Our mission is to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the love of God

under the authority and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

A Message from Pastor Jim

Christmas Blessings


An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  - Luke 2:9-11


The Christmas season can be hectic, harried, and even harmful as we try to do all the things our society and culture want from us. It can even feel overwhelming.  It leaves precious little time for us to contemplate the miracles surrounding the birth of Jesus, finding that great joy for all the people.

God know this, friends. God seeks to calm us, reassure us, love us into the people we can be. We are told over 100 times in the Bible to “fear not” or “Don’t be afraid.” Just in Jesus’ birth narrative, we have the moment above with the shepherds, Joseph in Matthew 1:20 (Joseph, do not be afraid), Mary in Luke 1:30 (Don’t be afraid, Mary), and Zechariah in Luke 1:13 (Don’t be afraid, Zechariah).


God spoke to them, and God speaks the same assurances to us. And not just us, but our church as well. The Holy Spirit is at work in our congregation, prodding and leading The Light on the Hill into our future together. The Vision Team is beginning its work helping to chart our course, our Team structure is taking hold and we are living into it as envisioned, we have visitors joining us in worship nearly every week; but change, even good and necessary change, can be scary. So, what are we to do? I take my cue from the Psalmist:

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
    In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.

Psalm 56:3-4

Our mission is to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the love of God under the authority and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Together we can help The Light on the Hill shine over our community and well beyond. Fear not, friends; when we walk with our hand in God’s hand, all will be well. And no one put it better than Minnie Louise Haskins, who, in her poem The Gate of the Year said:


I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year

'Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.'

And he replied, 'Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God

That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way!'


Christmas Blessings to you and yours, as we walk into our future together.

Pastor Jim


As this is being written, Christmas is upon us. We hope it’s been wonderful for you from every vantage point, led by the warmhearted knowledge of how Jesus’ birth was a most extraordinary event. No words can aptly describe it.


We’re on the brink of 2020, entering into a new decade that will be crucial from a health standpoint – not only for us congregants, which is most important no matter the timeframe, but for our church as a whole. Whether God’s call touches you from a monetary and/or service perspective, we look forward to folks stepping up if they’re able, with larger strides than in the past.


It’s most wonderful to see things continuing to move in a positive direction. Our chancel choir and bell choirs have added members, some of whom are new to the church. We’re so fortunate to now have Joan Crimlisk, Sherrill Davis and Anne Williams in our church family!


We’re eager for the new year and the various celebrations and events that will again take place. Atkinson Congregational Church is one of the most important cornerstones in our lives, with God’s love emanating to us through the drumbeat of regular Sunday services and church school. We also look forward to the annual, traditional celebrations, such as Christmas and Easter, which fill us with a shared love. As deacons, we also get inspired by the non-traditional events that over time appear to be becoming ACC traditions, such as Soup Sundays, Connections dinner parties, Ashes To Go, Blue Christmas, Ladies’ Hat Day on Mother’s Day, and Wacky Tie Day on Father’s Day.  


Have you been part of our chat series of video conversations? If not, we’d love to set one up with you to talk about your life and journey to ACC. We’ve spoken to about 50 people. Every conversation has been unique and wonderful. No wonder God loves us individually – every one of us offers so much! In 2020, our aim is to process these digital conversations into small movies and soundbites that can be shared and possibly viewed on our website. In time, we will provide more information.


Before closing, it’s important to shed light on a few diaconate items. We’re thrilled that Gloria Dodge has resumed her role as a deacon. She is a bright light on our team. At the same time, we’re sad that Sue Goodman has had to reduce her role – but we completely understand because of her move out of the area. We love Sue and her husband, Jay, who continue to be members of ACC, and wish them only the best!


Our hearts are full this Christmas season, as we also look ahead to 2020.

We are grateful to be serving one and all at our beautiful church.


In joyful service, Shirley Reed, Vikki Quick, Joe Churchman, Gloria Dodge, Jeanne Elliott, Dorothy Graaskamp, Mark Miller, Mike Shaw and Dina Williams.

Note: If you’re not yet a church member and would like information to become one, please talk to any deacon, or contact Shirley Reed at 603-362-5752 or the church office at 603-362-5519.



Just like our name, vitality on our team reflects agility and adaptation to the needs of our congregation.  With God’s blessing, our work in 2020 will shift gears to a strategic level as we focus our energy on discerning God’s vision for our future.  Led by Pastor Jim, a group of approx. 12 of us kicked off the Visioning 2020 initiative in December. We will meet 6-8 times over the coming months to prayerfully clarify who we are as a body of Christ both internally and to the community we serve.  This is an exciting time in the life of our church and again, I’m so very grateful for those who have stepped forward to participate in this effort:


Pastor Jim Thomas

Chet Balut

Kristen Diamond

Julianna Hale

Linda Jowett

Nancy Louiselle

Linda Fisher

Darlene Graczyk

Bill King

Shirley Reed

Sue Cunningham

Pete McVay

Sue Goodman

Jay Goodman


Our next two meetings are January 8th and 22nd, 2020, 6:30-8:00pm, Lovejoy Hall. ALL ARE WELCOME to our visioning meetings or to join our email correspondence.  Any questions or suggestions, you can reach me at 


Julianna Hale and the Visioning Team


Quarterly Activities
The CommET and volunteers from the congregation have shown that the new church structure can work. Many new and ongoing activities have occurred this quarter.


  • The Sonshine Soup Kitchen monthly volunteer group has been able to sustain our participation through the fall and we look forward to continuing to provide this needed assistance to our community next year. The Sign-up Genius on the web page is working well.  Thank you Cheryl.
  • The grocery basket monthly rotation between the St Luke’s and St Anne’s food pantries continues to provide needed food. Thank you Holly, Norma K, and donors.
  • The Veterans clothes box for Liberty House continues to be active. Thank you Kathy J and donors.
  • The semi-annual opening of Lovejoy as a comfort station during the town-wide yard sale continues to provide access to our campus for the community. Thank you Pastor Jim, Lynn T, Shirley R for hosting.
  • We decided to forgo the annual turkey dinner this fall. The congregational donated $475 in “turkeys and pies” which was sent to the NH Food Bank with an additional donation from our budget.
  • A kitchen unit was purchased for Isaiah 58 (preventing homelessness in Rockingham County) with assistance of ice cream sales at the yard sale. Thank you Holly and Katie B, and those who contributed to the freewill collection at the Christmas concert. Thank you Pastor Jim and Cheryl for making this happen.


Christmas Tree Lighting

The Christmas Tree Lighting at the Atkinson Country Club is an excellent opportunity to get out in the community and share our excitement about our church. CommET was able to provide the give-away bags and help set-up. Thank-you Cheryl for organizing and thank to all who participated.


Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity Day was very inspiring. Although we only had 2 participants from our church, we were joined by many other volunteers from other communities in the building of 3 homes. Sometimes you can do more than you think you can. Holly, thanks for organizing.


Giving Tree

Two families were identified as needing help to provide Christmas presents for their children, one through Hampstead schools and one from St Luke’s food pantry. All gift requests (over 60) were filled. Thank you all for making this a joyous Christmas for those 2 families. Thank you, Holly, for organizing. Thank- you Jennifer H for bulletin board assistance.


Memorial Service for the Homeless

Hampstead Congregational Church with assistance for Pastor Jim conducted a memorial service for all the homeless people that died this year in New Hampshire.  Blessing Bags were filled after the service for donation to the shelters. CommET provided toiletries for the effort. Thank you Cheryl.



Monetary donations were made this quarter as follows:

·       $1000 to UCC Wider Missions

·       $100 Atkinson fire Dept Turkey raffle

·       $300 to St Anne’s Food Pantry

·       $1000 to NH Food Bank

·       $400 to CWS for Bahama hurricane relief

CommET was able to leave $7198 unused in our operating budget. We realize that our church is fiscally challenged and thank all who volunteered physically and financially to assist in our community needs.



We continue to look for one more member to complete our team.

Footnote from the team:  Thank you to our leader, Linda Fisher, who is the energy and visionary behind many of our programs.

Yours in Christ

Holly Weisenberger, Cheryl Riehl, Linda Fisher, Linda Jowett, Vikki Quick (deacon rep)


Congregational Engagement Team is looking for our 5th member! 

Are you looking for a way to serve?  Do you like being a part of a team that keeps a pulse on our church’s internal programs and initiatives?   Just one meeting a month, we would LOVE to use your talents and time to help keep our congregation engaged and thriving.    For more information, please contact Sue Cunningham at

Fellowship Hour Update

Thank you to all our Fellowship Hosts and hostesses these past few months. It is so wonderful to have such delicious goodies at our time of fellowship after church on Sundays.  The schedule for January through April is posted in Lovejoy Hall and on SignUpGenius.  As a reminder, if you can not do the Sunday that you are assigned, look over the schedule and find a Sunday that you can do.  Please contact the host/hostess for that day, and see if they will switch with you.  Once you have finalized the date, please contact Shirley O. at or 362-5519 or Sue Cunningham at or 603-38207921.  Contact Sue with any questions or concerns.

We are still in need of baked goods for the freezer to supplement what is the hosts/hostesses bring.  We would love for anyone who enjoys baking to help us restock.  If you are able to bake something to put in the freezer, please label it for Fellowship Hour with the date, whether it has nuts or no nuts and whether it is Gluten Free.

Team Members and Officers for 2020

We are putting together our slate of elected Team Members and Officers for 2020 to be presented at the Annual Meeting on January 26, 2020.  The positions on the slate are:

  • Moderator
  • Clerk
  • Treasurer (2 positions)
  • Deacons (9 members)
  • Church Support Team (5 members)
  • Congregational Engagement Team (5 members)
  • Community Engagement Team (5 members)
  • Pastoral Relations Team (2 at-large members)

If you have an interest in serving in any of these positions, contact someone on that team (list posted in Lovejoy Hall) or Sue Cunningham from Congregational Engagement. 

Have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Sue Cunningham, Julianna Hale, Marilynn Prell, Gail Reed and Shirley Reed (Deacon Liaison)


The Faith Formation Youth Leadership position has been posted and we pray for God’s will to fill this role with the perfect Youth Leader for the next chapter in the life of our congregation.  For more information on this opening and new role, please visit our post on Facebook.  Please share this post with your friends & family! 

Our youth continue to meet during worship on Sundays in Tuthill House thanks to a group of volunteer teaching staff for whom we are very grateful.  A big shout-out of Thanks to the AWESOME Nancy Monahan.   Nancy stepped up during this time of transition to oversee and coordinate Sunday School for our church’s “littles” while we search for our permanent hire. 

We hope all enjoyed our annual children’s Christmas production and that it warmed your hearts with both laughter and joy.  

Please pray for discernment regarding this important body of our church.Many Blessings!

The Faith Formation Four


–by Linda Jowett, guest columnist

I have been a member of Atkinson Congregational church for about 25 years. My three children—Shain, a Naval Officer stationed in Virginia, Megan, a veterinary technician living in Utah, and Lanie a nutritionist living locally—all grew up going to this church. They all participated in the children’s bell choir, the children’s singing choir, Sunday School, the Christmas pageant, served at the Harvest supper and were members of the youth group. I have been on the Mission Committee, taught Sunday School, been a Sunday School greeter and been on the Christian Education committee. Currently I am on the Community Engagement Team.


I do not want to talk to you about why I think you should pledge. I would like to talk to you about why I think this church is worth pledging for. I grew up in a time when Sundays were a family day. My sisters and I got up on Sunday morning, fixed our hair and put on a church dress, went to church with my parents. After church we had a Sunday dinner with my grandmother almost always joining us. Then we either played outside or went for a drive where my dad almost always found a dirt road.


I realize those days are long gone. With my own family, I really tried to emulate this upbringing. But life is busier now and parents have paid a lot of money to enroll their children in programs that unfortunately are on Sundays. Often my own children would come to church, not in a pretty church dress, but in a uniform so we could get to their games straight from church. I made going to church a priority because I thought that exposing my children to as many good things as I could would be better than not, and going to church was important to me so they were coming along!! I don’t know if church isn’t a priority to families anymore or if people are just too busy and tired to make it a priority.


To me this church has represented comfort, a warm hug, a loving embrace. The Sunday after the Sandy Hook elementary School shooting the pews in this church were full. Members and non-members alike had come to church—this church—for comfort and guidance. We were hurting and where did we turn? To this church. We found it here, with each other. There were tears, and sadness, but there was also love and hope. Where would we have turned if we hadn’t had our Light on the Hill: our church?


I am not much of a socializer. I really enjoy sitting in the back pew, listening, singing, learning, sometimes crying. It’s comfortable for me. But comfortable doesn’t change anything. Comfortable doesn’t help anyone. Comfortable doesn’t make a difference. Sometimes you must go outside your comfort zone to make things change: change for the good of others and for our church. We need you to go outside your comfort zone.


Recently when I was talking to someone about why people don’t attend church like they used to. They said that people don’t have the fear of God in them anymore. Maybe not, but wouldn’t it be nice to have the desire to do Good in you? The Community Engagement Team and this church do a lot of GOOD things. When you pledge, you are supporting these causes and good deeds—supporting people right here in our own community. There are many people in this church, including Pastor Jim and Lynn, the Community Engagement team and Church Vitality, the men who help with the Pasta Dinner, all the Connections helpers, to name a few, who are working very hard to reach out to the community with support and aid: Ashes to Go, Connections Dinners, Blessing of the Pets, supporting Isaiah 58, NH Food Bank, Liberty House, and donating monies to so many different and worthy charities. But it takes more than a few and it does take money to be able to support our community and our church.


So, maybe you don’t have the fear of God in you. That’s okay. I don’t fear God as much as I love Him and I know He loves me. He also loves the good deeds that I do and the ones I support through this church. So instead of having the Fear of God, how about having the desire to do Good!? And instead of having the fear of God, how about facing the fear of leaving your comfort zone? Be brave for change. Be uncomfortable to make a change.


New Roof

After noting some leaks at the Parsonage, a new roof had to be installed in November.  The crew made it just in time for the first major storm of the season.  The roof was not planned in the budgeting process this year, so the price tag came with a bit of a sting.  Fortunately, an anonymous donor presented a check for the full amount.  We are beyond blessed my this individual - we are grateful beyond words.

Decking the Halls


This year marked a start of a new approach to managing our church and our Christian mission. As Linda points out in her personal testimonial, it is time for us to review and reflect on our changing world and our place in it. Going forward into 2020, we—you and I—will be asked what God’s plan is for us. After all, we are a Congregational church, meaning that God’s spirit moves from within us, both as individuals and as a congregation.


A big thanks goes out to all who participated in Stewardship Moments, the Stewardship team under the leadership of Pete McVay, and all the volunteers who helped with the town mailing, the handwritten thank you notes to those making commitments, and the many others it takes to make a campaign happen.


2020 will be a year of renewal and promise. We are all being offered the opportunity to move forward spiritually, as members of the Congregation and as individuals.


Christmas Blessings - 

Your Church Support Team

 Jay Goodman,  Kristen Diamond, Adele Dillon, Ray Zergarski, Bill Ball



Pledge Revenue:  those funds collected from those who made an explicit pledge for the year. 


Total Budget Revenues:  those funds collected from all budget-related sources such as Pledges, Loose Offerings, Richmond Trust, etc. This would NOT include donations specifically  earmarked for committees or savings funds. 


Total Budget Expenditures: funds spent as part of budgeted on-going operations. Does not include one-time capital spending such as a new roof or vinyl-siding a building; nor any committee spending from their savings funds. 


Peace and Blessings,

Hank Riehl and Dina Williams