OCTOBER 2017 Belfry Newsletter


Dear friends,

So many times these days, I find myself ending the day with thanksgiving for the heady mix of life in this parish: that mix of beauty and danger, goodness incarnated, and fears relieved; for love so generous it makes me suck my breath in, and remarkable growth beyond my imagining in so many human hearts.  This same heady mix appears in this poem which I discovered on Krista Tippet’s website, “On Being:”


What You Missed That Day You Were Absent from Fourth Grade
a poem by Brad Aaron Modlin

Mrs. Nelson explained how to stand still and listen                                                     to the wind, how to find meaning in pumping gas,

how peeling potatoes can be a form of prayer. She took                                    questions on how not to feel lost in the dark.

After lunch she distributed worksheets                                                                        that covered ways to remember your grandfather’s

voice. Then the class discussed falling asleep                                                      without feeling you had forgotten to do something else—

something important—and how to believe                                                                        the house you wake in is your home. This prompted

Mrs. Nelson to draw a chalkboard diagram detailing                                              how to chant the Psalms during cigarette breaks,

and how not to squirm for sound when your own thoughts                                      are all you hear; also, that you have enough.

The English lesson was that I am                                                                                        is a complete sentence.

And just before the afternoon bell, she made the math equation                                look easy. The one that proves that hundreds of questions,

and feeling cold, and all those nights spent looking                                                    for whatever it was you lost, and one person                                                              add up to something.

What I think this poem has in common with my deep thanksgiving is that I and the 4th graders of Mrs. Nelson’s class get to spend our days with people like her and like you.  And what do you as a congregation and Mrs. Nelson have in common?  You are both cognizant of the depths of the human soul and you challenge yourself and others to plumb those same depths. In our adult study this fall, “Soul Keeping,” by John Ortberg, he reminds us about the fragile, precious, part of ourselves called “soul.” He challenges us to live as if the primary work of our earthly lives is to keep our soul; not keep it by hiding it away; but keep it as you would keep the most valuable thing with which you have ever been entrusted.

I see a lot of soul keeping going on even in folks who have rarely used that phrase to describe how they live. I see parents teaching their children how important it is to “remember the sound of their grandfather’s voice” and how to stand still and listen to the prophesying of the wind. I hear stories of persons who listen in the night for the one who cries out in lostness only to rise, hold them in their arms and croon, “One lost soul plus one other soul is not nothing, but an incredible and powerful something.” I know many who spend their days knowing in their heart that there is no more powerful sentence than “I am” and their lives speak of the completeness of these words.

There is much in this world that would and does try to push faith communities to the sidelines.  We are called: a cult, hypocrites, a group that exists only to ask for money, outdated, useless and much more.  But one has only to live in a place where a child gets a standing ovation for growing a 12-foot sunflower; or where bed-ridden, frail, sometimes rheumy-eyed elders are visited by children who know them not, except to know they are one of the “beloved” to understand that something profoundly blessed happens here. Soul keeping happens here.  May we enter this season of harvest and thanksgiving, believing that when we wake to one another in this house of faith we know how to tell we’re home. How? It is, as the poem says, by the peels of potato prayers littered across the floor, which, alone, feel absolutely enough for our well-being! It’s by the feeling that all the equations add up here: it’s by the sense that hundreds of questions are just the beginning of the number we need to ask if we are to truly know each other and God.  It’s by the simple knowledge that here you would always be sorely missed, 4th grader or not, if you were absent even for one day in this household of God. Thank you all for keeping my soul and the souls of your sisters and brothers in faith, always!  Love, Rev. Deb


From the Music Director – Chancel Choir, our middle school through adult choir, will begin its season on Sunday, September, September 10th, at 8:30.  We rehearse Sunday mornings from 8:30-9:30 and sing during worship.  We welcome any interested singers of any ability, from grade 6 through adult, to join us.  You don’t have to commit to every week and you don’t have to read music.  All you need is a desire to sing and worship God through music.  If you would like further information, please contact Jennifer at or call 603-770-8736.

Worship and Lectionary Readings for the Month of October

October 1 World-wide Communion Sunday: Psalm 25:1-9 and Philippians 2:1-13; God’s “Sustaining Presence”

October 8 Men’s Worship Sunday: Philippians 3:4b-14; Special Men’s Choir

October 15 Crop Walk: Exodus 32:1-14 and Philippians 4:1-9; “Praiseworthy Living”

October 22 UKAMA Partnership Worship, Exodus 33:12-23 and Matt. 22:15-22; “Living Messages”

October 29 Rockingham Association Meeting/Halloween Party/New Membership Class: Leviticus 19:15-18 and Matt 22:34-40; “The Compassionate Life”

Cross Roads Cooking happens on October 22nd after worship at 11:30 in the kitchen.  It would be great to have a family be the lead cooks for this day.  Menus and money for purchasing the food is available for any family who would like to accept the challenge.  We will support you and peel, chop, dice, sear, boil and beyond as your kitchen crew.  Let the church office know if you can be the adopt-a-meal family for Cross Roads this month.

 Other Worship Experiences in October:

The NH UCC Annual Meeting in Grappone Conference Center in Concord, October 21.  This year’s meeting will be amazing with our guest speaker being, Bishop Dwayne Royster, a gifted pastor and life-long community organizer. The theme is: “In Search of Sanctuary: Won’t you be my neighbor?” Registration is open and the church covers the expense for delegates and guests.

Mark Wentworth Home: Portsmouth, Monday, October 16, at 2:15 Sing-a-long of old, favorite hymns.  We could use willing singers to add to the merriment.

Partridge House: Hampton, Tuesday, October 17 at 2:30

Founders Day Weekend:

We will be honoring our 57 five-year members the weekend of October 14/15 to celebrate and give thanks in our 379th anniversary year.

New Member Class – October 29th, from 11:30 until 1PM we will offer a new member class.  You are always welcome to attend to learn more about the church, whether or not you are also ready to join.  We share faith stories, lean about the mission opportunities available for service, find out how things work and try to answer any and all questions you might have.  Why not check it out – there is always room for one more.

SUNDAYS, SEPTEMBER 24TH & OCTOBER 1ST ARE FLA$H DONATION DAY$ for Team First Congregational Church of Hampton participating in the SEACOAST AREA CROP HUNGER WALK on Sunday, October 15th

If you’ve got sneakers and love to walk, join the Team! If you can’t make it, please consider donating to the Team!

****We will be happily registering walkers, and graciously

accepting donations, before and after Church!****

You can also make a secure donate online:

With MUCH thanks, Team First Congregational Church of Hampton


Adult Studies for the Fall of 2017

SOUL KEEPING: Caring for the Most Important Part of You started September 11 and 13.  The soul is not “a theological and abstract subject.”  The soul is the coolest, eeriest, most mysterious, evocative, crucial, sacred, eternal, life-directing, fragile, indestructible, controversial, expensive dimension of your existence.  Jesus said it’s worth more than the world.  You’d be foolish not to prize it above all else.  Shouldn’t you get pretty clear on exactly what it is?  Shouldn’t you know what it runs on?  Wouldn’t it be worth knowing how to care for it?  Join us for our six sessions of this dynamic Fall Bible Study!      Mondays, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. or Wednesdays, Noon – 1:00 p.m.


Book Club News– The next meeting will be on Tuesday, October 17th at 7:00pm.  The women are reading “The Orphan Master’s Son” by Adam Johnson and the men’s selection is “NIGHT” by Elie Wiesel.  Bring a friend – All are welcome!!

Attention all Knitters

Anyone working on knitting at home

for the Jingle Bell Fair, please email Marilyn Ayles

at with a list of what you have

made or please join us on Monday afternoons from

2:30 to 4pm.

Thank you for sharing your talent with us.

YOGA CLASSES – Yoga by donation classes continue on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:30 am in the Chapel.  Everyone is welcome!


CHURCH EMAILCONTACTS – Rev. Deb Knowlton – Arlene Radford – Jennifer Ramsay – Sally Wool – Donna Makechnie – John Recupero

Anyone who has a computer and would like to be able to  receive emails regarding church events should contact Arlene in the office or Katie Ells at



If you are feeling chilly and need to adjust the heat in the church – just press the up arrow button to the desired temperature and you’re done.  All thermostats are programmed and will default back to the original settings – no need to adjust heat back down.  It’s that simple!!

Thank you,

John Recupero


Women’s Guild News  

The Jingle Bell Fair 2016 is on the horizon and the weeks will fly by until November 11 is here!  This is an all-church fund-raiser sponsored by the Women’s Guild that involves everyone in the congregation, and what a great opportunity it provides to meet other members of your church family!

There are lots of ways to contribute to the fair, and all of your contributions, big or small, are critical to its success. Can you help?

Attic Treasures (Margaret Dennett/Maggie Ginieres/Kris Sawyer): the ladies are always happy to receive jewelry.  They also find that Christmas decorations and “treasures” are getting more popular each year.  They will have room for other treasures as well, those items that you may be tired of seeing but still will have appeal for others, such as, Christmas wrapping paper and cards and fancy tableware.  Great recycling goes on in this area!

Candy Shoppe (Kelly Makechnie): This is Kelly’s fourth year running the Candy Shoppe!  Sold out by lunchtime every year, this area needs lots more home-made candies.  If possible, could you bring your donations packaged to sell in candy boxes, cellophane bags, or holiday tins?  We have cellophane bags and fancy containers if you need them!

Crafts (Arlene Radford):  Workshops are being held on Wednesday mornings from 9:30 – 11:30 under the direction of Maggie Ginieres from now right up until the week of the fair.  We meet in the kitchen and Fellowship Hall for coffee and fellowship.  All are welcome!  Bring your own Jingle Bell Fair craftwork, or work on one of our weekly projects.  Craft workshops are also a lot of fun, if you have some time to join us!  Just wear paint clothes, bring a pair of sharp scissors if you have them, and a positive attitude!  Watch for updated Wish Lists in the bulletin and via e-mail.

Gift Baskets (Kelley McLean/Donna Makechnie/Sammi Moe): The basket ladies are looking for new gourmet cocoa and coffees, gourmet cake  mixes, scones, cookies, pancakes, waffles, maple syrup, fancy candies, and new cloth napkins in solid holiday colors (both Thanksgiving and Christmas).  There will be continually updated wish lists forthcoming – keep watching the bulletin and your e-mail.

Holiday Bakery (Annmarie Sorrow/ Susan Swales) and Cookie Walk (Ruth Mason): We’re asking for baked goods, (breads, pies, cakes, etc.) jams, jellies, preserves, and your personal specialty!  We are usually sold out by noontime, so we need lots of help if you’re interested in baking.  Watch for sign-up sheets in late October.  We will provide cookie tins for you to fill with your cookie donations (sold by the weight).  Do you have any flat, sturdy boxes for carrying out?  If you do, could you bring them in, but, please, not until the week of the fair?

Jingle Bell Cafe (Lee Hames/Lois DesRochers):  we will be looking for donations of specific foods as we get closer to the fair.  Watch for sign-up sheets in late October.    Apple pie assembly is now in progress. 

Santa’s Corner (Sandy Taube/Abbie-Jane Anderson):  Santa’s helpers will be there waiting – bring your little ones for pictures with Santa! The Face Painters will also be making a return visit – you can have a fun design painted on your cheeks while you wait!

Silent Auction (Liz Webster/Don Jenkins): We would appreciate gift certificates to your favorite restaurantsgift shops, spas, theatersmusic venues, etc.  Do you have some new ideas?  Larger items would also be gratefully accepted, but a photo may need to be used in the interest of conserving space.  Liz and Don will have merchant letters.  PLEASE BE AWARE THAT THERE WILL BE A DEFINITE CUT-OFF DATEOF NOVEMBER 5 ON ALL DONATIONS, TO ENSURE THAT BID SHEETS CAN BE DONE IN A TIMELY MANNER.

With everyone’s help, as in years past, we can look forward to another great fair!  Help us to support the guild’s and the church’s missions!

With thanks,

The Women’s Guild Board

As you’ve probably come to expect, there will be lots more e-mails, bulletins and announcements forthcoming to keep us all up to date.  Be on the lookout for a regularly updated Wish List for items needed.

CRAFTING for JBF:  We began crafting on Wednesday, September 20th and meet each week 9:30-11:30am in the kitchen during September and October, ending on October 25th.   Please come whenever you can to have fun and help us prepare for the year’s big fund raiser – our famous JINGLE BELL FAIR.  The Fair will be held on Veteran’s Day, November 11th.


Jingle Bell Fair 2016 was intended to be our transition year as Fair co-chairmen.  No one has yet come forward so, regretfully, we need to let you all know that this year’s Fair on November 11 will be our last.  We have thoroughly enjoyed working with our church family on such a worthy fund-raising project for the past 15 years, but the time has come for us to step back and turn the Fair over to new chairs with fresh ideas.

As of the first of the year we will make our materials available to the new chairperson/persons.  Having committed area chairpersons is critical, and we have this.  All that is really needed is coordination and communication from the overall Fair chairperson/persons.

We are both very grateful for all of your hard work, selfless cooperation and good humor during some very stressful times (remember the renovation??).  We are happy that the thousands of dollars we have all raised together over the years have gone to such good use.

Let’s all work hard to make Jingle Bell Fair 2017 our best ever!!

Arlene and Katie

From the Computer of the Super,

I’m excited to step into our new Sunday school year on Sunday, September 10th @ 10am! Before you even step foot in the church be sure to look for your name on a tag outside the sanctuary doors if you received letters from a “church secret pal” this summer. The author of your letters will have a matching tag on in church and you will get to see who wrote to you all summer long! If you grew a sunflower from seeds that were passed out during Children’s Sunday, I hope you bring it along with you to church to see if it’s the biggest one grown over the summer.  I have a small prize for the biggest sunflower grown!

We will be using the same “WHIRL” curriculum again this year and I am pleased to say that both the teachers and students love the program! There will be 4 Sunday school classes this year with new teachers for most of the classes.  I want to express our immense gratitude to Joelle Coleman who spent the last 12 years teaching in the Sunday school. She was so committed to teaching her kids the stories from the Bible that gave them the blueprint on how to be a good Christian in this world. Her example of being a confident leader and a collaborative friend was a gift to the children she taught (and to me!) and she will be missed!

There are 4 graduates from the 2 year confirmation program and I hope they will return to take up posts in the church as young leaders: Anna Craig, Caleb Craig, Zieke Lucht and Zoe Purdie! We have 8 youths finishing their second year of confirmation and a potential of 7 students starting their first year. Rev Deb and I will be hosting a confirmation breakfast on Sept 17th @ 8:30am for all the students and their parents to come and hear what it means to be in the program and if this is the best year for their child to start. This will be a busy year!!!

I am saddened to start off my year having to fill the position of Roving Ambassador for the Sunday school due to the passing of Sandy Buck. I cannot express how much he will be missed by me and all the kids and youth of the church. Whenever Sandy was at church it was understood that he would be the Roving Ambassador for the day! He wandered from class to class, occasionally making his presence known with a huge muted cough if he sensed that a teacher was NOT being given the respect they deserved, which by the way, was absolutely enough to stop the kids in their tracks! He always made it known to me that he especially loved to linger in the Disciples class due to the more mature conversations that occurred and he would always tell me in coffee hour what a great job I did making the class interesting for the kids. I loved those conversations with Sandy and will surely feel the loss of his pat on the back for a job well done this year. We will miss you Sandy!

As usual, I will keep the SS families informed about church activities through email so if yours has changed please email me your new address so I can keep you up to date. This year’s calendar is tentative at best and will change as the school year advances and I wouldn’t want anyone to miss a thing! My email address is


Donna Makechnie


YEAR AT A GLANCE 2017-2018


1 World-wide Communion/Stewardship starts

8 Men’s Worship Week/Operation Christmas Child Kick Off


15 Exeter Area Crop Walk – 1PM

21 Annual Meeting – NHCUCC

22 UKAMA worship/Cross Roads Meal/Confirmation class

29 S.S. Halloween Party/New Mem Class/Rockingham Assn Meeting (Greenland)


5 Sacrament of Communion/Confirmation class

11 Jingle Bell Fair

12 OCC Box blessing/New Mem join

19 Stewardship ends/ Thanksgiving boxes/Cross Roads meal

26 Thanksgiving Sunday/Creating Beloved member Christmas bags


3 First Sunday in Advent/Pageant practice/Conf. Class

10 Guild Christmas program?/Pageant practice

14 Tidings of Comfort service

15 Festival of Light/Heronfield

17 Pageant – Christmas Bags

24/Christmas Eve 5PM

25Christmas Day service Chapel 10AM.

26 Office closed

24 Cross Roads Cooking

31 No Sunday School classes


1 New Year’s/Office closed

7 Heifer Project Kickoff/Confirmation class

Epiphany Service – 3PM

14 Black Spirituals Sunday/New mem class

21 Cross Roads House Meal

26 Annual Reports Due

28 New members join/make beloved member bags


4 Financial luncheon/Valentine’s Bags

11 Boy Scout Sunday/Annual Meeting of the Church/members join

14 Ash Wednesday Service 7PM

18 First Sunday in Lent

25 Cross Roads House Meal


4 Women’s Worship Week

9 Shabbat Across America – visit to the Synagogue

11 HPI Breakfast/Talent Show                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               25 Palm Sunday Service/Cross Roads House Meal

29 Maundy Thursday Service 7PM

30 Good Friday Service – noon


1 Easter Sunrise and Festive Worship

8 Sacrament of Communion

15 Last Confirmation Class

22 Cross Roads Cooking                      


5 Niceties & Rummage Sale

13 Tool and Blanket Fund Begins/Mother’s Day Service

20 Pentecost/Children’s Day/Cross Roads Cooking

27 Special Memorial Day Service

28 Memorial Day/office closed

June 7 End of Year luncheon for Guild

10 Confirmation students join

11/13 Adult Study Ends

17 9AM Worship Hour Begins


4 Independence Day/office closed