June 2019

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

The Holy Spirit Moving Through Us

It looks like summer has finally arrived after a very wet spring. The warmth of the sun has helped new life to spring up all over. The variations of color and light and sounds is mesmerizing if you pay attention to it. Even indoor plants participate in the welcoming of warmer months. This plant is in my church office. It’s officially called epiphylium, although its nickname is “mother-in-law’s tongue.” It may have something to do with the growth being long and sharp. (!) It’s a cactus, but not a desert cactus.

This plant is a cutting from a plant which belonged to my Grandmother Thomas, and it was decades old when she died in the 1970s. We have two, this one and another in our house. When we lived in Vermont, the one at home produced 12 or more flowers every May.


The other in my office produced a total of two flowers in the 12 years it was there.  I tried different amount of light, and heat, and sun, but nothing seemed to make it happy.


Fast forward to our second summer in Atkinson, and the plant in my office produced five flowers in May. What is the difference? I have lots of theories, but no answers, and the epiphylium isn’t talking.


You may or may not be surprised to know that this plant has me thinking about church. We are always seeking growth in church: spiritual growth, numerical growth, financial growth, growth in discipleship and mission and service and vitality. But as my epiphyliums remind me, we don’t always (or even often) know what the right conditions for growth may be. Oh, we have Jesus as our servant-leader, and the Bible as our guide, the Holy Spirit walking with us, but the right amount of sun and heat and soil ph for 21st century church growth are not as clear. One thing is sure – doing nothing, or doing the same thing forever without adjustment and expecting things to flourish, is not likely to work. Not everything we try will work either. Tom Erich, a church vitality consultant, once said at a seminar I arranged that church leadership (pastors and lay leaders) should try 8-10 new things a year – and expect half of them to fail.


We are in the midst of a new chapter in the life of our church. It will mean change, and trying new things, and watching some succeed while others do not. If your roots are set too deep the change may be uncomfortable. But being root bound is no way to grow.


So, I invite you to be a change agent – or at least a supporter of it. Watch how the Holy Spirit will move among us and our neighbors as we work to make The Light on the Hill shine ever more brightly over our community!



Pastor Jim


During Lent, our children learned about ten of the solemn events of Holy Week through scripture reading and prayer activities that ignited the senses. There were things to touch, see, hear, feel and taste. The children, with the help of their parents, led the congregation in five of these prayer stations on Palm Sunday. The program was a success, with many adults and children alike commenting that the experience was meaningful and positive.

After Easter, our children worked on various projects to serve in the name of Jesus. They made cards for Meals-on-Wheels recipients to help brighten their days. They also did some gardening at Tuthill House. On Memorial Day weekend, they made bookmarks with prayers for our service men and women.T\

Behind the scenes, many people have been working on Vacation Bible Camp. This year we have an outer space theme and the kids will travel to Mars and beyond to explore where God’s power can take them. Also this summer,

Faith Formation is supporting Katie Burke as she attends Horton Center Camp.ext...

Vacation Bible Camp

Mon-Fri 8:30am- noon - June 25-28!

Join us as we learn about how we can go beyond with faith, boldness, kindness, thankfulness, and hope! We will enjoy Bible stories, crafts, science experiments, music, snacks and games as we explore the universe.

The cost is $25.00 per child or $40.00 per family.


Congregational Engagement

 One New Team Member Needed

The Congregational Engagement Team (Conga) is looking for one additional member.  The Conga Team's purpose is to support programs that enhance the church’s ministries within the congregation such as Faith Formation, Scholarship, Music, Church Vitality, Fellowship Hour etc.  We meet once a month and stay in touch via email, when needed.  Please contact Julianna Hale, if you are interested, have questions or would like further information.  

Fellowship Hour

The new schedule for Fellowship Hour will be available on Rally Day, Sept. 8th.  Please stop by our table in Lovejoy Hall to pick up a copy or take a minute to check the schedule and reminders posted on the volunteer bulletin board. All church members typically take a turn as a host/hostess.  In order for this to work, everyone would need to take a turn once or twice a year.  If you are not able to act as host/hostess the week that you are on the schedule, please try to switch with someone on a week that you can do it.  If this creates a problem for anyone, please let us know.  You will be getting a reminder email or call from the office about a week and a half ahead.     

Servers Needed for Rally Day

We are looking for servers for Rally Day on September 8th after the 10:00 am service.  As is our Rally Day tradition, we are looking for kids 4th grade and up to help us serve the food at the cookout under the tent.   If your child/children are interested, please contact Sue Cunningham at or 603-382-7921 or call Shirley Orio at the office at 603-362-5519.   Adults volunteers also welcome!!  Hope to see you on 9/8!”


The Pet Blessing Service in the outdoor sanctuary on went very well.  We’ll plan on doing it every year.


The Connections dinner series has been very successful.  On August 7th six new people attended.  The next dinner is Sept. 4th.  It will be an Italian theme with Lasagna!


The Congregational Engagement Team,

Julianna Hale, Sue Cunningham, Marilyn Prell and Gail Reed


Warm Regards,

Linda Fisher, Cheryl Riehl, Holly Weisenburger. Jennifer Howe, Linda Jowett

Church Support

Pew Move

When you head to church on Sunday, you may find your favorite seat to be in a slightly different location.  Church Support spearheaded realigning the pews in the sanctuary to allow for more legroom and provide more manuverability for those using walkers, wheelchairs, or needing better accessability.   The Lion's Club and local Boy Scouts kindly assisted us in the move.  

In the move we gained 6" of additional leg/knee room in every pew, more space at the front of the sanctuary around the piano and organ, and more space for bells, wheelchairs, children's message, etc. on the right side of the sanctuary. 

Moving the pews made it clear that the carpet is overdue for a cleaning. Mike from Country Rose came by and is confident he can not only do a good job cleaning the carpet, but get much of the matted carpet to lift as well. He is very excited about the new spacing, since he really couldn't get between the pews well in the past. His machine will now be able to do between the pews easily. The cleaning will take place on Saturday and have us all spiffed up for Sunday's worship.


Special thanks to Jay Goodman, Hank Riehl, Bill Ball, the Atkinson Lions Club and members of the Boy Scouts who were a big help in making it happen.



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



This month at Atkinson Congregational Church, as we celebrate the beginning of summer with services and programs that coincide with this special time of year.


On Sunday, June 9, we hosted a soup luncheon after the 10 a.m. service. “Soup Sunday”.


On June 16, Father’s Day, congregants are invited to wear their wackiest ties. Men are encouraged to participate in “Wacky Tie Day” (although women can wear ties, too).


Beginning June 23, Atkinson Congregational Church will switch to its summer start time of 9 a.m. for Sunday services. In September, at a date to be announced, they’ll return to a 10 a.m. start. Also on June 23, worship will be held in the church’s outdoor sanctuary under a tent, weather permitting.  



Well, it’s hard to believe we are just a week away from summer! 


The Holy Spirit

Today  (as this is written) was Pentecost Sunday.  My favorite church day!  I love how the Holy Spirit is ever-present if we only look for It.  At the last Vitality meeting, I recalled thanking Pastor Jim. I didn’t plan to, nor did I even realize I wanted to.  I included in our meeting opening prayer how I so appreciated and was grateful that I felt Pastor Jim was preaching and welcoming the Holy Spirit to our Light on the Hill.    Our Church Vitality lies in the hands of each of us; and when we join hands with the Holy Spirit, something Supernatural happens.   Please pray for our future and a passionate desire for each of us to know Him and welcome Him in whatever way He shows up.  Thank you, Pastor Jim, for your willingness to take feedback, try new things, and bring your love of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, every Sunday and the days between.


The Vitality Team has been focused on the monthly Connections dinner program over the past couple months.  We’ve had the opportunity to enjoy an incredibly tasty and bountiful meal thanks to Shirley Orio’s cooking mastery!    Each month, we’ve served between 25-30 guests, including a few non-members.    Connections will continue in the summer on July 3 and August 7, 2019.   We hope you can join us and bring a friend.



A big part of our worship service is our music program. Come the summer, our formal music groups take time off. The summer is a great time to experiment and introduce new and/or different music to our congregation. Please reach out to our Music Director or the Music Team if you care to share a music idea or refer someone to our church who has a musical gift to share.


Live Free or Die 5000:

Last year, several of our church members donned our purple ACC “Growing in God’s Grace” shirts and attended the Live Free or Die Annual 5k Race/Walk/Stroll in memory of Darlene & Jim Graczyk’s son, Jeremy. This year, we would like to do that again. If you’re interested in donating or walking/running as part of the ACC Team on Saturday, July 13th, please let (Julianna Hale or Linda Jowett) know. Thank you!


Looking Forward:

Keep your eyes out for some upcoming Vitality events. We have scheduled a Pet Blessing for Wednesday, August 21st , at our outdoor Sanctuary. We are also hoping to schedule a blessing of the backpacks near the first day of school in September.



Lastly, we want to formally thank Patty Cole for all the work in her capacity as a Vitality team member in addition to her role as Director of Faith Formation. Patty has worked tirelessly to revamp our church school curriculum, while also playing a critical role on the Vitality team. We will miss her greatly but wish her all the best in this next chapter of her life: enjoying their Sunday River condo and new life in Exeter NH. Patty & John Cole have contributed so much in their time as members of ACC. They will be greatly missed, fondly remembered, and always welcome. God Bless you both – and your kids.


As always, ALL ARE WELCOME to Vitality meetings or to join our email correspondence. Any questions or suggestions, you can reach me at


Julianna Hale and the Vitality Team