Religion News in Brief



Learn about the 'Hugging Army'

"The Hugging Army: An Experience in Connection," will be presented at Second Congregational Church, 115 Hillside St. today at 4 p.m.

The Hugging Army, founded in 2016 by Vanessa L. White Fernandes, is a nonprofit organization. Vanessa offers free hugs to strangers in her local community and beyond. She also created an interactive program where she teaches her audiences about the lack of human connection in contemporary society, and how it impacts our personal and social lives. Through storytelling and photographs, she expresses the positive impact that hugging strangers has had on her life. You will learn what a mindful hug is; the healing benefits of mindful hugging; and how to reconnect with others in your own unique and powerful way. Fernandes ends the program guiding you in the practice of mindful hugging.

All are invited and it is free of charge.


Free Second Saturday Supper

The North Bennington Baptist Church will be hosting a free Second Saturday Supper this month today from 5 to 6 p.m. in the church social hall on Church Street. Come and enjoy delicious homemade dishes, desserts and beverage free of charge. Everyone is welcome. For additional information, please call Rick Gramlin at 802-368-7844 or email him at



Advent continues at Second Congregational Church

Week by week, candle by candle, we move through the season of Advent, the season of waiting and watching. All are invited to join us for worship this Second Sunday in Advent at Second Congregational Church, as we light the second candle of the Advent wreath, the Candle of Peace. Worship begins at 10 a.m. New members will be received, and following a Time for the Children in All of Us, children up through grade 5 are invited to A Joyful Path. Nursery care is provided. The choir sings, "Thou Shalt Know Him When He Comes," and the Scripture lessons are from Isaiah 40 and Mark 1. Rev. Mary Lee-Clark's sermon is entitled, "Good News!—Peace"

A time of fellowship and refreshment for the whole church family follows in Webster Hall, with opportunities for alternative giving through Heifer Project International and the Giving Tree.

Second Congregational Church is an Open and Affirming, Green Justice Congregation of the United Church of Christ. We welcome to our work and worship all people of faith or in search of faith, without regard to age, race, economic condition, disability, or sexual orientation, and we seek to care and advocate for the earth and its creatures. Our building is located at 115 Hillside St. and is wheelchair-accessible. Large-print bulletins and hymnals are available in worship.

For further information, contact the church office at 802-442-2559 or visit


Worship and events at St. Peter's

The Rev. Justin Lanier of St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Bennington, invites people of all faiths or those in search of faith to join us in our service of Christ and of each other.

This Sunday, the second Sunday of Advent, The Rev. Justin Lanier will celebrate Holy Eucharist at the 8 a.m. service, using Rite I (traditional language) of the Book of Common Prayer. At the 10 a.m. service, Lanier will lead Holy Eucharist also using Rite I of the Book of Common Prayer. St. Peter's Choir will be lead by our Organist and Choir Director John Riddle. The Gospel for the day is Mark 1:1-8. A healing service will follow each liturgy.


- There's still time to go to the Annual Christmas Tea today, Dec. 9, from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Tickets will be sold at the door for $7.50. First-come-first-served seating depending on availability for the number in your group.

- On Wednesday, Dec. 13, evening prayer will be said from 5 to 5:30 p.m., followed by contemplative prayer from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

- Father Lanier will lead a Eucharist service Thursday, Dec. 14, at 10 a.m. in the Chapel. Following the service, the Lunch Bunch will meet for their monthly noon meal of soup, sandwiches, salad and dessert.

- St. Peter's Choir will rehearse on Thursday evening, Dec. 14, from 7 to 8:30 pm in the parish hall.

- On Friday, Dec. 15, there will be a potluck supper from 6 to 8 p.m.

- Saturday, Dec. 16, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Youth Formation Group will meet under the supervision of Mary Gerisch. There will be readings, crafts and lunch prepared by the young people. Also we will be getting ready for the Christmas Pageant.

- The Christmas Pageant will be during the 10 a.m. service on Sunday, Dec. 17. Call Mary Gerisch at 802-379-6311 or Kay Trafton at 802-233-3524 if you would like to participate.

- The Vestry meets on the third Monday of the month, Dec. 18, at 6 p.m.

St. Peter's is wheelchair accessible. For more information about our church, visit or call 802-442-2911.


'Grasping at Peace' at the Federated Church

In our troubled times, we are in need of the Advent candle of peace which will be lit, joining the hope candle at the 10:00 a.m. Service of Worship on Sunday at the Federated Church of East Arlington on Ice Pond Road. A warm welcome is extended to one and all when the day's lessons will include Isaiah 40:1-11 and Mark 1:1-8 and the message from the Rev. Kathy Clark is "Grasping at Peace."

Red Stocking gifts should be returned this Sunday and non-perishable food items are being gathered every Sunday through the end of the year. The children will be preparing for the Dec. 17 pageant during the service and there is a role for any and every child who wishes to participate. The choir will provide special music under the direction of Mary Edwards. Everyone is invited to stay after worship for a time of fellowship and refreshment following the service.

The Federated Church of East Arlington is a local church in covenant and connection with the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church. The Federated Church is an Open and Affirming and Reconciling congregation, For additional information phone the church office at 802-375-2548 or send an email to or visit the church Facebook page.


Worship and making gingerbread houses

The North Bennington Congregational Church welcomes everyone to its 11 a.m. Worship Service led by Rev. Penny Rich Smith on this second Sunday of Advent. We will light the second Advent Candle of Peace. The sermon, "Prepare the Way," will be based on Isaiah 40:1-11, Mark 1:1-8 and 2 Peter 3:11-15. There will be a children's time, after which Sunday School classes will meet for pre-school through grade 9.

Following the service, all are invited to stay for coffee hour and a time of fellowship. At 1 p.m., there will be a time of making gingerbread houses to take home. This is free and open to the community. 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 802-442-5161.



Free Kids' Christmas Party at MCL

Northshire Baptist Church will host a free Kids' Christmas Party at the Manchester Community Library "lower level" on Saturday, Dec. 16, from 10:30 a.m. to noon.

All children are invited, but ages 5-12 will especially enjoy it; parents are welcome to sign their children in and do holiday errands, or to stay and watch the kids have fun. The party will include games, crafts, songs, the original Christmas story from the Bible, and snacks. No need to RSVP, but for more information e-mail or call 802-362-1988.


Service of Lessons and Carols

A Service of Lessons and Carols for Gaudete Sunday will be offered at Sacred Heart Saint Francis de Sales Church at 238 West Main Street on Sunday, Dec. 17 at 5 p.m. Gaudete Sunday is a day of rejoicing for Catholics across the world as they anticipate the birth of Christ. Old Testament Scripture will be interspersed with traditional carols, motets, and Gregorian chant drawn from the Church's rich heritage of sacred music. Everyone is warmly invited to join together for a time of prayer, song, and reflection. All facilities at the church are accessible to those with special needs, and convenient parking is available.


Family Night at First Baptist Church

Christmas Family Night at FBC Bennington. On Dec. 17, 2017 at 5:30 pm the First Baptist Church will be hosting a Christmas Family Night in the church annex, which includes a Christmas Pageant, Christmas Carols, a pot luck supper, and a surprise visit from Santa and Mrs. Santa! Please bring a dish to share, if able. First Baptist is located at 601 Main Street, Bennington Vermont.

On Dec. 24th, Christmas Eve, First Baptist Church will hold regular Church Worship Services at 9:30 a.m. At 7 p.m. there is a special Christmas Eve Candlelight Service. Both services are to be held in the church sanctuary. After the Candlelight Service, there will be gathering in the church lounge for coffee and cookies. First Baptist is located at 601 Main St.


Lessons and Carols at Old First Church

The Candlelight Service of Lessons and Carols at the First Congregational Church, Monument Avenue at Route 9, will be held on Sunday, Dec. 17, at 7 p.m.

This long-standing Bennington tradition in "Vermont's Colonial Shrine" will feature the singing of the Bennington Children's Chorus; organist, Jacqueline Metsma; soloist Kerry Ryer-Parke; pianist Matt Edwards, carol singing by the congregation; scripture readings by members of the congregation and a brief sermon by the Rev. Kenneth A. Clarke. Those who are able to walk a bit are asked to leave parking immediately in front of the church for others. A freewill offering will be taken with proceeds going to the Interfaith Council's Emergency Food and Fuel Fund. A wheelchair ramp will be provided. The public is warmly invited.


Christmas Eve at Old First Church

On Sunday, Dec. 24, the First Congregational Church of Old Bennington will offer a candlelight Christmas Eve service at 5 p.m. This family service will be filled with familiar readings and carols and concludes with the congregation singing "Silent Night" with lighted candles in front of the church. A wheelchair ramp will be provided. The public is warmly invited.


Christmas Eve Service at the Congregational Church

The community is invited to a Christmas Eve Celebration at the Congregational Church of Rupert on Sunday, Dec. 24, at 7 p.m., with a Service of Lessons and Carols. Jane LoBrutto, L.M.S.W.A. will lead the service, which will include a short homily and a special time for children. We will conclude with a special candle-lighting ceremony. Kevin Bishop will direct the chorus and provide musical accompaniment on the church's Estey pipe organ. The church is located at 2501 Route 153 in Rupert and is handicap accessible.


Christmas Eve service

Arlington Community Church will hold a Christmas Eve Service on Sunday, Dec. 24, at 7 p.m. at Chapel on the Green, 62 Covered Bridge Road, off of Rt. 313. Everyone is welcome to come and celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ


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