Category: News

Canaan Congregational Church in the News

We’re in the news!

Many thanks to Daniel Zuckerman and Columbia-Greene Media for attending the first Interfaith Celebration of the Earth and Jazz Worship Service at Canaan Congregational Church. Participants were led in meditation and prayer, with the music of saxophonist Willie Sordillo, pianist Chris Bakriges, bassist Avery Sharpe, and vocalist Zoë Krohne holding all together. Read the entire article at

Saxophonist Willie Sordillo, pianist Chris Bakriges, bassist Avery Sharpe, and vocalist Zoë Krohne (photo courtesy S. Bues, April 23, 2017)


Cracking the Shell of Whiteness

Dismantling Racism: Building Capacity for White People to Understand Racial Injustice (Racism Series at the Quaker Intentional Village–Canaan)

The first workshop—Identifying Whiteness—was held Saturday, April 15, 2017. This was the first of six monthly workshops from a proven curriculum to build the capacity for white people to be in solidarity with people of color. This curriculum was developed to create a space for white people interested in being effective allies with people of color in the work of dismantling racism and undoing white privilege.

The workshops are free and open to the public. It is not necessary to attend every workshop in the series. Refreshments will be served. RSVPs are requested but not required. For more information call 518-392-0289 and ask for Noah. The series is held at 235 Bradley’s Crossing Road, East Chatham, NY 12060.

Called Cracking the Shell of Whiteness, the next sessions include:

  • May 20—“Socialized into Whiteness”
  • June 10—“Where and When We Come From”
  • July 8—“The Legacy of White Privilege”
  • August 19—“Allies in Resisting Racism and White Supremacy”
  • September 16—“Creating Action Plans for the Future”

An Interfaith Celebration of the Earth: A Jazz Gathering on Earth Day Weekend

Featuring Saxophonist Willie Sordillo and his jazz trio, Chris Bakriges, Zoë Krohne, and Avery Sharpe

3:00 PM, Sunday, April 23, 2017

From such exotic locales as Singapore and Hawaii to major music festivals throughout North America, alto saxophonist Willie Sordillo’s music has taken him around the world. With the band, Flor de Caña, he is a three-time Boston Music Award winner. An album he produced became a top 10 hit on the Billboard Magazine, World Music listing, and one of his co-arrangements played on the ER television program. A writer as well as a player, Willie’s original compositions have been reproduced in a number of magazines, songbooks, and textbooks.

Celebrate the natural world with several faith communities, including Muslims, Buddhists, and Christians; rich jazz; and sage readings.

Willie Sordillo, jazz saxophonist

Sordillo has composed theme music for four movies, including the award-winning documentary, Project Censored. Recordings featuring his saxophone work include Muévete and Bailando en la muralla by Flor de Caña, Cartagena, with the Geoffrey Hicks Quartet, Besame Mucho, a duo session with Geoffrey Hicks, The Color of Grace and The Colors of Love by Judy Hanlon, and Ben Tousley’s recordings Open the Gates and Take My Hand. His acoustic guitar playing is featured on all of banjoist Pat Scanlon’s recordings, including his newly released double CD, Extremists for Peace. Willie’s most recent CD as a leader, echoing, features some of the Boston area’s finest jazz musicians. Willie leads weekly jazz services at Old South Church in Boston. The Canaan Congregational Church is proud and pleased to host this unique and insightful performer and musician.

Nadia Bolz-Weber’s Accidental Saints Book Group Meets March 26

Nadia Bolz-Weber’s book, Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People, is an engaging, funny, and inspiring read. It’s just what many of us need right now when the temptation to separate ourselves from people we don’t agree with or don’t like is so strong.

“What if that person you’ve been trying to avoid is your best shot at grace today? And what if that’s the point?”

Bolz-Weber is a Lutheran pastor of a church she founded, the House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver. She also is a tattooed former stand-up comic who swears a lot. She is open about her own struggles and foibles and finds healing when she is known and loved anyway. She has to force herself to reach out to people she doesn’t like or who make her angry or who she just doesn’t understand, but finds grace when she does. She believes that Jesus loves us for who we are, including our “uncool parts,” and reminds us that Jesus was a radical who hung out with people scorned by the society of his day.

Bolz-Weber writes of the need for church to be a place where we can face the realities of our world together, not escape them. Church, and religion in general, give us “rootedness.” She writes, “When I say I’m religious, it has to do less with belief than with what I’m exposed to on a regular basis, what my symbol system is, what my practice is in terms of being a Christian in a community . . . (and these) help us to know how to hold the tragedy, violence and suffering we experience in the world and in our lives.”

Canaan Congregational Church Annual Meeting: Sunday, January 29 at 11 a.m.

The Canaan Congregational Church Annual Meeting will be held Sunday, January 29 at 11 a.m., following the 10 a.m. Worship Service.

We will conduct our church’s business, including voting for officers and committee members, reviewing and adopting the annual budget, and reviewing the past year’s activities.

All are welcome to attend the potluck luncheon and meeting, however, only members of the church may vote. Please mark your calendar and join us!

Christmas Eve Lessons and Carols

Saturday, December 24 at 7:30 p.m., a Family Candlelight Service

Christmas Eve will be celebrated with lessons and carols on Saturday, December 24, at the Canaan Congregational Church. The 7:30 p.m. service, led by Rev. Dr. Charles Close, includes familiar Christmas readings, interspersed with traditional carols and special music by the choir. The final hymn will be sung in a sanctuary lit only by candles held by each participant.

  • December 25, 2016: No service on Christmas Day
  • January 1, 2017: New Year’s Day special service to welcome in the New Year with Holy Communion

Canaan Congregational Church Hosts The Living Roots Trio

The Living Roots Trio will perform live in concert at the Canaan Congregational Church on Saturday, October 1 at 4:00 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door. Light refreshments and cash wine bar. The band will have CDs and t-shirts for sale.

The Living Roots Trio “predominantly ply a quiet, subtle British-style folk, delicate, ringing guitar picking a la Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Nick Drake, which quickly breaks into an American jazz-inflected swing blues, [which] is pure ’20s class. Meaghan Witri’s vocal harmony brings a lovely light to the proceedings, ringing out clear as a bronze bell over the smooth burr of Séamus Maynard’s cello[-like] tenor. …They bring an airy, graceful gentility to the folk gathering that is particularly, stunningly beautiful” (No Division blog).

Founded by singer-songwriter Maynard and vocalist Witri, the band is recently joined by versatile jazz bassist John Merritt. Maynard, originally from Harlemville, NY, studied classical guitar, composition, and acting. He has been performing as a musician and actor since his teens. Witri is originally from Chestnut Ridge, NY, and is an actress, singer, and musician. In addition to professional work in plays and film, Witri tours internationally as a soprano soloist performing in cathedrals and sacred spaces.

After releasing their album To All Things in January 2016, The Living Roots Trio has shared its music with festivals and venues across the country and overseas. For more information about the band, see their website at

On Being Green

Rev. Dr. Jim Antal, MACUCC president
Rev. Dr. Jim Antal, MACUCC president

On Sunday, April 10 at 10:00 a.m., the Canaan Congregational Church UCC will offer a special service celebrating its stewardship of the Earth. The featured speaker will be the Rev. Dr. Jim Antal, Minister and President of the Massachusetts Conference United Church of Christ (MACUCC) since 2006. The MACUCC includes 365 UCC churches, along with more than 800 authorized UCC ministers throughout Massachusetts, and Canaan Congregational is the lone New York State member of the conference.

Antal’s topic will be “Shaped by Hope—In a Climate Crisis World.” Recognizing climate work as the new abolition movement, the sermon will offer examples of how the UCC and other activists are engaged in faithfully offering hope in the face of climate change. “Today, people realize that climate change is happening now; it’s gotten worse in the past few years and it’s going to keep getting worse; and humanity is doing too little in response. To address this—the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced—we need a much larger hope than we have settled for,” says Antal.

After teaching and leading two national peace organizations, Rev. Antal spent 20 years leading churches of all sizes in Massachusetts and Ohio and providing a public voice on peace and justice issues. His mentors have included Henri Nouwen and William Sloan Coffin, Jr. A national leader in the area of climate change, Antal speaks frequently, regionally and nationally, on the essential role people of faith must play to counter climate change. His leadership in the areas of the environment and climate change is noteworthy, from having engaged in civil disobedience at the White House to stop the Keystone XL pipeline to drafting a resolution for the MACUCC to divest from fossil fuels.

Because today’s environmental realities call us to examine how we live, members of the Canaan Congregational Church have been working to expand environmental activities in the church and develop sustainability in church life by increasing energy efficiency and conservation, decreasing consumption and waste, and engaging in issues of public policy to advocate for ecological and climate justice.

To this end, the church is a member of New York Interfaith Power & Light, an independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to “help diverse faith communities in the state of New York actively respond to global warming [by helping congregations] . . . reduce their carbon footprint, increase energy efficiency, use renewable energy, and educate their members on climate change” ( And Canaan church members work closely with a loosely knit interfaith group of several local congregations (Roman Catholic, Quaker, and Presbyterian), who joined in the 3-year-old grassroots action of the Friends Committee on National Legislation ( on a “Republican climate resolution.” The resolution was introduced to Congress by Rep. Chris Gibson (NY-19) and 10 other Republicans and “called upon Congress to commit to act to address changes in the climate, including efforts to balance the human impacts of climate change (

In addition to publishing regular articles on environmental issues and climate change in its newsletter, the church hosted a public forum with speakers from the Berkshire Environmental Action Team and Stop NY Fracked Gas Pipeline on the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Energy Partners’ Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company pipeline through the local area—Canaan, New Lebanon, and North Chatham.

At its June Annual Meeting, the MACUCC will recognize and certify Canaan Congregational Church as a “Green Congregation.”