Saturday, Dec. 7

Annual Snowball Bazaar

BENNINGTON -- On Saturday, Dec. 7, the 65th annual Snowball Bazaar will be in full swing from 9:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. Delight in Christmas wreaths and centerpieces, a four-room tag sale, handmade crafts, a sewing room, baked goods, a silent auction and luncheon and snacks until 2:30 p.m. Try your luck at winning an invitation for Dinner for two at a local restaurant. A limited number of tickets are sold, so your chance of winning is greater. Free ham dinner

NORTH POWNAL - The North Pownal Congregational Church is holding a free ham dinner on Saturday, Dec. 7, from 3 to 6 p.m. at North Pownal Congregational Church on Route 346.

New Skete dog

demonstration at bookstore

MANCHESTER- The Northshire Bookstore will host Brother Christopher of the Monks of New Skete on Saturday, Dec. 7, at 5 p.m. Brother Christopher and a canine companion will demonstrate training techniques from the Monks of New Skete’s latest book "Bless the Dogs." This treasure of a book features meditations from their book "I & Dog," along with new meditations and stunning new photography. For more information on this and other events, call 802-362-2200 or 1-800-437-3700, or visit the Northshire Bookstore website at www.northshire.com.

Sunday, Dec. 8

Worship at Second Congo

BENNINGTON -- Second Congregational Church, UCC, welcomes all to celebrate the Second Sunday in Advent, this Sunday morning at 10 a.m. The Jubellaire Ringers call us to worship, and we light the second Advent candle, the Candle of Peace. During A Time for the Children in All of Us, we greet yet another visitor who is "waiting," and then children up through grade 5 are dismissed for Godly Play. The Middle- and High-school Class is at the Kitchen Cupboard from 10 to 11 a.m. for their monthly service project.

The Rev. Mary Lee-Clark’s sermon, based on the texts from Isaiah and Matthew, is entitled, "Something’s Not Right."

A time of fellowship and refreshment for the whole church family follows in Webster Hall. Giving Tree and Heifer Project alternative giving opportunities are available.

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. Our building is wheelchair-accessible, and hearing-assistance devices are available. For more information, call the church office at 442-2559 or visit our website at www.bennscc.org.

’Give Peace a Chance’ at the Federated Church

EAST ARLINGTON -- On this Second Sunday of Advent, a warm invitation is extended to the 10 a.m. service of worship on Dec. 8 at the Federated Church of East Arlington on Ice Pond Road. The day’s message from the Rev. Kathy Clark will consider the words of a peace which we still dream of today from Isaiah 11:1-10. The sermon’s title is "Give Peace a Chance."

Additional Scripture lessons include Matthew 3:1-2 and Psalm 72. We will welcome guest organist Cheryl Miller who will provide musical accompaniment. Children 3 to 10 will begin with the congregation in the service and then leave for church school to prepare for the Christmas Pageant that will take place on Dec. 22. Following the service, all are invited to Coffee Hour in Bailey Hall. This is also the day when all wrapped Red Stocking gifts should be added to the boxes in the Sanctuary.

The annual Advent Workshop will be held this Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. in Bailey Hall. This fun and free event will have many opportunities for kids and adults to make Christmas ornaments, decorations and gifts. Hot chocolate and cookies will be served.

Senior meals are served on Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon in Bailey Hall. The Federated Churchof East Arlington is a local church 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 additional information visit www.federatedchurchofeastarlington.org or like the church on Facebook or phone 375-2548.

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 on this second Sunday of Advent. The sermon, "Vision of Peace," will be based on Isaiah 11:1-10 and Matthew 3:1-12. We will light the second Avent Candle. There will be a children’s time, after which Sunday School classes will meet for pre-school through grade 8.

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

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church

BENNINGTON -- The Rev. Justin Lanier will preside as St. Peter’s Episcopal Church celebrates the Holy Eucharist using the Book of Common Prayer on the second Sunday of Advent, Dec. 8. The 8 a.m. Holy Eucharist is celebrated at the high altar without music in the traditional language of Rite I. At 10 a.m. the Holy Eucharist will be celebrated with singing and music at the free-standing altar using Rite II, the contemporary language service. The Gospel for the day is Matthew 3:1-12. The Laying on of Hands for Healing follows the service.

Contemplative prayer will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 11, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. On Thursday, Dec. 12, Lanier will celebrate the Holy Eucharist at 10 a.m. All are welcome.

The St. Nicholas Supper will take place at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 12, at which time trees will be set up in preparation of the Christmas Tea. Bring your dish to share and wrapped gifts for the Angel Tree to the supper also. Donations for the Dove Project are also welcome. Santa will make an appearance.

Saturday, Dec. 14, is the date of the Christmas Tea. Silver or crystal serving trays may be dropped off at the church during regular business hours or call Donna Maroney at 442-9147 if you have questions. Tea hours are from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission is $6 per person. The Christmas Shoppe will be open as well for holiday shopping. Wreaths may be picked up after the Christmas Tea.

The Vestry will have their monthly meeting on Dec. 15 after the 10 a.m. service.

Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, the Christmas Pageant and Holy Eucharist is scheduled for 5 p.m. Children are invited to participate in this unrehearsed story of the Nativity. Notify Lanier if you or anyone you know are interested in participating or assisting with the direction of the program. Holy Eucharist will also be celebrated at 11 p.m. On Christmas Day, December 25, the Holy Eucharist will be celebrated at 9 a.m.

St. Peter’s invites people of all faiths or those in search of faith to join them in their service of Christ and of each other. The facility is wheelchair accessible. For more information, visit www.stpetersvt.org or call 802-442-2911.

Upcoming

Shabbat-in-Service: ‘Conversing with Our History’

BENNINGTON -- Join Congregation Beth El on Dec. 14, from 12:30 to 3 p.m., for the next Shabbat-in-Service program: ‘Conversing with Our History.’ We will be learning about the importance of preserving communal knowledge, particularly through the care of sacred and secular texts. We’ll explore the challenges of passing information from generation to generation, and add our voices to a historic conversation. Following services and kiddush, participants will choose from two options. Rabbi Jarah Greenfield will lead a text study and discussion for adults and teens. Rabbinic Intern Jake Adler will lead families in interactive study and activity at the library of Mount Anthony Union High School with Beth El member Berta Winiker. Reminder: This is a required Family Education Program for Judaism School families.

Shabbat services in Manchester

MANCHESTER -- Join Havurah Keruv of Southern Vermont as they gather to worship and celebrate Shabbat on Friday, Dec. 13, at 6:30 p.m., at Maple Street School, Manchester. There will be a pot luck dinner of non-meat options following services. If you wish to join or would like to attend one of our services,email keruvgroup@gmail.com.

Announcements

Miniature Nativity scenes at St. James

ARLINGTON -- St. James’ Episcopal Church has announced the 2013 exhibition of "Los Nacimientos," a display of more than 50 Nativity scenes reflecting the art and culture of Mexico, Brazil, Spain, Peru, Ecuador, Canada (Inuit and Anglo), England, Italy, China, Portugal, Germany, Poland, the United States and even the Vatican. The Nativities are made from papier maché, ceramic, straw, bamboo, stained glass and many other interesting materials. This is the only exhibition of its kind in Bennington County. Everyone is invited to visit and enjoy this exhibition.

The objects on exhibit are drawn from the private collection of a parishioner, Roger Cooper. The Spanish word "nacimiento" means "the birth place" or a nativity scene. In Cooper’s country of birth, Mexico, a nacimiento takes precedence over the Christmas tree and becomes the centerpiece of the home during the Christmas season. As Cooper traveled the world for his work, this Christmas tradition stayed with him. He began collecting examples of Nativity scenes on his trips. Over the course of more than 30 years, he accumulated more than 150 different examples of the genre.

Throughout the centuries, artists have created Nativity sets in materials and with figures that reflect their own cultures and times. Scenes of the Nativity are known from the very earliest Christian times. They appear in third and fourth century Christian catacombs of Rome as wall paintings and on sarcophagi. It was not until 1223, however, when St. Francis of Assisi organized a Nativity using live animals in Greccio, Italy, that the understanding and appreciation of that special scene took root and grew. The custom of making Nativity scenes spread from Italy to France and to Spain, and then to other parts of the world, following the spread of Christianity through exploration and colonization. The custom arrived in the New World with the conquistadores and the friars in the 16th century.

Each of the Nativity scenes on exhibit at St. James reflects the ethnicity of the culture that produced it. Included are examples from Mexico, Spain, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Canada, Israel, Germany, Poland, Russia and the United States, including two examples from Vermont. Nativities are made from wood, papier maché, ceramic, straw, bamboo, stained glass and many other interesting materials. One of the most unusual scenes is made of tongue depressors and clothespins.

The detail in each miniature scene is extraordinary.

St. James’ Episcopal Church is grateful to Roger Cooper for sharing his beautiful and interesting collection with us and reminding us of the variety of artistic endeavor that celebrates the miracle of the birth of Jesus.

During the Christmas season, St. James’ Church is decorated beautifully with the traditional greens and blooms of the holiday. On the sill of each of the tall stained glass windows is a lighted exhibit case containing a selection of the miniature scenes. "Los Nacimientos" are available for public viewing during the Christmas season as follows: Sundays - before and after the 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. worship services;

Introduction to Judaism class

BENNINGTON -- Introduction to Judaism, a 10-week class taught by Rabbi Jarah Greenfield, will expose participants to the breadth and depth of Judaism and engage with core ideas, debates and concerns of the Jewish people. Participants will gain knowledge and skills that will help them participate in Jewish life and build a personal Jewish practice if they choose. The class, which runs Tuesdays from 12:30 to 1:45 p.m. from Dec. 10 to Feb. 25 is geared toward those without prior Jewish learning, whether Jewish, non-Jewish, or considering conversion to Judaism. There is no fee for the course but book purchase is required. To sign up, call 802-442-9645. Located at Congregation Beth El, 107 Adams St., Bennington.

Course dates and schedule: Tuesdays, 12:30 to 1:45 p.m.

Meeting dates: Dec. 10, Dec. 17, Jan. 7, Jan. 14, Jan. 21, Jan. 28, Feb. 4, Feb. 11, Feb. 18, Feb. 25

Christmas Basket program Hoosick Falls

HOOSICK FALLS, N.Y. -- The Hoosick Area Church Association is now preparing for its annual Christmas Basket Program. The Christmas Basket Program provides participating families from the greater Hoosick area with the fixings for a Christmas dinner, a gift for each child in the household and additional food as available. This year we expect to serve a record number of families in our community. This program fills a need not provided by other agencies or organizations, and exemplifies the concept of individuals helping individuals within our community, providing a powerful Christmas message of caring and goodwill to others.

The Christmas Basket Program is made possible by of the generous support of our community members. We are asking individuals and organizations consider contributing to this special program. We welcome all levels of support; your donations of time, money, food, especially canned goods or a ham or turkey.

Gifts are appreciated as well, any type of toy for boy or girl, the ages will range from newborn to 17 years old. All toys or gifts must be dropped off at Immaculate Conception Church by Thursday Dec.13.

Monetary donations are being accepted now through December 5th at the Immaculate Conception Parish Office at 67 Main Street in Hoosick Falls.

Checks may be made out to Immaculate Conception. If you have any questions or would like to volunteer to assist in other ways, contact Joyce Lukas at immconcept@roadrunner.com or 518-686-5064 or email Patricia Hayes at patriciakhayes@yahoo.com.

Together we will spread the joy of Christmas throughout the community and beyond.

Help GMCC brighten Christmas for a local family

BENNINGTON -- Green Mountain Christian Center announces the sixth annual Green Mountain Christmas on Dec. 20 and 21, 2013 at the Christian Center (GMCC), 440 Main St.

Donations can be mailed or delivered to Green Mountain Christian Center, 440 Main St. Bennington, VT. The office is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and on Monday and Thursday 9 a.m. to noon.

Parents in need should call the Green Mountain Christian Center office at 802-447-7224 for a reservation before Dec. 21.

Nation

Catholic Home Missions allocates $3.4M to aid
disaster recovery

WASHINGTON--The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions awarded nearly $3.4 million in grants to six dioceses and two archdioceses that have been severely impacted by natural disasters in the U.S. The grants were awarded at the Subcommittee’s meeting in Baltimore on November 12.

"These grants are a testimony to the compassion and solidarity of U.S. Catholics," said Bishop Peter F. Christensen of Superior, Wisconsin, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions. "When each of the natural disasters struck, people were quick to give. Even times of economic hardship did not prevent this tremendous generosity."

Funds for the disaster relief grants come from two separate appeals. After Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast in late 2012, dioceses were asked to help by taking up a special collection. Remittances from this appeal were split between Catholic Charities USA, which supplied immediate humanitarian assistance, and the USCCB, which would address the longer-term reconstruction needs of dioceses. The Committee on National Collections tasked the Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions with allocating the USCCB’s portion of the funds.

The Subcommittee awarded grants to the Archdiocese of Newark and the dioceses of Brooklyn, Camden, Rockville Centre, and Trenton. Funds will address the damage to parishes, Catholic schools and other diocesan properties not covered by insurance.

"Donors should know that each contribution to the disaster relief fund builds up the Church of God in a very concrete way," said Bishop Christensen. "I thank you on behalf of the dioceses afflicted. In addition to churches, these grants will fund the repair of Catholic schools and other parish buildings essential to the faith life of the communities."

In May 2013, the U.S. bishops were encouraged to hold a special collection to assist the victims of tornados and storms. Again, funds were divided between Catholic Charities USA and USCCB. From the USCCB’s share of that appeal, just under $890,000 was granted to the Archdiocese of Denver and the dioceses of Fairbanks and New Ulm.

The Archdiocese of Denver was impacted significantly by a week-long series of storms that caused devastation by floods and mudslides. The village of Galena in the Diocese of Fairbanks, Alaska, suffered flooding so severe it was deemed a "500 Year Event" by federal officials. The flooding caused damage to almost every structure in the village. Two parishes in the rural St. Isidore Area Faith Community in the Diocese of New Ulm suffered damage from summer storms. Impacted properties include a church roof, steeple, and parish cemetery.