Religion Briefs

Saturday December 22, 2012

Saturday, Dec. 22

'In Prayer for Peace in the Middle East'

MANCHESTER -- Zion Episcopal Church invites the community to a special event "In Prayer for Peace in the Middle East" at 6 p.m. The special guest will be Rabbi Michael Cohen, rabbi emeritus of the Israel Congregation and director of development for the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies in Israel. The Arava Institute's vision statement is that it will provide the Middle East a new generation of sophisticated professionals that will meet the region's environmental challenges with richer and more innovative, peace-building solutions.

All are welcome in this season of Hannukah and Christmas to hear Cohen's unique perspective about peace in the Middle East. For more information, contact Zion Church at 802-362-1987 or Dr. Jay Leroux coming to Cornerstone Fellowship

NORTH HOOSICK, N.Y. -- Dr. Jay Leroux will be coming to Cornerstone Fellowship on Dec. 22 and 23. On Saturday evening at 6 p.m. and Sunday morning at 10 a.m., Leroux will minister at the Fellowship, Route 22 in North Hoosick. Leroux's unique style is described as dynamic, prophetic, informative and challenging. For more information, visit or call Pastor Mike Benoit at 518-686-4062.

For more on Dr. Jay Leroux, visit

This will be the beginning of a monthly Saturday night service. Benoit feels strongly that the church in the region must be better equipped for mature growth according to Ephesians chapter 4. Each month he will attempt to have powerful worship and dynamic impartation for the greater body of Christ. Call 518-686-4062.

Sunday, Dec. 23

'Birthing a New Song' at the Federated Church

EAST ARLINGTON -- As Advent draws to a close and the fourth candle is lit, all are invited to the Federated Church of East Arlington for the service of worship at 10 a.m. The words of Mary from the Magnificat, found in the first chapter of Luke's Gospel, provide the inspiration for this week's sermon from the Rev. Kathy Clark titled, "Birthing a New Song." The choir will be led and accompanied by Music Director Mary Edwards. All children 3 through 10 are invited to begin the morning in the service in the sanctuary and then move onto Bailey Hall for the Sunday children's program. There will be a final rehearsal for the Christmas Pageant immediately after the service.

Senior meals are served on Tuesday and Thursday at noon in Bailey Hall. To participate in the ride share program, call the church office at 802-375-2548. For more information, visit or like the church on Facebook.

The Federated Church of East Arlington maintains denominational ties 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."

All Saints Church to decorate ‘Jesse Tree'

HOOSICK, N.Y. -- On Sunday, Dec. 23, at 9:30 a.m., the congregation at All Saints Church in Hoosick will decorate its "Jesse Tree," which represents the genealogy, or family tree of Jesus. Readings from the Old and New Testaments describe the prophecy of Christ's birth and God's plan for salvation. Each reading is represented by a symbolic ornament that is placed on a Christmas tree. The service is specifically geared toward children, and all are warmly welcomed to attend. Light refreshments will follow the service.

All Saints Church is located at 4935 Route 7, just east of Curtis Lumber. Visit

Christmas Concert at Petersburgh Baptist Church

PETERSBURGH, N.Y. -- At 6 p.m., come celebrate the season with a joyful concert of Christmas music.

Under the direction of Karen Webster, a multi-faith choir will perform a program of inspirational Christmas songs, both traditional and contemporary. Instrumentalists Leslie Green, Josh Greenberg, Dan LaMontaigne, Linda Morrison, Matina Patsos and Martha Von Schilgen will be accompanying the singers on everything from the saxophone to the glockenspiel.

Desserts and refreshments will be served after the concert, free of charge. Bring along friends and family. All are welcome. The Petersburgh Baptist Church is located at the junction of Routes 2 and 22 in Petersburgh, N.Y. For more information, call 518-658-3834.

Worship in North Bennington

NORTH BENNINGTON -- The North Bennington Congregational Church welcomes all to its 11 a.m. worship service on this fourth Sunday of Advent. We will light the fourth Advent Candle. The sermon, "Birthing a Promise," will be based on Micah 5: 2-5 and Luke 1: 39-55. 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.

Fourth Sunday of Advent at Second Congo

BENNINGTON -- The fourth Sunday of Advent is celebrated at the 10 a.m. worship service this Sunday morning at Second Congregational Church. All are welcome. The congregation will light the Advent candles, including the Candle of Love, and The Time for the Children in All of Us inspects the progress of the Jesse Tree. There will be no Godly Play this Sunday, but nursery care is provided throughout worship. The Chancel Choir's anthem is "Mary, Did You Know?" and the Scripture readings will be from the prophet Micah and Luke the evangelist. The message this Sunday comes in the form of a conversation, titled, "The Man Who Was a Lamp." A time of fellowship and refreshment for the whole church family follows in Webster Hall.

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 is wheelchair-accessible, and hearing-assistance devices are available. For more information, call the church office at 442-2559 or visit

Christmas Eve, Dec. 24

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service

NORTH BENNINGTON -- North Bennington Congregational Church will celebrate Christmas Eve with a Candleight Service held at 5 p.m., led by the Rev. Penny Rich Smith. There will be lessons and carols, special music, the lighting of the Christ candle, a Christmas story, and a closing candlelight circle with the singing of "Silent Night." All are welcome. The church is wheelchair accessible from the back door at the parsonage driveway.

Christmas Eve

at Old First Church

OLD BENNINGTON -- The First Congregational Church of Old Bennington will offer a candlelight Christmas Eve service at 5 p.m. This family service features familiar carols and readings and special music. The church ends the service by gathering in front of the church with candles singing "Silent Night." A wheelchair ramp will be provided. The public is invited.

Christmas Eve Service at Missionary Alliance Church

BENNINGTON -- Missionary Alliance Church, located at 198 Crescent Blvd., will celebrate Christmas Eve at 7 p.m. with a candlelight service. A Christmas message, narrative, and Christmas carols will emphasize the true meaning of Christmas: the birth of Jesus Christ. For more information, contact the church at 802-442-6840.

Sacred Heart St. Francis de Sales, St. John the Baptist Christmas Mass schedule

BENNINGTON -- At Sacred Heart St. Francis de Sales in Bennington, Christmas Masses will be celebrated on Monday, Dec. 24, at p.m., 8 p.m. and midnight. On Christmas Day, Masses will be offered at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. At St. John the Baptist in North Bennington, Christmas Masses will be celebrated on Monday, Dec. 24, at 4 p.m. and on Christmas Day at 10 a.m.

Christmas Services at the Federated Church

EAST ARLINGTON -- A warm Christmas invitation is extended to celebrate the birth of Jesus at the Federated Church of East Arlington on Ice Pond Road. On Monday, Dec. 24, the festivities begin with a community carol sing at 3 p.m. in the church sanctuary. Many favorite carols will be led by Patti Cody, and those attending are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items for the Arlington Food Shelf.

At 4 p.m. the Family Christmas Service will take place with the presentation of a multi-age Christmas pageant that ends in candlelight. Any child who wishes to be a part of the pageant as an animal or angel is invited to come to Bailey Hall at 3:45 p.m. Following this service, plan to stay for some birthday cake for Jesus, served in Bailey Hall.

The traditional Candlelight Service of Lessons and Carols will begin at 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve with the Christmas message delivered by the Rev. Kathleen S. Clark, Pastor. Special music will be offered by the Federated Church choir under the direction of Mary Edwards.

For more information, call the church office at 802-375-2548 or e-mail to or visit or like the church on Facebook.

Candlelight service at All Saints Church

HOOSICK FALLS, N.Y. -- All Saints Church invites the community to celebrate the joy and wonder of Christ's birth at its annual Christmas Eve candlelight service. Come experience the beauty of the19th century sanctuary dressed for the holidays, illuminated with the glow of candlelight, and ringing with the music of the season -- all to remind one of the miracle that Christ has come to dwell with us and in us.

The celebration of Holy Eucharist, officiated by the Rev. Gary Strubel, begins at 7 p.m. All Saints Church is located at 4935 Route 7, just east of Curtis Lumber. On the web:

Quaker Christmas Eve worship

EASTON, N.Y. -- The Easton Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) will hold its Christmas Eve celebration at 5 p.m. preceded by a potluck at 4 p.m. The candlelight worship, made up of readings, singing and reflection, will be held at the North Meetinghouse, built in 1838, located at 1778 Route 40, Easton (Greenwich). All are welcome.

For more information about Easton Meeting's Christmas Eve event call 518-692-9539, or visit

Christmas Eve service at First Baptist

BENNINGTON -- The First Baptist Church of Bennington, Vermont, will hold its Christmas Eve service at 7 p.m. The service will feature familiar Christmas carols and Scripture readings, which accompany the church's gradual lighting of the Advent candles.

Accompanying the service music will be First Baptist's new organist Charles Olegar, who offers the music of J.S. Bach and Henri Mulet. A freewill offering will be taken to support the ministry and mission of First Baptist. The Rev. Jerrod H. Hugenot will deliver the evening's message: "Look carefully and you will see "

The First Baptist Church is "a place for healing, community involvement, and spiritual grounding." First Baptist gathers weekly for worship at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings. For more information, visit, or "like" the congregation's Facebook page for updates.Questions? Call 802-442-2105 or email

Christmas Eve services at Second Congregational

BENNINGTON -- Christmas Eve services take place Monday afternoon and evening at Second Congregational Church on Hillside Street. The 5 p.m. service is preceded by "Music of the Season" by the Second Congo Brass, beginning at 4:30 p.m. Then the Jubellaire Ringers call all to worship, which is full of lessons and carols and the story of a man searching. A time of fellowship follows in Webster Hall. At 10 p.m., a service of candles, carols, and communion takes place. A freewill offering to benefit the Interfaith Emergency Food and Fuel Fund will be taken at both services.

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 is wheelchair-accessible, and hearing-assistance devices are available. For more information, call the church office at 442-2559 or visit

Cambridge United Presbyterian service

CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. -- Christmas Eve will be observed at Cambridge United Presbyterian Church in the decorated sanctuary will be held at 7 p.m. This service will be family friendly, with specail activities for children. Featured will b e Christmas carols, candlelight and special music. All are welcome.


Annual ‘Messiah' sing-along on Dec 30

ARLINGTON -- The community is invited to join in the ninth annual community-wide "Messiah" sing-along on Sunday, Dec. 30, at 3 p.m. at St. James Episcopal Church in Arlington. This year's event is once again under the direction of Scott Smedinghoff.

Singers of all levels and abilities are invited to participate in the informal sing-along which will include the Advent and Christmas section of Handel's choral masterpiece, as well as the "Hallelujah Chorus." There will be several soloists including Kerry Ryer-Parke, soprano; Katie Beck as alto, the Rev. Scott Neal as tenor and Mark Madison as bass. The chorus/audience will be accompanied by a chamber orchestra comprised of talented local musicians. Bring your voice, enthusiasm and holiday spirit as we usher in the New Year with this popular event. A limited number of copies of the score will be available to singers, and those who have their own copy are encouraged to bring it. St. James Episcopal Church is located on Route 7A in the center of Arlington. For directions or additional information, visit or call 375-9952.

Author at Congregation Beth El

BENNINGTON -- Douglas J. Gladstone, the author of the controversial "A Bitter Cup of Coffee; How MLB & The Players Association Threw 874 Retirees A Curve," will appear at Congregation Beth El on Saturday, Feb. 9, beginning at 6 p.m.

"A Bitter Cup of Coffee" tells the true story about a group of former big-league ballplayers denied pensions as a result of the failure of both the league and the union to retroactively amend the vesting requirement change that granted instant pension eligibility to ballplayers in 1980. Before that year, ballplayers had to have four years service credit to earn an annuity and medical benefits. Since 1980, however, all you have needed is one day of service credit for health insurance and 43 days of service credit for a pension.

Gladstone is an assistant public information specialist for the New York State Retirement System in Albany, N.Y. Congregation Beth El is located at 107 Adams St.


St. James' Episcopal Church miniature nativity scenes

ARLINGTON -- St. James' Episcopal Church is again exhibiting "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 one hundred and fifty 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 3rd and 4th 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.

During the Christmas season, St. James' Church is decorated 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; Monday through Thursday - 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, before and after the 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. services; Christmas Day. Dec. 25, before and after the 10 a.m. service. The exhibition may also be viewed on Saturday, Dec. 15, following the "Breakfast with St. Nicholas" at 9 a.m. and before and after Evensong with Advent Lessons and Carols at 4 p.m.. A free printed guide to each of the display cases is available at the church. Everyone is invited to participate in any and all of the services and programs offered by St. James' Church.

For additional information about these events and services or any other activities at St. James' Episcopal Church, contact the St. James Parish Office at 802-375-9952; send an e-mail to or visit


Detroit-area Jews, Muslims hold annual ‘Mitzvah Day'

WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. (AP) -- Jews and Muslims planned to visit nursing home patients in the Detroit area, serve holiday meals, deliver toys to needy children and take part in other projects so Christian volunteers and workers can celebrate Christmas Day with their families.

The activities are part of the annual Mitzvah Day -- the largest day of volunteering by Detroit's Jewish community.

Volunteers will work with 40 social service agencies at 40 sites. It's the program's fourth year. Some grandparents, parents and children will volunteer as families.

Some volunteers will sort books at Bookstock Depot in West Bloomfield, prepare meals at a shelter in Oak Park and sort food at a food bank.

Mitzvah Day is presented by the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit.

Irish government plans to legalize abortions in life-threatening cases

DUBLIN (AP) -- Ireland's government pledged to pass a law soon that will allow women to receive abortions if continued pregnancy threatens their lives -- including from their own threats to commit suicide if denied one.

The announcement comes after decades of inaction on abortion in Ireland, and just weeks after the predominantly Roman Catholic country faced international criticism over the death of an Indian woman hospitalized in Ireland with an imminent miscarriage.

Health Minister James Reilly said parliamentary hearings on the issue would begin next month, lawmakers would receive a bill by Easter and they would be expected to vote on it by the summer. This would mark the first time that Irish lawmakers have ever voted on abortion, arguably the most divisive issue in a country whose constitution bans the practice.

Pope tells Italy's Olympic team not to give in to doping

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI told Italy's Olympic team not to be tempted by performance-enhancing drugs, saying doping was a "blind alley" that isn't worthy of such models of perseverance, sacrifice and human ability.

Benedict held an audience Monday with members of Italy's Olympic and Paralympic teams in the frescoed Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, congratulating them on their 28 medals, eight of them gold, from the London Olympics.

The 85-year-old German pontiff said sport was beneficial for individuals and society, requiring loyalty, respect and altruism -- as well as patience and humility "which is never applauded but is the secret of victory."

And while victory is a worthy goal, he said, "Pressure to win good results should never prompt you to take shortcuts as happens with doping."

Canada's court rules witnesses can wear religious veil while testifying

TORONTO (AP) -- A female witness can wear a religious veil that covers her face while testifying in court in certain circumstances, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in a split decision in a landmark case that pitted religious freedom against an accused person's right to a fair trial.

The case involved a Muslim woman who sought to wear the veil known as a niqab, which leaves only the eyes exposed, while testifying against her uncle and a cousin whom she claims sexually assaulted her when she was a child.

The woman, who can only be identified as N.S. due to a publication ban, said her religious beliefs dictate that she wears the veil in public or in the presence of men who aren't "direct" members of her family.

The two accused claimed that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms allowed them to confront their accuser and observe her facial expressions as she testifies.

But the woman's lawyers said facial expressions can be misleading. They said Muslim sexual assault victims will hesitate to go to police if they're barred from wearing a niqab while testifying in court.

Canada's version of the bill of rights protects the right to wear the niqab or burqa, but the issue remains controversial. New federal immigration rules, for example, ban face coverings while taking the oath of citizenship

Family claiming Iranian-American pastor held in Tehran

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- The U.S. State Department says it is in contact with the family of a man described by activists as an Iranian-American Christian pastor jailed in Tehran.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Thursday in Washington that officials were "aware of the case," but could give no further details due to "privacy considerations."

Rights groups say the pastor, Saeed Abedini, has been held since late September after being arrested while visiting family.

Specific charges are unknown and Iranian officials have made no comment. Some activists believe Abedini, who became a U.S. citizen in 2010, was jailed for trying to convert Muslims -- a crime in Iran that could lead to capital punishment.

Idaho TV station KBOI reports Abedini attends a church in Boise and returns regularly to his native Iran.


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