September 5, 2011 In response to the request for help from the town of Sharon, the food shelf has been the receiving center for food donations and distribution of emergency supplies for all who express their need for such items. It has been astounding how much support we have received here at the Sharon Food Shelf. As supplies of food, hygiene items, cleaning solutions and local garden produce has come to our door, a volunteer staff of local town and regular food shelf volunteers have responded offering help to unload and shelf item for those people to access. We have been open since 12:00 noon on 9/1/11 with a roadside stand of garden produce for anyone who wished to stop by and also offered emergency supplies such as clean up kits, hygiene items, groceries and meats when these items were needed. The following large organizations and churches gave their support: Strafford Emergency Response Committee (MRE food and water supplies) Hartford, Athletic Department (football game collection of food/money. Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints (clean up kits, family food boxes) Tom-Tom Industries (2 truck loads of food) Woodstock Food Shelf – giving items that were in excess of their needs VT-Can Spray/Neuter Clinic (Dog and Cat Food- 300 lbs Sharon Boy Scouts #205 – Garden Produce pickup items Plus: 35 local people just stopping by with bag after bag of groceries. This made a---------- GRAND TOTAL OF 3,000 POUNDS OF FOOD VALUED AT $2,800.00 Many telephone calls were answered. People from afar were offering financial support. Our prayers were answered by these generous individuals. On the first three days 10 volunteers served 30 clients (90 individuals) We are ready to serve all who request help in the weeks to come.
Dear Members and Friends of Sharon Congregational Church, As I write this note for the September newsletter on Labor Day Monday - publication delayed a bit because of the storm/power outages - I am at home in Shelburne VT listening to the rain and hoping that no more flooding of rivers and streams create difficulty for so many of you as you continue to recover from the powerful and heartbreaking effects of Hurricane Irene in the White River Valley. I am saddened by what I've both seen and heard of what you and your family/friends/neighbors are dealing with in Sharon and surrounding villages/back roads. Carole and I are keeping your congregation and community in our thoughts and prayers. I am also, tonight, looking forward to gathering with some of you tomorrow (Sept.6th) for my "goodbye" potluck/party, which we also needed to postpone along with calling off worship on my "last Sunday" with you due to the storm. By now you have already offered a warm welcome to Rev. Dr. Duane Brown, your new pastor, and I believe that you will continue to join in partnership with him to do the church's mission in Sharon VT as God has called you and as Jesus has given you an example. The Spirit is truly with you at Sharon Congregational UCC. As I retire from interim ministry (for awhile, at least) I am grateful for the many ways in which we have worked together these past two years to prepare for this new chapter in the life of your congregation - and for the times that you have let me know that my ministry among you was helpful. That was my hope and my dream for us during this in-between time. You've been receptive, supportive, and welcoming. We've laughed a lot, shared deeply, learned much - and I will treasure my memories of the time we have spent together while turning over now the joys and responsibilities of being your pastor to Rev. Duane Brown. Many blessings, Marjorie MacNeill
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5.16) As I sit writing this message on Labor Day, the word “labor” has a very special meaning for us this year. Despite its roots in the organized labor movement of the 19th Century, it is hard to use the word “labor” these days here inVermont without thinking of the efforts being made to recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Irene. While Labor Day usually is focused on the work that people do for pay, this year, the focus should be on the army of volunteers who have labored tirelessly to help their struggling neighbors. Federal, state, and local officials all deserve recognition for their efforts to cope with the damages, but it is those countless volunteers that deserve comment. In a day when so many people live with only minimal contact with their neighbors, this crisis has brought forth an outpouring of energy, generosity and compassion that is so rare. Some people (and insurance policies) refer to natural disasters like this as “acts of God.” In my opinion, that description badly distorts the truth. I do not see signs of God’s presence in the raging waters that wreaked such havoc near and far, but in the heart-felt responses of the volunteers who were inspired to reach out to those in need. Even those who have no religious background and claim no religious affiliation have felt an irresistible force at work within them, calling them to reach beyond themselves - a force that more spiritual folks would identify as the Spirit of God. That is where I see God’s activity most clearly. The flood waters may have inflicted many losses, washing away property, roads and bridges. But God has acted even more powerfully to provide us with something even more precious and enduring: the love and compassion of our neighbors; the material gifts that meet our daily needs, and the relational bridges that turn strangers into friends. In the days ahead, when people remember the floods of 2011, I pray that they will not think first of the waters that washed so many things away, but of the kindness and caring that flowed into their lives in even greater waves. Those are the waters of love that flow directly from God, and those waters will always be more powerful than any storm! – Duane