told them Jordan was just going through a phase. The organization works with conservative religious families to help them navigate their doctrines while also accepting their gay children.