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

A Renewal of Energy

As I write this, Rally Day is coming up fast. The traditional re-start of our church year features a return of Faith Formation for kids, and many Teams shift back to high gear after a bit of a lull during the summer.

Looking back, I am so grateful for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as our congregation continues to seek to be The Light on the Hill for our community and beyond. Here are just a few things that have happened in the past year:

  • We passed and began living into new Bylaws which reduced by 2/3 the number of elected positions while helping us to be more nimble and allow reduced commitments to be an active participant in the life of the church. We’re still learning – but it’s been a good change.
  • We started Connections – our monthly ‘dinner church’ on the first Wednesday at which we provide a free meal followed by a short presentation and conversation around tables. At the August gathering six people came who were not part of our church!
  • A Pet Blessing service attracted members of our community who were genuinely appreciative of the service and left with a good feeling about our congregation.
  • Offering a Comfort Station during the town wide yard sale day was a huge success. Over 100 people stopped by for a free snack or drink, used our facilities, and some toured the sanctuary and learned more about us.
  • Thanks to a gift from the Live Free or Die 5000 foundation (honoring the memory of Major Jeremy Graczyk) we have a brand new outdoor sound system that will improve the quality of our outdoor worship and gatherings.  
  • We held a Blue Christmas service last December, meant for those for whom the holiday season is not all tinsel and light. Some who attended said it was the most meaningful service of the year for them. This service also attracted people we don’t normally see.
  • We have begun incorporating some newer music into worship, which has been well received.

There’s more, but if I go on too long, my editor gets cranky!

I would like to say that our congregation thrives when our circle is the largest it can be – when most or all our members and friends participate in the life of the church beyond coming on Sunday morning. There are many ways to join in – please find the place you fit. Those who do say that a funny thing happens when you volunteer – somehow you get more back than you put in!

And lastly, you are our marketing and evangelism team! Share the Good News of Jesus and this congregation with others and invite them to be a part of our ministry, mission, and fellowship. We have room to grow – won’t you help make it so?


Pastor Jim


So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.  Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them  and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” – Acts 6:2-4


The Congregation voted last year to adopt a new system of church administration, and changed from a Committee system to a Council and Team system. This is more than a name change: it is a fundamental process change to make the best use of our resources for our spiritual and secular needs.  The Committee system had a number of difficulties: rigid duties and responsibilities, long-term appointments, and all-year meetings for duties that were short-term. The Council and Team system reduces the number of teams, increases the scope of their authority, and allows for temporary subteams for short-term or special needs.

Article V, Section A of the Bylaws describe the Council and Team structure.  The two major governing bodies are the Diaconateand the Council. Members of either body are elected for one-year terms, which can be renewed indefinitely at the annual Congregational Meeting. The permanent Teams are Church Support, Congregational Engagement, Community Engagement, and Pastoral Support.  Except for Pastoral Support, all other teams have broad authority over their functions, including the authority to create and recruit members (with Council approval) of ad hoc teams for specific short-term tasks.


  • Rally Sunday, September 8th. This is the annual cookout for the Congregation and community, held immediately after church. All are invited to enjoy the food and fellowship and restart our spiritual life.
  • Connections First Wednesday of each month – 6 p.m. Connections is a spiritual time shared over a good meal – a dinner party with a spiritual twist. Each evening has a theme, and our themes center on issues in the Christian scriptures.  The meal is free, and open to the all. All the latest information can be found here.


Your help is needed. There are many ways for you to live our Christian faith and giving some time to our mission and teams is a way you can contribute on your own terms. As stated in the opening paragraphs, the new Team concept allows for flexible hours and assignments only as needed.That is, instead of being assigned for multiple years and meeting all year, team member terms are one year and only meet and/or work when needed. Contact the church office, minister, or any team member to find out more and how you can help.

Yours in Christ - Your Church Council

Pete McVay, Moderator

Kay Galloway, Clerk

Hank Riehl, Finance

Linda Fisher, Community Engagement

Jay Goodman, Church Support

Julianna Hale, Congregational Engagement

Shirley Reed, Deacons

Jim Thomas, Pastor

Kristen Diamond, Church Support (non-voting)

Sue Cunningham, Congregational Engagement (non-voting)

Dina Williams, Finance (non-voting)


Another summer is in the rear-view mirror. We hope the season brought you joy and reflection.

The breadth of happenings in and around ACC are true sources of pride. Over the summer, the Connections series of dinner parties happily continued. In June, those in attendance from the community and ACC shared a delicious meal while discussing forgiveness. In July, the topic involved all those ‘pendences,’ including independence, codependence and interdependence. And in August, the topic was lies (from little ones to whoppers) and how they affect our lives. It’s wonderful to see community involvement in this way, discussing real-life topics while sharing fabulous dinners. We look forward to continued success with Connections.

On Father’s Day, we celebrated the men of our church with Wacky Tie Day – a fun time that put smiles on a lot of faces. It was the perfect follow-up to Ladies’ Hat Day on Mother’s Day.

In mid-July, we dedicated a Sunday service to singing hymns. It was a spirited celebration, as individuals called out their favorites to be sung – with some folks providing a little background on why their selection was personally meaningful. Also in July, Karen Landry filled in one Sunday for Pastor Jim while he was on a well-deserved vacation.

In late August, in celebration of our pets, we held a blessing of the animals in our beautiful outdoor sanctuary. The entire community was welcome, and of course, their pets were the focal point. It was a special opportunity, led by Pastor Jim and Karen Landry, to thank God for giving us the gift of animals, as they continually enrich our lives in so many ways.

Looking forward, we deacons remain proud to continue promoting the spiritual life of the congregation. Please feel free to bring to our attention a particular need you may have for a friend, loved one, or even yourself. We’re always here to help with visits or outreach such as cards, phone calls, or other forms of support. We can also reach out to someone anonymously, if desired.

Behind the scenes, we’re continuing our video chat series with congregants. We’ve spoken with nearly 50 church goers already and hope to speak with many more. One of our ultimate goals is to promote portions of the interviews on our website.

Finally, we have a little news about our team. Sue Goodman has stepped down from being an active deacon. Gloria Dodge has taken her place – welcome back, Gloria! We are absolutely delighted that she is an active deacon again. We wish Sue and Jay Goodman all the best in their relocation. But we will also, thankfully, continue to see them in church.

As we approach fall, a nice scripture to keep in mind is this very famous one: “There is a time for everything, and a season for activity under the heavens.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1

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 Shirley Orio at 603-362-5519.

A New Keurig

Jesus tells us that it’s better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). A nice demonstration of this occurred recently when Reed Ouellette, grandson of Shirley and Warner Reed, decided to donate a Keurig coffee machine to the church, rather than receive a gift from his grandparents for his 19th birthday. A big thank you goes out to Reed for his kind generosity, which will allow us to have two Keurig machines operating on Sunday mornings. Shirley and Warner are especially proud.

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


We all hope all of you had a wonderful, relaxed, fun summer vacation and are as excited about beginning the new church season as we are!


On RALLY SUNDAY, September 8, both the Chancel Choir and the Bell Choir will be performing. Anyone who is interested in joining either group should contact Darlene Graczyk for Chancel Choir, or Jane Goodwin for Bells. There is plenty of room in both groups for new members, and you will be warmly welcomed any time you would like to start.

Jane Goodwin would also like to start a Handbell Choir for children in grades 3-5 which would meet at the same time each week, Wednesdays from 4:00 pm-4:45 pm (an alternate time could be Thursdays 3:30-4:15). To have a really fun group that can play lots of music, we need at least seven children.


Why should children participate in a handbell program?

1. They do not have to provide their own instrument.

2. It’s good exercise! Maybe not the same as chasing a soccer ball or hitting a baseball, but ringers are in pretty constant motion while both learning to ring, read music, and perform.

3. Handbell ringing increases coordination, concentration, and provides a great sense of teamwork and responsibility. This is one musical group where, if someone is absent, notes are actually totally missing from the piece they’ve been practicing. If more than one ringer is absent, the piece may be unrecognizable!

4. Ringing handbells is really fun, and gets more fun, as choir members learn all the different ringing techniques, and as the children learn to help each other grow better and better at ringing. The learning process involves fun “exercises,” lots of laughter, and great satisfaction when a piece is performed well.


Even if your own child can’t participate, please spread the word. The children need not be church members as long as they and their parents understand that they will be expected to play in a church service once a month. It will always be at the beginning of the service so that children who are going to Church School are free to attend, and non-church members may leave, or stay and attend church school, if they and their parents so choose. Homeschoolers would be very welcome as well, but difficult for us to find and contact.


Please help add a kids Handbell Choir to our music program!

Contact Jane Goodwin, 603.347.5663 or, for more information.


As you all know, Patty Cole resigned from her position as Faith Formation Director to support a move to the Seacoast and begin the next chapter of her life. This creates an opportunity to dig deep and consider new ways to bring the children in our community closer to God.

Who are the FFF’s (Faith Formation Four)

Pastor Jim, Kristen Diamond, Julianna Hale and Bethany Cassidy will be meeting over the next few months to prayerfully brainstorm and strategize about the future of Faith Formation at Atkinson Congregational Church. Anyone with a passion for this area of our church is always welcome to join this team on any level of commitment.

What now?

We have created an interim plan to continue to offer Faith Formation during the Sunday worship service. We purchased a video-based curriculum (Whirl) that will bring us from Rally Sunday to Advent.


In order to offer this hour of church school, we are asking for your help. We are looking for two adults each Sunday to facilitate this very simple program in Tuthill House. If you are interested in helping out on a Sunday, or more than one Sunday, please contact Sue Cunningham at or 603-382-7921.

What next?

During Worship on September 15, 2019, we will share more about this interim program. We will provide updates to the congregation periodically through the appropriate communication medium.

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

Many Blessings!

The Faith Formation Four

“People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.”— Mark 10:13-16


Rally Day & Open House

We hope everyone had a fabulous Summer - can't beleive it is already in the rearview mirror.  It also is a sign that it is time to kick-off the Church School season and the switch to 10am worship.  As such, we continue with the tradition of Rally Sunday.  On this Sunday, September 8th we will hold worship at 10:00 am, followed by a wander through Lovejoy Hall to learn more about what volunteer opportunities are available this year, and conclude with a cook-out on the lawn.


Please attend and invite a friend or two.  It is a great Sunday for people to get to know us.

Refresh in Tuthill House

As the decorations from VBC came down, so did some old wallpaper in Tuthill House -  forcing us to give a few rooms some much needed refreshing.  The first room on the left, as you enter the building, is complete and ready to accept new students.  A second room is still underway.  Special thanks to Linda Fisher, Kristen Diamond, Zach Diamond, Caroline Diamond, Nick Peters and Paul Torpey for all the hard work.


Please stop by Tuthill house and check it out.

Kitchen Inventory

When it's Summer, your arm is broken and your mom is on Church Support - what do you do?   You volunteer.  In August, Zach Diamond cleaned out every cabinet in our Kitchen - straightening, counting and putting things back in place.  It looks amazing - Marie Kondo would be proud (his mom certainly is).  And we are happy to report we have plenty of supplies in almost every category.  And thank you to all who reclaimed their teasures left behind.


Thanks Zach!!!

Stewardship - Volunteer Opportunity

It is that time of year again - Stewardship! And Church Supprt is assembing the Stewardship team.  We welcome new ideas and fresh faces.  The team will be led by a seasoned pro - Pete McVay - so no experience necessary.  Pete will guide the process.  If you are interested in volunteering a few hours of your time between now and January please contact Pete at 


“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1



 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


Due to vacations we took a break over the summer from cooking, serving and clean-up at Sonshine Soup Kitchen in Derry. For the past year, we have been subbing when needed.  Starting in Sept. we will be regularly responsible for the 4th Wed. of each month. This is a great opportunity to give back to the community and enjoy a little comradery with your fellow church members. The sign- up sheet will be available on Rally Sunday. Contact Cheryl Riehl ( if you would like to be added to the monthly email signup.

We continue with food collection in the grocery basket for St Anne’s and St. Luke’s food pantries. Thanks to all who have donated to this cause.

Comfort Station is Back

We are happy to report that we will again open Lovejoy Hall as a Comfort Station during the town-wide yard sale on Sept 28th. Shirley Reed will be coordinating. Jay and Sue Goodman will staff.  We are looking for a few volunteers to donate some snacks.  If you are able to drop-off some snacks, please sign up here.  If you would like to have a table in the parking lot to sell yard sale items, let Shirley know.

Isaiah 58

Isaiah 58 is becoming the center of activity to fight homelessness in our area.

1.     They are looking for volunteers to assist in the renovation of 4 trailers on Friendship drive in Salem. Visit their Facebook page or see Linda Fisher for up to date needs.

2.     We are looking for someone to run a fund raiser to cover the cost of a mini kitchen ($784) for one of the trailers. We suggest selling ice cream during the town wide yard sale on Sept 28th. See member of CommET or sign up on Rally Sunday.


  • Our Handbook was written and submitted to the council for approval.
  • Donations were recently made to David’s House, Sonshine soup Kitchen, Kulea Childcare Villages, St Luke’s food Pantry for back pack program, Ruth’s House, and Atkinson Elder Services.
  • Narcan training was completed by Pastor Jim and Linda Fisher. An important phone number to know is 211 for information related to addiction.
  • Habitat for Humanity work day Is Sept 21. This is a nice opportunity to work on a seacoast home. See Holly Weisenberger for details. Sign-up sheets on Rally Sunday or found here.
  •  As we all know It takes many hands to put on the Harvest Supper. This year we are foregoing the traditional sit down turkey dinner and asking people who typically donate a turkey or a pie to donate the funds they would have spent. The CommET bulletin board will have envelopes on their board marked “turkey” or “pie”. Please place your donation in the envelope of your choice. All proceeds will go to the NH Food Bank.
  • CommET is looking for one new member to finish out this year’s term.  This is a great opportunity to try it out and see if it is something worthy of your time.  We meet on the second Tuesday of the month from 5:30 – 6:30 pm. Feel free to attend our next meeting and see what it is about.  We’d love to see you.

Yours in Christ

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