Religion News in Brief

Saturday December 1, 2012

Saturday, Dec. 1

Fund Raisers at Sacred Heart St. Francis de Sales Parish

BENNINGTON -- Sacred Heart St. Francis de Sales Parish has three parish fundraisers planned for December.

The first fund raiser is the annual bake sale, scheduled to be held on Saturday evening, Dec. 1, from 5 to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 2, from 8 to 11:30 a.m. in the parish center located next to the church.

The second, "The Basket Raffle," consists of 14 assorted baskets running the gamut of items for babies, bath, birds, breakfast, a crock pot, lottery tickets, holiday, gardening, kitchen, gift certificates, and much more. The tickets, which are on sale at the parish office at 238 West Main St. during normal business hours, are $1 each or six for $5. The drawing will be held on Friday, Dec. 14, by the end of the business day.

Finally, everyone is invited to attend "Breakfast with St. Nicholas" on Sunday, Dec. 2, from 8:30 a.m. until all the food is gone. The menu for the breakfast consists of French toast, scrambled eggs, bacon, home fries, juice, milk, coffee and tea. The event will be held in the parish center next to the church. Cost for the breakfast is $8 for adults, $4 for children and $20 for a family.

For more information on the events, contact the parish office at 442-3141.

Sunday, Dec. 2

Old First Church special anniversary service on Sunday

OLD BENNINGTON -- Monday, Dec. 3, marks the official 250th anniversary of the founding of the First Congregational Church (Old First Church). It was the first permanent church in Vermont and for 65 years it was the only church in Bennington. To celebrate this milestone event, the church will host a special anniversary service on Sunday, Dec. 2, at 2:30 p.m., to which the Greater Bennington community is invited.

First Sunday of Advent at Second Congregational

BENNINGTON -- The new church year begins this First Sunday in Advent with worship and Communion at 10 a.m. at Second Congregational Church. The Jubellaire Ringers will call us to worship with "Fantasy on ‘Come Thou Long-expected Jesus,’" and the church will light the first Advent candle, the candle of Hope. Following a Time for the Children in All of Us, children up through grade five are dismissed for Godly Play and pageant rehearsal. Middle-and-high school students meet in their class and prepare for the Heifer Project Alternative Giving Fair. Nursery care is provided throughout worship. Mary Lee-Clark’s Communion meditation on the texts from Jeremiah and Luke is titled "Drawing Near."

A time of fellowship and refreshment for the whole church family follows in Webster Hall, with opportunities to participate in the Giving Tree and Heifer Project Alternative Giving.

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

Advent workshop at Federated Church

EAST ARLINGTON -- A warm invitation is extended to children and adults to the annual Community Advent Workshop in Bailey Hall from 2 to 4 p.m. this Sunday afternoon at the Federated Church of East Arlington on Ice Pond Road. All materials will be provided without charge and Santa’s Helpers will assist with cutting, gluing, coloring or any other skill that is needed to complete Christmas decorations and gifts. In addition, refreshments will be served. Free recital at church

BENNINGTON -- On Sunday, Dec. 2, at 3 p.m., Donald McMahon will demonstrate the versatility of the organ of 1,438 pipes at Sacred Heart Saint Francis de Sales Church with a free recital at 3 p.m. The church is located at 238 West Main St. Music of Richard Rodgers, Daquin, Vivaldi, Widor, Vierne, Messiaen, and others will be performed. The recital is freåe and open to the public, and convenient, off-street parking is available. All facilities are accessible to those with disabilities.

Call to ‘Attention!’ begins Advent

EAST ARLINGTON -- This Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent and all are welcome to the service of Worship and the sacrament of Holy Communion beginning at 10 a.m. at the Federated Church of East Arlington on Ice Pond Road.

Bring non-perishable food items to replenish the shelves of the Arlington Food Shelf as the church closes in on the "One Ton Challenge" for 2012. During the service, the lighting of the first purple candle will begin a time of hopeful anticipation of the birth of Jesus. The day’s message from the Rev. Kathy Clark, based on Luke 21:25-36, is titled, "Attention!" Additional Scripture lessons include Jeremiah 33:14-16 and Psalm 25:1-10. The choir will be led and accompanied by Music Director Mary Edwards. Red Stocking gifts may be returned this Sunday or no later than Dec. 9. Coffee hour will follow the service in Bailey Hall with a basket available for donations to Holy Joe’s Café which supports the ministries of U.S. chaplains stationed in Afghanistan and many other posts around the world.

Senior meals are served on Tuesday and Thursday at noon in Bailey Hall. To participate in the Ride Share Program, call the church office, 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. It’s mission is "To welcome all, follow Jesus Christ together, and live God’s Word with compassionate service."

Worship in North Bennington

NORTH BENNINGTON -- The North Bennington Congregational Church welcomes all to its 11 a.m. worship service on this first Sunday of Advent. Holy Communion will be celebrated and the first Advent candle will be lit. The meditation, "The Light of Hope," will be based on Jeremiah 33:14-16 and Luke 21:25-36. 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. 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.


Christmas Goodies Sale

CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. -- The Cambridge United Presbyterian Church annual Christmas Goodies Sale will be held on Saturday, Dec. 8, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be hand-made cakes, cookies and more, and hand-made crafts, unique gifts, and a book table. There will also be a table offering soup and sandwiches.

For information about its and working teams, call the church office mornings at 518-677-3863, email, or visit

St. Peter’s annual Christmas Tea

BENNINGTON -- St. Peter’s Church annual Christmas Tea will be held on Saturday, Dec. 8, from 3 to 5:30 p.m.

This year, angels will abound at St. Peter’s Christmas Tea. They will be found scattered among the candles and greens in the parish hall at St. Peter’s. At 3 p.m. the festivities will begin with trays of cookies and tea sandwiches. Tea, coffee and punch will be served. Wait staff will be there to assist those attending and there will be entertainement.

The Christmas Shoppe will be open to shop for small gifts, jelly and jams, breads, and Christmas tree ornaments. The cost for the Tea is $6.

Free community ham dinner

NORTH POWNAL -- The North Pownal Congregational Church will host its annual free community ham dinner on Saturday, Dec. 8, from 3 to 6 p.m. Join them in their new Fellowship Hall as they celebrate the Christmas season together. Free take-out dinners are available by stopping by. In addition, the new teen center, The Loft, will be open for tours.

Call Pastor Gary Rogers at 518-686-4636 for any additional information. North Pownal Congregational Church is located at 3554 Route 346.

Annual Santa Lucia Festival of Light

ARLINGTON -- Once again, the Arlington Community and visiting travelers are invited to share in the Santa Lucia Festival of Lights, to be held on Saturday, Dec. 8.

The Santa Lucia Pageant will begin at 5 p.m. at St. James Church, across the street, and conclude with a Community Swedish Church Supper at 6 p.m.

Inn-to-inn tours are $15 and the church supper is a free-will offering, all other events are free to the public with a donation requested benefiting local community food cupboards.

For more information about the Santa Lucia Festival of Lights, call Amie at 802-375-6516 or email

Christmas Carol Sing at White Chapel

BENNINGTON -- A Christmas Carol Sing will be held on Sunday, Dec. 9, at 5 p.m. at White Chapel Church. The public is invited.

Free Sunday Supper at St. Mark’s

HOOSICK FALLS, N.Y. -- The men of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 70 Main St., , invite everyone to enjoy a free monthly Sunday Supper, served from 5 to 6 p.m.

Upcoming dates are Dec. 9 and Jan 13. The facility is handicapped accessible. Call 518-686-4982 for more information.

Lessons and Carols at Sacred Heart St. Francis de Sales

BENNINGTON -- On Sunday, Dec. 16, a Service of Lessons and Carols for Advent will be offered at Sacred Heart St. Francis de Sales Church at 5 p.m. The church is located at 238 West Main St.

Old Testament Scripture will be interspersed with music of Johann Sebastian Bach, Italian and English Renaissance composers Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina and Thomas Ravenscroft, respectively, and modern composer Thomas F. Savoy. Everyone is invited to attend this service and join the Catholic community of Bennington as it anticipates the birth of Christ through word and song.


Church-based opportunity in Bennington for choral singers

OLD BENNINGTON -- Chorally inclined individuals are invited to consider singing with the Choir of the First Congregational Church (The Old First Church).

Under the direction of Charles Olegar, whose career now comprises more than four decades as a professional church musician, the Choir of the Old First Church is dedicated to providing outstanding choral music and dynamic musical leadership each Sunday morning and on special occasions.

The choir’s repertoire offers an exceptional opportunity to prepare and present musical treasures covering several centuries, along with a certain amount of more recent classically rooted music, all within the context of worship. Each Sunday’s music is selected and prepared with the aim of helping make the Old First Church’s services a source of spiritual invigoration and nourishment for all, augmenting the worship service with classical choral literature of recognized spirituality.

The Old First Church’s Choir offers an inclusive, warmly embracing, supportive community, welcoming and celebrating diversity, reflective of the larger congregation. Church membership is NOT a prerequisite, although the choir is always delighted should participation lead to that level of involvement in the Old First Church congregation.

The choir likewise embraces a fairly wide range of musical backgrounds, united by the desire to realize each member’s greatest potential as a choral singer. The group is blessed with some amazingly high levels of experience and ability, as well as by those who consider themselves relative novices, the majority being at various places in-between. Members simply enjoy choral singing; many bring basic reading skills, but others learn "by ear" and often find their ability to read music enhanced through the weekly round of service music.

Singers who are interested in the Old First Church Choir but are not certain about their vocal quality should not be deterred! Part of the choir’s work focuses on developing basic singing technique, which can help individuals discover often-surprising personal potential! Singers are invited to participate on a trial basis for a while, then assess whether or not they wish to continue. They can also plunge in full throttle, should they desire!

In terms of attendance, the Old First Church Choir seeks to be flexible, with the understanding that each member is committed to being as regular as possible and to supporting various aspects of successful group dynamics, such as punctual arrival, reporting impending absence, and the like.

Rehearsals are weekly, on Wednesdays, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Church Barn, One Monument Circle (near the Monument) in Old Bennington. Each Sunday morning the choir warms up at the church at 10:30 a.m., for an 11 a.m. service.

The most typical way of coming aboard the Old First Church Choir is by expressing interest to Music Director Charles Olegar, either personally after a service or by e-mail (contact information is available through the church office, 802-447-1223).

Olegar brings to Old First Church a strong commitment to fostering the great tradition of church music in America through timeless musical expressions of faith.


Egypt court sentences in absentia Coptic Christians, U.S. pastor to death

CAIRO (AP) -- An Egyptian court convicted in absentia Wednesday seven Egyptian Coptic Christians and a Florida-based American pastor, sentencing them to death on charges linked to an anti-Islam film that had sparked riots in parts of the Muslim world.

The case was seen as largely symbolic because the defendants, most of whom live in the United States, are all outside Egypt and are thus unlikely to ever face the sentence. The charges were brought in September during a wave of public outrage in Egypt over the amateur film, which was produced by an Egyptian-American Copt.

The low-budget "Innocence of Muslims," parts of which were made available online, portrays the Prophet Muhammad as a fraud, womanizer and buffoon.

Egypt’s official news agency said the court found the defendants guilty of harming national unity, insulting and publicly attacking Islam and spreading false information -- charges that carry the death sentence.

Maximum sentences are common in cases tried in absentia in Egypt. Capital punishment decisions are reviewed by the country’s chief religious authority, who must approve or reject the sentence. A final verdict is scheduled on Jan. 29.


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