Celebrate Christmas Eve with Carols and Lessons

The Canaan Congregational Church Celebrates Christmas Eve with Family Friendly Service at 5:00 p.m. at St. Peter’s Presbyterian Church, Spencertown, NY

Canaan Congregational Church will hold its Christmas Eve service at St. Peter’s Presbyterian Church, 5219 County Route 7, Spencertown, NY 12165 at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 24. Led by Rev. Dr. Charles Close, the service 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, which is sure to delight young and old alike.

Celebrate Christmas on Sunday, December 24, 5 p.m., at St. Peter’s Presbyterian Church in Spencertown, NY

Award-winning musician Delana Thomsen will be the evening’s accompanist. Thomsen is a highly accomplished solo and collaborative pianist who has given recitals throughout Europe and the United States, as well as master classes in Iceland and Bulgaria. Thomsen has been affiliated with the Aspen Music Festival, the Juilliard School, and the Mannes College of Music. In New York, she has appeared at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Recital Hall, and other venues. Locally, Delana was the pianist and assistant conductor of the Dalton Chorale, organist and music director at the Hillsdale (NY) Methodist Church, as well as concert pianist for the Hudson Valley Choral Society.

Gratitude for Friends and Neighbors: The Fire of November 6, 2017

Interior of the church after the November 6, 2017 fire. Photo courtesy of S. Bues.

The members of the Canaan Congregational Church would like to offer our sincerest gratitude to the many firefighters and support personnel who bravely fought the devastating fire that engulfed our “little red church” on Monday, November 6.

The Canaan Congregational Church was organized in 1785, and the church building was erected in 1829 from bricks made from the clay of a Canaan farm. Although our building is not on the historical register, we recognize its historic value to our community. And we acknowledge the many and distinct challenges the old structure presented to the crews who responded in full force when the call came in at 5:38 a.m. and systematically worked the fire for more than 6 hours. No other nearby buildings were damaged.

Crews responded in full force and systematically worked the fire for more than 6 hours.

We are grateful and send our highest praise and thanks to each and every firefighter, from the companies initially on the scene—Canaan; East Chatham; Lebanon Valley Protective Association; Red Rock; and Richmond, Massachusetts—to those fire companies who offered mutual aid from Niverville, Austerlitz, North Chatham, Tri-Village, Chatham, and Spencertown.

We send our highest praise and thanks to each and every firefighter, responder, and person offering help and aid.

In addition, we are thankful for the efforts of the Chatham Rescue Squad, New York State Police, Columbia County Sheriff’s Department, Columbia County Fire Coordinator’s Office, Columbia County Cause and Origin Team, and NYSEG. The East Chatham Auxiliary with the generosity of Love’s Truck Stop kept the firefighters nourished and hydrated. Not one person was hurt in the conflagration.

We live in a rural area, and we know it is a major volunteer effort to fight a fire. We are honored and humbled by all those who volunteer in these fire companies.

We are honored and humbled by all those who volunteer.

Finally, we wish to extend our deepest thanks for the outpouring of support from so many people in our community. We had only an inkling of how widespread our touch is. We have had an abundance of offers from every faith community in our area to worship with them or use their worship space. We are currently holding our Sunday services at the Canaan Fire House, which they so generously offered to us. And while we are sad to see our beloved building scorched with plywood shuttering the holes, we know that we are much more than just a brick building. And we are deeply grateful to be members in such an enormous community of people helping people.

We are deeply grateful to be members of such a community.

Stewardship and Giving

As we await information about the severity of the fire damage to our building’s structural integrity, our church continues its vital ministries to Canaan and beyond. Our missions work, outreach, pastoral care, and worship continue unabated and undeterred. We write this, knowing that we will continue as a church family.

Our members have always given generously of their time and talents, which will be especially needed going forward. We also look to our members to make a financial pledge to their church for the coming year. Much like Jeremiah, who in a time of crisis, bought a field and planted seed as an act of faith that the Hebrews would survive and prosper, we ask members to make this annual financial commitment to their church.

Make a loving commitment to your church, offering time, talents, and financial support!

Each member of the Canaan Congregational Church bears a responsibility to ensure that it remains vital and strong. Pledging is the primary way to fund the church’s ministries, including compensation to the pastor, music director, and bookkeeper. Pledging helps other people in need and is essential to the church’s robust missions program.

Berkshire Association, UCC Fall Gathering 2017: On Forgiveness

Save the Date!

3:00 PM, Sunday, October 22, 2017

First Congregational Church of Lee, 25 Park Place, Lee, MA

Berkshire Association, UCC Fall Gathering 2017

On Forgiveness

“What was once a reason for rupture and alienation becomes an opportunity for repair and greater intimacy. A life that seemed littered with obstacles and antagonism is suddenly filled with opportunity and love” (Desmond and Mpho Tutu, The Book of Forgiving).

This special event is for church members, friends, clergy, and laity.

News from the Missions Committee

The Canaan Congregational Church Missions Committee continues to sponsor both local and wider missions. Wider missions include monetary donations to the United Church of Christ (UCC) responses for hurricane relief, Neighbors in Need, and One Great Hour of Sharing. Local missions include food donations to the Chatham Area Silent Pantry. And the church responded generously to the Chatham-Area School Supplies Weekend appeal by delivering two full boxes of church-donated school supplies to St. James Roman Catholic Church in Chatham, NY. St. James, in turn, delivered these items to the local food pantry where the items were made available to families in need.

Cornucopia with apples, gourds, squashes, pumpkins

The Chatham Area Pantry reports that everything is still needed, including:

  • Food with current “sell-by” dates
  • Toiletries
  • Paper products
  • WIC items (particularly disposable diapers)
  • Pet food

Bring donations to each Canaan Congregational Church Sunday worship service. All items will be delivered to the Pantry every other week.

The Paradox of Christian Joy

Sometimes we find ourselves persuaded to the presence of God in all things and persuaded equally that everyone is born to be blessed, to accept joy—if not in our own time, then in God’s time. To say this is not in any way to minimize the tragedies and worries of our current circumstances. Rather, it is to affirm that being blessed is moving ourselves—flesh and bone, mind and heart—more fully into the suffering and the bewilderment of the world.

“God’s joy is endlessly given to each of us”

The paradox of joy in the Christian experience is truly that “they who would save their lives must lose them.” The environment of blessedness as declared in the Beatitudes is poverty in spirit, mourning, meekness, persecution for the sake of righteousness, and God. Yet our society exalts pride in spirit, hides from death, deplores humility, avoids suffering, substitutes bravado for righteousness, and makes God an idea for discussion. But the signs of God’s presence are all around us. God’s joy is endlessly given to each of us not taken in by the facades of fear and the cleverness of cynics. We can choose to be joyous, even in the face of great worry, grief, and evil. We can go forth with strong strides of faith, turn our routines of work into the ceremonies of joy, and become minstrels of God’s glory.

—Pastor Charlie Close


Racism Series at the Quaker Intentional Village–Canaan (QIV-C)

Dismantling Racism: Building Capacity for White People to Understand Racial Injustice

There is one remaining session after August 19 (“Allies in resisting racism and white supremacy”), but you need not have attended any of the previous workshops to come to the final workshop in the “Cracking the Shell of Whiteness” series being held at QIV-C. Taken from a proven curriculum to build the capacity for white people to be in solidarity with people of color, this series creates 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. Refreshments will be served. For more information, see www.qivc.org.

Final session:  September 16—“Creating action plans for the future”

A Giving Congregation

“The Chatham Area Silent Pantry thanks [the Canaan Congregational Church] for [their] generous donation of 20 bags of food items for the clients at our pantry. We appreciate your work and support in contributing to our efforts to feed the hungry.

“This past year the number of visits to our pantry increased by 18%. With donations like yours we have continued to expand our inventory to meet the growing need in our community.

“The pantry is open four days a week. In addition to offering emergency food to our clients, through the help of local businesses and organizations, we provide a Thanksgiving turkey, trimmings, and gift cards for food. We participate in a backpack program through the schools, which sends home emergency food for the weekend to families in need. …

We are truly grateful and thank you for making our community a better place to live.”

Canaan Congregational Church is a giving church, collecting and delivering regular donations to the Chatham Area Silent Food Pantry

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 http://www.registerstar.com/news/article_54d663fc-28a4-11e7-b29c-9f88b1356f1b.html.

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